Recent Chat Activity (Main Lobby)
Join Chat

Loading Chat Log...

Prefer not to see ads? Become a Community Supporter.

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

Voters
249. You may not vote on this poll
  • 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%
Page 1 of 12 1234511 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 168

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

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Bellevue
    Posts
    2,895
    Blog Entries
    28
    Downloads
    42
    Uploads
    3

    Careful Planning vs. Winging It

    Prefer not to see ads?
    Become a Community Supporter.
    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; or be it that I spend just a little too much time playing MMPOGs -- or heck, this website! -- 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 almost always have a beginning and ending in mind, but the middle I leave to manifest in the moment. And for the most part, it seems to work. Heck, my improvised games are usually more fun than the ones I toiled over for endless hours.

    So, I'm curious, when you DM/GM a game, how much time do you usually spend preparing for the game and how much is just off-the-cuff?
    Robert A. Howard
    Pen & Paper Games
    Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Green Bay
    Posts
    1,420
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    I only detail major events and let the rest of the pieces fall as they may. I do like to have a good outline and some generic back-up encounters to cover some of those odd eventualities that players always seem to stumble upon. I also spent far more time detailing things in the past. I really hate wasting my time going into great detail on something, only to have a player figure out some bizarre twist to completely avoid it. So, to avoid my desire to railroad them into that awesome 10 pages of detail, I wing it much more. One good thing for me, I usually use the same adventure on 2 or 3 groups making what preparation I do worthwhile.
    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.


  3. #3
    ronpyatt's Avatar
    ronpyatt is offline Dallas Organizer & Admin Golden d20 Award
    Player/GM: Either
    LFG: LFG
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Irving
    Age
    45
    Posts
    1,556
    Blog Entries
    16
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Sometimes I have an idea about a major event, a goal, or a basic direction, but it rarely happens that way, and I'm often surprised when pieces of the story come together all on their own.
    So, I resign myself to let the winds of change have their way and enjoy the ride.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Altavista
    Age
    43
    Posts
    700
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    I do an outline called "Action Points," which contains usually between 5 and 15 events/scenes that occur during the game session. Some of these I detail much more heavily than others, and I don't usually go through them in the order they're written.

    From my original WitchCraft game
    1) Ed receives a visit from Bill Wallace, a billionaire collector of cultural artifacts, who wants to hire Ed to investigate an artifact that has come into his possession recently. In their meeting, Wallace opens a large padded case and gingerly extracts an ornately carved gold ankh roughly the length of Billís forearm. It has been attached to a thick gold chain at some point.
    What I do lots of are NPC's. Usually I do full stats for most of my NPC's (unless they're very minor) because when I do abbreviated sheets for them I don't get to consider their impact on the game. Moreover, it always seems to be the NPC I didn't do stats for that the players want to fight or con or some such, and that bugs me a lot.

    On the other hand, I seldom plan out much more than I really need; in fact, usually, I find that I haven't thought about nearly enough options. Somewhere along the way, there's always the player who wants to blow up the building with the entire group (including himself) in it, which actually happened in our last game session.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Waxahachie
    Age
    45
    Posts
    1,498
    Blog Entries
    1
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by ronpyatt View Post
    Sometimes I have an idea about a major event, a goal, or a basic direction, but it rarely happens that way, and I'm often surprised when pieces of the story come together all on their own.
    So, I resign myself to let the winds of change have their way and enjoy the ride.
    I'm totally with Ron here. I create (or choose from a prior creation) the world before the campaign begins and then like most college campus buildings, just pull stuff out of the aether and let it land where it will. I consider it channeling from another reality, or pulling from the collective unconscious - I'm the medium in which to convey the story to the players. Carl Jung would be proud.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Nevada
    Age
    33
    Posts
    5
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    I realize only 9 people have responded to the survey so far, but I'm frankly amazed that the vast majority agree with me that they only detail major things and let the rest fall as it may.

    I always kinda thought this made me a lazy DM (hehe) but it seems I'm in good company! I used to try and make up a lot of detail, but I'd never get to use it... as invariably my players throw me for a complete loop (or the party turns evil and decides to kill the captives instead of set them free... I can't tell you how many times something like that has happened).

    Alas, now, like PhishStyx there, I just make a boatload of NPCs, a couple of encounter hooks that they can take or leave, and let my players do whatever they want. And I, too, have found that most NPCs need full stats 'cause PCs have essentially got a license to kill and you never know when they're going to strike!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    1,287
    Blog Entries
    11
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Mostly I dont plan much of anything for the whole campaign. I may plan 1-5 events that happen and some major npcs motives, however some systems (like 3.5) I plan a whole lot more just because there is too much stuff for my poor brain to remember.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Altavista
    Age
    43
    Posts
    700
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by MajereNoir View Post
    Alas, now, like PhishStyx there, I just make a boatload of NPCs, a couple of encounter hooks that they can take or leave, and let my players do whatever they want. And I, too, have found that most NPCs need full stats 'cause PCs have essentially got a license to kill and you never know when they're going to strike!

    Well, there's a big difference in the amount of number crunching that goes into my NPC's and a GURPS or D&D NPC.

    Take this guy in Unisystem for instance:
    http://www.penandpapergames.com/user...entry.php?e=37

    vs. a D&D NPC:
    http://www.penandpapergames.com/user...p?e=33&catid=5

    I used to play Palladium and that took tons of time and math (addition mostly), and before that 1st edition AD&D, which was nearly as bad.

