Questions tagged [story]

For questions about the sequence of events that take place in the fictional environment within a roleplaying game.

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271 votes
15 answers
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Managing a Medieval Low Orbit Ion Cannon

Sometimes I hate my players. My table is currently composed of five diabolically inventive players. They come from a mixed IT/Engineering background, so more often than not, I have to deal with some ...
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106 votes
14 answers
15k views

What do you do when your players guess your plots?

So I'm a new GM and am running my first campaign. I'm by no means running a terribly complicated game with Elizabethan parlor intrigue, but I do have a few twists that I'm excited to throw at my ...
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  • 1,023
79 votes
16 answers
80k views

How do I get my players to form a party without just forcing them to?

I believe that it is generally a good thing that all the PCs travel together, as a "party". This way the GM has to manage one environment – not, say, five. The problem is how the GM can ...
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  • 4,039
67 votes
13 answers
13k views

As a GM, how can I stop killing my games?

Probably the worst issue I have as a Game Master is that I think of a game, I write a campaign plot for it -- End, Beginning and Middle, get hyped, hype my players, and after 2 months I get bored with ...
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56 votes
13 answers
2k views

How do I help my players not get caught up on smaller plot points?

I just finished having a conversation with one of my players, and was led to a question I'm not sure I know how to answer. I'm running a sandbox campaign (D&D 4e, if it makes a difference) where ...
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52 votes
11 answers
5k views

How can a GM prevent growing disillusioned with their own game?

I recently began a new game in which I gave the players much more free reign in designing their characters than I might have in the past. What I wound up with was a very morally-diverse party, with ...
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  • 3,414
47 votes
15 answers
5k views

How to get out of a story deadlock

As with most of my questions, this is more of a general "how to handle a special situation" and not a plea to solve an existing problem. What is the best way to handle story deadlocks (as in: The ...
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  • 1,837
46 votes
8 answers
8k views

As DM, how do I deal with PCs that expect everything in the game to be relevant to the story?

I've started DMing a new group. We've only had two short, 2hour sessions, and most players are new to DnD. I've been a DM before (though just a dozen or so sessions) but in those cases it was with a ...
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46 votes
5 answers
7k views

How does "failure" work in Dungeon World? How does it move the story forward?

I am having trouble understanding the specifics of failure in Dungeon World. According to the rules, a GM should "make a move" against players when they fail, and that's alright, I get that. What I ...
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41 votes
10 answers
7k views

Is there a plausible explanation for a large number of armed adventurers in a fantasy RPG setting?

I'm working on a Dungeons & Dragons setting. I'm looking for a comprehensive and logical explanation why, in a feudal society similar to Western Europe in the Middle Ages, there might be bands of ...
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  • 4,795
41 votes
15 answers
6k views

How can I help a player craft a backstory that gives me plot hooks?

I have a new player joining my game soon who has taken the place of another player. Unfortunately, the character's backstory is lacking. It doesn't tell me a lot about the character. Because I draw ...
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40 votes
8 answers
8k views

How do I get better at narrating/storytelling as a GM?

Personally, I've always had difficulty telling coherent stories, even from my own experiences. My wife has even coined a term (jokingly) for the type of story I tell, one that either makes no sense, ...
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  • 17.4k
39 votes
5 answers
8k 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 ...
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  • 707
38 votes
12 answers
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 ...
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  • 17.4k
38 votes
5 answers
2k views

How to get players to be curious and ask questions?

I have recently noticed that my players don't really try to find out much about the world and story beyond the direct "what do we see?" I want to have them interact more with their environment and ...
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  • 5,869
37 votes
3 answers
7k views

How can I stress my players' resources while making the stressors feel natural without simply adding more combat encounters?

In a weekly campaign I've been running my players have recently reached levels where they are obtaining some of their core abilities. One of my players is a druid, who has chosen the wild shape-...
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34 votes
3 answers
6k views

What's the earliest instance of a "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" reference to beholders?

Is there any recorded use of the phrase, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" being used in a commercially available D&D campaign or any rulebook of any edition, specifically to reference (...
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  • 8,283
34 votes
10 answers
2k views

What can I include in my character's background to help the GM build a better story?

Whatever the system or the world used, what can a player add to his character background that will help the GM make the game more interesting. Games are much more interesting with the addition of ...
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34 votes
7 answers
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 ...
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  • 7,251
33 votes
7 answers
4k views

What to do when a great idea comes too soon?

As a GM, often a fantastic ending to a campaign comes to me before I start it. In the Star Wars universe, I picture the heroes stealing a Star Destroyer from the Empire or, in D&D, I picture the ...
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  • 331
32 votes
5 answers
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 ...
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32 votes
5 answers
6k views

How can I handle a PC wanting to be a "twist" villain?

My group has been following a premade campaign that has a decentralized plot structure that relies mainly on adventurers "finding their own adventure". This means that while the campaign ...
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  • 11.1k
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
32 votes
9 answers
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 ...
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  • 423
31 votes
10 answers
5k views

How can I fool my players into being pawns for the villain?

Concept I want to get a generally benevolent party to unwittingly further the villain's motives. More than parcel delivery - I'd like to tap into their sense of right/wrong, justice, vigilantism, ...
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  • 9,407
31 votes
9 answers
1k views

How do I help create story around the table without writing it?

I love RPGs. I think they can create some of the most fun and enjoyable stories, both from an out-of-game and in-game standpoint. I also realize that "story" is the result of the game played by the ...
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  • 747
30 votes
8 answers
6k views

My players want a tighter narrative, but have wandered off course. What now?

