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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16
votes
8answers
3k views

Vast and expanded realistic combat system

I am searching for a combat & damage system for an ad hoc RPG system set in Victoria era, more or less (though this part is completely unimportant). Are there any system that would bring me close ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

A summary of visibility?

Does anyone have a pointer to a good (plain and simple, quick to use) guide to visibility ranges, or could someone please give me (us) a brief, basic summary of visibility? (How far can you see on a ...
10
votes
2answers
644 views

What should be considered when deciding if and how to use props?

GMs and players who have experience with props in their games, what do you think about when considering props to use and how to use them? How might props be used to further the game, instead of ...
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 ...
19
votes
5answers
927 views

Level of detail in description?

There's a trope or two that says you shouldn't bother describing anything unless it's relevant to the story. However, in RPG's where the participants partially shape the story with their actions, any ...
17
votes
8answers
927 views

How can I increase tension during roleplaying?

In my games, I tend to run into a problem at least once per session. My players just seem to follow the dice and make no effort to either engage with combat or chase adventure. They let the dice fall ...
11
votes
4answers
841 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
1k views

Difference between writing a one-off scenario and writing a quest for a campaign?

I want to get some of my friends into roleplaying by running a self-contained single-session game with them rather than an actual campaign opener (for lack of a better term, I'll refer to this sort of ...
21
votes
5answers
666 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 ...
21
votes
8answers
944 views

What to do when your PCs skip an important part of the story line

In the earliest stage of my new duet campaign, I thought I had "rail-roaded" the PC into the first important encounter, one that leads to a major story line for the campaign. Specifically, the PC was ...
15
votes
6answers
718 views

How to use social skills versus player characters

If the game system in use supports a mechanical modelling of social knack (like D&D's Bluff, Intimidate and Diplomacy skills), and the player who is subject of the social attack doesn't play his ...
13
votes
10answers
1k views

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

Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages for each approach?
10
votes
10answers
1k views

Is It OK To Sic Assassins On My PCs?

L5R has the most specific example in my immediate memory. In one game, the players were in a diplomatic situation and a Shosuro Shinobi (ninja) was sneaking around to stir the pot. This was a ...
9
votes
4answers
301 views

How do I get players to assign alternate tactical goals?

Based on my prior question on signalling alternate end states and Redefining Combat, how do I present PCs with the ability to assign their own tactical goals beyond "clear" to a hostile environment ...
26
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
102
votes
17answers
8k views

How to deal with players who like to use the local authorities to solve their problems

The problem I have a player in my group which tends to approach local authorities (may it be guards or churches) when facing a threat. He thinks that, given his role (a bard in a medieval world, so, ...
49
votes
11answers
3k views

How can a GM prevent growing disillusioned with their own game?

I recently began a new game in which I gave the players much more free reign in designing their characters than I might have in the past. What I wound up with was a very morally-diverse party, with ...
38
votes
13answers
3k views

Storytelling with lie detection

Most of the fantasy systems I know has a spell to detect lies, speak with the dead, and the like. Imagine how long great movies like The Usual Suspects or In the Heat of the Night would have lasted ...
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 ...
50
votes
11answers
3k 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 & ...
44
votes
12answers
1k views

How do I make weather an important part of the game?

We're starting up a dark ages fantasy game, using some homebrew rules similar to D&D. As the GM, how can I make weather an important part of the game? To be clear, I'm not trying to just toss in ...
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 ...
33
votes
5answers
782 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 ...
28
votes
9answers
2k views

How do I escape the Quicksand Box?

I have a very significant problem whenever I try GMing any given game; I try to provide a world with a lot of wiggle room for the characters as well as factions/NPCs they interact with. Oftentimes my ...
25
votes
10answers
2k views

How can I fool my players into being pawns for the villain?

Concept I want to get a generally benevolent party to unwittingly further the villain's motives. More than parcel delivery - I'd like to tap into their sense of right/wrong, justice, vigilantism, ...
21
votes
10answers
3k views

Randomly-generating weather for a sandbox campaign

I'm running a sandbox campaign and I've been looking for a method of randomly determining the weather for the day. Features I'm looking for: Low-to-medium handling time during play. Big tables are ...
18
votes
2answers
682 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 ...
52
votes
18answers
16k views

Why is burying yourself not such a great plan?

So one of my player is a clever guy. At night when the others are putting the camp together he digs a hole big enough for himself (between 3-4 feet deep) and ask someone to cover his body with dirt ...
32
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.). ...
17
votes
7answers
642 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 ...
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 ...
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
7answers
3k views

What's the best way to kill a character in a way that is memorable, and treated with respect by players?

Sooner or later they're going to die. Most games have a risk of death in them and that means that a character is going to get killed and is not coming back, no way, no how. It's new character time. ...
54
votes
9answers
6k views

How to Fix a Terrible Lapse in Judgement

In the gaming group I run, I said at the very first day that this was going to be a very "adult" campaign. I told them I wasn't going to pull punches, and that the party would have to really think ...
26
votes
10answers
3k 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 ...
26
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
541 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
523 views

How to play a character that has an alien mindset and thought process?

I have a character that I am currently portraying who is not human, and I would like to increase the obviousness of his non-humanity ( mainly through dialog and actions ). The character is a ...
18
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 ...
18
votes
8answers
627 views

How do I create a sense of mystery about magic?

Magic in so many games is something mechanical and fully understood. Assuming I control the setting (and have a group of players willing to try new rules), how do I make magic something mysterious? ...
17
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
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 ...
15
votes
6answers
680 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 ...
52
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
28
votes
5answers
1k 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), ...
28
votes
9answers
679 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 ...
27
votes
13answers
2k 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, ...
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 ...
19
votes
7answers
974 views

How to guide a new DM through his first game (as an experienced DM turned player)?

How can I guide and help a new DM through his first campaign (being an experienced DM myself) without having it look like a grab for power or that I think the new DM is incompetent?
17
votes
5answers
874 views

Does anyone know a good system for building a city?

We're beginning a Geist game and we talked about how interesting it would be to build a city together as a group so we really felt like it was our home town. I've heard Damnation City is good, but ...