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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14
votes
4answers
626 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
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
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 ...
13
votes
9answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
10answers
1k views

Do you use character sheets? Or, do you use a blank sheet of paper? [closed]

Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages for each approach?
13
votes
6answers
552 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
5answers
815 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
666 views

My players insist that I use “rule zero” for their benefit. How do I get them to accept that I don't want easier house rules?

I would like to know, why it makes practical sense to have rule zero. I'm not an experienced RPG player, but we play a lot of board games with friends, and what I noticed, is that players often want ...
13
votes
8answers
7k 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, ...
13
votes
6answers
840 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
773 views

Can you bypass travel by fast forwarding in your campaign?

Instead of having the players cover every single room in a dungeon or square of travel overland, is it permissible (or even warranted) to "fast forward" to a more interesting place, provided that ...
13
votes
5answers
421 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
858 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
6answers
627 views

Running a campaign alternating GMs every session

The group with which I usually roleplay has a consistent problem: someone will say "Hey, I want to run a campaign in X system with Y setting." Everyone will make characters (which can take quite a ...
13
votes
2answers
282 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
3answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Providing party niches for a murder of Witchers

My players decided they all want to play Witchers. Thus I have a murder of Witchers1 on my hands. Since I like to have each player character excel at one thing above all other player characters, this ...
13
votes
4answers
781 views

How can I depict three dimensional combats?

The dragon hovers 2 squares over the paladin, the ranger is perched 5 squares up in a tree, and the fighter is magically flying 3 squares off the ground. Aerial minions soar all about. In tactically ...
13
votes
2answers
677 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
798 views

Fleshing out a background and roleplaying it

I am a big fan of fleshed out, rich, interesting backgrounds, that give the feeling that the character is real. For that reason, I really like to give characters traits that everyday people have, ...
12
votes
9answers
3k views

How to help players who roll really badly? [duplicate]

Scenario: player rolls to attack, rolls a 1. Next round, rolls a 1. Round after that, rolls a 1. Fourth round, rolls a 2. This really happened today. He was going back and forth between two different ...
12
votes
10answers
736 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 ...
12
votes
8answers
3k views

What are some of the major challenges in playing an Evil Character? [closed]

What are some of the major challenges in playing an Evil Character (whether that's a formal alignment or not) in a co-operative party game, and likewise, what are some of the reasons many groups ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

Do all RPGs make critical failures always act as event triggers?

In all the games I remember playing, critical failures have always, in every case triggered an event. This critical failure is due to exceptionally bad rolls on dice, either a 'natural one' in DnD or ...
12
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

How to get to know my players' expectations?

I am soon starting a new game with a bunch of new people that I have never played with - and some of them I barely spoken to. I am going to be the GM and will introduce them into the setting that they ...
12
votes
7answers
454 views

Representing different languages in online games

What are methods for clearly representing different languages (e.g. Elven, Dwarven, Deep Speech) in text-based online play? We have tried footnotes and are using colored text (green for Elven, brown ...
12
votes
6answers
2k 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
1k 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
5answers
653 views

How do I keep track of “hidden” in game variables without getting bogged down?

I'm currently designing a campaign that has a monumental amount of in-game variables to keep track of, which I'll need to check every time a certain kind of event happens. Reducing the number of ...
12
votes
6answers
527 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 dwarf,...
12
votes
3answers
373 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
1k 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
562 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
364 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
532 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 I ...
12
votes
5answers
426 views

Is there a system for creating visuals of characters? [closed]

I'm thinking something like this, except for fantasy games like D&D or Pathfinder. Base models of various races (gnome, human, half-orc, whatever), each with compatible artwork of equipment. It ...
12
votes
3answers
490 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
1k 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 Dresden Files universes. We really enjoy the character play, the storytelling and the occasional outburst of ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

How to effectively run a sandbox campaign in a weekly 2hrs timeframe

Premise I'm a relative new GM who only run a 2 years long heavily railroaded fantasy campaign that went south for various problems and that I decided to drop. Now I started to run a sci-fi sandbox ...
11
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 ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

How do I deal with two players who dislike each other and disrupt the game?

I have lately had a problem with some players in a campaign I am running. Basically, they don't get on well together, for various reasons. I don't really understand it, but then again, I am looking in ...
11
votes
5answers
4k 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
8answers
3k views

Looking for Urban Adventures (for a fantasy RPG) [closed]

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 ...