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Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

The practical arts and methods applied to gamemastering.

21
votes
3answers
5k views

How do I allow Intelligence-based lore checks without breaking “show, don't tell”?

In D&D 5th edition, certain Intelligence-based skills (Arcana, History, Nature and Religion) allow a character to recall lore. For example: Your Intelligence (Arcana) check measures your ...
7
votes
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
votes
2answers
782 views

What are the pros and cons of players knowing each others' secret backstories?

First time D&D 5e GM here. At the beginning of my campaign, an NPC will try to send the party on a covert operation. I'm giving one of the characters a special role and backstory: He's that NPC's ...
1
vote
0answers
45 views

“Fudging” dice rolls - how important is it? [duplicate]

Similar to the Fate Fudge dice, sometimes a DM might "Fudge" a dice roll (without using the actual Fudge dice). I.e., they might make a roll pass/fail, regardless of what is on the actual dice. For ...
22
votes
9answers
7k views

How can I balance encounters with a party consisting of a sorcerer, monk, rogue, and fighter?

Made a rookie mistake of letting my players (who have never played DnD) choose what class to play without discussing with me or each other, and we ended up with no healer. We've already played quite a ...
6
votes
4answers
436 views

How can I “unify” a party mid-campaign?

In the beginning of our Pathfinder campaign set in Eberron, I used two gimmicks to bring the party together: An afternoon train wreck with a zombie attack that night, forcing everyone (players and ...
27
votes
5answers
5k views

What do I do when problem player does not attend Session 0?

Apologies if this is not the correct place for this question but I'm at a bit of a loss for what to do and would appreciate the advice of an experienced GM. My party have been playing DnD 5e since ...
7
votes
3answers
278 views

How to keep Bonds relevant when players are absent?

Some time ago I GMed Dungeon World for a group of friends -- the first time any of us tried DW, though we'd played Apocalypse World before. The campaign only lasted 5-6 sessions because of multiple ...
14
votes
5answers
4k 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 (...
28
votes
7answers
3k views

What's wrong about addressing the players in Dungeon World?

One of Dungeon World's gamemastering principles is “Address the characters, not the players”: Addressing the characters, not the players, means that you don’t say, “Tony, is Dunwick doing ...
1
vote
0answers
172 views

Need a dm cheat sheet [closed]

Basically, need some basic references. Three in fact. A dm screen/quick reference download, a npc/monster stat card, and a miniatures blank stat card. I figure that there's a decent chance for all ...
2
votes
0answers
1k views

My guy syndrome - DM edition [closed]

I've currently read this question about the so-called My Guy syndrome, and since I recently started DM-ing myself, I couldn't help but wonder - is there an equivalent of this for a DM? A short summary ...
18
votes
5answers
1k views

What's is the GM's purpose in Fate Core?

While this may sound like a rant against Fate Core that's not my intention. I'm just trying to understand what I'm missing. I'm just beginning to learn about Fate Core. In the book it talks about ...
18
votes
4answers
5k views

How to deal with a character that has a cruel/barbarian behavior without having him leave the party?

As a new DM, I've been having a few games with my players, and it has been really fun. However, at some point, a player's character started to genuinely skin a (recently deceased) half-orc boss to ...
22
votes
11answers
7k views

How do I address the need to kill off one member of the party for on going plot?

So I have a plot that I want use, that will require a specific member of the team to be "Killed" in a run. The player is very invested in this character, and can take things at the table a little ...
25
votes
4answers
4k views

How can I answer “Who's really in control here?”

I'm currently GM'ing my third Dungeon World game (and playing as a PC in an ongoing game), and while there are many things I have learned how to do better as I've started to get the hang of GM'ing, ...
23
votes
3answers
3k views

When should I ask for a saving throw, as opposed to an ability check, for environmental hazards?

When writing or GMing an adventure, frequently there will be situations that test the PC's physical abilities to cope with a threat. Examples include: The building the party is in is collapsing, and ...
34
votes
7answers
4k views

How to deal with differing interests as a DM?

A few years ago, I ran a short-lived 4e campaign with a bunch of players who all had a different idea of what aspect of the game was the most fun to them. 2 players, close friends, wanted to treat ...
20
votes
6answers
4k views

Repeating actions outside of combat breaking the flow

In my most recent session where I was DM, I hid a door in a small side room that the players found. However to get in to the room, the groups large warrior PC simply kept attacking the door until the ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Creating Horror Atmosphere [closed]

I'm relatively new to DMing/GMing. All the people that I play with have DMed at least a few times. The only thing I've run is a prefab from Tales of the Yawning Portal. My problem I want to make a ...
13
votes
7answers
4k views

My Player Wants to be Resurrected After Telling Party Not To [closed]

In the game I run (D&D 5E with a home brew setting) those that die a spectacular death get to send a letter back to the living. Spectacular being defined as enough to amuse or impress the goddess ...
-4
votes
2answers
193 views

Realistic damage in 3.5/pathfinder [closed]

As someone who is wont to forget things, here is my question: I thought I remember reading articles/threads/posts/questions about more realistic ways to describe hit point loss. As in a narrative ...
13
votes
4answers
443 views

How do I track NPC relationships with each other?

My players are big on Character Development and have a list of NPCs they regularly interact with (they are rulers). I know there are many ways to handle my question, but I'm at a loss. So, how do I ...
5
votes
0answers
281 views

First Time As A GM: How To Avoid Common Pitfalls With Newbie Group? [closed]

I've been playing role-playing games (mostly D&D) for a very long time and, finally, I've decided to run my own campaign for the very first time in Stars Without Number. Our group will be a small ...
55
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 ...
22
votes
8answers
5k views

How can I get players to a specific place without telling them where it is?

