Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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37
votes
10answers
11k views

How can a GM justify changing a player's alignment?

Lately, in one of my campaigns, I've been having problems with a character who everyone agrees is acting out of alignment. Everyone, that is, but him. The problem, of course, is that he's playing a ...
34
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10answers
2k views

Is it advisable to rotate the GM role between players?

Is it advisable to run a campaign where the GM occasionally rotates to be a regular player while a player becomes the GM? I've seen some mentions of this strategy to prevent the GM from getting burned ...
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5answers
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How can I describe hit point damage without talking about wounds?

The PHB's description of hit points (p. 196) says: Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck. Creatures with more hit points are more ...
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4answers
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How do I explain stress to a d20 crowd?

In the next month or so I'm going to start running the Dresden Files RPG soon with a group that has most of its experience in D&D 3.5 and 4e. We're all new to FATE, and I tried to explain the ...
24
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6answers
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How to make large number of NPCs manageable to the GM?

I'm planning a game where there is about a dozen important NPC actors, with some more less important ones. "Important" means that even if they are not directly involved in current events, they play a ...
24
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4answers
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How do I get my players to be more decisive and take the initiative?

I've been running HotDQ with a group of people for about 9 months now (about 20 sessions; we're on Ep 6.) My current frustration is that things go along OK as long as I'm narrating and asking ...
21
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3answers
3k views

What is all the backstory in an Adventure Path for if the players never see it?

I'm new to tabletop RPGs (although I have been interested for a long time, just had difficulty finding like-minded companions, and the funds required to get some of the stuff). When I was finally ...
20
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3answers
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How do I handle large conversations with multiple NPCs?

To begin I've read How do you handle verbal exchanges between NPCs without taking the PCs out of the spotlight? but I don't believe that it answer my question, because it focuses more on dialog simply ...
15
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3answers
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How to make a great villain who your players hate more than anything else? [closed]

I'd love to hear from you guys what you consider to be the best way to make the motive that drives the players to defeat the villain to be something personal and even passional. I believe a villain ...
14
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4answers
2k views

How to go from a humorous campaign to a more serious one?

I am currently running a D&D 4E game. The game started off kind of goofy (we have a thrikreen rogue with glowing blonde hair, an ale-obsessed dwarf battlemind, a ditzy human wizard, and a dwarf ...
9
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4answers
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Plot granted special ability standards?

For the campaign in question, I'm running one person through a dungeon inspired by Vagrant Story. Clearly some things from the video game can't be emulated, and many of those are integral to the game: ...
39
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14answers
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How can I give a Ranger advantage on a check due to Favored Enemy without spoiling the story for the player?

The Scenario I am the DM for a group who have just entered a town that was attacked by cloud giants a few days before their arrival. The players and characters don't know this though, so part of the ...
33
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7answers
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What is the difference between giving advantage on a roll and reducing the DC?

I run a 5e campaign, and I like rewarding my players for thinking outside the box, roleplaying well, etc. Suppose we have the following scenario: Violet is a bard, and is attempting to intimidate a ...
32
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10answers
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How can I utilize overly-violent PCs for character development / progressing the story?

I'm fairly new to D&D and especially DMing. I've started a new campaign with 2-3 people and more may be joining soon, which might make this question entirely useless to ask if the new players ...
27
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8answers
4k views

How to handle inventory and story of a player leaving

A player left my group recently. It was mutual and not-unexpected, and during the last session, the character left for an unspecified purpose. The character (lawful-good wizard) who left had a few ...
27
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4answers
3k views

How do I telegraph that an encounter that was too difficult before is now achievable?

Assuming you used the techniques from How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D? and How can I make my PCs flee? to telegraph danger and the need to improve the characters skills/...
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4answers
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Calculating and balancing challenge ratings

Are there standard rules for calculating CR of groups? For example, in my Pathfinder bestiary, a single Stirge is listed as CR 1/2, and a group of 2d4 (average 5) of them is listed as an average CR 4. ...
22
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8answers
13k views

How can I make downtime interesting?

