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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I just spent a few hours checking it out, and I'm ... very unimpressed. It has too much of the same failings as PtbA. Lots of amorphous stuff that don't actually mean much. They're both like reading Life Inspirational Quotes on social media.
    I don't agree with your assessment, but YMMV. For preparing the game it has lots of bullet point sections with specific things you should do. It follows up with procedures for mapping out different type of regions and providing tools to give inspiration. EB also has the most succinct "GM advice" I've read, particulary the Information-Choice-Impact doctrine.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    EB also has the most succinct "GM advice" I've read, particulary the Information-Choice-Impact doctrine.
    Ooooh that sounds good.

    I also think the PbtA advice is good. Like the Principles can send very Inspirobot if you look at them abstractly, but when you actively use them to guide you in play, they help focus you in specific directions.
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  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    I don't agree with your assessment, but YMMV. For preparing the game it has lots of bullet point sections with specific things you should do. It follows up with procedures for mapping out different type of regions and providing tools to give inspiration. EB also has the most succinct "GM advice" I've read, particulary the Information-Choice-Impact doctrine.
    The Information-Choice-Impact was exactly what I was talking about.

    Agreed the mapping suggestions were solid. Except possibly the idea of trying to put everything on your map directly.

    That said it's a crazy simple system that would take no effort to introduce folks too. Since I'm unlikely to revive my campaign once gaming in stores is feasible again, it can go on my list for one shot playtesting to see how it works in the field, once that day comes again. (PbtA is already on that list.)

  4. - Top - End - #34
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Ooooh that sounds good.

    I also think the PbtA advice is good. Like the Principles can send very Inspirobot if you look at them abstractly, but when you actively use them to guide you in play, they help focus you in specific directions.
    What is great about PbtA style Principles is that they clearly show what playstyle the game is designed for. You may not like the playstyle and choose not to play the game, or want to deviate from some of the principles, but at least you are making an informed choice about it. Using this style of Principles is also being used more and more in new OSR games I see.

    The ICI essay is also more or less the same as on the blog.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    The Information-Choice-Impact was exactly what I was talking about.

    Agreed the mapping suggestions were solid. Except possibly the idea of trying to put everything on your map directly.

    That said it's a crazy simple system that would take no effort to introduce folks too. Since I'm unlikely to revive my campaign once gaming in stores is feasible again, it can go on my list for one shot playtesting to see how it works in the field, once that day comes again. (PbtA is already on that list.)
    It's a great small system, perfect for one-shots and introducing new people. It's really easy to modify to suit your needs. There are also lots of hacks of it (and its progentior Into the Odd) out there. The most successful is probably Mausritter, and I've even made my own personal cosmic horror investigation version as well.

  5. - Top - End - #35
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    in my experience on both sides of the table, the best adventures come from this kind of setup. you have a living, complex world. you have plenty of schemers with carefully laid plans. you unleash the pcs through all of that and watch how they tangle things. and there's no way to cut any preplanning when doing that. not if you want the same content quality.
    And yet I can say that in my experience on both side of the table the best adventures came about when the GM did not prepare anything ahead of time. Although as a GM the best campaign I've ever run was a one-shot so maybe I would do some work between sessions on a longer campaign.

    I mean their weren't schemers with carefully played plans. The most important relationships are between the player characters, not only in terms of screen time but in terms of how it shapes the plot. Its a different style of play and it probably makes it a bit easier to run low prep, but I can definitely say it isn't lower quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I also think the PbtA advice is good. Like the Principles can send very Inspirobot if you look at them abstractly, but when you actively use them to guide you in play, they help focus you in specific directions.
    I think a good example is the "Always say what honesty demands." which at first sounds like a feel-good statement but really its saying that you don't hide or alter information in this system. There is no GM screen physically or metaphorically and that is how the system is supposed to be played.

  6. - Top - End - #36
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Out of necessity my current campaign runs fairly short sessions. We rarely break the 3-hour mark. I find that helps prep immensely, as I only need to work out enough for that shorter play time. When a session ends, I know where the PCs are and what they're about to do -- which is usually a pretty short-term thing like "explore the next level" or "go to the big social event." It makes it easier to plan out the following session, which in turn will be a relatively short amount of time.

