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58

For your players Use other solutions Intelligence is only one of 3 mental stats, and the one that refers mostly to book-learning, puzzling, connection-making and thinking stuff through. However, lacking it doesn't make you a bumbling fool; it makes you someone who solves problems in other ways. For example, if it's crucial that the characters know who ...


42

Megadungeon All sessions start in the village. At any time when not in peril and the party knows the way back the party can declare that they return to the village - this ends the session. If the session time expires before they return, roll on the "What really bad thing happens to my PC while returning to the village" table. Shamelessly nicked from ...


33

Be an NPC, not the GM The GM, as an entity, must be infallible to a certain degree, because he is the PC's conduit to the game world. If he says the party meets an NPC, the party is now reacting to this NPC. If he says here there be dragons, the party stocks up on burn ointment. Players are likely to feel betrayed if this turns out to be false - not false ...


30

The Government has no time for small fries like you Technocracy appears to be a monolithic Big Brother, spying on everyone at all times, but the truth is that their goals can leave even the best among them strained. Even the most oppressive governments are loath to devote precious resources (people, equipment, processor time) to small threats. In fact, such ...


24

Learn from Toyota and institute a just in time delivery system. A relationship between two NPCs is meaningless until either the players learn about it or the relationship impacts the world in a way that the players will notice. Making the world come alive and populating it with interesting NPC is not about knowing every last detail in advance, but rather ...


23

The easiest way to do this is to give the PCs a base. Whether it be a fortress or house they own or a village or town they are invested in. From this you can start building up a map around them. The quests could then range from setting up trade from a nearby city so the farmers can grow food more efficiently, to defending the village, to stopping a ...


19

Erik's answer is a great general solution to your problem, but there are a couple of specific tactics you can use here as well. Put Your Eggs in More Baskets Right now, you're relying on a single skill or small group of skills in order to give your players information about the game world. This is naturally going to lead to situations where nobody has the ...


18

Arcanist, Sorcerer, and Wizard are three of the most dominatingly-powerful classes in the game Each of these classes, built right, can do just about anything, and in many cases can do very close to everything. The spell list they have access to is the best in the game, and spellcasting is the best class feature in the game. These three can nullify a huge ...


17

Disclaimer: I actually play in a campaign that is now 1 year old and where it is frequent to have one missing player regularly (if more than one, we do not play); I would actually say that we have had more sessions with an incomplete attendance than sessions with a complete attendance. It is possible to have a long running campaign with spotty attendance, ...


14

This is a very fun idea. Here are some of my thoughts, which you hopefully find useful. Feel free to use one or more ideas, or none if none suit your campaign. Your Co-GM's Character Has Other Things To Do You may both know the major things that affect the world, but your characters have much more immediate things they have to take care of; and that ...


13

I always prefer to solve this problem inside the story. Just an example: The PCs are all bound together by a magical tattoo they each bear. They are the Chosen agents of an unknown (or known, for that matter) powerful entity. For reasons only clear to this entity, a PC may just disappear in a puff of thick smoke. Sometimes another PC appears in his/her ...


13

Fate can do this! Many of the Fate systems I've used and studied talk about how to highlight "discover what the GM has planned" play styles. I'm going to describe the various tools and strategies I've used and learnt which bend toward your goals. I've never gone quite as far with them as you will, but they're robust and my experience with them makes me ...


12

The political and legal proceedings in a surveillance/military state are often quite opaque in real life. You can use that as your cue to build a framework that is oppressive and capricious. Think of the legal system as merely the justification for paramilitary surveillance and interrogations. The characters notice unmarked vehicles and suspicious people ...


12

I don't believe that there are any specific rules-based issues to worry about, aside from some prestige classes, feats, gear, etc. being harder to acquire (if the prerequisite is that an elf makes the thing, or only elves know the spell, or it's an elf prestige class that requires training from another member, or ...). Changes to the world/rules-as-written ...


12

It Depends If you want it to be a complete, stand-alone game then you should include the full book rules. On the other hand, if you want it to be a supplement then only include the new stuff you're doing. Add the Entire Core Rules If… …you want it to be a stand-alone game If you don't like the idea of "Requires a Copy of Fate Core System to play" being ...


