edwardavern

Less Prep in this System

17 posts in this topic

Hi all

Just a quick question: do GMs find that they prep less or more in this system than in others.  I've gone into my last few sessions feeling that I was under-prepped - work and life just got in the way - but because the system has Triumphs, Despairs and Destiny Points to alter the flow of things anyway, it didn't seem to matter so much.  What have other people found?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't prep an awful lot when I was still at the helm.

I usually made an excel sheet for each session with an overview of each faction and characters involved in that session, sometimes with stats.

A few notes about locations that I pulled from the books or made up.

Occasionally I'd make a flowchart of potential happenings when the adventue took a dungeon crawling-ish trun.

And then I'd just let the players loose. Didn't work everytime since I'm kinda terrible at improvisation (wich is kinda suboptimal as a GM), but I figured if you don't do you don't learn.

 

Only other RPG I ran was The Great Pendragon Campaign. That significantly took a lot more effort, but then again I was also learning the game from scratch at the time.

Lasted only for a single session though, mostly due to other obligations catching up to me.

Wish I had the time to take another shot at Pendragon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do a huge amount of prep, even for canned adventures. Mainly because I like to include music and background sound effects during my games. So I summarise the adventure in a Word document which includes links to the appropriate musical scores and sounds at the appropriate times, as well as quite a few alternates for when the adventure (inevitably) runs off the rails. I'll generally do 3 - 4 hours prep (at least) for an evening's session.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, edwardavern said:

Hi all

Just a quick question: do GMs find that they prep less or more in this system than in others.  I've gone into my last few sessions feeling that I was under-prepped - work and life just got in the way - but because the system has Triumphs, Despairs and Destiny Points to alter the flow of things anyway, it didn't seem to matter so much.  What have other people found?

 

This system and my group changed the way I GM, and prep was one of the pillars of that change.  The TL;DR of it is that I got to know the setting and rules quite well, so prep is mostly just jotting down bullet points that could change at the drop of a hat, just to provide a loose framework of how the story will interact with the PCs.  I spend more time now studying improv and storytelling techniques than building NPCs and encounters - I can usually re-skin existing work which frees me up to think about making everything interesting and compelling instead of worrying about stat blocks.  

Stan Fresh, whafrog and Tom Cruise like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I Find for Me as a GM I Prep more,  Because I love the setting.   I have always been a SCifi guy and never very happy with Fantasy Settings.   And Prep for me is just the few bullet points, up until this current campaign.   I have my Players running a fighter Squadron off a Bounty hunter guild Marauder.   And I took the time to make up a crew manifest of all 191 crew, First names/Races/Gender/Primary Job on ship, along with a Sentence or two describing there personality. 

Sharatec likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started off over-preparing, when I didn't know what I was doing. Wrote a campaign I thought would be 3-6 sessions that took over a year to finish. Most groups skipped the final act of the campaign after I told them I'd prefer to as it was limiting in choice.

 

After that, what I have done is make sure I have a list of names available, choose a species off the top of my head for NPCs they interact with, throw in either pregen adversaries from the books or a custom one of my creation. I let player choice drive the story forwards, so if they want to do a job, then they make a check or two, I narrate their journey (usually to the local cantina) and they procure a job. 

 

On Obligation/Duty/Morality focused sessions, I'll talk privately with the player to get an idea of the story they want to tell with their character, build it off of their ideas and throw in some twists to keep them on their toes. So maybe the character owes a debt to their former employer and is being hunted by some Bounty Hunters per the player's backstory. The twist could be that these specific Bounty Hunters in this particular session were actually hired by a rival to whom they are indebted. That rival wants dirt on the former employer but the players might not even find that out if they immediately fight the Bounty Hunters.

 

The reason I work with my players on those PC-centric sessions is twofold:

1. The player becomes more invested in the game when they get to tell the story they want with their character. They get to influence the story in a large way during that session.

2. The majority of my "prep-work" is just writing down the player's thoughts, making it easy on myself and not stepping on the player's toes when it comes to their story.

Edited by GroggyGolem
themensch likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, edwardavern said:

Just a quick question: do GMs find that they prep less or more in this system than in others.

