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113 votes

How can I run an open-world game with vast power differences, without resulting in constant TPKs?

In game, make it clear that they won't always win The cause of your problems isn't open world, the problem is the preconception that PCs can always solve the problems in front of them with combat. ...
user-781943's user avatar
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44 votes

How can I run an open-world game with vast power differences, without resulting in constant TPKs?

My own 5e campaign world is "unconstrained," as you put it, but the players seldom get in over their heads and certainly not to the point of TPK. High-level dangers may exist in the world, ...
Dave Curry's user avatar
39 votes

Remembering to add tracks and signs of wandering monsters

It's always easy to remember the flashiest effects of any roll. Everyone remembers rolling a 20 is a crit, right? Get into the habit of putting signs and tracks everywhere Since you mention your ...
eimyr's user avatar
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35 votes
Accepted

How can I satisfy two groups who want the same quest in a West Marches campaign?

One of the central premises of a West Marches campaign is that one character may start events in motion that their player will not get to see resolved. If the players aren't okay with that, either ...
Karelzarath's user avatar
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35 votes
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What would the effect of removing death saves and just having characters die at 0HP be?

I have experience playing the low levels. I can briefly summarise the impact as follows: It will make encounters much harder. With many characters dying in combat, and possibly a few total party ...
Disillusioned's user avatar
29 votes
Accepted

I'm having difficulty getting my players to do stuff in a sandbox campaign

Everything is okay In the question title you claim that you have a problem having the players do stuff; this is clearly not the case, as they are doing precisely what they should be doing in a ...
Tommi's user avatar
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25 votes

How can I run an open-world game with vast power differences, without resulting in constant TPKs?

Putting out fires mechanic Imagine your party has 3 different issues that are all presented to them in differing parts of your world. One is a necromancer problem to the east, a werewolf problem to ...
JKizzle's user avatar
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19 votes
Accepted

Remembering to add tracks and signs of wandering monsters

Change the order of evaluation. Currently it is determine "random encounter" or "signs and tracks", then roll on table. The payoff of rolling on the table for mere "signs and tracks" is low. ...
Yakk's user avatar
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19 votes
Accepted

How can I run an open-world game with vast power differences, without resulting in constant TPKs?

The way I've been on the receiving end of campaigns like this, it starts from the central conceit that home base is safe—i.e., no combat. Then you scale encounters by distance to home base. You tell ...
JeKaWo's user avatar
  • 650
18 votes

What would the effect of removing death saves and just having characters die at 0HP be?

At 1st level, a single critical hit from all but the weakest monster can reduce a PC to 0 HP. For example, kobolds (CR 1/8) do 1d4+2; that's a maximum of 10 on a critical, fighter types should ...
Dale M's user avatar
  • 213k
17 votes

Remembering to add tracks and signs of wandering monsters

Take a spare 6-sided die. If you don't have one, buy a cheap one at a dollar store. Print out two monster footprint icons like these and one monster icon like this. Cut out the icons into small ...
SPavel's user avatar
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17 votes

How can I encourage player engagement between sessions in a West Marches style game?

I have not run a West Marches game, but I have run games where players were active between sessions. The secret was: give them something to do. Many games will involve players doing some one-on-one ...
Dan B's user avatar
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17 votes

How can I run an open-world game with vast power differences, without resulting in constant TPKs?

Don't keep secrets Your players have to be in a position to make informed decisions at the relevant time. If the swamp is home to an Ancient Green Dragon, then the players need to know this before ...
Dale M's user avatar
  • 213k
16 votes

Help with motivations on Player driven games

Are you sure Sandbox is right for this group? Nothing against your players, but it doesn't sound like they're the kind of group that would thrive in a sandbox environment. If they're not taking the ...
ruffdove's user avatar
  • 6,204
12 votes

Briefly resolving the pickpocketing of 10 gp a day

You seem to have the following goals: quick resolution plausible profit potential meaningful risk sandbox-friendly non-leveled I submit that these goals are mutually exclusive, as a set. The ...
minnmass's user avatar
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12 votes

How can I encourage player engagement between sessions in a West Marches style game?

