How should I prevent a player from instantly recognizing a magical impostor without making them feel cheated?

In the campaign I’m running, I’m looking to introduce an NPC who is secretly an antagonistic oni in disguise. An oni’s shapechange feature, however, is explicitly described as magical, and one of my players is a warlock with the Eldritch Sight invocation. I’m worrying that the warlock might decide to use Eldritch Sight during the first encounter with the oni, before the party should have any reason to suspect them, and expose the NPC as an impostor way before I’d like them to.

However, I don’t like to just decide that the oni is immune to the effects of Detect Magic, or has a magic item that protects their identity, or knows Nystul’s Magic Aura, or anything like that. I feel like that wouldn’t be fair to the warlock’s player; after all, they specifically took the invocation to be able to detect magic at their leisure.

Ideally, I’d like to find a way to hint that the NPC might have some mystery surrounding them if the warlock decides to have ES active, but subtly enough to where the PCs won’t immediately distrust or attack the NPC.

How do dragons in the Forgotten Realms feel about The Cult of the Dragon?

There’s plenty of information around about The Cult of the Dragon in the D&D Forgotten Realms campaign setting. As the Realms Wiki summarises:

The Cult of the Dragon venerated dragons, evil dragons in particular, and specifically dead evil dragons.

However, I can’t find any sources to help me understand how the dragons might feel about this. Cultists come to them and offer them servitude and treasure in exchange for the dragon’s favour, which is fine. But most dragons are not stupid, and you’d imagine they’d be well aware of the cultist’s aims which is to turn them into Dracoliches.

Certainly, in older editions of D&D, the process of becoming a Dracolich involved ritual suicide, which isn’t something you’d have thought dragons would be particularly keen on.

So in general terms, how do dragons feel about encounters with the cult? Is it possible they might be hostile toward the cults’ entreaties? Or do these relationships tend more to develop into games of manipulation and counter-manipulation?

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

I’m DMing a party of five, a rogue, cleric, wizard, fighter, and a ranger that comes every other week. Everything goes well for the first hour and a half, but then after that I can tell my narrations and stuff gets really bad. It’s the difference between ‘you shoot your bow, but your arrow had warped after that last river and you barely miss the knight’ and ‘you miss’. Since we play for about three hours a session and don’t come back together until the next week, the campaign always seems to end in a very bland spot, and sometimes the players have severely misinterpreted the surroundings(honestly, I don’t blame them when my descriptions turn into ‘you exit the building’). Another thing I can tell is that after while DMing, I get tired and my responses to the players get slower and slower and I have to consult the books more often. If it’s been a long day, sometimes I take fifteen minutes getting back to where we were and starting up again, and fall into the bland descriptions pretty quickly.

The players say they don’t mind much, but I feel bad for them since there is another group a table away whenever we’re playing, and the DM there is better than I am. I do give them a decent amount of loot and the occasional magic item and everything is balanced in the campaign. Still, I want to try and change my bad DMing so the campaign is less…wavy(if that makes any sense) in terms of detail. I’ve played with some rather bad DMs before, and know that it’s not fun when there’s little or no color to the adventure. I keep the action going though, plenty of mysteries and combat encounters, but again, it gets bland quickly.

Summary- Campaign is fine(mechanically), but I as DM get boring by the middle of the session and then everything slows down.

So I guess what I’m looking for a way to try and keep myself from getting boring by the end of the session and a way to keep the campaign going smoothly. Any suggestions?

How to make Mage: the Awakening feel more superheroic

I have just started GMing a Mage: the Awakening game, and I can already tell what my players like and dislike about the game. They like using their (limited) magical powers to the fullest extent, they like tangling with supernatural creatures and spirits, they like subtle political machinations, and they like screwing with Sleepers. What they don’t like is Paradox, Atlantean history, Wisdom degeneration, and weird gnostic metaphors.

How do I make Mage feel more like a gritty, dark, superheroic game and less like a grimdark exploration of the human soul? My players don’t want to live in a world of moral absolutes, or have easily identified villains. In fact, they are just as likely to be the villains.

How to make a guest feel comfortable and welcome in a session?

I am currently DMing for a group of 5 players. A friend of some of the players is very interested in learning about the game.

I have decided to let her play an NPC in one of the upcoming sessions, to gain more insight into this game.

This NPC is already fleshed out and will be an integral part of the story, when she shows up. Therefore I am not able to completely adapt this NPC to the guests wishes.

I have so far tried to describe as much as possible of the NPC, it’s place in the world, family, motivation etc. to the guest. Also some key behaviours, that are relevant to the gameplay. I.e. how she needs to react, what she needs to tell the PCs when asked for it.

Nevertheless, our guest is still rather nervous about the upcoming session. As we probably all were in our first sessions. I am trying to encourage and support her as much as possible, and I am sure she will do fine.

Nevertheless, I am still wondering if there are specific things I could do to help her in this role and to make her experience great?

I know this situation is very similar to having a new player join a group. And I have read many discussions/answers regarding this situation. But this situation is slightly different since she was not able to choose her own character, but has to act out my pre-written NPC. She will be more limited, than if she could just do her own character.

[ Politics ] Open Question : European Americans, can you explain why you feel superior or defensive to other ethnic groups?

