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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26
votes
6answers
795 views

How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight?

One of the assumptions I make as GM is that the players should always be in the spotlight. Sometimes the players find themselves in a situation where they watch NPCs speak to each other. I don't ...
26
votes
9answers
1k views

How do you discourage “player knowledge” as a GM?

As a trivial random encounter is winding down, a player thinks "That was too easy... The GM wouldn't give us an encounter that doesn't give XP," and starts searching for hidden bad guys or other ...
25
votes
12answers
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 ...
25
votes
9answers
1k 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
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 ...
25
votes
10answers
1k 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, ...
25
votes
6answers
1k views

How to deal with players not taking things seriously?

As both a player and GM I play with my group of players (and close friends) on multiple occasions and they will often make fun of either my characters, NPC or a specific situation and won't stop ...
25
votes
8answers
527 views

How can I encourage a style of play where enhancing others' fun is the most important goal?

Let's assume that we can break play styles into two categories: "selfish play," where you want to have fun, and "less-selfish play," where you want to have fun but you want everyone else at the table ...
25
votes
5answers
876 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), ...
25
votes
6answers
564 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 ...
24
votes
10answers
943 views

How can I create a megadungeon in a futuristic/post-apocalyptic setting? [closed]

I play a lot of AD&D 2e, and I really enjoy creating dungeons and megadungeons. However, in a futuristic/postapocalyptic setting, how can I thematically create a megadungeon? Obviously, I couldn't ...
24
votes
10answers
1k views

Crime Investigation in a fantasy world

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 ...
24
votes
11answers
2k views

What to do when your character is just too good?

I'm playing in the Paizo Pathfinder Jade Regent adventure path and we're having a good time so far (campaign blog and session summaries). However, as my character has gone up in power I'm now ...
24
votes
8answers
3k views

As a newbie DM, is it OK to borrow plots from MMOs for my game?

I am an inexperienced GM. I have minimal to none experience game-mastering, although I DO have some experience as a player, and I wanted to prepare a game for a great friend of mine who is a very ...
24
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
24
votes
3answers
413 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 ...
23
votes
18answers
2k views

Overpowered PCs (Gabe's Dilemma)

Penny Arcade recently ran the following strip: (Original strip here) While the resolution of this thread hasn't yet been posted, I'm wondering what we think here. How do you game with PCs who are ...
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 ...
23
votes
8answers
998 views

Making magic “magical”

When I work with settings that contain magic, whether traditional fantasy or others, I always perceive something of a tension when trying to portray the magic between the following factors: Magic ...
23
votes
11answers
756 views

Dealing with skill rerolls by several players

I could use some advice as a GM on how to handle rolls which get repeated by several players one after the other. Example 1 The PCs stand in front of a locked door and try to force it open. The ...
23
votes
5answers
703 views

How can I learn how to negotiate as an NPC?

I'm a new GM (the system is DND 4.0 but that's not relevant here). I've quickly found that I perform very poorly when I'm portraying a negotiation between the PCs and one or more NPCs. Even when they ...
23
votes
7answers
415 views

How do you get a new player engaged in an old campaign?

A group of three players had been going through my campaign for a year and a half, when a fourth player was added around level 15. The new player entered in media res: there was a ton of back story, ...
22
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 ...
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 ...
22
votes
7answers
1k views

How to handle wealthy player characters as a GM?

One of the long-standing settings our group keeps returning to is classic medieval fantasy. (Examples are MERP, Rolemaster, The Dark Eye -- But this question is aimed to be system agnostic and is ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Effects of war on everyday life and adventuring

Yesterday in my new game of Dungeon World we determined that we are in a great empire under attack by hordes of goblins and as I was taking note of this, I realized I have no clue how to effectively ...
22
votes
7answers
530 views

It is possible to have one player lose control of their actions (get possessed) and have the other players not know it?

One of the players in my group is getting rather fond of a very powerful and clearly evil sword that gives them great increases to strength and magical ability. As a consequence, I would love to have ...
22
votes
10answers
734 views

How do I transition my players from roll-playing to role-playing?

