332 votes

Players skipping side quests just to have a laugh at the DM

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-...
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  • 29.4k
161 votes

Players skipping side quests just to have a laugh at the DM

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 ...
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  • 3,785
119 votes

Players skipping side quests just to have a laugh at the DM

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,...
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  • 76.5k
72 votes

Players skipping side quests just to have a laugh at the DM

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 ...
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  • 6,698
68 votes
Accepted

How can I utilize overly-violent PCs for character development / progressing the story?

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 ...
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61 votes
Accepted

Can I use a trap that will kill a character, if the party can either find a creative solution around it or cast Revivify?

"I warned everyone beforehand that death IS a possibility in my games" Then you lied. Sorry, that might sound a bit harsh. What I mean is that you warned them that death is a realistic ...
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61 votes
Accepted

What to do when a player roleplays an extremely persuasive argument, but flubs their Persuasion check?

Options, Options, Options A game master has numerous options for resolving the potential dissonance between a spoken arguments and contrary dice results - options that work with either part being poor....
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  • 10.5k
54 votes

I feel like my DMing skills are making the game less enjoyable

Concentration for extended periods is hard People are most productive when they take breaks. The linked article suggests 17 minutes of break for every 52 minutes of work but, like all figures in the ...
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  • 187k
45 votes

Players skipping side quests just to have a laugh at the DM

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 ...
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  • 1,506
45 votes
Accepted

How can I get rid of drama fatigue as a GM?

I recommend a piña colada and warm sunny beach You, my friend, have some angsty players. You're clearly not enjoying running games for them and are burned out. Nothing good can come from trying to ...
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  • 27.7k
45 votes

In the Forgotten Realms, what happens when a god dies?

Oh, Very Very Yes If you want some dead gods, come on down to the Avatar Trilogy, where Bane got Banedead, Bhaal rolled over, Myrkul went from being God of the Dead to dead of the god, and other such ...
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  • 7,147
44 votes
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How to transfer control of a campaign that is mostly "make it up as you go"?

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 ...
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  • 9,641
43 votes

First time DM, how should I stock a shop?

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 ...
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  • 14.6k
43 votes
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My players are jumpy, how should I encourage more exploration?

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 ...
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  • 3,148
40 votes
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How to GM as a Solar NPC who has high Intelligence and Wisdom scores?

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 ...
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  • 6,351
37 votes
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How can I effectively map a multi-level dungeon?

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 ...
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  • 2,911
36 votes
Accepted

What sort of cheat sheets for a new DM lead to a better flowing 5e game of Dungeons and Dragons?

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, ...
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36 votes

How can I utilize overly-violent PCs for character development / progressing the story?

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 ...
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36 votes
Accepted

Starting with D&D: Starter Set vs Dungeon Master's Guide

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 ...
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  • 35.4k
34 votes

I feel like my DMing skills are making the game less enjoyable

"You miss" is fine. Save your detail for where you need, start with just describing monsters and areas, but you don't need to describe everything. You don't need to describe every room in a ...
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  • 8,824
33 votes
Accepted

As a DM, what changes do I need to make to my preparation when transitioning to online play?

this question is intended to be digital platform agnostic unless it has significant bearing on the answer. Unfortunately, It does. In almost every way. Because each tool you choose will be chosen ...
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  • 1,071
32 votes

As a GM, how do I make sure a self-contained session (an episode or one-shot) reaches its completion within the designated session length?

This is actually a pretty common way to run RPG sessions. Most of my experience running RPGs (Including D&D) in the past several years has been in 2-4 hour convention slots. The campaign I'm ...
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  • 5,984
30 votes
Accepted

How to get to know my players' expectations?

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 ...
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  • 32.1k
30 votes
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How can I deliver in-universe written lore to players without it being dry exposition?

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 ...
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  • 32.2k
28 votes
Accepted

As a GM, how can avoid pitfalls common to Generic Point Build Systems?

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 ...
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  • 2,770
27 votes

How do I respond when players stray from my prepared material?

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 ...
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  • 9,988
27 votes

Players skipping side quests just to have a laugh at the DM

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 ...
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  • 779
27 votes
Accepted

How do I pick a location to play a tabletop RPG?

Tabletop games tend to take quite a long time (several hours per session usually), can be quite noisy (it's quite hard to be quiet with 4-6 people talking, play-acting and throwing dice) and often ...
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  • 11.4k
26 votes
Accepted

As a DM, how far should I prepare ahead in a premade campaign?

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 ...
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  • 666
26 votes

How can I effectively map a multi-level dungeon?

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 ...
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  • 644

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