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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18
votes
8answers
441 views

What are some proven methods of generating attachment to locations/objects in a campaign?

It is a truism that a GM can never really be sure what a group of players will do, or which NPCs they are going to grow fond of. Places and objects, however... are they the same? In games like Star ...
18
votes
8answers
432 views

Practices to mitigate player characters' conflicting agendas

You have a campaign that provides, by design, a high level of freedom for the players to pick the story threads, sides and whatnot for themselves. In the long run, a conflict arises: some player ...
18
votes
9answers
737 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
724 views

Good techniques for getting player-character backgrounds integrated into the game?

So I'm starting a new campaign for an existing gaming group soon, and I'd like to actually incorporate character backgrounds that the players will be creating (eventually). These aren't epic-novels or ...
18
votes
2answers
682 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
503 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" (no idea what the term is in English). Its effect is that everything ...
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 ...
17
votes
7answers
2k views

Playing a loyal character without it being boring

I've been playing a character in a long running campaign (2+ years) that consists of a relatively large number of players (approx. 6 regulars and another 2-3 semi-regulars). Due to the number of ...
17
votes
9answers
1k views

What real world skills can RPGs improve?

What real world skills can be improved by playing Role-playing games? What skills have you or others in your experience improved through gaming?
17
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 ...
17
votes
7answers
535 views

How do I roleplay getting used to violence?

So I just rolled up a character for a game (D&D 3.5 if it matters) and looked around table to see we had two ex-soldiers, a professional bodyguard, and a 'famous' adventurous. (A level 1 bard with ...
17
votes
8answers
927 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
642 views

Fantasy and magic in a primarily realistic setting

I'm running a game that's best described as "medieval fantasy," in the sense that we're actually trying to have the lives of people in the setting strongly resemble the historical Middle Ages. There ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

How to easily come up with improvised dialogue

I'm a new GM, working with a few friends in a sci-fi campaign that I wrote using GURPS 4e. I think its going well, but the glaring flaw I've noticed in my work is that I can't come up with good, ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

How to handle the PCs within a large military?

On some level, this might actually be getting closer to RPGs’ roots: I want to try a campaign where the PCs are members of a larger military. There may be need for them to coordinate with other ...
17
votes
3answers
864 views

Method for playing an online text-based RPG that doesn't require everyone to be online at once?

I am contemplating starting up a web-based text game for my D&D group to be played alongside our weekly sessions. The idea would be to play through events related to the main storyline, but not so ...
17
votes
8answers
431 views

What's a good method for making cultures differ?

Just read through a great question (on getting players to play in line with their characters' cultures) and it got me thinking: What do you do to make the cultures in your setting differ? Let's say ...
17
votes
8answers
1k views

How to introduce and encourage role playing in non-roleplayers?

I'm going to be hosting a game at the end of the month. Myself, I am a semi-experienced DM but I will be playing with those who know only the basic mechanics of the game or have never roleplayed ...
17
votes
10answers
3k views

Glossary of Common RPG Terminology [closed]

This thread is a Community Wiki to define terminology specific to the world of RPGs which outsiders looking to come in may not be familiar with. This question is for terms which are not unique to a ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the literary influences of the D&D Bard?

Can anyone tell me what sources, in literature, film, etc. inspired the Bard class for Dungeons & Dragons? I'm familiar with the Celtic Bards of history and legend, but the modern D&D Bard ...
17
votes
4answers
755 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
874 views

Does anyone know a good system for building a city?

We're beginning a Geist game and we talked about how interesting it would be to build a city together as a group so we really felt like it was our home town. I've heard Damnation City is good, but ...
16
votes
7answers
645 views

Techniques for skimming through travel (fast travel) without meta-teleportation

In most of my group's campaigns, we spend a lot of time traveling. Unfortunately, this leans one of two ways: Uninteresting or distracting obstacles. If you want to spend time but keep it fresh, ...
16
votes
9answers
861 views

When should the DM hide a PC's hit points?

In any game with hit points (I'm thinking D&D, but any will do), is there ever a situation where the DM ought to keep track of a player character's hit points, and not reveal it to the player? ...
16
votes
5answers
957 views

Why the bad guys don't just teleport somewhere drop a bomb and teleport back?

