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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30
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I learn how to lay out an “evidence scene”?

I feel like I'm particularly bad at any kind of scene where I want to drop clues. I'm hesitant to use the term "crime scene" because it's not always being investigated by "police", and some of these ...
25
votes
12answers
3k views

One of my players is too passive and uninterested

Game is DnD 3.5, not that it matters. So, yeah, she is playing an Elf Rogue and she is like a ghost during the game. In the last session, the party was searching for a guy and some Halfling told ...
0
votes
3answers
271 views

How do you GM well for a party of characters of vastly differing ability and interest [closed]

I'm still looking to be ready to GM an Anima: Beyond Fantasy game and, while my previous problem has still not been solved (shameless plug here), I've run into another one: how to GM for characters of ...
16
votes
3answers
621 views

Techniques to improvise and run interesting social and mundane scenes

Last session (I GM Traveller, a hard science fiction rpg) I realized my lack of skills when I found myself willing to spend some minutes in playing a scene involved a 3 years old child causing trouble ...
5
votes
1answer
412 views

How can you safely handle one of the PCs being central to the plot?

I'm trying my hand at writing my own RPG campaign, but I've run into a potentially fatal flaw in my story idea in that it's dependent upon a rather specific kind of character being a member of the ...
2
votes
1answer
138 views

Free-floating magical effects and planetary rotation [closed]

Many magic systems allow the creation of magical effects such as teleportation portals which are not anchored to a physical object, but rather conjured floating in the air. However, many settings are ...
12
votes
5answers
650 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 ...
97
votes
20answers
6k views

How do you help players not focus on the rules?

Background - My Group's Gaming Style When I GM, I run games loosely from a rules standpoint, and do not feel bound to adhere to what the rulebook says when it doesn't make sense in a given situation. ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

How to get to know my players' expectations?

I am soon starting a new game with a bunch of new people that I have never played with - and some of them I barely spoken to. I am going to be the GM and will introduce them into the setting that they ...
39
votes
7answers
4k views

Is it possible to produce a bowl-shaped probability curve with dice rolls?

In D&D's basic D20 system, you roll one d20 and add in some modifiers, then compare the result to a target number. Each modifier effectively adds or removes a 5% chance of success with the roll. ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

How do I compensate players who do not get to use the potent plot-important artifact?

Situation: the campaign deals around the players lugging around a plot-important artifact that makes the user significantly more powerful than their peers (like the Rod of Seven Parts, a fragment of ...
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 ...
33
votes
12answers
4k 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 ...
32
votes
6answers
2k views

How do I emphasize role-playing during combat?

Right now, the group that I GM for is very, very tactical-combat focused. To some extent, we may as well be playing a dungeon crawl board game for all the role-play we manage. Now, in and of itself ...
15
votes
1answer
430 views

Player/DM who is having trouble letting go of an old campaign

I'm part of a group of 3 (relatively new) people playing an RPG called Challenger. All three of us are interested in being GM, so we've been rotating; all of our adventures occur in the same universe, ...
18
votes
7answers
1k views

Should a GM seek to share costs? [closed]

After the release of D&D 5e and reading through all the advice on the exchange me and a couple of friends decided to start running weekly sessions, I paid for most of the initial materials (map, ...
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
494 views

Do birds cry? Or, how to play interactions with intelligent non-humanoid beings

Currently I have a campaign where the highly capable antagonist has a weak spot: A very beautiful, highly intelligent, jocund and unfortunately pretty spoiled raven which is also able to speak. The ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I deal with my players not roleplaying at all? [duplicate]

I know I should "let them have fun" or something, but the game isn't really working. I'm GMing a pathfinder campaign, but this isn't system-dependent. My players aren't roleplaying at all. Ok, they ...
20
votes
7answers
640 views

Speed up campaign development

I'm making a campaign, and it's going fairly nicely. However, I found out that my group is able to meet this week, which I didn't expect. So instead of having 9 days to find time to prepare, I have 2 ...
26
votes
8answers
2k views

How can I deal with character classes and builds so specific they don't fit in with the group?

