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Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

24
votes
7answers
5k views

How can I introduce an “enemy” faction NPC without players killing them?

I have a campaign I'm running that heavily involves cultists working to save the planes in a kind of "we live here too and would prefer not to die" motivation. There is a cultist that one of the ...
56
votes
12answers
9k views

How can I show-not-tell my players that they are The Bad Guys?

My players have an interesting habit of changing their behavior on a dime. Between objectives, they'll be trying to fix problems at small towns they pass through and helping the locals, but once they ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I describe unknown items without giving away what they are?

I am currently working in my first D&D 5e campaign and I feel confident enough to the point where I will make a custom world with lore written by me. The idea is basically a world that is ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

How to balance encounters for unbalanced parties?

I am running a D&D 5e West Marches style game. We have a pool of around 10 players, who all have one character. This game kills off a character around once every 1.5 months due to the nature and ...
42
votes
5answers
5k views

Keeping the world alive whilst PCs take a rest mid-adventure?

My players and I just started up Lost Mines of Phandelver and upon discovering the Cragmaw Hideout at the start of the adventure, they decided to double back to where they left the oxen at the initial ...
1
vote
0answers
163 views

What narrative techniques should a GM know? [closed]

This question is inspired by this answer which provides a named technique by which a GM can work around a specific situation. My question is: what are the various established techniques that a GM can ...
6
votes
3answers
342 views

How to balance encounter difficulty in a “live” ecosystem?

I know the headline might seem weird but i couldn't think of anything better. What I want to do for my next Pathfinder campaign is to have the monsters be as smart and organized as PCs (when their ...
8
votes
3answers
894 views

How to handle irresolvable player character motives?

Background Up until recently, I ran a 5E game for five players: a sorcerer, two wizards, and two warlocks (all level 3 humans). All five are familiar with 5E. This is my first attempt at running an ...
27
votes
5answers
6k views

How can I speed up 5e 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

How can I solve burst damage problem when rolling group initiative?

Problem The PHB states, at p. 189 The DM makes one roll for an entire group of identical creatures, so each member of the group acts at the same time. Honestly, I usually ignored this one, except ...
10
votes
2answers
204 views

How do I GM a team engineering problem in fate core?

The ship is under attack! I am GM. My PC is first mate on a space ship. The ship is being attacked by some tiny hard-to-detect UFOs. PC wants to work with the engineering team to rig up some better ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

In a Hard combat game, how do I hint that the story will be combat-light?

This is the last game I will have with my current play group before moving 10k+ Km. So the characters they will create won't be useful in the future. I want my players to play a short story (about ...
56
votes
7answers
9k views

GMing for a hyper optimized character

One of my players loves building characters that are, for lack of a better term, broken. I don't mean he min/maxes them, I mean he builds characters that are way more powerful than they should be ...
2
votes
0answers
51 views

Finding Play Testers [duplicate]

Any advice on communities or forums where I can find play testers for a new tabletop role play game? It's designed for casual players to game together virtually. So imagine pen & pen style RPG ...
65
votes
12answers
15k views

How do I indicate to my players that an NPC is no longer useful and that they should move on?

I am a rather new DM, still learning stuff. So I have noticed that my characters tend to talk too much with the NPCs, trying to get a lot of information, and probably even trying to 'cheat', thinking ...
5
votes
2answers
407 views

How do I know if I'm sending too many encounters at the party?

The party is currently 3 level 2 PCs: a fighter, a rogue, and a wizard. They don't work well together, but that's to be expected: all of them are new to role-playing. Soon they'll add another PC—a ...
7
votes
2answers
243 views

Dealing with too powerful forms of transport

I am preparing a game with Call of Cthulhu mechanics using S.T.A.L.K.E.R (the game based on the book Roadside Picnic) as a setting. The game's main locale is an unnatural area that is surrounded by ...
45
votes
5answers
7k views

How do I avoid lecturing my players

Background I am running Lost Mines of Phandelver and yesterday my party got to Phandalin. One of the party has a background about wanting to help civilise the place (Which he reads as wanting to run ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a RAW limit on the DM's power regarding a Player Character’s emotions?

Let's first state for the record that I am well aware of Rule 0 and am in no way asking a practical question. The DM's job is to make the game fun for everyone and in this regard his power is truly ...
11
votes
6answers
1k views

Finding ways to “nerf” a PC that is too strong with base stats, after a long period of playing

This is my first time asking a question here, so forgive me if my question is poorly worded or formatted. I have been GM'ing for a group for the last 3 years and have started to encounter some issues ...
4
votes
3answers
217 views

What is the role of an objective combat system in story telling? [closed]

A weird Frankenstein role playing games are. They are often described as 'a group of players gathers to tell a story'. In telling a story, the protagonist(s) dying from a roadside bandit's crossbow ...
28
votes
4answers
4k views

Can we be game master as a couple?

My girlfriend and I enjoy developing my D&D world a lot. We spend much time talking about what the backgrounds of characters are, how history has developed, what the relations between the ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

How to make deception by NPCs work in an engaging manner

We are playing in a world with a certain degree of realism. For me, this includes deception. Deception can be found anywhere: Making a small and probably inconsequential lie to make yourself look ...
54
votes
11answers
7k views

How do I allow the Rogue opportunities to be stealthy with a Druid in the party?

My party is currently level 6, and consists of a Halfling Rogue, Human Druid, Halfling Barbarian, and Half-Elf Monk. They're all excellent players who play tactically and know their class well. I'm ...
23
votes
8answers
5k views

How can I help my players not to feel useless in situations their characters are not optimally designed for?

For the sake of being answerable, I will state a specific scenario that happened to me some months ago while I was DMing. I would like to note that broader answers, that give general advice that ...
14
votes
1answer
805 views

Is there an easy/quick way to look up certain magic items by the effects they have?

