Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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How to help engage an ADHD player over Zoom

My wife and I have always played D&D together. It’s my first time DMing a large group of 6, her included. We have newer players who struggle to engage, and tons of new player questions. I’ve seen ...
Bennyboii493's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
566 views

How to handle a plot twist for a character arc?

One of the characters of our roleplay is an elf with amnesia. His background is that he lost his memory and is looking for someone but doesn't remember who he was. I asked the player for more details ...
Alexis Mercado's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
830 views

How to model collateral damage in Cortex Prime

I'm running a superhero campaign in Cortex Prime. During a bank robbery scenario, one of my players decided to get into the bank by shattering the front window. In addition to looking cool, he hoped ...
DLosc's user avatar
  • 293
8 votes
3 answers
1k views

How can I make online combat more interesting?

I'm a fairly new GM, this coming Saturday is going to be about my 4th session, I think, and I'm playing a 5e reskin of a video game with a good group online via Discord and the Owlbear Rodeo VTT. So ...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 89
27 votes
4 answers
11k views

As a DM, how can I use Power Word: Kill without ruining my players' fun?

I'm currently designing an encounter with a lich for my 13th-level party. They've cruised through more level-appropriate combat encounters, and they like to come up with creative ways around difficult ...
Tack's user avatar
  • 6,556
18 votes
9 answers
3k views

How to make "becoming lost" interesting?

Multiple wilderness adventures, ranging from the venerable B2 - Keep on the Borderlands to the more contemporary Tomb of Annihilation use rules for getting lost, as does the DMG under "Becoming ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
20 votes
7 answers
3k views

Keeping the story moving after failed interrogation rolls

When GMing D&D 5e (and similar games), I occasionally run into a situation like this: The party has captured a member of a hostile scouting party. They have them cornered, and want to get some ...
Kaia's user avatar
  • 714
17 votes
8 answers
5k views

Player has a great character Idea, But it seems difficult to balance

I have recently started a small scenario with a couple friends which have all come up with interesting character ideas. But one player in particular has something really... exotic. Basically he plays ...
Feideus's user avatar
  • 181
13 votes
3 answers
3k views

Do players/characters know when a monster uses its Legendary Resistance?

Assuming that players are causing a monster with the Legendary Resistance ability to make enough saving throws that it will use them all up, should the players be aware when that point has come? (As a ...
Kerrick's user avatar
  • 3,573
4 votes
3 answers
999 views

How to make physical character's combat become more tactical and interesting?

My situation: The fighter-type PCs (fighter, ranger, monk) feels the combats are boring for them. They have nothing to do rather than attack. Their maneuvers (trip, disarm, etc.) usually fail because ...
Terry Windwalker's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
259 views

Gracefully roleplaying the end of the world without implying mass extinction [closed]

I am currently running a campaign that I have set in a world that is fading slowly. The idea is that, while the players cannot stop the end of the world (it's kinda similar to the heat death of the ...
Moonbird's user avatar
2 votes
5 answers
604 views

How do I run stealth and perception? Passive perception vs active perception

I'm a new dm and I want to introduce some ambush style encounters in my game. I told my players recently that I will not ask them if they want to be steathly when moving around a dungeon because I ...
Nightwing94's user avatar
9 votes
4 answers
1k views

How can we streamline a game with seven players in DnD 5e?

The question is: how do I balance gameplay when it comes to initiative? The game is in person, every other week or so. My party is comprised of 7 players, two of whom are noobs. I, myself, and also ...
DunMas101's user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
227 views

Magic Items and their allocation [closed]

I have a predicament I've come across in a campaign I'm running. Here it is. In a past session my DM (a friend of mine) challenged me to complete the entire trial with strict restrictions. The ...
Mox's user avatar
  • 37
6 votes
2 answers
696 views

How should I as a game master motivate my players to pursue their mysteries?

I recently started running the Nights of Payne Town campaign with my TTRPG group. We play with custom-created characters, not pre-builds. All of us are long-time TTRPG players but are completely new ...
Deeps's user avatar
  • 5,817
25 votes
4 answers
5k views

How do you manage the impact of deep immersion in RPGs on players' real-life?

In a recent fantasy campaign, one of my players had trouble separating from their character after very immersive session. When her character's mentor figure died protecting the party she seemed ...
Uk rain troll's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
1k views

How to Encourage Players to Engage in Diplomacy and Negotiations Instead of Resorting to Combat?

I've noticed that my players tend to lean heavily into combat as their go-to solution for just about every problem. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a good battle as much as the next person, but I've ...
Uk rain troll's user avatar
16 votes
3 answers
3k views

In the final act, how to drop clues without causing players to feel "cheated" they didn't find them sooner?

