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.

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40
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
530 views

Is there an online random setting generator?

Ages ago, when I was still pretty new to the whole role-playing thing, I came across an online app for generating random settings for RPGs (or novels, comics, whatever). I've searched for it several ...
5
votes
2answers
306 views

How can I retain a classical (rather than medieval) feel in my game?

I'm running a campaign (D&D 3.5, moderately houseruled, but my question is general) set in a world in a classical era. You might compare it to the Han dynasty, or to the Roman Republic--Roman ...
15
votes
10answers
694 views

What to do when you end up duplicating another players character?

Frequently I seem to roll up characters who are the spitting image of someone else's character. Most recently I rolled up a Utility Force Wizard for Star wars: Saga edition, which matched someone else ...
34
votes
14answers
2k views

What kinds of rules promote good team cohesion?

It seems like a lot of roleplaying games quite freely allow players to play antisocial characters who can't really be part of the team. I've been part of groups (in D&D) with both a noble ...
18
votes
2answers
788 views

How to make your players hate your villain, but not your game

How does one build the character of a villain such that the players (playing heroic characters) hate the villain as much as possible without detracting too much from the quality of the game? What ...
6
votes
4answers
312 views

How can you convey that the majority of the world isn't supernatural?

In games that exist within a supernatural/urban fantasy/modern horror setting, usually only a very small percentage of the population is actually supernatural. Using World of Darkness as an example, ...
18
votes
5answers
4k views

How to play boring everyday tasks

I am about to run a Traveller rpg game using the Outer Veil setting by Spice publishing. I am having the players be very much like the firefly crew, needing to work to keep their ship barely flying. ...
8
votes
5answers
641 views

Keeping a group together in a Zombie RPG

Being fairly new to GMing I am having trouble with keeping my PC's from turning on each other, and every thing in sight. It doesn't matter how much I punish them for killing obvious allies, or ...
11
votes
7answers
1k views

Anyone know of a good generic moral/alignment tracking system?

More specifically, system for tracking a characters morals/alignment, like Humanity in Vampire or darkside points in Star Wars. I'm looking for a system that's either designed to be generic, or could ...
8
votes
2answers
374 views

How to run short sessions?

I am currently DMing for a group of people whom I only recently met. We've been playing for some time, but we have a bit of trouble getting together regularly, but since everyone seems to enjoy that, ...
64
votes
21answers
14k views

How to deal with player MacGyver-ism?

Role playing is an excellent hobby to train your problem solving skills. You learn to look at situations from different view points (i.e. the characters) and you have various skills and resources at ...
22
votes
5answers
887 views

How do I use God as an NPC while being sensitive to players' real-life religious beliefs?

I'm currently running a 3-year long campaign that is coming to an ending in which God is likely to appear as an NPC. Since this is the end of the campaign I won't need to manage it for very long, but ...
13
votes
3answers
876 views

How to make a great villain who your players hate more than anything else? [closed]

I'd love to hear from you guys what you consider to be the best way to make the motive that drives the players to defeat the villain to be something personal and even passional. I believe a villain ...
20
votes
10answers
1k views

How to determine how much plot guidance is too much? [closed]

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 ...
5
votes
5answers
672 views

Looking for “high dark” fantasy setting

I'm looking for a fantasy setting which should fit these rather specific key points: Overall dark feeling. This will be a Monster Hunters game, so heroic sillyness, a comic-book feel, and so on are ...
13
votes
4answers
502 views

How can I resolve dangerous journeys without playing out every battle in detail?

Here's the situation: The PCs are investigating a mystery far from town, in the dangerous wilderness. Against my expectations, they decide to go back to town, recruit some help, and return to continue ...
32
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I convince players that I'm not necessarily a murderous cretin?

I am a crew member with a sci-fi LARP system. Rather than having a player character, I usually play as a disposable mook, and my characters spawn in, attack the players, then die in an entertaining ...
15
votes
6answers
714 views

Creating truly alien, intelligent NPC races

How can I make intelligent NPC races that are truly alien? They need to be: Culturally non-human. They need to be stranger than any sort of human culture that already exists. Rational. Behaving ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

How much information about NPCs and enemies is appropriate to show players?

I am a first-time GM trying to run a short Dragon Age campaign. During our first game, I hid the character sheets of the NPCs and enemies from the players. Is this appropriate? Should I give the ...
47
votes
6answers
4k views

How do I make interrogations interesting?

Throughout my gaming career, one type of interaction has consistently failed to engage me: interrogations. All of the interrogations that I have seen in roleplaying games follow this formula: ...
5
votes
4answers
652 views

Android app (or website) to simulate terrain and miniatures?

Is there an Android app, preferably optimized for tablets, that would allow us to simulate a tabletop gaming setup by allowing us to load a "terrain map" (an image), place and move around player ...
6
votes
4answers
258 views

Resources on undead and their creation [closed]

I'm searching for resources on the creation of undead and on undead in general, as I want to develop a new realm for my homebrew setting in which necromancy and magical-alchemical research on undead, ...
10
votes
6answers
442 views

How to deal with broken combos? [closed]

Based on Rob Schwalb's article Stuck in the Middle: How do you, as a player or DM, deal with choosing or forbidding broken combos in your character, group, and system?
3
votes
3answers
356 views

Dialogue Interaction Between NPCs [duplicate]

What is a good way to have NPCs interact with each other without it feeling clunky? Say I want to have 2 or more NPCs be a part of the dialogue with the party as a means to reveal plot to the players. ...
21
votes
9answers
2k views

Realistic modern day combat system to model real life ambush

I came across a video (helmet camera) of an Taliban force ambushing US infantry troops in Afghanistan. This is a link to the video of ambush: Combat in the First Person, Spc.Michael Gannon guides us ...
7
votes
6answers
713 views

Should there be in-game consequences for taking too long to plan? [closed]

As a player in a D&D 5e campaign, our party was presented with a battlefield with several different environmental features (in this case, a goblin cave entrance with an alarm system and two ...
4
votes
2answers
184 views

Random weather in flight-centric campaigns

This is inspired by a quick gander at the answers (in particular, the Empire Weather tables) to Randomly-generating weather for a sandbox campaign. How do you adapt Empire Weather, or a similar ...
12
votes
8answers
2k views

What are some of the major challenges in playing an Evil Character? [closed]

What are some of the major challenges in playing an Evil Character (whether that's a formal alignment or not) in a co-operative party game, and likewise, what are some of the reasons many groups ...
26
votes
8answers
3k views

How to deal with overly cautious players?