This question could be also How to avoid teleport/drop bomb/teleport back attacks? or How to avoid the use of Dimensional Shamblers as bomb carriers? Background Recently my group of players thought ...
16
votes
9answers
905 views

Looking for a high-action, non-dark setting

I'm looking for a setting which should answer these rather specific key points: Pre-made and detailed. I would like the heavy-lifting to be done for me. There shouldn't be too many holes left that I ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

How much information about NPCs and enemies is appropriate to show players?

I am a first-time GM trying to run a short Dragon Age campaign. During our first game, I hid the character sheets of the NPCs and enemies from the players. Is this appropriate? Should I give the ...
16
votes
7answers
3k views

What's the best way to kill a character in a way that is memorable, and treated with respect by players?

Sooner or later they're going to die. Most games have a risk of death in them and that means that a character is going to get killed and is not coming back, no way, no how. It's new character time. ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

When to give up on an obstacle

I had a situation in a recent game where the PCs (who are all robots, in a setting where humans are long dead) came across a rusted-out android in a dilapidated shack on a small dock. They needed fuel ...
16
votes
5answers
5k views

How do I build interesting dungeons?

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 ...
16
votes
7answers
729 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 ...
16
votes
9answers
556 views

What are the pros, cons, and hitches of having only the players roll dice?

I ran a variant of DnD3.5 a few years a go with this house rule Player Only Rolls. The basic of the idea was that the referee never rolls at all. The players roll to attack vers the creatures AC. They ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

As a player, how can I help other players explore their characters on a deeper level?

I'm playing in a group with a diverse group of players. Some have everything about their character planned (like myself and one other player), others came to the table with a concept and nothing else. ...
16
votes
8answers
3k views

Vast and expanded realistic combat system

I am searching for a combat & damage system for an ad hoc RPG system set in Victoria era, more or less (though this part is completely unimportant). Are there any system that would bring me close ...
16
votes
4answers
474 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" ...
16
votes
10answers
984 views

Weapon that does 5 damage vs. one that does 1d10 damage: What characteristic of the weapons causes this difference?

Say I have these weapons, both with a +1 bonus to hit (the number doesn't matter, just that they are exactly the same in all other respects but damage): 5 damage on hit 1d10 damage on hit IMHO all ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

As a GM, how can avoid pitfalls common to Generic Point Build Systems?

I'm well aware that point-buy systems (HERO System, GURPS, Mutants & Masterminds, Wild Talents) tend to have a set of common pitfalls associated with them. Players will usually choose Combat ...
15
votes
10answers
667 views

What to do when you end up duplicating another players character?

Frequently I seem to roll up characters who are the spitting image of someone else's character. Most recently I rolled up a Utility Force Wizard for Star wars: Saga edition, which matched someone else ...
15
votes
6answers
680 views

Creating truly alien, intelligent NPC races

How can I make intelligent NPC races that are truly alien? They need to be: Culturally non-human. They need to be stranger than any sort of human culture that already exists. Rational. Behaving ...
15
votes
4answers
515 views

Filling in holes in published adventures?

I have had really bad experiences with Published adventures whenever I try and run a game. My parties always seem to do or ask questions that the published material just doesn't answer. Many times I ...
15
votes
10answers
1k views

Best way to use a GM Screen nowadays?

This may just be me but I like the feel of having an old school GM/DM screen up. However, between laptops, mountains of books, and more frequently having to see the battle layout, I find that within ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

How do I convince my group to try a new system without always having to DM it first?

I always play roleplaying games with the same friends. We have a lot of fun, but I'm always a bit frustrated by the fact that they always resist when I propose to try new roleplaying games. Even ...
15
votes
4answers
783 views

High-Tech Dungeon Crawling in Hard Sci-Fi

I've started playing Eclipse Phase with a group of friends. Most of them have a Dungeons and Dragon history, and love getting magic items and such. I've already made up my mind to take the party on ...
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 ...
15
votes
5answers
559 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
966 views

As a player, how can I help the GM when the game goes out of control?

I've seen numerous games go down the pan when certain players derail the plot, either making it PC vs GM, or making the game more about their ludicrous choices. It might seem overly harsh turn of ...
15
votes
5answers
574 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. ...
15
votes
6answers
718 views

How to use social skills versus player characters

If the game system in use supports a mechanical modelling of social knack (like D&D's Bluff, Intimidate and Diplomacy skills), and the player who is subject of the social attack doesn't play his ...
15
votes
5answers
431 views

How to abstract a trial?

A session I am writing for my gaming group will take the characters through a murder trial. One of the players is the accused, and he and his companions will need to build a case and defend ...