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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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 ...
27
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 ...
32
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
32
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 ...
28
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
24
votes
3answers
454 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
309 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
792 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
271 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
37
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
220 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
731 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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
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 ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Please stop giving the town sheriff a noogie!

Related to this question but more closely related to this question. How can I get my PCs to not cause a single or small handful of characters to become the butt of a joke when that humor could easily ...
14
votes
7answers
369 views

Advantages and disadvantages in using a one-shot pre-gen to introduce a new system

In questions about how to learn new systems, or teach them, a common suggestion is to run a single-session game with pre-made characters and a pre-made scenario. In your experience as a GM and/or ...
9
votes
2answers
268 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 ...
24
votes
6answers
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 ...
10
votes
3answers
377 views

How do I make a story based campaign revolve around a megadungeon?

I'd really like to make a more story-heavy setting in my next fantasy campaign, but I also love megadungeons. What is a good way to use a megadungeon to tell a story instead of as a place for ...
12
votes
5answers
848 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
885 views

Where does the stereotype that wizards can't wear armor come from? [closed]

Why are wizards and their ilk so restricted in their choice of personal armor in most fantasy roleplaying games? (...let alone novels etc.) Sure, learning takes up a lot of time, especially about ...
7
votes
3answers
512 views

Where do the standard racial tropes for Dwarves come from? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Where does the D&D concept of a dwarf come from? In all traditional fantasy RPGs I've heard of or played, Dwarves are a mining/smithing race of short, anti-magic ...
14
votes
6answers
405 views

Is the information gained from a knowledge check fallible?

I got into a big argument on another forum about the fallibility of knowledge checks. I was under the impression that they represented things a character had learned by virtue of living life in the ...
22
votes
6answers
817 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 ...
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 ...
9
votes
5answers
270 views

Representing different languages in online games

What are methods for clearly representing different languages (e.g. Elven, Dwarven, Deep Speech) in text-based online play? We have tried footnotes and are using colored text (green for Elven, brown ...
4
votes
2answers
254 views

Star System Summary Sheets

I'm updating my Star Wars notes (from hastily scribbled notepads) to a more organised format in a binder and I'd like to make a page that summarises each star-system with helpful information, like ...
11
votes
4answers
577 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
448 views

How would I quickly put together a believable map of an area?

As part of my "Closed Circle" campaign, I'm looking for ways to quickly put together a believable map of a college campus and surrounding area, complete with believable building placement. "Quickly" ...
23
votes
7answers
466 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, ...
12
votes
3answers
374 views

How can I build open-ended questions into a scenario in a GM driven world?

Inspired by this question. In a game where the GM has the traditional role of answering all the questions about the world, what is the benefit of building open-ended questions into the scenario for ...
8
votes
3answers
378 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
348 views

What are the pitfalls when swapping characters between players?

I have a plot hook that I want to use where the entire player character team gets gassed and wake up feeling "different". I want to simulate that by swapping characters between the players for one ...
2
votes
1answer
83 views

What published adventures are there that focus on nanotech?

I'm looking for some fresh ideas for adventures centered on nanotech and I don't care about what system they come from. I plan to adapt them for my own use so I may or may not use the system/setting ...
13
votes
6answers
605 views

Introducing System Mechanics to new players

Context Hello, I'm assembling a DnD/Pathfinder group, and all the players are new to tabletop rpg. All they know is rpg is about storytelling, dice rolling [ and macabre rituals <- just kidding, ...
25
votes
10answers
961 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
169 views

Balance between planning and improvising [closed]

What is the ideal balance between planning out an entire session of playing, complete with music scoring and conversation detailing, and winging the entire thing? As an example, I'll cite one of the ...
67
votes
18answers
4k views

How do I not cheapen death, while also respecting my players' time?

I DM for a group of very busy people, for whom the commitment of several hours a week is a real sacrifice: that’s a sizeable chunk of their free time for the week that I’m asking for. ...
16
votes
8answers
778 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 ...
25
votes
10answers
1k views

Crime Investigation in a fantasy world [closed]

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 ...
12
votes
8answers
2k views

How do I handle a player who plays his character far differently than the character was originally presented?

I'm not asking how to make every character be played as I would play them. I'm asking how to handle a situation in which the character that the player presents to me as a GM (with complete back-story, ...
8
votes
2answers
249 views

Mechanics and methods for playing a quantum-superposition of worlds

I'm looking for game mechanics and story telling methods that convey the atmosphere that characters don't just live in one world, but in a multiverse adhering to something similar to the many-worlds ...
22
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 ...
9
votes
3answers
721 views

How do I deal with two players who dislike each other and disrupt the game?

I have lately had a problem with some players in a campaign I am running. Basically, they don't get on well together, for various reasons. I don't really understand it, but then again, I am looking in ...
10
votes
12answers
641 views

How do I design a Christmas-themed horror adventure?

'Tis soon the season and I want to treat my players to a Christmas-themed adventure as part of my ongoing horror campaign. I want to keep the horror element, but I don't mind mixing in a bit of humor ...