Tales of a Newbie DM

Prep – Part 1

First off, sorry I’m late for the week, I’ve had a hectic week at work so this feels a little rushed, but we will see how we go, Should still be interesting.

So Prep… Ok most people have their own unique style of prep, some people like to plan out hooks for each character, some people like to run off the cuff, Me I do something somewhere in between. I’ll explain later in this article but first I believe its important to chronicle my failures in this regards.

When I first started out, I was over preparing each session. I wouldn’t read enough on the background of the setting, I wouldn’t take the time to look back over my notes, instead I was focusing on my story, the story I wanted to tell, and not the story the players want to participate in.

Essentially I was trying to run a linear game, but it’s not really possible and it’s not really fun. A lot of my mistakes were obvious straight away, being under prepared in a few things, such as naming NPC’s or locations, the players would ask for a name of an NPC I forgot to name and I would freeze up.

So I started to run a game where I thought I had all the bases covered. It was a Star Wars Saga game, I named all the characters, I worked on a few worlds, guided the players through the game. It was working quite well to begin with, and then I decided I wanted to add a little story. Well I started putting story hooks in front of the players. Various events that I thought would trigger some kind of investigation.

Within the first session the players had inadvertently allowed someone to be assassinated. This didn’t work out. They ignored it, So they hunted around on the planet they were on largely oblivious to the hours of work that had just been wasted. Then they moved on to the next planet. Durring flight they ended up aboard a Ship controlled by them Empire. It was being attacked by a rebel force.

Now the way I thought it would play out, was that the players would escape and eventually hook up with the rebels and then they would be offered a job. Unfortunately one of the players decided he wanted to destroy the ship, so went to the engines and rigged them to blow… Well he died, but the rest of the group survived. But my game didn’t, another 5 – 10 hours’ worth of prep wasted… the game is currently on indefinite hiatus.

So what did I learn? Well a lot, a few very important lessons, such as don’t ever think you can control your players and bend them to your will, and never over prepare something, unless it can only go down one way, there is always the chance it could be skipped.

For now I’ll just give a quick rundown for what I do, then I can expand on it in the next article, this one is turning into a novel…

So there is a few steps I follow, but I start with a lot of reading, I read all the source books I can find, watch all the movies I can watch in reference to the setting.  Then I write down all the things I like, all the notes that seem important. Then I write down every idea I have in a notebook, and come back to it later. Now comes the real part of my prep. Ok that’s it for today. I’ll post the second part tomorrow.

Feel free to send me a PM via the forum or post below with feedback

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