    What's funny is that I'm about to get into a version of Unisystem with even shorter NPC sheets, where I don't actually roll in game for NPC actions. They're all pre-rolled for me. Still not sure if I'm going to like that.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Nevada
    Age
    33
    Posts
    5
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by PhishStyx View Post
    Well, there's a big difference in the amount of number crunching that goes into my NPC's and a GURPS or D&D NPC.
    I've played Unisystem a little and D&D a million times, and really I don't see much difference in time for creating a character (which is much what one is doing when one creates full NPCs). Now, granted, I've never DM'd anything in Unisystem... but I don't see where the math is really more complicated. Where I see it getting time-consuming is that there's such an open plate for picking qualities and skills; it's not just the small list of skills that you pump skill points into with D&D. But then, with the Unisystem, they've got all these fabulous templates you can use to speed the process.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhishStyx View Post
    ... I don't actually roll in game for NPC actions. They're all pre-rolled for me. Still not sure if I'm going to like that.
    My goodness, I think I'd hate that. That's just robbing the DM of all his fun! Where's the random aspect of this? Where's the chance that Bobo the Evil Clown Lord will roll a 1 and accidentally club himself in his huge foot, sending the PCs into a fit of uncontrollable laughter?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Altavista
    Age
    43
    Posts
    700
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    the small list of skills
    Hm, how many skills are in the D&D list?

    Unisystem has 66 as I recall, not including various types of a single skill such as different languages.

    Where's the random aspect of this?
    Well, I'm a diceless game fan, so I may not have quite that issue with it. On the other hand, I'm still not entirely decided; we'll see after I actually run a game.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Nevada
    Age
    33
    Posts
    5
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by PhishStyx View Post
    Hm, how many skills are in the D&D list?

    Unisystem has 66 as I recall, not including various types of a single skill such as different languages.
    35 in 3.5 D&D, also not including the various types of a single skill like Knowledge (type).

    That makes the Unisystem almost twice as skillful. Dang, I don't think I could remember 66 different skills! But then, they are not all applicable to every setting. There's a set that applies to fantasy settings and some others (like guns and computers) that only apply to modern things.



    Quote Originally Posted by PhishStyx View Post
    Well, I'm a diceless game fan
    I'm going to show off my ingrained D&D mindset here, but I'm just not sure I get how that would work. I can see it working for skills and social interaction, but how do you resolve combat without dice? Would you just look at how many points you have in your gun skill and the DM makes a call on whether that's enough to hit based on some aspect of the target... and then each weapon would just have a base damage amount that it always does?

  12. #12
    ronpyatt's Avatar
    ronpyatt is offline Dallas Organizer & Admin Golden d20 Award
    Player/GM: Either
    LFG: LFG
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Irving
    Age
    45
    Posts
    1,556
    Blog Entries
    16
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Diceless? Sounds like a topic all on its own. Hmmm....
    http://www.penandpapergames.com/foru...ead.php?t=3931

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Altavista
    Age
    43
    Posts
    700
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by MajereNoir View Post
    35 in 3.5 D&D, also not including the various types of a single skill like Knowledge (type).

    That makes the Unisystem almost twice as skillful.
    It a big deal. You don't have them all listed out on every sheet like D&D has; you pick what you want from the book.

    The Cinematic version of Unisystem in Buffy and Angel have a very simplified skill set with only 18 skills.

    You can get Cinematic Unisystem versions of the D&D cartoon kids here:
    http://www.penandpapergames.com/user...entry.php?e=39

    Dang, I don't think I could remember 66 different skills! But then, they are not all applicable to every setting. There's a set that applies to fantasy settings and some others (like guns and computers) that only apply to modern things.
    Oh yeah, the modern setting has 3 different computer skills, engineering, and so on.

    I'm going to show off my ingrained D&D mindset here, but I'm just not sure I get how that would work. I can see it working for skills and social interaction, but how do you resolve combat without dice?
    Depends on the game, the Amber Diceless RPG is comparative between characters and uses a rank system. So for a brief example, if your character has 25 Strength and is wrestling another Amberite with a 10 Strength, you're going to win. Maybe not instantly, but you would eventually win.

    There are other options though - Theatrix,

    Would you just look at how many points you have in your gun skill and the DM makes a call on whether that's enough to hit based on some aspect of the target... and then each weapon would just have a base damage amount that it always does?
    Well in Buffy and Angel's Cinematic Unisystem that isn't exactly what happens although damage is pre-set. The players still roll, it's just the GM that doesn't. NPC's have pre-set "Ability Scores"

    Well here's a Quick Sheet:


    Under Manuevers, "Score" is her pre-rolled result for dodging, etc.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Prattville
    Age
    52
    Posts
    773
    Blog Entries
    6
    Downloads
    2
    Uploads
    0
    I plan for everything... and ten minutes into playing, nearly every group I have ever been with have strayed from what I had expected - as well as all of the possible OTHER ways I expected them to go (and had prepared for!), and then I wing it.

    Does this count??

    (Pssst, Phishstyx, is that an avatar of Amy Lee?)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Age
    40
    Posts
    15
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Well i plan some events in my games and the rest i do on the fly.But i change this a lot.The only thing constant is the main story.But i have my players take side adventures not based on the main story to give some flavor and randomness to the game.

    I use random encounters off and on.Sometimes these encounters can lead to subplots in my main story or just something different for my pcs to do besides doing the main story all the time.
    "DO or DO NOT there is no try"Master Yoda

Page 1 of 12 1234511 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •