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89

Historically speaking, your players aren't doing anything wrong. Incendiary weaponry has a long history in europe stretching back to the early middle ages and "dark" ages. Fire was and is a psychologically powerful weapon and all sorts of things from flaming oil to bursting clay pots were used against enemies. See Greek Fire as an example from as early as ...


71

Understand what makes the game fun for your players and then try not to back yourself into a corner where you feel pressure to fudge rolls in the first place. If character death is acceptable to your players then you should feel no pressure to erase a crit. If it is not then you should have death or resurrection mechanics which allow for the player to take ...


68

Don't ask your players to roll the dice unless failure has a consequence. This mantra isn't particularly obvious in the rules of D&D as many times the checks are relatively pointless and failure at those checks doesn't really come with much cost. Failure is an opportunity both for you as the DM and for your players. Here are some ideas as to how to make ...


66

The game you want to run is not the game they want to play. Fundamentally, gaming is a consensual activity. You clearly have very strong views about what kind of game you want to play, strong enough to trump your annoyance with the rest of the players not playing that game. While it's not "wrong" to require justification, it will leave you without players ...


62

This is not a direct answer to your question, but a suggestion that I feel is worth noting. Don't retcon past events, expand upon them. Instead of saying this never happened, say that it has. Exactly like it happened. But not because the player was drunk. Assuming your players are not omniscient, you can write things into the past, present and future of ...


59

This is a brief answer not really based on roleplaying games, but on living in corrupt societies, however briefly. Namely, USSR/Russia. The thing about institutionalized corruption is that it's not subtle. Everyone knows about it. Depending on the rest of the social organization, it may be illegal to speak about it openly, but everybody still knows. And once ...


57

Explicitly define "What's at stake?" Well, it sounds like part of your problem is that you two don't necessarily see eye to eye on the meaning of that roll. In my experience, the best way to approach this is to actually explicitly define the "stakes" of the check before the roll. That means you spell out the consequences of success and failure, then give ...


53

A candy filled doom pool with players taking variable amounts of candy every action. In our 4e game, we faced a countdown timed by a bowl filled with candy. Since you've obviously ruled out mapping out the entire ship and having them move through it, instead, start the timer by pouring candy into the bowl. For every action each player takes, have them take ...


53

Corruption isn't obvious in "liberal" societies. This answer is firmly situated in the western idea of corruption, best illustrated in House of Cards (BBC 1990). Obvious corruption tends to get corrected, as it has no shadows to hide in. The best signs of corruption are the fact that everything is too polished. An effective corrupt institution will operate ...


52

The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions In the Screwtape Letters, Screwtape toasts at a banquet stating that all the best sinners were failed saints. Men and women with a powerful will and a strong virtue, such as justice or defending the natural world, whose zeal crossed the line or had their virtue perverted. Villains should have goals that, at ...


51

Define the Consequeces of Success and Failure Up Front This answer addresses a very similar question. I think everything I said there applies equally here. In short: if you explicitly define the consequences of success and failure, players are less likely to misunderstand the information and run off doing some nonsense. Let It Ride In your case, there's ...


46

I believe it is a matter of story, and less a matter of mechanics. Mechanically, any monster, any NPC, any curse, any trap, anything the players encounter will have a solution, a stat to beat, and you as the GM would have calculated their chances and deemed it possible for them to defeat (speaking in generalities) The way to make the Undead scary is not to ...


46

Humanize them Not in the sense that they should act like humans, but in the sense that they have their loved ones and suffer and bleed. Make them cry (or whatever lizards do), anger or beg ("please, spare my family"). In most movies, the henchman are just henchman that cease to exist once they're killed. In an Austin Powers movie they humanize two ...


44

There are a ton of issues with that. That doesn’t automatically mean it’s the wrong move, just that it’s fraught with problems. Ultimately, most people feel that roleplaying works best when everyone, ya know, plays a role. As in, behaves as their character would, based on what their character knows, rather than how they would, based on what they know. This ...


