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If they habitually skip the prepared content: "That's all I've got. See you next time." If you've prepared a certain amount of content and the players choose to skip it without a convincing in-character rationale and while mocking you as the DM, then tell them they arrived at their destination without incident... and just end the session, right then and ...


153

Show Them Why Before discussing it "off the table", you should first try to integrate this issue into the narrative. Based on some of your comments, it sounds like there's a bit of an adversarial tone between your PCs and you. This is a common attitude in newer groups, and one that is discouraged by having the DM tell an honest story. Have the narrative ...


104

Invest less of your prep time in skippable events Here's an example of a skippable event: "You see a weird thing. Want to go poke it?" Here's an example of a non-skippable event: "Night is falling, and you hear wolves howling. The howling is coming from in front of you and behind you, and it's getting closer. The howling behind you sounds different -- ...


66

The easiest way would indeed be to talk about the social contract at your table If you don't have the time to prepare a lot of different paths and you want to focus on one way then you should tell your players that you would appreciate if they take the bait - at least from time to time. It's not like this is hurting them in some way according to your ...


65

Punish them! Not as players, but as characters. They want to murder random shopkeepers in a fleshed out world, go for it! Don't just have your guards "spot them", they should be actively looking for a hulking monster and his pet psycho that are murdering good people. These people are not heroes. They are murderhobos, and they deserved to be treated as ...


45

Well, for starters, I'd say don't use D&D. It is a game tailored towards violent conflicts, which is exactly what you're avoiding, it seems. Mind you, I said "violent conflicts". No story, thus no game, can exist without any conflict whatsoever. I'm not also saying it's completely undoable with D&D, just mainly... a waste of its design and practical ...


43

Let the Baby Bird Leave the Nest Having rotated a campaign through many GM hands, the least disruptive thing we found was to not worry about it. Your turn at the helm is over. Our group has multiple people that like to GM. We created a world we really liked and want to continue exploring when it is someone else's turn to run a campaign. We decided that ...


42

Make the players invested in the history of the world. This depends on the system you're using. However, generally, you want the players to come up with a backstory, yes? Well, nudge them to tie their character's backstory in with the rest of the world. That way, when something happens in the world, they'll be emotionally invested in its outcome. Hence, ...


42

What you're experiencing is, essentially, an arms race between the GM and the players. They feel that your content is deadly or punishes frivolity and react by being as careful and cautious as they feel they need to. This causes you to make the next challenge more difficult to detect, which increases their paranoia. And so on. On the one hand, I commend you ...


42

Establish why they want to avoid quests/plot/hooks In my preparation I have a number of small side-quests that may never get played. Most are fairly generic ones that I can pull out for a single session if I need something to keep the PCs entertained while my villains put plans into motion. Many of these I don't expect to actually end up being played ...


41

A roleplaying session is not like a video-game one: you don't have to have everything planned. Many details don't have to be decided before the PC stumble on them. After all they may never came to this shop. When players go shopping, you don't have to show them the list of every item available, like you would have in most of the video rpgs. Just play the ...


39

You can have several tricks to get around this, I've used similar methods with fantasy and cyberpunk games. Security Weapons are keycoded, or Palmprinting - this stops anyone but a certain person using it. Yes you can bypass it, but it's either difficult or very pricey. Limited uses Yes, you've got a melta gun - but getting ammo/powerpacks for it is ...


37

There are things a GM can prepare in advance to help exude Intelligence, other than jumping into spontaneous role-playing I live off of high-intelligence BBEGs like wizards who are as evil as they are ingenious. For what it's worth, here's what I have done at my table, and it gets me by (but note that much of this is not specific to a Solar, rather just any ...


35

Get a look at this table I found and use on my games, it have all the necessary information in 3 pages landscape that you can fit to your custom-made DM screen. All the credit for Mr. Stan Shinn, great work! https://drive.google.com/open?id=1J9R5RCy6l5ivS0wI6bwxVb1v8TcqQMWH I put on these drive folder the Stan Shinn file, one similar in spanish (both in ...


35

Zastoupil's answer is 100% the way to go. Using this as an opportunity to create a plausible civil society will pay dividends: your players may tone down their violence when they discover it has costs, and they may take your world more seriously if it feels a little more real. That's the correct answer. But here's a fun one: redcaps! From Volo's Guide: ...


