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
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8answers
2k 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, ...
12
votes
6answers
892 views

How do I implement freeform magic on a system? [closed]

i'd like to ask you if any of you has ever played an rpg where players we're entitled to make their own spells, and how it turned to be. Also, i'd like some answer to a problem concerning this topic ...
12
votes
3answers
978 views

Is there a creature half dragon and half horse?

Is there a specific such creature, with a name for it and description, in any lore or game?
12
votes
6answers
410 views

Are human characters needed in a roleplay system?

I proposed, a long time ago a setting without humans in it. Instead I'd designed a series of fairly 'alien' creatures, and I was going to set it up as Science-Fantasy (set on the moon of a brown ...
12
votes
3answers
321 views

How to deal with session-based effects in play by post?

Some systems have effect whose length is based on a number of sessions. For example: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying has a Refresh of Plot Points at the beginning of every session Fate Core has a refresh ...
12
votes
5answers
752 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 ...
12
votes
7answers
797 views

How do you kidnap a PC?

Here's where my group is currently at: We are reaching the end of a campaign and we are going to be switching GM's. I have been playing a (secretly) evil Psion who has plans to betray the party ...
12
votes
6answers
702 views

How to help a player to roleplay the character he created?

When we first met to create my players' characters, the first thing I asked was to create normal characters (e.g. no freaks/depression/obsession/psychologically disturbed, etc). Normal people with ...
12
votes
7answers
469 views

How to design an RP-balanced party?

How do you build a party so that they all have social roles? In some games, I often find that one character ends up dominating the social part of the campaign. In our groups, we usually end up with ...
12
votes
6answers
288 views

How to introduce item descriptions

One of the things that I dislike when running a session is how a great majority of the items are bland - a short sword is a short sword, a bow is a bow, an arrow is an arrow. After sitting on it for ...
12
votes
4answers
410 views

How do DM's avoid burning out? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do I deal with GM burnout? Currently I am the single DM of a smallish group of irregular players. Although I enjoy DM'ing, I'm beginning to burn out and really wish ...
12
votes
5answers
838 views

How to go from a humorous campaign to a more serious one?

I am currently running a D&D 4E game. The game started off kind of goofy (we have a thrikreen rogue with glowing blonde hair, an ale-obsessed dwarf battlemind, a ditzy human wizard, and a dwarf ...
12
votes
3answers
373 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
510 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
605 views

How to handle players who take a long time to take their turn?

Problem There is a player in my current group who takes a long time to take their turns. A painfully long time! Typical exchange Me: Okay John*, it's now your turn to act. The serpent is coiled ...
11
votes
7answers
1k views

Alternatives to Pass-Fail skill challenges in D&D 4e

Non-Combat encounters should be fun, not frustrating! I'm a veteran (AD&D) DM running D&D 4e, and my first-time players really enjoy the game I'm running for them. Though, the skill-challenge ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

How do I deal with playing in an ultra-specialized party that is using a different playstyle than my own?

Someone asked a question about how to deal with wanting to play a plan-focused, stealthy character in a group that essentially consisted of melee types playing a 'Kick In The Door, Screaming Death ...
11
votes
7answers
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 ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

How do underground tunnels stay up? Is it possible to dig under a castle wall without magic to support the tunnel?

I'm considering running a quest where the players must deal with a large, powerful, and well organized underground Kobold tribe. They initially find the opening of a tunnel in the middle of a village ...
11
votes
5answers
842 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 ...
11
votes
9answers
551 views

What monsters can be interesting as PCs? [closed]

I believe that the premise of the player as the monster of the game quite compelling. Vampire: The Masquerade is obviously the pioneer in this genre, and other creatures such as werewolves, ghosts and ...
11
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
549 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
594 views

Adapting literary works into RPG adventures

Beowulf is a classic tale which has been translated many times and has had many film adaptations. Seamus Heaney's new translation and Frederick Rebsame's translation are good starts if you have not ...
11
votes
7answers
776 views

Anyone know of a good generic moral/alignment tracking system?

