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Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

8
votes
3answers
285 views

How to show emotions differently for different NPC's

I'm the DM of the group. This is more of an acting question rather than one about mechanics. As my group and I have progressed through our game I've introduced several recurring characters to it. ...
1
vote
0answers
27 views

How can I shape long-term plot challenges around character power/capabilities? [on hold]

When planning a session or adventure, obviously one should take into account the approximate power level and capabilities of the players. For creatures and similar formal challenges, CR helps scale ...
5
votes
1answer
189 views

How can sapience be determined for monsters?

Whenever I DM (5e D&D), I tend to treat any creature without a language as bestial in its behavior (mostly in combat), especially if it has an intelligence score of 5 or less. This has never been ...
1
vote
4answers
196 views

How do I prevent players following a dead end for too long? [on hold]

I could use some suggestions on how to deal with in game events when I specifically don't want players to waste time pursuing an objective, either because it is: A) a dead end or B) they aren't ...
5
votes
2answers
630 views

How can I make my players settle their differences in-character?

I am currently running a game of Dungeon World as a first-time GM. In my party of 5 players, there is a barbarian who always rushes in to fight head-on, and also behaves very aggressively towards ...
7
votes
3answers
282 views

How can I make my players realize that if they use their consumables, I will get them to easily replace them?

I have recently started running a game of Pathfinder to a bunch of friends who hadn't played tabletop games before. However, there is a certain issue: They never use the scrolls or potions I give them....
2
votes
1answer
89 views

Planned action encounters in town [on hold]

I'm presently running a campaign in a custom sci-fi universe (using Chaosium's BRP system as a ruleset) and my party have just finished getting through the equivalent of what in a fantasy game would ...
31
votes
16answers
4k views

How can I avoid problems that arise from rolling ability scores?

Rolling ability scores is a time-honored tradition across many editions of D&D. However, it can sometimes cause problems for players and/or the DM. For example, one player character may end up ...
17
votes
5answers
4k views

What is a generally polite and succinct response to player requests for mechanical changes?

I would like a script or block of text that is nicer than "No." Trying to keep the number of table rules and exceptions to a minimum requires turning down requests for mechanical changes. All such ...
4
votes
1answer
137 views

Avoiding losing much time on uninteresting scenes

As I understand it, the core idea of Fate is to only spend time playing scenes with an impact into the story and the characters. Still playing it I've seen much time being spend on scenes that are ...
20
votes
8answers
6k views

How can my campaign continue amicably despite an indestructible nymph PC?

I've been GMing a Pathfinder campaign that uses the monsters as PCs rules. It's been an blast, but recently things have been unbalanced. The party's equivalent to level 12 right now, and the PC ...
1
vote
0answers
119 views

Making Deals with Devils [closed]

I'm preparing for running my first campaign (Storm King's Thunder) and I've got most of the basic information down in terms of running the campaign with the information provided but I wanted to add a ...
3
votes
0answers
148 views

Is this social reputation point system balanced?

I am planning a "Houses and Humans" or "Suburbs and SUVs" one-shot (yes, based on the meme, title-pending) for later this year using the "Roll for Shoes" system, but the systems isn't terribly ...
31
votes
5answers
7k views

Is an unlikely coincidence bad storytelling?

I am the DM in a fairly new d&d 5e campaign. In it is a kobold barbarian who was once a dragon-shield in a now destroyed tribe. The black dragon wyrmling the tribe worshiped/protected is presumed ...
7
votes
3answers
202 views

How to make the game exciting for someone playing a child character?

I will be running a game of Dark Ages: Mage for a friend. She says that she has trouble associating herself with a character when the character is immediately thrown into the adventure. After some ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

As a DM, is it improper of me to flirt with one of my players “off the clock”?

(I'm not sure if this belongs here or in interpersonal.SE; I decided to post here because I hope that others may have first- or second-hand experience.) The premise is simple: in my weekly 5e ...
14
votes
1answer
255 views

For a single party, how can I make Dead in Thay a “fast-paced assault” and not a drawn-out series of skirmishes?

