Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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38
votes
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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8answers
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
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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 ...
38
votes
9answers
9k 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 ...
38
votes
8answers
14k views

How can I speed up combat?

Combat at my table (5 players plus me, the GM) takes a long time. Even only moderately-complex combats usually take about an hour. I find myself wanting to end the session early if the group is about ...
38
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5answers
5k 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 ...
37
votes
18answers
11k 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 ...
37
votes
19answers
6k views

How can I avoid problems that arise from rolling ability scores?

Rolling ability scores is a time-honored tradition across many editions of D&D. However, it can sometimes cause problems for players and/or the DM. For example, one player character may end up ...
37
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7answers
12k 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
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 ...
37
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
37
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4answers
6k views

How do you handle monsters 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 how people handle this in their games. What happens if a thug tries to intimidate/persuade the PCs?...
37
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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 ...
36
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15answers
9k views

How to Handle a Powergamer / Munchkin [closed]

What are some strategies that I can employ to handle a power gamer that constantly outshines the rest of the party? This is a friend of us all and we don't want to boot him, but combat simply isn't ...
36
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8answers
7k 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)...
36
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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 ...
36
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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 ...
36
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8answers
4k 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 ...
36
votes
14answers
9k 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 ...
36
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12answers
4k views

How to deal with players asking for an “infodump”

I read some questions about how to have players ask questions, but I happen to have the opposite issue. While players asking questions is nice, I often am in the situation where they ask too much ...
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 ...
36
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6answers
3k 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 ...
36
votes
11answers
1k 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 ...
36
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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 ...
35
votes
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, ...
35
votes
4answers
7k views

How to deal with players rejecting the question premise

For example, from "Beneath a Metal Sky," one of the scenarios in the core rules. One of my players was asked "How did your first pet die?" He answered that he'd never had a pet, because it didn't suit ...
35
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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 <...
35
votes
9answers
8k views

Players better at dealing damage than taking damage

I'm currently DM'ing a high powered D&D 3.5 game with 4 PCs (Wizard, Druid, Rogue/Assassin and Bard) and a DMPC (Minotaur Barbarian) at ECL 11. My concern is that whenever I try to create a ...
35
votes
12answers
14k 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 ...
35
votes
6answers
5k views

How can I make an NPC useful without overshadowing the player characters?

I play DnD 5th and I find my group often has many NPCs accompanying them, like 4 players and 4 NPCs. Most have some form of tie to the group, but few are actually as useful as the group members, as ...
34
votes
12answers
6k views

“Punishing” characters for stupid actions

I'm currently running a 6 person World of Darkness campaign, which is heavily social based. 5 of the players I am happy with, but one of them keeps doing stupid things, such as pushing himself to the ...
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 ...
34
votes
9answers
5k views

How can I more effectively use darkness in a dungeon?

In more than one of my D&D campaigns, I've found myself feeling disappointed at my inability to make the darkness of the dungeon matter. Everyone has enough torches, and I'm not likely to be able ...
34
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 ...
34
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
34
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I bring a player back to immersion and away from the distraction he brings to the table?

Currently, one of my players brings his 3DS to the table. He picked up a new game, and insists that he's "just grinding," and that he's paying attention (and to his credit, for the most part he is), ...
34
votes
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 ...
33
votes
16answers
2k views

How do I get the PCs to visit scary places at night?

Sometimes when I design scenarios, I realize that my mental image of the adventure is only exciting because it takes place at night. When the players actually play through the adventure, they might ...
33
votes
12answers
2k views

How to remember all the rules?

Do you have tricks or techniques to remember all the rules to the games you're playing? I would like to run my first game as a gamemaster, but I'm struggling with remembering all the feats and ...
33
votes
9answers
8k views

How can I discourage a player from making the same character if their current one dies?

This was inspired by this question: Should I allow players to recreate the exact same character if they die? Whilst it was closed as too subjective (because it asks whether one should want to do this)...
33
votes
10answers
5k views

Strategies for dealing with turtle or roach players?

How should GMs deal with players who turtle or roach? By turtle I am referring to players who obviously wanted to play because they joined the game, but when they're actually at the table they keep ...
33
votes
7answers
6k views

As a new GM how do I figure out rules quickly?

I tried my hand at GMing for the first time recently and my biggest challenge was figuring out rules on the fly. I frequently found players wanted to do things that I didn't know the rules for, ...
33
votes
11answers
4k views

How can I help the party survive a rather tough adventure?

The party is on an implicitely timed mission: children have been abducted by bad guys and it is now known that they're in danger of being sacrificed in the near future. The module I'm using doesn't ...
33
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I learn how to negotiate as an NPC?

I'm a new GM in D&D 4e. I've quickly found that I perform very poorly when I'm portraying a negotiation between the PCs and one or more NPCs. Even when they have common ground and could easily ...
33
votes
3answers
4k views

As a DM, do I have to declare the actions that NPCs ready?

A question arose when I was reading the PHB's section about "Actions in Combat: Ready" that reads: Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait for a particular circumstance before you act. ...
33
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6answers
4k views

Does having a recurring NPC ally incur the same risks as having a GMPC?

I'm brand new to table-top RPGs and I am my group's DM (D&D 5e). I've been brainstorming ideas to work into our next campaign after LMoP, and I'm liking the idea of recurrent NPCs who are on their ...
33
votes
6answers
2k views

How to maximize the opportunities of roleplaying military rank in a PC group, while minimizing the limitations on the players

Some games come with a predisposition toward the characters having military rank. This is typically an element of the setting material, and is intended to aid immersion, and produce interesting social ...
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. ...
33
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I make an overbearing government's unwelcome attention convincing without it dominating screen time?

My players are newly awakened mages (Mage: the Ascension 2nd edition) living in a near future in a metropolis in the European Union which is developing into a surveillance and military state union—a ...
33
votes
9answers
14k views

What should I consider when creating a time travel adventure?

I'm sure that many would advise against doing so at all, but knowing that I will likely try to do so anyway, what are the factors I should consider when creating a time travel adventure? Specifically,...