Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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15
votes
2answers
524 views

How do I plan sessions that are still fun even if they don't move the plot forward?

I'm fairly new to DMing, but I really enjoy it. My campaign is still pretty early in, and plot is moving forward pretty well; last session actually revealed a huge chuck of the relevant current events....
6
votes
2answers
286 views

How can I make a fight more than just a bunch of numbers?

There was an encounter in my most recent D&D 4e adventure in which the players fought several (16) minion skeletons. Because all of the skeletons were minions, the encounter was not difficult, but ...
9
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2answers
1k views

As a Game Master, how should I handle a situation where a character can and does do everything?

I have made a number of characters that can do everything in a party across a wide variety of role-play systems, and seen several more as both a GM and as a player. I have also seen these characters ...
15
votes
4answers
676 views

What interesting ways can I “hunt” my players beyond simple combat?

I have a lovely quartet of players trapped in the wilderness, at least 10 days march from the nearest settlement, which is their destination. There is an antagonistic force in the area, and I had ...
7
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1answer
279 views

Is my idea for handling space combat in my setting any good?

I've been using a homebrewed system and hard sci-fi setting (not originally designed for tabletop RPGs, but for writing stories and as my worldbuilding project) with a group of friends for a while now ...
-2
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2answers
587 views

As GM, how do I deal with a player who makes a “do everything” build? [duplicate]

I have made a couple of builds that do everything, and seen several more as both a GM and as a player. These are builds that go beyond powerbuilding, and into the realm of taking over for the entire ...
64
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6answers
11k views

My players like to search everything. What do they find?

I am currently running a D&D 4e campaign. Every time my players defeat/subdue the monsters in a room, they decide to search the room. However, I never have anything interesting for them to find. I ...
5
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4answers
1k views

What are good rewards for players (other than XP and items)?

Inspired by what I saw in "Dragon Age" series, I have a main quest of the story line have the character "dream" into the astral plane where they have several fights towards an unfolding that will ...
14
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2answers
765 views

How can an inexperienced GM keep a game fun for experienced players?

Along the same lines as this question from a players perspective, I am interested in possibly running a game for some friends and co-workers, where they have much more experience in gaming than I do ...
18
votes
3answers
539 views

How can I limit my second-person POV narration?

I have come to the conclusion that in materials I am preparing myself, I want to add more variety to narration by introducing information to the players without using second person point-of-view ...
26
votes
4answers
4k views

Handling a player (unintentionally) stealing the spotlight

Quite recently, I replaced a friend as DM for a D&D game. During that game, I came across something I did not expect: One of the players was just too good. When I am saying "too good" I am not ...
42
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7answers
8k views

A player is constantly pestering me about rules, what do I do as a DM?

Okay I admit I'm new to D&D. I've been playing for 2 years now and only been playing 5e. I don't learn by reading the entire manual in one sitting, I have learnt everything from actually playing ...
31
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the benefits of using the X Card safety tool in comparison to plain communication?

I am aware that this question may come across as ignorant or as an attempt at trolling. While I cannot prove it, I hope enough people believe that this question was asked in good faith and with the ...
6
votes
2answers
284 views

How do I introduce magic to my PCs part way through an adventure?

I am playing through a slightly modified version of the Pathfinder adventure Rise of the Runelords with a group who are all brand new to any form of RPG. After around ten sessions, I still haven't ...
12
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3answers
5k views

How do I choose a villain in the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure?

In the first pages of Dragon Heist, you're told to When you run this adventure, you choose its main villain at the outset. Your choice determines the season of the year in which the story takes place,...
4
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3answers
304 views

Where can I find mechanics to manage a character's career/advancement within an organization?

I run a game where characters apart of their mechanical advancement can become part of various organizations to gain standing and influence. At the moment the barbarian became chief of a small tribe, ...
14
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1answer
1k views

Skills with different abilities: How to adjudicate what combination to use?

In the D&D 5e Player’s Handbook, there is a variant option called Skills with Different Abilities: Normally, your proficiency in a skill applies only to a specific kind of ability check. ...
2
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2answers
296 views

Are there issues with allowing parties to succeed at encounters in a published adventure with specified checks/DCs using creative roleplay instead?

During Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, there are a number of faction missions, one of which is: With a suggested solution: Given that a suggested solution involves the party spending money and checks of a ...
20
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4answers
3k views

How to handle when PCs taste a potion that is actually poison?

I will soon be DM for the first time. As preparation, I have been reading the DMG and I found this rule on identifying a magic item page 136: Potions are an exception; a little taste is enough to ...
11
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3answers
583 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
682 views

How can I handle, or prevent, provocative actions by my players? [duplicate]

I have been DM'ing for a few years, and due to my upbringing I prefer to run games that don't really allow for what I consider to be evil acts in game. For me, that means using basic common sense and ...
54
votes
10answers
12k 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....
7
votes
1answer
860 views

What are the pros and cons of this proposed modification to Rise of Tiamat?

I'm looking to run the Rise of Tiamat module. In "Episode 4: Neronvain" from the chapter "Death to the Wyrmspeakers", it says that which makes sense. But when I look at Neronvain's stat block (p. 91)...
33
votes
5answers
4k views

Is there a way to save this session?

I recently started a campaign with some local players, but things are not going well - at least from my perspective. Some context: We're playing a campaign that is set in a Darksouls-like setting. ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

How to explain an ancestral guardian's spirit features suddenly gained at level-up? [closed]

I'm a new DM leading a 5e campaign with new players. Most of the characters, who are a cleric, two druids, and a fighter, do not gain weird new powers when they level up. But the barbarian (still ...
25
votes
6answers
8k views

Should breaking down something like a door be adjudicated as an attempt to beat its AC and HP, or as an ability check against a set DC?