I having been running adventure modules from Tales from the Yawning Portal for a single group of 3-6 players (i.e. I have 6 players, but sometimes as few as 3 can attend a session). Part of the reason ...
3
votes
2answers
193 views

How to convert hostile NPCs to party's side?

Party members have done their adventurer's job and basically wiped out gremlin's cave, murdering everyone but the beastmaster(that went unconscious and tied up). One of the players (who asked not to ...
11
votes
6answers
370 views

How can I practice my ad lib skills?

I am a new DM. Is there something I can do, or practice, that would enhance my ability to make up reactions to requests or actions from the players? For example I was reading through the most recent ...
6
votes
6answers
172 views

How to add more combat into an investigation-heavy campaign?

I have experienced such an issue with a previous run of our Fate RPG campaign. The setting is somewhat influenced by the Dresden Files, which means the campaign involved lots of investigation (...
19
votes
9answers
2k views

A player left the group at a moment's notice, and I am at a loss for what to do with his character

I had a player message me a few hours before our 5e session, "Hey I'm quitting the group, would it be too much of a hassle to kill off my character tonight?" I said that's fine, thinking I would fudge ...
20
votes
8answers
5k views

How can I prevent casters from stealing the spotlight from non-casters?

I have been running a game of D&D and the group is split with two non magic users (Fighter, Barbarian), one quarter-caster (Paladin), one half-caster (Bard), and two full casters (Cleric, Wizard). ...
10
votes
4answers
409 views

How can I force good NPC reactions to a bad player with Good Stuff?

So, I'm running an Amber Diceless game. One of the characters took 21 points of Good Stuff at the beginning, because they want to save up to 25 to buy Advanced Pattern Imprint after the game starts. ...
29
votes
7answers
5k views

How can I handle players who want to browse shops at random?

If one or more of my players decide to go on a shopping spree, I've previously had problems describing the shop's inventory, without going into much detail or making it seem like the shop has only 2 ...
13
votes
2answers
693 views

How can a GM control their use of specific words?

Often times when I am running a game, I find that plot points, characters, and setting features require the use of specific wording to be properly explained, develop identifiable characteristics, or ...
22
votes
11answers
5k views

A PC can't do any damage in combat. How can I keep the player interested?

I’m running my first campaign as a DM. One of the players has created a cleric that has been cursed—he takes 3x the damage he deals—and is therefore for all intents and purposes a pacifist. The player ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

A mechanic for party member discouragement?

I am running a campaign in which I expect the PCs will encounter a nothic. I want to use the nothic's Weird Insight ability to have it learn the characters' fears or flaws and use that information to ...
2
votes
0answers
94 views

Temporarily retiring character [closed]

One of the players in a game I GM is going to be leaving the country for a while. What options do I have (story-wise) for having his character leave the party in a way that still leaves the door open ...
1
vote
0answers
77 views

What can PCs do with extra money? [duplicate]

More specifically, are there official ways my PCs can “upgrade” their character by spending their gold once they’ve purchased all the basics? I’m composing a campaign in which I want to provide my ...
6
votes
2answers
402 views

How can I best narrate the position of an unhidden invisible skeleton?

While fighting through a wizard's tower, the party breaks into an unexplored storeroom to take cover from enemies down the corridor outside the room. Unbeknownst to them, there is an invisible ...
4
votes
1answer
462 views

How do I recover from an awful DMing session?

Protip to anybody out there. If you're running on little to no sleep and an extremely high fever, don't try to run your game. I'm running an online campaign on Roll20, and I - in my deluded, slightly ...
24
votes
9answers
5k views

How to handle dungeons involving only one party member?

In part of a campaign I'm creating, I'm considering creating a challenge that only involves one party member at a time. I have in mind a colosseum-esque challenge in which party members have the ...
10
votes
1answer
455 views

Is the Pathfinder Core Rulebook a good standard to use for what is balanced within its system?

I'm asking about the practice of using the book as a measuring rod to decide if other official content in the system is balanced in comparison.
7
votes
5answers
497 views

What rules are there for deciding what specific items to award when the loot table is unclear?

