Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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58
votes
14answers
7k views

How can I get players to realize that their enemies aren't evil?

For an upcoming game, I'm planning on making one of the early hooks a standard-seeming "tribe of monstrous humanoids (in this case, lizardfolk, if that makes a difference) is bothering us, go deal ...
58
votes
7answers
10k 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 ...
58
votes
9answers
16k views

How do I learn to become a good GM?

I have played and tried to GM games since I was in elementary school, beginning with games like Shadowrun, Earthdawn, and Champions. Recently, I've gotten dack into gaming with a variety of other ...
58
votes
12answers
6k views

What can I do to encourage my players to use their consumables?

Frequently when I DM I will give my players consumables (i.e. potions and scrolls) in loot drops in place of gold. My intention is to give them more flexibility in strategy during exploration and ...
57
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12answers
10k 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 ...
57
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22answers
3k views

What approaches are there to lessen or eliminate reliance upon dice in an RPG? [closed]

Is it necessary to use dice all the time in a dice-based RPG system? In other words, are there occasions or means by which you speed up gameplay by either reducing the number of rolls or removing the ...
57
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9answers
23k views

What is 'railroading', and what are its pros and cons?

What does the term 'railroading' mean? When some people use the term it seems to be considered to be something negative. Is it purely negative or does it have pros and cons, and if so, what are they?...
57
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11answers
3k views

How do I make weather an important part of the game?

We're starting up a dark ages fantasy game, using some homebrew rules similar to D&D. As the GM, how can I make weather an important part of the game? To be clear, I'm not trying to just toss in ...
56
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23answers
11k views

How to handle a rules-lawyer player?

As a game master, what strategy/strategies seem to work well for handling players that have spent more time reading through the rule books than you have? While it's helpful at times to have the ...
56
votes
12answers
8k views

What to do when players bypass plot hooks

I am going to just start out by acknowledging that this is the best possible 'problem' a GM can ever have. My players are awesome, I just didn't know how awesome. They solved months of combat, ...
55
votes
11answers
5k views

How do I deal with PCs who use kidnap and torture as an investigative technique?

I'm running a game in a modern setting with emphasis on the paranormal (Conspiracy X). The player characters are part of a secret government organization and are tasked with investigating & ...
55
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9answers
38k views

What are the essential features of a successful evil campaign?

Until this point, I have demanded that my players not build characters with evil alignments, as I am familiar with how to design campaigns and adventures around "good" or "redemption" themes. However,...
55
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6answers
7k views

How to get my Paranoia players to stop cooperating and start killing each other?

I've read some of the questions and answers on paranoia here, but I seem to be missing some kind of key element to play. I ran Robot IMANA-665-C and I didn't seem to be able to get the players to ...
55
votes
7answers
3k views

How can I make my game more “noir” as a GM?

I ran a couple of Shadowrun games at Dexcon, my first time GMing at a con. It's not my first time running Shadowrun; I based the games off of a couple jobs my players did in a then-ongoing campaign. ...
55
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11answers
5k views

Techniques for allowing character defeat without character death

Character death can be extremely disruptive to an ongoing RPG, particularly in a game where character agendas are the driving force behind the plot. However, for a good story with a sense of conflict ...
54
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11answers
8k 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 ...
54
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7answers
8k views

Can a GM prohibit players from using external reference materials (like the PHB) during play?

I have recently started playing D&D 5th edition. All of the players are new except for the GM, who has played before, but it is his first time being a GM. I am playing a Wizard character, and I ...
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 ...
53
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11answers
22k views

How can I tell the DM that I wasn't having fun and that I fault him for it?

Yesterday I was playing one shot DnD 5e and didn't expect that I become salty. The Adventure The one shot start at level 5 and I made sharpshooter fighter and my character was neutral good. So my ...
53
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13answers
2k views

How do I help my players not get caught up on smaller plot points?

I just finished having a conversation with one of my players, and was led to a question I'm not sure I know how to answer. I'm running a sandbox campaign (D&D 4e, if it makes a difference) where ...
53
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6answers
8k views

Preventing saturation in a horror campaign

I am currently designing my first horror campaign and what I've come up with so far is pretty dark and gruesome. I worry that if it is gut wrenching the whole way through, eventually the players will ...
53
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9answers
6k views

Make the player roll even if there is no chance of success? [closed]

Let's say you're the GM and the player attempts to do something, but you already know that given his current stats, it's impossible for him to succeed at it. Do you make him roll anyway, or do you ...
53
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5answers
6k views

GMing for [dis]abled players, specifically blind players?

What kind of measures should one take when running a game which includes a [dis]abled player (or players) such as a blind of deaf player? Are there any technologies or styles which are particularly ...
53
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 ...
53
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10answers
4k views

Running games for a constantly unreliable group

My RP club has been going on for many years, which has the unfortunate effect of us getting older. Many members of my club have started to acquire a 'real life', with more of their time devoted to ...
52
votes
11answers
10k views

How do I deal with a player whose character wanders off for no reason?

I'm a new DM looking for advice on a potentially(?) problematic player. One of the players in our group consistently has their character run off. She sees herself as "the wild card" and likes to ...
52
votes
11answers
5k views

How can a GM prevent growing disillusioned with their own game?

