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32

Option One: Start Closer To The End It's not actually cheating to start at a higher level, and that's a weird expectation that games don't bear out. The inclination to "make those bastards work for it" is not a helpful GM attribute. I really enjoyed playing Feng Shui for the first time when it came out because by specifically allowing the players to be ...


24

In real history, almost no land except impassible mountains and deep desert wasn't settled, and there are exceptions even then. The population of the world during the European medieval age was much lower than today, but widely spread out in all the known habitable regions of Earth. Take that, and now add powerful, inimical monsters to the wilderness. ...


21

Support characters We do this all the time. When one or more characters are separated from the group for a long time, the GM gives the other players characters to play with. The players must acknowledge they are playing secondary characters and most protagonism must be with the main character. In your case, give each player except the cleric a goblin. Give ...


20

Would adventurers arise if treasure was about... To your first question, yes. Though it is more about "dungeons filled with treasure" then necessarily the magic or the monsters. People tend to seek ways to make profits, especially if those can be made quickly. People are willing to take on risky endeavors to do so. Today, in the "First World", we tend ...


17

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 ...


14

"Adventurers" in the real world Real-world "adventurers" engage in: Trade. A lot of human activity is based on the exchange of stuff for other stuff that you want more. Exploration. Mainly to open up new opportunities for trade. Depending on the era, an explorer might be motivated by the desire to stake out their own land claims, rewards from patrons, or ...


14

I get the sense that you have a very specific story you want to tell. I do hate giving this advice, but if you have a beginning, middle, and end in mind, perhaps you should write a novel instead of running a game. It will be more artistically satisfying for you, in those cases. However, if you really want to run a game that meets a particular end, some ...


14

I get conflicted intentions here. You want to start "low-level" (which can mean many things) and you want to see the heroes reach this epic ending. So you want both the epic journey and the super cool finale but you're impatient. Forget the "low-level = beginning" paradigm of video games (and usual games) In Star Wars, no major character on screen is level ...


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 ...


11

The villain is villainous because they do bad stuff™, but the villain is hated for other reasons. The villain does not have to be exceptionally evil/villainous (i.e. does not have to be trying to destroy The Kingdom/The World/The Multiverse), but give the players lots of petty reasons to dislike the villain. Some examples: Let the villain make a habit ...


11

My best villains are based off the what the players care about. I'll talk about methods and some recent (in the last 3-4 years) examples. You may want to check out my 7 Types of Antagonists as well. What the players care about - Flags So first off, I tend to play games with explicit mechanics for the players to tell me what kinds of conflicts they're ...


10

In some eras of Medieval Europe, there was a military unit known as a lance. It is like a squad, but also mirrors adventuring parties really well. This is especially true if you consider some of the attributes of lances: Everyone had a role or specialization within the lance (the knight, page, crossbowmen, the dude with the bill-hook, etc.) Basic lances ...


10

The Closest 'Real World' Equivalent to DnD Adventurers is the Noble Class One of the best, and only, ways to enter the Noble class from the peasantry was to be so ridiculously puissant at combat that you were given a command - and from that tiny band of men, achieved so much so prominently and notably that you were given a higher rank, and so forth. Saving ...


10

Here's a little tidbit that Microscope taught me: every scene has a particular question (or questions) associated with it. When that question is answered, the scene is over. You want to skip over scenes with questions that are uninteresting, and jump to the ones which are interesting, and that's exactly what you did. This is why nobody runs games with ...


9

Some more suggestions on top of Wesley's. Suggestion #4: Play a campaign where it doesn't matter If you run a very genre-aware, tongue-in-cheek dungeon crawl, such as Order of the Stick started out as, then you can just have people suddenly appear out of mysterious portals and get sucked into them. It doesn't break the immersion because there is no true ...


9

Suggestion #1: The Cliche Ensure that your campaign includes frequent stops (that is, between dungeons - so to speak) at a common gathering place for adventurers. This makes it easy to accommodate players moving in and out of the game. This is aided by ensuring players understand that they are expected to stick with the game through the end of any adventure ...


8

Burst Out Of The Enemy's Tribute Chest, Covered in Pork Chops This is not the only way to handle this situation, but it's what I always do. Always. You know that trope when the 'party is split' in a movie or TV series, where you follow one character as they uncover things or do things that affect the things the main party is doing? They see the secret, ...


8

Lead With the Cool Stuff You don't have a system tag and you're posing a question that spans genres, so I assume you have freedom to choose a system. So choose a system that empowers your choices and start with awesome. Systems like Fate Core and GUMSHOE assume competent PCs from the get-go. Some systems let you scale your PCs to the plans you have, like ...


7

For the simple reason: Because when you add dungeons full of loot, this becomes the 'gold rush'. The get-rich-quick that doesn't work for 95% of the people who try it. For the complex reason: Unless you're doing some house-ruled system with a lot of differences in how things work, fantasy worlds are not usually analogous to medieval Europe. Yes, it ...


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 ...


7

I don't believe that there are some hard and fast rules about this. It's too much dependent on the situation, the context and the state of the players. But there are some ways that you can use in order to be better at spotting those "dead-meat" scenes. Know the genre you're working with No matter what game you are playing, it will fall to a certain genre. ...


7

I don't think it's as much a problem of empathy, as it is of suspension of disbelieve. The problem isn't probably you aren't capable of relate to people, but you aren't forgetting you are playing a game. What makes a book or a movie exciting is when you forget you are reading or looking at a screen and you start "living" the piece, as it was true. Do you ...


6

Asmodeus is actively spreading lies about himself Everything we think we know about Asmodeus, we think we know because Asmodeus wants us to think them. All of the stories about his origins, deeds, difficulties, and triumphs, are heavily, actively, and constantly monitored, filtered, and altered by Asmodeus and his agents. Nothing known about him in AD&D ...


6

I have been called for, it appears. Canonically, of course, every origin or background of Asmodeus is a lie of some kind. While it's definitely accurate that he fell into Hell from elsewhere, and reasonably likely that his most well-known appearance is not the true nature of him, no one account best encapsulates the reality of what the Lord Below is. That ...


6

Your problem is that you have a certain end in sight, but don't have control over all the agencies that need to come together to reach that end. The exact same situation exists in much smaller scales, for example if you have an encounter where the players need to get past two guards. You plan out a whole back story, where they go and talk to the guard's ...


6

The following is from an article by Justin Alexander, found here. I won't re-post the entire thing, but this excerpt is the core of the article's thoughts. The main article goes on to refer to examples in media where the hero and villain dynamic is developed well (or not) and why, as well as giving some game table examples. It's part of the "Don't Prep ...


5

I think the key question that needs to be addressed is do you want your players to hate the villain or your characters? If the players themselves find the villain depraved, they'll end up finding reasons why their characters should go after them. For example, I have a player that absolutely loves animals. Regardless of the character they play, if you ...


4

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 ...


4

This is actually fairly common. Weird events often occur during an adventurer's adventures, and sometimes an adventurer gains permanent powers from those weird events. In other words, Yes, There's Precedent In Advanced Dungeons and Dragons DMs were sort of expected to run adventures that changed characters--usually for ill. The Dungeon Master's Guide ...


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 ...



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