Recent encounters with hard to hurt opponents have left the party pretty beat up. The player is now seemingly scared by similar encounters and prefers fleeing. I'm GMing a solo game of Pathfinder for ...
50
votes
11answers
4k views

How do I deal with PCs who use kidnap and torture as an investigative technique?

I'm running a game in a modern setting with emphasis on the paranormal (Conspiracy X). The player characters are part of a secret government organization and are tasked with investigating & ...
7
votes
4answers
444 views

How to create meaningful relationships with NPCs

How do I help the PCs to create meaningful relationships with NPCs? Maybe it is a result of my group playing too many one-dimensional adventures trying to find whatever MacGuffin they are after each ...
29
votes
13answers
2k views

How does a DM correct the balance after accidentally giving the players too much gold?

Inspired by some of the answers to Pitfalls of using the optional 'XP for Gold' rule in a Basic D&D Retro Clone game? As DM/GM, you slipped up and ended up giving the PCs significantly ...
20
votes
11answers
1k views

How can you find a balance between effective/optimised characters and creative characters?

When creating characters, I often face a dilemma between making a character. It feels like they can either be optimized so they can "pull their own weight" or having a character I think is creative ...
9
votes
3answers
300 views

Good source for a dark/weird dryad concept?

I'm working on an adventure that involves obtaining the wood from a dryad's tree, and would like to present the dryad as something other than the typical depiction. I have some ideas, but am curious ...
11
votes
7answers
725 views

In a high fantasy setting, what changes when you restrict player magical item purchases?

In every game that I've played or run, the players have been able to easily buy or craft any magic item that they could pay for. What are the pitfalls of this kind of unlimited magic freedom system? ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

How do I handle large conversations with multiple NPCs?

To begin I've read How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight? but I don't believe that it answer my question, because it focuses more on dialog simply ...
18
votes
6answers
3k views

Is studying rules and pointing out which ones we've stretched or broken ok?

My group is mostly new to Pathfinder (including the GM), and we sometimes take "Accidental Liberties" while playing. For instance, my character has a spear with the "Brace" feature. I had been using ...
28
votes
7answers
715 views

How do I fit my character in to a universe I am unfamiliar with?

I have recently finished my second session of a game universe I am only vaguely familiar with (namely Rogue Traders in Warhammer 40k, but this is a generic question). This universe has a very heavily ...
28
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I learn how to lay out an “evidence scene”?

I feel like I'm particularly bad at any kind of scene where I want to drop clues. I'm hesitant to use the term "crime scene" because it's not always being investigated by "police", and some of these ...
25
votes
12answers
3k views

One of my players is too passive and uninterested

Game is DnD 3.5, not that it matters. So, yeah, she is playing an Elf Rogue and she is like a ghost during the game. In the last session, the party was searching for a guy and some Halfling told ...
0
votes
3answers
214 views

How do you GM well for a party of characters of vastly differing ability and interest [closed]

I'm still looking to be ready to GM an Anima: Beyond Fantasy game and, while my previous problem has still not been solved (shameless plug here), I've run into another one: how to GM for characters of ...
14
votes
3answers
527 views

Techniques to improvise and run interesting social and mundane scenes

Last session (I GM Traveller, a hard science fiction rpg) I realized my lack of skills when I found myself willing to spend some minutes in playing a scene involved a 3 years old child causing trouble ...
4
votes
1answer
332 views

How can you safely handle one of the PCs being central to the plot?

I'm trying my hand at writing my own RPG campaign, but I've run into a potentially fatal flaw in my story idea in that it's dependent upon a rather specific kind of character being a member of the ...
2
votes
1answer
131 views

Free-floating magical effects and planetary rotation [closed]

Many magic systems allow the creation of magical effects such as teleportation portals which are not anchored to a physical object, but rather conjured floating in the air. However, many settings are ...
12
votes
5answers
589 views

How do I keep track of “hidden” in game variables without getting bogged down?

I'm currently designing a campaign that has a monumental amount of in-game variables to keep track of, which I'll need to check every time a certain kind of event happens. Reducing the number of ...
88
votes
20answers
5k views

How do you help players not focus on the rules?

Background - My Group's Gaming Style When I GM, I run games loosely from a rules standpoint, and do not feel bound to adhere to what the rulebook says when it doesn't make sense in a given situation. ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

How to get to know my players' expectations?

I am soon starting a new game with a bunch of new people that I have never played with - and some of them I barely spoken to. I am going to be the GM and will introduce them into the setting that they ...
39
votes
12answers
8k views

As a GM, how can I stop killing my games?

Probably the worst issue I have as a Game Master is that I think of a game, I write a campaign plot for it -- End, Beginning and Middle, get hyped, hype my players, and after 2 months I get bored with ...
38
votes
7answers
3k views

Is it possible to produce a bowl-shaped probability curve with dice rolls?

In D&D's basic D20 system, you roll one d20 and add in some modifiers, then compare the result to a target number. Each modifier effectively adds or removes a 5% chance of success with the roll. ...