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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15
votes
2answers
598 views

What is an SRD for?

Some RPGs have SRDs. Wikipedia tells me that they are System Reference Documents, but that it's largely a D&D thing, and doesn't explain why they exist. Only that they do. This answer suggests ...
262
votes
25answers
19k 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 ...
22
votes
12answers
2k views

How to begin a role-playing scenario in medias res?

If I am running a pre-planned role-playing scenario, how and when can it work to start the session in medias res? The narrative technique can work so well in literature, film and video to increase ...
9
votes
5answers
556 views

How can I discover if players would react positively to a change of tone for a game without them knowing of the change?

I'm currently running a game of Cyberpunk 2020 for a couple of friends. Things are incredibly silly so far and the group seems to really like it. To get an idea of what I've run them through so far: ...
13
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
380 views

Advice for Running the “In Between Times”

I usually run published adventures which may or may not be related to each other. During and in between the adventures there are often times when the two main facets of RPGs, story role-playing and ...
11
votes
6answers
479 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
9answers
985 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
240 views

How do I avoid making a taciturn character? [closed]

I've played several characters in different D&D systems, and they almost invariably end up being grumpy, by-the-book, mood-killing characters. I think part of the problem is that I haven't been ...
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 ...
16
votes
10answers
972 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? ...
17
votes
6answers
742 views

How can I help my players be interested in others' characters?

In asking this question I realized something that I never have before: my players aren't interested in each other's characters. How can I, as DM but also game session organizer and facilitator, help ...
35
votes
9answers
2k views

What can I do to give the players the same feel their characters would have about wilderness travel?

I find that in a lot of our group's games, traveling long distances through wilderness is too easy. In real life, it's quite arduous traveling overland. No one who's just walked a hundred miles is ...
9
votes
4answers
668 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 ...
16
votes
7answers
744 views

Techniques for skimming through travel (fast travel) without meta-teleportation

In most of my group's campaigns, we spend a lot of time traveling. Unfortunately, this leans one of two ways: Uninteresting or distracting obstacles. If you want to spend time but keep it fresh, ...
25
votes
9answers
3k views

How do you make loremaster characters more than just a GM mouthpiece?

You know, like how the Mouth of Sauron is just a mouthpiece and nothing more. Even his name was forgotten. Many a time, I have see this type of exchange when dealing with a lore master character ...
36
votes
12answers
5k views

How do I help my group stop derailing our GM’s set-piece battles?

My current roleplaying group has a problem in which the GM will plan an awesome setpiece, only for one of the players to accidentally and unknowingly derail it by performing what seems like a ...
7
votes
7answers
3k views

How to deal with a GM who does not tell us everything?

The session We just arrived in a village and one of our member got ill and puked in the inn, so we went to the village doctor for help and he told us to go to continent Y where they could know how to ...
21
votes
5answers
897 views

GMing against type: adding levity

When I GM, I tend to make the scenarios/campaigns "serious" -- they're grim and gritty, much more about drama (and violence) than anything else. In addition, I tend to focus on some degree of realism ...
21
votes
6answers
4k views

How to deal with time sensitive decisions?

Before I start I have looked and seen similar questions like this, but I don't think the answers truly address the issue I'm having with my group. I'm having an issue with my group with mostly new ...
7
votes
5answers
550 views

How do I encourage players to make characters appropriate to the tone and theme of a game?

I have been a GM for many years and have experience with many different systems and settings of different themes and moods, but my current group seems to be having issues I've never had to deal with ...
46
votes
19answers
7k views

How to deal with anti-authoritarian player characters?

One player I infrequently role play with (let's call him Bob) seems to have a bit of an issue with authority - or at the very least he likes playing characters who do. It's not that he does not ...
15
votes
6answers
5k views

How to deal with a quiet player?

I have an ongoing game of Mage: the Ascension. While everything is going quite OK and I am pretty happy about what is going on around the table, I noticed that one of my players is a bit quiet and ...
10
votes
4answers
303 views

How do I make players more comfortable in an unusual historical setting?

I run a lot of games/write systems set in specific historical/cultural contexts, because I like rpgs as a way to explore them and think they provide a great sense of place. However, I tend not to ...
47
votes
13answers
13k views

My PCs have a plan that will get them all killed; how and why should I save them?

Related: How do I help my players figure out how to stay alive in a realistically-deadly sandbox campaign? I am running a sandbox game for a group of players who are used to more traditional ...
47
votes
12answers
8k views

How do I make an unwinnable fight fun?

