Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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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, ...
42
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7answers
7k views

I gave a too powerful magic item at too low level for a bad reason, what to do?

When a paladin in the game I run went into the local store ran by an ex adventurer, he went to the back to see the fancy swords, and asked if any looked like his holy symbol. The god he follows is ...
42
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16answers
5k views

How does a GM deal effectively with a player unable to lose gracefully?

How does a GM handle effectively a player that overreacts to any negative effects the player's character suffers, like level drain or death?
42
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8answers
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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 ...
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 ...
42
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7answers
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How to guide my players into realizing they have multiple options available for an encounter?

For my next session with my PCs, I'm planning to have them witness an attack on an NPC that's intended to hook them the adventure. The plan is for the party to encounter his daughter, who also has a ...
42
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6answers
7k views

How can I best handle monsters/NPCs using social skills vs PCs?

I've checked the books and can't find an answer by RAW other than the DM decides, so I'd like to know the best way to handle this in my games. What happens if a thug tries to intimidate/persuade the ...
41
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11answers
8k views

Consistency between “yes and” with “no, because I'm the DM”

Context: I enjoy running softer systems, with Numenera being my latest favorite. I discard rules left and right in favor of what feels right during the play. I love the "rule of cool" too, ...
41
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18answers
15k views

When GMing a game, how much should you prepare in advance?

Obviously you need to have some high level idea of what's going on in the world around the players, and where you are heading with the story, but in an ongoing game at some point players will be ...
41
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7answers
9k views

How do I get a new player to stop rewriting my game to match his favorite fiction?

I have a D&D 5e game that I've been running for a year that is on pause because some players don't want to play online or go outside (stupid plague ruining my tabletop). So I offered my son and ...
41
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9answers
11k views

How should I respond to a player who roleplays too selfishly?

In our last session, a player of mine spent the last 30 min blowing up on me for "restricting" her character's story, and the story of the campaign, when I would not allow her to bring back another ...
41
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7answers
7k views

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 ...
41
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15answers
6k views

How can I help a player craft a backstory that gives me plot hooks?

I have a new player joining my game soon who has taken the place of another player. Unfortunately, the character's backstory is lacking. It doesn't tell me a lot about the character. Because I draw ...
41
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3answers
1k views

How do I build a sense of wonder in my games?

I guess this is part three of a series of questions, with part I being on building tension, and part II being on building comedy. Greg Stafford has talked of his primary motivation as a gamemaster ...
40
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17answers
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In D&D, A PC became king. How do I keep him in check?

I'm running a D&D 4e campaign. There, a player has worked very hard and somehow tricked me into becoming a king of an evil kingdom (the population is 100,000+). The area he became king of is a ...
40
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13answers
6k views

How do I deal with instant-solution spells like Comprehend Languages?

I'm DM-ing an upcoming campaign and am considering banning or nerfing spells like Comprehend Languages because they can be used to instantly solve potentially interesting problems like reading an ...
40
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9answers
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How to deal with a Batman PC as a DM?

I'm running one of the D&D Encounters tables at the local game shop. In Chapter 3 the players can create their own characters. Everyone had normal characters with the exception of one player who ...
40
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10answers
6k views

How can I enjoy being a DM when I have an explorer personality?

I live in a small Finnish town with my wife and we want to play. But we cannot find any GMs there. So I decided to try to be GM myself. The problem is - I love to explore the worlds, story, monsters, ...
40
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5answers
2k views

Dealing with people who turn up late for sessions

I run sessions every Monday evening at a pub in the centre of London, and most people come to play straight from work. Up until recently we were attempting to start at 7pm, but there were one or two ...
40
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9answers
14k views

How do I run a game for a larger group?

I am currently running a Dungeons and Dragons 4 campaign for a group of 9 players. Whittling the group down to a more manageable size is not really an option since they are all family. When we do ...
40
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5answers
7k views

What information do I actually need from my players’ character sheets?

I am a DM for two D&D 5e games. I always ask for character sheets when we first start out, so I can have a general sense of what I'm in for, and to get working on incorporating backstories. Our ...
40
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8answers
3k views

How to encourage players to state approach and goal, rather than asking for skill checks? [closed]

Or, to phrase the question as a negative, "How do I stop players asking to make rolls?" An example, from a couple of weeks ago. Me: You see a pile of bodies at the end of the field. Player: ...
40
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5answers
2k views

How can we make overcoming a language problem interesting?

