Questions tagged [narration]

For questions primarily about narration, the act of describing the events that unfold in the game world, either as player or gamemaster.

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12 votes
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Can I use a trap that will kill a character, if the party can either find a creative solution around it or cast Revivify?

We're running a series of one-shots with differing DMs every session, keeping the same characters and only swapping out the person who is DMing. The party is a little overpowered, and I wanted to do a ...
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  • 247
12 votes
3 answers
377 views

How to improve the variety of narration in my text-only game of D&D?

I, and one of other players in my play-by-chat group, have expressed a desire to improve the narration of our character's actions. When they brought this up, I noticed the sort of unvaried ...
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41 votes
3 answers
6k views

How do I respond to players who keep asking powerful NPCs to help them in ToA?

I'm playing Tomb of Annihilation(ToA) with my group right after playing Waterdeep Dragon Heist. The group have met powerful characters like Vajra Safahr, the open lord Laeral Silverhand, Mirt, Artus ...
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  • 391
8 votes
2 answers
352 views

How does a low Strength stat translate into the narrative?

I'm having trouble with something. In a ADnD 2e campaign how should a low Strength translate into the narrative/roleplay of the campaign? It's easy to figure out how high Strength would work when ...
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  • 111
6 votes
0 answers
57 views

How can I narrate combat without it getting repetitive? [duplicate]

Although I mostly run D&D games I like to try and distract players from numbers as much as possible and keep the game narrative flowing at a smooth pace. For the most part, this is fine: lots of ...
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  • 5,102
19 votes
8 answers
5k views

Is there need for messengers in DnD 5e, if spell Sending exists?

In my campaign (DnD 5e) I would like to send players on a quest to save a kidnapped person. The person has high value information. He/she was ambushed and taken prisoner. My question is: is there a ...
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17 votes
3 answers
2k views

How to describe that an enemy can avoid opportunity attacks?

I'm the DM of my group. When we are playing I try to describe the effects and actions of enemies and npcs without spelling out exactly what they are to keep some mystique to the actions. Like ...
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  • 839
7 votes
3 answers
534 views

How do I narrate Laeral Silverhand's Silver Hair attack?

Laeral Silverhand's statblock appears in the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure (p. 207). Among her action options, she has an attack option labeled "Silver Hair": Silver Hair. Melee Weapon Attack: +...
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2 votes
3 answers
435 views

How do I deal with long travels?

My group has faced a lot of just traveling; so sometimes I just say it's been 3 days since you started traveling, because I don't really have anything big planned on that particular road. However in ...
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8 votes
6 answers
1k views

What can a GM do if player's rolls are just terrible?

I ran a game last night, a pre-written module (the game is not relevant) with a certain difficulty level (not so difficult in my opinion), and the party is composed of moderately experienced players ...
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  • 1,690
7 votes
1 answer
306 views

How to narrate initiative in Ironsworn?

I'm trying to convert my mindset from DnD, and I'm especially confused when facing initiative in Ironsworn. I get it that the side with initiative is meant to be winning in combat and pressuring the ...
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13 votes
5 answers
1k views

A Rogue dilemma: to roll for Stealth, or not to roll?

I need some guidance about how to best use Stealth checks for a campaign. When it comes to Stealth, say of a Rogue*, would it be better to allow players to roll for their own Stealth skill check, or,...
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  • 1,816
7 votes
3 answers
1k views

What does leveling up feel like as a character? [closed]

I am trying to grasp the narrative feeling of leveling up as a character in D&D 5e. Suppose at the end of a session a Sorcerer has enough experience points to level up. I am using the Sorcerer ...
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  • 689
10 votes
1 answer
300 views

What was the first adventure to use boxed text?

James Introcaso recently wrote a blog post titled, "We Can Do Better Than Boxed Text", where he outlines the benefits and drawbacks of boxed text. This has raised the question, who started it and how ...
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6 votes
2 answers
257 views

Is it ok to tell players how their character feels in this situation?

I know it's generally considered poor form to tell a player how their character feels. I should show, not tell. Show them the orphans and widows, not tell them they feel bad for murdering those guys,...
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  • 874
8 votes
2 answers
289 views

How do I subtly convey that the PCs’ reality is fake?

