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Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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39
votes
14answers
6k views

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 ...
32
votes
10answers
6k views

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
votes
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
votes
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/...
24
votes
4answers
73k views

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. ...
21
votes
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
votes
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
votes
12answers
9k 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
votes
10answers
5k 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
votes
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
votes
2answers
843 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
votes
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
votes
5answers
2k 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
votes
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
votes
11answers
17k 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 ...
32
votes
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
votes
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. ...
29
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the best way to deal with NPC-NPC combat?

I'm about to run a premade adventure, and reading through it I see a potential situation where one group of monsters could, though PC actions, end up fighting each other. As a PC, I hate seeing my ...
26
votes
11answers
29k 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
votes
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 ...
21
votes
8answers
12k 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 ...
20
votes
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
votes
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
votes
4answers
969 views

How can I resolve dangerous journeys without playing out every battle in detail?

Here's the situation: The PCs are investigating a mystery far from town, in the dangerous wilderness. Against my expectations, they decide to go back to town, recruit some help, and return to continue ...
17
votes
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
votes
4answers
618 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.
26
votes
9answers
13k 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
votes
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
votes
7answers
4k 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
votes
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
votes
1answer
968 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
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
18
votes
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 ...
16
votes
7answers
36k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
2k 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-...
13
votes
10answers
10k 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
votes
1answer
551 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 ...
10
votes
10answers
2k views

Is It OK To Sic Assassins On My PCs?

L5R has the most specific example in my immediate memory. In one game, the players were in a diplomatic situation and a Shosuro Shinobi (ninja) was sneaking around to stir the pot. This was a ...
10
votes
2answers
531 views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of DMs showing a map of the city to the players?

I am going to start DMing Tomb of Annihilation soon; my question is mostly about the cities of Baldur's Gate, Nyanzaru, and Omu. I see two options on how I can introduce the city to them: I could ...
37
votes
12answers
2k views

How do I allow player agency in situations with predetermined outcomes?

One of the current members of our group joined a little later than everyone else. His character's history wasn't developed too well, so I am running a one-off session so that the group can play out ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Shouldn't The Doctor almost always be an NPC?

I'm considering GMing Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, but there's something I fundamentally don't understand: Why is The Doctor a player-character option? And why is it the default selection?...
20
votes
8answers
660 views

Should Merits be given as rewards when the accomplishments match?

As a storyteller, are merits acquired only through experience after character creation, or do you reward your players with them for accomplishing their goals? Suppose a situation like the following ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a RAW limit on the DM's power regarding a Player Character’s emotions?

Let's first state for the record that I am well aware of Rule 0 and am in no way asking a practical question. The DM's job is to make the game fun for everyone and in this regard his power is truly ...
17
votes
7answers
1k views

How should a GM handle novice players?

In our game, we have 5 players - two are completely new to roleplaying, and one is new to the system we're playing (Pathfinder). At the moment, the GM grants the new players no leeway - if the player ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

Should the DM try to actively fix party wealth in a sandbox game?

This question is inspired by this WBL question. The consensus seems to be that WBL is important. But in a sandbox game , where the course of action is determined by the players, what should be DM's ...
15
votes
9answers
7k views

How do I force a party from the Astral Plane?

I am running a high-level, low magic campaign, currently 13th level. When the seas iced over thanks to a Levistus activating an elder relic, the possessed warlock of the party spent some time ...
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 ...
14
votes
6answers
1k views

Running a campaign alternating GMs every session

The group with which I usually roleplay has a consistent problem: someone will say "Hey, I want to run a campaign in X system with Y setting." Everyone will make characters (which can take quite a ...
12
votes
0answers
370 views

As a GM, how can I create and role-play diverse NPCs better? [duplicate]

I am new to GMing (and role-playing in general, for that matter) and I am having a somewhat difficult time making plausible and interesting NPCs. This is especially true with NPCs who are not "typical ...
11
votes
1answer
3k views

How can GMs quickly calculate the effects of level drain?

I've GM'ed a few Pathfinder games, and while I really enjoy the setting, I just can't wrap my head around some of the crunchy mechanics. In particular, how do you (quickly) deal with effects like ...