44

In a society built around privacy of thought, easy and consequence-free mind reading is too powerful. We need to make it either harder or have consequences, either by changing how mind reading works or how society does. Some ways of doing that: Mind Reading is Hard There's many ways to do this. Maybe it's hard to drill past the irrelevant surface thoughts, ...


42

This might not be as much of a problem as you think. Why? Because munchkining, minmaxing, optimising, whatever you want to call it - is severely limited in 5e. The main techniques for it in previous editions of D&D involved things which are significantly less effective in 5e. Multiclassing has been crippled by the all-important ability score ...


41

Whenever my players roll before they establish their actions in the fiction (my system is Dungeon World), I say something like: "Whoa whoa whoa wait a moment. What are you doing and how are you doing it? We do not even know yet whether a roll is even required for that." I then have them explain what they do and if it triggers a move (=rolling), I'll have ...


39

How do I tell the players "This house rule sucks and we shouldn't do it anymore?" That's exactly how you do it! Say, "This house rule sucks and I think we shouldn't do it anymore." If they object, well... then they don't mind the paperwork. If they agree, then you don't have a problem. Either way they don't feel cheated, because they're part of ...


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 ...


34

You simply might have creative differences Your player seems to enjoy idealized stories, where the only thing necessary to make a things right is effort by a willful, and well-meaning individual. There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to tell, hear, and be a part of stories like this for a campaign.You on the other hand seem to be interested in a ...


33

Could you? Yes. Should you? That really, really depends. There is no "should", only things you want this houserule to encourage and discourage. Do you want to discourage players investing in thinking about the challenges in your game? Do you want to encourage players to not use Intelligence as a "dump stat"? Do you want to encourage character-based skill ...


33

"You've just moved into town and you wanna know the big players. Fair. There's the basic info you're going to get from your usual methods - you're shadowrunners, this is part of the job. BUT - tell me a) how long do you want to spend researching, b) how low of a profile do you want to keep in this, c) how much are you willing to spend? Detailed, fast, ...


31

Of course! There is no reason why you would not be allowed to roll in secret. If you suspect your players will metagame when they realize they rolled low and might have missed something, it is reasonable to roll in secret so they do not know if they succeeded or failed. However, even if you roll in secret, players may still get suspicious. You're rolling ...


31

Tell Them Your Goals If you haven't already, I would start by telling them essentially what you just said here. That there is no "one true plot". Tell them that introducing an evil person / problem does not make it the overriding campaign unless they want it to be. Tell them that you are willing to follow along with their character's background goals. ...


31

The Molotov Issue Don't punish or limit your players, Challenge them! Your PCs may be great at coming up with incendiary devices that'll wreak havoc on their enemies, but once those enemies foolish enough to fall into the trap are dealt with, it stands to reason that the next foe will come prepared. Indeed, the might even pick up on the idea of using ...


31

The big thing is how a game structures its facts when you want to have clue scenes. Pre-established Facts The GM decides what happened beforehand, and now the point is to have all clues and witnesses eventually point towards that fact. This is the most common way games handle things, but there is rarely good advice towards doing it well. Start with Free ...


30

Well, there's two parts to it... 1. They'll need it later, and they can spend it now. First, if you follow D&D 4e's treasure parcel system described on p126 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, they won't always have the best stuff. The rule books are actually fairly silent on the matter of how players buy items, but you can read more about that here: How do ...


30

In a world with mixed levels, the party should follow a simple rule: 1) Low-level adventurers should avoid the attention of high-level villains. This rule leads to a common trend: 2) High-level villains have no interest in low-level adventurers. High-level villains participate in the high-level world. Their enemies are other high-level people: kings, ...


29

Usually, players are not supposed to know how hard it is for them to overcome the obstacles they face. (While this is valid for every D&D edition I know of, examples will be about the editions I'm most familiar with, which are D&D 3.5e and D&D 4e) Most DCs for things you want to do are fixed by the rules and everybody knows them. A DC 15 tumble ...


29

Anyone who's done research (or a book report in school) knows that you don't really learn "everything" about a subject. Even if you have the skill, you don't have the time. So I-as-DM wouldn't let someone get away with learning "everything" in the first place. :) But you do want to reward players for thinking... So, let them put the time in, but make them ...



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