This is a problem I've been having in general so far as a Game Master; some character classes seem to be designed not for party play, but to be "loners" and shine only in specific situations. Some ...
57
votes
13answers
10k views

Players playing weird characters breaking the immersion of my group

I have an issue with two players in my very large gaming group that I would like some advice from people who have perhaps dealt with players like these. In terms of age and experience, we're all ...
2
votes
0answers
354 views

How to master a game where the player group is not a group IG [closed]

So, I've had this crazy idea of making a new type of pen and paper RPG, the goal is to enforce two principles : The players are important in their own, not as a group There is no prerequisite for ...
1
vote
2answers
191 views

How can I improve my pregame introduction? [duplicate]

I've been running a game for three sessions now, and each time I feel uncertain as to how to raise the curtains, so to speak, to let everyone know that we're entering the magic circle and it's time ...
39
votes
14answers
4k 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 ...
38
votes
15answers
3k 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 ...
34
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
365 views

Increase power of or control over accidentally discovered abilities? [closed]

TL;DR: PCs discovered magical powers by accident, should further practice increase control or power? Magic is often something that either exists or doesn't, but I find it much more intriguing to ...
39
votes
12answers
5k views

What living apex lifeforms are there other than dragons?

When a theme is dragon* on. Dragons are apex predators and widely regarded by most players and systems as about one of the worst things you can ever deal with. I have a campaign that's been running ...
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 ...
9
votes
7answers
831 views

Giving Players the Game They Want

Currently I am running a game of Legend of the Five Rings, 4th Edition that is an extension of my 3rd Ed campaign. The current setting is a courtly endeavor, which dredges up certain problems. When ...
8
votes
3answers
282 views

How can I help the GM make investigation engaging for the whole party?

Inspired by How can I make investigation engaging for the whole party?, this is roughly the same question but from the opposite side of the fence. As a player, how can I make the investigations more ...
0
votes
4answers
176 views

Arch-enemy or situational obstacle? [closed]

I am running a campaign where my players have a set arch-enemy. A person dedicated to the same goal as the players, but does everything in his power to stop the PCs getting to it first. He would even ...
1
vote
0answers
110 views

What rules would a God of Law impose? [closed]

I'm playing a campaign in which my characters eventually intend to fight a god who has Dominion over the concept of law. Aside from the fact that gods in this universe are nigh omnipotent anyway, the ...
20
votes
5answers
607 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
196 views

Ideas for a plot twist during a hijacking? [closed]

I'm devising a scenario set on a prestigious vehicle (ocean liner, Concorde, or similar). A little while into the voyage, a group of other passengers (separatist rebels) hijack the vessel via small ...
18
votes
10answers
2k views

How to have a game in which one player character is the leader but it's still fun for everyone?

I think the most natural party organization for a group of friends that are playing a game is a flat one, in which no one has authority over another, and decisions are made by consensus (and if that ...
16
votes
7answers
861 views

As an experienced GM, what pitfalls should I watch out for? [closed]

I've been GMing for 20 years and have recently started to question if I need a GM-makeover. We are still having fun but could the game be more fun if I shed some bad, and well ingrained habits? I ...
14
votes
7answers
624 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
2k views

What are possible ways to deal with a player who frequently switches characters?

I have had problems in the past with players who are serial character creators. What I'm referring to are the players who cannot seem to stick with a character more than two sessions at a time without ...
19
votes
5answers
1k views

When planning a campaign, should I know what the ending is before we start?

I am planning the next campaign while the current one comes to a close. Our group favours sandbox play and I facilitate that with Icar's event driven system. While writing down the list of events ...
28
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 ...
9
votes
4answers
652 views

Is there any book dealing with Dungeon Design?

I got this old book from a friend, titled "Central Casting: Dungeons" yesterday night. My friend is my player and he's noticed how much I struggle to make decent dungeons. Though the book is actually ...
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 ...
34
votes
12answers
4k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
580 views

Tips for a Lazy and Time-short DM to randomly populate dungeons?

Tho I'm currently running a campaign with my friends online via roll20 that mostly consists on "Dungeon of the Week" delves, since we're all fans of dungeon delving. The idea is to play from levels 1 ...
11
votes
8answers
2k views

How can I make the daily lives of the PCs interesting?

I'm going to start a new campaign soon and my players and I are looking for a campaign that is somewhat close to the feel of the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer TV series. With that I mean a campaign that ...
38
votes
12answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
188 views

Tips for fleshing out towns on a Dungeon Centered Campaign? [closed]

I'm running a D&D Next Playtest campaign centered on dungeon exploration, just swtiched from 4e so I'm pretty new to this. Our world is build like Bionicle's Mata Nui: a continent with a central ...
39
votes
12answers
3k views

How do I create a great fantasy villain that inspires the party to rally against them?

In my early years of GMing it was simple enough to say that the badguys were evil and that was all the justification we needed. They are attacking the village because they are evil, they are stealing ...