Not related to any one particular system or rules. You want solutions to the question that are not directly tied to a game's mechanics.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

1
vote
2answers
141 views

How can I improve my pregame introduction? [duplicate]

I've been running a game for three sessions now, and each time I feel uncertain as to how to raise the curtains, so to speak, to let everyone know that we're entering the magic circle and it's time ...
36
votes
14answers
3k views

How can I replace a player character with an impostor without alerting the group?

I recently picked up a book of example NPCs (the Pathfinder NPC Codex, incidentally) and came across an entry for a "master spy". In the flavor text, it describes how his "secret identities have ...
38
votes
15answers
2k views

How can I help a player craft a backstory that gives me plot hooks?

I have a new player joining my game soon who has taken the place of another player. Unfortunately, the character's backstory is lacking. It doesn't tell me a lot about the character. Because I draw ...
53
votes
21answers
2k views

How can I avoid players spending too much time planning?

Several times when I have played in or ran a game in which the players had an objective and reasonable resources, a lot of (real) time was spent trying to plan for every contingency. For example, ...
17
votes
8answers
1k views

How to introduce and encourage role playing in non-roleplayers?

I'm going to be hosting a game at the end of the month. Myself, I am a semi-experienced DM but I will be playing with those who know only the basic mechanics of the game or have never roleplayed ...
33
votes
5answers
717 views

How to support useful Intraparty Conflict

This is a question calling for tried and tested methods for facilitating entertaining CvC intraparty conflict. Although Player versus Player (PvP) seems to be the accepted term among a large ...
8
votes
2answers
402 views

How to effectively run a sandbox campaign in a weekly 2hrs timeframe

Premise I'm a relative new GM who only run a 2 years long heavily railroaded fantasy campaign that went south for various problems and that I decided to drop. Now I started to run a sci-fi sandbox ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

How should a GM deal with players that want to be “too cool”?

In my time as a GM, I've always hated stuff such as magic items, artifacts, etc; even as a player, I dislike the feeling of becoming "too cool" for the game world in question. However, I have a ...
13
votes
11answers
2k views

Is there a good way to distribute pregenerated characters?

I am preparing for a game with a bunch of new players, with a mix of varying familiarity with the setting/system and RPGs in general. To get them to taste the setting ASAP I decided to play a one-off ...
5
votes
3answers
344 views

Increase power of or control over accidentally discovered abilities? [closed]

TL;DR: PCs discovered magical powers by accident, should further practice increase control or power? Magic is often something that either exists or doesn't, but I find it much more intriguing to ...
36
votes
12answers
5k views

What living apex lifeforms are there other than dragons?

When a theme is dragon* on. Dragons are apex predators and widely regarded by most players and systems as about one of the worst things you can ever deal with. I have a campaign that's been running ...
20
votes
10answers
1k views

How can you encourage players to portray a “realistic” reaction to in-game stressful/traumatic circumstances?

This question came to me while I was thinking about killing people in pen-and-paper rpgs. When a character starts his career, in most systems, he is somewhat young. As an example, when you are first ...
18
votes
8answers
896 views

How can I make downtime interesting?

My group is running a set of published adventures, so there's a pretty linear path between them. But between modules, there is the opportunity to go back to town, spend some money, and get some good ...
19
votes
10answers
915 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
641 views

Giving Players the Game They Want

Currently I am running a game of Legend of the Five Rings, 4th Edition that is an extension of my 3rd Ed campaign. The current setting is a courtly endeavor, which dredges up certain problems. When ...
8
votes
3answers
216 views

How can I help the GM make investigation engaging for the whole party?

Inspired by How can I make investigation engaging for the whole party?, this is roughly the same question but from the opposite side of the fence. As a player, how can I make the investigations more ...
0
votes
4answers
162 views

Arch-enemy or situational obstacle? [closed]

I am running a campaign where my players have a set arch-enemy. A person dedicated to the same goal as the players, but does everything in his power to stop the PCs getting to it first. He would even ...
1
vote
0answers
92 views

What rules would a God of Law impose? [closed]

I'm playing a campaign in which my characters eventually intend to fight a god who has Dominion over the concept of law. Aside from the fact that gods in this universe are nigh omnipotent anyway, the ...
20
votes
5answers
497 views

How do I analyze and improve myself as a GM?