I just started to DM. I want the players to get to a bandit camp, but I want them to look around for it. They will have general directions like "Somewhere over the hills", but I can't think of a way ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

Can I ask my players for copies of their notes?

I am still quite new to GMing and I've come across a problem running an Investigation-based Sci-Fi RPG. My players are taking notes on lots of things that were meant to be innocuous little bits of ...
18
votes
7answers
2k views

Curing trap phobia

My players have developed trap-phobia in my campaign. In a rather simple dungeon I've prepared for them (they are rather new in DnD), they constantly search for traps: ask for Perception roll when in ...
10
votes
6answers
920 views

How to subtly railroad players to go in a certain direction?

Now I know that railroading is one of the cardinal sins of DM-ing, along with hard rules changes to fit your needs, and sloppily homebrewing every other custom rule. However, right now I feel like my ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

How do I make treasure stashes rewarding in a very small party?

I'm running a D&D 5e game for two players. How can I make the contents of a treasure stash exciting without overpowering my players or just giving them lots of busywork? Newish DM here - I'm ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Absolute minimum for a D&D 5E DM to know? [closed]

Every year on January 1st, for over 15 years, my group of friends have been doing a "New Year's RPG session". I've played and DMmed my fair share of 3E, 3.5E, and D20 Modern, but I've stopped playing ...
23
votes
7answers
9k views

How to make sure the players escape but feel like it was because of their wit?

Setting I'm preparing for my first time as a DM in D&D 5e (as a player I have gotten to level 4 in 3 campaigns so I have a good grasp of the game, in my group everyone wants to have a go as DM ...
8
votes
2answers
683 views

Should a low roll mean my players get false information?

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I'm not really sure how to address it. I read a GM tip once that stated that a low roll shouldn't mean the player learns nothing. I've taken to coming up ...
11
votes
6answers
958 views

How does one deal with unexpected player responses? [closed]

This is a follow-up question to I'm at a loss with “Dungeons and Dragons.” How does one play it, anyway? My question is what does a GM do if players try to do something unusual? For example, one ...
6
votes
3answers
214 views

How does one infuse an AL campaign with a sense of time elapsing?

In 5e character levels tick off at a pretty predictable pace: given level-appropriate encounters it's usually 10-15 hours of table-time for each level. Particularly in Adventurers League, where so ...
1
vote
0answers
57 views

What is a good Fate Accelerated Benchmark Ladder [duplicate]

In a game of fate where each player has +3, +2, +2, +1, +1, +0. What is a Cheat sheet ladder to have. I.E. There is a large Iron door in the way, the brute says he's gonna force his way through it. ...
64
votes
12answers
14k views

Is it OK for me to give my players' characters punitive backstories when they don't provide their own?

As a GM I have a rule where I write a players background for the player in a way that will affect them badly if they say the are amnesiacs in order to get out of writing a backstory. I tend to require ...
2
votes
2answers
239 views

How to be sure that an adventure is short enough to end in one session?

Recently I am in the situation where I have to start mastering some adventures to people I don't know. They can have some experience or not at all. It's needed to end in just one session, because it'...
7
votes
3answers
298 views

How do controlled and uncontrolled sharks differ in behavior when aiding Sahuagin?

So, sahuagin can command sharks telepathically. However, even when they don't or can't command the sharks, the sharks still automatically know the Sahuagin are on their team and don't attack them. ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is it necessary to have a balanced party? [closed]

As I've been reading around the site, I've noticed a ton of questions regarding a balanced party. Also I've seen many questions regarding if something will "imbalance or unbalance a party." I'm still ...
16
votes
11answers
2k views

How to get the players to care and RP more?

About two month ago I got interested in D&D and I decided to start playing it. I read the rules, found an adventure and got four of my friends to play with me. They always show up to play and we ...
3
votes
0answers
42 views

What is the easiest and/or fastest way to find players? [duplicate]

You have just arrived to a new town, you do not even know where the tavern is but an incessant need to form a group and start playing invades you. What do you do? How to detect the ones who are the ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I communicate to players that a room is unimportant? [duplicate]

Recently, I DM'd the "Death House" one-shot from Curse of Strahd where the players explore a haunted mansion. A lot of the rooms have great descriptions about their contents (e.g. a dining room with ...
27
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a better technique to handle the lag between cause and effect?

Many spells and abilities, such as Command, Fear, Turn Undead have the caster do something on their turn, the target fail a saving though and then be forced into a behavior or condition on their turn. ...
1
vote
0answers
504 views

How to run a game for a single player? [closed]

One of my friends sent me a message asking to join my game. I told him i would run him through a game but i never tried running a game with a single person before. Should i make the combat encounters ...
7
votes
1answer
406 views

How to handle a temporally displaced group member?

Due to a magical mishap during a fight, one group member got temporally displaced about 200 days into the future. What that future looks like depends heavily on the outcome of the 'ongoing' fight. ...
11
votes
1answer
585 views

Ignoring detailed resource tracking with new players

Since I started D&D, I have really only played with one group of friends, and never personally DM'd. In this group, DMs generally ignore certain aspects of gameplay, such as having to declare ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

Post-Act Survey or Same Page Tool

I have been running a campaign for some time now that is winding its way down to finish what I'll call "Act I". Soon my group will take a break from my campaign to let someone else DM and I'm ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

As a DM, how do I make trick bargains? [closed]

According to Volo's Guide to Monsters (53), A hag's bargain might bring success and prosperity for a time, but eventually have a drawback or side effect that makes the mortal resent the agreement ...
11
votes
2answers
722 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 ...