Why do European Americans get defensive about: 1. Black Lives Matter 2. Taking a knee to the anthem or flag 3. White privilege 4. Affirmative Action 5. Tearing down of historical statues that represent European history  6. Seeing POC succeeding (Don’t try to say don’t get mad because you do) 7. Talk about police brutality  8. Interracial relationships 9. Slavery 10. Jim Crow 11. Liberals 12. Democrats 13. Anything the advances anyone other than those with European ancestry  Why do you European Americans have so much negativity? I really want to understand the need to feel superior or unconsciously be racist. Note: If you are European American that has done good for humanity, this is not for you.    POC means people of color Most of these answers prove my point. White European Americans are unreasonable. Can’t even answer simple questions without acting like 2 yr olds. I find it funny how you speak about what being an American is but when people don;t act like American under your terms, somehow they un-American The answers I am getting proves the existing point about getting defensive Stop posting Anonymously. Show yourself. You’ll spend all of your time looking through people’s profiles 

How can I as a DM make a low-level melee rogue feel useful when the party has no tank that triggers sneak attack for her?

I’m going to DM a short adventure for two players who have little experience with pen and paper role-playing games. One will be a druid, one will be a dual wielding melee rogue, and we will start at level 1. I’m a bit worried that the rogue will feel weak in combat since without a tank next to her, she will certainly have a hard time getting sneak attacks. Sure, I could add a tank as an NPC, but the players should be in the focus and I don’t want them to feel like someone else is doing the actual work.

Are there good options for me as a DM to help her get sneak attack?

I was also thinking of allowing the Cunning Action: Aim from the Unearthed Arcana class feature variants, but this would only come in at level 2. Also, she would no longer have her bonus action for a possible off-hand attack.

How do I tell my friends that I feel like some of the PCs are being left out?

So im in this dnd campaign and there’s two main problems I have: one my character’s personality is very bard-like but I didn’t know what bards were so now another PC is filling that role and I feel useless as a rogue, two is that there are two PCs who have been very open from the get go and have imediatly formed close connections with NPCs and such. Because of that, they’ve become the center of attention- one time the dm even said that we could do whatever and another PC even said “I don’t know, I don’t have connections like everyone else,”. I know that I need to talk to my friends about this, but I’m scared about this blowing up into something (these are my only friends, we’ve had conflicts like this in the past but we were WAY younger). And I know that we’re more mature and we can probably work things out, but I’m still terrified of doing this and don’t even know how to go about this.

How do I make a creature feel impressive without scaring my players away?

At the end of the homebrew campaign I’m running, I plan to have the characters face off against a big, scary monster. It’s designed to be (almost) impervious to regular weapon attacks, but there will be various ways to either avoid or negate its attacks and ‘defeat’ it without killing it.

Through various choices made in the adventure so far, the party is actually well on their way to having it in fact be friendly towards them when they encounter it, though it will be dominated and/or controlled by the real enemies into trying to attack the party.

My party has proven to be relatively cautious so far. I would like to describe the creature as large and imposing, with very powerful attacks that would normally reduce anyone caught in them to very small pieces.

I’m afraid that when I describe the creature as super-powerful, my players will decide it is obviously way out of their league and (sensibly) refuse to engage. On the other hand, if I describe the creature as too wounded and weakened, it will not feel like the impressive, nail-biting end-of-adventure encounter I hope to give my players.

The players have discovered so far that the creature is a red dragon, though they don’t know its age. They also know that it’s being held against its will, though I don’t think they realize yet how much it hates its captors.

In past encounters, they have reacted to various descriptions of enemies with realistic responses:

  • Their first combat encounter, described as a small handful of goblins and gnolls eating dinner and unaware of the party, had the party sneak into position, then attack with overwhelming force.
  • Their third combat encounter, where they thought that a horde of vicious beasts was about to descend on their position, had them retreat and take up defensive positions. (There was only a small horde of confused, weak, hungry creatures, but they didn’t have that information.)

How do I make it clear that, while dangerous, the encounter is well within their means to deal with?

Note: we’re using D&D 5E, though I imagine this question could be applied across various systems.

How to generate random waves for a bullet hell game that feel balanced and natural

My game consists of ‘waves’ of objects called ‘spawners’, which once every certain amount of time (their firetime), move to a new place on the screen and spawn an enemy. Each wave has 4 important properties:
1: the amount of spawners the wave has
2: the interval of time between creating new spawners
3: the total length of the wave
4: the types of spawners that can appear in a wave (represented as a std::vector<std::pair<std::string, int>> where the string is the spawner name, and the integer is its spawn weight.

The game works by picking a random spawner from the possible spawner types (with a weighted rng) every new spawner interval. Currently waves are set and are loaded from a file at runtime.

My problem is that I cannot find a good way to randomly generate waves that feel balanced and natural. Currently, I am trying to generate waves based on a difficulty value, mostly using weighted random number generation. However, this does not produce balanced waves that correspond well to the target difficulty. Even after trying several different techniques, I am unable to get a system that generates waves that fell balanced and natural (like the ones hand made).

Is there any way to generate waves that feel natural, based off of the difficulty value? How should I approach this problem?

Also if its of any help, each spawner also defines its own difficulty value.