    Back when we'd run 6+ hour sessions, it was much easier for the players to spin off someplace unexpected, without me having the opportunity pause the action and work up appropriate content. It was much more stressful.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    And yet I can say that in my experience on both side of the table the best adventures came about when the GM did not prepare anything ahead of time. Although as a GM the best campaign I've ever run was a one-shot so maybe I would do some work between sessions on a longer campaign.

    I mean their weren't schemers with carefully played plans. The most important relationships are between the player characters, not only in terms of screen time but in terms of how it shapes the plot. Its a different style of play and it probably makes it a bit easier to run low prep, but I can definitely say it isn't lower quality.
    I agree wholeheartedly, but then I am a GM who does very little prep so obviously I am biased.

    Anyway, one of my best remembered sessions involved no prep; no dice rolls; no NPCs or other people to interact with. All that happened was that the characters were walking through a cave that would give each of them the illusion that the other characters were badmouthing them. For each of them I played up some minor resentiment that had already crept up in the party. My players jumped at the opportunity to have a pure RP session playing their characters to the fullest in an intra-party conflict. It often gets cited as the best session we ever played.
    Then again, I am blessed with awesome players that don't need much input from me. I'll just throw out a few hooks, see what they bite on, and we'll quickly have an emergent story we're all happy to engage with.
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  8. - Top - End - #38
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    What is great about PbtA style Principles is that they clearly show what playstyle the game is designed for. You may not like the playstyle and choose not to play the game, or want to deviate from some of the principles, but at least you are making an informed choice about it. Using this style of Principles is also being used more and more in new OSR games I see.

    The ICI essay is also more or less the same as on the blog.
    That's a quite solid article, and lines up with my view of roleplaying really well.

    Specifically, for the three 'types' of interactions I talk about, it's really the essence of Type 1 interactions:

    GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?" (Information, prompt for choice)
    Player: "I do the thing." (Choice)
    GM: "This is the new situation. What do you do?" (Impact, information, prompt for choice)

    ... and that's also PbtA in a super nutshell.
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    And yet I can say that in my experience on both side of the table the best adventures came about when the GM did not prepare anything ahead of time. Although as a GM the best campaign I've ever run was a one-shot so maybe I would do some work between sessions on a longer campaign.

    I mean their weren't schemers with carefully played plans. The most important relationships are between the player characters, not only in terms of screen time but in terms of how it shapes the plot. Its a different style of play and it probably makes it a bit easier to run low prep, but I can definitely say it isn't lower quality.
    What happens when the players interact with the world? how can you keep stuff consistent? how do you shape the plot if you don't know precisely what's in the campaign world? how can your players even make informed decisions without plenty of worldbuilding and npc details?
    or, if you run one-shot so you don't have to explore, how do you make meaningful relationship between player characters?
    the style of play at your table is so different, i can't even understand what you actually do.

    anyway, the no prep style would not fit the taste of my group. so let's just say that you can work with low prep with some play styles, but not with others.
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  10. - Top - End - #40
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    What happens when the players interact with the world? how can you keep stuff consistent? how do you shape the plot if you don't know precisely what's in the campaign world? how can your players even make informed decisions without plenty of worldbuilding and npc details?
    or, if you run one-shot so you don't have to explore, how do you make meaningful relationship between player characters?
    the style of play at your table is so different, i can't even understand what you actually do.

    anyway, the no prep style would not fit the taste of my group. so let's just say that you can work with low prep with some play styles, but not with others.
    That is one of the issues I ran into as a young gm. Lack of consistancy long term on unscripted game worlds.
    Not saying you need to write down everyone living in a town. But some "everyone knows" notes are always good. A basic if not 100% true map,ect.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    What happens when the players interact with the world? how can you keep stuff consistent? how do you shape the plot if you don't know precisely what's in the campaign world? how can your players even make informed decisions without plenty of worldbuilding and npc details?
    One thing I do is make a timeline of stuff that's happened leading up to the first session. Every significant NPC gets at least a birth year (and hopefully location) in the timeline. Even ones I don't expect the PCs to interact with until later. If the PCs strike off in a new direction that prompts me to come up with new content (NPCs, events, locations, etc.), they get put into the timeline before the next session. I also update the timeline as we play, so it keeps up with "now."

