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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16
votes
7answers
641 views

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

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
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?
16
votes
5answers
2k 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
9answers
520 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
7answers
724 views

How can I make downtime interesting?

My group is running a set of published adventures, so there's a pretty linear path between them. But between modules, there is the opportunity to go back to town, spend some money, and get some good ...
16
votes
4answers
448 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
8answers
780 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
493 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
384 views

How to play a character that has an alien mindset and thought process?

I have a character that I am currently portraying who is not human, and I would like to increase the obviousness of his non-humanity ( mainly through dialog and actions ). The character is a ...
16
votes
5answers
608 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
6answers
310 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 ...
15
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
477 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

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. ...
15
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
645 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
3answers
660 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 ...
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
515 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
5answers
694 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
365 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 ...
14
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 ...
14
votes
9answers
526 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
845 views

A summary of visibility?

Does anyone have a pointer to a good (plain and simple, quick to use) guide to visibility ranges, or could someone please give me (us) a brief, basic summary of visibility? (How far can you see on a ...
14
votes
6answers
405 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 ...
14
votes
7answers
373 views

How do I write a one-off scenario that could lead into a larger campaign?

Here's the situation: I've got a group of people interested in getting together for a fantasy roleplaying game, with me as their GM. This particular group hasn't all gamed together before, we're ...
14
votes
10answers
839 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
471 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 ...
14
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 ...
14
votes
7answers
369 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
237 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
707 views

Semi-random name generator

Does anyone know of a good online name generator that can be set up to create random names with culture-specific flavour? (Meaning, for example, names that sound like Russian, Norwegian etc etc.)
14
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
265 views

How do you build rule mastery in your game?

No one likes the "rules lawyer." However, most GMs like players to know the rules. There is nothing more frustrating to have a player, or players, come to a table to play a game--that they are excited ...
13
votes
5answers
759 views

Awarding Experience for out-of-game activities, bias towards players with more time, how to fix?

I decided to reward players with extra experience if they wrote summaries of the game sessions in between our meetings. Some players have the extra time to do this, and some don't. What ends up ...
13
votes
11answers
732 views

How can non-magical healers be useful when magic healing is available?

In many roleplaying games the prerequisite to perform magic healing is knowledge, and during action it is mostly limited by magic capacity and sometimes time. Meanwhile the prerequisite to perform ...
13
votes
12answers
795 views

Why would I hire you?

I'm designing a D&D 4E campaign (set in the Forgotten Realms) for my local gaming society, which may or may not spill out into bigger things, rpg.se has given me too many ideas! I want the party ...
13
votes
7answers
448 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Is the scope of my campaign too large?

I am in the process of preparing a D&D 4e campaign, which will be my first trip as a GM. It is not taking place in any pre-made D&D setting, but is heavily inspired from the background I read ...
13
votes
10answers
956 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?
13
votes
6answers
419 views

Finding time to play

How do people find time to play an RPG with friends, around work, study and partners? I've a preference for weekly play but I just can't find the time to dedicate to roleplaying anymore. And when I ...
13
votes
6answers
605 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, ...
13
votes
5answers
470 views

Truly alien 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
361 views

How to handle lack of PC communication?

I've currently got a DFRPG group, and it's struggling a little bit. The main issue right now is that there's a good lack of communication between PC's. How can I encourage the players to communicate ...
13
votes
6answers
561 views

Regional Resource Management and Trade Rules

I've been looking at TSR's old Birthright setting lately, searching for an easy way to quantify trade between political entities. I'm thinking about ways for a city or region or planet to develop ...
13
votes
2answers
264 views

Squad formations

I've just watched episode 1-2 of Terranova, and there is a scene in which a military squad goes to the rescue of some teenagers who are surrounded by dinosaurs in a jungle. When the squad arrives, ...
13
votes
8answers
405 views

How does one get players to explore more?

In a comment in my answer within What qualifies exploration gaming? Javafueled commented: It almost begs me to ask the question: How do I get players to explore more? :) – javafueled In order ...
13
votes
2answers
655 views

How to cut back on pre-game joking?

When preparing for a new game (be it a one shot or a campaign) our party, yours truly included, often slips into a humorous mode. It's usually light-hearted fun, and most of us like it, but some, ...