I'm a bit of an "on the fly" GM: in terms of writing a story, I prefer to sketch out the skeleton, and add flesh as the players move along the limbs. The quest to find the Plot Device, at ...
order's user avatar
  • 3,861
17 votes
9 answers
5k views

Does the DM need to declare a Natural 20?

I see a lot of D&D content out there and when combat starts eventually someone gets a roll of 20, a so-called Natural 20, shouts out "Nat 20" and everyone cheers. The DM then does some ...
ItsScottish's user avatar
  • 1,129
13 votes
13 answers
6k views

How to take large amounts of money away from the party without causing player resentment?

So, basically, last session, the person the players were escorting went back to his hometown, where he owes a massive debt to the residents. The residents of the town threatened to repossess his boat ...
JoJo Yawson's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
2k views

How to describe a scene that a small creature chop a large creature's head off?

So let's assume a halfling (small size) wielding a Vorpal dagger attacking a storm giant (huge size), and the Vorpal ability gets triggered. As a DM, how should I describe this scene? Would the dagger ...
Terry Windwalker's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
709 views

How to role-play monsters with Diplomacy ranks?

I see a lot of monsters have diplomacy ranks on their sheet, and some of them even have a pretty high rank of it. I assume that means those monsters should be able to (and would likely tend to) use ...
Terry Windwalker's user avatar
13 votes
5 answers
3k views

Pulp campaign - end game?

I've seen "pulp" used more and more to describe the opposite of the cataclysmic trope whereby a campaign has arch-villains threatening to destroy the world. It's not hard to see what a lot ...
Arash Howaida's user avatar
17 votes
7 answers
3k views

How to handle it if one player wants to take a risky course of action that nobody else wants?

Here is a situation that happened in a game that I was DMing: The PCs had the option to ambush another group of adventurers, but this was highly risky: the PCs would be in trouble if caught. I ...
Alex319's user avatar
  • 3,208
31 votes
5 answers
5k views

When should I tell my players that they have forgotten something?

My players have been operating out of a certain small town for my whole campaign. They've adventured around the area nearby quite a bit already (just finished Session 23). Recently, my intended ...
Izzy's user avatar
  • 1,718
19 votes
9 answers
3k views

How do I encourage players to use items and strategy in combat, instead of just standing there and saying "I attack"?

Scenario: I am a first time DM, playing with two of my best friends, who are first time players. One of them plays a Dwarf Cleric, the other one a Wood Elf Fighter. We played "Dragons of ...
fraenzz's user avatar
  • 398
16 votes
6 answers
4k views

How do I include players too scared to take action?

I have started running Keys from the Golden Vault with my group. We just finished the first heist, the Murkmire Stone, which we ran at level 1. This caused one of the players to take (relatively) ...
Shadomew's user avatar
  • 1,606
2 votes
0 answers
59 views

I'm a rookie GM with rookie players using a published campaign. How do I let players run the campaign after narratives without stepping in? [duplicate]

The title mainly explains my situation. I'm using The Dragon of Icespire Peak campaign from the D&D Essentials Kit. I want to run as the GM, but am unsure of what to do if players don't know what ...
TieflingDragon84's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
4k views

How do I run a campaign that only goes to 6th level, and want to go to 20th level?

I want to be the DM of a published adventure: The Dragon of Icespire Peak, but am unsure of how to run it beyond 6th level. It offers suggestions to run beyond 6th level that I just don't understand. ...
TieflingDragon84's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
406 views

I want to pivot our campaign to Curse of Strahd, but the party is level 13. What should I do? [closed]

I'm a newbie DM running a remix of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Our version of this adventure is less about speedy chases and clock ticking, but more about politics, alliances, mystery and deception. We'...
Lisa's user avatar
  • 1,739
17 votes
6 answers
2k views

Is it possible to run a combat tournament without players feeling left out?

One classic trope of shonen anime is the tournament arc. Characters get to show off their individual skills and personalities, you get the opportunity to introduce and spotlight lots of interesting ...
Caleb Compton's user avatar
5 votes
0 answers
109 views

How to start Role Playing as a complete group of beginners? [closed]

As the title says, we are a group of 4 complete beginners in Role Playing but we are very determined to start by one or two sessions. We thought of using the D&D system, with everyone preparing ...
Guigzer's user avatar
  • 59
13 votes
7 answers
3k views

How to arbitrate climactic moments in which characters might achieve something extraordinary?

A common plot point throughout the kinds of fantasy literature that inspire D&D settings can be described as a central character growing beyond themselves, reaching a previously unknown peak of ...
nben's user avatar
  • 2,497
18 votes
3 answers
2k views

How should I handle an unidentified deck of many things?

