Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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30
votes
8answers
4k views

How do you DM differently when it's for only one person?

I've just finished running my first session with only one player, and it felt pretty different from running a session for a group. Could someone with more experience in this talk about what one ...
43
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7answers
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 ...
41
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7answers
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How do I deal with a player who takes things personally?

Been running a great campaign for a few months now with very in-depth story and characters and, generally, everything goes pretty well. Unfortunately, I have a particular problem that, for a long ...
24
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3answers
3k views

How many dice does the GM roll when challenging the players?

I'd like to run a game of Roll for Shoes, but I'm not sure how many dice I roll when the characters face various challenges. I'm under the impression that it's supposed to be the same number of dice ...
46
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15answers
10k views

Is it appropriate to punish a PC who snatches things from under the other PCs?

My players and I often have a bit of conflict or frustration in our games because one player in particular is quite controlling, and feels that they can have their character just snatch up what they ...
30
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10answers
7k views

How do you make hacking useful without excluding other players?

My Shadowrun group has a reasonably typical composition: "face", technomancer, rigger, mage, adept, and street samurai. The problem I have is making sure that the technomancer can use her skills ...
18
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11answers
8k 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 ...
8
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2answers
562 views

Reward distribution and story continuity with rotating players/GMs

There are some people who like to GM, and maybe even like it more than role playing themselves. If you have one of those rare specimen in your group consider yourself lucky. Others are not averse to ...
43
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7answers
6k 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 ...
12
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6answers
8k views

Is there a reason to ignore/adjust the Wealth By Level chart?

While reading this Cohort Question I was kinda struck by a quote in there and instead of asking an unrelated question in that area I figured it would be good to make a separate question. The quote ...
250
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15answers
32k 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 ...
80
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23answers
24k views

How can a GM quickly create interesting, engaging NPCs?

What techniques do people have for coming up with interesting personalities and histories for non-player characters? I'm mostly interested in the GM side of things. I don't want to do a ton of prep. I ...
139
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14answers
26k views

Betrayed by my GM; how can I respond?

I was introduced to D&D three months ago and really delved into the world. I had so much fun creating my character and tried very hard to roleplay him differently from myself. I did my very best ...
50
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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... ...
60
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9answers
12k views

How do I handle a group that does not understand the 'assumption rule'?

1st rule of D&D (as of 3rd edition/pathfinder): The GM is the final arbiter on all rules. I understand this, completely, and do not disagree. That said, I'm having trouble with a group that doesn'...
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 ...
33
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7answers
55k views

How can I make combat more tactically interesting for me as a DM?

For me, I find it very difficult to enjoy DMing combat encounters. Combat is generally very dry and monotonous. What can I do to make combat more enjoyable for me as a DM? Some of the issues I have ...
36
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14answers
11k 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 ...
46
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8answers
8k views

Can party betrayal be done successfully?

After reading How much experience should a PC be worth? I was wondering if and how party betrayal can be done successfully, especially since it's a real possibility in my campaign. Criteria for ...
70
votes
11answers
14k views

How to ease down the munchkin factor?

I've been playing RPGs since the early eighties and have come to terms with the fact that not everyone enjoys this hobby for the same reasons as myself. I'm into it for the sake of the adventure, the ...
57
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11answers
8k 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 ...
68
votes
8answers
12k 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'...
30
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11answers
3k views

How can GMs evoke the tone of danger in an RPG?

Forked from this question which focuses more on exploring signals of specific danger. Here, my question is: how can a GM evoke the feeling of danger during a game? How can they create tension that ...
24
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5answers
2k views

When planning a campaign, should I know what the ending is before we start?

I am planning the next campaign while the current one comes to a close. Our group favours sandbox play and I facilitate that with Icar's event driven system. While writing down the list of events ...
54
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6answers
6k views

How can I check whether an extremely adult/mature plot idea would be accepted by players without revealing any details of the idea itself?

I am running a post-apocalyptic zombie game with a dark and mature story, exploring a number of adult themes. I have complete buy-in from the players; some of them have stated it is their favourite ...
46
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7answers
3k views

How can I quickly get a player back into a session after their character dies?

As a GM, what kind of techniques could I use to help a player re-join the gaming session after their character dies? I want to avoid any major interruptions to the flow of the adventure. I would also ...
29
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11answers
2k views

Dealing with skill rerolls by several players

I could use some advice as a GM on how to handle rolls which get repeated by several players one after the other. Example 1 The PCs stand in front of a locked door and try to force it open. The ...
23
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19answers
3k views

What role-playing games have good gamemaster advice sections? [closed]

Which RPG's, in your experience, have good advice for gamemasters in their rulebooks, both for novice and experienced gamemasters? Please keep in mind that this question is not about good games for ...
21
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4answers
3k views

Maintaining balance with a very large group

I played DnD 3.5 while in the military and due to a shortage of DMs, was constantly flooded by players. Some of my games would include up to 10 or 11. I discovered quickly that balancing for this in 3....
47
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15answers
5k views

How to get out of a story deadlock

As with most of my questions, this is more of a general "how to handle a special situation" and not a plea to solve an existing problem. What is the best way to handle story deadlocks (as in: The ...
39
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6answers
5k views

How to deal with players not taking things seriously?

