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View Poll Results: How much time do you usually spend preparing for your games and how much is just off-the-cuff?

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  • I spend countless hours. My motto is, "No detail left behind!"

    4 1.61%
  • My games are carefully planned, beginning to end. Very little is left to improvisation.

    22 8.84%
  • I plan out most scenes and encounters and fill in the rest on-the-fly.

    96 38.55%
  • I only detail major events and let the rest come as it may.

    78 31.33%
  • I know where I want the story to go, but I let whim and whit be my guide in getting there.

    31 12.45%
  • What happens in my games is as much a surprise to me as it is to my players.

    18 7.23%
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  Click here to go to the first special guest post in this thread.   Thread: Careful Planning vs. Winging It

  1. #31
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    I just found this thread but my answer is "I only detail major events and let the rest come as it may." I've always got the big stuff planned out but like to leave it up to the players to "wander" into them. Alright maybe not wander but I believe PC's should always have a sense of free will. Yes I'm new to GM'ing but this is my philosophy

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    In my youth, I used to spend hours upon hours crafting sprawling dungeons with accompanying 80-page spiral notebooks full of detailed descriptions and DM notes. Often, I even wrote out the room descriptions just as you might find in the typical module. Even as I became more experienced and toned down my massive dungeon crawls and began to focus more on the story and roleplaying, I still poured as much time into preparing for a game as I did running it.

    These days though, my preparation time has been much diminished. Be it because I now have work and a family of my own to take care of... whatever the cause, I'm lucky if I spend more than one or two hours preparing for a game. So, I find now that I rely heavily on improvisation. ....
    i've had pretty much the same experience as farcaster, here. massive dungeon crawls with maps and notes, check. module-like formatting, check. dwindling time to prepare and increasing improvisation, check.

    however, i must admit that if i have time, i will either make a map and note locations with significant sites and a timeline of significant events for reference purposes as the pc's wander around causing havoc and mayhem. it doesn't feel so much like chaos if i don't have as much planned. ^^

    at the very least, i will review the material to see what's likely to be covered. and it's not unknown for me to take a quick 15 or 20 to go off and make up some stuff for when they really manage to get off the map.



    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Arcanist View Post
    I still don't understand why players need to touch everything with the tip of their swords.
    i love that habit! i have a whole series of traps built around exploiting that one. =D and then another series of traps for when they switch to the 10 or 11 foot pole. and then another series of traps for when they start chucking copper pieces and so forth. >=D and finally, when they sit there arguing about what to try next, the ceiling starts lowering very, very slowly. spot check to notice. ^^
    Last edited by nijineko; 02-09-2008 at 01:40 AM.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

  3. #33
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    Traps can really slow the players down to a crawl. I think traps should be rather infrequent especially when carefully winging it.
    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.


  4. #34
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    oh i use them carefully. it's just that i happen to have a series of traps for dealing with that habit. it mostly causes the players to come up with something i haven't thought of, which is great! i only do it to any one player/group once. ^^ it's usually used on those who suspect a trap behind everything. after all, if that's what they want that's how they'll play it, right? so if that's how they are playing, well then, obviously, that is what they want from the game. ;D
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

  5. #35
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    Traps are awesome. I agree if overused the game can screech to a halt but when used properly it can really get the players thinking and enthralled with their surroundings. Too much of anything is overkill but if given out and used with the right proportions, the stage is set for true greatness and truly memorable times

  6. #36
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    the trick for me, is to envision what the original builders (or later invaders) were trying to protect. and then consider access levels. unless it was an extreme "nobody-gets-this-no-matter-what", then someone is going to want access and not be bothered by too complicated methods of getting in and out. how frequently access is required or desired goes a long way to determining how easy it is to bypass the trap. of course, the easier access is likely to be either on a tight time schedule or non-obvious location.

