Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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12
votes
3answers
10k views

Do you make death saving throws out of combat?

Death saving throws are made on each turn where you are dying and not stable. However, the rules specifically talk about making saves during combat rounds - so what about after combat? Two PCs are up, ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

How can I prepare my party to reasonably be able to bring down a prismatic wall?

Background In my campaign I have a villain who uses misdirection and avoidance as their main combat methods. They won't fight directly, but they use summoned creatures, minion allies and illusions to ...
11
votes
7answers
6k views

1st-level Pathfinder group without healer

I am a GM, and I just started a campaign of Pathfinder with a group formed by a rogue, a warrior, and a ranger. I came from Vampire and WoD games, so I don't have experience with a balanced game like ...
11
votes
3answers
733 views

How can I avoid making extended/prolonged encounters boring?

I have run this campaign for just over a year. Many encounters later, I have come to one snag; If I run an encounter that lasts for more than a few rounds, I lose all my flair. I just resort to "hit" ...
11
votes
3answers
6k views

Are there issues to using passive Perception?

Is it fair to only consider the result of "passive" Perception checks (same as Taking 10) for PCs to detect things, unless the player actively expresses attention to something (in which case a roll is ...
10
votes
3answers
947 views

How do I teach players to engage with a game in a rules-first way?

Among other ways, I often like to play in a rules-centric way1, where the rules are the "physics" of reality and dictate what can and cannot be true within the fiction. I especially like this for PvP ...
10
votes
2answers
545 views

How to lead newer players to perform less linearly in encounters?

During a turn, a player has so many possible options, movement (e.g. crawl, climb, jump, grapple...), action (e.g. attack, dash, shove, dodge, hide...), bonus action, and reaction. Also to keep in ...
9
votes
8answers
3k views

The BBEG wants to delay the party in the final battle… (narrative delay?)

I have thought of a few methods they might accomplish this. In this question, I am wondering about a potentially more controversial option. I am considering having them attempt to monologue or engage ...
9
votes
2answers
687 views

How do I stop my players from jumping to conclusions?

Sometimes my players accidentally get ahead of me when they are excited. Example: I make an axe from the materials and use it to chop down the tree. The problem is that the player rushes to chopping ...
9
votes
3answers
615 views

How do I make information that I give my players “accidental”?

I like the idea that the players of my campaign are meddlers. Creatures who have came upon knowledge only by accident or putting their noses where those noses don't belong. The idea that the ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

How can I encourage players to role-play using their ability scores?

The physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution), haven't been much of a problem. Feel free to include advice on role-playing these scores as well though. When it comes to the ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

As a GM, how can I adjudicate de-escalating combat?

As a sister question to How can combat be de-escalated once started by a player? In a D&D 5e game, a player rushed into combat with an NPC that wasn't particularly hostile. As a player, I wouldn'...
8
votes
3answers
400 views

How can I encourage the use of willpower?

I've never (or rarely, maybe once) seen anyone make use of willpower in a World of Darkness game, it seems like such a vastly underutilized resource. What can I do to encourage my players to remember ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Danger and Location Moves in Dungeon World

What is a "danger move" or "location move" exactly? Are the danger moves part of the dangers from the description of the front (i.e. campaign or adventure)? Are location moves ...
8
votes
0answers
572 views

Help with an apparently bored player [duplicate]

I have a group of 5 players, 3 are long time veterans and we have been playing together for 15 years, the other is a newcomer who is actually liking the game a lot, and there's a 5th player that ...
7
votes
2answers
887 views

As an inexperienced GM, how can I avoid killing PCs my first time GMing in Pathfinder Society?

While I have experience DM'ing 3.5e, I have far less experience in pathfinder and have not yet GM'd a PFS game. I'm currently preparing to run the Rise of the Runelord's first module (Thistletop) ...
7
votes
4answers
786 views

How can my co-GM and I improvise together when running a game?

Here's the background - one of the players have to leave town for an exchange programmee lasting 6 months, but I have already filled his slot with another player. We are thinking of ways to include ...
7
votes
3answers
921 views

How do I get a fairly new player interested in playing longer adventures?

My girlfriend is fairly new to roleplaying, having tried a bit of LARP as murder parties (one INSMV and one XFiles-style game, she loved each one), and playing in a Cthulhu campaign I have been GMing ...
7
votes
1answer
801 views

Mechanics for interactive mass combats in 5e [closed]

I'd like to run a large melee in a mid-sized village for my players. There'd be several demons and devils running around both snatching villagers and dragging them off in to the darkness and also ...
7
votes
3answers
620 views

New to Fate: how to manage all aspects at play

Newbie Fate GM here, I will soon GM my first ever session. Seeing how important being aware of all aspects at play at any given scene is, how do you keep track and announce all the various aspects ...
7
votes
9answers
1k views

How do I quickly get the PCs to a distant location for the next adventure?

