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-1

The characters' existence and past is the result of many observations and reported observations. Not all of those reports have to be true. Part 1 While walking home, I cut through an alley where there isn't anybody else and I fall and break my arm. I go to the hospital and say "I fell and now my arm hurts and I think it's broken. Part 2 While ...


2

The typical way to do this is to roll for the player where only you can see the result (such as behind a screen or your hand). Any time you are rolling for hidden information, you're justified in making the roll yourself. Looking for secret doors? You roll, and tell what they do or don't find. Racking their brains to remember something useful about trolls? ...


4

Be unpredictable The reason that the player can do this is that the rules are well-known. In order to avoid this problem, introduce some mystery. When the player rolls his skill check, you should also roll (in secret of course). If your roll is in the high half of the die range, then treat his roll as normal (1 is failure, 20 is success, etc.). If you roll ...


7

Assuming you're referring to D&D 3.5 or similar, "fumbling" a skill check on a natural 1 is a house rule only - by rules as written a natural 1 on a skill check is not even an automatic failure, much less a fumble. http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/usingSkills.htm#skillChecks: Unlike with attack rolls and saving throws, a natural roll of 20 on the ...


3

Save your Mechanics Changes for Experienced Groups You're a first time GM, and you had a lot of difficulty getting your group together. Do you really want to risk adding a broken mechanic to your newly formed group? An easy way to lose players is to have a power imbalance, because certain players will feel that their contributions are nonexistent, and lose ...


8

Making large changes to mechanics is a difficult and rewarding process. Most of the time, the problems that your designs will have won't be obvious until your players have banged on them a little bit. Messing around with mechanics is one of my favorite things to do in tabletop games, so here's a few things to keep in mind as you do it: Make sure you're on ...


2

Too much is if the players say it is too much The only limit to customization is what the players will accept. Although I don't play 3.5 much, I ruthlessly customize in other systems. It helps create exactly the type of game I want. I have never actually had any player object to the ammount of customization (though there are sometimes discussions about ...


9

I say, go for it, but with two important caveats: Get player buy-in Make sure the players are on board for the tweaks you're planning. Are they veteran players used to playing a certain way and might resent it? Do they have certain expectations you'll be breaking? Make sure you don't make unilateral changes to the system. Be prepared to rollback This is ...


1

I'm taking @mxyzplk's word that the official rules for Pathfinder offer no solution to your case and I'm going to cover the "what's the non official but good way to make this happen?" question. D&D 3.5e (which PF is based upon) had this rule where people joining the fight later got to act at the initiative count they would have acted if they had rolled ...


2

My take on this would be the following (though I'm not sure whether the RAW dictates the same): Roll an initiative for everyone - including those in C23 and C21, in this specific situation - at the beginning of the fight. (To speed up combat, roll a single initiative score for any and all "unexpected combatants" as well, and use that for anyone/everyone ...


14

You're right that the basic initiative rules just kinda assume everyone's in the fight at the beginning of the battle and don't say more than that, so the addition of late arrivals requires some interpretation. In general, as new arrivals become aware of and desire to participate in the battle, they should just roll initiative for the first round they're ...


1

OK, with that cleared, let's dive in, shall we? Descriptions are everything One of the best ways to give the players the feel that their in someplace that is different from what they've been used to is to describe it differently. There are no more those descriptions of "A 10 on 10 feet room, with an orc in the middle". It's not this game. Not any more, at ...


0

While I like the other answers that have been presented, I feel like they focus too much on questioning why you as the DM intend for the encounter to go a certain way. Sometimes the plot you've developed simply requires for a specific encounter to happen a specific way, and despite their best intentions especially if you have smart players who play powerful ...


2

Unintended consequences. Lets take your example of the brigands, and spreading the rumors for a lord to take them out instead of the players doing it. The brigands may not have all the wealth and not be as bad as made out, but one thing they did have in their possession was a certain book/map/manuscript that the party really needed to be able to get from ...


-1

get them to work together: if you've got one guy who loves coming up with this stuff maybe you could talk to the other players and see if he can help them come up with things for their characters too


0

My goal was to make it an ethical dilemma for the players [...] how can I run a campaign based on morally challenging decisions The most important thing you can do is to learn as much as you can about moral dilemmas before designing your encounters/sessions/adventures/campaigns. I have a philosophy degree and took a number of courses on ethics through ...


0

If there is one single thing that has made me a fairly good GM, it's... It's actually two things. I suppose I could boil it down to only one thing, but that would make things ridiculously abstract and unclear. Not very helpful. First, know thyself. I mean scrutinize yourself, the things you write and how you present it to the players. Analyze every ...