I'm pretty new to tabletop RPG and recently started to GM a campaign with a group of friends. None of us has much experience, so it's a learning curve for all of us. I've found myself completely ...
2
votes
1answer
133 views

Ideas for a plot twist during a hijacking? [closed]

I'm devising a scenario set on a prestigious vehicle (ocean liner, Concorde, or similar). A little while into the voyage, a group of other passengers (separatist rebels) hijack the vessel via small ...
12
votes
3answers
572 views

How can I make puzzles a challenge for the character, rather than the player?

I'm designing an adventure, in which at one point the party meets a giant who will only let them pass if they solve some puzzles. However, the problem is that the riddles are a test for the player, ...
18
votes
10answers
2k views

How to have a game in which one player character is the leader but it's still fun for everyone?

I think the most natural party organization for a group of friends that are playing a game is a flat one, in which no one has authority over another, and decisions are made by consensus (and if that ...
16
votes
7answers
669 views

As an experienced GM, what pitfalls should I watch out for? [closed]

I've been GMing for 20 years and have recently started to question if I need a GM-makeover. We are still having fun but could the game be more fun if I shed some bad, and well ingrained habits? I ...
13
votes
7answers
493 views

How can I run a campaign in isolation without restricting access to items?

I'm running a game where an entire village, the PCs and its people has been swallowed into the earth by a cataclysmic earthquake. This happened in the first session, and it was explained beforehand ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

What are possible ways to deal with a player who frequently switches characters?

I have had problems in the past with players who are serial character creators. What I'm referring to are the players who cannot seem to stick with a character more than two sessions at a time without ...
19
votes
5answers
873 views

When planning a campaign, should I know what the ending is before we start?

I am planning the next campaign while the current one comes to a close. Our group favours sandbox play and I facilitate that with Icar's event driven system. While writing down the list of events ...
27
votes
17answers
2k views

Introducing an unorthodox setting the players know NOTHING about

Just a while back, there has been a question concerning GMing a setting the players know better than the GM. Now, let me ask you sort of an inverse of that question. I.e. how to introduce and ...
8
votes
4answers
402 views

Is there any book dealing with Dungeon Design?

I got this old book from a friend, titled "Central Casting: Dungeons" yesterday night. My friend is my player and he's noticed how much I struggle to make decent dungeons. Though the book is actually ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

How can I make investigation engaging for the whole party?

I'm about to start a campaign that takes place on a pirate ship. Low magic fantasy setting, loosely based on the Caribbean in the 1600s. Much of the action is going to be centered around various ...
32
votes
12answers
3k views

How to deal with players asking for an “infodump”

I read some questions about how to have players ask questions, but I happen to have the opposite issue. While players asking questions is nice, I often am in the situation where they ask too much ...
3
votes
4answers
387 views

Tips for a Lazy and Time-short DM to randomly populate dungeons?

Tho I'm currently running a campaign with my friends online via roll20 that mostly consists on "Dungeon of the Week" delves, since we're all fans of dungeon delving. The idea is to play from levels 1 ...
10
votes
8answers
1k views

How can I make the daily lives of the PCs interesting?

I'm going to start a new campaign soon and my players and I are looking for a campaign that is somewhat close to the feel of the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer TV series. With that I mean a campaign that ...
36
votes
12answers
1k views

What rewards can compete with experience points?

My group is running a series of published adventures. I am GMing one of the modules (level 21-24) after which another member will be taking the reins. I have plans for a side-adventure that will take ...
16
votes
9answers
834 views

When should the DM hide a PC's hit points?

