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245
votes
23answers
17k 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 ...
87
votes
20answers
5k views

How do you help players not focus on the rules?

Background - My Group's Gaming Style When I GM, I run games loosely from a rules standpoint, and do not feel bound to adhere to what the rulebook says when it doesn't make sense in a given situation. ...
52
votes
15answers
4k views

How can I make my PCs flee?

My players never run away or avoid conflict. Ever. I throw them ridiculous encounters, they will stay and fight. If I tell them, "You know you're not gonna make it, just run," they stay and fight and ...
29
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 ...
33
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 ...
47
votes
6answers
3k views

Preventing saturation in a horror campaign

I am currently designing my first horror campaign and what I've come up with so far is pretty dark and gruesome. I worry that if it is gut wrenching the whole way through, eventually the players will ...
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 ...
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 ...
75
votes
18answers
5k views

How do I not cheapen death, while also respecting my players' time?

I DM for a group of very busy people, for whom the commitment of several hours a week is a real sacrifice: that’s a sizeable chunk of their free time for the week that I’m asking for. ...
12
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
37
votes
12answers
2k views

How do I create a great fantasy villain that inspires the party to rally against them?

In my early years of GMing it was simple enough to say that the badguys were evil and that was all the justification we needed. They are attacking the village because they are evil, they are stealing ...
30
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I emphasize role-playing during combat?

Right now, the group that I GM for is very, very tactical-combat focused. To some extent, we may as well be playing a dungeon crawl board game for all the role-play we manage. Now, in and of itself ...
28
votes
12answers
3k views

What to do when your character is just too good?

I'm playing in the Paizo Pathfinder Jade Regent adventure path and we're having a good time so far (campaign blog and session summaries). However, as my character has gone up in power I'm now ...
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 ...
29
votes
7answers
2k views

What makes a character/creature/power/ability/etc. over-powered?

In generic terms, what makes something, regardless of what game it's being used in, over powered? I hear the term a lot, and while I can recognize it when I see it in-play (often due to someone ...
34
votes
10answers
4k 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
981 views

When planning a campaign, should I know what the ending is before we start?

I am planning the next campaign while the current one comes to a close. Our group favours sandbox play and I facilitate that with Icar's event driven system. While writing down the list of events ...
30
votes
10answers
934 views

What can I include in my character's background to help the GM build a better story?

Whatever the system or the world used, what can a player add to his character background that will help the GM make the game more interesting. Games are much more interesting with the addition of ...
15
votes
5answers
570 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 ...
63
votes
21answers
13k views

How to deal with player MacGyver-ism?

Role playing is an excellent hobby to train your problem solving skills. You learn to look at situations from different view points (i.e. the characters) and you have various skills and resources at ...
56
votes
21answers
2k 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, ...
41
votes
14answers
4k views

How can I play dumb?

I have a half-ogre character at my local larp group, and one of the roleplay-enforced restrictions for half-ogres is that they have low intelligence. I often find myself biting my tongue not to say ...
25
votes
10answers
2k views

Crime Investigation in a fantasy world [closed]

I am writing a campaign which relies heavily on crime: investigating it, clues, leads, witnesses, evidence, corruption, etc... The setting is fantasy, low-tech, and for the time being - let us leave ...
23
votes
10answers
1k views

How do I transition my players from roll-playing to role-playing?

The context for this question is the same as this related question about spending time in town, but I am looking for sufficiently different advice so I thought it warranted its own question. I've ...
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 ...
35
votes
13answers
5k views

How to secretly talk to one of the players while DM'ing?

To cut it short, the players (it's a 3 people party) are in some kind of a Secret Service of a rebel prince who wants the throne. One of my players is working for the current king secretly, feeding ...
25
votes
12answers
3k 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 ...
28
votes
5answers
2k views

How to deal with players not taking things seriously?

As both a player and GM I play with my group of players (and close friends) on multiple occasions and they will often make fun of either my characters, NPC or a specific situation and won't stop ...
20
votes
9answers
1k views

How to Manage Player Frustration and Disengagement

Many RPGs have random elements, such as dice rolling, which can determine success or failure of an action. In some of these games, failure basically means the player character does nothing or ...
18
votes
9answers
745 views

How to help players settle down and focus?

We have a weekly game in the evenings; however, we often don't start playing for a few hours after we get together, if at all. This has been exacerbated recently by other events with the same people ...
20
votes
11answers
1k views

How can you find a balance between effective/optimised characters and creative characters?

When creating characters, I often face a dilemma between making a character. It feels like they can either be optimized so they can "pull their own weight" or having a character I think is creative ...
40
votes
9answers
2k views

How do I avoid clichés while improvising?

Tropes are not bad, but clichés usually are. Sadly, when I need to come up with something on the fly it's much easier and faster to use clichés: if I suddenly need a barkeep, he's probably fat with a ...
54
votes
13answers
8k views

Players playing weird characters breaking the immersion of my group

I have an issue with two players in my very large gaming group that I would like some advice from people who have perhaps dealt with players like these. In terms of age and experience, we're all ...
36
votes
7answers
3k views

Is it possible to produce a bowl-shaped probability curve with dice rolls?

In D&D's basic D20 system, you roll one d20 and add in some modifiers, then compare the result to a target number. Each modifier effectively adds or removes a 5% chance of success with the roll. ...
44
votes
15answers
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 ...
18
votes
10answers
3k views

Glossary of Common RPG Terminology [closed]

This thread is a Community Wiki to define terminology specific to the world of RPGs which outsiders looking to come in may not be familiar with. This question is for terms which are not unique to a ...
17
votes
3answers
893 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 ...
27
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I learn how to lay out an “evidence scene”?

I feel like I'm particularly bad at any kind of scene where I want to drop clues. I'm hesitant to use the term "crime scene" because it's not always being investigated by "police", and some of these ...
13
votes
2answers
544 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 ...
41
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 ...
20
votes
10answers
1k views

How can you encourage players to portray a “realistic” reaction to in-game stressful/traumatic circumstances?

This question came to me while I was thinking about killing people in pen-and-paper rpgs. When a character starts his career, in most systems, he is somewhat young. As an example, when you are first ...
15
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
37
votes
14answers
2k views

How to get out of a story deadlock

As with most of my questions, this is more of a general "how to handle a special situation" and not a plea to solve an existing problem. What is the best way to handle story deadlocks (as in: The ...
33
votes
14answers
2k views

What kinds of rules promote good team cohesion?

It seems like a lot of roleplaying games quite freely allow players to play antisocial characters who can't really be part of the team. I've been part of groups (in D&D) with both a noble ...
28
votes
7answers
1k views

Fighting boredom in combat as a player

Sometimes (as a player) I get bored during combat. At times I feel like all my turns are the same (especially when playing lower level characters) and when that is combined with no combat progress ...
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 ...
18
votes
8answers
454 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
714 views

How can I create more compelling villains? [closed]

A consistent issue with the games that I've run comes through with villain characters. Not just at the end of an adventure, but overarching villains; movers and shakers of the world. I notice that I ...
23
votes
11answers
2k views

Excuses for opponents using nonlethal force?

In plotting out low-level encounters at the start of a campaign (especially with new players) I prefer to create opponents who don't want to kill the PCs right away. Instead, I generally have them ...
23
votes
18answers
2k views

Overpowered PCs (Gabe's Dilemma)

Penny Arcade recently ran the following strip: (Original strip here) While the resolution of this thread hasn't yet been posted, I'm wondering what we think here. How do you game with PCs who are ...