4

Great answers all, but I feel a few words could be said in relation to the post-ap setting. Use emotional artifacts common to the group Artifacts can be anything. Perhaps the only vehicle to make it is your common friends beaten down station wagon you always gave him a hard time for. Perhaps the soup kitchen in the old hotel still features that weird ...


2

First of all, scale down the decisions for the players. Too large decisions are hard to relate to for most people since we only make small ones in our daily life. They can be scaled up later as the campaign progresses. Also, before you can expect the players to make moral decisions they need to know their own as well as their friends characters. I once ...


3

This can be a real problem. Players can get very excited about the character they've created, and completely neglect the fact that, as a player, it is their responsibility as well as yours to make the campaign interesting for the other players - not just for themselves. Your player is excited, which is always good, but perhaps a bit more excited about ...


5

Beware of friends-of-friends and relatives As you're "playing" for all the NPC's, you'd do well to avoid places, people and events that your players know much better than you do - otherwise you'll run into misunderstandings about "obvious" things, and it'll be very hard to do that convincingly. For most things that'd be just an incovenience, but ...


7

In addition to Yosi's excellent post: playing in familiar (in real life) setting is unsafe. Players will be much more interrested in the setting, in the characters, in the game - they will invest more emotions to the game and risk more as players, even if the characters will be extremely careful. This is not a bug, this is a feature, and a feature which ...


8

First of all, there's no right or wrong in here. The do's can be in some groups don'ts to a certain extent and vice versa. What I'm trying to say here is that what really decides what works and what doesn't is your group. These are merely things that I've used and they worked or didn't work for me. I'm hoping, still, that it may help you. DO's Use the ...


2

If everything else fails you can try a technique, I thought up: Give players who feel ignored a prologue. That is a short setup specifically designed for their character. It's usually for a single character although they may choose to involve others short, say 10-15 minutes the first in game thing to happen that evening, e.g. while waiting for the pizza ...


4

Ask the other players what they think is cool about their characters. Have them explain why they made the character, and what matters to them about him/her/it. Ask them why their character is awesome. Look at their character sheets. You'll find flags there, details that directly tells you what they think is awesome, and what they want the story of their ...


4

It doesn't always matter Long story short, I have played a Pathfinder campaign where my Ranger was mostly a support character, and I still really enjoyed playing the campaign. I intentionally didn't seek out the "spotlight", so to speak, so naturally - over the course of many sessions - one of the other characters got sucked into a conspiracy and my Ranger ...


4

Just to add to some very very good answers, here are my 2 pence. Talk with them RPGs are a group activity, an activity in which a group of friends come and talk with each other about fictional characters. The main thing here is the "talking" part and from here I believe that your solution should come. Talk with them after the session; understand why they ...


7

Push your PCs together. You can do this several ways. Your excitable player is going to be the most vocal person at the table no matter what, so to involve the other players, make his vocalizations be with them. Call for a scene. "This is going to impact Simon the Mage, let's see the scene where you two talk about it." If your excitable player's new ...


13

Either through high mortality rates, copious amounts of backstory, or actual force of personality, some characters become more "main" than others. This is something you should be taking advantage of. There are a few things you can do: Ask for more holes in backstory to make a common backstory for other characters. ("We both defended the City of ...


14

Enlist the help of your Creative Player to involve the others. CP is very creative and he is clearly motivated with the game. Explain him you have to focus on the other players and use hooks for them, so he could help you creating those hooks, being in character (he ask the other PCs favours that involve them) or totally out of character (he makes up that ...


0

Actually, I might be able to help you hear with a few techniques: Write down objectives for you and some basic character traits, but don't strap yourself into a given story. Players are unpredictable. They break your stories, rebel against any constraints, and they will always have a different mental image of the world than you do. The best way to combat ...


1

Run with the plot hooks they give you. Better yet, run with everything they give you, not just the deliberate plot hooks. And when I say run with these things, I mean make them important. Tie them into the main plot. Shuffle your unrevealed plots and NPCs around to match what the players give you. It's lovely to give the players 30 extra minutes of ...


0

Bribe them I have had good success in the past getting players to feed me hooks by replacing the advancement system with a goals+reward house rule. In its most system-neutral form, you just allow players to set personal or plot goals for their individual characters, and then attach a known mechanical reward for completion. I once ran an entire short, ...


1

You have several options here, depending on your style of play. You could use one or more of these techniques in different situations... Make them relatively useless in combat. They might be physically weak, or have bad eyesight, or be cowards, maybe they're aristocracy and think they're above doing the "dirty work" of combat. Or maybe they just have a ...


