GMs! What’s Your Problem?

This week, I’m asking a simple question: what’s your problem?


I’m not trying to start a fight. Instead, I’m trying to understand what common problems GMs face when preparing or running our games. 

I’m asking this question because one of Raging Swan Press’s guiding principles is to publish resources to help GM run better, more fun less stressful games. I know what problems I face in the day to day maelstrom of preparing and running a campaign, but I’m wondering if I have missed something. If you’ve got a specific GM-related problem and you think I or Raging Swan Press can help fix it, please leave a note in the comments below. 

For example, one of our heroic patrons over at Patreon recently posted he had a need for short, flavoursome NPCs write-ups. He didn’t want stat blocks or pages of in-depth character background. Instead, he wanted short NPC write-ups he could easily drop into his when the PCs interacted with random NPCs. (I thought this was a great idea and so The Daily NPC was born!) 

Of course, I can’t promise to publish solutions to every problem I receive—I suspect not many GMs, for example, need a book full of statted up ninja unicorns—but I’d love to know if there is some way I or Raging Swan Press can help you run a better campaign.


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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

15 thoughts on “GMs! What’s Your Problem?”

  1. Hi

    My problems are:
    – I’d like one page NPC descriptions and stats for various level NPCs – e.g. 6-14 level re different classes and races that I can slot into my games with minimal adaptation. The higher level NPCs take a lot of time to prep. Would also help if the details of the favoured abilities and spells were included. An abeviated card ref would also be great.
    – I would love interesting one page encounters that I can slot into my adventures – e.g. 3 related caves in a Kobalt lair or three rooms in a wizards tower or a fun chase through a busy market.

  2. There’s two things I find myself occasionally struggling with.
    First: I am a DM who over-prepares. At least, I used to be. I’ve recently set a hard rule for myself not to write more than one page of prep for each session, but still find it difficult at times to gauge what I should, or should not prep.
    Secondly: Organizing and structuring material can be a challenge. By that I mean organizing the information that I need to have access to in order to smoothly run a game.

  3. Hi all.

    I agree with the comments but would say, having everything to hand when it’s needed without masses of desk/laptop clutter is the biggest issue for me!
    I love the Raging Swan lists but I’m thinking of organising them all on a large multi-tabbed spreadsheet to make them easier to find when I need them.

    Happy New Year!

  4. Hi

    I’m a newish DM – I’d like to know better ways to let PCs join our existing PCs while on adventure.

    As in, when new players join us – how to integrate them during an adventure.

    1. I like this idea… I’ve often used various notions for my groups, but it would be nice to see an article on this, with several varied ideas for introducing new players.

      Just in case Creighton doesn’t write this article for you anytime soon, Jade, here are a few methods that I’ve used in the past in my own campaigns:
      ** Prisoner of next intelligent monster the party defeats. Will join the party after being freed. Equipment may or may not be stored nearby.
      ** Lost in the wilderness or dungeon, may join with party for any number of reasons, including because they seem to know where they are going.
      ** Under enchantment – polymorphed, petrified, charmed, cursed, etc. Will gratefully assist the party in exchange for being freed from the enchantment.
      ** Ambassador – new character is sent to accompany party to keep an eye on them for a powerful agent. Could be sent along for political reasons, or to assist them in a quest, or could be a spy placed to report on the party’s actions.
      ** Lone survivor of previous adventuring group. Their previous group failed in the same quest the party is pursuing now, and that group is now dead or disbanded. New character needs to join with this new group in order to complete their previous objective.

      I’m sure others can come up with many more ideas.

  5. Rotating players. We play at a game store and the cast of players changes slightly from week to week, although there are three of us that are always there it might be as many as six. Hard to set challenge ratings when the number of characters can fluctuate.

  6. Can’t find players for AD&D-2nd Edition D&D or for oWoD. I’ve tried: gaming stores, Meet-Up, Facebook

  7. I think my main problem is when using published adventures I find most of the layouts lacking. They often have too much fluff and sifting through it to find the points you will use in your game is an enormous pain.

  8. I could definitely benefit from some lists of random pocket items. Let’s face it: Adventurers are murder-hobos… they travel around the countryside, and when someone they encounter gives them any lip, they kill them. First thing they do after killing them? They go through their pockets looking for loose change.

    Now in most published materials, I’m sorely disappointed. Under loot for various creatures killed you see things like “Each goblin has a short sword and 10 gp.” Yaaaaaawwwn!! I’m sorry, I nodded off there… good grief, is that all?? In my own pockets I currently have 23 cents in change, a small box of toothpicks, 4 cough drops, a tube of lip balm, and a small square cloth that I use to clean my glasses. Furthermore in my coat pockets, I also have my car keys, 5 business cards, a small set of ear-buds for my phone, a coupon for a 2nd burger when I pay full price for the first one, and a twistie-tie for a loaf of bread. (not sure how that last one wound up in my coat pocket… damn gnomes.)

    My point is that there should be more variety and randomness in the average critters’s pocketses (or backpacks, or knapsacks, or belt pouches, etc.). Do you have any plans to possibly provide several dozen percentile lists of random items to be found as loot on various critters?

  9. i need a database of:PLANTS, MEDIEVAL EQUIPMENT, MINERALS,food and drink, not to mention tradition and belief

  10. My problem is:

    – I would love to have one page stat sheet for (higher level) NPCs and Monsters. My players are level 11 now and some of the monsters are a real pain to manage due to all the abilities and calculations. A hand sheet to help me give all necessary info would be great.

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