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Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

3
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3answers
182 views

Where can I find mechanics to manage a character's career/advancement within an organization?

I run a game where characters apart of their mechanical advancement can become part of various organizations to gain standing and influence. At the moment the barbarian became chief of a small tribe, ...
14
votes
1answer
513 views

Skills with different abilities: How to adjudicate what combination to use?

In the D&D 5e Player’s Handbook, there is a variant option called Skills with Different Abilities: Normally, your proficiency in a skill applies only to a specific kind of ability check. ...
1
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2answers
208 views

Are there issues with allowing parties to succeed at encounters in a published adventure with specified checks/DCs using creative roleplay instead?

During Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, there are a number of faction missions, one of which is: With a suggested solution: Given that a suggested solution involves the party spending money and checks of a ...
45
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9answers
7k views

I want to run vast and realistic dungeons, but my players get frustrated trying to search every room

Because my players' suspension of disbelief began to suffer when exploring more "normal" dungeons, I have created some big dungeons which are based on bigger, realistic structures: castles, towns, ...
15
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3answers
2k views

How to handle when PCs taste a potion that is actually poison?

I will soon be DM for the first time. As preparation I have been reading the DMG and I found the rule on page 136: Potions are an exception; a little taste is enough to tell the taster what the ...
41
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4answers
4k views

How does “failure” work in Dungeon World? How does it move the story forward?

I am having trouble understanding the specifics of failure Dungeon World. According to the rules, a GM should "make a move" against players when they fail, and that's alright, I get that. What I don'...
10
votes
3answers
291 views

Are there rules for shortening the adventuring day and reducing the number encounters without unbalancing them?

The problem In a few groups I'm DMing, sessions last about 3h. During that time, we usually have about half the adventuring's day worth of encounters (so at level 10, about 18k XP out of the 36k XP ...
31
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7answers
4k views

What is the difference between giving advantage on a roll and reducing the DC?

I run a 5e campaign, and I like rewarding my players for thinking outside the box, roleplaying well, etc. Suppose we have the following scenario: Violet is a bard, and is attempting to intimidate a ...
48
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9answers
9k views

How can I end combat quickly when the outcome is inevitable?

I'm DMing for a party of 6. In our next session, I'm planning on running four combat encounters. With such a large group, I've found that it usually takes an hour or two to get through a single battle....
36
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8answers
4k views

Am I too new to try DMing once?

I am pretty new to Pencil and Paper RPG's, at this point I have been playing a loose interpretation of D&D3.5 for a couple of months. Probably about 6 sessions. But I don't know a lot of the RAW ...
3
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2answers
540 views

How can I handle, or prevent, provocative actions by my players? [duplicate]

I have been DM'ing for a few years, and due to my upbringing I prefer to run games that don't really allow for what I consider to be evil acts in game. For me, that means using basic common sense and ...
38
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8answers
11k views

How can I speed up combat?

Combat at my table (5 players plus me, the GM) takes a long time. Even only moderately-complex combats usually take about an hour. I find myself wanting to end the session early if the group is about ...
33
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5answers
4k views

Is there a way to save this session?

I recently started a campaign with some local players, but things are not going well - at least from my perspective. Some context: We're playing a campaign that is set in a Darksouls-like setting. ...
2
votes
0answers
107 views

What are the pros and cons of this proposed modification to Rise of Tiamat?

I'm looking to run the Rise of Tiamat module. In "Episode 4: Neronvain" from the chapter "Death to the Wyrmspeakers", it says that which makes sense. But when I look at Neronvain's stat block (p. 91)...
25
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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 ...
54
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10answers
11k views

How to get a new group into the spirit of the game Paranoia?

My roleplaying group is talking about taking a break from our 4e D&D campaign for a bit, and doing some one-offs. We are planning on doing a few sessions with a GURPS game of some sort, and the ...
4
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2answers
182 views

How to explain an ancestral guardian's spirit features suddenly gained at level-up? [closed]

I'm a new DM leading a 5e campaign with new players. Most of the characters, who are a cleric, two druids, and a fighter, do not gain weird new powers when they level up. But the barbarian (still ...
103
votes
18answers
14k views

When should I fudge dice rolls?

When I started my first D&D campaign as a DM, I accidentally rolled and confirmed a crit on a PC from a goblin. It was an instant kill as our campaign had no cleric. That time I decided to fudge ...
21
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11answers
4k views

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 ...
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? ...
45
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12answers
7k views

Suggestions for decreasing metagaming and increasing player immersion?

