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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4
votes
1answer
237 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 ...
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 ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I implement freeform magic on a system? [closed]

i'd like to ask you if any of you has ever played an rpg where players we're entitled to make their own spells, and how it turned to be. Also, i'd like some answer to a problem concerning this topic ...
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 ...
12
votes
7answers
1k views

Alternatives to Pass-Fail skill challenges in D&D 4e

Non-Combat encounters should be fun, not frustrating! I'm a veteran (AD&D) DM running D&D 4e, and my first-time players really enjoy the game I'm running for them. Though, the skill-challenge ...
7
votes
2answers
218 views

Improving combat when playing on IRC

A group I play with via IRC seems to have a serious problem keeping combat interesting: the medium inherently slows things down, descriptions of attacks and defenses don’t have the same ...
2
votes
2answers
209 views

Fighting Skills equivalent to skills [closed]

My question is about tabletop games and their skill progression systems. There are some games (World of Darkness, as one example) that allows a player's character to begin play with master-level (in ...
31
votes
7answers
956 views

Using a Time-Skip as a Plot Device

In the game that I'm currently running, the PCs have traveled to the Realm of the Fae to gather information on their (im)mortal enemy, a Lich. When they emerge from the Fae Realm, I was planning on ...
6
votes
4answers
422 views

Game design differences between contested rolls and general attack rolls in combat

Background: Our group does D&D 3.5/4e one week, and a different system the other week (we've done GURPS and Serenity, and I'm going to be running Mutants and Masterminds 3rd edition). I've ...
3
votes
3answers
259 views

How do I become a merchant prince? [closed]

This is for a game of Ars-Magicia but it could well cover any system. The setting is Medieval Europe, specifically around 1197 in Pampalona (Near the eventual Spanish/French border) My character is ...
31
votes
19answers
2k views

How do I add a recurring fantasy villain without frustrating the players?

I am currently running a campaign which is still in its early stages, and I plan to introduce a recurring villain. However, if the villain is always the main "big bad" behind every session and he gets ...
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, ...
13
votes
5answers
772 views

Awarding Experience for out-of-game activities, bias towards players with more time, how to fix?

I decided to reward players with extra experience if they wrote summaries of the game sessions in between our meetings. Some players have the extra time to do this, and some don't. What ends up ...
18
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, ...
9
votes
5answers
402 views

Running a campaign alternating GMs every session

The group with which I usually roleplay has a consistent problem: someone will say "Hey, I want to run a campaign in X system with Y setting." Everyone will make characters (which can take quite a ...
1
vote
1answer
100 views

Setting up a new world scenario, any good planetary system references? [closed]

I'm trying to put together a new planetary system. A larger than earth planet, in a binary-sun system, and I'm wondering if anyone knows of a set of books, websites, or software that would make my job ...
20
votes
8answers
1k 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
9answers
855 views

Looking for a high-action, non-dark setting

I'm looking for a setting which should answer these rather specific key points: Pre-made and detailed. I would like the heavy-lifting to be done for me. There shouldn't be too many holes left that I ...
28
votes
7answers
689 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
473 views

How do I run a dungeon crawl, communicating how various rooms/passages look?

I have never run a dungeon crawl before, such as the one linked here. How do you tell the players what they see? Some examples from older ROG books I have have description in the form of "You come to ...
13
votes
2answers
699 views

How to cut back on pre-game joking?

When preparing for a new game (be it a one shot or a campaign) our party, yours truly included, often slips into a humorous mode. It's usually light-hearted fun, and most of us like it, but some, ...
47
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 ...
15
votes
4answers
503 views

Filling in holes in published adventures?

I have had really bad experiences with Published adventures whenever I try and run a game. My parties always seem to do or ask questions that the published material just doesn't answer. Many times I ...
10
votes
6answers
756 views

Encouraging players to not cheat the item purchase system?

I'm running a campaign for a group of friends who - while not new to roleplaying - are new to the idea of a generic resource points system. For context only (still system-agnostic advice), I'm talking ...
16
votes
5answers
929 views

Why the bad guys don't just teleport somewhere drop a bomb and teleport back?

This question could be also How to avoid teleport/drop bomb/teleport back attacks? or How to avoid the use of Dimensional Shamblers as bomb carriers? Background Recently my group of players thought ...
7
votes
1answer
371 views

How to describe combat with brutes

How can I describe combat where player characters face multiple opponents? For example, in 7th Sea there are up to six brutes in a squad. I'd like to have some inspiration for how to describe the ...
18
votes
5answers
672 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 ...
18
votes
8answers
919 views

How can I motivate my fellow players?

Although I'm very much enjoying the one of the games I'm in, the other players seem to be flagging and losing interest. This is a bit disheartening as their lack of enthusiasm is bringing down the ...
1
vote
1answer
169 views

What use is a car, with no infrastructure? [closed]

I've got an idea that's not fully formed yet, kicking around in my head. I'm trying to set up a modern character who ends up stuck in a fantasy setting. Through plot-relevant forces, he was abducted ...
17
votes
5answers
942 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 ...
13
votes
11answers
837 views

How can non-magical healers be useful when magic healing is available?

In many roleplaying games the prerequisite to perform magic healing is knowledge, and during action it is mostly limited by magic capacity and sometimes time. Meanwhile the prerequisite to perform ...
23
votes
8answers
1k 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 ...
28
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 ...
34
votes
4answers
2k views

Resources for Complex Puzzle-Traps

I'm looking for resources for designing complex challenges - something that's not quite a puzzle and not quite a trap, but somewhere in between. There are tons of resources for really complex or ...
34
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
5answers
335 views

Modern or future polar horror adventure

I'm looking for a contemporary or sci-fi horror adventure (for any such rpg), set in a polar – Arctic or Antarctic or alternate planet – environment. Mind you, I'll be trying to come up with my own ...
23
votes
11answers
864 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
281 views

Powergamer to Roleplayer [closed]

I would classify myself as a powergamer. Most of the characters that I make are carefully optimized and crafted. However, the most "Fun" I ever had in a game was when my character was not optimized ...
32
votes
10answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
239 views

Introducing a complex game world to players unfamiliar with its fiction whilst still hitting the ground running with character creation?

I am preparing to start up a Hellfrost game using the Savage Worlds system. Although I've run Hellfrost before, it has always been for people who are already familiar with its fiction and fluff. In ...
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 ...
8
votes
7answers
807 views

How do I set the base price in a barter system?

I'm currently working on a homebrew system and one concept I was intending to incorperate is that there is no in-game currency; items are traded using a barter system. The thing is, how do I set a ...
27
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, ...
27
votes
7answers
1k views

What makes a character/creature/power/ability/etc. over-powered?

In generic terms, what makes something, regardless of what game it's being used in, over powered? I hear the term a lot, and while I can recognize it when I see it in-play (often due to someone ...
28
votes
12answers
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 ...