    I find doing this keeps my worldbuilding from spiraling out of control. It becomes pretty clear if I'm adding redundancies, and allows me to leverage content I've already created. Having birth years for my main NPCs helps me keep track of their ages, which informs how I roleplay them. I can see where my history gaps are. It helps me tie past events together if feasible, which in turn keeps my meta-plot streamlined. I can't recommend it enough.
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  12. - Top - End - #42
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    That's a quite solid article, and lines up with my view of roleplaying really well.

    Specifically, for the three 'types' of interactions I talk about, it's really the essence of Type 1 interactions:

    GM: "This is the situation. What do you do?" (Information, prompt for choice)
    Player: "I do the thing." (Choice)
    GM: "This is the new situation. What do you do?" (Impact, information, prompt for choice)

    ... and that's also PbtA in a super nutshell.
    Yeah, there are a lot of similarities between the OSR and PbtA, especially wrt "play to find out what happens". I think the main difference in the interactions above is how the players make their choice; for the former the players are trying to make clever choices in order to achieve their characters' goals, while in the latter the players are trying to make clever choices for their character in order to make a satisfying narrative.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    in the latter the players are trying to make clever choices for their character in order to make a satisfying narrative.
    Not necessarily, and I edge away from that style of play in any case. I think "satisftying narratives" come out of interesting characters pursuing their disparate goals and other characters having other, mutually exclusive goals.

    There are differences, however, in that most OSR games are much more averse to present player-facing (as opposed to character-facing) decisions, and the fact that playbooks in PbtA tend to revolve more around narrative roles instead of combat roles, as well as the general playstyle being generally more aimed at emulating fiction rather than "reality". While D&D (and thus OSR games, though they may diverge) focused around exploration and delving, PbtA games usually have very little of that assumption.
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  14. - Top - End - #44
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    the style of play at your table is so different, i can't even understand what you actually do.
    It doesn't actually look that different. Players send their characters out into the world, ask questions and I (or whoever is running the game, but using the games I run as an example) answer them. If the one-shot format makes a difference I don't think it is terms of pacing or anything, its just the total amount of content (number of NPCs, locations, events) is small enough that I can remember all of them off the top of my head. So I keep consistency just by thinking "Does this contradict anything?" quickly shuffling through my mental list of facts about the setting.

    You know I think there is one important point that some people have missed. The argument is not actually for zero preparation, its for less required preparation. And tools to make any additional preparation easier/faster/more efficient. Zero preparation is just the "ideal" but there are a lot of trade offs you have to make in reality.

  15. - Top - End - #45
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    But what if prep is fun? Low to zero prep systems tend to discourage prep, not just not need it. Which is very much not ideal for me, since I enjoy prep almost as much as play. And in some ways more than play. Play gives me inspiration and direction for my prep, and prep brings things to life during play.

    Right now I'm doing inter session "dreams and visions" posts, pulling in experiences from the past and warnings/omens for the future related to the characters and the upcoming session. And it's a lot of fun and the players seem to enjoy it as well.
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  16. - Top - End - #46
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Regarding Ici:

    Generally like the notion; have a few qualms.

    "Knowledge and Perception Rolls are the worst offenders of not understanding the importance of Information. When I see them in use I just wonder what could be lost by just giving the players the information?" - the Agency of different characters producing different results, or even having different options available to them?