This question is posed in a great way over on the Paizo boards, where I hang out since I play/run a lot of Pathfinder. Immersion is one of the key parts of the RPG experience to me, so I loved the ...
6
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2answers
313 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, ...
15
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6answers
7k views

How do I deal with extremely high passive perception?

I recently noticed how crazy high your passive perception can get. Assuming you are a druid or cleric (i.e. Wisdom being your main stat) with one level in rogue, you can get expertise in perception (...
65
votes
6answers
9k views

How should the DM manage the discrepancy between the player's memory and their PC's memory?

It may happen that, during a session, players don't remember the name of a NPC that they met (or, more generally, information about something that happened) during the previous session. Obviously, ...
14
votes
6answers
3k views

“Epic Level” Shadowrun

Recently I've run into an issue with my Shadowrun campaign for a number of reason, the most key of which is that my players have hit the 180-250 karma level where they've started to ascend to levels ...
12
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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 ...
38
votes
9answers
9k views

How do I run a game for a larger group?

I am currently running a Dungeons and Dragons 4 campaign for a group of 9 players. Whittling the group down to a more manageable size is not really an option since they are all family. When we do ...
4
votes
2answers
454 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
5k views

Dealing with 2 Immature Players Who Detract from the Experiences of Others

I have read a number of threads here similar to but not the same as the problem my group and I are having (including this thread, this answer, this answer to a similar situation, and this question ...
58
votes
14answers
43k views

Dislike how players accurately place fireballs. Is there an alternative?

I'm running 5e on a grid with minis. The one thing that I hate is when sorcerers or wizards casts a fireball that perfectly hits enemies in the AOE. The player counts the squares on the grid to ...
6
votes
2answers
156 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
153 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 ...
82
votes
16answers
9k views

How do I stop my PCs from acting like insomniac monkeys on crack?

An issue came up in the last session of my Pathfinder campaign - that of chronic PC impatience. It happens especially when they go to cities and between major adventures. They go into a frenzy of ...
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 ...
7
votes
4answers
226 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 ...
64
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 ...
17
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2answers
1k views

In the Tomb of Horrors adventure in Tales from the Yawning Portal, what is the intended scenario for when this event occurs?

Excuse the unspecific question title. Hard to ask this without putting spoilers. In D&D 5e Tales of the Yawning Portal, there is an updated version of the legendary Tomb of Horrors. At page 225, ...
2
votes
1answer
111 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 ...
57
votes
20answers
8k views

Need out-of-game solution for spell choice paralysis

I could really use some advice from someone with experience with new players dealing with D&D spell analysis paralysis. I'm about to kick off a second D&D 5e campaign for a set of friends ...
130
votes
15answers
23k views

Betrayed by my GM; how can I respond?

I was introduced to D&D three months ago and really delved into the world. I had so much fun creating my character and tried very hard to roleplay him differently from myself. I did my very best ...
30
votes
4answers
2k views

How much to bend “the rules” about populating a world?

All right, I have a question about creating a world and populating it with appropriate monsters, etc. I created a world a little while back, loosely based off of the world found in Michael Stackpole'...
67
votes
15answers
46k views

How do I get my players to form a PC party without just forcing them to?

I believe that it is generally a good thing that all the PCs travel together, as a "party". This way the GM has to manage one environment – not, say, five. The problem is how the GM can ensure such a ...
30
votes
12answers
2k views

How to have a realistic set of languages without making adventuring prohibitively difficult?

"Do you speak Common?" "Of course I do! Everyone speaks Common..." My group is starting a somewhat experimental campaign. We're using a setting that is neither canon (e.g. described in a book) nor ...
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2answers
316 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
4k views

How can I balance the power of loot between player characters?

The 5e DMG only gives proximate levels of item strength: common, uncommon, rare, very rare, and legendary. The item levels don't really seem to help me judge if two items of the same rarity will be ...
10
votes
2answers
393 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 ...
29
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 ...
47
votes
8answers
12k views

My party bypassed a combat encounter. Should they still get XP?

Some thug bandits set up a road block on the main road to extract a toll from passersby. It was twilight when my party encountered them. They used the Rogue to scout ahead, and they ultimately decided ...
11
votes
2answers
450 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
666 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 ...