Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
15
votes
6answers
19k views

How should I award XP for traps?

I'm creating an encounter and planning to use traps. The section of the DMG that provides trap rules and sample traps (120-123) does not provide XP guidelines for traps. Noncombat Challenges on page ...
11
votes
6answers
4k views

How much can/should a single owned item be worth at most?

How much can any single possession take up a character's wealth? For this question, I'd like answers that operate under the presumption that wealth-by-level isn't a minimum but instead a target. I've ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

As a GM, how do I encourage a party to interact with each other?

Background: I'm a fairly inexperienced GM and I'm working with a group that has wildly varying experience with role-playing - the game is intended as a teaching campaign to help a couple new players ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

How do I handle initiative and turns for a group of monsters?

A monster group consists of three kobolds. Firstly, as DM do I roll initiative once for the whole group? Secondly, when it is the kobolds turn, do I roll a separate attack for each kobold? If so ...
7
votes
5answers
927 views

Bringing the Team together

Here is the Team Concept: All characters are currently mortal but they'll be transitioning soon, so I've noted what they want to change into. How do I get them to work together? My original approach ...
15
votes
7answers
2k views

What should the GM do when players constantly argue?

I've got a group that it seems no matter what I do, they always end up arguing about every single situation I put in front of them. This includes the more simplistic situations like, "Where do you ...
15
votes
2answers
800 views

When should I make my players actually roll for stuff?

I've tried to focus my group heavily on Role Playing, perhaps too well given some of my recent problems, which are Orthagonal, and linked mostly to provide historical context. How to reveal plot ...
11
votes
3answers
545 views

Are there rules for shortening the adventuring day and reducing the number encounters without unbalancing them?

The problem In a few groups I'm DMing, sessions last about 3h. During that time, we usually have about half the adventuring's day worth of encounters (so at level 10, about 18k XP out of the 36k XP ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Does Wild Shape actually allow [Monster] feats?

Background I have never had a problem with Druids in my games take things such as, Multiattack, Improved Multiattack, and Improved Natural Attack. However, I reached a 'scratch my head' moment ...
9
votes
9answers
1k views

How can I encourage role playing in a custom setting?

Since creating a fully living and breathing world for the players to inhabit is a time-consuming process, I have been feeding them background info as often as possible as it is relevant to the story. ...
7
votes
3answers
629 views

Pros and cons of 2nd person narration?

As a GM, I'm not sure whether should I try to avoid 2nd person narration whenever possible. For example, instead of saying, "You feel a chill in the air," would it be better to say, "The air grows ...
6
votes
1answer
460 views

How can I represent the use of fire being misrepresented in a campaign?

This is an extraction of one of the central questions arising from my original (overly broad) question. I would like to know how to best represent the concept that there is a god who is, through a ...
86
votes
13answers
11k views

How do I keep the game moving without undermining player agency?

In basically every game I've run or played, regardless of the system, I've encountered the same problem: things that should be quick decisions end up taking ten, twenty or even thirty minutes, and not ...
155
votes
17answers
20k views

How to deal with players who like to use the local authorities to solve their problems

The problem I have a player in my group which tends to approach local authorities (may it be guards or churches) when facing a threat. He thinks that, given his role (a bard in a medieval world, so, ...
46
votes
9answers
4k views

How do I avoid clichés while improvising?

Tropes are not bad, but clichés usually are. Sadly, when I need to come up with something on the fly it's much easier and faster to use clichés: if I suddenly need a barkeep, he's probably fat with a ...
58
votes
11answers
5k 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 ...
57
votes
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 ...
27
votes
2answers
5k views

How to make your players hate your villain, but not your game

How does one build the character of a villain such that the players (playing heroic characters) hate the villain as much as possible without detracting too much from the quality of the game? What ...
55
votes
9answers
42k 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,...
32
votes
14answers
21k views

How can I add sound to our sessions?

I've been toying with the idea of adding sound to our typical sessions. I was thinking about throwing in some sounds for atmosphere's sake, like some of the following: Birds chirping/water running in ...
50
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 ...
34
votes
9answers
3k views

How do I escape the Quicksand Box?

I have a very significant problem whenever I try GMing any given game; I try to provide a world with a lot of wiggle room for the characters as well as factions/NPCs they interact with. Oftentimes my ...
42
votes
9answers
21k views

How do I run a successful and engaging campaign without combat?

I'm thinking of starting my own campaign with a few of my friends with me as DM, primarily because I wasn't extremely impressed with the campaign my friend was DMing. When I started thinking about the ...
42
votes
8answers
6k views

How can I encourage combat as war-style play in my campaign?

I've recently begun a new D&D 5e campaign with a group of players who have all just come from a Pathfinder adventure path. I was the GM for that campaign and it was a very on-the-rails adventure ...
34
votes
9answers
4k views

Introducing new players to GURPS

So, I have a group of players who have played a variety of other systems - D&D 3.5, D&D 4th, Shadowrun, White Wolf, etc. Some have played GURPS in the past and had some less than ideal ...
29
votes
26answers
2k views

Biggest GM pitfalls for new GMs? [closed]

What are the biggest/most common GM pitfalls (or mistakes) for new GMs? One pitfall per answer, please!
29
votes
5answers
2k views

How to present players with options without railroading them?

