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24

It does cause problems; not insurmountable problems, but problems The problem is that when characters get different amounts of XP, they end up with different levels. A level in 3.5 is unbelievably massive – particularly at higher levels with higher-power classes. For example, spells tend to grow exponentially in power – and if the sorcerer’s class level is ...


20

With most tabletop RPGs there is going to be a certain level of disconnect between the mechanics of a mysterious effect and its, well, mysteriousness. Here are a few ways to handle this kind of situation sorted from most player knowledge to least. Describe the effect, explain the rules This is probably the simplest option and the one I would recommend ...


20

I'll never claim to be the greatest GM, but here's a few things that I've come up with after a couple of years running a game: Describe how instead of just saying what Sometimes all you need to do is give the players the gist of the NPC's message if you add in a description of how they say it. Say something about the nervous tick, the furtive glances, the ...


17

Initially expect the group to mitigate his schemes rather than foil them. If they aren't actually preventing the big bad from getting what he wants, then he doesn't have to stop them getting what they want. So they can pull innocent bystanders out of the way of whatever terrible stuff he's up to, or they can be threatened by side-effects or after-effects of ...


13

Little Hints Here and There Drop little hints here and there. Make it obvious there is more to their adventures than the guys they kill. Thus, your players get to thinking "there is something behind this as well." The important thing here is that there are little hints here and there. Expose something too big, your players will go Leeroy Jenkins on your ...


11

It is a problem that Lost Mines of Phandelver is designed for 3-5 player characters (PCs), plus a DM. I'm playing Phandelver at the moment with a group. One session only two players turned up, and I discovered how deadly this could be with no modification. With one PC and no modification, you would likely not last past the first encounter. As far as I can ...


10

I think of this as a two part issue: "How do I work out what NPC expresses with their answer?" and "How does the NPC express themselves in that answer?" Given that you're only worried about major NPCs, the first part is the easy one: At all times, bear in mind your NPC's motivations, both localised and general. Which is to say, have in mind a rough idea of ...


10

-Beat- ...What? Comedy in a semi-serious campaign is often times, in my opinion, funnier than if you try to go full bore into slapstick wackiness, and that is due to one time-tested principle, the Only Sane Man (TM). Even in grim and dark fantasy, in RPGs there are tons of things that happen that either don't make a whole lot of sense or are great sources ...


9

You're trying to set a tone. This is an abstract quality that will inform and emerge from your game. To shape how it goes, you'll need to keep your desired tone in mind during preparation and play, and identify specifics that will help guide you. Gritty Drama vs. Lighthearted Adventure You're used to grit. Let's define some of the qualities that ...


7

It causes some problems, but doesn't solve the issue it addresses. The information in this post comes from my direct experience of this issue as the guy who would often not show up to a game. During college, I was in a weekly game where I would miss every 3 or 4 weeks on average, sometimes more often. My group understood that the game was just that: a ...


7

In my opinion, once the character has been turned over to you the thing that makes her different is her history, not her present or future. She is an NPC now. She's an ex-PC because of what she used to be. Treat her as you normally would. 2) There's no possible way to roleplay the character as the character's creator would. And that's OK! You don't have to. ...


6

Some stories are not suited to some systems. An antagonistic magical item will be modeled with the intelligent item rules. These rules, as a relic of 3.5, are... pretty horrible. Let us call our artefact "The one ring." It's a Lawful evil (or chaotic, or... whatever), ring which can cast a 4th level spell at will. That's more powerful than normal, but ...


5

Let it happen. Forced comedy rarely works, and is even more rarely actually found to be funny. The best situations arise out of misunderstanding, misinterpretation or just plain human error. One of the best stories in all of roleplaying, "The Gazebo" came about because someone didn't know the meaning of a word. Set the stage While forced comedy rarely ...


5

The Angry DM has a good article about non-combat encounters, generally. Speaking to dialog with NPCs in particular, his advice (which I've started using, to good effect) is to give each NPC a(n): Incentive: why might they help the PCs? Objection: why might they not help the PCs? Alignment (even if the game/system doesn't use alignments; they're more ...


5

It can cause problems, especially when you have a single player missing multiple sessions in a row. There is certainly a power gap that occurs when players are at different levels, but this power gap is created by other aspects of the game as well, such as magic item creation. The system is built to help adjust for experience differences that can cause ...


