Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

For questions about the practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering (GMing).

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2 answers
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As a GM, how can I balance weapon proficiencies that I grant to players for good roleplay?

I like a bit of roleplay in my games and I'm quite supportive of any players that play in dumb but in-character ways. I often give some advantages here and there but I am a bit worried about balance. ...
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12 votes
3 answers
1k views

Running a oneshot for a group with no TTRPG experience

I'm running a short Pathfinder session for a group that is interested in TTRPGs but has no prior experience in it. What may be some particular issues that I should keep in mind, specifically for a ...
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21 votes
5 answers
3k views

How to manage time pressure?

The game assumes multiple encounters per day. However, sandboxes or megadungeons give players a lot of control about how far and how long they want to push each day. Sure, factions can also act ...
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2 votes
2 answers
156 views

How do I prevent a teleporting artefact from splitting the party? [closed]

During my campaign the players will find a magical diary. The diary is an artefact that, when read, transports the reader into the time period described therein. They can interact with the people and ...
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1 vote
1 answer
228 views

How to handle teleporting players into another character's memories?

In my world, I have an NPC (Baron) who made a deal with a devil (Stan) which requires Baron to maintain a diary in exchange for immortality. The many volumes of the diary serve to give Baron his ...
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1 vote
0 answers
153 views

Trying not to make a twist too obvious [closed]

Me and my friend are making a campaign for the friend group and a twist which we are planning is that an important lore NPC will turn out to have been killed early in the story and impersonated by the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
81 views

How do node-based scenarios interact with the GM vs. Players turn system in Mouse Guard?

With node-based scenarios, you plan multiple nodes and place three or more clues from the current node to adjacent nodes. The Alexandrian has a good series on them, that starts here. From what I ...
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12 votes
3 answers
396 views

How to run tactical combat on the Plane of Air?

My party recently got themselves accidentally transported to the Plane of Air by way of a cursed throne that once belonged to a cloud giant. While there, I intend to run at least one combat where ...
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47 votes
12 answers
7k views

What to do when a player roleplays an extremely persuasive argument, but flubs their Persuasion check?

I have been the DM of a wonderful group of Stack Exchange friends playing an urban fantasy campaign of D&D 5e for some time now, and a question came up in our group Discord that has got me ...
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  • 638
4 votes
3 answers
223 views

How can I manage player's secret actions on play by chat in Mouse Guard?

I'm planning on running Mouse Guard 1e in a play by chat environment without extra channels or private rooms. Part of conflict resolution (at least what I can remember, I can't find my rule book atm) ...
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11 votes
5 answers
527 views

How can we help our DM to keep things moving?

Our DM started to master for us about two years ago, using published materials. We played Lost Mine of Phandelver, then Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and now Dungeon of the Mad Mage. All of this is good. ...
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8 votes
4 answers
874 views

What to do when the monster is too strong for the players? [closed]

Good afternoon, I'm about to start an RPG campaign where the system has very strong monsters, and it's not to reveal that to the players either. I would like to know the following situation: What to ...
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12 votes
4 answers
1k views

How much gold should a character gain per level?

I DM a group of 5 level 2 PCs, and currently they each have approximately 150gp each. I was just wondering if there's an average or recommended amount of gp that a PC should gain per level?
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  • 539
34 votes
7 answers
6k views

How can I facilitate a faster pace of play?

I'm DMing a group that was supposed to run a small campaign, maybe 4 sessions long. But it's taken us over 10 sessions, and we aren't even halfway done. I run a party of 5 2nd level players. There's ...
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  • 539
40 votes
7 answers
6k views

As a DM, how can I address players' frustration with in-game decision-making?

After last night's session, my players and I had a long after-action discussion in which they expressed frustration at how their own in-game decision making has led them to circumstances that they ...
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11 votes
4 answers
3k views

How to communicate, in game, to a player that they are behaving sub-optimally in a specific section (that was designed for them)

So, I have a PC (Barbarian) who is having trouble hitting things. Even with advantage. They are just not rolling well, and can't hit above a 11 on the dice. The player has expressed some ...
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  • 781
-2 votes
1 answer
327 views

Which monsters can scare players by permanently harming their PCs? [closed]

In 5e, most damage heals naturally over a long rest. Some monsters however have abilities or attacks that cause permanent harm, harm that is not cured by a long rest or by saving throws over time. ...
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15 votes
4 answers
752 views

How to speed up combat by helping players to visualize the scene?

