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Tips For Starting Prep

For starters, take these tips with a grain of salt. First, different approaches to productivity work for different people. Second, I have to be the world’s worst person at parking my butt and getting prep done. These are all things I have tried with varying degrees of success, but I am certainly not the world’s guru on getting things done (for that I would probably direct you to David Allen [1]). For what they’re worth, here are a handful of tips for sitting down and starting prep. If you have experience with these and want to weigh in one way or the other or have your own tips or secrets, let everyone know below. I’ll be immensely grateful for another approach to try.

Now it’s your turn. How have you given yourself a jumpstart to get your prep moving? Let us know in the comments below.

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2 Comments To "Tips For Starting Prep"

#1 Comment By Blackjack On August 16, 2017 @ 6:26 pm

I’ve tried meditation techniques, fancy timers, distraction control, etc. and found that none of these particularly help for prep work. What does work (for me) is taking a top-down approach, beginning with defining what I’m trying to create. Okay, it’s a roleplaying game adventure. What’s the scope? One sessions, a few sessions, a whole saga? What’s the setting? What’s the theme?

Once I’ve got the above figured out I can start to list, at a high level, what elements I need to create. A one-session game? I should focus on a challenge narrative like the five-room dungeon and go light on preparing the setting and NPCs. A longer game? I’ll need to flesh out settings and NPCs, too, then.

Finally, be willing to be iterative. Doing all the prep in one sitting isn’t necessary, even for a single-session game. Do something in this sitting, put it aside, and come back to later when you have more time or more inspiration. But don’t leave it until the last moment! Work on it bit by bit, adding or fleshing out at least one new element each time.

#2 Comment By Yetojian On September 1, 2017 @ 10:39 am


Two options I’ve come to learn work for me when I’m stuck:

A) Just don’t prep. Improvise like there is no tomorrow. My GM’s screen is just for concealing the fact I don’t have notes sometimes. If you’re stuck, you’re stuck, that can happen.

B) Take a single white sheet of paper, set it in front of you landscape format and just scribble down everything *you* would like to happen during gameplay. Make a little sketch and a header.

No matter what other material would be needed to make it work, no matter if it is a large structural element or just a vignette, just a single sensory impression. It doesn’t have to be clever, but this way you can build an inventory of stuff that you want to happen. Without being blocked by the things you think you should be spending time on.

For instance for when I prepped the island Arkis I had the items minotaur, drunk satyr, pine scent, old ruins, shipwrecked trireme, giant crab, murder twins and ancient stone tablets. (Pretty much a greek island & mythology vibe, except for the twins which had followed the party to the island.)

Next step is picturing how every single item will look and present itself in the game world. When I understand how the minotaur looks, the satyr talks, how the shipwrecked trireme has crashed into the rocky coastline and who might be able to decipher the text on the old stone tablets, then I am able to run them in a gaming session. Some things might need further elaboration, but all in all I just need my sketch page in order to navigate my ideas. This relies heavily on not having to prep everything en detaille, mind you. But I think that’s a better choice for GM grappling with prep blocks.

Pomodoro & all are great techniques but they feel so much like boring adult life I don’t really like them when I am engaged with gaming.