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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8answers
1k views

“Retiring” a maxed-out party

This question has a specific and a general sense. Eventually, if your game runs long enough, a party will be pretty much maxed out - reaching level caps, wielding top-level powers and abilities, ...
20
votes
11answers
970 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 ...
20
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
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votes
7answers
1k views

How can I help my players be interested in others' characters?

In asking this question I realized something that I never have before: my players aren't interested in each other's characters. How can I, as DM but also game session organizer and facilitator, help ...
20
votes
5answers
1k views

Level of detail in description?

There's a trope or two that says you shouldn't bother describing anything unless it's relevant to the story. However, in RPG's where the participants partially shape the story with their actions, any ...
20
votes
7answers
3k views

How to get players to do something without them feeling railroaded?

I'm DM'ing a play-by-post campaign and I'm at a point in the adventure where the group all meets for the first time. They've all had something stolen from them at the same time and saw a creature that ...
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votes
10answers
1k views

How to determine how much plot guidance is too much? [closed]

I've played in many games that were extremely railroaded. There was basically only one feasible course of action and we, as players, were expected to take that route. (The GM would get very upset if ...
20
votes
4answers
2k views

How to become better at descriptions of what your character is doing?

A (very) common GM question is "What is your character doing?" How do you, as a player, describe effectively what you character is doing? What techniques do you use to evoke wonder and spark ...
20
votes
1answer
703 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
607 views

How to run an encounter where PCs have different observations of the same events?

Some of the discussion in this question got me to thinking about an encounter design that sounded fun but I couldn't figure out an elegant way to pull it off: In some situation where one or more PCs ...
20
votes
5answers
611 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
595 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 ...
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votes
5answers
1k views

How to handle diverging expectations on “background density”?

Sorry, this is lengthy, but I want to put this into context. After many years (try 15) of not GM'ing a group of my own, I recently made an attempt to return to the head of the table and shake off ...
19
votes
8answers
725 views

Inventory: How can you carry adequate equipment without bringing a caravan?

In our campaign, we try to stay somewhat realistic. Unfortunately, we always find ourselves in one of two situations: Lacking equipment to survive in basic adventure circumstances. Burdened by ...
19
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. ...
19
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
19
votes
7answers
854 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 ...
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 ...
19
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
412 views

What are the consequences of letting players be characters from a work of fiction?

What are the consequences of letting players be characters from a book, movie, or other pre-existing work of fiction? For example, how would I handle a campaign based on the X-Files where the PCs are ...
18
votes
9answers
983 views

Rewards for a cancelled session? [closed]

If a referee has to cancel a session at very short notice, what rewards to the players are sensible? For example part of a sessions exps, bennies or hero points.
18
votes
11answers
1k views

How do you keep the party on the map?

I'm running a fairly sandbox game, where the party can wander around easily from place to place. When the party visits areas I've prepared something for, they generally have a good time. When they ...
18
votes
8answers
3k views

How can my character coerce uncooperative player characters?

Occasionally in games we find ourselves in a situation where the player characters might not want to co-operate even if their players do. How do you handle the party coercing those characters into ...
18
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I handle lengthy (days+) actions without slowing the game

I run a D&D 3.5 game, but the system itself is not critical (the examples I use are from D&D though). Some of the characters have various crafting abilities, ranging from things like Alchemy, ...
18
votes
7answers
814 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, ...
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 ...
18
votes
8answers
743 views

How do I create a sense of mystery about magic?

Magic in so many games is something mechanical and fully understood. Assuming I control the setting (and have a group of players willing to try new rules), how do I make magic something mysterious? ...
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 ...
18
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
9answers
2k views

What real world skills can RPGs improve? [closed]

What real world skills can be improved by playing Role-playing games? What skills have you or others in your experience improved through gaming?
18
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, ...
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, ...
18
votes
8answers
1k views

How can I motivate my fellow players?

Although I'm very much enjoying the one of the games I'm in, the other players seem to be flagging and losing interest. This is a bit disheartening as their lack of enthusiasm is bringing down the ...
18
votes
7answers
668 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 ...
18
votes
8answers
826 views

What happens in adventure locations between adventures?

I'm running a sandbox with several adventure locations that have been visited, but not entirely cleared, and ones that have been left open for new residents to arrive. I'm looking for a method for ...
18
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 ...
18
votes
8answers
547 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
491 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
3answers
1k 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 ...
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votes
10answers
4k 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

How do I make a PC's religion help drive the story?

As a GM, how can I make a player-character's religion help drive the story? I'm going to be making up a local religion for the region that most of the party is from, and I'd like it to really matter ...
18
votes
5answers
870 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 ...
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
3k 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
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 ...
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 ...
17
votes
9answers
924 views

How do I help my players stay engaged (with the game and each other) at the table?

I GM a long-running Pathfinder campaign, and for some time now I've been noticing our group fall into a familiar pattern of lethargy, where only one player engages with me at a time and the rest seem ...
17
votes
5answers
2k 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. ...
17
votes
8answers
1k 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
8answers
469 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 ...