Hot answers tagged

104

No, it's not fair to punish a player in this way. But it's not okay for this player to take an unfair share of control over the game, either. You are the DM — you are in control. You are in the Big Chair, and the group put you there to be responsible for pacing and mediation. You have that job because players striving for the benefit of their PC is fun but ...


36

It all depends on tone. If the player challenging the GM is doing so in a constructive tone, which means that the player is trying to make the game world make sense -- the disease example is a good one for that -- then listen and make a ruling1 If the player challenges the GM in a style that is obviously PvP, or "I'm right you're wrong," or if there is a ...


28

The players cannot ruin the GM's narrative because this is a RPG not a novel. Storytelling in an RPG to the extent that it is not, in the eloquent words of Homer Simpson, "just a bunch of stuff that happens" takes place as a dialogue, not a narrative. The role of the GM is to provide the stage, the props and the extras, the role of the players is to provide ...


23

The first thing is: get a game that inspires them. Without that, you're sunk. Often, settings will inspire people: try Poison'd, Kagematsu, Prime Time Adventures, Mouse Guard, Burning Wheel or a specific Fiasco playset. If you can, get them to choose one themselves. Particularly, try a game with a GM. This does two things. Firstly, it gives them some ...


23

This depends entirely on what you're trying to do in the context of the narrative that you're creating. Certain stories lend themselves to certain means of presentation -- moreover, certain groups lend themselves to certain styles of narration than others. If your group has a significant problem firewalling player knowledge away from character knowledge that'...


22

All of them work and have different effects. Just like when choosing between these modes of speech in real life or in fiction writing, there is no "right" answer—the choice is a matter of taste and art. They do have different feels to them, and affect the game differently, as you've already noticed. Use that to your advantage! When you want an interaction ...


21

This was too long for a comment so I'm making an answer... Other answers have suggested using secret information (whispering or passing notes). Secret information is good sometimes, but it also slows down the game and can make players overly paranoid. In my opinion its not worth handing out 5 different descriptions for every NPC. Instead, I recommend that ...


18

Some Strategies for 'Descriptive' descriptions: Write down the colors/textures/scents that would be seen/felt/smelt: The Crimson blood drips from the ceiling turning black as it splatters on the ground. The coarse rock cavern echoed your smallest whispers, distorting them as the sounds return to you amplified. The putrid decay assaults your nose, ...


18

To answer your second question first, Yes. AC/DC (not the band) is exploitable. Here is how. If they know the target AC they can try to game the system by knowing the target score and playing the fine line. Technically it will still be up to the dice (those can be fudged) but they might know whether or not something is a threat to them and it takes the ...


17

When the GM insists on the narrative following his pre-planned route, the term we use for that is "railroading". :-/ We don't have all the details about your magical-disease example, but in general, moments like this one are precious. Let the players investigate this NPC who survived the disease. Make up something interesting for them to discover. If at ...


16

The first thing to be absolutely certain of is how many of the rest of the group feel the same way you do. If you find that it is just you and maybe one or two others, then the solution becomes a little trickier, as presumably there are players who are happy with the way the GM is describing things. In this case, I find that addressing it as a group is the ...


16

Write places apart from their location You can make your dungeons apart from their locale. Perhaps you've written up an encounter in the catacombs of the sun god, but the party keeps walking around in the harbor district instead of the city center? Move it to the temple of the sea god! Thieves' Guild up to no good? Party has found another of their hiding ...


16

Under the umbrella of "Narration-lawyering," you give two examples which I would categorize as "plot-lawyering" (the disease) and "background-lawyering" (the knives.) Of these, I find the second one easier to resolve, as there are many well-intentioned ways this can come up. Many gamers (not all, but definitely including myself) have hobby-level or higher ...


15

When I run into a situation like this, I tell the GM / Table that the description is too complicated for me, and that I need a map or picture to look at. Or ask if they can simplify it. Normally, this results in them "dumbing it down" enough for me that I don't get bored.


