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146

No, it's not fair to punish a player in this way. But it's not okay for this player to take an unfair share of control over the game, either. You are the DM — you are in control. You are in the Big Chair, and the group put you there to be responsible for pacing and mediation. You have that job because players striving for the benefit of their PC is fun but ...


127

"Excuse me. Please be quiet. I haven't finished speaking, when I have you can talk as much as you want." This isn't a game problem, its a manners problem.


74

You've tried talking to them, but that didn't help. Try to improve how you describe the scene instead. You say they talk over you when you narrate how an enemy is close by? So narrate that last... Theangrygm has an excellent article about how to narrate your surroundings (trigger warning: theangrygm link. May contain swearing and wishfully bashing players ...


71

As DM, I wouldn’t dictate the details of the investigation of statue 1, as you do. Ideally, I would ask them to describe how they are investigating—before rolling. To keep things moving, I have been known to allow a roll and reveal the results before the description, since it’s easier to describe what you were doing when you know how it turns out, but ...


55

Hit Points can represent a lot of things Hit points are often thought of as a sign of how many blows with a weapon will be necessary to take an enemy down. This makes sense when we picture a huge dragon which could be covered with arrow wounds but still a deadly threat: it makes less sense when we are picturing a lone evil wizard or warlord. But in ...


52

"I'd like to roll an investigate check on Statue 1" That's not really what a player should say, at least in games with a traditional role split between players (state their characters' actions) and a GM/DM (adjudicates those actions). Since "DM" is used in the question, I'll assume such a traditional-role game. In such a game, the player shouldn't really "...


49

System agnostic answer Many roleplay games (D&D traditionally not among them) have the concept of "failing forward". This means that every roll has some consequence which is usually narrated by the GM and usually bad for the character or the party as a whole. A roll without possible negative consequences should not be made. Examples of such rules are: ...


48

Yes... D&D is a game of heroic fantasy. It's about fighting monsters, becoming more powerful, and looting cool stuff. If you see it through, you'll get a pretty cool story by the end. It's also collaborative, in that the protagonists are each played by a real person. As a result, you get several points of view on any situation, and writer's block is ...


46

NPCs can talk to each other without talking to each other. You cool your heels in the administrative annex for a bit and listen to the conversation drifting in from the break room about the new food truck on Fourth Street that rapidly turns into a compare-and-contrast session about lunch. The receptionist is patiently detailing the need to schedule ...


44

If the only reason why the NPC "wouldn't die" is that, mechanically, you can't deal enough damage with a knife to kill him - just ignore the mechanics. The rules on hit points, damage etc. are meant for combat. If an NPC is entirely helpless, and an (N)PC wants to slit the throat of the NPC, let them. The rules are just a tool - if, rules-wise, you would ...


43

Suggestively and Subjectively, If At All. Based on your reference to Neverwinter, I am assuming that this is some version of Dungeons and Dragons, which has no general mechanic for this sort of thing, only specific mechanics for things like Cause Fear spells. I also recognize you're not talking about those special spells or spell-like effects. The general ...


40

I've used this technique sparingly in the past. Sparingly, because There's only so much uninterrupted GM Storytelling Time™ that a table of your friends want to sit through. More than a few brief sentences rarely has the desired impact, and impact is mostly the point of such a cut-away narration. It's not very often that deliberately handing the group meta-...


37

It all depends on tone. If the player challenging the GM is doing so in a constructive tone, which means that the player is trying to make the game world make sense -- the disease example is a good one for that -- then listen and make a ruling1 If the player challenges the GM in a style that is obviously PvP, or "I'm right you're wrong," or if there is a ...


32

I haven't this problem with undead specifically, but I've definitely gotten frustrated at my players for not getting hints when I want them to notice something and behave differently. Having explicitly described them as guards and not had them attack unprompted, and having had no luck with that, I think your problem here is not that you're not telegraphing ...


31

Health Status Generally I follow a health status report system (when asked how each creature looks) like this: 100% - Uninjured or in perfect condition >75% - Minor injuries, doesn't show any signs of slowing, just a few minor inconveniencing injuries >50% - Injured, visibly wounded with some nondebilitating injuries, but still fighting strong <50% - ...