We're playing Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition. I'm a new GM, mastering a party of mostly new players. I take campaign design rather seriously, and I hate railroading. I love coming up with crafty ...
23
votes
5answers
4k views

How can I make investigation engaging for the whole party?

I'm about to start a campaign that takes place on a pirate ship. Low magic fantasy setting, loosely based on the Caribbean in the 1600s. Much of the action is going to be centered around various ...
77
votes
14answers
9k views

Is it wrong to ask a player to justify their character's actions?

When a player has their character do something completely outside of the perceived norm for that character, is it okay to ask them for a justification? If they can not give satisfactory justification,...
69
votes
6answers
12k views

How should the DM manage the discrepancy between the player's memory and their PC's memory?

It may happen that, during a session, players don't remember the name of a NPC that they met (or, more generally, information about something that happened) during the previous session. Obviously, ...
58
votes
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 ...
50
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
36
votes
7answers
2k views

How can I screen new players to make sure they are a good fit for my game?

I'm looking to start a new Savage Worlds campaign and I need a full set of players for it. I've played in games before and ran a couple of one-shots, but I've never GMed a full campaign. There's ...
35
votes
12answers
15k views

How to balance a very-low magic campaign

Recently, my players and I got kind of bored with the fact that Pathfinder relies heavily on magic items than martial prowess for fighting classes. I realize and accept the fact that spellcasters are ...
32
votes
19answers
6k views

How do I add a recurring fantasy villain without frustrating the players?

I am currently running a campaign which is still in its early stages, and I plan to introduce a recurring villain. However, if the villain is always the main "big bad" behind every session and he gets ...
26
votes
8answers
2k views

Creating emotions

In the group that I GM, I ran an adventure a few months back that was generally considered very good by everyone involved (Including myself, which does not happen often). It included a little girl ...
25
votes
6answers
8k views

How can I make sure my players' decisions have consequences?

Last session, my players got into what was meant to be a fairly minor battle. The wizard misjudged the strength of the enemies and used both of his third level spell slots, and the druid acted sub-...
22
votes
1answer
8k views

How is a play-by-email game actually played?

I'm currently interested in learning more about play-by-email RPGs. Searching the Web, I've found many forums and sites promoting PbeM campaigns (Aelyria and Blue Dwarf, for instance), but nothing ...
21
votes
6answers
2k views

What GM tasks can be delegated to players to speed up encounters?

My party's encounters (D&D4e - 13th level) take on average 3-4 hours. We chit chat a lot and are pretty easily distracted, and it's not a huge deal because we're all having fun. But lately we've ...
12
votes
5answers
950 views

How to convey the tone of Shadowrun?

Reading the core book I realized how different Shadowrun is from my usual game of Dungeons & Dragons. We usually play the good guys saving a village from a tribe of goblins. Most of the time we ...
54
votes
10answers
11k 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....
44
votes
10answers
20k views

How do I deal with players who make friends with goblins?

I want to run a campaign "from the book" for a group of new players (played RPGs before, but stuff much much lighter then D&D, and I've not DMed this edition before. I DMed D&D 4e once: over ...
42
votes
9answers
5k views

How do I discourage or work with “nuke it from orbit” solutions?

Here's the issue: some of the players in my group tend to be pragmatic...a little too pragmatic. They are the type who'll figure out the most efficient and cleanest way to take care of any problems, ...
38
votes
19answers
7k views

How can I take a powerful plot item away from players without frustrating them?

I am GMing for a group of ex-College friends, who are quite new to role-playing (six month or so), in a custom universe using a lot of characters inspired by Arthurian legends, including the sorcerer ...
36
votes
7answers
4k views

How to deal with differing interests as a DM?

A few years ago, I ran a short-lived 4e campaign with a bunch of players who all had a different idea of what aspect of the game was the most fun to them. 2 players, close friends, wanted to treat ...
36
votes
11answers
2k views

How to get better feedback from players?

OK, we started a new campaign yesterday and I really want to take quality feedback from my players. When I ask, "How was it? Do you like it?", I generally get some vague answers like "It was good, I ...
35
votes
10answers
1k views

Helping new players learn a setting on the go

I started a new Eberron campaign last night, and I quickly ran into the problem of my players not knowing much of anything about the campaign setting. What is the <...
29
votes
6answers
4k views

How can I make puzzles a challenge for the character, rather than the player?

I'm designing an adventure, in which at one point the party meets a giant who will only let them pass if they solve some puzzles. However, the problem is that the riddles are a test for the player, ...
26
votes
6answers
4k views

What do I do with a dissonant player?

We have a gaming group that has been playing the game for about 4 years. One of the players is my old friend, with whom I started gaming about 15 years ago. There is also another player, who has also ...
39
votes
2answers
1k views

How can I make things easier on my dyslexic and high-functioning autistic players?

I have other players read out information from my dyslexic player's character sheets when necessary, and I use non-verbal visual aids whenever possible. I generally give out copies of any important ...

1 2 3
4
5
12