Podcast Episode 46 – Old school prepping and bullet journals

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:


Title Music

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/XTaKeRuX/Empty_Grave/Shinigami

Used under creative commons licence:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Wild West Wizardry Prep Notes

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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tombstone,_Arizona

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:

 

GM Tips: Expand your reading material

One of the aspects of the roleplaying that I really enjoy is producing campaign wikis/blogs, etc that provide more of an insight into currently running games and campaign worlds, it lets me keep my writing-hand in, keeps up my enthusiasm between games and also helps refresh my (unfortunately poor) memory concerning the salient details of the campaign.

Another benefit–and one that I don’t see mentioned all that often–is that doing this work has encouraged me to read information that I might not have looked at before.

My most recent example of this came whilst I was setting up a series of pages on this site for my Rose of Westhaven campaign, particularly the entries concerning the fictional calendar that I have created–using Donjon’s excellent Fantasy Calendar Creator–for the game. Days, months, seasons, moon phases and all those sort of things that go into a calendar are elements that I have often neglected in past game and I’m hoping to bring them more centre-stage to my campaign. While setting up the three moons of my campaign world using the calendar, it occurred to me that I had no idea what the figures in the lunar cycle section of the calendar creator were referring to. A quick search on Google and Wikipedia lead to me reading a wiki-page about the Me tonic cycle and various methods of measuring times used by different cultures throughout history.

All of this was information that I had not even considered before and–even if I only remember a fraction of it–it has still educated me and will hopefully enrich my game in the future. When you’re writing up your session notes in future, if you see something that you don’t know much about whether it be a style of architecture, settlement demographics, religions or whatever, spend a few minutes reading around the subject on the internet, you certainly won’t make anything worse by having more knowledge.

GM Tips: Prepping for a Campaign Part 5 – Post Game Prep

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.

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GM Tips: Prepping for a Campaign Part 4 – Prep for the Start of a Session

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.

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GM Tips: Preparing for a Campaign Part 2 – Scheduling Prep

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 1

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

How I prepare for a Star Wars one-shot

Sam posted in the Tide of Change group saying that it would be useful to see how some of the GMs prepare for their sessions, so over the course of the weekend I’ve maded this video outlining the process that I go through to create a Star Wars one-shot.

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