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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31
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 ...
27
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
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
255 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 ...
6
votes
11answers
367 views

Simpler ways to keep track of the player's wealth/purchasing power?

I'm about to run my first game of D&D as Dungeon Master. I've played a few sessions as a character, and one of the things that always annoyed me was keeping track of how much money we had. The ...
41
votes
10answers
2k views

What characterizes a “Modern” role playing game or gaming system?

I recently read about D&D clones in another question (I forget where I saw it) and noticed comments referring to gaming systems that were clones of D&D as "Old School" while others ...
2
votes
2answers
194 views

Useful mental frameworks during character creation [closed]

This post on Greywulf's Lair explores the concept of a one axis sliding scale for character building: One thing that all of these choices brings is the idea of a sliding scale. With 4e D&D, ...
27
votes
7answers
959 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 ...
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 ...
10
votes
10answers
973 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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
202 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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
23
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 ...
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 ...
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
348 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
247 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
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 ...
10
votes
3answers
358 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 ...
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, ...
10
votes
5answers
391 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 ...
72
votes
19answers
3k 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. ...
11
votes
3answers
736 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
455 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 ...
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 ...
14
votes
6answers
391 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
414 views

What analyses exist of capitalist economies in “modern” setting RPGs?

A number of questions exist on stack-exchange discussing feudal economies in RPGs, indicating a number of essays regarding feudal economics in RPG. What equivalent essay analyses exist of game ...
13
votes
6answers
573 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, ...
4
votes
2answers
252 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
192 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
456 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
432 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" ...
20
votes
5answers
415 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
352 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 ...
36
votes
14answers
2k views

How to get out of a story deadlock

As with most of my questions, this is more of a general "how to handle a special situation" and not a plea to solve an existing problem. What is the best way to handle story deadlocks (as in: The ...
12
votes
10answers
861 views

Do you use character sheets? Or, do you use a blank sheet of paper?

Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages for each approach?
14
votes
4answers
234 views

Is there a method for sliding seamlessly from one system into another during a campaign?

Has anyone changed system/setting/genre but kept the characters during a campaign? Players can become very attached to their characters, even when the campaign/setting/genre or system is getting ...
8
votes
3answers
340 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
301 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
77 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 ...
29
votes
16answers
1k views

How do I get the PCs to visit scary places at night?

Sometimes when I design scenarios, I realize that my mental image of the adventure is only exciting because it takes place at night. When the players actually play through the adventure, they might ...
14
votes
9answers
1k views

What games have good treatments of sub-Saharan Africa, or fantasy analogues?

I'm aware of Atlas Games' Nyambe, and I read the Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom sourcebook that White Wolf released for Vampire some years back. Which other books treat the area well, or at least as a ...
5
votes
2answers
163 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
239 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
636 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 ...
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 ...
10
votes
12answers
627 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
171 views

Wraiths across multiple games

In a freeform game, I'm running a story involving a creature that subsides upon stolen energy obtained from draining the magical or life energy out of other creatures, particularly humans. Coming from ...