31

For very unruly groups it can make sense to establish some speaking rules. I once DMed for a group of very "enthusiastic" kids who just couldn't stop talking over me and over each other. This did not just cause the problems mentioned in the question but also marginalized the more shy kids in the group, which I found worrisome from a social-pedagogic point of ...


31

Yes, I have encountered this as both a player and GM. All of your solutions CAN work, but are dependant on the group's reactions and way of doing things. Some groups are technical and a bit meta-gamish--which while I don't personally love meta-gaming, sometimes it's fun for people, and they like the mechanic aspect--as long as everyone KNOWS what you mean ...


28

The players cannot ruin the GM's narrative because this is a RPG not a novel. Storytelling in an RPG to the extent that it is not, in the eloquent words of Homer Simpson, "just a bunch of stuff that happens" takes place as a dialogue, not a narrative. The role of the GM is to provide the stage, the props and the extras, the role of the players is to provide ...


28

Give the villain a fake dark secret. If he seems suspicious, the PCs can investigate and discover his "horrible secret" of being addicted to drugs, or be secretly a member of some group that's marginalized in this society, or have a bastard child he doesn't want discovered. The PCs may just have pity on such an upstanding person with an element of weakness, ...


25

This was too long for a comment so I'm making an answer... Other answers have suggested using secret information (whispering or passing notes). Secret information is good sometimes, but it also slows down the game and can make players overly paranoid. In my opinion its not worth handing out 5 different descriptions for every NPC. Instead, I recommend that ...


24

Describe from least to most meaningful This is a trick I learned when describing a room: Go from the most mundane to whatever the PCs will want to interact with the most last Five heavily armed orcs stand and reach for their weapons as you enter. The floor is made of wood and the stone walls are covered with tapestries depicting King Ralph the Great who ...


23

Let the players make up all that stuff! How about letting the players fill the rest of the exposition? So following from your quote: Wilma: (shouts) "I'll cover you. GO!" I turn dive behind the garbage cans in the alley, drawing my gun. That first goon is going to have a nasty shock. The rest will get suppression fire. Craig: (over comms) "Debbie, ...


23

All of them work and have different effects. Just like when choosing between these modes of speech in real life or in fiction writing, there is no "right" answer—the choice is a matter of taste and art. They do have different feels to them, and affect the game differently, as you've already noticed. Use that to your advantage! When you want an interaction ...


23

Don't make it the prominent figure. I don't want to come across as mean, but if your "good guy" existed in any game I was playing, I would immediately be suspicious of him. Every DM has done the bait and switch trope. If you want to make it difficult, make it somebody far less exposed and obvious. And don't make it the politicians aide either. Make the ...


23

Describe the effects of the impact, not necessarily the results of the impact. Just because an attack is a miss, doesn't mean it won't have some later impact in the fight, and on the flip side, a successful attack doesn't mean that they have automatically gaping wounds. The few times that I have been a DM, that was how I described it. I basically drew on ...


22

A few thoughts: For most folks lower on the pecking order, especially in the 'Plex, everything is ersatz. A burger isn't beef, it's soy. Your coffee is soy. You don't want to know how that beer was made. Fruit? What's that? The shirt you bought a year ago is already tattered, because it was made to only last a year. Something hand-made of wood is a rarity, ...


22

The narrative technique can work so well in literature, film and video That is because none of those who make decisions are put into the situation abruptly. Those three are passive arts. It's a technique for passive observers of the action. It's only "in medias res" for those who do not need to make any decision. To capture that feeling you need to make ...


21

Cthonic entities always have a bigger hammer The essence of a D&D game nominally goes: "Kill things to get loot to kill things to get better loot to get levels to kill things." Part of this philosophy is that the heroes will be going up against things that they have a chance of killing. Remember the ancient quote: "Cthulhu, driving 1d4 investigators ...


21

PCs have no reason to move during combat unless you give them one In my game experiences, I have seen very little movement by creatures during combat that wasn't forced upon them. There really isn't any incentive to change position (mostly because moving away/out of reach generates Opportunity Attacks.) What you need to consider are environmental or other ...


21

Unless the literal words are important to moving your game forward, you should summarize the majority of NPC dialogue. I've been recently dealing with this issue in my games, where the in-game word choices (of NPCs, journals, and such) were interfering with the gameplay. Every NPC has their own accent, opinions, and hidden intents, and when the players ...


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