More specifically, system for tracking a characters morals/alignment, like Humanity in Vampire or darkside points in Star Wars. I'm looking for a system that's either designed to be generic, or could ...
11
votes
6answers
348 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
328 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
592 views

How can I rescue the game when the player characters refuse to work together?

I am a Game Master, and the characters in my group have started to regularly split up. The group's mage has always been a summoner and recently started summoning smaller demons. The fighter's player ...
11
votes
5answers
281 views

How to simulate distraction during battle without actually distracting the players?

Here's my situation. In an encounter I have coming up next week, an epic aerial battle between an Angel and a powerful necromancer rages overhead a group of low-level PC's. Attempting to assist in ...
11
votes
3answers
310 views

Are there tips on reconciling the playing differences in this group?

My Werewolf game is going along quite swimmingly to the point that the players will ask that I keep the server (We play using maptools) open so they can discuss the plotline for hours after each ...
11
votes
3answers
276 views

How can I resolve dangerous journeys without playing out every battle in detail?

Here's the situation: The PCs are investigating a mystery far from town, in the dangerous wilderness. Against my expectations, they decide to go back to town, recruit some help, and return to continue ...
11
votes
3answers
873 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
566 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
328 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
335 views

Are there any good guides on how to roleplay, regardless of system?

I noticed a few weeks ago that I don't know of any good guides (books, podcasts, whatever) on how to roleplay. I've searched around for a bit, and couldn't find anything worthwhile. I'm looking for ...
11
votes
6answers
344 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
149 views

Fine Granularity Hunting / Gathering / Fishing resources

I'm running a Session where my players spend long times on their own in woods / planes (etc.) and need to feed themselves from their surroundings. So I wrote a hunting / gathering program that ...
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 ...
10
votes
9answers
2k views

How can I avoid focusing too much on one player character?

Currently in the game I'm running, one of my players is constantly excited about the game. Outside of the game, he writes pages and pages of material about his character, and consistently adds new ...
10
votes
6answers
727 views

Encouraging players to not cheat the item purchase system?

I'm running a campaign for a group of friends who - while not new to roleplaying - are new to the idea of a generic resource points system. For context only (still system-agnostic advice), I'm talking ...
10
votes
12answers
639 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 ...
10
votes
7answers
385 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
432 views

Realism of Poisoned Weapons

Many games have classes that make extensive use of poisons. Poisons of course have been used in murder and poisonous gases have been used in war. But how realistic are the poisoned weapons so common ...
10
votes
8answers
962 views

Looking for Urban Adventures (for a fantasy RPG)

I'm having a hard time finding inspiration for an Urban adventure set in a fantasy world. I have always run wilderness adventures or dungeon crawls. The adventure I'm designing is based in a Port ...
10
votes
8answers
522 views

Can a high charisma/social score save you from acting like a bastard?

I'm talking about PC.-vs.-NPC interaction; presumably, PC-PC interaction ignores 'social score' almost always (although counterexamples may exist). This has been a real life 'issue' in one of my ...
10
votes
4answers
802 views

Is it a good idea to give our GM ideas/puzzles/riddles for his campaign?

Is it a good idea to give our GM ideas/puzzles/riddles for his campaign? If it is, how do I bring up my idea without offending our GM? I don't want him to think that I don't like his campaign or ...
10
votes
6answers
349 views

How to deal with broken combos?

Based on Rob Schwalb's article Stuck in the Middle: How do you, as a player or DM, deal with choosing or forbidding broken combos in your character, group, and system?
10
votes
8answers
1k views

How can I make the daily lives of the PCs interesting?

I'm going to start a new campaign soon and my players and I are looking for a campaign that is somewhat close to the feel of the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer TV series. With that I mean a campaign that ...
10
votes
4answers
565 views

Guide to writing an RPG - Examples inline or at the end?

I am writing a guide on how to write a free RPG on my blog. The guide has a series of techniques and tips from inspiration to playtest. I have been writing an RPG as I go along as an example of using ...
10
votes
2answers
286 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 ...