"Game Master" or "Game Moderator". This is the person who is in charge of running the game, including having final say over how actions are resolved. Also referred to as Dungeon Master (DM), Referee, Storyteller, Master of Ceremonies (MC) or other titles, depending on the game.

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54
votes
16answers
2k views

How can I help my PCs remember clues that they found?

I'm a new DM running my first adventure (it's D&D 4.0 but that's not relevant to my question). I've heard of the "three clue rule", that there should be at least three independent pointers to any ...
46
votes
14answers
3k views

When should I fudge dice rolls?

When I started my first D&D campaign as a DM, I accidentally rolled and confirmed a crit on a PC from a goblin. It was an instant kill as our campaign had no cleric. That time I decided to fudge ...
37
votes
6answers
929 views

What is a good way to become a better NPC/monster actor?

One of the biggest problems I have as Game Master, (going on 30+yrs) is in portraying NPC and Monsters in any RPG. Is there a good resource for becoming a better 'actor'? Instead of just saying... ...
35
votes
10answers
2k views

How can I invoke actual fear in my players?

I'm a DM that focuses heavily on story, description and setting. My goal is to send players home wanting -- no, longing -- to actually be part of the mythos I've created. The ultimate goal for me as ...
34
votes
9answers
2k views

How To Divide Up Loot?

I've been GMing a very successful (Pathfinder) campaign for quite a few months now, but we've developed a bit of a problem I'm not sure how to resolve: loot distribution. None of my players are ...
32
votes
9answers
6k views

DM taking away XP from players as a form of punishment

So I got a group of friends in high school and were all nerds but with no way to play together. Not all of us had a computer or console. We found someone who claims to have a lot of experience as a ...
32
votes
15answers
789 views

Your friend wants to learn the ways of the Dungeon Master, what do you do?

I believe that all tabletop role playing gamers should at one point or another try their hand at Dungeon Mastering. However, it's a goal that at times can feel overwhelming. What advice would you ...
28
votes
14answers
372 views

How do I retain momentum in an irregular game?

For years I have had a regular weekly evening group but as we've all aged, it has become more difficult to meet. I tend to get the same players but we do not play every week. Long gaps mean that it is ...
27
votes
5answers
1k views

GM Help - Bump on a log player

I GM a World of Darkness group every other weekend, and I've come across what I like to call a "Bump-on-a-log" player. This player has been with my game since I started it up, and we're now ...
26
votes
6answers
3k views

How do you deal with metagaming based on die results?

I ran into this problem in a session I had earlier today. My characters were going through a dungeon and after a fairly lengthy fight with a person who lived there, they decided they would question ...
25
votes
14answers
705 views

Story Arc vs. Player Creativity

I want to put the players in a challenging spot by putting them in a no win situation and having them captured and stripped of their equipment (assuming they might get it back as they make their ...
23
votes
19answers
2k views

What role-playing games have good gamemaster advice sections? [closed]

Which RPG's, in your experience, have good advice for gamemasters in their rulebooks, both for novice and experienced gamemasters? Please keep in mind that this question is not about good games for ...
23
votes
9answers
877 views

Third-Person Limited Narration or Third-Person Omniscient Narration?

What are the advantages/disadvantages to using either a kind of "Limited Narration" or an "Omniscient Narration" style when running a game? i.e. Does saying... None of the characters notice the ...
23
votes
8answers
645 views

How do I run a game for a larger group?

I am currently running a Dungeons and Dragons 4 campaign for a group of 9 players. Whittling the group down to a more manageable size is not really an option since they are all family. When we do ...
21
votes
8answers
414 views

How do I help create story around the table without writing it?

I love RPGs. I think they can create some of the most fun and enjoyable stories, both from an out-of-game and in-game standpoint. I also realize that "story" is the result of the game played by the ...
21
votes
4answers
595 views

Transitioning from GM to Player; or how to recover from GM burnout

A few months ago, I reached the point of "GM burnout." Having been (almost) the exclusive GM for our group for several years, and seeing the number of players and their commitment dwindle combined ...
20
votes
10answers
377 views

Campaign is on hiatus. How do I keep it on life support?

