Questions tagged [gm-techniques]

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

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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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7answers
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How can I reduce the number of encounters per day without throwing off game balance?

I'm running an Open Table sandbox game this summer. The 5E DMG states that they expect 6-8 Medium or Hard combat encounters per day, with about two short rests. If I tried to do that, we'd never get ...
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6answers
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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
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“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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9answers
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My players want extra effects from their attacks. What should I do?

I'm DMing for a group of 4 players, that are currently at level 3. Two of them have played a fair bit of 5e before, and two of them are new. I'm also new to DMing, though generally familiar with the ...
34
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7answers
5k 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 ...
34
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10answers
8k 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 (...
34
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16answers
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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
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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
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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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9answers
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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
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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
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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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7answers
2k views

Using a Time-Skip as a Plot Device

In the game that I'm currently running, the PCs have traveled to the Realm of the Fae to gather information on their (im)mortal enemy, a Lich. When they emerge from the Fae Realm, I was planning on ...
34
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10answers
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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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15answers
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How can I make players still feel rewarded after looting a dragon hoard?

Disclaimer: This question is tagged dnd-5e, since consideration of the value of money or the magic item system might be relevant. I do, however, doubt that an answer based primarily on these would ...
33
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12answers
3k views

How to have a realistic set of languages without making adventuring prohibitively difficult?

"Do you speak Common?" "Of course I do! Everyone speaks Common..." My group is starting a somewhat experimental campaign. We're using a setting that is neither canon (e.g. described in a book) nor ...
33
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11answers
6k views

Can I roll for a PC in secret?

As a GM, can I roll in secret so my players don't even know I rolled? For example, a PC walks past a secret door; if I ask the player to roll perception he may suspect there is something. Can I roll ...
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 ...
33
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13answers
4k views

How to begin a role-playing scenario in medias res?

If I am running a pre-planned role-playing scenario, how and when can it work to start the session in medias res? The narrative technique can work so well in literature, film and video to increase ...
33
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9answers
9k 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
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10answers
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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
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7answers
56k views

How can I make combat more tactically interesting for me as a DM?

For me, I find it very difficult to enjoy DMing combat encounters. Combat is generally very dry and monotonous. What can I do to make combat more enjoyable for me as a DM? Some of the issues I have ...
33
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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
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6answers
3k 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
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3answers
5k 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
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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
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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 ...
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5answers
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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
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5answers
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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
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5answers
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Dealing with players who try to run from everything?

I DM for a group with a guy who always suggests leaving the dungeon, area, or wherever the party is. It seems like no matter what I try or do to the setting he just won't relax and play the game – he ...
32
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15answers
14k views

Troublesome player that I can't convince to change and can't exclude from group

So there's a lot of topics about this on RG.StackExchange.com, but they all boil down to "Talk to the player." Unfortunately that's been done multiple times over the years to no meaningful effect. I'...
32
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20answers
7k views

How can I best implement a recurring villain when the players are not opposed to killing? [closed]

I am writing up a campaign for D&D4e that I will be playing in a couple of months and, though I do not have the storyline 100% all thought out, I know the general tone I am going for already, and ...
32
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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 ...
32
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5answers
37k views

How does Lost Mines of Phandelver expect PCs to take on side quests without demanding pay?

Note: my question is specific to the LMoP adventure. I am not asking for general advice on motivating players. I've recently begun a new campaign in 5e with my group of players. We are all new to ...
32
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5answers
8k views

Is an unlikely coincidence bad storytelling?

I am the DM in a fairly new d&d 5e campaign. In it is a kobold barbarian who was once a dragon-shield in a now destroyed tribe. The black dragon wyrmling the tribe worshiped/protected is presumed ...
32
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5answers
7k views

How to explain to a new player that metagaming is encouraged in this group

I am part of a social board games group that meets most weekends to play short (max one session) games that usually involve role playing of some kind. Recently someone invited a friend from another, ...
32
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19answers
7k views

How do I add a recurring fantasy villain without frustrating the players?

I am currently running a campaign which is still in its early stages, and I plan to introduce a recurring villain. However, if the villain is always the main "big bad" behind every session and he gets ...
32
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14answers
21k views

How can I add sound to our sessions?

I've been toying with the idea of adding sound to our typical sessions. I was thinking about throwing in some sounds for atmosphere's sake, like some of the following: Birds chirping/water running in ...
32
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7answers
7k 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, ...
32
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9answers
1k views

How can I cut short a doomed fight?

Occasionally one of my PC's wanders off and gets himself into a battle he simply cannot win. I know the player wants to play out the battle to see if they can somehow pull it out, but it's boring for ...
32
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4answers
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Player has trouble imagining the ingame situation

The Situation I have been a GM for a few years on and off, for at least half a dozen of groups with at least 20 different players and have played my fair share of systems. A few weeks ago my ...
32
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6answers
3k views

How can I learn how to lay out an “evidence scene”?

I feel like I'm particularly bad at any kind of scene where I want to drop clues. I'm hesitant to use the term "crime scene" because it's not always being investigated by "police", and some of these ...
32
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5answers
5k views

How do I prevent my players from hopping on a railroad when I'm not railroading?

All my previous GMing experience is with tightly-plotted railroads, and my players are used to (and generally happy with) riding the rails. Right now I'm setting up a sandbox campaign to break out of ...
32
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11answers
3k views

How do I transition my players from roll-playing to role-playing?

The context for this question is the same as this related question about spending time in town, but I am looking for sufficiently different advice so I thought it warranted its own question. I've ...
32
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9answers
3k views

How to add a player who joined after the campaign started?

I started running a game, and then a friend of mine expressed interest in playing, so I invited him to join us. He created a character and came along to the next session. As the rest of the party was ...
32
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3answers
2k views

How to Help Tourette Player

I have a friend who has tourette syndrome. He's a great guy, I've been friends with him for over a decade. We both love RPGs, and we've played many games together. However, his condition occasionally ...
31
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9answers
9k views

DM is playing mind games with us! [closed]

We are playing modern day campaign with high pressure on realism. Our DM in not very experienced, but appears thoughtful and planning. We played just one session, but there is one glaring thing: Every ...
31
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9answers
7k views

How do I run a game when my PCs have different approaches to combat?

Following on from the question How can I make sure my players' decisions have consequences?: I'm frustrated as a DM because I feel like the different players / PCs in my (level 5) group want ...
31
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10answers
19k views

One PC is too powerful. What should I do?

I am currently playing DnD 3.5 with three friends of mine. I am Game Master and I let my players create 4th level characters in the beginning of the campaign. One of them chose Forsaker as his ...

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