113 votes
Accepted

Should I change the entire campaign to please one player?

Let your player leave. D&D is a game. The primary reason anyone plays D&D is to have fun. You and your player are not having fun. Your question title is a leading one: of course you ...
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  • 62.4k
101 votes

With the lifespan of elves, would you ever encounter a low-level elf?

Let me start by saying that this is a well-known potential "fallacy" in the settings/rule interaction Human Level 1 Fighter: "Let me get this straight. You're a hundred and twenty." Elf Level 1 ...
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  • 4,060
89 votes
Accepted

Player has arachnophobia: what to use in place of spiders?

As with other aspects of the game, as the GM you have a lot of leeway here. Just because the Adventure Path/Campaign/Monster Manual says that these creatures are spiders doesn't mean that they have to ...
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  • 4,410
87 votes

How can my villain intimidate my players' characters into submission?

You don't I usually hate this type of answer but unfortunately this sort of thing is rarely done well at tables and should be avoided. Particularly in a first session this will be considered ...
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  • 27.6k
78 votes
Accepted

How to build an evil campaign

I've played in and run evil campaigns of various sorts in both 3.5 and 4e (though not 5e, I think my learning will transfer), and run into a lot of problems: My Guy Syndrome comes up a lot, as does a ...
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  • 52.7k
76 votes

Player has arachnophobia: what to use in place of spiders?

One thing to keep in mind before you just port spider-like abilities over to something that isn't quite a spider is that real arachnophobia isn't just a matter of being "creeped out" by them. I have ...
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  • 851
76 votes
Accepted

How can I use powerful NPCs without overshadowing the player characters?

It’s all about Agency As long as the party is independent to choose their path, and their actions remain relevant, having mighty NPC’s involved won’t detract from the game. NPC’s that are already in ...
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  • 24.5k
71 votes
Accepted

How to ease down the munchkin factor?

This might not be as much of a problem as you think. Why? Because munchkining, minmaxing, optimising, whatever you want to call it - is severely limited in 5e. The main techniques for it in previous ...
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  • 141k
69 votes
Accepted

Accidentally let party wander into a high level situation, how do I help them get out without cheesing?

Telegraph the problem in advance It sounds like the real danger here is that the group might communicate sincerely with the spymaster, and this could lead to the spymaster killing them all. You can ...
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  • 76.5k
68 votes

Should I change the entire campaign to please one player?

I have to say that, assuming your description is accurate, you already have tried changing the campaign to please this one player, and he refused to be pleased. I'd let this one go.
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  • 15.6k
66 votes

With the lifespan of elves, would you ever encounter a low-level elf?

Elves don't get their first character level until age 120. That means they spend a lot of time until then doing... well... something. If we look at humans and what they learn in their first 15 or so ...
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  • 77.7k
62 votes
Accepted

How can I limit my players' options in character creation when the reason why is a spoiler?

My vote is for the broad-strokes banhammer. In short, don't make a big deal of it and people mostly won't notice. Just because something exists in the world does not mean it should be an option for ...
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  • 15.5k
62 votes

How can a GM continue to progress the campaign if the player characters cause a plot-critical item or NPC to be lost/killed?

One uncomfortable answer: Don't write quest structures that are that fragile. If your plot depends on the PCs taking very specific, scripted actions, and not taking such actions results in a complete ...
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60 votes

How to run a campaign for intelligent players with idiot PCs?

For your players Use other solutions Intelligence is only one of 3 mental stats, and the one that refers mostly to book-learning, puzzling, connection-making and thinking stuff through. However, ...
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  • 77.7k
56 votes

How can I plan a TPK finale that doesn't look planned?

Tell them that the side campaign ends with an epic, glorious, TPK. Making your players co-conspirators in the shape of the finale means that they will help you drive it to that epic conclusion. There'...
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50 votes
Accepted

Should I discuss the type of campaign with my players?

Yes, you should discuss it with them. First, it is important to note that "Sandbox" and "railroad" are more of a spectrum than an either-or proposition. As I understand it, you want to put at least ...
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49 votes
Accepted

One of my PCs unknowingly slept with his sister

First: Ewwwww, yuk. Second: The bar is big enough to employ 2 barmaids - luckily the one he slept with is not his sister. This changes the situation from really gross to "dodged a bullet, lucky your ...
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  • 187k
49 votes

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

In D&D, they can just die and come back In the context of magical fantasy adventure like D&D, it's useful to separate these two questions: "How can I keep this character alive after a ...
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  • 28.3k
49 votes
Accepted

What are the DM's responsibilities when dealing with a character's death?

This is about Best Practices, not responsibilities. You ask about responsibilities and there aren't any, formally. Informally, the objective of the DM is to facilitate the play experience for the ...
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48 votes
Accepted

How to make sure the players escape but feel like it was because of their wit?

The first rule of RPG plots is that no plot survives contact with player characters. You cannot rely on players to do what you expect. If a puzzle has two solutions, the players will invent a third, ...
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47 votes
Accepted

How can I avoid railroading in a sci-fi campaign?

They're really not that different... ...because you left out an important adjective: abandoned. Often, those "fantasy" adventure locations you cited - a crypt, a prison, a cave system, a ...
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  • 47.4k
47 votes

How can live fire exercises be made safer?

Use Faerie Fire as a surrogate for Fireball Advantages: Faerie Fire is non-lethal. Like Fireball, Faerie Fire uses a Dexterity saving throw. Targets who fail the save light up, making it easy to ...
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  • 6,540
46 votes

How to ease down the munchkin factor?

As a roleplayer who dislikes playing for stats, I loved it when the GM introduced an eggtimer. Players only got a limited time for rules discussions, swapping spells & checking/discussing rules ...
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  • 477
46 votes

How to make sure the players escape but feel like it was because of their wit?

My preferred method for doing something like this is thinking outside the dungeon: start the adventure after the player characters have escaped. Begin the first session with a prologue outside game ...
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  • 53.2k
45 votes

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

As it stands, they have two parties with a vested interest in their capture/destruction: the one(s) who framed them and the authorities that arrested them. If they don't want to pursue the plot, have ...
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  • 3,148
45 votes

Accidentally let party wander into a high level situation, how do I help them get out without cheesing?

Don't waste a valuable resource These are 5th level characters. As pawns they are well above the norm. When they confide in the Spymaster, rather than kill them, she uses them. Turns her ...
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44 votes
Accepted

How can I have a campaign where not everyone shows up to each session?

Megadungeon All sessions start in the village. At any time when not in peril and the party knows the way back the party can declare that they return to the village - this ends the session. If the ...
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  • 187k
44 votes
Accepted

How to set up love interests for player characters

Do not cheapen relationships Do not have a "romantic interest" NPCs, instead have real characters who may develop strong feelings for a PC. Significant others are not quest items or things to be ...
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42 votes

How much should I adjust the CR of encounters to compensate for PCs having very little GP?

You can’t. It’s just not that simple. CR is an inaccurate, unreliable tool in the best of times. Numerous creatures have stats comparable with other creatures several CRs higher or lower, and on top ...
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  • 317k
42 votes
Accepted

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

Ultimately, the reason your players kill your villains is because they know, deep down, that it's the right thing to do. Now, I don't mean it's the moral thing to do. I mean it's the pragmatic thing ...
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