In any game with hit points (I'm thinking D&D, but any will do), is there ever a situation where the DM ought to keep track of a player character's hit points, and not reveal it to the player? ...
3
votes
2answers
129 views

Tips for fleshing out towns on a Dungeon Centered Campaign?

I'm running a D&D Next Playtest campaign centered on dungeon exploration, just swtiched from 4e so I'm pretty new to this. Our world is build like Bionicle's Mata Nui: a continent with a central ...
35
votes
12answers
2k views

How do I create a great fantasy villain that inspires the party to rally against them?

In my early years of GMing it was simple enough to say that the badguys were evil and that was all the justification we needed. They are attacking the village because they are evil, they are stealing ...
49
votes
10answers
2k views

What characterizes a “Modern” role playing game or gaming system?

I recently read about D&D clones in another question (I forget where I saw it) and noticed comments referring to gaming systems that were clones of D&D as "Old School" while others ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

How to manage a mute PC?

I am GM in a custom universe I created (medieval fantastic), and a player asked me if he could create a mute character. I refused because I was afraid it would be too hard to manage, and not fun for ...
23
votes
7answers
3k views

Dealing with players of vastly different skill levels?

In my latest campaign (D&D 3.5), I have a player (let's call him P). P is on his fifth character. Yes, fifth. Except for P, only one other player has lost a character. The world P lives in is ...
38
votes
9answers
2k views

How do I avoid clichés while improvising?

Tropes are not bad, but clichés usually are. Sadly, when I need to come up with something on the fly it's much easier and faster to use clichés: if I suddenly need a barkeep, he's probably fat with a ...
25
votes
10answers
2k views

Crime Investigation in a fantasy world [closed]

I am writing a campaign which relies heavily on crime: investigating it, clues, leads, witnesses, evidence, corruption, etc... The setting is fantasy, low-tech, and for the time being - let us leave ...
12
votes
2answers
502 views

Are there any good guides on how to roleplay, regardless of system?

I noticed a few weeks ago that I don't know of any good guides (books, podcasts, whatever) on how to roleplay. I've searched around for a bit, and couldn't find anything worthwhile. I'm looking for ...
12
votes
9answers
1k views

How do I help my players figure out how to stay alive in a realistically-deadly sandbox campaign?

Related: What to do when a player character goes suicide and How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D? I like playing sandbox-style RPGs (whether pen and paper or ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

How do I build interesting dungeons?

I'm a new GM and I need to undestand how to build enjoyable locations. I don't get how to build interesting dungeons. For example, I need to explore a castle. But a castle is not as complicated as ...
4
votes
2answers
336 views

Where is a website that lists non-traditional genre RPG scenarios and systems [closed]

I mean not science fiction, not fantasy, not horror. My Japanese wife (passable English) said she is interested to try doing RPG but she has no interest in those genres- she has seen a few movies. ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

How do I deal with playing in an ultra-specialized party that is using a different playstyle than my own?

Someone asked a question about how to deal with wanting to play a plan-focused, stealthy character in a group that essentially consisted of melee types playing a 'Kick In The Door, Screaming Death ...
22
votes
6answers
2k views

How do I foster enjoyment in the type of make-believe required in RPGs in a child who isn't old enough to play RPGs?

I have a four year old son who, when he gets older, I would like to introduce to RPGs. What types of non-RPG activities should I be doing now to foster enjoyment in the kind of make-believe that ...
8
votes
4answers
423 views

Ways to minimize the negative effects of miniature use on immersion

Quite a number of games recommend and support the use of miniatures for combat to provide players a tactical view and tactical options. However—besides obviously having its distinct advantages—using ...
28
votes
14answers
1k views

Do role-playing games have to be fun?

There is a hypothesis that entertaining activities (like role-playing games) should be "fun." Quotes like "It doesn't matter, as long as you're having fun" and "The rules aren't important as long as ...
9
votes
5answers
283 views

Representing different languages in online games

What are methods for clearly representing different languages (e.g. Elven, Dwarven, Deep Speech) in text-based online play? We have tried footnotes and are using colored text (green for Elven, brown ...