Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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40
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8answers
2k 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: I ...
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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10answers
6k views

Using a rash decision to move gameplay forward

I DM'd my first game recently, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and most of the group were pretty lax about the quality of it all, so it all went fairly smoothly. However, there is one thing ...
39
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9answers
3k views

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 ...
39
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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, ...
39
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5answers
6k 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 ...
39
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5answers
6k 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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5answers
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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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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
9k 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
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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
7k 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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11answers
18k 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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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
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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 ...
38
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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?...
38
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9answers
11k 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 ...
37
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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
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7answers
15k 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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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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6answers
6k views

How can I communicate feelings to players without impacting their agency?

As a Game Master I'd occasionally like to communicate premonitions or sensation to my characters, as a benefit of their backstory, or as a means to give them opportunity to be deeper tied into the ...
36
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15answers
10k 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
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, ...
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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14answers
10k 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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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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12answers
15k 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
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4answers
4k views

How can I help my players make meaningful choice during dungeon navigation?

Foreword: I run a D&D 4e campaign, but I think that this question is overall system-agnostic. Recently I've somewhat shifted my D&D campagin towards a more traditional dungeon crawling style. ...
35
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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
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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
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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 ...
34
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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
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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
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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
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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
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9answers
16k 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,...
34
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5answers
3k 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
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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 ...
33
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7answers
4k views

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 ...
33
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10answers
7k views

How do I prevent my players from abusing long rests?

I am a DM for a D&D 4e game. My players (especially the wizard) like to take an extended rest after every single encounter, because he resorts to using his daily powers in every single encounter (...
33
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12answers
3k 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 ...

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