It is not uncommon for players to encounter a door that resists being opened - the door may be stuck, barred, locked, barricaded, etc. A locked door could be unlocked by finding a key or passing a ...
26
votes
11answers
6k views

How should I introduce map drawing to my players?

I DMed my first session last week. We are playing the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure from the D&D 5e Starter Set. My players haven't yet entered the first "dungeon" but will likely do so next ...
8
votes
2answers
520 views

Does the GM get to make a move with every partial success by default?

Defy danger is quite clear, but unless everyone is looking at the GM or there exists a golden opportunity, does the GM get to make a (soft) move with every partial success? For example, volley 7-9, ...
12
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2answers
3k views

How do I balance a campaign consisting of four kobold PCs?

I am currently planning a campaign consisting of four kobold PCs, using Volo's Guide to Monsters (p. 119) as my starting point for the race. However, I am worried about Pack Tactics and Sunlight ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

How do I DM a session zero?

I don't know how am I supposed to DM a session 0 for my campaign. My friends tell me that I am supposed to tell them what happens so they can create a character that fits the campaign, but I think ...
6
votes
2answers
464 views

How can I simulate paranoia in a Call of Cthulhu One-Shot?

I'm a new GM to Call of Cthulhu. I want to play a One-Shot where paranoia and hallucinations play a big role (English isn’t my first language, so sorry if some phrases are weird). My idea is ...
3
votes
3answers
193 views

How can I limit firearms and futuristic technology in a multiverse setting?

I'm going to start a series of Infinite Worlds campaigns and I want to prevent things like using firearms/laser/etc... on worlds where the technology is low. Because, you know, what is preventing PCs ...
77
votes
7answers
8k views

As a GM, is it bad form to ask for a moment to think when improvising?

As an amateur GM, I, like many other new GMs, often find myself having to improvise in the wake of unexpected player action. In the past, my approach to this has been to rush to think of something on ...
41
votes
7answers
9k views

How do I, as a DM, handle a party that decides to set up an ambush in a dungeon?

Warning: Lost Mine of Phandelver Chapter 1 spoilers below. One of my players then pushed the party into moving out, probably because he's also a DM and could see that I was struggling to find a ...
2
votes
1answer
200 views

Is there a game system with good mechanics for a PvP murder mystery? [closed]

My players have expressed interest in a PvP murder mystery, where one of them is secretly the murderer. At first I was enthusiastic, but there are several problems I don't know how to get round, and I ...
-1
votes
2answers
506 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
311 views

Providing prophecies without constraining future player actions?

I'm running an Urban Shadows game, and two of the players came up with a prophecy that was to be announced by some NPCs. It sounded exciting, so I encouraged them and rolled with it. When it came time ...
30
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
768 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 ...
13
votes
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 ...
1
vote
0answers
360 views

How do I deal with a problem player overstepping their boundaries in a 1-on-1 campaign? [closed]

I’m GMing a 1-on-1 campaign (it’s all homebrew, by the way). My player likes to weigh in on what’s happening, and sometimes oversteps her boundary into GMing territory. I let it slide a lot, since it ...
31
votes
3answers
3k views

Should I discuss the type of campaign with my players?

The campaign I’m preparing is designed to give the illusion of choice via side quests and an open world (not really open), but with a main story line that will be pushed into them sooner or later. The ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

How can I convey to my group that they have to discipline their murderhobo?

Introduction I guess most GMs have had a group of murderhobos in their sessions before and there are quite a few nice answers dealing with how to react to them, these threads have nice answers, but I ...
16
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2answers
3k views

Will it cause any balance problems to have PCs level up and gain the benefits of a long rest mid-fight?

I am planning an encounter for 4 level 2 players and I am planning to have them level up mid combat. I wanted to describe it sort of like a power within awakening like many popular animes have. To do ...
17
votes
7answers
3k views

How can the DM most simply and fairly choose 1 out of an odd number of characters to be targeted by an attack or effect?

When DMing and randomly determining a character to take damage or an effect, it's easy to roll a die if you have an even number of characters. But what about if you have an odd number of characters? ...
6
votes
2answers
426 views

Designing 'Gandalf' NPCs [closed]

I'm designing an NPC that is meant to be a manager/mentor to the players. Contrary to the archetype I've just invoked by mentioning Gandalf, she isn't some divine force incarnate-she's just somewhat ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

What method can I use to design a dungeon difficult enough that the PCs can't make it through without killing them?

The first 'round' of my campaign will end with the deaths (and resurrections) of all of the players. Their role before catastrophe strikes is as teachers in a philanthropically funded school in an ...
13
votes
4answers
632 views

How can I encourage PCs to come back to Home Base when their quests are far from home?

I am new to DM'ing and I have been thinking of the option of a Home Base for my party. I like the idea of building up a base, with craftsmen and libraries, etc for research and training and also to ...
3
votes
1answer
535 views

My players' characters tried to rob a jewelry store and failed. How do I play it out? [closed]

So, I am running a heroic campaign where a bunch of "god's chosen" people (led by the cleric in the party) are preparing to become the "spear's end" in the war with fiends who plan to invade the ...
0
votes
2answers
160 views

Gameplay-to-cutscene ratio: how interactive should I make the introduction to the campaign? [closed]

I'm planning a campaign with a specific backdrop-the characters are employees of a certain organization and this is their first day on the job. The organization and the job will no longer actually ...

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