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41

Well, for starters, I'd say don't use D&D. It is a game tailored towards violent conflicts, which is exactly what you're avoiding, it seems. Mind you, I said "violent conflicts". No story, thus no game, can exist without any conflict whatsoever. I'm not also saying it's completely undoable with D&D, just mainly... a waste of its design and practical ...


39

Let the Baby Bird Leave the Nest Having rotated a campaign through many GM hands, the least disruptive thing we found was to not worry about it. Your turn at the helm is over. Our group has multiple people that like to GM. We created a world we really liked and want to continue exploring when it is someone else's turn to run a campaign. We decided that ...


36

Make the players invested in the history of the world. This depends on the system you're using. However, generally, you want the players to come up with a backstory, yes? Well, nudge them to tie their character's backstory in with the rest of the world. That way, when something happens in the world, they'll be emotionally invested in its outcome. Hence, ...


36

You can have several tricks to get around this, I've used similar methods with fantasy and cyberpunk games. Security Weapons are keycoded, or Palmprinting - this stops anyone but a certain person using it. Yes you can bypass it, but it's either difficult or very pricey. Limited uses Yes, you've got a melta gun - but getting ammo/powerpacks for it is ...


28

It's up to you. One of the joys of roleplaying games is that as the GM you have a large degree of flexibility in what you do. Flexibility versus Preparation If you prepare a city with a lot of diagrams and an actual map, that's great. You'll be able to come up with stuff without even having to stop and think about it because you've already charted it out ...


27

Same Page Tool There is such a thing. It's called the Same Page Tool. It does require you to talk to the players, but gives you a structured set of questions to work from that can guide that conversation. There's really no way to do this that doesn't involve talking to them in some way, short of running campaigns and watching what they react to & what ...


26

Communicate. Let the players know what kind of campaign you're running. How relevant is combat? Will there be social encounters at all? Will they be frequent? Even better, listen to the players to find out what kind of game they would like to play. They want a game of brutal dungeons and challenging combat to gain ever more powerful items? Then they ...


22

I've run and played in many games with minimal combat, even D&D games. In some campaigns we've had whole game sessions go by where no one touches a die, and have gone 2-3 sessions between a real fight. Here's the tricks. Give people something else fun to do! Often, this is fully realized NPCs to interact with; it can also be other exciting activities ...


21

Siloing "Siloing" is a design term for sectioning off powers or points to be used for a subset of things - thereby limiting how much min-maxing can happen. Usually in point build games, the problem is that people pour ALL of their points into combat and ignore everything else. The simple house rule is to silo the points: "You can spend 100 pts on ...


20

I have a couple suggestions. Run your plots in parallel. It will make them seem infinitely more complex and give the players more to do. Investigations seem trivial when you're given a premise, two clues, and a contact, all lined up in a row. Give the players a couple investigations at once and then throw a dead body into the mix. Now they have to ...


20

Yes, it's fine to make it up as you go along. Whether or not that works for you depends upon your ability to remain consistent and to improvise on the fly, but many a good campaign starts with nought more than 4-6 PC's and a map. Also note: many a campaign lies stillborn, suffocated by excess GM prepwork. Many more get off the ground, then grind to a halt ...


19

First off, since the question is tagged rogue-trader, I'll reiterate that the PCs are already able to get their hands on the best gear out there anyhow. "You're the owners and command staff of a 5km warpship with access to resources in excess of some worlds' annual gross planetary production" will get you pretty far. As in, if you want to buy a melta gun, ...


18

I am quiet fond of computer game music. It loops nicely, generally is quiet good, and has many themes similar to your game. You can get your travel, spooky, hide and sneak, and of course, combat. Examples would be Dragon Age (1 and 2), Assassin's Creed (2 and brotherhood), Europa Universalis 3 (although this one maybe a little more renaissance), Jade ...


17

Here are the steps I would take: Make sure you understand the group's current goals. Get together with just the new player and work together to design a character that has at least one common interest with the other characters. Still with the new player, design a scene where the new player meets the party. On your own, design a scenario where the new ...


