It’s been a long day here at Red Dice Diaries, so I thought that–whilst Hannah is running her Star Trek game on my desktop upstairs–I’d offer some advice on running a game when your well of creativity has run dry or you’re feeling low in energy.
In this episode I discuss some ideas for manual prep and note recording methods going forward for my games:
If you’re interested in the idea of Bullet Journalling you can find out more here:
- The main bullet journal website
- Bullet Journal for RPGs tutorial
- Bullet journals for GMs MeWe community
Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:
Used under creative commons licence:
Last night I ran a game of Dresden Files Accelerated for five great players, it was a one-shot and–to put a bit of a twist on it–I’d decided to set the game in the wild west rather than the more traditional modern setting of the game. Looking for an iconic town I settled on Tombstone, during it’s waning years after the silver mines had dried up:
Using the Wikipedia page I made the following notes:
POTTED TOMBSTONE HISTORY
- Founded in 1979 by Prospector Ed Schiefflin in Arizona.
- Grew in mid-1880s, last of the boom towns.
- Local mines produced $40 to $85 million silver bullion.
- Town established on mesa above the Goodenough Mine.
Had bowling alley, 4 churches, ice house, school, 2 banks,
3 newspapers and an ice cream parlour.
- 110 saloons.
- 14 gambling halls, numerous dance halls and brothels.
All businesses situated amongst and around silver mines.
In mid-1880s the silver mines pentrated the water table.
- Pumps were destroyed by a fire in 1886.
- Unprofitable to re-build the costly pumps.
- City nearby became something of a ghost town.
The players were told about the setting in advance and asked to create characters using the DFAE rules, shortly before the game I posted the following plot-clue to the Facebook event:
Created using an online tool: https://www.fodey.com/generators/newspaper/snippet.asp
To give you an idea of my prep, below are some of the notes that I made for and during the game.
First of all I started with the main antagonists, a black court vampire by the name of Dillon and his thrall, a young girl with powers of necromancy.
Then I moved onto some of the goon-level flunkies who were going to be acting as muscle for our main villain:
I also made some brief notes of the powers and abilities that these villains had to save me having to look them up during the session:
During the session I also made some notes regarding PC names and incidental NPCs, I also used these index card to keep track of boosts, advantages, etc.
In addition to these note I had a text file with some rough plot ideas outlined, just before we started recording I asked the players for a bit of background and worked to incorporate it into the draft plot that I had written down already, changing it as necessary. The index card method is really useful during a game because it allows me to quickly reference the most needed stats and information without having to flip through the rulebook so much.
If you want to watch the actual play video of the session you can find it here:
We’ve all been in that position from time to time when you run a game session that you don’t feel is up to your best standards, this could be for any number of reasons, you might be tired or have other things going on that serve to distract you from running the game. Continue reading “What should you do when a session feels a bit flat?”
Okay so you’ve done your prep, got the campaign running and have run your first session, surely that’s it for prep until you start getting ready for the next session right?
Wrong. You certainly could run games like this, however, there’s a few little bits of prep you can do after your session has finished that will make your life easier and improve your campaign in the long run.
The main focus of a lot of peoples prep occurs when getting ready for running an actual session, this post isn’t going to talk about the specifics of writing an adventure or creating a story for a session, but rather what sort of things you should get ready and have to hand when you run it to make your job easier.
We’ve talking about about pre-campaign prep and scheduling your game prep in previous instalments of this series, now it’s time to talk about the sort of things that you should be looking to have prepped for the start of your campaign. Continue reading “GM Tips: Preparing for a Campaign Part 3 – What sort of things should you prep at the start of a campaign?”
Scheduling your prep
I generally try to be organised when it comes to getting my prep done for a campaign, some people prefer a more seat-of-their-pants approach but I like to know what I have left to do and organise it into managable pieces, it helps me get the prep done and also helps relax me at the start of a game session. If I know that I have the necessary prep done I can go into a session confident that I am prepared and ready for whatever the players throw at me.
When I say ready for whatever the players throw at me, I don’t mean that I’ve scripted everything down to nth degree, that would make for a not very entertaining game, I mean that I have enough of my world and campaign prepared so that I feel comfortably able to create consistent details if my players do something unexpected. Continue reading “GM Tips: Preparing for a Campaign Part 2 – Scheduling Prep”
A while back on a YouTube video I did about preparing for a Star Wars game Fábio Fontes requested some more advice on prepping for a more long-term campaign; I’ve been thinking for a while about how best to do this, and I think that doing it as a video probably isn’t the best way since the videos would end up being massive, so I’ve decided to write it in my blog instead. The topic is an extensive one, I’m not going to create an exhaustive treatise on it, but in the interests of avoiding a huge wall of text and of splitting my workload–I discuss this later in this series–I’m going to break the advice down into a series of blog posts. Continue reading “GM Tips: Preparing for a Campaign Part 1”
One of the most important things a GM can do when designing a campaign is to ask themselves questions, by doing so you ensure consistency and might also through up some important elements of your setting that can be woven into compelling stories. Continue reading “GM Tips: Questions to ask about Settlements”