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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12
votes
5answers
689 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
560 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
914 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
525 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
222 views

Techniques for Different Length Game Sessions [closed]

I have been both a player and GM for a long time. Currently, life takes up most of my available gaming time. Thus when I do get a chance to game, I'd like to make it as close to optimal as possible. ...
2
votes
2answers
415 views

Avoiding meta-gaming in combat [closed]

What are some ways of avoiding meta-gaming (both as a player and as a GM) within combat. One of the basic decisions in combat is what to use on what, when and where and how to best position yourself ...
46
votes
6answers
3k views

Preventing saturation in a horror campaign

I am currently designing my first horror campaign and what I've come up with so far is pretty dark and gruesome. I worry that if it is gut wrenching the whole way through, eventually the players will ...
3
votes
0answers
167 views

Dealing with power gamers [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to Handle a Powergamer / Munchkin I'm pretty sure this was asked before but I couldn't find it How do you deal with power gamers? That player who is clearly maxing ...
11
votes
3answers
376 views

Stopping rule questions from overrunning encounters

A common problem I observe is that the players start flooding the GM with questions regarding rules during an encounter (within and outside their respective turns). From the perspective of a GM, how ...
9
votes
4answers
346 views

Are there any problems with spies amongst the players?

As GM, I'm planning to, at some point, invite a friend from out of town who plays RPGs, to join our game with a appropriately levelled character. This character (and the new player) is actually a spy ...
23
votes
10answers
1k views

How do I transition my players from roll-playing to role-playing?

The context for this question is the same as this related question about spending time in town, but I am looking for sufficiently different advice so I thought it warranted its own question. I've ...
18
votes
8answers
960 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

How can I emulate TV Shows with only 2-3 main characters?

I watch a lot of TV. Probably too much. Shows like Buffy the vampire slayer and Firefly have a whole slew of characters, which is perfect for a gaming party as you fill in the slots to the point you ...
18
votes
9answers
727 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 ...
36
votes
7answers
3k views

Is it possible to produce a bowl-shaped probability curve with dice rolls?

In D&D's basic D20 system, you roll one d20 and add in some modifiers, then compare the result to a target number. Each modifier effectively adds or removes a 5% chance of success with the roll. ...
12
votes
9answers
1k views

How do I help my players figure out how to stay alive in a realistically-deadly sandbox campaign?

Related: What to do when a player character goes suicide and How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D? I like playing sandbox-style RPGs (whether pen and paper or ...
33
votes
7answers
2k views

What to do when a player character does something suicidal?

Every now and then a player character does something extremely risky because "it would be fun." What are some good ways to handle this as a GM, for the different styles of play? I like playing ...
11
votes
6answers
361 views

Mechanical ways to handle dark power temptation

In many settings there are light and dark versions of powers. Dark force and light force in Star Wars, Defilers and Preservers in Dark Sun and so on. In this post I will use the term dark power for ...
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 ...
17
votes
7answers
631 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 ...
27
votes
17answers
2k views

Introducing an unorthodox setting the players know NOTHING about

Just a while back, there has been a question concerning GMing a setting the players know better than the GM. Now, let me ask you sort of an inverse of that question. I.e. how to introduce and ...
17
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 ...
19
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 ...
28
votes
5answers
2k views

How to deal with players not taking things seriously?

As both a player and GM I play with my group of players (and close friends) on multiple occasions and they will often make fun of either my characters, NPC or a specific situation and won't stop ...
13
votes
2answers
556 views

City Services Generation

I'm looking for a way to determine typical numbers of services that would be available for a medieval city/town/village based on population which I can then project into a fantasy setting. (System is ...
12
votes
10answers
695 views

Flat or flattish earth issues

What major effects would having a flat or rather flattish earth instead of a planet on a game world? (Technological, social, physical etc.) Mind you, I'm not looking for fully detailed scientific ...
14
votes
6answers
623 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
508 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
3k views

Fantasy economy: how to design a deep, sophisticated crafting system?

I want to construct an immersive, complex and functional fantasy economy in order to inform my world-building process. I'm interested in finding a working economic model and applying that into ...
10
votes
2answers
317 views

Simulating grenade explosions in a stairwell

What would be a fair way to adjudicate the detonation of a grenade in an enclosed space, such as a stairwell? I have used the rules for blowback in games such as Shadowrun before, but recently ran a ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

What stands out about an Iron Age setting?

High fantasy RPGs tend to be set in an era similar to the late Middle Ages. This seems to be the norm for D&D, and it seems to be what players of such games expect. Let's say you have a group of ...
19
votes
5answers
820 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 ...
22
votes
5answers
786 views

How do I learn to do accents?

I've always enjoyed playing in games where the GM/DM/ST makes use of a variety of accents to differentiate between NPCs. I've always wanted to learn how to do that, but I realize that I'm not ...
21
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
21
votes
5answers
632 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
5answers
866 views

Dark Ages/Middle Ages marriage age?

I am trying to keep a fair degree of verisimilitude in my fantasy games (outside the obviously fantastical elements like magic and dragons). As part of that, the normal/average marriage age for ...
22
votes
7answers
1k views

Difference between writing a one-off scenario and writing a quest for a campaign?

I want to get some of my friends into roleplaying by running a self-contained single-session game with them rather than an actual campaign opener (for lack of a better term, I'll refer to this sort of ...
11
votes
7answers
678 views

In a high fantasy setting, what changes when you restrict player magical item purchases?

In every game that I've played or run, the players have been able to easily buy or craft any magic item that they could pay for. What are the pitfalls of this kind of unlimited magic freedom system? ...
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 ...
20
votes
4answers
462 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 ...
18
votes
8answers
689 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
514 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
437 views

What point-buy systems of magic (like psionics in 3e D&D) are there? [closed]

The RPG I'm currently developing is a d20 model, skill driven rules system. The mechanics of spellcasting center around spell effects and point cost for stamina (a universal energy pool for all ...
49
votes
11answers
3k views

How do I deal with PCs who use kidnap and torture as an investigative technique?

I'm running a game in a modern setting with emphasis on the paranormal (Conspiracy X). The player characters are part of a secret government organization and are tasked with investigating & ...
54
votes
21answers
2k views

How can I avoid players spending too much time planning?

Several times when I have played in or ran a game in which the players had an objective and reasonable resources, a lot of (real) time was spent trying to plan for every contingency. For example, ...
21
votes
8answers
916 views

What to do when your PCs skip an important part of the story line

In the earliest stage of my new duet campaign, I thought I had "rail-roaded" the PC into the first important encounter, one that leads to a major story line for the campaign. Specifically, the PC was ...
3
votes
2answers
251 views

Wiki engine for D&D [closed]

I'm serching for wiki engine, preferably written on python(but is not necessary), with one specific feature - user should be able to insert the block on pages, which will be visible only for one user, ...