I am currently planning a campaign for two players (more would very likely not work in this scenario) in the Dark Eye. The idea is that a demon got hold of their minds and they are now being shown 5 ...
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  • 243
36 votes
6 answers
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 ...
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  • 23.5k
14 votes
4 answers
1k views

How to flavor my narration of a fight in a creatively plausible way without affecting mechanics?

I'm DMing a recently-started campaign with 5 new players. They are completely new to RPGs and roleplay. In a combat, they often phrased their attacks in ways such as "I aim at the eyes in order to ...
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  • 1,674
27 votes
5 answers
6k views

How can I describe hit point damage without talking about wounds?

The PHB's description of hit points (p. 196) says: Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck. Creatures with more hit points are more ...
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  • 25.8k
18 votes
3 answers
641 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 ...
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14 votes
1 answer
14k views

Are there specific descriptions of what each of the racial languages sound like?

Running adventures with varied races of NPC, I run into a lot of times where I simply say "It sounds like they're speaking Elvish/Orcish/etc etc". I'd like to know if perhaps there are descriptions of ...
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42 votes
8 answers
7k views

How do I narratively explain how in-game circumstances do not mechanically allow a PC to instantly kill an NPC?

Inspired by this question, in particular this aspect: . . . how do I handle realism and one-shotting bosses out of combat? My understanding is that any creature, even a "normal person", cannot be ...
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  • 1,555
10 votes
4 answers
1k views

How can I avoid "railroading" my players by giving them a limited set of choices with only basic descriptions?

I play Dungeons and Dragons 5e. I have a habit of highlighting certain choices, without realizing I'm doing it, because what I feel like I'm doing, is telling not showing. I have a problem with my ...
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12 votes
7 answers
5k views

How big is a gemstone in the DMG gemstone table?

Context The DMG treasure tables (DMG p134) describe six categories of gemstone: 10gp, 50gp, 100gp, 500gp, 1000gp, and 5000gp. What does this mean? An agate can be worth anywhere between 10gp and ...
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7 votes
3 answers
439 views

How to add descriptive role-playing flair if I'm not good at improvising?

This question is inspired by an answer to another question here. I originally tagged this with system-agnostic but was informed that some systems actually have ...
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  • 625
13 votes
3 answers
976 views

How can a GM control their use of specific words?

Often times when I am running a game, I find that plot points, characters, and setting features require the use of specific wording to be properly explained, develop identifiable characteristics, or ...
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  • 2,264
7 votes
2 answers
630 views

How can I best narrate the position of an unhidden invisible skeleton?

While fighting through a wizard's tower, the party breaks into an unexplored storeroom to take cover from enemies down the corridor outside the room. Unbeknownst to them, there is an invisible ...
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7 votes
1 answer
1k views

How do I get better at describing things? [closed]

Inspired by this question and the fact that I keep saying 'washing machine' when my brain goes blank (Seriously, I forgot the word stone the other day when describing cave walls) I figured I would ask ...
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  • 25.8k
0 votes
1 answer
390 views

What resources are available to help describe spell effects? [closed]

Are there any resources out there (tables, examples) to help describe spell effects to increase cinematic narrative? Most spells in D&D 5e do not have much description as to specific somatic or ...
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32 votes
5 answers
4k views

Is D&D a suitable tool for fleshing out my own fictional world?

So I've gone around on the web, trying to figure out exactly how D&D works, and still I'm befuddled. Let me first start by stating what exactly it is I'm trying to achieve. So, I'm an aspiring ...
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  • 323
16 votes
4 answers
3k views

NPC-only interactions by player request

So, my players want the NPCs to communicate with one another more, and I don't know how to handle that without taking spotlight away from the PCs... Anything I can do to compromise?
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  • 898
9 votes
3 answers
372 views

From a narrative standpoint, how can I justify that a character learns trained-only skills while adventuring? [closed]

Mechanically, if the level-up happens while the party is out adventuring, nothing prevents any character from advancing any of the existing skills by a number of ranks. That means that the low-...
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  • 1,531
4 votes
4 answers
2k views

How to describe a vampire without immediately reveal its true nature

The last time we played, I left my players in the current situation: The players have just defeated some zombies. Suddenly a big dark cloud is materializing above them, hiding the sun. Right after, ...
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  • 143
12 votes
1 answer
382 views

How do I make my hacking narration more interesting?