I have run several West Marches style games through the years, and I've learned a lot about both what to do and what not to do. Some of what is below you've already touched on, but for the sake of ...
rStyskel's user avatar
  • 2,523
10 votes

Briefly resolving the pickpocketing of 10 gp a day

A drawback is not an advantage. You should not profit simply for being a kleptomaniac. You are looking at things different from the developer's intent. If it was simple to obtain 10 gp a day, it ...
ShadowKras's user avatar
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10 votes

How much money do traders have to purchase PCs' goods?

No rules exist for determining how much gold a particular trader has The DMG gives wide latitude to the DM to determine how the PCs can sell their stuff, and so it does not give any numbers or tables ...
Icyfire's user avatar
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9 votes
Accepted

Running an Unstructured Narrative

The biggest problem you may have is that players simply do not know what to do and don't know where to start. 0- Make sure your players know that this is your goal with the campaign. Don't spring ...
JP Chapleau's user avatar
  • 5,472
9 votes

How can I satisfy two groups who want the same quest in a West Marches campaign?

The way I would tackle this issue is two-fold: 1) Prepare the Necromancer quest in time for Group B's session, but also prepare one or tow other "conveniently available" quests on the billboard or ...
Steve-O's user avatar
  • 1,266
9 votes
Accepted

How does PC access to life-restoration magic affect a westmarchian game?

This implies that the game is dangerous and maybe that life-restoration magic is hard to come by. Not necessarily. It implies that played by-the-book, attempting a deadly encounter is likely to leave ...
Neil Slater's user avatar
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9 votes

How can I run an open-world game with vast power differences, without resulting in constant TPKs?

There's a lot of good advice in the other answers about how to make a fight with an overpowered enemy non-fatal. However, another significant thing to keep in mind is that not every encounter needs to ...
Zimul8r's user avatar
  • 6,861
8 votes

What would the effect of removing death saves and just having characters die at 0HP be?

There's an overall balance factor between HP and death saves. Removing the death saves really makes the PCs HP quite low. Monsters tend to get a higher relative HP because we don't really expect them ...
Gates VP's user avatar
  • 10.3k
8 votes

How can I run an open-world game with vast power differences, without resulting in constant TPKs?

I'm stealing this from AngryDM (I think-- I'm sure it wasn't my original idea), but you can gate content by resource availability. If you place a specific dungeon such that it takes X days of ...
Upper_Case's user avatar
  • 21.8k
7 votes

Remembering to add tracks and signs of wandering monsters

Your problem seems to be that you forgot the rules. This happens to many GMs. The most common technique is to have a summary of the rules you tend to forget behind your GM screen (where you can easily ...
Anne Aunyme's user avatar
  • 21.2k
7 votes

How can I run an open-world game with vast power differences, without resulting in constant TPKs?

The advice above about scaling by distance is similar to what I do in my open world game - but with a caveat. The first thing was OOC, in the briefing I make it clear: I say "basically as you go ...
Tim B's user avatar
  • 7,109
6 votes

Remembering to add tracks and signs of wandering monsters

Turn your random encounter table into a random encounter matrix This is not my idea, it comes from the Retired Adventurer. You roll (at least) two dice for random encounters - if using the same size ...
Dale M's user avatar
  • 213k
6 votes

I'm having difficulty getting my players to do stuff in a sandbox campaign

Check in with your players to reaffirm their commitment to being heroes It sounds like your players early on communicated a desire to be heroes, but are now failing to act on that desire. I can ...
Pink Sweetener's user avatar
5 votes

What and How to Prepare In Advance For the Next Session?

Depends Every DM is different. If you are good on your feet and take naturally to story creation, minimal prep is necessary and you pull almost everything out of the air. I learned I need prep, but ...
J. A. Streich's user avatar
4 votes

How well are low level PCs able to defeat high level NPCs in B/X D&D?

A group 3rd- to 5th-level PCs in B/X and compatible games can defeat NPCs 2 to 3 levels higher than the PCs, and maybe even NPCs of higher levels than that if the PCs scout ahead, plan the engagement, ...
Ynas Midgard's user avatar

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