17

Definitely get a first aid kit that can cover most environmental hazards in your area (spider bites, poison oak, etc) as well as the basic cuts/scrapes/twisted ankles/etc. Don't forget to include sunscreen and hydration tablets, since most of your player base is likely not used to spending a lot of time outdoors. Make sure you know how to recognize and treat ...


17

Don't get caught up in the rules; do what makes sense first. While you are correct in your assessment that D&D is a rules-heavy game, the rules do not need to be followed to the letter to create an enjoyable game. Following the rules stringently can actually have the opposite effect; players begin "rules lawyering," or arguing with the GM on principle ...


17

Focus on the interesting bits Think of your game like a movie... if the trip from the tavern to the market is important to the story, then make the trip a "scene" of its own. If it isn't (you have no ambush or "chance" meeting planned), then skip straight to the scene at the market. Background-wise, when creating a location like a city, you only need to ...


17

You start with a pithy campaign concept pitch ("Con artists in a Star Wars 'verse"). Then the players make trimmed-down PCs: a High Concept, a Trouble, and two or three skills with ranks assigned. Everything else can be filled in on the fly during play as it's needed/wanted. As they make their characters, the players should decide what small goal they share ...


15

Have them serve as assistant GMs for you a couple of times. Start out by giving them NPCs to voice, and extend by asking them "so, what do you think should happen here?" You'll always be there to prop 'em up if they need it, and before they know it they'll realize they're doing all the stuff they were nervous about doing.


15

Figure out how relations are between the orcs and the ogres in the camp. Give these two groups tribal names, flags, distinctive armor, etc. Are there members of more than one clan within either tribe? If so, give each clan a name and a flag, and figure out the relations between the clans. Is there tension there? History? Pride? Think about how labor is ...


15

without which material your game won't feel authentic, just a bad copy, an alternate universe of an alternate universe. I started writing an answer about how to narrow down and use a small, immediate bit of setting to get a small, immediate situation, and I came back and read this part again. That's your problem. You have a strong commitment to ...


15

Using The Lost Mines of Phandelver as an example, here's how I handle such situations. Map I frequently forget elements when going off published maps. So I take the published map, photocopy it, and mark it in a way that makes the key elements of each room impossible for me to miss. For example, if the room is dark, I outline the shape of the room using a ...


14

As a GM, I love handing out props but I don't have a lot of time to build them. And as Melon points out (I've run some of his campaigns) portability and storage can be an issue. I've organically developed some question over the years, to help me analyse my props and make the most of the few times I use them. Why am I adding this prop? This is the big one. ...


14

Sandbox - to - Railroad is a spectrum, not either or. Games are not either sandbox or railroaded, rather they exist on a spectrum between heavily railroaded where players mostly handle tactics and the GM handles the story over to wide open sandboxes where players drive most of the story and (especially in narrativists games) perhaps even create large ...


13

You can run a campaign based on, say, Diplomacy, by thinking about what situations in the real world require diplomacy: between individuals or between nations, it usually boils down to: a) promoting trade, b) gaining assistance (often financial), or c) teaming up against a common enemy. You simply need a substantial reason why two parties haven't already ...


13

Things that Have Not Changed Trusting your players is Crucial This is likely to be easier for you, as a freeform player used to using only trust and social contract to decide what happens in the game, than for many long-time players of rules-heavy systems: the rules do not protect you from abusive players, and you must trust your players just as much with ...


13

Either they simply don't like sandboxes, or they have trained themselves to wait for GM Plot to railroad them. Consequently, you either give up on playing sandboxes with this group, or (in the case they do like sandboxes) you help them by training them out of their inertia. Giving up is easy, but sad-making. Training is harder, but provides the hope it'll ...


13

Not Very The cold truth of planning is that you will plan things that don't get used. That's just how it goes. How much of your planning goes to waste depends on how far out you try to plan. The trick I use is to divide my planning up into higher level ideas, and low level details (like stats). High Level - Far Out If your campaign has an overarching ...


13

Short answer is start from the bottom and advance upward. That is instead of jumping into a massive open sandbox campaign from the start you set the game in a very small and narrow sub setting. Now I don't know Shadowrun but if I'm allowed to use Forgotten Realms as an example that too is a huge and massive world with lots of information. However, if you ...



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