My regular campaign has ground to a halt due to scheduling problems. At this point, we don't really know how long it will be until we play again. Everyone is still interested, at least for now. Is ...
20
votes
7answers
966 views

How can I screen new players to make sure they are a good fit for my game?

I'm looking to start a new Savage Worlds campaign and I need a full set of players for it. I've played in games before and ran a couple of one-shots, but I've never GMed a full campaign. There's ...
19
votes
5answers
556 views

How do I learn to do accents?

I've always enjoyed playing in games where the GM/DM/ST makes use of a variety of accents to differentiate between NPCs. I've always wanted to learn how to do that, but I realize that I'm not ...
18
votes
16answers
780 views

Experience for Role Playing

Ok so I haven't played in a while (since the 2nd edition) but do any of the newer D&D editions' books (most likely the DM Guide) have guidelines for granting experience for exceptional role ...
18
votes
6answers
1k views

How to encourage a player's creativity without breaking the game?

I've just started a new D&D 4e campaign with a new group of players. One of my players came straight from 2nd edition, and has never played 4e before. She doesn't seem to grasp the layer of ...
18
votes
9answers
1k views

How do I kidnap my characters without bending the rules?

I'm about to start a new arc with my characters and I'd really like it to begin by having them be kidnapped. It would be easy for me to just do this by fiat and say that "You are knocked unconscious ...
18
votes
5answers
323 views

What techniques can I use to improve flavor text?

I've been improving my GM skills lately, but there is one area in which my skills are very weak, and that is flavor text. For example, if my players go into the woods, I tend to say something stupid ...
18
votes
4answers
7k views

How to randomly generate a village or town for old school D&D game?

There is a lot of material written on random generation of dungeons for play. But inevitably characters have to return from the to spend those ill-gotten gains. And where else but a nearby ...
17
votes
10answers
827 views

Strategies for dealing with turtle or roach players?

How should GMs deal with players who turtle or roach? By turtle I am referring to players who obviously wanted to play because they joined the game, but when they're actually at the table they keep ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I murder people and lie about it?

My character is a Halfing Rogue specializing in lying and ranged sneak kills with a concealed crossbow. With the Childlike and Pass for Human feats plus max ranks in Bluff I'm crazy good at a ...
17
votes
6answers
595 views

Am I designing my campaign setting to be too specific?

I'm a first time DM (3.5e), and, being a passionate writer, I decided to create the entire campaign and campaign setting myself. It's been good fun, and I have about 12 pages of (elaborated upon) ...
17
votes
9answers
666 views

How much plot guidance is too much?

I've played in many games that were extremely railroaded. There was basically only one feasible course of action and we, as players, were expected to take that route. (The GM would get very upset if ...
16
votes
6answers
413 views

Techniques for speeding up a game with many players at the table?

I have a table of six players already, and have more people interested in joining my game. I wanted to consult people who had experience with running large tables to see if running for larger groups ...
16
votes
4answers
431 views

How would I quickly put together a believable map of an area?

As part of my "Closed Circle" campaign, I'm looking for ways to quickly put together a believable map of a college campus and surrounding area, complete with believable building placement. "Quickly" ...
16
votes
7answers
2k views

Roleplaying as a job. Skills and background?

A friend of mine is a great DM, and we always told him that he should be paid for his skills. He smiles and says that it's enough to have fun, but seriously, can you make a living out of role playing ...
16
votes
2answers
252 views

What are the consequences of letting players be characters from a work of fiction?

What are the consequences of letting players be characters from a book, movie, or other pre-existing work of fiction? For example, how would I handle a campaign based on the X-Files where the PCs are ...
15
votes
13answers
2k views

Sunrods, should they be used?

