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Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

22
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6answers
2k views

Should breaking down something like a door be adjudicated as an attempt to beat its AC and HP, or as an ability check against a set DC?

It is not uncommon for players to encounter a door that resists being opened - the door may be stuck, barred, locked, barricaded, etc. A locked door could be unlocked by finding a key or passing a ...
21
votes
11answers
3k views
+100

How should I introduce map drawing to my players?

I DMed my first session last week. We are playing the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure from the D&D 5e Starter Set. My players haven't yet entered the first "dungeon" but will likely do so next ...
6
votes
2answers
269 views

Does the GM get to make a move with every partial success by default?

Defy danger is quite clear, but unless everyone is looking at the GM or there exists a golden opportunity, does the GM get to make a (soft) move with every partial success? For example, volley 7-9, ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I balance a campaign consisting of four kobold PCs?

I am currently planning a campaign consisting of four kobold PCs, using Volo's Guide to Monsters (p. 119) as my starting point for the race. However, I am worried about Pack Tactics and Sunlight ...
4
votes
2answers
415 views

How do I DM a session zero?

I don't know how am I supposed to DM a session 0 campaign. My friends tell me that I am supposed to tell them what happens so they can create a character that fits the campaign but I think that that ...
6
votes
2answers
144 views

How can I simulate paranoia in a Call of Cthulhu One-Shot?

I'm a new GM to Call of Cthulhu. I want to play a One-Shot where paranoia and hallucinations play a big role (English isn’t my first language, so sorry if some phrases are weird). My idea is ...
3
votes
3answers
145 views

How can I limit firearms and futuristic technology in a multiverse setting?

I'm going to start a series of Infinite Worlds campaigns and I want to prevent things like using firearms/laser/etc... on worlds where the technology is low. Because, you know, what is preventing PCs ...
62
votes
7answers
8k views

As a GM, is it bad form to ask for a moment to think when improvising?

As an amateur GM, I, like many other new GMs, often find myself having to improvise in the wake of unexpected player action. In the past, my approach to this has been to rush to think of something on ...
39
votes
7answers
8k views

How do I, as a DM, handle a party that decides to set up an ambush in a dungeon?

Warning: Lost Mine of Phandelver Chapter 1 spoilers below. One of my players then pushed the party into moving out, probably because he's also a DM and could see that I was struggling to find a ...
2
votes
1answer
104 views

Is there a game system with good mechanics for a PvP murder mystery? [closed]

My players have expressed interest in a PvP murder mystery, where one of them is secretly the murderer. At first I was enthusiastic, but there are several problems I don't know how to get round, and I ...
-1
votes
2answers
275 views

A player in my game is using homebrew to powergame; how can I stop this? [closed]

A friend of mine is in a game I'm DMing. I've allowed homebrew, so now he's using complicated and weird classes to get an edge. How can I solve this without killing and or banning his character and ...
7
votes
4answers
223 views

Providing prophecies without constraining future player actions?

I'm running an Urban Shadows game, and two of the players came up with a prophecy that was to be announced by some NPCs. It sounded exciting, so I encouraged them and rolled with it. When it came time ...
28
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the best way to deal with NPC-NPC combat?

I'm about to run a premade adventure, and reading through it I see a potential situation where one group of monsters could, though PC actions, end up fighting each other. As a PC, I hate seeing my ...
10
votes
2answers
371 views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of DMs showing a map of the city to the players?

I am going to start DMing Tomb of Annihilation soon; my question is mostly about the cities of Baldur's Gate, Nyanzaru, and Omu. I see two options on how I can introduce the city to them: I could ...
11
votes
2answers
418 views

How can I model the mechanics of an army battlefield scene?

TL;DR; I want to model a strategic battlefield fight for my players to command and participate. I'm seeking advice on how to model it mechanically so that it is exciting for the players. Background ...
1
vote
0answers
181 views

How do I deal with a problem player overstepping their boundaries in a 1-on-1 campaign? [closed]

I’m GMing a 1-on-1 campaign (it’s all homebrew, by the way). My player likes to weigh in on what’s happening, and sometimes oversteps her boundary into GMing territory. I let it slide a lot, since it ...
31
votes
3answers
3k views

Should I discuss the type of campaign with my players?

