Questions about the role of the Game Master (a.k.a. Dungeon Master (DM), Referee, Storyteller, Master of Ceremonies (MC), etc.) in a role-playing game.

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41
votes
7answers
1k 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... ...
37
votes
10answers
3k 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 ...
36
votes
17answers
1k 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 ...
35
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
28
votes
14answers
410 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 ...
26
votes
8answers
1k 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 ...
25
votes
14answers
773 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
7answers
1k 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 ...
23
votes
9answers
909 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 ...
20
votes
10answers
404 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 ...
19
votes
10answers
895 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
454 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
7answers
2k views

Can PCs hide motivations from the DM?

So, one of my PCs is a Lawful Neutral Knight, coming from a small landless noble family. From the beginning of the campaign he told me that he wanted a lord to serve under, and to enhance the ...
16
votes
7answers
611 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, ...
16
votes
4answers
458 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" ...
15
votes
7answers
5k views

How do I deal with Messiah Complex Players?

I have this player, he's a great friend of mine and a psychology student. His goal in life has always been helping others out, and is very enthusiastic when talking about RPG games, however he has ...
15
votes
9answers
687 views

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

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 ...
13
votes
9answers
1k views

Out-Of-Control Characters [closed]

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 ...
12
votes
4answers
450 views

How do DM's avoid burning out? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do I deal with GM burnout? Currently I am the single DM of a smallish group of irregular players. Although I enjoy DM'ing, I'm beginning to burn out and really wish ...
12
votes
2answers
5k views

Dungeons and Dragons Treasure Parcels

I'm new to D&D and would like to distribute treasure evenly in my dungeon for my level 1 PCs. I've read up briefly on the treasure packages but am still a little fuzzy on how they exactly work and ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Too many magic rings and trinkets

I am a DM, and I have two player's who love +1 Ac Rings, or any kind of ring or trinket to help with AC. Every bit of gold or other item of any value they use it to trade for it. I try not to be mean ...
11
votes
3answers
414 views

How do GM Moves in Dungeon World work in practice?

So I was reading about the GM Moves in Dungeon world and I started to have a string of questions running through my mind... It went something like this (all within about 20 minutes) Am I going to get ...
11
votes
4answers
861 views

How can a DM restore an over-scaled, out of control campaign?

My game system is pathfinder but the setting is entirely of my own creation, with a group that is largely interested in the role-playing aspects of the game; when it's more dynamic to wave away strict ...
10
votes
4answers
231 views

Introducing Guest-Stars in Ongoing Campaigns

I've got a situation I'm dealing with tonight and that I've dealt with before, but I've never had rpg.se to ask about it. So here goes: Are there any tried-and-true methods for dealing with ...
9
votes
2answers
348 views

Managing plots with multiple simultaneous GMs

I'm working with some fellow GMs to prepare a campaign in which we each host separate groups of players, but in the same shared world. This means that the actions of my players might actually ...
9
votes
3answers
375 views

New GM to a Laundry RPG game [closed]

What should a new (and not so experienced) GM watch out for when starting to run a game set in Charles Stross's Laundry universe? Note that all this could be applied to a Call Of Cthulhu game as well ...
9
votes
1answer
355 views

How does monster hiding work when some players detect them and some don't?

In one of our battles in DnD Next, I had some bugbears hiding in trees trying to attack the players. The bugbear rolled a 21 on its attempt to hide. Four of the players rolled less than 21 on their ...
7
votes
6answers
724 views

Approaches to GM-less (or lessened GM reliance in) RPGs

A question about transitioning players to GM-less gaming already exists (and it's a good one). I, however, am looking for a more exhaustive description (thus CW) of approaches to GM-less gaming. As ...
6
votes
4answers
536 views

How to teach 5 people how to be a DM

My school started this RPing club, but in my school right now only 2 people know how to DM and do it effectively, including me. As the teacher running the club knows nothing about Pathfinder, it seems ...
6
votes
7answers
303 views

Need some recommendations for monster manuals

I run and play lots of indie-style games (Burning Wheel and Apocalypse World in particular). Perhaps the one thing they lack that I miss from my D&D days is the tomes full of monsters to excite ...
6
votes
4answers
273 views

Balancing encounters for faster feat progression

I'm DMing a group right now in Eberron (so I already have to take Action Points into account for encounter design), and my players, who are fairly new, are super intrigued by all of the interesting ...
6
votes
2answers
173 views

