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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25
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13answers
2k views

How to begin a role-playing scenario in medias res?

If I am running a pre-planned role-playing scenario, how and when can it work to start the session in medias res? The narrative technique can work so well in literature, film and video to increase ...
25
votes
7answers
614 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, ...
25
votes
5answers
3k views

How to manage a mute PC?

I am GM in a custom universe I created (medieval fantastic), and a player asked me if he could create a mute character. I refused because I was afraid it would be too hard to manage, and not fun for ...
24
votes
6answers
3k views

How do I foster enjoyment in the type of make-believe required in RPGs in a child who isn't old enough to play RPGs?

I have a four year old son who, when he gets older, I would like to introduce to RPGs. What types of non-RPG activities should I be doing now to foster enjoyment in the kind of make-believe that role-...
24
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
24
votes
10answers
4k 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 ...
24
votes
10answers
2k 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 ...
24
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I make puzzles a challenge for the character, rather than the player?

I'm designing an adventure, in which at one point the party meets a giant who will only let them pass if they solve some puzzles. However, the problem is that the riddles are a test for the player, ...
24
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
23
votes
18answers
3k 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
6answers
4k views

How to deal with time sensitive decisions?

Before I start I have looked and seen similar questions like this, but I don't think the answers truly address the issue I'm having with my group. I'm having an issue with my group with mostly new ...
23
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
23
votes
11answers
962 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
11answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
3k views

What to do when you notice another player's mistake?

I happened to notice a mistake that one of the other players has been making a mistake that causes their character to be much more powerful than the rules dictate that they should be. I'm sure that ...
23
votes
7answers
2k views

How do I handle a PC to NPC romance?

Our group consists of two couples. One player seems to like romance (which is just fine). This player's character flirted with her husband's character; he played up the fact that his character was not ...
23
votes
10answers
1k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
782 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 ...
23
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 ...
22
votes
10answers
2k 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
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, Spymaster,...
22
votes
7answers
3k views

Helping players remember NPCs with uncommon names

In my game of The Dark Eye we play in the south of Aventuria, and thus the players come across many NPCs with names that are not that common (especially compared to common german names) and my players ...
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
2k views

How can I have non-Euclidean dungeons in non-magic settings?

I really enjoy having non-Euclidean dungeons in my campaigns. My players also enjoy them. But the whole idea of warped geometry tends to rely on magic. How, if at all, could I explain a non-Euclidean ...
22
votes
11answers
2k views

How can you find a balance between effective/optimised characters and creative characters?

When creating characters, I often face a dilemma between making a character. It feels like they can either be optimized so they can "pull their own weight" or having a character I think is creative ...
22
votes
7answers
656 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
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 ...
22
votes
5answers
1k views

How do I signal that alternate tactical end states are possible?

Question inspired by "Redefining Combat" on Clan of the Gray Wolf: It provides an excellent list inspired by army manuals of alternate tactical goals for a scenario: Here are some tactical tasks ...
22
votes
5answers
956 views

GMing against type: adding levity

When I GM, I tend to make the scenarios/campaigns "serious" -- they're grim and gritty, much more about drama (and violence) than anything else. In addition, I tend to focus on some degree of realism ...
22
votes
8answers
2k views

How to Format a DM's Notebook for an Open World Game

I've been DM'ing a homebrew sandbox-style D&D 4e game for the past few months, and it's been going well so far. However, the players have finally left the "starting area" of bouncing between three ...
22
votes
9answers
2k views

Realistic modern day combat system to model real life ambush

I came across a video (helmet camera) of an Taliban force ambushing US infantry troops in Afghanistan. This is a link to the video of ambush: Combat in the First Person, Spc.Michael Gannon guides us ...
22
votes
4answers
864 views

Location generation system?

I tend to GM campaigns where players travel a lot. Whether it is through D&D planes or in a space-opera setting, they are bound to visit a lot of very different and varied places. And I have to ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

Festival Mini Games

My D&D party will be going to a town with a festival in it. Generally during festivals there may be some games that are going on, kind of like small carnival type games or "mini games", ones that ...
22
votes
5answers
844 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
6answers
3k views

Is studying rules and pointing out which ones we've stretched or broken ok?

My group is mostly new to Pathfinder (including the GM), and we sometimes take "Accidental Liberties" while playing. For instance, my character has a spear with the "Brace" feature. I had been using ...
21
votes
10answers
2k 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 ...
21
votes
8answers
1k 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 ...
21
votes
6answers
1k 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
6answers
15k views

How do I build interesting dungeons? [closed]

I'm a new GM and I need to undestand how to build enjoyable locations. I don't get how to build interesting dungeons. For example, I need to explore a castle. But a castle is not as complicated as ...
21
votes
4answers
480 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
979 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 ...
21
votes
5answers
655 views

Is it plausible that characters can invent devices in a medieval setting, and how should one balance it?

To illustrate what I mean, let me give a quick example: In The Dark Eye, there is a Staff Ritual named "Hammer des Magus" or "Hammer of the Mage". Its effect is that everything non-organic you touch ...
21
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
4k views

How to play boring everyday tasks

I am about to run a Traveller rpg game using the Outer Veil setting by Spice publishing. I am having the players be very much like the firefly crew, needing to work to keep their ship barely flying. ...
20
votes
8answers
529 views

Treasure that's hard to put a price on

(We've been playing D&D, but for this answer I'm looking for a system-agnostic answer that works for a premodern setting. Let's say 1500 AD or earlier.) Most of the treasure the party gets from ...
20
votes
5answers
3k 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
7answers
1k 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?
20
votes
6answers
3k views

How to deal with a group reluctant to think and discuss? [closed]

Here at RPG.SE we form a quite specific bunch. We discuss social-contract or group-dynamics, we use terms like "player agency" or "emergent settings". We approach the hobby at an intellectual level, ...
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, ...
20
votes
11answers
967 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 ...