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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

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 ...


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

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 ...


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

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

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 ...


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

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

Sardathrion and Rob cover most of my NPC generation process, but sometimes (most notably when the party discovers one I haven't planned for) I just consider them a +X NPC. For example, in AFMBE I might make a random Normie citizen a +2 NPC - their rolls are typically just the roll +2 unless I decide it's a skill they should have. So John Doe over there is ...


7

Confirm Characters Can Perform Tasks Beyond Murder The primary issue in a point-based game is not that players make characters that are combat monsters but that players can't make characters that are anything but combat monsters. Champions is a great, highly detailed cinematic combat system. GURPS is a great, highly detailed mostly realistic combat system. ...


6

You might like to ask over on Board&Card Games.SE, where almost everybody has a favourite way of storing counters. My three quick suggestions: Matchboxes. Glue a dozen (or however many) together, put a sticky label on the front of each drawer to indicate contents, and keep in the bag with your rulebooks. Go to your local hardware shop and ask about ...


6

Make Building Motivation Part of Campaign Setup The easiest way to make sure the PCs have things to do in the setting is to create the characters and the setting together. That way you know there'll be relevant stuff for the PCs to do, since you are creating both elements together with the express purpose of making them interlock. A great time to do this ...


5

Like a Potemkin village, all my NPCs are but a few sentences on a card. Note that the card can be digital in the form of a wiki entry, a markdown/LaTeX file, etc... or it could be a paper card. The sentences themselves describe: The general appearance, the general skill set, and one or more interesting background elements. That is it. So, for example: ...


5

Flat-pack tackle boxes: Plano or other brand fishing tackle flat boxes are great, provided the counters are big enough. The boxes have up to dozens of wells, and often have clear lids as well, allowing you to instantly find what you're looking for. Ziplocks - especially snack size - are another traditional method. I've used both; I prefer tackle boxes. And ...


5

Here are a couple of points to consider: The type of mine is important. Coal or salt mines extract mass quantities of material, so can have large chambers supported by columns. Gold and silver mines typically follow veins, so are very narrow with random straight-and-bend patterns. In addition to the actual extractive sections, mines will have long, ...


5

Think of it as a movie! If you were watching a movie about the adventures of your party, then would the movement through the city be shown on-screen (given your situation and style of play) or happen during a scene change? If the shopping is important, or the city particularly interesting, then it would deserve 'screentime', if it's refreshing supplies in ...


5

The best resource I can recommend for quick 'n' dirty urban adventuring (especially when it comes to mapping and locations) is: Urbancrawl Rules for Slacker DMs, on D&D with Porn Stars. (Some parts of that site are NSFW, as the name might imply, and I trust you're over 18 years old.) Which is part of: Vornheim ... if you want to see how he's put it ...


5

Advice from an old role playing book: "The police forces are capable of keeping the peace." Longer explanation: You have a universe. The universe has rules. It has means to enforce those rules (otherwise, other rules would be in effect). But (for practical reasons) the setting has to be somewhat "stable". Stable always means rules and rules always means ...


5

So, to add to some already great content, here are my ideas about this topic: Find a reason for them to go back home You should have a very clear reason to send them home at the end of the session, a reason that you should be so familiar with that you'll be able to adjust it to whatever the characters did to your dungeon in each and every session. It may ...


4

This can be a tricky thing, if a group is used to a certain playing style, for example following quests along a more or less straight plotline in which the next step is somehow obvious and usually agrees on using violence with slightly hostile characters it may be difficult to transform that group to a more open environment where the player's decision is as ...



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