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6

Insightful Manipulator Depending what you want to know, a Mastermind Rogue obtains a feature at level 9 called Insightful Manipulator (XGtE, p. 46): Starting at 9th level, if you spend at least 1 minute observing or interacting with another creature outside combat, you can learn certain information about its capabilities compared to your own. The DM ...


17

Aside from a few class features, it is very table-dependent A Battlemaster Fighter, at level 7, can spend at least 1 minute observing or interacting with another creature outside combat [to] learn certain information about its capabilities compared to your own. A Mastermind Rogue, at level 9, can spend at least 1 minute observing or interacting with ...


28

Know Your Enemy The "Know Your Enemy" Battle Master Fighter feature (PHB, pp. 73-74) does exactly that: The DM tells you if the creature is your equal, superior, or inferior in regard to two of the following characteristics of your choice: Strength score Dexterity score Constitution score Armor Class Current hit points Total class ...


1

Part of 4e is that you, the DM, set the house rules in agreement with the players. And if you have optimized players, you set the combats to the level of difficulty that's appropriate to challenge them if that's what they want. They claim to want that, you want that, so it is fully official that you make it happen as per the house rules section of DMG page ...


9

Romantic entanglements are just another character-based plot hook. You can satisfy your notoriously annoyable player along with the more interested players by keeping this in mind: it doesn't have to be fluff. I've had an NPC romantic entanglement as a player (well, it wasn't all that romantic, but the setup is the same). Some people really like tons of ...


9

Let me give some generic based on experience (also you can get a lot of similar advice all around the TTRPG community). Communication with your players is a key. Before you start the campaign, have a session 0 and talk to them about what they are interested in. Do they want roleplay or combat. What is going to be the tone of the campaign (if some ...


3

You should certainly avoid option 3. If it's high stakes, deflating them by fudging dice or even retconning the failure out will remove the player's trust and enjoyment. Here are some other things I'd suggest: Escalating Responses Failing at a check should not result in an immediate TPK state. It's also not realistic: If a security camera fails, the entire ...


3

Roll everybody all at once, determine encounter distance The party, being inexperienced, says "we walk down the corridor and round the corner". You say: "Okay, roll Spot". Everybody rolls. Alternatively, you roll spot secretly for them. Either way works, depending on your playstyle and how exactly the PCs are advancing. If the characters are sneaking and ...


5

There is Very Limited Space in the Star Wars Universe for this to be Viable Contemporary western genre fiction tends towards moral ambiguity, where there are many shades of grey between good and evil. The Star Wars universe (of the movies) is a stark contrast. The heroes are basically always going to be fundamentally good and the villains are always going ...


2

Your basic issue is that you're not at all on the same page You have one player who wants to make everything about over-the-top baby-eating evil. You have another who isn't comfortable playing in an evil campaign. You haven't said anything about what you personally want, but that's important too. In order to have a functional campaign, you have to have ...


3

Change the Game I second most of Dan B's answer, though in less absolute terms. The party is most likely not viable long term. The Jedi will constantly find problems with what the Sith are doing or the Sith will incessantly chafe trying to keep the jedi comfortable. Neither works long term. Thus, the best answer is likely, as Dan B said, to change the game ...


8

"Evil" isn't "Stupid" Did you do a Session 0 this game to establish the players' expectations? I could do an evil campaign, no problem. That said, I know that I wouldn't have much interest in an evil campaign where my actions had no consequences. It's the consequences that sell it. There's a reason that the most prolific serial killers don't just walk down ...


29

The short answer is: you need to work with your Jedi player and find a way to remove his character from the party, so he can bring in a different character that will be a better fit. This party is, in-world, unviable The longer answer is: the problem you're having is that there's no reason for these characters to be traveling together. The characters ...


0

Just to add to other answers, I always roll some die behind the screen so something seems “random”. In this case you may introduce the NPC to the characters, and prior to any interaction, ask them their CHA modifiers. Then roll some die and smile. Then narrate how the NPC leans toward the character you had in mind all the time. This “tactic” kind of hides ...


1

Treasure can be found in the most unlikely of places. To throw a challenge into the mix, "boxes" are not always the place to find things. In the magical realms of beasts and dungeons, treasure can be found anywhere. From being presented on plinth, encased in some odd material, or surrounded by some obviously deadly trap... In the centre of the room you ...


2

Consider giving with karma and cash bonuses for off-screen activities I second all of Upper_Case's excellent answer. Shadowrun is meant to progress more slowly than some other systems and to be fairly gritty. With that said, back when I ran a Shadowrun game I also used to get frustrated with characters not having the resources to play with the new toys (...


1

A box by any other name As you said, you can change the shape, but in the end a box is a box. Which raises the question, what is a box? Functionally, a box usually keeps items hidden, protected by environmental hazards, and makes it harder to get them. Of course, there are variations; an energy field will allow the item to be seen, a cardboard box will ...


