Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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165 votes
13 answers
22k views

How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D?

There are some play-styles of D&D in which the spectre of player-character death is considered a feature of the game rather than a bug. For my own reasons (which aren't the point of the question), ...
SevenSidedDie's user avatar
114 votes
11 answers
41k views

I failed to open a lock. Now what?

Picking a lock typically requires a DC 15 Dexterity check (Basic rules, p. 49). Likewise for manacles (p. 50), which can alternately be escaped with a DC 20 Dexterity check or broken with a DC 20 ...
Bradd Szonye's user avatar
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158 votes
22 answers
20k views

How do you help players not focus on the rules?

Background — My Group's Gaming Style When I GM, I run games loosely from a rules standpoint, and do not feel bound to adhere to what the rulebook says when it doesn't make sense in a given situation. ...
mxyzplk's user avatar
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109 votes
18 answers
19k views

How can I make my PCs flee?

My players never run away or avoid conflict. Ever. I throw them ridiculous encounters, they will stay and fight. If I tell them, "You know you're not gonna make it, just run," they stay and fight and ...
user avatar
141 votes
17 answers
28k views

What can I do when I accidentally gave out an overpowered item?

In our last game, the players worked their way through a series of fiendish traps into a high security vault, where they recovered a Staff of the Magi. After the game I looked at the stats, and ...
Benubird's user avatar
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52 votes
11 answers
7k views

How do you discourage "player knowledge" as a GM?

As a trivial random encounter is winding down, a player thinks "That was too easy... The GM wouldn't give us an encounter that doesn't give XP," and starts searching for hidden bad guys or other clues....
dpatchery's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
5k views

How do I DM a session zero?

I don't know how am I supposed to DM a session 0 for my 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 ...
Argo's user avatar
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64 votes
9 answers
50k 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?...
Tobiasopdenbrouw's user avatar
46 votes
18 answers
18k views

When GMing a game, how much should you prepare in advance?

Obviously you need to have some high level idea of what's going on in the world around the players, and where you are heading with the story, but in an ongoing game at some point players will be ...
Matthew Scharley's user avatar
42 votes
9 answers
16k 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 ...
digitaljoel's user avatar
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46 votes
10 answers
7k views

What can I do to give the players the same feel their characters would have about wilderness travel?

I find that in a lot of our group's games, traveling long distances through wilderness is too easy. In real life, it's quite arduous traveling overland. No one who's just walked a hundred miles is ...
Joe's user avatar
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30 votes
6 answers
10k views

How to get players to do something without them feeling railroaded?

I'm DM'ing a play-by-post campaign and I'm at a point in the adventure where the group all meets for the first time. They've all had something stolen from them at the same time and saw a creature that ...
Jamie Brace's user avatar
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45 votes
26 answers
17k views

How do you deal with missing players? [closed]

If you know ahead of time that you're going to be missing a player, do you reschedule? Or just play them as an NPC or as a group puppet?
TALlama's user avatar
  • 934
28 votes
3 answers
10k views

What rolls should players get to see?

I'm a new DM and over the last few weeks I've been slowly learning the game and how it runs. My party consists of 5 PCs. One thing I have been wondering after our last two sessions is: What rolls ...
Woooooooooooooow's user avatar
26 votes
9 answers
7k views

How to introduce and encourage role playing in non-roleplayers?

I'm going to be hosting a game at the end of the month. Myself, I am a semi-experienced DM but I will be playing with those who know only the basic mechanics of the game or have never roleplayed ...
BenjaminJB's user avatar
60 votes
10 answers
20k views

How do I learn to become a good GM? [closed]

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 back into gaming with a variety of other ...
user avatar
50 votes
8 answers
13k views

How do I explain to an AD&D player that items that increase Armor Class in D&D 5e are overpowered?

Context: I have recently started a campaign with a new player that comes from an AD&D background. He wishes to convert and import his character to the campaign. We did this once, and I helped him ...
RomainL.'s user avatar
  • 1,035
110 votes
18 answers
22k 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 ...
h313's user avatar
  • 2,213
19 votes
3 answers
31k views

How do I, as the DM, decide what creatures are conjured by a summoning spell?

The Conjure Woodland Beings spell says You summon fey creatures that appear in unoccupied spaces that you can see within range. Choose one of the following options for what appears. One fey creature ...
BlueMoon93's user avatar
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53 votes
8 answers
15k 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 ...
ohmusama's user avatar
  • 1,480
46 votes
5 answers
7k views

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

I am having trouble understanding the specifics of failure in 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 ...
Undreren's user avatar
  • 3,596
34 votes
11 answers
4k views

How do I transition my players from roll-playing to role-playing?

The context for this question is the same as this related question about spending time in town, but I am looking for sufficiently different advice so I thought it warranted its own question. I've ...
dpatchery's user avatar
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32 votes
3 answers
6k views

How can I play monsters and NPCs up to their potential?

In many cases discussions about balance in 3.5 will, inevitably, involve one side or another invoking an anecdote of the time they fought this monster, or a member of that class, and they didn't ...
Lord_Gareth's user avatar
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31 votes
3 answers
3k views

What are the benefits of using the X Card safety tool in comparison to plain communication?

I am aware that this question may come across as ignorant or as an attempt at trolling. While I cannot prove it, I hope enough people believe that this question was asked in good faith and with the ...
Lucas F.'s user avatar
  • 753
81 votes
16 answers
86k views

How do I get my players to form a 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 ...
Vorac's user avatar
  • 4,169
69 votes
13 answers
7k views

How to communicate to the players that an encounter can be solved also through diplomacy?