    "No easy decisions. If any of them have one really obvious solution then you need to make the situation more interesting!" - 1) disagree that every decision should be hard, just as I disagree with the level treadmill; 2) players will often complicate things on their own just fine - a trivial decision suddenly becomes complicated because one PC is honorable, or afraid of water, or doesn't trust your NPC.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    You know I think there is one important point that some people have missed. The argument is not actually for zero preparation, its for less required preparation. And tools to make any additional preparation easier/faster/more efficient. Zero preparation is just the "ideal" but there are a lot of trade offs you have to make in reality.
    A lot of "make things more efficient" techniques… don't. That is, a blender and a microwave may be great, but good luck using them to make a steak. The GM needs to have practice with all of the tools, and the game needs to not suddenly crash when they attempt to plug in an oven.

    As a really silly example, think about just how much of 3e would need to be redone for "low magic" to "just work".

    Personally, I am saying more of, "never take your eyes off the stove - just because you think you don't need it now, doesn't mean that someone won't need it later, and how hard will it be for them to remodel your kitchen to get one in?".

  17. - Top - End - #47
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    To Quertus: If I understand what you are saying correctly, and honestly I'm not sure if I am, my confusion is that people seem to be going "You can't make a stake with a blender, this shows that blenders are pointless". And I think tools and meals would be have a much more generous matching in here.

  18. - Top - End - #48
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    It doesn't actually look that different. Players send their characters out into the world, ask questions and I (or whoever is running the game, but using the games I run as an example) answer them. If the one-shot format makes a difference I don't think it is terms of pacing or anything, its just the total amount of content (number of NPCs, locations, events) is small enough that I can remember all of them off the top of my head. So I keep consistency just by thinking "Does this contradict anything?" quickly shuffling through my mental list of facts about the setting.
    that makes all the difference in terms of preparation. with a long term campaign, there's no way i'd be able to do that if I hadn't already prepared most answers, and a solid, accurate background to guide me through the stuff i didn't anticipate.
    it also makes a huge difference in terms of the game, because of long term objectives; in a one-shot, you simply don't have them.
    Last edited by King of Nowhere; 2021-01-08 at 09:17 AM.
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  19. - Top - End - #49
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    I dare say the “prep” culture comes from D&D and it’s many sub variants - encounters are very often centered around properly balancing a multitude of special possibilities, particularly as the game becomes “martials need not apply”. Add in that it runs on what we would think of as the MMO or looter-shooter gameplay loop, and there has to be some thought to the pacing of rewards. In a system like that, not prepping the mechanics of anticipated interactions - in some detail - is likely to detract from the game. Or the player’s view on the fairness of it. On top of that, the deliberate decision to make everything that is not magic-interact-combat an at best tertiary system means that many of the more interesting parts of GMing are rendered irrelevant.

    And that is absolutely brutal, soul destroying work to keep up for any length of time. It becomes a lose-lose. In a d&d system, non prep makes for notably worse games. But the prep required burns out any GM who isn’t a student, eventually killing the game.

    As you drift away from D&D design ethos, prep typically becomes much less of an issue. There are exceptions of course, but as a trend. And as prep becomes less of an issue, the game-fatal cycle GM “death by second job” becomes less of an issue.

  20. - Top - End - #50
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    I dare say the “prep” culture comes from D&D and it’s many sub variants - encounters are very often centered around properly balancing a multitude of special possibilities, particularly as the game becomes “martials need not apply”. Add in that it runs on what we would think of as the MMO or looter-shooter gameplay loop, and there has to be some thought to the pacing of rewards. In a system like that, not prepping the mechanics of anticipated interactions - in some detail - is likely to detract from the game. Or the player’s view on the fairness of it. On top of that, the deliberate decision to make everything that is not magic-interact-combat an at best tertiary system means that many of the more interesting parts of GMing are rendered irrelevant.

    And that is absolutely brutal, soul destroying work to keep up for any length of time. It becomes a lose-lose. In a d&d system, non prep makes for notably worse games. But the prep required burns out any GM who isn’t a student, eventually killing the game.

    As you drift away from D&D design ethos, prep typically becomes much less of an issue. There are exceptions of course, but as a trend. And as prep becomes less of an issue, the game-fatal cycle GM “death by second job” becomes less of an issue.
    Except...the amount of encounter and reward prep I do for D&D is...not zero but really small. Maybe 10 minutes per session, and 90% of that's setting up the online combat tracker for convenience. Figuring out what stat blocks are going in takes...30 seconds? a minute? Maybe? I think you're thinking of 3e. 5e just generally works as long as you're not trying to push the difficulty curve (and neither are your players). Optimization arms-races kill games.

