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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7
votes
6answers
638 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
542 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,...
6
votes
1answer
112 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 ...
22
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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, ...
7
votes
3answers
972 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 ...
12
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5answers
940 views

How to convey the tone of Shadowrun?

Reading the core book I realized how different Shadowrun is from my usual game of Dungeons & Dragons. We usually play the good guys saving a village from a tribe of goblins. Most of the time we ...
10
votes
1answer
249 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
181 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,...
7
votes
3answers
618 views

Pros and cons of 2nd person narration?

As a GM, I'm not sure whether should I try to avoid 2nd person narration whenever possible. For example, instead of saying, "You feel a chill in the air," would it be better to say, "The air grows ...
8
votes
2answers
222 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
14
votes
4answers
529 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
18
votes
3answers
492 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
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 ...
74
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 ...
9
votes
4answers
692 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 ...
3
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
918 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
234 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 ...
21
votes
6answers
470 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
534 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
637 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 ...
31
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5answers
4k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
114 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
445 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 ...
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 ...
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?
9
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3answers
363 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-...
4
votes
4answers
1k 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, ...
12
votes
1answer
347 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
4answers
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, ...
21
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'...
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, ...
3
votes
2answers
479 views

How should Monk's Slow Fall class feature be narrated?

Visualization of feats, effects, spells and abilities in D&D is generally somewhat straightforward: Paladin's Smite Evil - your weapon glows with holy energy and is unleashed when you hit Evil™ ...
8
votes
3answers
397 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
750 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
287 views

Balance between planning and improvising [closed]

What is the ideal balance between planning out an entire session of playing, complete with music scoring and conversation detailing, and winging the entire thing? As an example, I'll cite one of the ...
24
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
54 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
586 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 ...