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20

Firstly, it sounds as though your players are doing a lot of the heavy lifting for you in that they are being very easily manipulated without much effort on your part at all. But let's talk about manipulation. Pa-pa-pa-poker face Manipulation relies on getting people to do something without them knowing exactly why you want them to do it, or even that you ...


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 ...


13

Give them a reason to explore You are most likely correct that a mini-lecture on the benefits of exploring in game will not get your players to explore more (and may annoy them, as well). You telling them that exploring is a good thing will never be as good as them realizing that they need to explore on their own. But what you can do is provide ...


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 ...


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

Depends on the dirty work. And it depends on the players. But a tactic that comes to mind is the following: Make the kobold duke a jerkwad. Refuse to pay money. Order them out. Do something unlikeable. If they're good at taking story bait and generally have a soft heart, I'd probably toss out a kobold who seems half decent and have the duke dead-set on ...


4

Read up on real life evil rulers such as Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Ad Amin, Haile Selassie I, Pol Pot, Gaddafi... The list is sadly almost endless. Any one of them would make a fine model for an evil ruler. Ryszard Kapuscinski's Shah of Shahs and The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat are two fine books about two autocrats, how their control worked, and ...


4

The most significant is probably the Pendragon RPG, which gives all PCs a set list of paired personality traits (Chaste/Lustful, Energetic/Lazy, etc.) and players roll against these passions in various situations to determine which side of their character's personality wins out. The other one that immediately comes to mind is Ars Magica, in which characters ...


3

I would simply tell them — out of game — that a big part of the game is exploring and looking for hidden stuff, just like searching fallen foes. This holds true in any RPG, even the video game ones. One of the big differences is that in the table top RPGs you don't get anything given to you (hints or other information) unless you ask.


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 ...


1

Significant is a tricky term, but I'll go out on a limb and say that I consider the Cortex+ system to be a fairly unique system that contains an example of this kind of structure. Cortex has a unique die pool and "everything is a die" mechanic. Their marketing strategy is to apply their system to the formulaic settings of several popular TV series including ...



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