The Stack Overflow podcast is back! Listen to an interview with our new CEO.

Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
15
votes
5answers
1k views

As a GM, what aids could I use to create adventure scenes on the spot?

As a GM, many a time I run into a situation that I know nothing of, am not prepared about, and need something, NOW! Maybe it is a freeform adventure and plot was not prepared, maybe I prepared some ...
6
votes
3answers
391 views

When should I separate encounters?

I had a session this week involving a fairly large battle at sea. The encounter involved a couple of boarders while the enemy ship was still at quite a distance, and the larger group still on the ...
13
votes
5answers
504 views

As a GM, how do I encourage PCs to share and play out their backstories?

My players have trouble creating deep backstories for the characters. I have decided to go with that, but provide opportunities in-game for filling out the gaps. I'm considering leading some ...
12
votes
4answers
293 views

Building a sense of desperation

For a GUMSHOE game I want to build up the suspense through the more subtle, but very effective, buildup of a sense of desperation. This is a medical drama and the characters will be in quarantine. I’m ...
2
votes
1answer
248 views

Techniques for Different Length Game Sessions [closed]

I have been both a player and GM for a long time. Currently, life takes up most of my available gaming time. Thus when I do get a chance to game, I'd like to make it as close to optimal as possible. ...
11
votes
3answers
512 views

Stopping rule questions from overrunning encounters

A common problem I observe is that the players start flooding the GM with questions regarding rules during an encounter (within and outside their respective turns). From the perspective of a GM, how ...
3
votes
0answers
198 views

Dealing with power gamers [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to Handle a Powergamer / Munchkin I'm pretty sure this was asked before but I couldn't find it How do you deal with power gamers? That player who is clearly maxing skills ...
10
votes
4answers
548 views

Are there any problems with spies amongst the players?

As GM, I'm planning to, at some point, invite a friend from out of town who plays RPGs, to join our game with a appropriately levelled character. This character (and the new player) is actually a spy ...
14
votes
5answers
3k views

How to deal with intimidating amount of rules in Shadowrun

I started to read about Shadowrun as a setting and I'm currently reading the rules and they are really intimidating. There's a lot to know as a player since every aspect of the game as it's own set of ...
12
votes
5answers
466 views

Variants of letting players shop for items

During a game (at least during DnD), there always comes a time when characters need to re-supply, sell stuff, and buy or upgrade their items. I've seen a couple of different variations of how to do ...
20
votes
11answers
1k views

How do you keep the party on the map?

I'm running a fairly sandbox game, where the party can wander around easily from place to place. When the party visits areas I've prepared something for, they generally have a good time. When they ...
20
votes
7answers
1k views

Fantasy and magic in a primarily realistic setting

I'm running a game that's best described as "medieval fantasy," in the sense that we're actually trying to have the lives of people in the setting strongly resemble the historical Middle Ages. There ...
24
votes
7answers
945 views

How can I convey the nonsensicality of a dream world?

Soon I will be GMing a campaign that allows the players to move freely back and forth between the "real" world and the "dream" world. I do not want this to be a secret or try to confuse the players; ...
11
votes
5answers
5k views

Standard monster tactics for 4E D&D combat

In a similar vein to a question on tactics sources, I'm interested in knowing what are common tactics for monsters to use. The DMB and the MV mention monster groups, which are very useful, but I want ...
10
votes
2answers
383 views

How to make rituals a part of everyday life

I would like to know how to make it clear that little, non-magical rituals such as a blessing before eating, drawing water, harvesting grain, starting a fire and the like are a part of everyday life, ...
6
votes
1answer
456 views

How can I represent the use of fire being misrepresented in a campaign?

This is an extraction of one of the central questions arising from my original (overly broad) question. I would like to know how to best represent the concept that there is a god who is, through a ...
9
votes
5answers
5k views

Starting a campaign at higher level

It's been difficult for me to start a game at higher level than level 1-4 in Pathfinder. At higher level, the scale of the game changes. In the beginning of level 1-4 you save a village or a clan ...
37
votes
12answers
2k views

How do I allow player agency in situations with predetermined outcomes?