    The vast majority of my planning is world building and scenario building. Figuring out what the world contains and how the world will react to player actions. And working on ways of slow-dripping backstory into the ongoing events. And in anything other than a one-shot or purely player-driven (ie completely communal world building on the fly) game, those will always be necessary.

    For example, I've got a player who doesn't know what his backstory is--he's entrusted me to drip that in at the opportune moments. His character is amnesiac. If I didn't plan for that and figure out how and where he's connected, I'd not be able to do that. You can't run a vibrant, living world without doing prep.
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  21. - Top - End - #51
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    To Quertus: If I understand what you are saying correctly, and honestly I'm not sure if I am, my confusion is that people seem to be going "You can't make a stake with a blender, this shows that blenders are pointless". And I think tools and meals would be have a much more generous matching in here.
    More, "don't throw away the oven - or make it impossible to plug one in, no matter how good an idea you have for a blender.".

    A blender is a tool. It's a handy tool to have. Inventing one (or a can opener) in a world without such tools, or inventing a better one, is a great goal.

    But destroying all ovens, or building kitchens that can't house ovens, just because you've invented a blender, is short-sighted.

    Also,

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    You can't run a vibrant, living world without doing prep.

  22. - Top - End - #52
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Except...the amount of encounter and reward prep I do for D&D is...not zero but really small. Maybe 10 minutes per session, and 90% of that's setting up the online combat tracker for convenience. Figuring out what stat blocks are going in takes...30 seconds? a minute? Maybe? I think you're thinking of 3e. 5e just generally works as long as you're not trying to push the difficulty curve (and neither are your players). Optimization arms-races kill games.

    The vast majority of my planning is world building and scenario building. Figuring out what the world contains and how the world will react to player actions. And working on ways of slow-dripping backstory into the ongoing events. And in anything other than a one-shot or purely player-driven (ie completely communal world building on the fly) game, those will always be necessary.

    For example, I've got a player who doesn't know what his backstory is--he's entrusted me to drip that in at the opportune moments. His character is amnesiac. If I didn't plan for that and figure out how and where he's connected, I'd not be able to do that. You can't run a vibrant, living world without doing prep.
    I just needed to quote and bump this because it's spot on.

    The vast number of low prep games don't advocate no prep. That's an outlier for sure. What they advocate is a different type of planning - mostly avoiding "a specific set of encounters".

    Even AW, possibly the poster child, doesn't advocate zero prep. It advocates zero or minimal prep before the 'first' session, but after that there is some prep that the MC needs to do to tie everything together from the threads generated. Most low prep games are similar - initial scenario and sufficient worldbuilding up front (or after a session zero/one), and then between games most of your prep is stepping the world forward based on the events of the session. As well as some amount of "fleshing out the bits that are starting to come into focus".
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2021-01-08 at 01:08 PM.
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  23. - Top - End - #53
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    I dare say the “prep” culture comes from D&D and it’s many sub variants - encounters are very often centered around properly balancing a multitude of special possibilities, particularly as the game becomes “martials need not apply”. Add in that it runs on what we would think of as the MMO or looter-shooter gameplay loop, and there has to be some thought to the pacing of rewards.
    Actually I think you're mostly talking about D&D prep post 2000. Which, granted, is like 20 years of Microsoft telling you that the current Windows is the best OS ever so just deal [removed rant].

    You're talking about the concept of 'balanced encounters' and planning pc resource drain & xp gain. There are a number of games where dm prep is needed or useful that have none of those considerations. Paranoia, Traveller, Champions, Pendragon, Call of Cthulhu, etc., etc., need certain minimum levels of prep but don't care about it for 'balance', resource drain, or xp gain. You do it because you need npcs that the pcs might roll against, interesting locations to explore or explode, and perhaps how the pcs get there might matter.

