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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, ...


31

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 ...


31

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 ...


24

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 ...


23

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 ...


21

Steal a couple and mash them up Colleges and universities are actually, in general, remarkably good about putting their plans online. To make a believable college campus quickly, steal a couple, and mash them up. Then use the building plans featured in the street map for your internal plans. Internal plans: MSU, LaTrobe Library, Melbourne, Colorado State ...


18

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 ...


17

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 ...


17

I'd recommend the 5x5 method which discussed on the in detail on the critical-hits.com blog in the context of both adventures and campaigns The basic idea of this technique, is that you take 5 ideas: Overthrow the evil empire Prevent the sorcerer from ascending to demon-hood and 3 more... and so on, and then for each idea create 5 milestones that will ...


17

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, ...


16

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 ...


16

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 ...


15

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 ...


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

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

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 ...


11

The most important aspect of an NPC is presenting a persona that the players can interact with realistically and consistently. Stats will not do that - they'll help and give you guideance on what a character can and can't do, and for some GMs (and possibly systems, but that's debatable) that is essential - but it's not required. Believe me, I generated ...


11

What level PCs can manage a horde of 300+ orcs & ogres!? Challenge I think their biggest problem will be the infighting/challenges for leadership from their followers! Other civilized cities & adventurers attacking your horde (even if you've been friendly, I'd take you out before you become a threat) Engaging I think you'd only need a few ...


10

Generally speaking, if it is too much for a spreadsheet, chances are it's too much for human adjudication in the first place. In other words, if you can't keep track of it with a generalized computer tool like a spreadsheet, then it's a good sign that your campaign needs a redesign. An alternative might be a custom computer application, but if you're ...


9

I'd like to point out that with some good keying, it's a lot easier to keep track of everything. Make a note for each room or item what it can trigger, and then make a checklist for each room for everything that can be changed. Then when, for example, a lever is pulled you could read the key, go to say room 46, and tick a box. This might take a while at ...


9

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 ...


9

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. ...


9

I am going to guess that you are running a more-or-less sandbox game. Sandbox games are great at giving the players the ability to write their own future, but are lousy since whenever they decide to go on a tangent, it's almost impossible to get them off of the tangents. I have found that using seed-sprout-bloom-fruit plot lines makes running sandbox games ...


9

You can do it either way: there's no right way to do this, just like there's no right way for the author of a book to move around in their story. The general GM skill involved in choosing how to move the game along is called "pacing", and it's one of the harder skills to "level up" but also one of the most powerful skills you have as a GM. (That you're ...


9

Use a dynamic amount of content. You can't know how long that 3 page long dungeon will take to play. Instead prep the games in small chunks. Add more chunks as necessary during the game session. When you're approaching the end point, run the final segment of the game. As requested, here are some examples. I held off from posting them when I first ...


8

A mouse can not kill a bear by force of arms. At least, not using Fighter nor Hunter. (See the size effect rules on page 223-225) Animals that are two or more ranks higher than you on the scale may not be killed by your hand—not using Fighter or Hunter. Use of Militarist requires more than 1 mouse. For a black bear, 6 steps up the scale, it's ...


8

Ooh, fun question. I'm having trouble even picturing 20,000 mice, but quick Googling lists the weight of a bear as 300 - 780 kg and the weight of a mouse as 16 - 27 grams, so to compare against a bear in terms of weight the mice would need numbers between 13,000 and 50,000. Frankly, even if this worked though, the number of casualties involved in such a ...


8

First of all, you need to choose a game that allows you to do that, which comes with the usual implications of making your group buy in. If you already play one of those, no problem. If you don't and your group still wants to use that system, then maybe someone else will write an answer about how to shorten combat encounters and create short missions. This ...


7

I've played through my fair share of D&D campaigns, some with pretty heavy prop usage, some with slim to no prop usage (in some cases, we didn't even have room for a battle mat!) Generally in my experience, props that will actively help the PC's keep track of things (maps, notes/letters discovered, riddles and the like) are extremely useful. They give us ...



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