My group is running a set of published adventures, so there's a pretty linear path between them. But between modules, there is the opportunity to go back to town, spend some money, and get some good ...
21
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5answers
2k views

Level of detail in description?

There's a trope or two that says you shouldn't bother describing anything unless it's relevant to the story. However, in RPG's where the participants partially shape the story with their actions, any ...
20
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7answers
3k views

Curing trap phobia

My players have developed trap-phobia in my campaign. In a rather simple dungeon I've prepared for them (they are rather new in DnD), they constantly search for traps: ask for Perception roll when in ...
19
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12answers
13k views

How to counter high-level players using scry and teleport / How to maintain intrigue?

So, my Eberron campaign has gotten to the point where the players are level 18, and they are resolving many of their issues by scrying on their enemies, and simply teleporting to them in moments of ...
18
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10answers
6k views

How to motivate players without the promise of gold and XP?

The only way I seem to be able to motivate my players to go on adventures is the promise of gold or XP they don't seem to want to go anywhere unless some kind of physical reward is promised. For ...
14
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7answers
4k views

Alternatives to death in a character and narrative-driven campaign?

I'm currently running a Pathfinder game where the characters make the decisions and shape the plot. However, I'm worried about what will happen if one of the characters dies, simply because the ...
12
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2answers
1k views

How can I model the mechanics of an army battlefield scene?

TL;DR; I want to model a strategic battlefield fight for my players to command and participate. I'm seeking advice on how to model it mechanically so that it is exciting for the players. Background ...
11
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4answers
2k views

How to create meaningful relationships with NPCs

How do I help the PCs to create meaningful relationships with NPCs? Maybe it is a result of my group playing too many one-dimensional adventures trying to find whatever MacGuffin they are after each ...
10
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5answers
3k views

I want to run a trial in D&D 3.5, but how can I avoid invalidation by magic?

The Background I'm a pretty new DM, and I'm running a casual game of D&D 3.5 (with some rulings from Pathfinder added to the mix, for practical reasons) and I like doing special things for my ...
9
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4answers
1k views

Mitigating conflict in a 'mixed' nWoD game

The last (and only) time I ran a mixed game (containing Changeling, Mage and Vampire characters) for nWoD, I explained at length that nWoD started with a clean sheet and no one 'instinctively' hated ...
38
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11answers
19k views

Is a GM hiding rolls standard? [closed]

I haven't been playing D&D for too long, maybe a year, but the DM of the main campaign I'm in always hides his dice rolls. I don't have an issue with it, but when I play with another group the DM ...
36
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8answers
4k views

Is it wrong to use monsters other than how they appear in the Monster Manual?

A one-shot I joined last week was tasked with fighting a bunch of tribal orcs. At one point the orcs drew longbows (with what was at least a +6 to hit as the DM was asking if 25 AC hits). At this, ...
32
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6answers
5k views

How can I keep my campaign challenging when dealing with players of vastly different skill levels?

In my latest campaign (D&D 3.5), I have a player (let's call him P). P is on his fifth character. Yes, fifth. Except for P, only one other player has lost a character. The world P lives in is ...
31
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9answers
5k views

As a group unfamiliar with RPGs, how do I encourage my players to read the rulebook?

A little bit of background: We are a new DnD group, living in a country where DnD is obscure, at best (the Philippines). We have no prior background to any kind of RPGs except in video games and MMOs. ...
26
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11answers
35k views

A player rolled very bad stats, how to make sure they still enjoy the game?

Question How to make sure that a player that rolled awful stats will still have an awesome time at the table? What possibilities are available for the DM? Would it feel cheap to find stat-boosting ...
22
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9answers
9k views

How can I balance encounters with a party consisting of a sorcerer, monk, rogue, and fighter?

Made a rookie mistake of letting my players (who have never played DnD) choose what class to play without discussing with me or each other, and we ended up with no healer. We've already played quite a ...
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10answers
2k views

How to determine how much plot guidance is too much? [closed]

I've played in many games that were extremely railroaded. There was basically only one feasible course of action and we, as players, were expected to take that route. (The GM would get very upset if ...
19
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8answers
4k views

How can a GM alleviate a new player's analysis paralysis when creating a character?