I know some people hate and fear the deck of many things, but as a GM running a high-lethality sandbox campaign, there's many things I like about it - and I'd like to deploy one for my players to find....
GMJoe's user avatar
  • 22.2k
19 votes
4 answers
3k views

How to make the exploration loop more interesting (exploring rooms etc.)?

Situation One issue that I have experienced very often in the past, both as a player and a DM, with beginners and experienced people, is this phenomenon: The party enters a dungeon or building, and ...
AnoE's user avatar
  • 863
22 votes
6 answers
6k views

How do I convince my players the fight wasn't rigged?

I am a DM in a homebrew setting (and system) that I made. We recently started the first big quest and it kicked off with them fighting two enemies. In the fight, they were going to lose, but through ...
NielIGuess's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
3k views

I have two players that enjoy each other's company to the point they're ignoring other players turns, ideas, and RP in general

Like the title says, two players engage in mostly quiet small talk amongst themselves. However, they miss what the other characters are saying, both to the DM and to each other, meaning either I or ...
Bob the DM's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
442 views

How to present background information and NPC backstories?

The books for a published adventure I've GM'd recently (PF1's Wrath of the Righteous) contain a lot of background information about NPCs, events and locations, which is very fun to read for me as a GM ...
Petr Hudeček's user avatar
11 votes
9 answers
7k views

How to handle rolled stats when I think one player cheated on theirs?

My group uses 4d6 drop lowest for stat generation. The other players feel that the rolled stats of one of the other players are 'too good' in comparison to their rolls and I'm not certain that they ...
Argo's user avatar
  • 3,415
3 votes
0 answers
219 views

How to keep new players following the questline? [duplicate]

Recently I've started DMing a premade campaign (Curse of Strahd) for 4 players and I'm having issues keeping them along the pre-made questline. I've been playing an official campaign to practice being ...
Argo's user avatar
  • 3,415
22 votes
9 answers
5k views

How to stop a player from looking up monster stat blocks in combat?

In my 5th edition Eberron campaign I have a player who is determined to metagame in combat which makes it really hard for the others to actually get much enjoyment. Recently the problem player gained ...
Argo's user avatar
  • 3,415
13 votes
4 answers
1k views

What are the techniques for writing descriptive posts in a timely manner as a game master?

To clarify, especially after Covid I have become an exclusively text based game GM and I am looking to improve my description of events (and maybe add a bit of an artistic flare) but that results in ...
Maiko Chikyu's user avatar
  • 20.7k
3 votes
6 answers
4k views

Magic Item for summoning minions?

This question is a follow up for my question Can a player use two characters in a campaign? Instead of adding another PC to the party to make up for how squishy the group is (the group being a wizard, ...
Argo's user avatar
  • 3,415
16 votes
9 answers
6k views

Can a player use two characters in a campaign?

I've been the DM in a campaign based in the Eberron world and the party is made primarily out of squishy level 4 characters (wizard, druid, and a bard.) During one of the combat encounters we had an ...
Argo's user avatar
  • 3,415
6 votes
4 answers
759 views

How can I add more roleplay to the game I'm DMing when not all players want that?

This is mainly just a question I decided to ask out of curiosity because sometimes I can get bored of a campaign and I wouldn't want to end it because the players could still be enjoying themselves. ...
Argo's user avatar
  • 3,415
25 votes
4 answers
5k views

What's a clock and how do I use one?

I've heard of using a 'clock' to help manage encounters and create tension, but how do you create and use one within a campaign/session/encounter? I have seen it used in other games, like Scum and ...
NotArch's user avatar
  • 125k
18 votes
7 answers
5k views

Is Gaseous Form + Invisibility + Nondetection such a powerful combo for scouting and infiltration? How can I make it more challenging for my players?

Some context: I'm a newbie DM running a campaign which requires the party to do a lot of scouting and infiltration missions. Especially in buildings. It's a city campaign happening in Waterdeep so I ...
Lisa's user avatar
  • 1,739
26 votes
12 answers
5k views

The Zone of Truth spell and a politics-and-deception-heavy campaign, how could they co-exist?

Some context: I'm a newbie DM running a campaign which is a remix of the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure. It's a campaign full of politics, alliances, betrayals and deception. All the major powers ...
Lisa's user avatar
  • 1,739
23 votes
7 answers
4k views

What's your best practice as a DM to "protect" your awesome campaign's mystery "against" the Divination spell?

Some context: I'm a newbie DM running the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist campaign for my party. What's so special about this campaign is that it's full of intrigue / politics / betrayal and mystery. Also it'...
Lisa's user avatar
  • 1,739
3 votes
1 answer
197 views

What could attract the attention of hostile creatures? [closed]

So in my game of D&D 4e, the PCs are going to travel through the woods and the swamps, and an idea I have for this section, is that there's a type of creature in there that is more agressive than ...
Kris SciHist's user avatar

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