    then i try to place the trap(s) according to the logic of the original designers. were they devious little creeps, or noble yet clever defenders? sadistic voyeurs or fanatic zealots? the list goes on and on. and each psychology yeilds slightly different results for different reasons. some traps were more in the line of tests. others were to keep everyone out... or in. others were designed to filter out the authorized by various means.

    once they defeat a trap, finding the scrawled notes of the builder on the inside wall of the trap access hatch, just adds the slight touch of versimilitude that makes a place memorable. nothing says realism like when the players start griping about having to deal with yet another trap built by that 300 year dead devious little (something-or-another) who designed traps for all these different people across the ancient empire....

    the beautiful sounds of the players groaning when they find his maker's mark and suddenly know that somewhere nearby there's a trap, just waiting for them... it's music, sweet music to the ears.
    Last edited by nijineko; 02-10-2008 at 01:19 AM.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

  7. #37
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    my last DM was horrible at map drawing, but wanted us to have them, so he had me draw the maps for him, which was frustrating, because then i wasn't suprised, and had to work at not metagaming, it wasn't fun.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by BardRougeBabe View Post
    my last DM was horrible at map drawing, but wanted us to have them, so he had me draw the maps for him, which was frustrating, because then i wasn't suprised, and had to work at not metagaming, it wasn't fun.
    Maybe it was a hint for you to take the role of DM ?
    Au gibet noir, manchot aimable, dansent, dansent les paladins
    Les maigres paladins du diable les squelettes de Saladins.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    The beautiful sounds of the players groaning when they find his maker's mark and suddenly know that somewhere nearby there's a trap, just waiting for them... it's music, sweet music to the ears.
    I like this, i'm going to have to steal it. And don't forget the angle of once they get use to finding the mark, have some cheap so-in-so have faked it in his keep. The players go nuts looking for the trap that isn't. Or even the little so-in-so himself sprinkleing an area with false positives. Triple his number of "traps" and further delay any thief in looking for the undetectable.

    I once totally confounded a party with magic aura and false trap. they were sure they was getting nailed if they went in there.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    The Dean of Old School
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  10. #40
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    nijineko and tesral your scheming is music to my ears. You two are quite gifted in instilling passion in others who wish to oppress their players from time to time

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulsiphix View Post
    nijineko and tesral your scheming is music to my ears. You two are quite gifted in instilling passion in others who wish to oppress their players from time to time
    I never go straight when I can use a twist. The Purloined Letter is only a start.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    The Dean of Old School
    The Olde Phoenix Inn
    Metro Detroit Linux Users Group

  12. #42
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    Ah, the purloined letter bit. My first introduction to Mn. Peorot. And a theme I sneak into almost all my dungeons. To quote, "What were you doing?" "SNEAKING!!!"
    Sure, Life IS like a bowl of cherries, but how SWEET they are depends on how much crap your willing to take to fertalize your DREAMS. Michael L. Cross

  13. #43
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    Planning... hmmm... Nah... I let the dice and the players provide me with inspiration.

    I enjoy DMing far more when I can mostly wing it. Don't have to fight the players that way, just let the NPCs react as they will. Sometimes that means the NPCs are fighting the players, but that's alright. Sometimes I'll realign a situation to chase the players down, but I try to make it seem natural.
    If you eat a live toad first thing in the morning nothing worse will happen to you all day.

  14. #44
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    Plan, but be prepared to wing it. Players are unpredictable critters. I find a plan is a great help even if I do wing it. For some reason I get a better game even if the plan is never followed simply by having the plan. Physiological crutch? I don't know, but it works.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    The Dean of Old School
    The Olde Phoenix Inn
    Metro Detroit Linux Users Group

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulsiphix View Post
    nijineko and tesral your scheming is music to my ears. You two are quite gifted in instilling passion in others who wish to oppress their players from time to time

    If you don't make things interesting enough, you run the risk of loosing your players to boredom. Still, you have to find that fine line between too much and not enough oppression at times.

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