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30 Days of Gamemastering: Part Ten

October 11, 2013

This is part ten in the continuing series of posts for the “30 Days of Gamemastering Challenge” from Triple Crit.

What are your tips for running a low/no prep game?

To be honest, most of my games are low/no prep games. Mostly, I just don’t have the time or inclination to spend an inordinate amount of time on prep. But it also helps keep me fresh as a gamemaster if I’m having to improvise more and not rely on a detailed script.

First and foremost, know your setting. For a low/no prep game, you’ll have to improvise quite a bit. To make this more seamless, it is important to know your setting inside and out. What wheels are turning, who’s who, and what’s going on. Not only on a world level but on a local level as well. If you’re having a scenario based in a small village, who are the movers and shakers of the village? How do things get done? Knowing your setting will allow you to make plausible guesses when your players ask questions–and you can bet they’ll ask questions. You don’t have to stat out each and every villager (this is low prep), but have an idea of who’s in charge and what motivates them. If you know your setting now, you’ll have to do a lot less retconning later.

Try to get your notes to fit on one side of a sheet of paper (or one computer screen with very little scrolling). This makes it easier to reference your notes “on the fly”. Use good bullet points and headings to grab your attention. I tend to bold all of my character names to make them stand out.

Take notes as you go! If you go low prep, that means that you’ll have to keep track of all the stuff you made up along the way and make it make sense later. Use either a separate notebook for campaign notes vs. momentary figures (hit point counts, etc.) or notecards for one or the other. Be sure and get your notes organized sooner rather than later before you forget what happened or, even more importantly, why something happened.

What about you? Do you run low/no prep games? How do you cope?

From → Tips and Tricks

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