For myself, absolutely, it has really revolutionized how much prep I do, and it allows me to roll with changes far more easily.  There are a few tools I rely on to facilitate this, one is the Adversary Decks, another is Rory's Story Cubes.  Now I might spend several hours (8-10) before the campaign starts fleshing out the main plot, key NPCs, etc.  But once the story is rolling it usually doesn't take more than 1/2 hour to get ready for a session.  Sometimes I spend an hour after a session incorporating new information, NPCs, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spend a LOT less time preparing.

Part of that is that I'm so busy right now that I run most of my games from the published modules.

I spent hours up front constructing a campaign and figuring out which published modules I'd want to run and how I could fit them into the framework of the campaign, as well as which sections of the campaign I'd need to create myself.

Aside from the "plot" and "story" elements of game prep though, I also spend a LOT less time preparing.  My PCs have a lot of XP so often the as-is NPCs in modules are not challenging enough but scaling is so much easier in this system that I don't have to put much effort into it - maybe 20 minutes per session at the most.  I'm going to be creating an Inquisitor for the next session so maybe it will take 30 minutes total (aside from reading the module) to tweak the NPCs and encounters.

whafrog likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/22/2017 at 4:18 AM, Daronil said:

I do a huge amount of prep, even for canned adventures. Mainly because I like to include music and background sound effects during my games. So I summarise the adventure in a Word document which includes links to the appropriate musical scores and sounds at the appropriate times, as well as quite a few alternates for when the adventure (inevitably) runs off the rails. I'll generally do 3 - 4 hours prep (at least) for an evening's session.

Would LOVE to see one of your word docs if you would be willing to share :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know as I've ever really measured how much time I spend.  Honestly there are times my ideas are more inspired and either easier to flesh out or just ad hoc as I go than others.  As I have GM-ed more and more, at least for my guys, I've learned the things they like and key in on, as opposed to things they couldn't care less about.  I suppose that's just efficiency that comes with experience.  If there is one true aid in the system for GMs, it's that this system makes it a ton easier I think to challenge very advanced players. Level 15 D&D characters are demigods and nigh on impossible to even hurt significantly with the dice, whereas one bad roll and a 500xp character in this game is worm poop.

Edited by 2P51

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If your players love the limitless sandbox idea, then forget about prep. Whatever you plan is likely to get thrown to the side and you'll have to pull something new out of your butt every session. It can be fun for a time,  but it can be both exhausting & frustrating too.

Archlyte likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've pretty much always run my games the way this system seems to be built around running them (high emphasis on player driven, collaborative storytelling, not a huge amount of railroaded structure). So my prep hasn't really changed, it's just found a system it suits much better.

Obligation has changed my approach to some things a little, in that it's made me take individual character stories into account in the loose story planning I do. Previously as a GM that hasn't been my strong suit; I've always sucked at anchoring the PCs and their backstories into the narrative, but Obligation automates that process for me in a lot of ways. I always make sure to roll Obligation well in advance (usually at the end of the preceding session) so that I have time to think of a few good hooks for how to implement the obligation. 

Edited by Tom Cruise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎9‎/‎24‎/‎2017 at 3:01 AM, HappyDaze said:

If your players love the limitless sandbox idea, then forget about prep. Whatever you plan is likely to get thrown to the side and you'll have to pull something new out of your butt every session. It can be fun for a time,  but it can be both exhausting & frustrating too.

I use the low prep option in most cases, because even when I make an adventure they don't come anywhere near it, or they take the whole session to do the first 1/3rd of the adventure planned. They misunderstand clues, kill important NPCs too fast, steal things they shouldn't steal, get offended at slight provocations and attack, they leave important things behind, forget about NPCs who have missions for them, they decide that they should stay when they should go and decide they should go when they should stay. They pick fights with stuff that can kill them easily and they run from minions, they look for treasure were there is none, and they leave behind treasure where there was loot just for them. They choose free adventure over high adventure most of the time, and seem to revel in being as random as I will let them be.

It's a labor of love lol

Edited by Archlyte
GroggyGolem, p0lowww and whafrog like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now