When you play D&D, you are not supposed to chat with the enemy during encounters. The system is made for fighting. However, in some circumstances, it would be nice to make the players conscious ...
Stefano Borini's user avatar
54 votes
12 answers
9k views

How can I effectively decrease metagaming and increase 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 ...
mxyzplk's user avatar
  • 175k
47 votes
7 answers
8k views

How much do I tell new players about new monsters?

Background I am a brand-new DM, about to lead a game for brand-new players. I have a lot of knowledge of rules from playing Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights over and over, leafing through a ...
Ben's user avatar
  • 541
39 votes
5 answers
9k views

How do I keep a long-range plot cohesive and coherent?

I enjoy GMing but I much prefer to to have some sort of long running plot (or meta-plot) rather than having a series of unconnected unfortunate events afflict my PCs. For example, I would love to ...
YuriPup's user avatar
  • 707
38 votes
6 answers
4k views

How do I emphasize role-playing during combat?

Right now, the group that I GM for is very, very tactical-combat focused. To some extent, we may as well be playing a dungeon crawl board game for all the role-play we manage. Now, in and of itself ...
Simon Withers's user avatar
16 votes
4 answers
58k views

How much gold should a character gain per level?

I DM a group of 5 level 2 PCs, and currently they each have approximately 150gp each. I was just wondering if there's an average or recommended amount of gp that a PC should gain per level?
Lamentix's user avatar
  • 751
16 votes
4 answers
16k views

How do I handle initiative when a new force joins a combat that's already in progress?

I am DMing a small hunger-games-like adventure where there are multiple parties of NPC who also are participating. It is pretty likely that the PCs will happen upon some of the NPCs fighting some ...
Teralynx's user avatar
  • 1,386
93 votes
16 answers
24k views

Total Party Kill - What do I do as a GM?

Your party has had a streak of bad luck and/or made a poor choice and are now staring down death. The rules were followed to the letter and loss is assured. How do you handle this as a GM? Does ...
Maximillian's user avatar
62 votes
21 answers
17k 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 ...
Agent_9191's user avatar
  • 2,106
51 votes
9 answers
21k 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 ...
PixelArtDragon's user avatar
40 votes
7 answers
23k views

How can I reduce the number of encounters per day without throwing off game balance?

I'm running an Open Table sandbox game this summer. The 5E DMG states that they expect 6-8 Medium or Hard combat encounters per day, with about two short rests. If I tried to do that, we'd never get ...
SirTechSpec's user avatar
  • 16.3k
27 votes
4 answers
2k views

How do I encourage new players to be more descriptive in their actions and intents?

I have a party of new players, who are enjoying a sporadic session of Fate Accelerated. I'm learning a significant amount from the experience, and I hope they are too. In addition to some problems I'm ...
user avatar
25 votes
16 answers
18k views

How to mitigate glass cannon syndrome in Pathfinder?

This is the more gamey part of my other question, What to do when your character is just too good? In D&D 3.5e and Pathfinder, damage output grows very, very quickly. Much more quickly than hit ...
mxyzplk's user avatar
  • 175k
17 votes
4 answers
6k 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 ...
HellSaint's user avatar
  • 37k
275 votes
15 answers
37k views

Managing a Medieval Low Orbit Ion Cannon

Sometimes I hate my players. My table is currently composed of five diabolically inventive players. They come from a mixed IT/Engineering background, so more often than not, I have to deal with some ...
T. Sar's user avatar
  • 16.3k
86 votes
14 answers
22k views

My PCs have a plan that will get them all killed; how and why should I save them?

Related: How do I help my players figure out how to stay alive in a realistically-deadly sandbox campaign? I am running a sandbox game for a group of players who are used to more traditional ...
Tim C's user avatar
  • 9,713
81 votes
17 answers
7k views

How can I help my PCs remember clues that they found?

I'm a new DM running my first adventure in D&D 4e. I've heard of the "three clue rule", that there should be at least three independent pointers to any plot element you want the PCs to take note ...
Snowbody's user avatar
  • 3,564
75 votes
8 answers
14k views

How to work with a player who cites ADHD as reason for disruptive behavior

I regularly run an Adventurers League table at a local game cafe. For the last few weeks I've been trying to incorporate a college age player into the group who hasn't worked out at other tables. He'...
Passiflora's user avatar
  • 1,835
57 votes
13 answers
18k 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 ...
fgysin's user avatar
  • 10.3k
56 votes
9 answers
9k 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 ...
Chumblechops's user avatar
  • 1,573
46 votes
7 answers
3k views

How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight?

One of the assumptions I make as GM is that the players should always be in the spotlight. Sometimes the players find themselves in a situation where they watch NPCs speak to each other. I don't ...
valadil's user avatar
  • 19.7k
45 votes
9 answers
7k views

How To Divide Up Loot?

I've been GMing a very successful (Pathfinder) campaign for quite a few months now, but we've developed a bit of a problem I'm not sure how to resolve: loot distribution. None of my players are ...
GM.A's user avatar
  • 411
44 votes
14 answers
17k views

How do I run a maze scenario without using a map?

Inspired by a question on another site, what's the best way to add a labyrinth to an adventure scenario without making the challenges contingent upon player skill at mapping or navigation? I'd like ...
Jadasc's user avatar
  • 54.6k
36 votes
15 answers
10k views

How to Handle a Powergamer / Munchkin [closed]

What are some strategies that I can employ to handle a power gamer that constantly outshines the rest of the party? This is a friend of us all and we don't want to boot him, but combat simply isn't ...
user19's user avatar
  • 2,831
32 votes
6 answers
88k views

Is playing D&D 5e with two people feasible, particularly with the Starter Set adventure?

My girlfriend and I want to get into roleplaying games, we've both been interested in trying out Dungeons and Dragons. She has never played a pen and paper RPG before, I've played the Swedish Drakar ...
tobier's user avatar
  • 429

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