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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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 ...
31
votes
11answers
1k views

What are some dangerous non-fantasy creatures?

We're running a fantasy game where the adventurers frequently travel through the wilderness. Too many of the threatening encounters they have are with fantasy creatures (like goblins, orcs, etc.). ...
23
votes
10answers
2k views

How to make magic items more interesting?

We all read about the little person finding a magical ring and the GM basing his whole plot on that little ring. That was a cool example of a MacGuffin. Earthdawn has a system in which characters ...
17
votes
7answers
514 views

Fantasy and magic in a primarily realistic setting

I'm running a game that's best described as "medieval fantasy," in the sense that we're actually trying to have the lives of people in the setting strongly resemble the historical Middle Ages. There ...
26
votes
8answers
1k views

Can party betrayal be done successfully?

After reading How much experience should a PC be worth? I was wondering if and how party betrayal can be done successfully, especially since it's a real possibility in my campaign. Criteria for ...
17
votes
11answers
1k views

How do you keep the party on the map?

I'm running a fairly sandbox game, where the party can wander around easily from place to place. When the party visits areas I've prepared something for, they generally have a good time. When they ...
16
votes
5answers
675 views

How to handle the PCs within a large military?

On some level, this might actually be getting closer to RPGs’ roots: I want to try a campaign where the PCs are members of a larger military. There may be need for them to coordinate with other ...
31
votes
14answers
1k views

What kinds of rules promote good team cohesion?

It seems like a lot of roleplaying games have no problems with players playing antisocial characters who can't really be part of the team. I've been part of groups (in D&D) with both a noble ...
28
votes
9answers
514 views

How do you track the PCs' reputation?

I'm currently planning a game with a significant amount of intrigue. I envision the players undertaking actions and adventures that will endear them to one group, and anger others. It occurs to me ...
15
votes
7answers
551 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, ...
41
votes
7answers
971 views

As an unreliable player, how can I lessen the burden on my group?

I'm often unreliable, in the sense that something always seems to turn up at the last minute that draws me away from our current regular game. (It's happened before as well.) Given that the reasons ...
26
votes
13answers
1k views

How can I deal with players who are reluctant to spend resources?

There's a certain kind of people who like to hoard whatever limited resources they get "just in case"; they usually end up never using them, always waiting for bigger emergency. On the other hand, ...
25
votes
5answers
866 views

How can I bring a player back to immersion and away from the distraction he brings to the table?

Currently, one of my players brings his 3DS to the table. He picked up a new game, and insists that he's "just grinding," and that he's paying attention (and to his credit, for the most part he is), ...
22
votes
14answers
1k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
363 views

How to run an encounter where PCs have different observations of the same events?

Some of the discussion in this question got me to thinking about an encounter design that sounded fun but I couldn't figure out an elegant way to pull it off: In some situation where one or more PCs ...
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 ...
17
votes
9answers
976 views

What real world skills can RPGs improve?

What real world skills can be improved by playing Role-playing games? What skills have you or others in your experience improved through gaming?
31
votes
7answers
1k views

What to do when a player character does something suicidal?

Every now and then a player character does something extremely risky because "it would be fun." What are some good ways to handle this as a GM, for the different styles of play? I like playing ...
17
votes
9answers
597 views

How to help players settle down and focus?

We have a weekly game in the evenings; however, we often don't start playing for a few hours after we get together, if at all. This has been exacerbated recently by other events with the same people ...
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
8answers
348 views

What are some proven methods of generating attachment to locations/objects in a campaign?

It is a truism that a GM can never really be sure what a group of players will do, or which NPCs they are going to grow fond of. Places and objects, however... are they the same? In games like Star ...
14
votes
5answers
422 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
702 views

How do you run a political campaign?

Although it's a fair way off yet there's a decent chance that my campaign is heading towards becoming very political. I've considered running political games before, but it seems like it would ...
4
votes
1answer
354 views

Virtual online tabletop with premade adventure?

Me and a couple of friends are just getting into P&P rpgs and are really excited to try something new. However, we have a problem that we live quite far apart from each other. Therefore we'd ...
31
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I check whether an extremely adult/mature plot idea would be accepted by players without revealing any details of the idea itself?

I am running a post-apocalyptic zombie game with a dark and mature story, exploring a number of adult themes. I have complete buy-in from the players; some of them have stated it is their favourite ...
30
votes
15answers
1k views

How to deal effectively with a player unable to lose?

How do you effectively handle a player that overreacts to any loss of his character (level drain, death) ?
20
votes
4answers
543 views

How to become better at descriptions of what your character is doing?