In one of my campaigns, it's possible that I'm going to have to pull off a Hopeless Boss Fight depending on the choices of my player (we're playing one-on-one). The gist is that they're interfering ...
38
votes
14answers
5k views

How to handle wealthy player characters as a GM?

One of the long-standing settings our group keeps returning to is classic medieval fantasy. (Examples are MERP, Rolemaster, The Dark Eye -- But this question is aimed to be system agnostic and is ...
15
votes
2answers
727 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
399 views

How can I become more akin to my “Mary Sue” Player? [duplicate]

I've been playing for about 3 years with this guy on my group. He's a very nice and encouraging person and I actually appreciate him as an individual; however I just can't come to enjoy his presence ...
23
votes
5answers
1k views

How can I make puzzles a challenge for the character, rather than the player?

I'm designing an adventure, in which at one point the party meets a giant who will only let them pass if they solve some puzzles. However, the problem is that the riddles are a test for the player, ...
5
votes
4answers
353 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 ...
10
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 ...
48
votes
16answers
7k views

Dealing with “fearless” players

I have some "badass" players in my group who do not fear death, 4 out of 6 to be precise, which causes problems for the rest players as they feel they are always getting dragged into trouble, trying ...
5
votes
3answers
330 views

Getting my group to commit to house rules?

Our group has been playing RPGs in changing formations for the last 10 years or more. We have played many different systems, but some of them we always eventually return to (Rolemaster/MERP, Star Wars ...
0
votes
1answer
167 views

Do cinema/film-like descriptions ruin immersion or do they improve games? [closed]

Ok, this might sound silly, but I've seen several examples of descriptions from both players and GMs that actually illustrate a cinematographic technique, such as: GM: The camera pans out to ...
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 ...
59
votes
22answers
3k 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, ...
13
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 ...
61
votes
14answers
4k views

How do I keep the game moving without undermining player agency?

In basically every game I've run or played, regardless of the system, I've encountered the same problem: things that should be quick decisions end up taking ten, twenty or even thirty minutes, and not ...
9
votes
3answers
455 views

How do I teach players to engage with a game in a rules-first way?

Among other ways, I often like to play in a rules-centric way1, where the rules are the "physics" of reality and dictate what can and cannot be true within the fiction. I especially like this for PvP ...
11
votes
2answers
808 views

How do I handle a PC to NPC romance?

Our group consists of two couples. One player seems to like romance (which is just fine). This player's character flirted with her husband's character; he played up the fact that his character was not ...
6
votes
5answers
218 views

How can I run a game with some players online and others at the table [duplicate]

A member of our group moved cross-country, and we'd like to include him in some of our games. Is it feasible to play a game with some players at the table and another online? If so, how do I, as the ...
42
votes
9answers
4k views

What to do when a player character does something that seems 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
214 views

How can I facilitate choice of one of a large number destinations in an off the rails game?

My players have become fugitives from the law, so they are fleeing the country. My problem is I haven't been able to get a concrete destination or travel path from them. We did manage to narrow the ...
1
vote
1answer
290 views

How to deal with stubborn players? [duplicate]

Okay, so my problem is that one of the people I have in my party (my brother) is VERY stubborn when it comes to playing a session of D&D, everything from getting on his tablet and getting ...
25
votes
6answers
3k views

Dealing with players of vastly different skill levels?

In my latest campaign (D&D 3.5), I have a player (let's call him P). P is on his fifth character. Yes, fifth. Except for P, only one other player has lost a character. The world P lives in is ...
57
votes
19answers
17k views

Why is burying yourself not such a great plan?

So one of my player is a clever guy. At night when the others are putting the camp together he digs a hole big enough for himself (between 3-4 feet deep) and ask someone to cover his body with dirt ...
5
votes
2answers
134 views

Is there a good guidleline for “Assumed Character Actions” vs Necessary Descriptions? [closed]

It should go without saying that to some extent in any given role playing setting there needs to be a general set of assumptions made about the actions of the characters. Some of these are naturally ...
12
votes
4answers
331 views

Is there a system for creating visuals of characters?

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 ...
71
votes
10answers
9k views

Should I warn my players when they're about to do something stupid?

As a GM, I occasionally run into situations where the players want to do something very poorly thought-out. Honest mistakes, not intentional derailing. In these situations, I often feel the urge to ...