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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, ...


33

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 ...


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 ...


25

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 ...


24

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

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

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 ...


18

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 ...


18

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 ...


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

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

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

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 ...


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 ...


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

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 ...


14

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 ...


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 ...


14

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 ...


13

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 ...


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

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 ...


12

I've run a megadungeon for one-off sessions. Obviously making a megadungeon for just one session like that is a bit of a waste of time, but it can work really well if the players know that you've used or are planning to use the dungeon for other groups. I've had players get really into changing things and leaving little messages for other groups, once they ...


12

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 ...


11

You can get away with only DMG 2, though both DMGs offer valuable advice and you may get more value from the Rules Compendium (though balanced for Essentials, it contains the most recent advice on most mechanics). The key point here is that you don't need either DMG to build adventures, especially if you have access to the D&D Insider tools like the ...


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 ...



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