34

Use a Ring Binder and Poly wallets I once ran a similar scenario, but mine was a dungeon that went down a whole lot with plenty of sub-levels. For this, you will need two ring binders, a whole bunch of poly wallets, some paper, a pencil, some tape/glue/adhesive and some scissors. Optional extra is some tracing paper. Draw each discrete room/explorable ...


30

It's up to you. One of the joys of roleplaying games is that as the GM you have a large degree of flexibility in what you do. Flexibility versus Preparation If you prepare a city with a lot of diagrams and an actual map, that's great. You'll be able to come up with stuff without even having to stop and think about it because you've already charted it out ...


30

Same Page Tool There is such a thing. It's called the Same Page Tool. It does require you to talk to the players, but gives you a structured set of questions to work from that can guide that conversation. There's really no way to do this that doesn't involve talking to them in some way, short of running campaigns and watching what they react to & what ...


30

It depends on what you're looking for You're comparing two entirely different products. Starter Set: I have no idea what D&D is and want to DM The Starter Set has everything you need to start playing. It has a bunch of pre-made characters, it has enough of the rules to get going and it has a short campaign to play through. If you simply want to get ...


29

I have a couple suggestions. Run your plots in parallel. It will make them seem infinitely more complex and give the players more to do. Investigations seem trivial when you're given a premise, two clues, and a contact, all lined up in a row. Give the players a couple investigations at once and then throw a dead body into the mix. Now they have to ...


28

Communicate. Let the players know what kind of campaign you're running. How relevant is combat? Will there be social encounters at all? Will they be frequent? Even better, listen to the players to find out what kind of game they would like to play. They want a game of brutal dungeons and challenging combat to gain ever more powerful items? Then they ...


27

Add brief lore based descriptions to many objects, not just books. Lots of hand crafted objects should have references to the lore of the world. Subtle examples include: Symbols of deities, makers marks of a famous smiths, allusions to heroes or kings of the realm, etc. Keep it simple Providing brief summaries makes information tractable and trackable. ...


26

For me, I would advise fully reading all the information provided for a given campaign. Given that all PCs in the history of tabletop games either accidentally or deliberately subvert DM expectations and plans, a fuller understanding of how the story will play out will help you 'correctly' seat your improvisations within the overall canon. Most ...


26

Draw the map in isometric. Usually isometric maps are just for fun, but where they truly shine is for maps with a lot of verticality. It takes some time getting used to drawing them, but it's not that complicated once you get the hang of it; drawing simple maps shouldn't be too much trouble. If you're looking for professional maps for inspiration, Elven ...


25

There are many tricks that will help you remember, but most of them boil down to two things: Focus on the important stuff and write things down. That being said, here are a few more detailed pieces of advice that might help you. 1: Get rid of clutter I don't know anything about the Death House, but it seems to be a large mansion with a lot of rooms. The ...


25

Adjust your "course" to match their "straying". A DM without players is an arbiter, not an adjudicator. A DM with players is an adjudicator, not an arbiter, if they are a good DM. It actually doesn't matter if they did or didn't follow your planned course. If you put an ocean there, expect that it might be traveled. I suggest that you jot a few notes ...


25

There are several good answers tackling the social aspect, so I'd like to approach it differently. Plan For Failure When you design any encounter plan what happens if the players succeed or if they fail. One of the toughest things I found as a new gm was what happened when my players messed up or walked away. Having a plan for what happens if they walk ...


24

Definitely get a first aid kit that can cover most environmental hazards in your area (spider bites, poison oak, etc) as well as the basic cuts/scrapes/twisted ankles/etc. Don't forget to include sunscreen and hydration tablets, since most of your player base is likely not used to spending a lot of time outdoors. Make sure you know how to recognize and treat ...


24

I've run and played in many games with minimal combat, even D&D games. In some campaigns we've had whole game sessions go by where no one touches a die, and have gone 2-3 sessions between a real fight. Here's the tricks. Give people something else fun to do! Often, this is fully realized NPCs to interact with; it can also be other exciting activities (...


24

Yes, it's fine to make it up as you go along. Whether or not that works for you depends upon your ability to remain consistent and to improvise on the fly, but many a good campaign starts with nought more than 4-6 PC's and a map. Also note: many a campaign lies stillborn, suffocated by excess GM prepwork. Many more get off the ground, then grind to a halt ...


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