We play D&D 5e over Discord, using voice and chat channels, and use D&D Beyond for character sheets and most die-rolling. It generally works great, but sometimes combats lag, reasons for which ...
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20 votes
7 answers
4k views

Did I overstep the players' agency by forcefully resolving conflict between one player and the rest of the group? [closed]

In my last game, conflict emerged between one of my players (let's call him Bob) and the rest of the team. Finally, I (as GM) stepped into it and forced the player to give up. Backstory A session ...
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13 votes
3 answers
3k views

As a DM, how do I assassinate (or attempt to assassinate) one of my PCs within 5e RAW?

One of my players has a detailed backstory that has him being hunted by a rival guild. I want have him be the target of an assassin, and I can handle setting up the encounter, but I'm not sure how to ...
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  • 1,167
22 votes
6 answers
4k views

As a DM, how can I keep martial characters relevant in non-combat encounters?

There's a lot of discussion around how/ whether casters outpace martial classes in combat, but in my game I've actually noticed the gap more in investigation, social, and stealth encounters. Some ...
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20 votes
3 answers
3k views

Metagaming Concern? Or just normal player culture?

I am a DM for 5e who recently gave the team a magical item. Everyone is very excited for it, however the player who chose to keep it in their inventory has been researching it. He has looked up how ...
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6 votes
0 answers
138 views

How to encourage players to roleplay how their Race/Class Combo engages with the world? [closed]

This one has been getting me for years and years, and it happens pretty much like clockwork. Group is doing their GNC renbu, and Low and Behold, a Kobold Barbarian! Or some other off-kilter ...
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16 votes
8 answers
2k views

How can I introduce twists to a heist when the dice always succeed?

I think it's pretty well known that the best heists are those where the party gathers information, makes plans, gets their gear together, and then in the middle of executing the plan something happens ...
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37 votes
8 answers
2k views

How can I roleplay a vulgar character without using profanity?

In my new campaign, I have an NPC who I would like to have the personality trait of being extremely and unexpectedly vulgar. However I also have a few players who prefer not to use to hear profanity ...
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6 votes
3 answers
330 views

How could I keep a player engaged if I can't bring his dead character back to life a for a few sessions? [closed]

I have a storyline I'm writing based in an Arctic setting. The party will have to engage in a battle of survival against the elements - kind of a Napoleonic retreat from Moscow - which is likely to ...
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4 votes
2 answers
255 views

As GM, how to implement an enemy that erases the PC's memory [closed]

I like the idea of an innocent-looking enemy, or even just a zone, in some dangerous place, that slowly erases the memories of anyone near it, whether randomly or starting from the newest memories. ...
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23 votes
6 answers
4k views

How to deal with a group of passive and non descriptive players?

I run a D&D 5e game for my SO and her family. They are all first time players and agreed to try it on my behalf. The group consists of: Me (25M) DM My SO (25F) Her father (54M) Her mother (49F) ...
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7 votes
1 answer
270 views

Holding single player mini-campaigns before starting the main campaign with the full party? [closed]

Is there any precedent for the DM to have one-on-one mini-campaigns with some or all of the player, before the main campaign with everyone as a single party begins? I thought of a fun twist where ...
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3 votes
0 answers
157 views

How to change crucial worldbuilding aspects midgame? [closed]

In my roleplaying game, I've realized I need to change a certain crucial aspect of the world: one of the laws of magic, because it would essentially cause anyone who became powerful enough to ...
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32 votes
4 answers
2k views

How can I prevent Discern Realities from being an info dump?

A monster approaches, with signs of an approaching threat. The plucky hero scans the situation, examining it in depth, triggering Discern Realities. A 10+, of course: On a 10+, ask the GM 3 questions ...
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  • 3,407
7 votes
3 answers
420 views

How do I balance PCs ignoring fluff-only hindrances?

I'm GM'ing a Savage Worlds (Adventure Edition) campaign, where the PCs have hindrances as usual: some directly affect the crunch and some only affect the fluff, e.g. Vengeful. I don't want my (partly ...
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  • 608
3 votes
1 answer
598 views

How do I generate spell component gems within the 5e Dungeon Master Guide rules as written?

I'm going to use diamonds as an example, but other spell component gems may have the same problem and solution. The DM Guide outlines specific tables for random generation of gems. Diamonds at ...
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  • 1,725
10 votes
3 answers
733 views

First time DM; Curse of Strahd; Did I just rush my PCs? How to do better?

