On the Preparation

Better than original content, it'sa bandwagon! (From Roger, Noisms, and RPG.net)

I'd like to start by saying; Noisms, I would have rather read about druids.

No one "doesn't prepare" for running a game. It's one of the things about role playing that makes it different than any other game.

It has to do with how you choose to prepare. Sometime during the week you're thinking about things during the game.

  • Lazyness when it comes to prepration has created the worst gaming sins imaginable
  • Being "not lazy" does not take a lot of work
What are the worst sins? Railroading. Off the cuff wildness. Off the cuff mediocrity. Wasting other players time as you reference at the table.

That not bad enough?

We all prepare for the game. The idea is to do it in a way that isn't shitty to your players. Unless that's your thing, and you'd like to defend forcing other people to listen to you blather on about some crap you just came up with off the top of your head.

If you were that interesting, you'd probably have earned more money last year.

Since you're preparing anyway, why not just do it well?  What does that mean?

I spend my "prep time" for a session doing just one thing. Discovering the minimum about of strokes I can make on a sheet that will avoid the sins above.(Even if it doesn't seem like it.)

That means, I create dynamic complex environments from where the players tell me where they are going next. I then figure out a way to represent those environments on paper in a minimalistic way as possible so that I can be present during the actual play of the game - using my improvisational skills to describe the environment the players inhabit instead of trying to create an interesting game from them.

Does it take a long time? Not particularly. Since I enjoy it, I spend more time than I need to. But you can spend an hour of prep to cover weeks of in play content. I will get 3-6 weeks of play from a 60 room dungeon with one map page, 2-3 pages of room information and 1 page of treasure, taking 4-6 hours to prepare. Doesn't 6 hours a month seem like reasonable prep time?

Some thoughts I have:
  • If you think someone's anecdote about "some game they didn't prepare for went just great" means that it's a good idea to go without preparation, then the nicest thing I can say about you is that you lack the ability to engage in rigorous thinking.
  • Nobody can be prepared for any eventuality. Concluding from this that you shouldn't prepare for any eventuality puts you in the category above.
  • This is an example of where an array of quantum encounters can can come in useful without impacting agency.
  • Improvisation is a GM skill from necessity, not desire.


  1. I have once ran a game with no. *shudder*. Everyone died, bar one dude who just didn't seem to care anyway. That being said, I do try to find a few shortcuts.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...