As both a player and GM I play with my group of players (and close friends) on multiple occasions and they will often make fun of either my characters, NPC or a specific situation and won't stop ...
33
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10answers
5k views

Strategies for dealing with turtle or roach players?

How should GMs deal with players who turtle or roach? By turtle I am referring to players who obviously wanted to play because they joined the game, but when they're actually at the table they keep ...
31
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11answers
12k views

Should a GM be a Player? [closed]

Game Masters have plenty to do; no need to enumerate the tasks here. But should a non-player character be a 'regular' in a party? By gaining a voice in the in-character interactions, the GM taps a ...
26
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7answers
3k views

How to encourage a player's creativity without breaking the game?

I've just started a new D&D 4e campaign with a new group of players. One of my players came straight from 2nd edition, and has never played 4e before. She doesn't seem to grasp the layer of ...
25
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7answers
5k views

What are possible ways to deal with a player who frequently switches characters?

I have had problems in the past with players who are serial character creators. What I'm referring to are the players who cannot seem to stick with a character more than two sessions at a time without ...
15
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5answers
1k views

As a GM, what aids could I use to create adventure scenes on the spot?

As a GM, many a time I run into a situation that I know nothing of, am not prepared about, and need something, NOW! Maybe it is a freeform adventure and plot was not prepared, maybe I prepared some ...
27
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6answers
5k views

How do I prevent retreating to rest and heal from being tedious?

I found an answer to this question for a custom 4e campaign, but was hoping to get some more answers specific to 5e. Background: I'm running the 5e starter set campaign and my group is in the final ...
27
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9answers
3k views

How can I create within-party intrigue without destroying group cohesion?

I am a novice GM playing with several more experienced D&D players (who happen to be good friends). I wanted to spice up the game for them and take advantage of their own intelligence/experience ...
22
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9answers
5k views

How to Manage Player Frustration and Disengagement

Many RPGs have random elements, such as dice rolling, which can determine success or failure of an action. In some of these games, failure basically means the player character does nothing or ...
16
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2answers
2k views

Tasks for a split party

I'm running a 4th ed game, but I don't think that makes a difference in this case. Last session my party decided to split up for a couple tasks. The hybrid bard/rogue and the avenger (affectionately ...
15
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6answers
1k views

How to keep the group engaged when the party is split?

I recently pitched a game to my group, to which they were receptive. However they pointed out some problems I would have to solve before the game started. The Pitch The game is set in the near-...
33
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11answers
6k views

Can I roll for a PC in secret?

As a GM, can I roll in secret so my players don't even know I rolled? For example, a PC walks past a secret door; if I ask the player to roll perception he may suspect there is something. Can I roll ...
27
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8answers
6k views

How do I use Passive Perception to have some characters notice parts of the environment?

I'm new to DM'ing and have an issue I'm not sure how to deal with. The situation is this: It's pitch black outside and the PC is walking, with a lantern in hand, toward a building. A bird is ...
17
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3answers
4k views

How do I help my players get more engaged in the story?

I play in a group where we routinely switch out GMs. When I GM I tend to prefer story-based games with lots of character building and descriptive role play. We tend to run Paizo's Adventure Paths ...
16
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9answers
4k views

When should a GM roll behind the GM Screen?

I was wondering what is the point of rolling behind a screen as a GM? If nobody can see the roll then I could claim that I rolled any number I require, right? If I would have to show the roll, then ...
10
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11answers
3k views

How to use a GMPC for the good of the campaign?

I find myself prone to creating GMPCs. For the unfamiliar, a GMPC is an NPC that the GM has a special fondness for, much like a "Mary Sue" in fiction. They are often overpowered, have plot armour, a ...
9
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4answers
5k views

How do I deal with my players not roleplaying at all? [duplicate]

I know I should "let them have fun" or something, but the game isn't really working. I'm GMing a pathfinder campaign, but this isn't system-dependent. My players aren't roleplaying at all. Ok, they ...
3
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5answers
1k views

When modifying treasure distribution to enforce WBL, what do you do when it doesn't work?

Let's say I'm running a game in which I seek to enforce-ish the WBL guidelines (by which I mean that I seek to have the party's wealth be primarily a function of level rather than time). If the party ...
22
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8answers
2k views

What to do when your PCs skip an important part of the story line

In the earliest stage of my new duet campaign, I thought I had "rail-roaded" the PC into the first important encounter, one that leads to a major story line for the campaign. Specifically, the PC was ...
21
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8answers
2k views

How valid is lying to players about the rolls they are making in The Dresden Files?

In last weeks Dresden Files game, the players followed the bad guy using a tracking spell, and found him in the projects at an apartment that they knew little about. Seeing his car, they decided to ...

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