One of the current members of our group joined a little later than everyone else. His character's history wasn't developed too well, so I am running a one-off session so that the group can play out ...
9
votes
3answers
482 views

So I'm finishing a campaign…what now?

The D&D campaign I mentioned in another question has been ongoing for 2 1/2 years and the next session is the last. While we're waiting for everyone to be available for said session, we're playing ...
14
votes
0answers
207 views

How can a GM calm down the group when they're chatty? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When and how should I get the players to cut back on their out of character chatter? Now and then the groups I play in or GM can get rather chatty. They're talking and joking ...
35
votes
10answers
1k views

Helping new players learn a setting on the go

I started a new Eberron campaign last night, and I quickly ran into the problem of my players not knowing much of anything about the campaign setting. What is the <...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

How do I pick monsters of appropriate CR for parties with superior armour?

As background, my low-level PCs managed to come into a "king's ransom's" worth of cash (due to poor planning on my part as DM, I'll admit) and now have purchased armour/enchantments that give them ...
21
votes
8answers
609 views

Treasure that's hard to put a price on

(We've been playing D&D, but for this answer I'm looking for a system-agnostic answer that works for a premodern setting. Let's say 1500 AD or earlier.) Most of the treasure the party gets from ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

As a GM, how do you deal with or manage Stirges?

As a GM, how do you deal with or manage Stirges? Equally, how do you make use of them? For them to be a relevant threat, do they have to be in such numbers that they become unmanageable?
13
votes
7answers
720 views

How can I bring in new players on the fly?

How can I smoothly bring in a new player and character with little or no notice? I run a semi-public game shop pathfinder game, and I sometimes have people show up to play I hadn't planned on. Often ...
7
votes
6answers
462 views

How do you come up with attribute values and skills for your NPCs [closed]

I have been playing PnP for some years now and also had one session GMing (my first) and I discovered that my biggest problem wasn't creating a world, inventing scenes or reacting fast if my players ...
5
votes
4answers
525 views

World Development - A Fresh Start

If this is not the place for this type of question, redirect me - I am new here, and apologize in advance. So. My group is looking for something new. Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 in my own setting is our ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

Maintaining balance with a very large group

I played DnD 3.5 while in the military and due to a shortage of DMs, was constantly flooded by players. Some of my games would include up to 10 or 11. I discovered quickly that balancing for this in 3....
21
votes
7answers
872 views

It is possible to have one player lose control of their actions (get possessed) and have the other players not know it?

One of the players in my group is getting rather fond of a very powerful and clearly evil sword that gives them great increases to strength and magical ability. As a consequence, I would love to have ...
18
votes
8answers
1k views

My necromancer keeps dying (and can't raise himself)!

Sometimes in the course of running an adventure you will run into an encounter that calls for a summoner to bring on a horde of undead (often minions). I have a simple problem: My summoners die in ...
14
votes
5answers
4k views

How do I represent semi-realistic gun fire-fights using Pathfinder/D&D 3.5 cover rules?

I am running a sci-fi/fantasy game using Pathfinder. The setting is firearms and future weapons focused. It's also being played on a virtual battle-map with tokens and will be run very tactically. ...
21
votes
8answers
2k views

What to do when your PCs skip an important part of the story line

In the earliest stage of my new duet campaign, I thought I had "rail-roaded" the PC into the first important encounter, one that leads to a major story line for the campaign. Specifically, the PC was ...
18
votes
4answers
804 views

How to succesfully make one quest naturally lead to the next?

My old GM used to make our quests highly modular and separated. While this had some advantages, it gave the feeling of running through a video game with discrete levels where we just popped from one ...
12
votes
3answers
733 views

How do I respectfully make use of non-Western accents?

I pretty much exclusively alter my voice to represent characters' speech in-game, both as player and GM. I have a pretty good handle on most of the numerous Western accents - probably due to the ...
49
votes
14answers
4k views

How do I get the PCs to stop focusing on a red herring?