    My experience is that less prep requires more dm improv skills and more dm system mastery. All of which is on various spectrums of more<->less depending on the dm, the system, and how the group plays the game. Plus, more consistent systems tend to have lots of stuff other people have prepped and put online over time. I ran a Champions game for 6 or 8 months, I only built two npcs, everything else was from the thousands of npcs/monsters other people have made & posted or published.

    One thing I don't generally see people discussing is long term prep vs. short term prep. Short term prep might be setting up or statting encounters or prepping battle maps. Long term is your overall plotting (if any), the game world, and major recurring npcs. It turns out that you can shift a fair bit of short term prep into long term with a bit of planning.

    I often set up a selection of common npc stats and limit my monster selection during world building. So everything that isn't a unique & very important creature is in a condensed beastiary for the setting (about 4 to 8 pages total, depending). I tend to use lots of modular map bits, just scribbling bits in to connect them keeps stuff not looking samey. Online image searches also yield a lot of maps, but I often run modern/future games so I can grab industrial floorplans for stuff so that's probably easier.

    And keep everything you've ever prepped. Reuse is awesome at reducing workload.
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Except...the amount of encounter and reward prep I do for D&D is...not zero but really small. Maybe 10 minutes per session, and 90% of that's setting up the online combat tracker for convenience. Figuring out what stat blocks are going in takes...30 seconds? a minute? Maybe? I think you're thinking of 3e. 5e just generally works as long as you're not trying to push the difficulty curve (and neither are your players). Optimization arms-races kill games.

    The vast majority of my planning is world building and scenario building. Figuring out what the world contains and how the world will react to player actions. And working on ways of slow-dripping backstory into the ongoing events. And in anything other than a one-shot or purely player-driven (ie completely communal world building on the fly) game, those will always be necessary.
    hey, i'm running a 3e game, and still my mechanical planning is fairly small. and really, all that stuff that you are supposed to do to build and balance encounters, i've never find any of it to be useful. The players are always going to do something unexpected that will change the assumptions, so trying to play the resource management game is akin to trying to build a card castle during a earthquake. What I do is eyeballing all of that. if the players find ways to deal with the encounters easily, good for them, congrats on their brilliant strategy. If I overshoot the difficulty and end up giving them a too though encounter, they can congratulate them on how they managed to survive against the odds. if they didn't manage to survive against the odds, there are resurrections spells for a reason. if i decide to do something more elaborate, dungeon maps, traps and stuff, i am having fun doing it.
    I also have to spend most of my prep time in scenario building.

    incidentally, i also disagree on the optimization arms race. ok, it does kill some games, but that happens because some people want it and some people don't, and those who don't want to race for optimization have to put in work they don't want. yes, that can kill games. on the other hand, some people do enjoy the optimization arms race, and disallowing that would kill their games. it would be a bit like coming to a marathon race and offering everyone a lift on a car, because surely those poor guys panting and sweating would not choose to run if they could avoid it. it's like when your mother came to your room and tried to persuade you to stop your nerd activities and go out because she couldn't understand nerd activities (90% of nerds had similar quarrels with their parents, so I assume you likely know what i'm talking about).
    it's already been stated that there are many parts of preparation, and everyone enjoys different parts and find different parts a chore. so you can't remove any part of preparation without breaking someone's favourite toy, but it's worth stating again.
    but there are tools to reduce preparation. if you don't like worldbuilding, you can familiarize yourself with some of the big settings and run adventures there. if you don't want to prepare mechanics, you can only play monsters straight out of the manual and pregen maps.

    You can't run a vibrant, living world without doing prep.
    this condenses nicely what i was trying to say about worldbuilding and long term campaigns
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    You can't run a vibrant, living world without doing prep.
    Sounds like a challenge.

    I suppose if you had sufficient skill at world-building and character creation (in the narrative sense) then you could take care of that. In fact there is nothing innate about the problem that would change it from any other type of preparation so of course it is possible even if fewer people have, though some combination of talent and training, have reached that point.