I recently began a new game in which I gave the players much more free reign in designing their characters than I might have in the past. What I wound up with was a very morally-diverse party, with ...
51
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19answers
10k views

How can I convince players not to offload a seemingly useless weapon?

Before anything else, I do not aim to just make the PCs want to keep the weapon. I have rather specific criteria, and not following them will earn your question an avalanche of downvotes. Please read ...
51
votes
12answers
10k views

Risk of a TPK vs realistic NPCs

I am a novice DM running a game for an even more novice group of players and I beginning to think that my next session may result in a TPK (total party kill, for the uninitiated). Is this something I ...
51
votes
12answers
8k views

How do you deal with metagaming based on die results?

I ran into this problem in a session I had earlier today. My characters were going through a dungeon and after a fairly lengthy fight with a person who lived there, they decided they would question ...
51
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9answers
18k views

How to kill a character without making their player too angry

I have been DMing a game for a group of friends. In between two sessions, which ended with them facing a few enemy NPCs, I realized that these intelligent opponents had a very good way to kill one of ...
51
votes
5answers
23k views

How to build an evil campaign

I'm going to start DM'ing for the first time next week. When I got together with my group to figure out what type of game to play, when we got to alignment, I told them they either all needed to be ...
51
votes
9answers
7k views

What to do when a player character does something that seems suicidal?

Every now and then a player character does something extremely risky because "it would be fun." What are some good ways to handle this as a GM, for the different styles of play? I like playing non-...
51
votes
9answers
8k views

How to handle players who make unmotivated characters

I'm a relatively new GM, and I'm having trouble getting my (also new) players to create motivated characters. I don't mean that the players themselves are unmotivated, but the characters they create ...
51
votes
6answers
7k views

How do I make interrogations interesting?

Throughout my gaming career, one type of interaction has consistently failed to engage me: interrogations. All of the interrogations that I have seen in roleplaying games follow this formula: ...
50
votes
9answers
9k views

How to not let the Identify spell spoil everything?

I am currently DMing a campaign where there is a wizard with the Identify spell, the bane of my existence. Identify allows him to learn the properties of literally every single item the party ...
50
votes
5answers
7k views

Punishing a player for instant-actioning

I GM a home-made D&D-style game which my friends and I play, and we had a scenario go as follows: After a player-character threw something at the wall, the players rolled a one and I was ...
50
votes
10answers
10k views

How can I use powerful NPCs without overshadowing the player characters?

I’ve been playing P&P for years and have taken my first tentative steps into DM’ing over the last year, mostly leading One-Shots. I am also a passionate world-builder and so I jumped at the chance ...
50
votes
7answers
3k views

What is a good way to become a better NPC/monster actor?

One of the biggest problems I have as Game Master, (going on 30+yrs) is in portraying NPC and Monsters in any RPG. Is there a good resource for becoming a better 'actor'? Instead of just saying... ...
49
votes
5answers
12k views

How should I handle players who ignore the session zero agreement?

My D&D group is currently playing a campaign. It went smoothly for the first half. And then, by request, I allowed two of the current players' friends to join the campaign, all of whom have no ...
49
votes
12answers
16k views

What to do with players who have done something very stupid, but unwittingly?

I'm starting a new campaign. All fresh players. In the first session I gave them a very shoddy, small barge, which I planned to have them trade for a ox-drawn carriage, as the ship itself didn't have ...
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 ...
49
votes
9answers
10k 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....
49
votes
6answers
6k views

How can I make my enemies feel real and make combat more engaging?

As a newer DM, I have trouble making some of the more routine combats feel unique or urgent. I believe this is because the enemies my PCs are fighting tend to act like an AI, or just attack until they ...
49
votes
14answers
3k views

As a GM, how does one deal with all of the players playing nearly identical characters?

I'm running a Deadlands campaign with players who come entirely from D&D and have never played Savage Worlds before. All five people in the group have made nearly identical characters (gunslingers)...
48
votes
13answers
14k views

How to handle wealthy player characters as a GM?

One of the long-standing settings our group keeps returning to is classic medieval fantasy. (Examples are MERP, Rolemaster, The Dark Eye -- But this question is aimed to be system agnostic and is ...
48
votes
10answers
2k views

Is it fair to press the players for decisions during combat?

My group tends to over-analyse during combat, which slows everything down. I press upon my players to make their decision and roll the dice quickly. My players are all experienced in the system and I ...
47
votes
17answers
9k views

Metagaming when there isn't actually anything there?

So, it's a fairly common question of how to keep players from metagaming. Typically, these questions are of the sort that a player knows monster x is weak to y despite their character not having ...
47
votes
9answers
6k views

How can “mimic phobia” be cured or prevented?

This has actually happened to me as a player, and a player I've DM'ed in a oneshot. In short, when we delve into a dungeon, whenever a DM describes an object in a weird way, we become very cautious to ...
47
votes
17answers
5k views

How can GMs make their game worlds more inclusive?

Many published roleplaying settings reflect our own cultural biases, for example, by putting white people in the "core" of the setting with "exotic" (i.e., not white) cultures around the less-detailed ...