I am currently involved in a game of Fate Accelerated, and one of our goals is learning the system and experimenting with it. In this game, two characters may have a language barrier to overcome. One ...
39
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14answers
7k 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 ...
39
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5answers
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How do I move forward when an impending doom was stopped by accident?

I'm having an issue in a campaign I am running where an impending doom that was part of a front was stopped by the players pretty much by dumb luck. In order to both prevent any of my nosy players ...
39
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4answers
5k views

How to handle “I investigate for <this particular thing>” checks

The characters enter a room, and get the general "what do you see" spiel. One player announces that he wants to "Investigate the room for ". (Let's say "investigate for odd ...
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 ...
39
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5answers
7k views

How do I keep a long-range plot cohesive and coherent?

I enjoy GMing but I much prefer to to have some sort of long running plot (or meta-plot) rather than having a series of unconnected unfortunate events afflict my PCs. For example, I would love to ...
39
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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 ...
38
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7answers
10k views

How can I, as DM, dictate the emotions and actions of the players (magically)?

(Some of) my players are trying to role play in a meta-gaming sort of way. For instance, I had an array of weapons in a dungeon, and when they took them, they had to make a Wisdom saving throw, else ...
38
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15answers
2k views

How do I keep NPCs from just sounding the alarm?

When I design adventures, I often come up with situations where the NPCs could realistically thwart the PCs quickly by sounding an alarm. This is especially common in science fiction settings, where ...
38
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19answers
8k 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 ...
38
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12answers
6k views

How can I make crime meaningful for rich players?

For the D&D 5e campaign I'm DMing, the party has been caught for a murder of a government official and put on trial. Out of character, a player pointed out that his character can just pay for a ...
38
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8answers
5k 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, ...
38
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11answers
21k 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 ...
38
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14answers
14k 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 ...
38
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8answers
8k views

How do I present an unbeatable encounter without frustrating my players?

So, I have run Curse of Strahd sometimes, but every time I run it I find a new problem in my DM'ing haha. I will try to make it answerable without specifically CoS experience and keep it spoiler free. ...
38
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5answers
2k views

How to get players to be curious and ask questions?

I have recently noticed that my players don't really try to find out much about the world and story beyond the direct "what do we see?" I want to have them interact more with their environment and ...
37
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9answers
22k views

How can I handle players who want to browse shops at random?

If one or more of my players decide to go on a shopping spree, I've previously had problems describing the shop's inventory, without going into much detail or making it seem like the shop has only 2 ...
37
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4answers
4k views

How do I handle questions about in-game things that I'm not prepared for?

I DM for my brother’s four kids. Their ages are 14, 13, 12, and 10. I made everything up in the world, so it’s not an official campaign. They’re asking questions that I didn’t even think that they’d ...
37
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8answers
8k views

How can I deal with a player trying to insert real-world mythology into my homebrew setting?

I have just started GMing a homebrew campaign with a group of relatively inexperienced players. I have only played with one of them before (I have GMed for him as well as been a fellow player with him)...
37
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4answers
2k views

How does GMing a game for middle-schoolers differ from older and younger players?

My daughter has asked me to GM a D&D5e game for her and her friends, who are all aged 13-15 years of age. In the US this puts them in middle school, an age of interesting transitions. With ...
37
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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 ...
37
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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 ...
37
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8answers
5k views

Am I too new to try DMing once?

I am pretty new to Pencil and Paper RPG's, at this point I have been playing a loose interpretation of D&D3.5 for a couple of months. Probably about 6 sessions. But I don't know a lot of the RAW ...
37
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7answers
3k 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 ...
37
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6answers
4k views

How do I emphasize role-playing during combat?

Right now, the group that I GM for is very, very tactical-combat focused. To some extent, we may as well be playing a dungeon crawl board game for all the role-play we manage. Now, in and of itself ...
37
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5answers
2k views

How to support useful Intraparty Conflict

This is a question calling for tried and tested methods for facilitating entertaining CvC intraparty conflict. Although Player versus Player (PvP) seems to be the accepted term among a large ...
36
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14answers
9k views

My players have a habit of always torturing enemies they capture for information, how can I make our adventure less macabre? [closed]

So I'm running the lost mines of Phandelver as a new DM and we're about 5 sessions in. I've noticed a pattern that seems to repeat itself: the players defeat and capture an evil NPC character that ...
36
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9answers
7k views

As a DM, is telling your players what their characters conclude a bad practice?

I, a new DM who has run around 10-15 game session so far, am in the process of watching Critical Role Campaign 2 (currently at Episode 23). We all know Matt Mercer and his famous quotes like "You ...

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