I'm currently creating my first completely homebrew campaign and I'm planning on using the the DMG treasure tables (p.136 - 149) to generate treasure in my campaign. I want the world to feel organic ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

How to deal with a player that ignores the DM [closed]

I am running a campaign during which all the gods left for various reasons. Because of this, I changed up the Paladin and Cleric classes, by providing an alternate source of power for paladins which ...
18
votes
7answers
5k views

How can I utilize overly-violent PCs for character development / progressing the story?

I'm fairly new to D&D and especially DMing. I've started a new campaign with 2-3 people and more may be joining soon, which might make this question entirely useless to ask if the new players ...
4
votes
1answer
371 views

Group gives all rewards to one member instead of distributing them [closed]

We're playing D&D 5E. I've got a good party of 4 players. They've completed 4 mini-quests and made significance progress on the first stage of the main campaign. After each mini-quest, I've ...
5
votes
3answers
321 views

Is it best practice to reveal monster information about resistances/vulnerabilities/immunities to the players?

I was recently running a game with my players, whose characters were in combat with a Scarecrow. According to the Monster Manual, Scarecrows have immunity to poison damage, but my players weren't ...
33
votes
3answers
4k views

As a DM, do I have to declare the actions that NPCs ready?

A question arose when I was reading the PHB's section about "Actions in Combat: Ready" that reads: Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. ...
39
votes
6answers
9k views

Players constantly capture enemies and question them, how to deal with it?

I'm running a campaign for five sixth level players and the bard has hypnotic pattern. Whenever the party runs into any fights with enemies who can speak, they always find some way of making an enemy ...
77
votes
16answers
17k views

How do I communicate to my players that a door is, for the time being, absolutely locked to them?

I have a small dungeon in my campaign, a temple, that is a significant location for the broader story of my world. The players might very well enter this temple pretty early on in their adventuring. ...
34
votes
8answers
4k views

Is it wrong to use monsters other than how they appear in the Monster Manual?

A one-shot I joined last week was tasked with fighting a bunch of tribal orcs. At one point the orcs drew longbows (with what was at least a +6 to hit as the DM was asking if 25 AC hits). At this, ...
31
votes
6answers
4k views

Does having a recurring NPC ally incur the same risks as having a GMPC?

I'm brand new to table-top RPGs and I am my group's DM (D&D 5e). I've been brainstorming ideas to work into our next campaign after LMoP, and I'm liking the idea of recurrent NPCs who are on their ...
16
votes
6answers
4k views

How can I plausibly let my Runners escape an Ares Corporation facility?

I am gamemastering a Shadowrun 4 adventure (fan-made) and have maneuvered myself into a situation that I don't know how to get out of. I do not have much experience as a GM, only as a player, and I am ...
7
votes
3answers
520 views

By asking my players to match my roll, am I making their checks harder?

Sometimes I ask my players to make a roll to see if something random happens (winning a game of chance, for instance, or a wilderness encounter). These rolls won't involve adding any modifiers, they'...
18
votes
2answers
919 views

How can I keep the players tense after combat has ended and there is no longer an obvious need for initiative?

I'm currently running Curse of Strahd and due to the "horror" nature of the setting, I'd love for there to be after battle tension especially when it comes to undead and such. For example, maybe he ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

How to make running away interesting/engaging?

In many role-playing games, and especially Pathfinder, combat is interesting and engaging because (among other things) players have a lot of options to choose from. When it comes to other aspects of ...
6
votes
2answers
510 views

How could Lost Mines of Phandelver be adjusted/altered to run as a one-shot?

I bought the DnD starter set that includes the adventure Lost Mines of Phandelver, intending to play it with some friends. While the opportunity never came up, the idea of running it as a much shorter ...
6
votes
2answers
315 views

Stopping Each Player From Rolling Every Check? [duplicate]

This is a problem that many a DM has faced, but only one I've run aground of recently. I'm running a campaign with a group of fairly new gamers, and as such they are playing to win. And I mean win at ...
19
votes
4answers
5k views

What to do between battles while traveling for 1 week with no gold?

I am writing a campaign in which the party will likely be traveling through a savanna over a distance that will take them a week. The characters in the party are each at level 1, and the only ...