I'm GMing Eclipse Phase. I can describe most scenes and put my player in the mood, but when it come to hacking I'm at a loss for words. I try to concentrate on the impact of the outcome, but my ...
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2 votes
3 answers
9k views

How can you describe a character with low Constitution but high Dexterity and Strength? [closed]

I just rolled up stats for a new campaign, and ended up with the following: 15 Strength 13 Dexterity 6 Constitution 18 Intelligence 8 Wisdom 6 Charisma I'm going to be playing a wizard, but I'm ...
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  • 9,323
22 votes
5 answers
5k views

How do I reveal the Big Bad only by foreshadowing, without the reveal being too early or late?

What I plan for my campaign is to drop hints about some greater evil, and whenever my players reach the natural point of realization, have them go off on a search to stop it. I wanna do it naturally, ...
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9 votes
4 answers
2k views

What does a negative level feel like to the character?

When a character gains a negative level from any source, what is the narrative effect of that negative level? How does the character (re)act, how do they feel? Does that differ for various ways of ...
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32 votes
5 answers
3k views

How can I narrate Charm/Fear/Rage/etc effects in a liberating manner?

Or, How can I implement behavior-centric status effects without giving the players a sense of having lost their autonomy? It's something I have found to be a personal agitant as a roleplayer, and ...
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  • 283
15 votes
4 answers
3k views

How do I communicate to players that a room is unimportant? [duplicate]

Recently, I DM'd the "Death House" one-shot from Curse of Strahd where the players explore a haunted mansion. A lot of the rooms have great descriptions about their contents (e.g. a dining room with ...
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5 votes
3 answers
742 views

How do I narrate non-physical strain?

I'm sort of baffled about strain "injuries" in Edge of the Empire. As an example: EV-8D3 in the Debts to Pay book that is part of the GM screen has an abilitiy called Improved Scathing Tirade, letting ...
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28 votes
10 answers
2k views

How do I telegraph the difference between life-hating and faithful-guardian undead at a distance? [closed]

(In my world...) Some undead are raised for evil purposes, and are motivated to extinguish any life they encounter. But some undead were so dedicated/faithful in life that they do not leave their ...
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  • 98.6k
58 votes
8 answers
12k views

How do I rein in a player who talks over my descriptions?

I am a new DM (although I have played D&D before), and I was very excited to play with my friends, but as we started playing I realized there would be a problem. As I would describe either ...
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  • 581
3 votes
4 answers
2k views

Should I immediately tell players when a monster dies?

I have noticed that my PCs can dispatch a hoard of high health things pretty quickly, and as soon as they have put enough arrows/swords at one thing, they move onto the next. That makes me think, ...
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  • 4,183
22 votes
5 answers
4k views

How to design and run cinematic combats that move between zones?

I've been running D&D for a few years now, and I just want a little more from my combats. I've already got a very solid handle on designing environments to make combat more dynamic, but what I can'...
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  • 12.7k
22 votes
10 answers
4k views

Am I allowed to cut away from the player characters to show things happening elsewhere?

Instead of focusing solely on the protagonists (aka the players), would it be permissible to cut away from what they're doing to show (out of character) what else is going on in the world, ...
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  • 3,571
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

Are there guidelines for how to narrate different degrees of success/failure?

I find myself getting caught up in a story and sometimes when players roll skill checks I give them the information or allow for a success depending on several factors(their description, their ...
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  • 2,355
1 vote
0 answers
56 views

Searching for adjectives about weights [closed]

I'm making a small RPG game and I'd like to not put the precise weight up for display, at least for non identified objects. The problem is I know of only two words, light and heavy, that describe ...
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  • 111
3 votes
2 answers
686 views

How would you describe a character in heavy armor taking damage? [closed]

In order to properly describe combat Id like a clearer understanding of what it look like when a player in plate armor takes damage. PHB 5e. Plate consists of shaped, interlocking metal plates to ...
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  • 388
5 votes
3 answers
566 views

How can I efficiently convey different perceptions of the same thing to different players? [duplicate]

I'm building an encounter around illusions, but this works for other similar situations. The party moves along the narrow corridor. As they turn the corner, they see just another regular corridor. ...
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  • 44.1k
46 votes
9 answers
15k views

How to improve my descriptions of the health status of monsters

A bit of background; I'm a new GM to two players, one of whom played a bit of 3.5e and 4e while the other is a complete newbie. The veteran is used to knowing when creatures are "bloodied", as per 4e, ...
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  • 7,970