15

Think about where the real life equivalent of those items would be stored. Closets, safes, on peoples person, drawers, jewellery boxes, etc. However, you have a situation where your players are excited for what comes next. Just to challenge your thinking for a minute, why not continue hiding the best loot in boxes? It's exciting for your players, and it ...


10

Well my last Splittermond (a high fantasy system in Germany) GM liked to hide things in litterally anything. I remember one time he hid the key to a dungeon, which held additional loot in the s***pile of a beast, whilst heavily implying that the ratpeople, which inhabitted the area, were eaten by said beast about 3 days ago. Basically take whatever is in ...


6

You seem to have managed to condition your players to get excited when finding 'boxes', you can leverage this to your advantage by leaving some nasty surprises instead of treats in said 'boxes' to help alleviate this expectation. Though on the other hand while having some table trends is not the worst thing if you do want to dole out treasure in a form ...


0

There have been many good suggestions presented here. I would take the opportunity to turn your players creative decision into heroic opportunities. Most stories and actions always have time elements involved. If the players take a lot of time what are the bandits doing in that time? The world is not static place and none of your guys have to sit around ...


8

tl;dr: Shadowrun really does have a slower pace for mechanical character development than some other games, and character development isn't showcased very well on the character sheet itself compared with playing out scenes (that's a big part of why multiplying Karma rewards doesn't "work" as well as you might hope without more play time). Emphasis on ...


0

I have relatively little to add, but I'll imbue this bit of wisdom from John Lasseter of Pixar/Disney: Using a coincidence to get your characters out of trouble is lazy. Using a coincidence to get them into trouble is good writing. Anything you like may go horribly wrong against the players to sort of railroad saving your bad guy as needed. You can get them ...


80

So just to be clear, you're looking to pull off a con, and part of the con requires seducing the party. As a DM, you're okay with failure, but you would like a reasonable chance of success. Your conman already has an established identity which prevents them from leaving town on extended forays. And your party tends to believe that any NPC displaying a ...


10

Every party is different, so this might not work for you. However, my players go out of their way to flirt with NPCs I try to make "unavailable." If during their first encounter with the NPC I play off that NPC as having a slight superiority complex, my players see that as a challenge to flirt with that NPC as much as humanly possible. Try to figure out what ...


6

My honest advice is to just make an NPC your players can grow attached to. Incorporate them into the story in a natural way and let the players make bonds with them naturally. I’ve done this before to great affect in a campaign I ran for friends a while back. I got the tiefling gunslinger attached to a NPC and they even naturally started a relationship. I ...


3

In addition to what has already been presented; The X Card and similar mechanics also present players with a method to express discomfort with actions and content within a game without needing to be confrontational towards the rest of the group or to give undue attention to the player invoking it: It's much more covert and potentially less emotionally ...


3

I've been a game master for 20 years and let me tell you a secret: I suck at playing bad guys. Specially the ones that should be conniving, smart, and magnificently duplicitous. So here are some tips for your schemes that may help you :) Corporations (in late medieval to modern settings) and secret societies (in general) are two of my favourite staples, ...


0

You mentioned you're good at improvising, double down on that and have one large backup scheme (more on that one in a second). If you're happy with the way your plans were foiled, except that a lot of your hard work went to waste, just don't do the hard work. Players (in my experience) like to feel smart and validated, and what better way to do that then ...


4

NPCs are exactly as devious as you want them to be As the DM the players' entire worldview is coloured by how you describe it to them. If you want a character to be devious, they are. But there are few things you can do to stop the player's knowing that. Showing your hand too early I believe you are likely focusing so heavily on "I need this character to ...


7

A devious character understands their goals, their potential resources, their potential obstacles, and the incentives of any potentially-involved parties. A devious antagonist is always focused on their goals, but they aren't necessarily directly pursuing those goals at all times. Instead they work to build their advantages up when opportunities to do so ...


2

Interestingly, I'm accustomed to the exact opposite. I'll build an innocent helpless NPC and the players will assume that it's the bad guy in disguise. They'll ask bunches of questions and try to catch them in a mistake. The sad part is when they do. No DM is perfect, and I hate to retcon things that happened last session... My advice is to remember ...


54

I like to pretend to a certain amount of smirking deviousness - I once derailed an "evil campaign" by convincing the GM to put his BBEG in the party as a mole... then convincing the resident assassin to kill him as a warning to his "boss" (he didn't know he had just killed the boss, it was hilarious). Since you're approaching things as a GM, I'll tell you ...


18

Mainly I would say that it's great that you are not trying to force your schemes for the sake of "arcs" you had pre-planned, and that you allow players to figure out things if they can and play the game logically based on what happens. Running situations fairly and letting situations develop logically especially when players cleverly find ways to have ...


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