Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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12
votes
5answers
3k views

How can I successfully run one-on-one adventures in D&D 4E?

It seems clear that 4E really wants the party to have at least four PCs, so that all four roles can be covered. The official rules give tips on what to do when you can only have three PCs, but when ...
12
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8answers
3k views

What to do when a player dislikes his character, that is vital for the story?

One of the PCs (a greedy, quirky dwarf fighter) in the game I am hosting recently died, and his player chose to join the group as a new character, a human paladin. After two sessions the player is not ...
11
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9answers
3k views

How can I avoid focusing too much on one player character?

Currently in the game I'm running, one of my players is constantly excited about the game. Outside of the game, he writes pages and pages of material about his character, and consistently adds new ...
11
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3answers
6k views

How do I keep me and my player happy in a one-on-one game?

As a GM, my comfort zone is a group with about 3-5 players. I like the diversity of having multiple players. When I only have a single player, I feel I can already predict my player's actions, and we ...
11
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4answers
853 views

Advice for Running the “In Between Times”

I usually run published adventures which may or may not be related to each other. During and in between the adventures there are often times when the two main facets of RPGs, story role-playing and ...
11
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3answers
1k views

How do I run Paranoia for just one player?

I have not run a game of Paranoia before, but I would like to try with one of my players. I intend to run what was once referred to as "Paranoia XP" and should be able to handle the general running of ...
11
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1answer
967 views

What are the potential pitfalls and errors as a first time DM of a Dread Game?

I am getting ready to run my first session. We are going to run a game of Dread. I have read the Dread book and am planning on running the first published scenario. What kind of pitfalls should I be ...
10
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7answers
1k views

Differing Starting Points Levels

The GM of a GURPS game I'm playing in has set the game's point level at 150. However, he has also made the option available to take 250 or 75 points at the beginning, with the understanding that the ...
10
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5answers
2k views

How to handle a player that cannot be convinced his actions are a problem for both GM and party

Background You can skip to the end for a (very) short summary though... We are a group of good friends, we've all known each other for 7+ years, since high school, and have been playing DnD since ...
10
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4answers
1k views

Bringing a pre-made character to the table or not; pros and cons?

Sometimes a player will have a pre-made character and bring it along to the first gaming session. Other times they will make the character at the table. Sometimes you get a mixed bag. As both a player ...
10
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5answers
2k views

How can I prepare the map for a combat without alerting the players that combat is about to begin?

I am running an adventure in Pathfinder and I use a very large square board and some homemade model walls to define areas such as dungeons or houses and other stuff. However, building maps on the ...
10
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3answers
1k views

Ending a Campaign Gracefully (With a Newbie In Tow)

My Shadowrunners have been going on a five (real-life) month streak of destruction and have gotten immensely powerful to the point where they are near gods, but also gotten incredibly shafted due to ...
9
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2answers
436 views

What are good techniques to adapt module maps to 3D terrain and/or 2D tilesets?

This is slightly related to How to Use Module Maps but instead of being about how to adapt published small maps to 1" scale or using playmats, I'm interested in technique for adapting to pre-published ...
8
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6answers
1k views

How do I encourage players to make characters appropriate to the tone and theme of a game?

I have been a GM for many years and have experience with many different systems and settings of different themes and moods, but my current group seems to be having issues I've never had to deal with ...
7
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5answers
2k views

How does one work a druid into a campaign?

I am a novice GM and this is my first time using Pathfinder. One of my players wants to be a druid but I don't know how to work him into the campaign. It starts in a typical tavern with the owner ...
7
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2answers
4k 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 ...
7
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3answers
3k views

How do I handle initiative and turns for a group of monsters?

A monster group consists of three kobolds. Firstly, as DM do I roll initiative once for the whole group? Secondly, when it is the kobolds turn, do I roll a separate attack for each kobold? If so ...
7
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4answers
632 views

What are the advantages/disadvantages of sharing personal dream sequences with the party?

First time Storyteller here. Woooooo. There's a dream sequence that I'm writing for one of my characters and I'm not sure if it's considered kosher to share that (basically read it aloud) to the ...
7
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5answers
3k views

What do I do when a player refuses to accept my decision? [closed]

During our last session, I had a group of town guards obviously too large for them to handle which I had hoped they would try finding a way around. The guards were looking for them because they were ...
6
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4answers
644 views

How to avoid the feeling of railroading in my campaign pregame?

This question is related to my other question. Please see that one for campaign background, rather than me repeating it all here. I don't want the players to feel "trapped" and forced into a "tunnel",...
6
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2answers
431 views

How many GMs is enough to run a Mega-Game?

My two friends and I are going to spend quite a bit of time preparing a mega-game. It will be a weekend long gaming session with around 20 players, and the three of us as GMs. We are trying to figure ...
6
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4answers
452 views

What are the steps that you as GM's and PC's take to develop a Level 1 character?

This is for the basic character creation at level 1. I know the PHB goes into some detail on character creation and the steps for doing so. What I want to know is how you as GMs or players create ...
6
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3answers
393 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 ...
4
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5answers
827 views

How do we prevent the PvP death of a PC from being cheapened and made meaningless by easy resurrection?

I am running a homebrewed RPG cobbled together from bits of systems like VtM, D&D, Pathfinder, etc. (that's not the problem, it works for us). Our campaign includes player-versus-player conflict, ...
3
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3answers
262 views

For physical tabletop play, how do you restrict PCs' vision in situations like fog?