2

Fictize the act of plot generation. What does this mean? It means create a fictional reason for the players to tell you the kind of information you're looking for. It's best to make it something subjective, that way you can either roll with it or change it, and still be "right". Here are some examples: "Abner, you have a dream that wakes you up in the ...


2

First tell your players your desire. "I would like that the plot would be driven by you, so if you have any ideas, tell me". Ask often your players what they want to do between adventures or plots. Give the PCs the opportunity to know interesting NPCs that can help them to accomplish their goals. Reward player initiative with cool plots, attention to ...


2

Your suggestions in here are great, actually, but I hope that I may still have something to offer for you. Questions Questions are one of the easiest and most useful tricks for generating plot hooks. Ask your players some questions about what they feel, how they met, their family and the like at the start, and you've got your first few adventures. It ...


1

You could offer something in exchange (apart from typical avenge/find lost family) - an item that improves with character level or some unique abilities/skills that develop with the story. The players will be very happy to provide interesting and elaborate hooks to get their freebies. The players may be asked to: design a quest required to improve their ...


3

So first of all, I really like this idea. I tried it once or twice a long time ago and I'm still fantasizing about it. With that out of the way, let's move to my 2 cents. Make the NPCs well-rounded characters These NPCs aren't just some recurring characters, not to mention some one-time ones. They're gonna be with the party for a very long time. Whole ...


2

Player buy-in Allowing players to mold the scenes (and scenery) Player control over certain NPCs Starting all of the above as early as possible I am currently running a game of Unknown Ponies: Failure is Awesome (a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic spinoff game of Unknown Armies), and I've set the campaign far enough in the future from the show's ...


1

Normally as a GM I do not allow a 3ds or labtop or even alcohol, a few beers is ok. If the player is constantly distracted he or she can not assist or benefit the party. If someone picks it up after a few hours maybe call a break. Sometimes sessions can be stressful or hard to handle emotionally. If the player has it on all the time then set a rule about it. ...


1

I'm not a really experienced DM but there is a method that I use to keep metagaming about the plot to a minimum. Add plot twist when the players are least expecting them, and don't add plot twists when the players are expecting them. Sounds simple, right? My last session was probably the most immersive game I have ever been in. The players went to a ...


3

Firstly, don't your characters have at will attacks which do something besides damage? Is your entire partly comprised of slayers and Rangers? Leaders, Controllers and many defenders get add ons to their at-wills. Even many strikers who mostly do hp damage require specific setups for that damage, which makes their attacks more complicated than "I hit for ...


16

Abstractions Before you tweak the combat system, make sure you understand how its abstraction works. A single attack roll is not necessarily a single swipe of a character's sword. Rather, it represents your character trying hard to kill his opponent for the round. It could be a single slash, or it could be a lengthy clash of steel-on-steel coupled with ...


4

The possibility of unpredictable, improvised consequences is actually something D&D 4e was designed to eliminate, so it's hard to implement on purpose. And not just hard—it's potentially game-breaking as well, because 4e can only afford to be so tightly balanced because it assumes that the rules work a very certain way. Adding "well, you could ...


1

I have participated in several Ars Magica sagas with multiple GMs. In the largest, I was the fifth of 6. The Alpha Storyguide had the biggest secrets to keep, and since we had a planned climax it worked well. In another saga there were at least two of us with recurring plots. It was easy to stay away from each other's territory.


5

Find another group, because these people are not your friends. So, let's recap: Old DM puts you in a situation where you are forced to sacrifice Bob's NPC to save your character's life. Bob, rather than being annoyed at Old DM for hosing him, decides that it's all your fault. Bob and Old DM arrange to not only kill you, but to do it in a cutscene. And the ...


0

Does your method of rotating the GM fix this problem on its own? ie - if each player has equal time "behind the screen", then after a full circuit each character should have advanced the same amount, even if not at the same times. If this isn't your intended rotation, then you may be able to balance progression based on a percentage of time spent GMing, so ...


1

In theory, you could run the same players with multiple sets of characters, each set taking its own branch...but that probably would be a little too unwieldy. So what I'll suggest instead is that you set up matters in such a way as to run them through each of the options for a little while, letting them experience what's going on from both sides before ...


4

If you want to keep the PCs together, you should give them a reason to stay together that trumps all reasons to split up or kill each other. Give them a really, really strong reason to stay together, and then they have to discuss their moral choices and come to some sort of compromise. Maybe they'll be surely killed if they split up. Maybe they're cursed to ...



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