Okay, I'll cop to it -- this is totally my fault. I get a little excited at the slightest opportunity to expound upon the setting, and in this case I added a small mausoleum to an otherwise boring ...
15
votes
4answers
578 views

How do I signal a flashback?

I have several flashbacks planned that introduce the characters to a backstory that is too complex for a typical plot dump. The problem is that the flashbacks are triggered in the context of the ...
14
votes
7answers
2k views

Dealing with a problem player not playing to their character aspects

A player in my Dresden Files game joined the group with a kick-in-the-door, "shoot-first-ask-questions-later"-style cop. The character had some fairly "meh" & a couple of potentially OK aspects. ...
13
votes
3answers
544 views

Ubiquity: Best method to excitingly adjudicate the effects of Persuasion (Con/Diplomacy)

In Pulp Adventure games using the Ubiquity Roleplaying System what is an effective method to add tension, and ensure consistency in applying results, when handling social interactions based on Con and ...
13
votes
3answers
363 views

What kinds of player contributions work well and under what circumstances?

Introduction In Amber diceless roleplaying game players get extra points for building their characters by committing to player contributions, such as: Writing a diary, writing game reports, drawing ...
13
votes
5answers
963 views

How can I cast what can't be cast?

I'm running a Pathfinder campaign with the Eberron 3.5 setting, and I'm often finding that I want my players to be able to use magic in a way that the rules don't allow. For example, a party is in an ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Chuck Norris player character - can I keep true to the internet meme while still running a balanced game?

One of my group mates has been quite obsessed with creating a Chuck Norris inspired character. He's playing a martial arts heavy, assassin flavors of Rogue, in a DnD campaign, which works well enough ...
12
votes
6answers
385 views

How can I add underworld intrigue to my Dresden Files game?

In D&D/Pathfinder/RIFTS/Shadowrun-type games I've played in the past, corrupt nobles/merchants, thieves' guilds, megacorps, ancient evils, and various religions with a flakey axe to grind were all ...
32
votes
9answers
1k views

How can I cut short a doomed fight?

Occasionally one of my PC's wanders off and gets himself into a battle he simply cannot win. I know the player wants to play out the battle to see if they can somehow pull it out, but it's boring for ...
9
votes
6answers
331 views

What are good techniques help remember the interrupts of DND 4e monsters?

For new and experienced 4e DM's alike, a recurring challenge is activating all of the appropriate interrupt powers on monster sheets. It gets really easy to miss something when solo monsters can have ...
11
votes
4answers
490 views

How do you handle the use of unrelated skills in the Dresden Files?

Back into the breach with our weekly Dresden Files game, and because of the lapse in time between sessions/people missing as much as anything else, I had some unique situations occur. One of the ones ...
18
votes
5answers
918 views

How do I make a single combat in a day challenging and interesting?

4e is a game of resource attrition. I can't find the quote in DMG right now, but from memory and experience, it works best with about 3-5 combat encounters in an adventuring day. That way, some of the ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Resources for 3D printable RPG props?

I would like to introduce more map-based props (figures, terrain, obstacles, etc.) into my game. In particular, I'd like to be able to use a 3D printer to make props specific to whatever encounters a ...
27
votes
10answers
2k views

How do I find and eliminate plot holes?

I'm still a pretty new GM. Even though I enjoy coming up with plots and writing the overarching story-line, when I tell my wife (who does not play) how the adventure should progress (the long-view, ...
34
votes
9answers
5k views

How can I more effectively use darkness in a dungeon?

In more than one of my D&D campaigns, I've found myself feeling disappointed at my inability to make the darkness of the dungeon matter. Everyone has enough torches, and I'm not likely to be able ...
26
votes
10answers
6k views

How to make magic items more interesting?

We all read about the little person finding a magical ring and the GM basing his whole plot on that little ring. That was a cool example of a MacGuffin. Earthdawn has a system in which characters ...