I started a new campaign yesterday for a smaller group of players that are new to pen and paper roll playing games. Before we started actually playing the players and I were talking about how P&...
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30 votes
2 answers
6k views

How to make your players hate your villain, but not your game

How does one build the character of a villain such that the players (playing heroic characters) hate the villain as much as possible without detracting too much from the quality of the game? What ...
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29 votes
7 answers
5k views

Who gets to write how character backgrounds tie into the game?

One of my player's character is searching for a long-lost brother whom he never knew. Who is ultimately responsible for how this NPC is written into the story? I realize that I am the DM, and ...
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27 votes
14 answers
1k views

Story Arc vs. Player Creativity [closed]

I want to put the players in a challenging spot by putting them in a no win situation and having them captured and stripped of their equipment (assuming they might get it back as they make their ...
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  • 2,370
27 votes
5 answers
8k views

Should I let one of my Players control his character's kids?

I have a Player whose character has kids. That's fine with me, the kids that this character has are 23, 24, and 25. The player wants to control the kids of this character whenever they show up. I'm ...
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  • 4,833
27 votes
10 answers
2k views

How do I find and eliminate plot holes?

I'm still a pretty new GM. Even though I enjoy coming up with plots and writing the overarching story-line, when I tell my wife (who does not play) how the adventure should progress (the long-view, ...
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  • 17.1k
27 votes
8 answers
2k views

How to tastefully convey racism in RPGs?

I will use Eberron as my example: Eberron is a D&D setting that has a player race known as Warforged, which are essentially living constructs. At the end of the last war (2 years ago in game) the ...
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  • 2,945
26 votes
10 answers
2k views

How do I hint at events outside the scope of the current quest?

I'm GMing a long-term game with some friends, and they are the sort who, as soon as I drop a hint about anything, go "Let's investigate that!" I want there to be an overarching story arc, but it's ...
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  • 261
24 votes
7 answers
2k views

How do I fix this plot hole?

I started my zombie apocalypse campaign in a rather low-budget and low-powered way, mostly to avoid having flame throwers and incendiary grenades be the go-to solution for zombie hordes. When the PCs ...
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  • 3,531
24 votes
5 answers
3k views

How to handle diverging expectations on "background density"?

Sorry, this is lengthy, but I want to put this into context. After many years (try 15) of not GM'ing a group of my own, I recently made an attempt to return to the head of the table and shake off the ...
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  • 2,325
23 votes
8 answers
2k views

What to do when your PCs skip an important part of the story line

In the earliest stage of my new duet campaign, I thought I had "rail-roaded" the PC into the first important encounter, one that leads to a major story line for the campaign. Specifically, the PC was ...
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  • 1,271
23 votes
5 answers
6k views

How should I go about stabbing my friend in the back? [closed]

I'll let that title sit there for a second while I explain my situation. So, first off - recently the DM let slip that his current campaign is loosely based on the Star Wars trilogy (which one though,...
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  • 22.4k
23 votes
5 answers
4k views

Sometimes, losing a big conflict is the better plotline. For D&D, how do you encourage this result?

It is practically an old adage that D&D parties will never let a fight end in a loss (short of a TPK.) And that the game mechanics (especially later editions) encourage this thinking. But ...
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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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21 votes
3 answers
2k views

How do I reduce plot stalling in a collaborative roleplaying game?

My first attempt at running a session of Storybrewers' game Good Society completely stalled out in terms of plot. Good Society is a collaborative storytelling-style game. The facilitator's role is ...
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  • 221
20 votes
5 answers
9k views

What do you do when avoiding railroading just gives you stuck players?

I'm seeking some newbie GM advice. I'm an experienced rpg player, but am much less experienced as a GM I was recently running an D&D 5e adventure, where the players would be investigating in a ...
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  • 301
20 votes
10 answers
8k views

How do I tie episodic sessions together to make larger campaign arcs?

My D&D group only plays perhaps once a month and occasionally one of them won't be able to make it. I (the DM) home-brewed our last campaign and, whilst fun, the big story arcs and multiple NPCs ...
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20 votes
3 answers
3k views

How can I add details to my character mid-campaign? [closed]

I'm very new to Dungeons and Dragons, but when creating my character, I made it part of his backstory that he had a magic amulet that he couldn't take off. It was originally a McGuffin that I used to ...
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20 votes
10 answers
2k views

How to determine how much plot guidance is too much? [closed]

I've played in many games that were extremely railroaded. There was basically only one feasible course of action and we, as players, were expected to take that route. (The GM would get very upset if ...
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  • 3,414
20 votes
6 answers
724 views

How can I moderate the flow of information in a discovery-focused campaign?

30K foot view The overarching structure of my current campaign relies a lot on discovery. My players are placed in an open world that they can explore more or less freely, but in order to make ...
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  • 1,645
19 votes
7 answers
8k views

How do I keep my players from investing too much time in their doomed characters?

I'm designing a campaign for a group of friends. One of the main plot hooks is a bunch of mercenaries that want to bring them to an oracle which gives them the first indication of the Big Bad. When ...
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  • 1,350
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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19 votes
6 answers
4k views

How to throw off suspicion for the big reveal in a way that it is not unfairly blindsiding them?

In my plot I have a big bad obvious "dark lord" type villain... who is the pawn of the hidden evil mastermind. Basically said mastermind created a threat to ensure that everyone bands together to ...
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  • 675
19 votes
8 answers
3k views

How to transform a tragic hero into a villain? [closed]

First things first: let there be a tragic hero with some (yet undefined) personal characteristics. Let there also be a grim world, in which the stories take place (no fairies, knights in shining armor ...
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  • 949