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34

The Point of Cutscenes Cutscenes/dramatic irony scenes are difficult to do in tabletop RPGs, in large part because of what they're meant to do. In movies and even video games, cutscenes work because they let the viewer/player see something coming, without necessarily letting them do anything about it. Alfred Hitchcock talks about this: a boring family dinner ...


24

There is a really awesome example of how to do this, right in the classic Fantasy canon: Frodo and the Ring. Frodo holds the One Ring, and it has what is - for the setting - an extremely powerful magical effect. And yet the Fellowship of the ring still feels powerful and important. I'm going to try and break down why that's the case, and hopefully this will ...


23

Short answer; don't. Based on what you've said it's not that his character is a problem, just that his theoretical goal is untenable. Make it clear to him exactly what sort of trouble he'd be in for if he decides to have his character pursue that vendetta. Let him know it would be impossible (or almost impossible, depending on your GM style) to fulfill and ...


20

Support characters We do this all the time. When one or more characters are separated from the group for a long time, the GM gives the other players characters to play with. The players must acknowledge they are playing secondary characters and most protagonism must be with the main character. In your case, give each player except the cleric a goblin. Give ...


18

"Hey, that sounds like a great idea for an epic game. We're actually going to be playing something more low key in this campaign, though. How about if you have a vendetta against (lower powered authority, but still powerful relative to the character and more fitting with the situation)? That would fit in really well this this other ...


17

The ways to make monsters more challenging is to use 'player' tactics such as flanking, ambush and aid another. Using giant spiders as an example. Round 1 Check for surprise vs stealth (with a +14 for the modifier 11 as the base and 3 for distance). Assuming spiders get surprised, nail the PCs with eight touch attacks with web (at +5 to hit). Round 2 PCs ...


14

I think the more important question here is why do you want to be more okay with PC death? When Gary Gygax ran his games back in the day, he was the original Killer GM. Everything in those old dungeons has a save-or-die effect, and that was rolled into how the players approached the game (ie, with backup characters and not a huge amount of attachment to ...


11

These are the droids you're looking for. :) You should consider using a droid / AI. Droids are ideal for the non-conflict (or limited conflict) NPC role: just think of R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars: They do what they must do, but can relatively easily be ignored, commanded... and even turned off. As you yourself have said in a comment, they can be ...


11

To answer your two questions in backwards order, but easier context: Scene Framing Splitting the party is easy and fun when you don't let scenes drag. Just as much as movies and TV cuts to relevant points, you should aim to start scenes as close to the important action as possible. Don't spend long on the set up, get to the interesting point of the scene ...


11

There are only two situations in which it is ever appropriate to restrict a player's creativity (especially new players who might get discouraged) when constructing an origin story for their character in an RPG: The origin story gives a player a mechanical advantage over the other players. Example: My noble family is old, influential, and extremely ...


11

Make a Quicksheet You don't need the full rules, just the ones you use a lot. A short, 1-2 front & back sheet of paper with the important references. The value of this isn't just reference, it's because it's a thing for the players to look and fiddle with while they're playing - sometimes you need constant exposure to get things through. But it also ...


10

Make them stumble upon and want to bite the hook. Expecially in a homebrew campaign, players will want to get their bearings: take a look around, see what the locals are like etc. This is where you come in: They hit the tavern? Have the innkeeper talk about how it's not been going well lately because for some reason less visitors drop by for drinks and ...


10

Teaching a game isn't really something that gets accomplished once at the beginning of the first session. It's a process that will last several sessions, even with experienced players. It's also important to remember that learning is also a responsibility... If your group aren't being good students you'll run into problems just as surely as if you weren't ...


10

Don't restart unless you want to. There are two clear options for this, and it's completely up to your preference (the current rules provide no clear guidance on this) Simply allow them to change PCs. Write their old PC out and their new PC in. Bring the new PC in at the current level and if everyone else has a magic item, it might not hurt to let them ...


10

The reason the rolls seems unfair is a problem called Goblin Dice. When talking about combat, d20 decide if a goblin lives or dies - but we all know sooner or later he will kick the bucket. When we use d20 to determine the success of one-of-a-kind events (like making a bluff check, a diplomacy check or a riddle-solving check), the high variability of the ...