14

I don't think it is a good idea to punish your players for anything meta gaming related. I think you should ask yourself why the player is trying to perform these instant actions: Does he feel this is the only way he can escape the impeding danger, i.e. a wall about to collapse on/near his character? (Possibly some experience in the past made him very wary ...


13

I have used two games to introduce resistant players to non-traditional roleplaying games. I can't actually say what it is about them that makes it easier for traditional, sit-back-and-let-the-GM-be-creative players to get their hands creatively dirty with them, but for some reason it has been true. I know it seems like putting the cart before the horse, but ...


13

You are confusing two pretty different things in this question, IMO. Pedantry People who are setting experts or history experts might tell you "15th century knives don't work that way" or "actually Tattooine is way far away from Jakku". You should set the expectation that your game is set in a fantasy version of and it's going to deviate from whatever ...


11

From the description of the Shield spell: An invisible barrier of magical force appears and protects you. As you say, it doesn't block everything, so it can't be a perfect force field. You have a few options for description, though, since the rules don't give you any more than this. The way most people seem to think of Shield is that it is an ...


10

It can improve narration, but not in and of itself. I am a big one for playing sim games with narrative elements and letting/encouraging people to describe their action, the environment, etc. (I credit the game Feng Shui with pulling me out of the D&D DM-control-freak ghetto on that). Letting players know target numbers has minor gamist effects - for ...


10

Four points: (1) Detect Evil is not constant. It requires concentration. (2) In general I believe that players have more fun if I let them use their abilities explicitly. Getting a good result on a die roll is fun, and making the roll that lets you notice something lets you feel like you've done something useful for the party. (3) Unless there's a ...


9

You can also encourage everyone at the table to follow guidelines established by improv practitioners; these become less "rules of the game" and more "rules of play" (i.e. they don't really answer "what can I do next" as much as they address "whatever I'm going to do next, how do I do it?"): Accept every offer. During the course of play, other players will ...


9

There are several ways you can deal with this. I recommend you don't say it to everyone and just write down descriptions of the NPCs in several different perspectives in different cards and give them privately to the players depending on their rolls. I play my games online so I can simply use private chat, but this is the best way if you want to tell the ...


9

Here's a similar situation I had to resolve a few months ago. An illusionist wizard was being menaced by a bear, and he wanted to create an illusion of a monster that the bear would be afraid of. What's a bear afraid of? I, as DM, have never studied bears, and have no idea. Me: "Okay, roll Knowledge:Nature to know what a bear is afraid of." Him: (...


8

Treat places like characters, and word your descriptions with that in mind. Have them act and do things, things that matter to and concern the PCs. Use verbs. When stuff gets animate(d), it becomes interesting, more meaningful, and usually also more open to engagement, be that positive (helping) or negative (an obstacle to overcome by the PCs.) Examples: ...


8

For question 1 what to do for places you have not yet written, there are two great options. Quantum Ogre: This means that you have some places defined but not exactly where they are. When the players adventure into an unknown place, you give them this predefined but unplaced encounter/plot hook etc. Random Tables. Prepare some random tables for your ...


7

If I might indulge in a frame challenge. You say: My players aren't narrating ... as much as I want them to. ... it's exhausting to come up with ... narration. Who are you seeking to benefit from this narration? You or the players? I suggest that you talk to your players and find out what they want from their combats. Perhaps they care about your ...


7

Personally, I try to keep subjective conclusions out of my narrative and descriptions. While this is excellent in fiction, in a cooperative story, you risk telling the players what they should perceive. Sure, people don't "see" the same things; but I recommend you keep it as factually descriptive as possible and leave out intents and motives until someone ...


6

Depending on how amenable you and the group are to house rules, you maybe try easing it in one mechanic at a time. I'm very fond of the FATE system because it plays very traditionally, but has some very unique twists (aspects, fate points) as well. Find a mechanics like that which you enjoy, and import it into the standard game as a bit of a meta-game toy. ...


6

I nearly always limit my narration to the perceptions of the PCs. They are role-playing specific characters, so the players' view of the world should be as close to their characters'. Omniscient narration would invite metagaming and spoil surprises and plot twists.



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