Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Operating On Limited Prep Work...

Good Evening, All:

These last few days have been quite hectic at work, so I haven't had a chance to work on very much in the way of gaming material. Sometimes Real Life gets in our way. As a player, that's usually not a big deal. Let's face it; when you are a player, most of the time you just need to bring your dice, your character sheet and a snack or two, and you are good. Gamemasters don't always have that luxury. Of course, there are those legendary GMs we read about that have had the same game world for decades, and have so much stuff prepared that they can run entire campaigns on their notes alone. I am not one of them, much as I would love to be.

Still, there are things you can do as a GM when you don't have time to prepare as much as you'd like. First, it helps if you have a good understanding of what makes for a strong adventure story. For me, that means reading the adventure pulps that I have enjoyed since childhood and watching movies with an eye toward pacing, action and scene development. Reading books on mythology can also provide you with some great ideas for adventures and quests. Believe it or not, fairy tales make for some great adventure ideas, too. You have to disguise your sources, of course, and maybe you might blend two or more stories together, but once you get an idea, run with it.

While you can work on ideas at any time, at any place, there's still a little bit of extra work you need to do. Don't plan on throwing the most awe-inspiring combats on a week like this. Your scenarios shouldn't be twisted or convoluted. Instead, aim for straightforward and methodical. Use simple, pregenerated stats for basic monsters or NPCs when you need mechanics for encounters. Get into your roleplaying and interaction scenes more. Add some world detail, such as a simple parade or perhaps a wedding ceremony. Bits of color can sometimes distract the players into exploring avenues of your world that add depth to their gaming experience. When the players suggest something of interest in their questions or statements to one another, don't be afraid to run with it. Sometimes, it may create a totally new adventure that you hadn't planned, nor would have, but turns out to be one of the best sessions you've had in a while.

Ultimately, the key to success in these situations is: Keep It Simple. That's the thread that hopefully runs through all the advice I've offered above. You can make it appear more than that by running with the situations that the players find interesting, but keep it simple, and you will find that the campaign remains solid until you have the chance to put more time and energy into the game once again. Next week always has the chance of allowing for more creativity and game development.

Good Luck,

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