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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73
votes
13answers
8k views

How do I narrate a player's PC's actions without causing unintended consequences for the PC?

Daxius: "I'd like to roll an investigate check on Statue 1." Rolls. "Solid... 19." DM: "You walk around the statue, gliding your fingers along the rough outlines of it's crisp, defined ...
57
votes
8answers
11k 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 ...
50
votes
5answers
8k views

Punishing a player for instant-actioning

I GM a home-made D&D-style game which my friends and I play, and we had a scenario go as follows: After a player-character threw something at the wall, the players rolled a one and I was ...
40
votes
7answers
7k views

As a GM, how to react to players challenging contradictions in your narration?

As with any position of power, responsibility is bestowed onto a GM when running a game. Because good GMing has a lot of impact on overall enjoyment, the GM carries a certain amount of weight behind ...
38
votes
8answers
6k 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 ...
37
votes
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 ...
37
votes
9answers
9k 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, ...
33
votes
14answers
2k views

Narrativist Gaming: How do you transition more traditionally-trained players into them?

This was obviously inspired by the corresponding question on GM-less gaming. For the past couple of years I've become really interested in RPGs that are less about dungeon-crawling and combat and ...
32
votes
5answers
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 ...
31
votes
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 ...
31
votes
5answers
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 ...
31
votes
5answers
3k views

What techniques can I use to improve flavor text?

I've been improving my GM skills lately, but there is one area in which my skills are very weak, and that is flavor text. For example, if my players go into the woods, I tend to say something stupid ...
28
votes
10answers
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 ...
27
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
27
votes
7answers
6k views

How can I be more descriptive about actions and events in my game?

Whenever I'm running or playing a game, I consistently run into an issue of setting atmosphere. I've realized the best way to do this is through more effective, engaging descriptions of settings, ...
26
votes
4answers
3k views

How to deal with an overly-specific GM

So we started a new game tonight, and only an hour in I was bored out of my brain. The GM kept ranting about where each of our characters were from, the heritage of the area, etc. It could be argued ...
25
votes
5answers
5k views

How can I foreshadow the identity of a villain without making it too obvious?

I am currently running a campaign where, in one of the main story arcs, the villain is a rogue(assassin) with the charlatan background. He a very charismatic man who already commands a fair amount of ...
24
votes
9answers
1k views

Third-Person Limited Narration or Third-Person Omniscient Narration?

What are the advantages/disadvantages to using either a kind of "Limited Narration" or an "Omniscient Narration" style when running a game? i.e. Does saying... None of the characters notice the ...
22
votes
10answers
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, ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

How to become better at descriptions of what your character is doing?

A (very) common GM question is "What is your character doing?" How do you, as a player, describe effectively what you character is doing? What techniques do you use to evoke wonder and spark ...
21
votes
6answers
465 views

How to fight the unseen, and still keep things interesting?

In a horror themed campaign with a Lovecraftian feeling, a big part of the game is a constant feeling of threat, but without any visual stimuli other than glimpses, or sounds vaguely heard of things ...
20
votes
7answers
1k views

Fantasy and magic in a primarily realistic setting

I'm running a game that's best described as "medieval fantasy," in the sense that we're actually trying to have the lives of people in the setting strongly resemble the historical Middle Ages. There ...
20
votes
5answers
3k 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'...
20
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5answers
4k 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, ...
19
votes
7answers
2k views

How to deal with the differences in perception between group characters?

I struggle with the following : You enter the room and a dark, old man dressed with a humble and threadbare mantle is prattling in a corner. When he sees you, he stands up and comes forward, ...
18
votes
3answers
468 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
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?
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Co-operative story-telling mechanics

What are some existing or potential game mechanics that encourage players to "take the reins" a bit more and involve themselves in a story-telling perspective? Specifically, are there any examples of ...
15
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
910 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
502 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Can giving players “target numbers” like AC improve narration, and with what side-effects?

My players aren't narrating their actions as much as I want them to. Oftentimes, the narration is left solely up to me, the DM, and it's exhausting to come up with every successful (and failed) ...
12
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
716 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
337 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
907 views

How to convey the tone of Shadowrun

Reading the core book I realized how different Shadowrun is from my usual game of Dungeons and Dragons. We usually play the good guys saving a village from a tribe of goblins. Most of the time we play ...
11
votes
3answers
879 views

Properly describing enemies: how much detail to provide?

Faced with a group of enemies, players in our group tend to ask for enemy descriptions in some detail--the kind of armour/clothing they're wearing (to get an idea of who are the casters, the nimble ...
11
votes
1answer
849 views

Are there any sources more concretely describing the Shield spell?

This question stems from an exercise in rule interpretation that happened in a friendly brawl after our game ended. A Dragonborn blasted an acid breath at a mage player who blurted out "I use the ...
10
votes
5answers
889 views

Tricks allowing continuous narration during a fight [closed]

I used a lot of tricks that allowed to skip the counting of every swing and blow and dodge. I think people should share such solutions. My favourite tricks: Roll a bunch of dice and just take look at ...
10
votes
2answers
378 views

How do you convey the feeling of a crowded area?

Recently, one of my players suggested that streets and buildings felt too empty when we are playing Shadowrun. Other than many RPG, a lot of Shadowrun takes place in crowded cities, with the ...
10
votes
2answers
497 views

What game made leading questions a GM technique?

I am looking at history of gaming to understand the range of RPGs that are being played today. In the context of sharing some influence on narration between players and game masters, loaded or ...
9
votes
6answers
23k views

How to run a D&D urban campaign

I'm currently in the middle of DM'ing a city campaign. I've found it's quite a bit more difficult than a dungeon. I have the city mostly planned out (type of city, the ruler, the districts, centers of ...
9
votes
2answers
554 views

What type of speech do I use when GMing?

I remember that there are three types of speech. I will quote Wikipedia on this one: Direct speech: He laid down his bundle and thought of his misfortune. "And just what pleasure have I found, ...
9
votes
4answers
622 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
360 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-...
9
votes
1answer
166 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What information does the GM provide players when dealing with a monster? What do they have to roll for?

A monster may have similar stats to a PC, e.g., Armour Class 10, Spear as a ranged weapon, etc. When an encounter occurs, what part does the GM actually tell to the players? I suppose something like "...
8
votes
3answers
388 views

How do I narrate a failed damage roll?

When you hit someone and then roll for damage, you cause damage, which should be narrated, such as "You cut him in two with a single strike! He falls down and is going to die soon!", "You chop his arm ...
8
votes
2answers
329 views

Mechanics and methods for playing a quantum-superposition of worlds [closed]

I'm looking for game mechanics and story telling methods that convey the atmosphere that characters don't just live in one world, but in a multiverse adhering to something similar to the many-worlds ...
8
votes
4answers
963 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 ...