I am currently designing a DnD-5e campaign and am after certain effects of magic items to be held by particular NPCs or monsters. I've looked through the DMG at the multitude of magic items in here ...
12
votes
5answers
4k views

Having trouble getting my friends to get invested in the game

I have been playing D&D 5e for the better part of three years now, and normally I have had a blast: everyone is engaged in the game and wanting to play. In November I started DMing for the ...
29
votes
5answers
3k views

Giving character hints to players

I've been running games for some friends who had no prior experience in D&D (any edition). One issue I've encountered is people simply not knowing they can do something. Being used to other game ...
110
votes
12answers
19k views

Evil Campaigns: How to explain the difference between being evil and being a jerk?

My friend has recently started running an evil campaign. His players are having serious difficulty telling the difference between comitting evil deeds and doing random things that are evil acts. ...
2
votes
0answers
117 views

How to introduce my setup to the players? [closed]

For quite a while, I've been GM-ing some Pathfinder games for me and a bunch of friends. Usually I try to prepare as much as I can, making my NPCs, major plot-point, the list goes on. But even ...
2
votes
1answer
386 views

How do you deal with Overpowered PCs? [closed]

So i'v been running an Elder-Scrolls themed Dungeon-World game for around 20 ~7 hour sessions now. Over this time, the PCs have leveled up a LOT, and have been deciding to keep their characters and ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Handling party progression in a dungeon

I think I've gotten the wrong end of the stick when it comes to what and when the DM should be calling for rolls when the party is exploring a dungeon. Picture your typical D&D dungeon crawl. ...
27
votes
7answers
7k views

Curing NPC phobia

This is a another version of Curing trap phobia, but as you can guess, the party is now using Insight checks on all NPCs they meet! I've cut down encounters with unnecessary NPCs, so every NPC they ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I deal with a player intentionally hindering their character? [duplicate]

In my first campaign as DM, I clearly stated in session 0 that we'd get to play in the Underdark. I explained the consequences very clearly in that the players wouldn't be able to see anything unless ...
5
votes
1answer
321 views

How do I prepare backup plans for if my players don't recognize a major plot hook or fail the checks to find it?

For context, I am the GM of a Star Wars Saga Edition game. We haven't had our first session yet, but we will soon. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... An exiled Gungan (PC "Aaron") ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Starting a D&D game with no experience as a DM or a player [duplicate]

So I'd like to start a D&D 5E game with my friends via discord and Roll20. The problem however is that altough I have watched a lot of D&D, I nor my players (except 1) actually have ever ...
13
votes
1answer
904 views

In Tomb of Horrors, what is the intended scenario for when (spoilers)

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, ...
1
vote
0answers
46 views

Can I keep players of dead characters engaged in Dread? [duplicate]

I've ran one or two games of Dread at roleplaying conventions, and I really liked the tension the system generates. However, players want to be involved to the very end. Is there anything I can do to ...
6
votes
3answers
607 views

How do you handle random encounters if the GM isn't supposed to roll dice?

I'm trying to deal with random encounters in DW. If my players are in a town, and suddenly decide to go into a random building how do I decide if the NPCs in there like the PCs? In D&D I'd just ...
18
votes
6answers
4k views

How to throw off suspicion for the big reveal in a way that it is not unfairly blindsiding them?

In my plot I have a big bad obvious "dark lord" type villain... who is the pawn of the hidden evil mastermind. Basically said mastermind created a threat to ensure that everyone bands together to ...
5
votes
1answer
166 views

How to integrate roleplay, foci, paradigm into casting magick

I was away from RPGs and story telling for some time. I used to run Mage: The Ascension scenarios before, but I had to take a break, and now I want to get back on my feet. I struggled with some ...
1
vote
0answers
70 views

Music for noir combat scenes [closed]

Right now planning noir style VtM campaign which would have place in 1940s and I'm trying to make it more atmospheric for my players. We're playing via Roll20, so music means a lot. The problem I ...
8
votes
1answer
352 views

Giving a mechanical penalty to traumatized character [closed]

I'm currently DMing a campaign with a time loop, and to keep players from charging around willy nilly I'm going to implement penalties for getting themselves killed in awful ways. In our last session ...
110
votes
10answers
18k views

How to stop players from making the game X-rated

After 30 years, a few of my friends and I finally managed to get together and play D&D. We've managed to play 2hrs once a week for the last 6 weeks. I unfortunately ended up being the DM. My ...
11
votes
5answers
973 views

How to have players save against secret spells and traps

I've been thinking about a method to utilize secret threats without removing player agency. This is especially important for when a character would be forced to make a saving throw by a stealthed ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

NPC-only interactions by player request

So, my players want the NPCs to communicate with one another more, and I don't know how to handle that without taking spotlight away from the PCs... Anything I can do to compromise?
5
votes
2answers
242 views

How to handle a spontaneous not showing up party member?

I am the GM of a party that consists of two family fathers, one guy working on a oil platform and another freelancer working in the film industry. So it happens quite often that one member ...
2
votes
3answers
176 views

Will save method for ambushes

Players run a kingdom... Tiny kingdom. Pimple on the axe of their huge empire enemy. Only hope of victory is guerrilla warfare and forest ambushes. An effective ambush doesnt result in a fight. It ...
10
votes
2answers
978 views

Do background features always apply?

I feel like background features are a little more "final" than normal feats. Take for example the Outlander features Wanderer. You have an excellent memory for maps and geography, and you can ...
11
votes
3answers
3k views

Ways to handle a player who seems to not “want to play”

Backstory: I recently started DMing a D&D 5e campaign with my college friends. It is my first time DMing and most of their first exposure into DnD. They are all video game players so they are ...