Sunrods, those banishers of darkness, are they a problem or not, I've met a number of DMs that don't want them in their games. Are they a problem?
15
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I handle lengthy (days+) actions without slowing the game

I run a D&D 3.5 game, but the system itself is not critical (the examples I use are from D&D though). Some of the characters have various crafting abilities, ranging from things like Alchemy, ...
15
votes
9answers
631 views

Does GMing diminish or detract from being a player in games?

I started playing RPGs last year with the Pathfinder Beginner Box. I have been GMing and writing a campaign, but have also encouraged members of the party that are interested to run a one-off Beginner ...
15
votes
7answers
552 views

Techniques for skimming through travel (fast travel) without meta-teleportation

In most of my group's campaigns, we spend a lot of time traveling. Unfortunately, this leans one of two ways: Uninteresting or distracting obstacles. If you want to spend time but keep it fresh, ...
15
votes
6answers
245 views

How do you maintain a balance between mystery and offering clues?

Giving good clues that offer just enough information can be difficult. I think I tend to not give the players enough information and then to overcompensate with a reveal that comes too easily. ...
15
votes
6answers
512 views

How do I find artwork to inspire adventure design? [closed]

Often when I find a cool piece of artwork online, I build some scene in my upcoming adventure around it and then show the image to the players during the session. The more cool artwork I have access ...
15
votes
2answers
347 views

How much the players can narrate in Fate? How much can be prepared beforehand by the Gm taking that into account?

Me and a few of my friends are starting to play Fate (currently the accelerated edition) and I think we are all loving it. One of my friends seems to grasp the collaborative narration very well. When ...
15
votes
4answers
346 views

Rules for player inventions

To illustrate what I mean, let me give a quick example: In the-dark-eye, there is a Staff Ritual named Hammer des Magus (No idea what the term is in english). Its effect is that everything ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

Using the iPad as a GM-tool

Anyone have any experience using the iPad as a GM-ing tool? If so, how did you use it? Any apps that are particularly good for GMs?
14
votes
18answers
904 views

When GMing a game, how much should you prepare in advance?

Obviously you need to have some high level idea of what's going on in the world around the players, and where you are heading with the story, but in an ongoing game at some point players will be ...
14
votes
8answers
2k views

GM burn-out concerning worlds and systems

I've been primarily and almost exclusively a GM for long, long years. I still enjoy GMing, and I'd like to keep doing it. However, I've lost interest in practically all of the games and worlds we used ...
14
votes
9answers
269 views

How to encourage the GM-curious?

I have a couple of players who might be interested to try GMing, but have so far been reluctant to "take the plunge" and start up their own games. I think this is mostly because they're not sure that ...
14
votes
3answers
552 views

Do marks go away when one of the parties is dead or incapacitated?

While DMing for DnD Encounters, I had an interesting rules concern come up, that I can't see handled in the rules specifically. We always assumed that when a character or monster goes unconscious via ...
13
votes
8answers
922 views

Out-Of-Control Characters

As I review the suggestions in the D&D 4E DMG (pg32), I wonder what other suggestions that are realistic. I know that if a player is out of control (ie: killing masses for no reason) a DM would ...
13
votes
11answers
3k views

How do I select background music for my RPG campaign?

Music is an essential component of my games. When running games set in the Star Wars universe, the music of John Williams adds a new dimension to the experience, both for me and for my players. Now ...
13
votes
9answers
424 views

How can I encourage my group to become more well rounded?

My gaming group tends to each go in their own direction for character creation. Sometimes this leads to great games where folks are strongly opposed on dramatic elements and character interaction is ...
13
votes
7answers
382 views

What major differences are there between convention DMing and home DMing?

I've been DMing for a while in 4th edition D&D, but I've only been DMing for Living Forgotten Realms and D&D Encounters. Now I'm thinking of starting to do some home games in various systems. ...
12
votes
5answers
449 views

What are some good sources for combat tactics for a GM to use?

My players are extremely strategic, and they're consistently (and too easily) defeating groups of enemies that I intended to present a real challenge. Probably for the same reason that I suck at ...