The context for this question is the same as this related question about spending time in town, but I am looking for sufficiently different advice so I thought it warranted its own question. I've ...
22
votes
5answers
460 views

Preventing character skill from impeding player enjoyment

Let's consider a player, whom we shall call Bob. Bob loves exciting gunfights and is a big John Woo fan. So he makes up "Shooty McShootenstein," who is a master with a gun. One thing that Bob is not ...
21
votes
12answers
922 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 ...
21
votes
8answers
5k views

How can I keep a King busy?

(Or any leader for that matter) In an organisation/kingdom/etc where a single PC is running a realm and has delegated a lot of authority to various minions (High Priest, Marshall, Enforcer, ...
21
votes
7answers
1k views

Inventiveness vs. breaking the game; How do I encourage one, without enabling the other?

So, recently, I had an issue where I had to make a call on a custom-made weapon, and I'm not sure I handled it very well. The player was using a human alchemist, and instead of throwing 'bombs' every ...
21
votes
6answers
775 views

When GMing in a high-tech game world how do you handle potentially disruptive tech?

This question stems from my Eclipse Phase campaign, but applies to any high-tech setting. While the setting books describe a wealth of technology, there are plenty of tools that are not listed. That's ...
21
votes
11answers
1k views

Excuses for opponents using nonlethal force?

In plotting out low-level encounters at the start of a campaign (especially with new players) I prefer to create opponents who don't want to kill the PCs right away. Instead, I generally have them ...
21
votes
6answers
713 views

How can I treat old and new players fairly, without upsetting anyone?

The last time I ran a game of D&D there was a lot of tension between new players (both to the group, and D&D) and old players. It stemmed partly from oldbies not wanting their ball taken away, ...
21
votes
7answers
811 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
9answers
780 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 ...
21
votes
4answers
408 views

How do I alert the rest of the party that a character within the party has stolen a major plot device?

I'm running a campaign in which a rogue has stolen a powerful necromantic focus (and is keeping it outside of the box that protects the world from it.) The party doesn't know, and I'm looking for a ...
21
votes
5answers
715 views

Learning to use spells comfortably

I'm hoping to get a little but of advice. You see, I've been running Rise of the Runelords, although the fact that I'm using Pathfinder probably isn't too relevant. Point is, I'm relatively new to ...
21
votes
5answers
590 views

How do I learn to do accents?

I've always enjoyed playing in games where the GM/DM/ST makes use of a variety of accents to differentiate between NPCs. I've always wanted to learn how to do that, but I realize that I'm not ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

I'm not a DM anymore. How do I adjust to being a player again?

For the past 5 years or so, I've been a DM/GM across a couple of different systems for a few different groups of friends. Now, I've taken a step back and gone back to being a player. How do I deal ...
20
votes
10answers
1k views

Flaws that aren't flaws

What do you do when a system gives points at character creation for flaws/disadvantages when a player can permanently remove the effects of that flaw by buying something or spending other points to ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

How much detail should I include in medieval maps for players?

I am running a campaign in the Eberron (DnD) setting, but really, this question could apply to anyone running a game in a medieval setting. I wanted to know what level of detail/accuracy to include ...
20
votes
8answers
633 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 ...
20
votes
9answers
1k views

How to Manage Player Frustration and Disengagement

Many RPGs have random elements, such as dice rolling, which can determine success or failure of an action. In some of these games, failure basically means the player character does nothing or ...
20
votes
5answers
676 views

What sorts of things in a typical fantasy village would be made of iron?

I'd like to run an adventure where the party needs to improvise and find some sources of iron when they're in and around a small village. Cold iron plays a role in a lot of games as the bane of fey ...
20
votes
4answers
559 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
417 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 ...
19
votes
8answers
3k views

How can my character coerce uncooperative player characters?

Occasionally in games we find ourselves in a situation where the player characters might not want to co-operate even if their players do. How do you handle the party coercing those characters into ...
19
votes
5answers
615 views

How to handle diverging expectations on “background density”?

Sorry, this is lengthy, but I want to put this into context. After many years (try 15) of not GM'ing a group of my own, I recently made an attempt to return to the head of the table and shake off ...