DM prep & me

September 25, 2014 at 10:00 am
filed under Roleplaying
Tagged ,

I’m trying to get over my hang-ups on prep. I’ve always struggled with it. What’s the right amount of prep? I suspect I think I err on the side of too much rather than too little. But at the same time I want to make sure I allow for interesting choices.

For now, though, I’m just trying to come up with plot hooks or plot ideas. It’s fun.

One thing I am using for inspiration, at least somewhat, is the list of 100 plot ideas in the 3.5 DMG.

My goal is to be able to come up with adventures with less fuss.

I don’t have a good system for taking notes or anything like that, unfortunately. I do have a new notebook I’m using to write down ideas for a one-shot I am planning on running. We’ll see if I can get it all together in time.

Does anyone out there have a system, technique, method, et al, they like for prep?

  • mbeacom

    With regard to published material, I like to read the adventure like it’s a story or short novel. Usually a week or two in advance of running it. Just to get the narrative. Then I read it again, a few days prior trying to dissect how it will actually play out. I may take a note or two on a notecard or post it note and place that in the adventure where I’ll need it. The note is usually my idea of how to present it. I have those ideas during prep much more clearly than I do at the table, running it where I generally end up swamped. I look at the card, which reminds me where my head was during prep.

    As or original content, I’m much more loose. I create the story line and a few NPCs and their motivations. Then I present things to the players and get their feedback. I use the feedback to drive the adventure, inserting the NPCs as necessary if the action slows or if there’s some other barrier that crops up. When I’m running my own material I just wing it for a huge portion. This also ends up happening in published material too if the players go off script, which they often do.

    I have a weekly 4 hour 5E game and I spend about 2 hours in prep through the week. When I was running 4E, I spent an additional hour plotting out my combats and designing my setpieces with interactive elements, terrain features and hazards. When I was running Dungeon World, I spent probably less time prepping because that system doesn’t require much prep at all after the initial design phase. However, I’ve found that what Dungeon World saves you in prep time, it more than makes up for with the intensity of running it. In DW you have to be on your toes constantly because the players have a lot more control over things. I really enjoy the system but I found myself exhausted after those sessions, much moreso than when running 4E for example which required more prep but then pretty much runs itself at the table.

  • Matthew

    Thanks for the comment!

    How do you ensure that you’re providing the players with meaningful choices? Do you typically do NPC or character-driven adventures? It’s been so long since I’ve run any D&D and most of my prior experience was with World of Darkness games, typically set in a single city.

    I should probably look at Dungeon World, if only because I’m curious.

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