9

Three suggestions! People as threats You can keep monsters as monsters, but also include people as threats. People can be "talked to" but that doesn't mean they're reasonable. But what is fun and interesting about people is they can be cunning - they can adapt, and they open up a LOT of possibilities other than "fight to the death". I have a Big List ...


8

There are a couple of the classic "Campaign Archetypes" (a topic for an essay?) that I think may work. First is: The Deadly Peril Something is out to get the PCs, something bigger than them. You need to make it very, very clear that they cannot survive without working together. Problem is, when one of them inevietably goes off on their own. To keep the ...


8

Refer to the source If you want to create a campaign close to Buffy feel, you must watch or re watch Buffy, paying attention to get ideas for the game you want, and how they implement them. You must understand why they make the things they make in the way they make. In my opinion, Buffy as a (comedic) supernatural teen drama has the best balance between ...


8

Yes, I do this kind of thing all the time in my supers games. I usually go with the first option; decide how long they have, then convert that into a game-measurable limit (the system I use calls them "panels"), but then if my players start getting bogged down in tactics I cut them off and say "Uh, guys? Clock's ticking, here." It helps that they rarely ...


8

The problem with introducing a real world timer, in my opinion, is that the characters most likely know more about how to handle such situations than the your players do (well, unless your players are professional negotiators and/or SWAT people.) In my experience it's quite natural for players to discuss strategy and tactics, especially in critical ...


8

Burst Out Of The Enemy's Tribute Chest, Covered in Pork Chops This is not the only way to handle this situation, but it's what I always do. Always. You know that trope when the 'party is split' in a movie or TV series, where you follow one character as they uncover things or do things that affect the things the main party is doing? They see the secret, ...


8

I can understand switching to a different character once, like, you didn't understand the system or the campaign, and you didn't realize what kind of character would be a good fit for you. But repeatedly doing it, after just a few sessions? It's time to sit down with the player and have a hard talk. "What do you want from this game? Here is what ...


8

When I've engaged in this, it's usually because I've made a series of NPCs. When not thinking, I tend to form character requirements for maximum conflict-safety. (Not to say invulnerability within the mechanics of combat, but boring characters who don't want anything and thus have no reason for drama or narrative engagement.) Thus, because they are boring, ...


7

I have two systems and one book to recommend. PTA is a great game, as is Apocalypse World, but if you are interested in supernatural soap opera, there are two even better fits: Monsterhearts Monsterhearts is an amazing game - it's based on the Apocalypse World engine, but focuses on the teen relationship drama piece of Buffy. I have used it for a drop-in ...


7

I won't expand on how to build a proper NPC, give him a true identity, taste and above all moral ethics, and a past he should be able to tell when asked (or a past that should lead to have links with other NPCs),but here are two things you should consider to reach your goal: Make him intelligent/skillful Most NPCs are, well NPCs... They don't achieve great ...


7

Do not introduce hooks, introduce situations The main difference between a campaign and a sandbox is that campaigns have a well-defined plot, while sandboxes have a well-defined premise. Think of it as a ballistic approach to storytelling. You set up your guns, load, elevation etc. and you fire. Where the projectile will land is then in the hands of gods, ...


7

Yes, in the starter kit In the introduction section of the Lost Mines of Phandelver there is a primer section for new DMs which includes descriptions of what type of activities would make up the Easy, Moderate, and Hard DC check levels. Easy (DC10). An easy task requires minimal level of competence or a modicum of luck to accomplish. Moderate (DC ...


7

Tell him where the problema lies. "Man, your character knows that the target of your revenge is maybe the most well protected guy ever. Do you really want to have such a target, that it might be justification for your partecipation to the story but can't be reached (at least not soon) or would you rather like to choose one of his menas your target?" Build ...


7

I'm inclined to ask: Is it really a mistake? I think the answer depends on the game, if you are trying to run a game about the being characters, a game about their stories, a game about resolving (or even just experiencing a plot, or a game about a series of challenges. Each of these is a valid way to play, so I'll try not let my preferences color the ...


7

Barring in mind that in Pathfinder, and D&D as a whole, Good and Evil are not just concepts, but measurable, detectable, fundamentally defined forces of the Universe; such acts will draw attention from extra-planar beings. Setting aside what the player/character has said to other players/characters, ask the player what his character is truly thinking ...



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