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
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10answers
1k 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
1k 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
6answers
870 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 ...
16
votes
9answers
1k 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
856 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
599 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
9answers
764 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 ...
16
votes
8answers
5k 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
3answers
618 views

Techniques to improvise and run interesting social and mundane scenes

Last session (I GM Traveller, a hard science fiction rpg) I realized my lack of skills when I found myself willing to spend some minutes in playing a scene involved a 3 years old child causing trouble ...
15
votes
5answers
908 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 ...
15
votes
11answers
2k views

Is there a good way to distribute pregenerated characters?

I am preparing for a game with a bunch of new players, with a mix of varying familiarity with the setting/system and RPGs in general. To get them to taste the setting ASAP I decided to play a one-off ...
15
votes
10answers
770 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
9answers
3k views

How do I deal with players that pick very situational skills for a Campaign?

Well, luckily I don't have Power Gamers, in my game table, they all like to tailor skills according to the character background; however in many situation this makes them pick skills that are rarely ...
15
votes
4answers
564 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
5answers
1k views

A summary of visibility? [closed]

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 ...
15
votes
4answers
4k views

How should a GM deal with players that want to be “too cool”?

In my time as a GM, I've always hated stuff such as magic items, artifacts, etc; even as a player, I dislike the feeling of becoming "too cool" for the game world in question. However, I have a ...
15
votes
10answers
2k 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
4answers
1k 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
1k views

How to relay a game mechanic in character

This question came up during a round of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Depending on the system this kind of question may already be answered in the rules. But I figure it's more of a general ...
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
8answers
519 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
668 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
5answers
1k 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
644 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
2answers
1k 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, ...
15
votes
6answers
830 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
966 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.)
15
votes
2answers
825 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
542 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
326 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
427 views

Player/DM who is having trouble letting go of an old campaign

I'm part of a group of 3 (relatively new) people playing an RPG called Challenger. All three of us are interested in being GM, so we've been rotating; all of our adventures occur in the same universe, ...
14
votes
12answers
886 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 ...
14
votes
11answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
7answers
620 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there a subtle difference between increasing DC and adding detrimental modifiers?

Modifying difficulty works in various ways within and between various roleplaying systems. But generally speaking, it seems added difficulty either modifies the target number (altering the check) or ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

How do I handle large conversations with multiple NPCs?

To begin I've read How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight? but I don't believe that it answer my question, because it focuses more on dialog simply ...
14
votes
6answers
456 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
430 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
6answers
684 views

How can I avoid metagaming when I know things my character doesn't?

One common problem I run into, as a player, is having to feign not-knowing things my character doesn't but I do, be it rules about certain creatures ("Hmm that rock golem sure looks weak against ...
14
votes
5answers
428 views

How do I get less attached to my characters?

In terms of my preferences, I tend to like a balance between story and dice-rolling, and write 1-2 page backstories for my characters. I also like a cinematic style where failure means a temporary ...
14
votes
4answers
607 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 ...
14
votes
7answers
521 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
3answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
256 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
6answers
2k views

How to end a game session smoothly

After my first (failed) attempt at playing tabletop RPG two years ago, I'm going to give it another try. Still as a GM. One thing I didn't do quite well last time was ending the game. I didn't know ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

How to make a great villain who your players hate more than anything else? [closed]

I'd love to hear from you guys what you consider to be the best way to make the motive that drives the players to defeat the villain to be something personal and even passional. I believe a villain ...
14
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...