The campaign I’m preparing is designed to give the illusion of choice via side quests and an open world (not really open), but with a main story line that will be pushed into them sooner or later. The ...
13
votes
4answers
607 views

How can I convey to my group that they have to discipline their murderhobo?

Introduction I guess most GMs have had a group of murderhobos in their sessions before and there are quite a few nice answers dealing with how to react to them, these threads have nice answers, but I ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

Will it cause any balance problems to have PCs level up and gain the benefits of a long rest mid-fight?

I am planning an encounter for 4 level 2 players and I am planning to have them level up mid combat. I wanted to describe it sort of like a power within awakening like many popular animes have. To do ...
15
votes
7answers
3k views

How can the DM most simply and fairly choose 1 out of an odd number of characters to be targeted by an attack or effect?

When DMing and randomly determining a character to take damage or an effect, it's easy to roll a die if you have an even number of characters. But what about if you have an odd number of characters? ...
4
votes
2answers
247 views

Designing 'Gandalf' NPCs [closed]

I'm designing an NPC that is meant to be a manager/mentor to the players. Contrary to the archetype I've just invoked by mentioning Gandalf, she isn't some divine force incarnate-she's just somewhat ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

What method can I use to design a dungeon difficult enough that the PCs can't make it through without killing them?

The first 'round' of my campaign will end with the deaths (and resurrections) of all of the players. Their role before catastrophe strikes is as teachers in a philanthropically funded school in an ...
1
vote
0answers
122 views

Which is easier to implement: a time based insurmountable obstacle or a “meat gate” one? [closed]

The first 'round' of my campaign will end with the deaths (and resurrections) of all of the players. Their role before catastrophe strikes is as teachers in a philanthropically funded school in an ...
13
votes
4answers
373 views

How can I encourage PCs to come back to Home Base when their quests are far from home?

I am new to DM'ing and I have been thinking of the option of a Home Base for my party. I like the idea of building up a base, with craftsmen and libraries, etc for research and training and also to ...
3
votes
1answer
306 views

My players' characters tried to rob a jewelry store and failed. How do I play it out? [closed]

So, I am running a heroic campaign where a bunch of "god's chosen" people (led by the cleric in the party) are preparing to become the "spear's end" in the war with fiends who plan to invade the ...
0
votes
2answers
125 views

Gameplay-to-cutscene ratio: how interactive should I make the introduction to the campaign? [closed]

I'm planning a campaign with a specific backdrop-the characters are employees of a certain organization and this is their first day on the job. The organization and the job will no longer actually ...
0
votes
2answers
252 views

Assign mini 'secret' quest to one of the party members? [closed]

I'm planning a Dungeons and Dragons campaign set in a province undergoing a separatist insurrection. I want the theme/shtick of the campaign to be the idea of choices and unintended consequences. The ...
2
votes
0answers
211 views

How can I get my players interested in my campaign again? [closed]

I am an experienced DM, having run a number of campaigns with the same group of players. We're all in middle school. I'm currently running a campaign that I made myself for D&D5e. Recently, my ...
46
votes
9answers
6k views

How can “mimic phobia” be cured or prevented?

This has actually happened to me as a player, and a player I've DM'ed in a oneshot. In short, when we delve into a dungeon, whenever a DM describes an object in a weird way, we become very cautious to ...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

Does asking a player to not to do something violate their agency?

This is something I am rather conflicted about as I have met with several gamemasters and I was told that asking players to not to have their character do something breaks their immersion and violates ...
11
votes
0answers
401 views

Faster inventory management [closed]

I have tended to hand-wave weight limits and encumbering rules and focus on fun, but the bulk of random items starts to really build up to ridiculous levels (even with a bag of holding). Doing time-...
3
votes
0answers
219 views

What to do next after pulling a punch as the GM? [closed]

TL; DR: I just bailed my player out of a dangerous situation with plausible but still apparently contrived GM intervention. How do I follow that up with an action or situation that will preserve the ...
7
votes
0answers
75 views

What techniques can I use prevent my players from missing important details? [duplicate]

I'm running a campaign with some experienced players that is pretty complex and long-term. (Short story: Acererak is returning to the Prime Material to enslave the population, and the only weapon ...
7
votes
2answers
343 views

Can the “Create a Monster” table be used to accurately change a creature's CR?