How to Use Module Maps

I found a module I'd like to run. It includes some great maps. What's the best way to use them in a gaming session? They're too small to use as-is, so I'm wondering how other people use maps from ...
6
votes
1answer
158 views

Treasure tables with mixed groups

In reference to this Treasure tables in 3.5, how does the system expect a GM to handle groups with mixed treasure types?
6
votes
0answers
183 views

How do I effectively portray multiple characters in conversation? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight? You should be familiar with this set up: All the characters are at a party ...
5
votes
4answers
344 views

Building Campaigns to Characters' Strengths and Weaknesses

When I GM a game, I try to make sure that the skills the characters have can be used. If someone takes "Music", then I make sure there's a point in the campaign where someone needs to impress someone ...
5
votes
2answers
248 views

What's the best practice for an Indie-LARP?

I'm starting a Sci-Fi LARP near where I live and so far only my close friends are going to attend, What would be the best way to increase my player-base? Also it'll be my first event that I've ...
5
votes
4answers
900 views

Should I announce to the players they are in a skill challenge?

I am completely new to DMing and I am considering including a skill challenge in my next game. Most of the players are new to 4e and one of them is new to D&D in general. Should I explain to them ...
5
votes
2answers
289 views

Does D&D 3.5 DM material contain information applicable for Pathfinder GMs?

I understand that in terms of the core rules to run games D&D 3.5 has: Dungeon Master's Guide + Player's Handbook + Bestiary(s) Pathfinder has: Core Rulebook + Bestiary(s). Pathfinder has a ...
5
votes
3answers
472 views

What is a good way to handle a merchant / snake oil salesman PC?

I recently started running a 4e game where a character is playing an unaligned merchant bard who is also a bit of a snake oil salesman. What is a good way to play up the merchant / snake oil salesman ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Guides for running a Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0 Game

I've owned a copy of the 2nd edition of Cyberpunk (Cyberpunk 2020) for years now but never had the ability or gumption to run a game (same for gurps). Lately though I've been playing and DMing a lot ...
5
votes
2answers
684 views

What can a character do during a rest?

I have an elf in my group who only needs 4 hours of rest instead of 8 like all the others. The problem is he keeps asking what he can do in that time and I have no idea what to tell him. I've read in ...
5
votes
1answer
248 views

Is It Okay To Use “Commune” To Ask About Alignment?

In the campaign I am running, next session my players have decided to use the 'Commune' spell to ask a god various questions. Among these are four questions that ask: "Is this character good?" "Is ...
5
votes
2answers
202 views

Where can I find online playtesters to test encounters before presenting them to my group?

I'm setting up the end of my campaign and I have 4 "mini-boss" fights (& Final BOSS fight) that I'm trying to make extremely tough but also winnable. I don't want to just slaughter my PCs after ...
5
votes
2answers
171 views

Balance between planning and improvising [closed]

What is the ideal balance between planning out an entire session of playing, complete with music scoring and conversation detailing, and winging the entire thing? As an example, I'll cite one of the ...
5
votes
1answer
157 views

What should I look out for, when scaling a late heroic published adventure for late paragon/early epic tier?

I will be including a level 9 published adventure in my campaign soon. The thing is, the four players will be somewhere between level 18 and 24 when they hit the dungeon. Aside from obviously scaling ...
5
votes
2answers
146 views

In Ubiquity powered games, what number Style points keeps tension and heroic action in balance?

Characters in games using the Ubiquity Roleplaying System often begin play with fewer than 2 Style points. Methods of gaining them, and situations for using them are clearly defined in the various ...
5
votes
3answers
163 views

Scaling for battles when the number of players is unknown?

I play in a D&D 4e game at the local game shop where the number of players who shows up can vary from five to fifteen. Obviously a normal battle for fifteen characters would be overpowering for ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Practical use of Masterplan in first time DM

So, I have played D&D (and other RPG rules) off and on for a long time, and now have boys of an age that I could DM for them and have some good father/son/nerdy time. I have never DMed myself. I ...
4
votes
5answers
696 views

What's a good text only adventure game to improve my storytelling for DMing?

I've been trying to think of good ways to improve my narration of scenes when I can't actually practice firsthand with my group. On idea I had was to find some old text-only adventure/RPG games and ...
4
votes
2answers
207 views

As a GM, how do you establish the reality of your world? [closed]

Having a discussion with a friend about our views of GMing, I realized that we take very different approaches to what our worlds are. My view is that when I GM, the world exists as-is before the ...