12

Even though it's a system I grew to like slowly (see my question Apocalypse World without Fronts: Are we missing out?) I recommend using something like Fronts from Apocalypse World and Dungeon World for keeping track of things, and keeping it simple. This is my personal adapted version from the core system. It's a reasonably generic system, but I think it's ...


11

Hint it and measure enthousiasm The general approach I take when I'm not sure what my players like, or whether they'd enjoy a specific thing, is to hint to it during the session and see if they bite. This works best in an open world or if you've already taught your players that they can say "no" and the story will go on, but even if they're used to being ...


10

Don't mind that they find out the reference Think of it as watching a movie where some random bypassers enter in a room, and get killed by a huge monster hidden in the shadows. Then come the heroes, and they are also eaten by the same monster because this is what would made sense, since they didn't knew about the monster. That would be a very boring movie. ...


10

Only bother tracking characters that there's any reason to track. Just because someone exists in the world doesn't mean they are relevant to the PCs, and you only need to track people relevant to the PCs that they will be meeting. In most campaign settings you'll have a large number of these NPCs - leave them in their books, or if it's a homebrew world, in ...


10

When you intend to use misleading as a device, pay extra close attention to maintaining a sufficient level of Player Agency (see this excellent post by Tim C. for a definition: What is Player Agency and what is it good for?) Part three is particularly important: "The player has enough information to anticipate what those consequences might be before making ...


10

If your quest-giver (I'll call him 'Q' in the text below) is wealthy and is not afraid of the perils and risk of using magic: Then I'd like to point you the direction of Intelligent Items. The concept is that Q makes, or asks wizard to make, an intelligent necklace in the form of ring or literal collar of metal and pays +500gp to make it intelligent, and ...


9

You're over-estimating the impact entirely, yes. The assumption that advancement in Monster of the Week is a matter of increasing power isn't correct. In the vast majority of Apocalypse World engine games, advancement isn't climbing, zero-to-hero Campbellian stuff. Monster of the Week is no exception. Instead, advancement is largely outwards and only ...


9

I think you're along the right lines, the two main harms to avoid relate to "misleading the audience as to the type of story being told". There are fun ways to be misled (which we end up calling "misdirection" with hindsight) and there are not-fun ways to be misled (which we end up calling "stupid GM tricks" or "inconsistency" with hindsight). The main ...


8

Your instincts of "the man who knew too little" are spot on. Conspire with your players against/with your PCs. Narrate, the deep rich tapestry of the plot and character interactions to shape how your players will ... maneuver their dunces with the expectation that the results of their actions will be much better than a naive reading would produce. By making ...


8

One thing you can do to help your players feel like they are involved in a bigger plot is to intertwine the overarching story with the session-adventures. In each adventure, leave clues to something bigger going on. Eventually, even if you meet infrequently, your players will start to realize there is something more. Don't make these clues subtle, either; ...


8

I think the first step is to be aware of the tropes that exist in the genre, which might mean getting lost on tvtropes.com for long hours and taking notes. Movies like "Gamers" also do an excellent job showing off and mocking those tropes. You may also consider reading adventure modules, most especially those noted as being "for beginners" and looking at ...


8

Use the Scale rules. When two entities enter into a conflict with one another, the differences in their scale come into play. For every step that separates them, apply one or both of the following effects to the larger of the two: +1 to the attack roll or +1 to the defense roll Deal +2 shifts of harm on a successful attack or reduce incoming ...


7

In my experience, by the time a person takes the plunge and actually runs a campaign, they want to write their own stuff. The problem is that writing your own stuff is tough, and knowing what to focus on, and what your players want to focus on, and getting the pacing right, is impossible without running a few games. Solution: The DM runs a smaller pre-made ...


7

Have them continually fined for minor infractions and examined for potential crimes. One of the ways that a government can harass someone without appearing to overstep their bounds is by enforcing minor laws. Their car gets tickets for parking an inch too far from the curb. They get fined for littering for dropping crumbs on the ground at lunch. Their taxes ...


7

If there is already potential conflict between the city and the forest (as you suggest) then the evil plan practically writes itself. Have the queen hire/force mercenaries (or thugs of any stripe) to attack one side leaving evidence incriminating the other side. So for example, she could hire some thugs to attack the druids, maybe steal something from them ...



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