A (very) common GM question is "What is your character doing?" How do you, as a player, describe effectively what you character is doing? What techniques do you use to evoke wonder and spark ...
18
votes
7answers
835 views

“Retiring” a maxed-out party

This question has a specific and a general sense. Eventually, if your game runs long enough, a party will be pretty much maxed out - reaching level caps, wielding top-level powers and abilities, ...
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 ...
13
votes
8answers
620 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? ...
13
votes
5answers
347 views

How to handle lack of PC communication?

I've currently got a DFRPG group, and it's struggling a little bit. The main issue right now is that there's a good lack of communication between PC's. How can I encourage the players to communicate ...
11
votes
7answers
706 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
391 views

How to go from a humorous campaign to a more serious one?

I am currently running a D&D 4E game. The game started off kind of goofy (we have a thrikreen rogue with glowing blonde hair, an ale-obsessed dwarf battlemind, a ditzy human wizard, and a dwarf ...
10
votes
2answers
427 views

Advice for writing and publishing a setting/extended campaign for an existing system

I have been playing and GMing rpgs for a number of years, and a little while ago I had what I believe to be a really good idea for an original campaign setting for Savage Worlds, my system of choice. ...
10
votes
2answers
452 views

How can I introduce Life Paths to character generation?

The first time I played* Traveller, I found myself blown away by the detailed character creation, featuring year by year (4 year chunks actually) break down of how your character got where they are ...
20
votes
5answers
412 views

Maintaining a party in a world of mistrust

In essence, how would you keep a colorful group of players together in a world filled with mistrust, without going too much meta? Here is the scenario : Our hero consists of members of a special ...
17
votes
5answers
500 views

Good techniques for getting player-character backgrounds integrated into the game?

So I'm starting a new campaign for an existing gaming group soon, and I'd like to actually incorporate character backgrounds that the players will be creating (eventually). These aren't epic-novels or ...
16
votes
9answers
509 views

What are the pros, cons, and hitches of having only the players roll dice?

I ran a variant of DnD3.5 a few years a go with this house rule Player Only Rolls. The basic of the idea was that the referee never rolls at all. The players roll to attack vers the creatures AC. They ...
14
votes
6answers
575 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
233 views

Is there a method for sliding seamlessly from one system into another during a campaign?

Has anyone changed system/setting/genre but kept the characters during a campaign? Players can become very attached to their characters, even when the campaign/setting/genre or system is getting ...
12
votes
9answers
1k views

How to help players who roll really badly? [duplicate]

Scenario: player rolls to attack, rolls a 1. Next round, rolls a 1. Round after that, rolls a 1. Fourth round, rolls a 2. This really happened today. He was going back and forth between two different ...
12
votes
10answers
858 views

Do you use character sheets? Or, do you use a blank sheet of paper?

Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages for each approach?
11
votes
2answers
476 views

How can I rescue the game when the player characters refuse to work together?

I am a Game Master, and the characters in my group have started to regularly split up. The group's mage has always been a summoner and recently started summoning smaller demons. The fighter's player ...
11
votes
7answers
750 views

How do you kidnap a PC?

Here's where my group is currently at: We are reaching the end of a campaign and we are going to be switching GM's. I have been playing a (secretly) evil Psion who has plans to betray the party ...
11
votes
7answers
4k views

How do I make my own battle mats?

Premise: I live far from the US, and for me, paying U$S20+shipping for Chessex Battle Mats is out of the question (I just spent U$S 114 for a full lineup of DnD Essentials, and this extra expense ...
10
votes
4answers
451 views

Tips on playing a character whose goals run contrary to his outward actions (to the other PCs)

So, in one of the previous campaigns I played, I had a character whose own personal goals often ended up at odds with the rest of the party (who all agreed with each other). It was difficult to ...
10
votes
8answers
827 views

Looking for Urban Adventures (for a fantasy RPG)

I'm having a hard time finding inspiration for an Urban adventure set in a fantasy world. I have always run wilderness adventures or dungeon crawls. The adventure I'm designing is based in a Port ...
8
votes
7answers
636 views

Cyberpunk chronicle… any ideas? [closed]

I want to run a Cyberpunk chronicle using a system that I designed, but have run out of ideas. I don't want to employ the clich├ęs, like the AI who's gone sentient and want to merge his mind with ...
7
votes
5answers
373 views

Game-within-a-Game Cross-Genre Ideas

I've started running the starter adventure on Eclipse Phase. I have an idea for our first full-length campaign, but it's a little complicated. I need a (relatively) simple game to play the part of a ...
4
votes
1answer
204 views

PC vs PC team campaigns [closed]

I've been mulling over ideas for team vs. team D&D campaigns (or any system really), where two or more teams of PCs compete for a particular prize and PvP combat is allowed. All players would ...