    The world building would also be easy to... turn into a system matter. Mostly I am thinking of Blades in the Dark where the city of Duskwall is the setting for the campaign and you could do something similar as long as moving from place to place isn't a part of the campaign. Or you could do something in the rule book to help generate new locations.

    Character creation is a bit harder because it is easier to fix a map than to fix all the people in it but with the right tables of prompts and names that were built for different groups in the setting it could be done as well.

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    You can't run a vibrant, living world without doing prep.
    Hard disagree. Prep time for encounters and adventuring sites is what's time consuming. Worldbuilding that isn't potentially part of adventures doesn't require any prep time. It can all be winged.

    You do have to keep good notes of what you just made up though.

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Hard disagree. Prep time for encounters and adventuring sites is what's time consuming. Worldbuilding that isn't potentially part of adventures doesn't require any prep time. It can all be winged.
    Exact opposite for me. Combat encounters are trivial, in the "work" sense. I spend more time than I need prepping them but I like it. I cannibalize published stuff a lot when I need a dungeon or other similar location, and failing that someone probably has a map laid out somewhere online. But I could generate a dungeon-crawl realtime.

    What takes time for me are the plot threads that I dangle in front of the players. I need to make them intriguing. Provide enough info to get them interested but also not give too much away. All the stuff that provides context for why they're having the above encounters and running through those enemy hideouts or forgotten ruins.
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by EggKookoo View Post
    Exact opposite for me. Combat encounters are trivial, in the "work" sense. I spend more time than I need prepping them but I like it. I cannibalize published stuff a lot when I need a dungeon or other similar location, and failing that someone probably has a map laid out somewhere online. But I could generate a dungeon-crawl realtime.
    I cannabalized like crazy too, but prepping the campaign still probably too over a hundred hours, maybe significantly more. And keeping it up to date takes some time too.

    Worst is making sure stat blocks are handy and you've reviewed all possible encounter stat blocks prior to a session. D&D isn't BECMI any more, where you can read them on the fly from the rules book. If you haven't at least skimmed them all and thought about them a little before a session, your encounters will fall flat, and probably need to print them out or make a summary sheet of your own. And review terrain and tactics and any special things that can happen. You can't run a vibrant, living adventure without spending some time before a session reviewing the adventure details.

    That's one thing where west marches campaign advice kinda falls flat. Yes, it's front loaded on campaign prep. But it doesn't make pre-session prep almost nothing as claimed.

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Hard disagree. Prep time for encounters and adventuring sites is what's time consuming. Worldbuilding that isn't potentially part of adventures doesn't require any prep time. It can all be winged.

    You do have to keep good notes of what you just made up though.
    there is a vast difference between something that you considered, analyzed, carefully checked for internal consistency, and something you made up on the fly.
    granted, even my campaign world would unravel if scrutinized closely enough, but it holds together pretty well. winged worldbuilding will fail to analyze how the various factors interact with each other. and you can tell the difference. the players can tell the difference. i am good at it, and i see my players get much more involved in the world when i dm. players talk about the politics of the various power factions as if they were a real thing - even though most of those won't ever end up being relevant - and they don't do it with other dm.

    and that goes for every aspect of the game. you can produce something mediocre with little effort, but you can always produce something better with more effort.
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    there is a vast difference between something that you considered, analyzed, carefully checked for internal consistency, and something you made up on the fly.
    granted, even my campaign world would unravel if scrutinized closely enough, but it holds together pretty well. winged worldbuilding will fail to analyze how the various factors interact with each other. and you can tell the difference. the players can tell the difference.
    It's not a lore book they're going back and rereading. Worldbuilding isn't going to get any detailed analysis unless it's part of the adventure, and then it's adventure building.

    Internal Consistency in adventure building may or may not be noticeable. World building probably won't unless they take extensive notes and write a story about it. Oh sorry, "campaign journal".

    Or maybe you guys are using the term to mean something other than I am. World lore is a relatively small part of the actual table experience except as it happens to intrude on the adventure. DMs tend to think it needs to read like the lore books companies sell. Thats not what the players are experiencing at all.

    As an example, try reading The All Guardsmen Party some time.

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