My players are paralyzed about making their characters and as a GM what can I do to help? The players are new to role playing games let alone D&D 5e, and are getting bogged down. They tried out ...
17
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8answers
2k views

How can I increase tension during roleplaying?

In my games, I tend to run into a problem at least once per session. My players just seem to follow the dice and make no effort to either engage with combat or chase adventure. They let the dice fall ...
15
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4answers
638 views

GM Tips for a Rashomon style game [closed]

I want to run a Rashomon style session soon and I'm looking for solid advice, as well as lessons learned from your own experience doing so.
32
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5answers
35k views

How does Lost Mines of Phandelver expect PCs to take on side quests without demanding pay?

Note: my question is specific to the LMoP adventure. I am not asking for general advice on motivating players. I've recently begun a new campaign in 5e with my group of players. We are all new to ...
26
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9answers
14k views

How to kill a PC without hard feelings?

Reading this question, the accepted advice for killing a player is to talk to them first. My campaign is run in a Game of Thrones style setting; the good and honorable die doing what is right, and ...
24
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6answers
4k views

How can I quickly shut down an argumentative (wrong) player without simply making him feel like I am overriding him?

I am currently a GM running a four person campaign that has been going for a couple months. I have one player in particular that is fairly inexperienced and has this habit of skimming technical ...
24
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7answers
5k views

I keep forgetting about lighting in the heat of a session. How do I remember my notes?

One thing I’ve been struggling with as a newbie GM is keeping track of how light or dark a certain room is. My players and I have been playing a D&D 5e starter campaign with me as the GM. I might ...
22
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6answers
2k views

How do I get the party back together after a major PvP conflict?

In the previous adventure, the characters left on bad terms after the Monk betrayed the other two party members by trying to take their captured criminal back to her (equally criminal) monastery ...
18
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1answer
983 views

What concrete rules can you point a GM to that is stuck in non-storytelling paradigms for Fate?

Inspired by a response to my answer to Can you concede by dying in Dresden Files?, I was wondering what concrete rules can you point a GM to that is stuck in non-storytelling paradigms in Fate? I ...
18
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8answers
1k views

My necromancer keeps dying (and can't raise himself)!

Sometimes in the course of running an adventure you will run into an encounter that calls for a summoner to bring on a horde of undead (often minions). I have a simple problem: My summoners die in ...
18
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6answers
4k views

How does having monsters of the same type go at the same time affect balance?

I'm running a group of 6 PC's through HotDQ. All of them are new to 5e and we just started, so the combat is pretty slow, and some of them aren't all that excited about combat to begin with. I'm doing ...
17
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2answers
3k views

How do you deal with a player who always wants to be in the spotlight?

How do you deal during play with a player who makes things miserable for the others when he or she is not actively in the spotlight? Such miserable-making activities include frequently doing things in-...
16
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7answers
37k views

How can I play as a DM, and still have a character who keeps up in levels and can influence the story?

I'm forming a group of new players along with myself to play D&D 5e together. The DMing will probably fall to me, and maybe another friend. However, I'd also like to sometimes have my own ...
14
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10answers
11k views

What should happen when a player does not follow his class at all? (i.e. plays his role badly)

I have a player who created a Druid and is mostly playing like a barbarian in combat and like a rogue the rest of the time. This means he kills animals, does not care for plants, does not use his ...
13
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5answers
4k views

How can I make combat retain challenge and balance without hit points?

Question Our group finds that combat takes too long, and part of this is down to HP grinding. At first we thought it might be due to too many dice rolls, but that's not the problem; the problem is ...
13
votes
1answer
605 views

How can I estimate difficulty in a FATE based game?

In a recent game of Diaspora, I pitted three of my "5 cap" player characters against four "3 cap" and one "4 cap" character in physical combat, and was surprised to see that the characters came away ...

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