A little over a year ago I reviewed, "Never Unprepared" by +Phil Vecchione.
I hailed the book as...
...a seriously useful book for any GM. Never Unprepared is exactly what it says on the cover: "The complete Game Master's guide to session prep".
Back then simply adding in Phil's core process and setting aside time was a big leap forward. A year on, however, I needed to go back and complete the job...
Time Changes Circumstances
A year ago the prep plan I devised suited my needs well. A year on... well, things have changed.
I noticed that I was getting less and less prep done, despite the best intentions of the plan. Was this GM burnout? Was I becoming jaded again? Neither was true. I was simply noticing that my plan was out of date.
First step for me last week, now that I have some holiday time, was to revisit the book. A fresh audit of my lifestyle and time revealed why my prep was being squeezed - I'd gone from around 20 spare hours in the week down to around 10. I also noticed that my "heat map" (the measure of when I'm most creative) had also changed. At first it wasn't pretty... but some jiggling around has given me a new plan.
Appropriate Prep Tools
More valuable even than finding the time, however, was a review of my prep tools.
When I first read Phil's book it seemed like a big chore to create some "templates" for prep: session, scene, combat, GMC... Meh! More work! In my head, I was holding out for Realm Works
and making do with paper for "a few months". Well... despite a successful Kickstarter, we're still waiting for that software... but my group still plays.
This week's session, a week behind on prep, was looming. I have to say that, by taking Phil's advice, creating some new templates has really helped me focus my time. I got six scenes (including backup combat plans) prepped, along with maps and the creation of a full GMC character sheet inside 4 hours.
The idea of a Session Overview template was something I interpreted in a specific way that suits me. It's a one-sheet summary which covers off the basics of what I need to know. The scene "list" isn't meant to be linear, but just a reminder of which scenes might come up.
Following on naturally has come the Scene Template. This directly places information onto one sheet of paper so that I can plan and cover all the bases that I find useful.
What was really valuable here was the addition of a space to make quick "dialogue notes" - not to write out speeches (not enough room!), but just to note key phrases. This was particularly useful for noting down useful taunts and barbed remarks from key GMCs.
And yes... for some scenes I also made a separate Combat Template to record additional tactical notes. I printed this sheet onto the back of my Scene Template, allowing for a quick turn-over to access the vital data. It worked a treat!
Best additions? Objectives and Victory Conditions.
Now, remember kids: my templates are designed for me.
Phil's book is excellent and filled with useful advice... but it's all about you making the effort to customise and design your prep systems. What I do will probably not work for you.
be useful for anyone reading this, however, is to download the book and use it. Without any further ado, here's the link you need: Never Unprepared
Labels: GMing, news, prep, review