For situations like Obscuring Mist, darkness, and other vision impairment, how have you successfully enforced that in physical tabletop play? Measurements of success: Players are able to manipulate ...
2
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1answer
254 views

If the Wealth-By-Level is an indication of the value of Magic Items for Player Characters, does the WBL for NPCs have the same purpose?

If the Wealth-By-Level is an indication of the value of Magic Items for Player Characters to use in combat, does the WBL for NPCs have the same purpose, or is it there for some other purpose (to ...
39
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5answers
2k views

How can we make overcoming a language problem interesting?

I am currently involved in a game of Fate Accelerated, and one of our goals is learning the system and experimenting with it. In this game, two characters may have a language barrier to overcome. One ...
31
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10answers
19k views

One PC is too powerful. What should I do?

I am currently playing DnD 3.5 with three friends of mine. I am Game Master and I let my players create 4th level characters in the beginning of the campaign. One of them chose Forsaker as his ...
28
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5answers
5k views

How to deal with overzealous questioning from one player?

So I'm playing a home brew scifi game where one of the players is playing a scientific character who collects a bunch of samples. That's all fine and good, but the problem is that he want really ...
20
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10answers
2k views

Should I call for an INT check for clever ideas?

Let's say someone is playing a character that has really low intelligence, but then the player comes up with a clever idea for a way for his dumb character to overcome some obstacle. Should I make him ...
20
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4answers
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 this rule on identifying a magic item page 136: Potions are an exception; a little taste is enough to ...
19
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5answers
2k views

How to deal with the previous DM's broken homebrew items?

I joined a campaign around the start of paragon tier and now at level 17 the DM is unfortunately moving away. I'm the only one who's DMed before so I was chosen to take over after he's gone. The ...
17
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4answers
3k views

When do I tell my players when they're under an NPC's class effects that cause disadvantage on attacks?

There's a pretty good chance that my PCs will enter a team-battle tournament soon. One of the characters that they might fight has an ability that would give disadvantage to attack someone other than ...
17
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2answers
1k views

How often should the players roll Bluff when interacting with NPCs

My party had secretly infiltrated a stronghold and we were Disguised (using magic) as the leadership of the place after eliminating the real leadership. While rifling through the head honchos stuff ...
17
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2answers
3k views

Are DCs supposed to be secret?

Are players not supposed to ask what is the DC for a roll? If you're the DM and someone asks, would you tell them you can't say? Would you instead tell them the difficulty in relative terms like, "It'...
16
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6answers
2k views

How do you encourage group decisions over individual actions?

In my campaign (4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, but I've encountered the same problem in other systems) we sometimes arrive at a point where the group should make a decision, for example "should ...
16
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6answers
1k views

How to solve a player feeling like their socially-focused PC isn't useful?

I have a player (I'll call him Jeff) whose PC is a peaceful diplomat. He invested most of his points in Charisma and charisma-based skills. He also has minor telepathy (able to read and influence ...
16
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4answers
773 views

How to deal with players who take up most of the time by doing solo actions?

I am sure this has been asked already, as this is probably a very common problem, but I didn't find anything. I am playing in a campaign I made myself using homebrewed rules based on a German pen-and-...
16
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2answers
3k views

Metagaming and Collusion while Gaming in Roll20

Metagaming has always been a facet of tabletop RPGs, for good or for ill. The impact that metagaming has on game itself can run from highly beneficial, such as when a group acts on player information ...
16
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7answers
1k views

As a DM, how to save a creature from being killed by players and not be cheap?

If you put a creature you want to use at a later date in an encounter, how could I save that creature near the end of the battle without sounding cheaty. E.g. The evil mage has only 1 hit point left ...
15
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2answers
1k views

Are PCs able to appraise the difficulty of an encounter?

Are PCs able to judge, innately or via some skill check, how difficult a fight will be? My assumption is that the adventurers have some knowledge of certain beasties and baddies, and can understand ...
15
votes
3answers
728 views

Tips and pitfalls for a variable-size group

My gaming group has very fluid attendance. From week to week it's been known to fluctuate between ten and two players, usually hovering around three to five. I've become reasonably adept at building ...
15
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2answers
1k views

How to respond to “stress tracks / narrative consequences are arbitrary”?

Fate is admittedly an acquired taste. Interestingly, my players don't mind facing off against powerful enemies with stunts and skills that they themselves could not gain any time soon (full immunity ...
15
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6answers
12k 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 (...
14
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7answers
1k views

How can I encourage my players to give me plot hooks?

Related: How can I help a player craft a backstory that gives me plot hooks? This question is about generating new plot hooks during play, rather than part of character generation, however. I prefer ...
14
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0answers
218 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 ...
14
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0answers
388 views

How does a GM know they have done enough prep? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When GMing a game, how much should you prepare in advance? How do you, as a GM, keep from getting into an endless prep loop and to know when you have enough to run a scenario, ...
13
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4answers
3k views

How can I handle a disruptive player with thin skin?

My problem is that I have a player who Takes everything that happens to his character personally and then throws tantrums, and Metagames consistently. We run a very homebrew game, all players know ...
12
votes
2answers
372 views

Playing a pregame, how to keep sense of continuity in campaign

My players and I are currently playing a "pre-game" for a whole campaign I have written. I want the players to be aware of the "how did it get to be this way", so I make them play two games 4000 and ...
12
votes
2answers
637 views

How do I add player agency to a canned adventure?

Our current GM is going to be out of town for a few weeks, so I have decided to try my hand at GMing our group using the We Be Goblins module from Pathfinder. The module is short and has good reviews ...

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