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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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
244 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
817 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 ...
17
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
400 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
595 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 ...
26
votes
8answers
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
437 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
1k 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
607 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
423 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
861 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
288 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
807 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
464 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
501 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
405 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
551 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
366 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
89 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
670 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
999 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
172 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 ...
72
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
881 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
2k 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
3k 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
256 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 ...
23
votes
7answers
2k 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
841 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
765 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
180 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
593 views

Advice for writing and publishing a setting/extended campaign for an existing system

I have been playing and GMing rpgs for a number of years, and a little while ago I had what I believe to be a really good idea for an original campaign setting for Savage Worlds, my system of choice. ...
11
votes
8answers
356 views

Using Boardgames or Card Games to improve GMing or Playing [closed]

Do you know of any cases of successfully using props or cards from board games/card games (all kinds) to run a campaign, ease preparing for a session or the playing itself? I am interested both in ...
98
votes
17answers
8k views

How to deal with players who like to use the local authorities to solve their problems

The problem I have a player in my group which tends to approach local authorities (may it be guards or churches) when facing a threat. He thinks that, given his role (a bard in a medieval world, so, ...
15
votes
5answers
533 views

As a GM, what aids could I use to create adventure scenes on the spot?

As a GM, many a time I run into a situation that I know nothing of, am not prepared about, and need something, NOW! Maybe it is a freeform adventure and plot was not prepared, maybe I prepared some ...
3
votes
3answers
295 views

Non-magical wilderness (forest) threats

What are some ways that a group of several agile and fit individuals can be (mortally) threatened in a large forest in the autumn? Temperate climate, realistic setting , low magic - I would prefer to ...
12
votes
5answers
660 views

Designing scenarios for infrequent, short sessions

I have GMed for a group of friends for over 10 years, mostly in the world of darkness and the Dresden Files universe. We really enjoy the character play, the storytelling and the occasional outburst ...
47
votes
15answers
3k views

How can I make my PCs flee?

My players never run away or avoid conflict. Ever. I throw them ridiculous encounters, they will stay and fight. If I tell them, "You know you're not gonna make it, just run," they stay and fight and ...
15
votes
5answers
552 views

Adding comic relief

As a GM, I would like to add comic relief to my sessions. Comic relief is the inclusion of a humorous character, scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension. ...
28
votes
7answers
1k views

Fighting boredom in combat as a player

Sometimes (as a player) I get bored during combat. At times I feel like all my turns are the same (especially when playing lower level characters) and when that is combined with no combat progress ...
19
votes
5answers
896 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 ...
20
votes
10answers
1k 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 ...