"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 ...
40
votes
11answers
6k views

Did I overstep my power as DM?

While playing a game with a previous group, in the middle of a combat, I had an enemy caster hidden from general combat, but still casting different spells like heal and other non-damage spells to ...
37
votes
6answers
925 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
5k 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
782 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 ...
28
votes
11answers
442 views

How to get better feedback from players?

OK, we started a new campaign yesterday and I really want to take quality feedback from my players. When I ask, "How was it? Do you like it?", I generally get some vague answers like "It was good, I ...
26
votes
8answers
1k views

What are the most important differences for a 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master learning to run D&D 4E?

I'm a campaign designer and DM with 20+ years of AD&D 1st edition experience. I've been "retired" from the game for over a decade, assume I don't know anything about 2nd, 3rd, or 3.5. Now I'm ...
26
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
9answers
3k views

How do I handle a group that does not understand the 'assumption rule'?

1st rule of D&D (as of 3rd edition/pathfinder): The GM is the final arbiter on all rules. I understand this, completely, and do not disagree. That said, I'm having trouble with a group that ...
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 ...
26
votes
9answers
2k views

What qualities are important when creating a fantasy RPG campaign?

Creating custom game play content for a group can be challenging for even the most experienced GM. Understanding how your group members' play and understanding what they want to experience is ...
25
votes
14answers
704 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 ...
25
votes
13answers
990 views

When would PCs choose to walk instead of ride?

I'm putting together an adventure where the PCs are on a time limit. As such, travel times become quite important and I want to make sure that I've understood the different means of travel beforehand. ...
25
votes
11answers
2k views

Should a GM be a Player?

Game Masters have plenty to do; no need to enumerate the tasks here. But should a non-player character be a 'regular' in a party? By gaining a voice in the in-character interactions, the GM taps a ...
24
votes
5answers
4k views

Tips for running a successful and engaging campaign WITHOUT combat?

I'm thinking of starting my own campaign with a few of my friends with me as DM, primarily because I wasn't extremely impressed with the campaign my friend was DMing. When I started thinking about the ...
24
votes
5answers
678 views

How do I increase role-playing during combat?

Right now, the group that I GM for is very, very tactical combat focused. To some extent we may as well be playing a dungeon crawl boardgame for all the role-play we manage. Now, in itself that's not ...
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
642 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 ...
23
votes
4answers
915 views

Dealing with players who try to run from everything?

I DM for a group with a guy who always suggests leaving the dungeon, area, or wherever the party is. It seems like no matter what I try or do to the setting he just won't relax and play the game – he ...
23
votes
2answers
929 views

What are important things to keep in mind when converting a 3e/3.5e module to Pathfinder?

I'm interesting in converting one or more of my existing modules for 3/3.5 to work with the Pathfinder rules. I'm interested to know from others who have done this kind of conversion what ...
22
votes
6answers
864 views

How to deal with a player who takes things personally?

Been running a great campaign for a few months now with very in-depth story and characters and, generally, everything goes pretty well. Unfortunately, I have a particular problem that, for a long ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Monster Manual 1 - Is it balanced? Should I balance it?

I've been DM'ing a little lately 4 edition D&D and of course I'm confused again: My first adventure was a big question mark, I didn't use the exact guidelines for creating an encounter and ...
21
votes
8answers
526 views

How do you DM differently when it's for only one person?

I've just finished running my first session with only one player, and it felt pretty different from running a session for a group. Could someone with more experience in this talk about what one ...
21
votes
6answers
490 views

How do you switch from parenting-mode to GM-mode?

Directly related to this question. My players are my children. A GM has a different relationship with players than a parent does with children. A parent tries to encourage and nurture children; a ...
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
594 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
961 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 ...
20
votes
6answers
661 views

Any advice on how to politely approach a friend on problems with her character(s)?

I've been playing with a good friend of mine for a couple of games now (Exalted and Pathfinder) with another friend as GM. In a few weeks, I'm going to be running a new game because the GM is getting ...
19
votes
2answers
976 views

GM attacking a recently stabilized ally: is this allowed?

The title pretty much sums up my question. I was playing the Scales of War campaign with a group of friends, and my character was getting absolutely destroyed in an encounter. I had failed two death ...
19
votes
5answers
548 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
10answers
1k views

How do I encourage a GM to use the rules as written?

Related to this question, there are some game masters who either don't know the rules or ignore them properly. They come into conflict with rules lawyers, players who know the rules well and expect ...
18
votes
16answers
774 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
315 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
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
665 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
10answers
823 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 ...
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
430 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 ...