I'm running a campaign with my friends. We started Keep on the Shadowfell a year ago, and finished it at our latest session. (We don't play often, one of them is a doctor, so it's hard to schedule ...
6
votes
3answers
648 views

How to get players to get familiar with the rules? [closed]

So I read this post: How do you help players not focus on the rules? and I can of course see the point that story is the main source of fun. I would like to ask the opposite question though: what if ...
6
votes
6answers
4k views

How to make my session Faster

What are good ways to make my sessions move faster and my plot to develop quicker? I like to keep a balance between roleplay and dungeoncrawling, and don't mind spending hours in a dungeon on purely ...
6
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
843 views

Manage a player character suffering amnesia?

I'm going to manage a group with one character suffering of deep amnesia, Warhammer 2nd edition. How do I manage the character's skills, talents and profile? I think the profile is the same and ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Should a DM disclose Armor Class or other NPC/monster information during encounters? [closed]

A neighbor and I are trying to get our kids (3 children, ages 10-13) into playing D&D. We started the Lost Mines of Phandelver campaign, which was OK for a certain amount of time, but it became ...
5
votes
1answer
230 views

Avoiding losing much time on uninteresting scenes

As I understand it, the core idea of Fate is to only spend time playing scenes with an impact into the story and the characters. Still playing it I've seen much time being spend on scenes that are ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I meet the needs of players in a party whose characters have opposite alignments?

I am currently DMing a Star Wars D&D campaign. One character has a backstory that includes 'setting orphans on fire'. Needless to say, he is a murder hobo and a Sith. One of my other characters ...
4
votes
3answers
534 views

Starting a campaign with travel for new players

I'm starting a campaign with a new group, most of whom have never played a tabletop RPG before. Typically, I'd start with a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl, but due to the overarching plot I'm ...
4
votes
2answers
623 views

Introducing Roleplaying in Combat [duplicate]

I am the kind of gamer that mostly enjoys the story and I love roleplaying. However this time I am the Dungeon Master and not a player. How can I encourage my players to roleplay during combat ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

What's an efficient way to handle magical item identification? [closed]

Background I'm running an Eberron (read: "industrialized magic") campaign under the Pathfinder rule system. They have a (semi-GM) PC who is a warforged artificer, which at their APL of 8 means the ...
3
votes
0answers
2k views

How much should I prepare as a new DM for a play session? [closed]

I'll be a DM for a group of my friends soonish for a play through of the D&D 5 starter set campaign. I've played with this group for a few months but some more experienced players have been taking ...
3
votes
1answer
376 views

What's a good Difficulty for a 5-aspect 20-skill point FATE game?

I have both played and GMed FATE 2.0 a lot but, while deciding the target number for rolls as a GM has somehow always been easy, knowing what difficulties to expect as a player for a long time was ...
3
votes
4answers
554 views

How can I get an uninterested group of players to listen to me, or focus on the game in general?

I am having some major trouble running a game of Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords. As some people know this quite a hard campaign, and while it is the first one that I have ever really run, I am ...
2
votes
0answers
768 views

Running a Game for a 2-man Party [closed]

I'm a fairly veteran DM, cut my teeth on 2nd edition DnD and have spent the bulk of my time with d20 and its derivatives. I have generally run campaigns for groups of 4-8 players and usually there are ...
2
votes
1answer
220 views

Is there any good way to introduce an adventure? [closed]

So recently I have found myself trying to write my own adventures. With little bits from other games and such I have found myself able to write the adventure, encounters, and everything else, but I ...
1
vote
1answer
200 views

The BBEG wants to delay the party in the final battle… (spells)

I have thought of a few methods they might accomplish this. The easiest, mechanically, is to give him spells to accomplish this. Some details about the campaign/fight (major spoilers for Paizo's Ruins ...
0
votes
0answers
55 views

How do I calculate the difficulty of a multi-sided encounter? [duplicate]

From looking through the DMG for encounter building (p. 81-85), it seems clear to me that the rules for how to calculate encounter difficulty assume that there are only two sides in an encounter: PCs ...
-1
votes
2answers
518 views

A player in my game is using homebrew to powergame; how can I stop this? [closed]

A friend of mine is in a game I'm DMing. I've allowed homebrew, so now he's using complicated and weird classes to get an edge. How can I solve this without killing and or banning his character and ...
-1
votes
1answer
150 views

How should I handle attempts to make creatures with Shape Water?

A subquestion of How does animated water work? Often players, encouraged by Shape Water's statement that they can give water any combination of simple shapes and cause it to animate as they wish, ...

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