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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34
votes
7answers
3k views

Pre-modern farming: What percent of the population is in agriculture?

I'm running a premodern setting where the characters will be involved in local administration. Assuming no magic, how many farmers does it take to support one non-farmer? Any statistics/estimates ...
7
votes
2answers
132 views

How to handle miniatures on a forum-based game?

When running a web forum game of an RPG that requires miniatures (such as D&D 4e), what's the most elegant way to handle a combat grid? In particular: Players should be able to change the map ...
13
votes
5answers
405 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 ...
37
votes
6answers
2k views

How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight?

One of the assumptions I make as GM is that the players should always be in the spotlight. Sometimes the players find themselves in a situation where they watch NPCs speak to each other. I don't ...
4
votes
2answers
239 views

As a GM, how do you establish the reality of your world? [closed]

Having a discussion with a friend about our views of GMing, I realized that we take very different approaches to what our worlds are. My view is that when I GM, the world exists as-is before the ...
17
votes
3answers
931 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 ...
26
votes
10answers
4k views

How to make magic items more interesting?

We all read about the little person finding a magical ring and the GM basing his whole plot on that little ring. That was a cool example of a MacGuffin. Earthdawn has a system in which characters ...
33
votes
9answers
1k views

How can I cut short a doomed fight?

Occasionally one of my PC's wanders off and gets himself into a battle he simply cannot win. I know the player wants to play out the battle to see if they can somehow pull it out, but it's boring for ...
7
votes
4answers
480 views

Recommendations for Arctic Campaign Sites/Settings

What are some books that people would recommend for quality material on an arctic / polar campaign setting / region / site? System neutral, though specifically in the traditional D&D medieval / ...
13
votes
4answers
523 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 ...
21
votes
9answers
2k views

Realistic modern day combat system to model real life ambush

I came across a video (helmet camera) of an Taliban force ambushing US infantry troops in Afghanistan. This is a link to the video of ambush: Combat in the First Person, Spc.Michael Gannon guides us ...
15
votes
5answers
472 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
8answers
4k 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 ...
26
votes
13answers
1k views

When would PCs choose to walk instead of ride?

I'm putting together an adventure where the PCs are on a time limit. As such, travel times become quite important and I want to make sure that I've understood the different means of travel beforehand. ...
19
votes
2answers
383 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
602 views

What can I do to make playing a long D&D session more comfortable?

Right now, we play D&D every other Saturday and spend between eight and eleven hours playing in one sitting. We usually take a break for food, but eat it at the gaming table (Our wives sometimes ...
10
votes
3answers
503 views

Water and electricity spells - RL physics approach

I like to master (and play) in a world I can believe (even fantastic ones). This question comes from D&D3.5 but applies to every game where reality collides with things you can't (usually) do. So ...
15
votes
6answers
761 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 ...
29
votes
8answers
2k views

Can party betrayal be done successfully?

After reading How much experience should a PC be worth? I was wondering if and how party betrayal can be done successfully, especially since it's a real possibility in my campaign. Criteria for ...
9
votes
3answers
304 views

Good source for a dark/weird dryad concept?

I'm working on an adventure that involves obtaining the wood from a dryad's tree, and would like to present the dryad as something other than the typical depiction. I have some ideas, but am curious ...
19
votes
7answers
624 views

Speed up campaign development

I'm making a campaign, and it's going fairly nicely. However, I found out that my group is able to meet this week, which I didn't expect. So instead of having 9 days to find time to prepare, I have 2 ...
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?
30
votes
4answers
1k views

How do I keep a long-range plot cohesive and coherent?

I enjoy GMing but I much prefer to to have some sort of long running plot (or meta-plot) rather than having a series of unconnected unfortunate events afflict my PCs. For example, I would love to ...
12
votes
7answers
523 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
401 views

Building Campaigns to Characters' Strengths and Weaknesses

When I GM a game, I try to make sure that the skills the characters have can be used. If someone takes "Music", then I make sure there's a point in the campaign where someone needs to impress someone ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the literary influences of the D&D Bard?

Can anyone tell me what sources, in literature, film, etc. inspired the Bard class for Dungeons & Dragons? I'm familiar with the Celtic Bards of history and legend, but the modern D&D Bard ...
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 ...
254
votes
24answers
18k views

How do I get my PCs to not be a bunch of murderous cretins?

Most RPGs teach you that casual violence is the best solution to all your in-game problems. This is so well established a part of the vast majority of RPGs that there are entire satire RPGs like Greg ...
9
votes
4answers
310 views

How do I get players to assign alternate tactical goals?

Based on my prior question on signalling alternate end states and Redefining Combat, how do I present PCs with the ability to assign their own tactical goals beyond "clear" to a hostile environment ...
21
votes
5answers
1k views

How do I signal that alternate tactical end states are possible?

Question inspired by "Redefining Combat" on Clan of the Gray Wolf: It provides an excellent list inspired by army manuals of alternate tactical goals for a scenario: Here are some tactical tasks ...
2
votes
2answers
223 views

Useful mental frameworks during character creation [closed]

This post on Greywulf's Lair explores the concept of a one axis sliding scale for character building: One thing that all of these choices brings is the idea of a sliding scale. With 4e D&D, ...
30
votes
9answers
2k views

How do you discourage “player knowledge” as a GM?

As a trivial random encounter is winding down, a player thinks "That was too easy... The GM wouldn't give us an encounter that doesn't give XP," and starts searching for hidden bad guys or other ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

Does anyone know a good system for building a city?

We're beginning a Geist game and we talked about how interesting it would be to build a city together as a group so we really felt like it was our home town. I've heard Damnation City is good, but ...
37
votes
3answers
682 views

How do I build a sense of wonder in my games?

I guess this is part three of a series of questions, with part I being on building tension, and part II being on building comedy. Greg Stafford has talked of his primary motivation as a gamemaster ...
51
votes
10answers
2k views

What characterizes a “Modern” role playing game or gaming system?

I recently read about D&D clones in another question (I forget where I saw it) and noticed comments referring to gaming systems that were clones of D&D as "Old School" while others ...
28
votes
10answers
1k views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of develop in play (DIP) compared to develop at the start (DAS) character generation?

Originally, Are you really DIPpy?1 What are the advantages and disadvantages to developing your character in play (DIP) compared to developping at the start (DAS)? What experiences have you had with ...
21
votes
4answers
458 views

How do I alert the rest of the party that a character within the party has stolen a major plot device?

I'm running a campaign in which a rogue has stolen a powerful necromantic focus (and is keeping it outside of the box that protects the world from it.) The party doesn't know, and I'm looking for a ...
13
votes
6answers
713 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 ...
10
votes
6answers
445 views

How to deal with broken combos? [closed]

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?
19
votes
8answers
659 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 ...
18
votes
8answers
476 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 ...
36
votes
8answers
2k views

What ways are there to anger the PC's without angering the players?

Since I got so many good ideas on my last question, here's part 2: What ways are there to really anger my PC's -- give them that sense of unbridled rage and fury -- without pissing the players off ...
7
votes
5answers
436 views

Game-within-a-Game Cross-Genre Ideas

I've started running the starter adventure on Eclipse Phase. I have an idea for our first full-length campaign, but it's a little complicated. I need a (relatively) simple game to play the part of a ...
18
votes
8answers
466 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
855 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
586 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 ...
11
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
28
votes
9answers
772 views

How do you track the PCs' reputation?

I'm currently planning a game with a significant amount of intrigue. I envision the players undertaking actions and adventures that will endear them to one group, and anger others. It occurs to me ...
14
votes
5answers
848 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.)