5

As a summer camp counselor, I've had to introduce many many games to kids in the age group you are talking about. If you can't get everyone involved in playing, (which you often can't in a game like this) here's what you can do. Demonstrations! As with most games, D&D 4e is most easily understood by actually playing the game. To that end, we want a ...


4

In addition to KRyan's excelletn 3.5 specific answer, I think this question is answerable as a question about experience point systems in general and what they are supposed to do from a game standpoint. So in that light, I will attempt to answer the question. I have had extensive practice fiddling with experience systems, as I don't think I have ever used ...


4

You already mentioned a good one, FATE Core is probably the next best thing aside from the Leverage System. You already have a really cool way to introduce complications and allow players to do flashbacks with the fate point system. Say in one scene a security guard is about to check the room one of your players is in, another of the players says "When we ...


4

As an alternative, you might consider checking out the Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide. It's substantially cheaper ($20) and includes not only the rules for Leverage (which is Cortex Plus Action) but also a lot of advice and examples for manipulating the mechanics to fit your play style. It also contains the rules for Cortex Plus Drama (the basis for Smallville) ...


3

At first the villain's intermediary agents, and then later the villain himself, hire the players to perform missions for him. They're in a position to get to know the villain while they're on his side, and to foil whichever of his schemes they're tasked with once they have their Heel Realization. ♪ You're one microscopic cog in his catastrophic plan, ...


3

My advice is to go ahead and say "don't split up." Explain that if they split up then that means times when some of the players are sitting around the table doing nothing. It might make sense character-wise to split the party, but sometimes you have to do things that not character-wise to be player-wise. Not splitting the party is one of those things.


3

Some things to think about: Does the party have to win all of the challenges? If not, what are the consequences of losing? Are the challenges for one character at a time? Can they help each other? These will help you design the difficulty of the encounter in a way that matches your objectives - if every character MUST succeed in ALL challenges, with no ...


3

The advices of harlandski are really good and it's the core of your solution. I'm just adding more tips to make things easier for you: 1) I suggest you play a 2-heroes team Having 2 heroes in the story will allow you to appreciate one funny aspect of the game: characters interaction. But to make it work at it's best, it is useful to have 2 players drive 2 ...


3

It depends on the playstyle (as decided by the GM, and/or agreed on by the players), as there are trade-offs depending on how much one prefers things such as: Players liking to roll dice for their own actions. How much game jargon is desired in the game narrative. (Some players enjoy talking about and playing with the numbers and turns and game terms ...


2

You could for example how the character suddenly is plagued by a looming dread, his thoughts betraying him/her in that doubts come up much more frequently, in effect he/she starts to second guess themselves thus the two rolls and because second guessing is time consuming he/she always gets the worst of the rolls. As a aside, explaining game mechanics ...


2

The past is the past Whatever happened previously helped shape the character to what they are now. That character is not the same one that started way back when, nor is it the same one that would be around a while from now if the player kept playing them. Retirement is a life changing event, so any personality changes can be attributed to that. There is no ...


2

As a new DM, this has been a learning process for me as well. Here is how I personally have improved (and am continuing to improve). Spend longer before the game than you think is necessary. Approaching this like a writer has helped me significantly- make sure you write down the NPC's motivations, recent history, personality, and other details. Anything ...


2

You could always have the players acquire something of the villain's. This could either be by chance after defeating one of his henchmen, or they simply find a powerful artifact that he is after. This causes the villain to come and seek out the party and attack, or he lures them into a trap. Then the goal is to defend against the villain for a sufficient ...


2

I see some that may be problematic: This is a PC only bonus This has an unclear result when PC's are taken out by enemy fire entire group is nebulous in many cases. In turn... PC Only Bonus The only rules that differ for NPCs vs PC's in d6 Star Wars are character generation. This breaks that model. If you apply it to NPC's, it simply remains balanced ...


2

Think of a comic relief as a narrative device Comic relief is a technique used by narrators (including GMs) to change the pace of the story, act as a foil, lampshade other techniques or even subvert entire genres. The idea is that your comic relief has to have both an in-universe function and narrative function. As a device it is handled pretty much the ...



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