So running my first campaign (technically second, but the first never finished as the group dispersed). I'm running four PCs through Curse of Strahd, currently at Death House. Things were going pretty ...
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  • 209
28 votes
3 answers
4k views

Should players know other creatures' HP? How do you deal with players not knowing the opponent's HP if not?

I recently started playing D&D, and I was wondering about this. I know it is up to the DM to choose whether or not players know enemies' remaining HP in combat: is it recommended to do so? ...
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  • 283
6 votes
0 answers
84 views

How to determine a DC for a magical effect? [closed]

The DC guidelines in the DMG are in increments of five (DC 15 for a moderate task, DC 20 for a hard one, etc.). Yet, a lot of spells and magic items use DCs like 13 or 17. Are there any guidelines, ...
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6 votes
2 answers
430 views

How can I make the endings of game sessions exciting?

When I run game sessions, they start with a bang, a lot of action and the story keeps moving, but by the end of hour 2, they have slowed to a crawl, not a lot is happening, etc. How can I manage this ...
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1 vote
0 answers
115 views

How to complete my first session? [closed]

I'm preparing campaign for my friends. It's first time for all of us and I want to create a big bang at the beginning. My players are a high elf, a wood elf and a tiefling. They will start in quite a ...
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  • 11
7 votes
2 answers
244 views

Reintroducing a character to a campaign after a leave of absence

A couple of weeks ago a session I was GMing left of on a bit of a cliffhanger with all of the party members scattered across different planes. The wizard, Teoru is in the overworld. the Druid Siobhan ...
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  • 4,057
33 votes
4 answers
6k views

How do I handle the wizard's familiar invalidating exploration, outshining the rogue, at low to no cost?

I am having some issues trying to find a balance in what seems to me to be an overpowered spell (Find Familiar) considering its low level. I will state first that I have always considered the familiar ...
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1 vote
0 answers
208 views

Should the players know what monster they're fighting according to the rule book? [duplicate]

I've read through several rule books and modules, none of which specify whether or not the players should be told what monster they're fighting or if a description (and leave it at that) is enough. ...
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6 votes
5 answers
2k views

How do I make sure magic item distribution feels fair when there aren't enough items to go around?

I'm preparing a treasure hoard for a group of four level-two PCs (Cleric, Monk, Fighter, and Wizard). I decided to roll on the Treasure Hoard Table for CR 0-4, and take either the average result or my ...
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31 votes
4 answers
891 views

How can I ease a player into a table when they expect a hierarchical GM-player structure, and find none?

I am running a game with long-term established players. Our group numbers five, including myself. We have a very clear non-adversarial, non-hierarchical GM-player dynamic: we tell a story together, ...
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  • 467
16 votes
4 answers
2k views

What check determines if a whip successfully latches onto a tree branch?

If a PC wants to use his whip to wrap around a tree branch and then swing on it, like Indiana Jones, what check would that require? Would it require an attack roll?
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  • 10.5k
26 votes
7 answers
7k views

Why Do We Keep Adventuring?

alright, so in general, I like 5e, it's got a lot of positives, but I'm noticing more and more that there aren't really any reasons for adventuring past a certain point. So, an example: Our group is ...
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29 votes
2 answers
2k views

As a GM, how do I make sure a self-contained session (an episode or one-shot) reaches its completion within the designated session length?

I'd like to convert my campaign over to more of an episodic format -- a complete hook, story, and conclusion in each session, with each session feeding into a bigger story/arc, just like a TV series. ...
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  • 1,211
4 votes
0 answers
153 views

Running a Low Magic RPG for beginners [closed]

I'm running a campaign for a small group of friends- we're inexperienced with tabletop RPGs. The campaign leans heavily on the story I've written and I wanted it to be more character driven than ...
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27 votes
9 answers
3k views

How can I limit crafting and material-searching without limiting player agency?

I'm a new GM. Several of my PCs really enjoy crafting/potion-making/resource-farming and have builds that are well-suited to it. In the past I wanted to reward their enthusiasm for searching for new ...
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12 votes
1 answer
408 views

As a GM, how do I build a complete group of players that fit my style and preferences?

I've been GMing for some years now. During that time, I feel like I've developed somewhat of a style/preference with the kinds of games I like to run. While I feel my games can be enjoyed by a variety ...
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  • 1,211
71 votes
8 answers
7k views

In a low-combat campaign, most PC abilities seem useless; what few fights there are barely use up resources. How do I deal with this as the DM?

As part of session 0, I discovered my group wanted a campaign with a heavier amount of intrigue, exploration, investigation, etc. Well, I did it. And I think the general perception is that it's going ...
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