Related: How do I scale up a Monster for a big Party in D&D 5e? There have been a lot of questions about Mimics, so I'll use that, but this applies to any creature that doesn't match up with the ...
15
votes
4answers
467 views

How can I run a session where two opposing parties play at the same time?

A player of mine had an interesting concept where two parties who are opposed to each other would play at the same time in the same session. In essence the plot would be a group of thieves have been ...
58
votes
8answers
11k views

How can I handle a player who pre-plans arguments about my rulings on RAW?

When playing D&D, I have always taken the following approach: I will do my best to adhere to Rules As Written (RAW) If I don't know a rule off the top of my head I will look it up If something I ...
22
votes
3answers
3k views

How to satisfy a player character's curiosity about another player character?

I am new to DMing. I am starting off with the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure to get my feet wet. One player in particular is playing a half-elf bard. They have watched a lot of Critical Role and ...
8
votes
4answers
694 views

A player has asked the DM to ignore the lore to enable his character concept. What are the pros and cons if the DM does so?

Context I'm posting this on behalf of a friend. She wants more than just our group's opinion. I don't know the other guy at all, but I was given screenshots of their conversations in order to get ...
30
votes
6answers
6k views

How can I get my players to come to the game session after agreeing to a date?

I have been playing D&D-5e for a while with my friends and a lot of times, when they say they are completely sure they can come to a meet, they end up not coming. I would at least like to get them ...
70
votes
12answers
8k views

What is the purpose of easy combat scenarios that don't need resource expenditure?

This is something I've been thinking about as a DM in my encounter design: Why have easy/medium/etc combat encounters that don't really require resources to successfully complete? Given the limited ...
49
votes
5answers
12k views

How should I handle players who ignore the session zero agreement?

My D&D group is currently playing a campaign. It went smoothly for the first half. And then, by request, I allowed two of the current players' friends to join the campaign, all of whom have no ...
49
votes
9answers
9k views

How to not let the Identify spell spoil everything?

I am currently DMing a campaign where there is a wizard with the Identify spell, the bane of my existence. Identify allows him to learn the properties of literally every single item the party ...
6
votes
0answers
92 views

Worried first time DM/general player of DnD seeking advice! [duplicate]

I need whatever help I can get with my first ever DnD session! To be honest, I have little to no experience with roleplaying games. I used to roleplay with my friends, but I wouldn't consider that ...
58
votes
12answers
6k views

What can I do to encourage my players to use their consumables?

Frequently when I DM I will give my players consumables (i.e. potions and scrolls) in loot drops in place of gold. My intention is to give them more flexibility in strategy during exploration and ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Players preemptively rolling, even though their rolls are useless or are checking the wrong skills

Part of this answer made me think about my own situation: It's entirely possible that the ranger is the only one that has a chance at succeeding at the check and thus it would be inappropriate to ...
38
votes
14answers
6k views

How can I give a Ranger advantage on a check due to Favored Enemy without spoiling the story for the player?

The Scenario I am the DM for a group who have just entered a town that was attacked by cloud giants a few days before their arrival. The players and characters don't know this though, so part of the ...
4
votes
1answer
938 views

Are there any rules for handling distractions whilst performing skill checks?

Are there are any official rules for imposing some form of penalty on skill checks whilst the character is distracted or interrupted in some way? In another (Non-D&D) game I played recently there ...
9
votes
2answers
223 views

How can I as GM control off-topic moments and get the players to maintain a serious tone?

My friends and I started playing RPGs at the same time without the help of any experienced person. I am the GM but I struggle to make the players focus on anything that can progress the story in some ...
29
votes
5answers
5k views

How do I handle a blinded enemy which wants to attack someone it's sure is there?

Say my players blinded a goblin, through either magical or non magical means, and the goblin knew that there was someone within 5 feet of it from before it got blinded. That goblin decides to flail ...
49
votes
6answers
6k views

How can I make my enemies feel real and make combat more engaging?

As a newer DM, I have trouble making some of the more routine combats feel unique or urgent. I believe this is because the enemies my PCs are fighting tend to act like an AI, or just attack until they ...