Season 2, Episode 18: Pre-game planning

Greetings Gamers and welcome to Season two, Episode 18 of Rho Pi Gamma, the Gamer’s Podcast. I am your GM Byron and this week we’re having to do things a little differently. Due to some crazy last minute plans this weekend, we weren’t able to actually record an episode. But I didn’t want to leave you all completely empty handed, so I figured I’d try typing one up for a change!

First up, what we’ve been doing in gaming. The answer to this is not a lot, unfortunately. By the time you read this, Lovely Co-Host Liz will be running our Sunday Group in Dresden. The Bob and Abby Game went well. Bob had his trial for being accused of black magic and killing his grandfather. He was acquitted but then all hell broke lose as one of the witnesses for the prosecution was one of the dark wizards that had been attacking them the past few games. So that game went rather well. I had Allison’s Pathfinder game and things are progressing well with that. Plot is thickening and all. We’ve gamed a bit with the Tarot game, but not a lot as things are getting hectic with Intervention coming up soon. But enough of this, on to News!

First up is one that I think sounds REALLY cool and is giving me so many good— I mean bad ideas. Very bad.

Anyway, Call of Cthulhu: Red Eye of Azathoth:
This looks like a pre-done set of adventures for Call of Cthulhu that centers around a red comet called the Red Eye of Azathoth. Every time it passes our skies, weird shit starts happening. The preview here gives a bit of a timeline as to strange things that happen every time the comet has come and ends in a magic-and-gunpowder climax in the old west. Sounds to me something similar to Eternal Darkness, which can never be a bad thing.

Next up, Stars without Number: Core Edition:
This one sounds interesting. It takes place in the year 3200. Mankind has spanned the stars and then been cut off from itself for the past 600 years. Now people are reaching to the stars again. The real interesting thing about this is that, it doesn’t really seem to have it’s own system to play in, but they say it’s compatible with your favorite systems. So it seems like just a campaign setting and notes/rules on how to make it fit with the system of your choice. Now there is some definite merit to that!

Alright, on to our main event: Pre-Game Planning!
This can be a throne in many DM/GM’s sides. What am I going to do with the players this week? Will I be able to get them through the plot I have planned without having to railroad them? Will I be able to handle the curve-balls that they send my way?
As it just so happens, I’ve had to help two budding GM’s with this issue in the last 23 days. So, I figured it would be a good thing to cover this week.
Though it’s good to have some idea as to what you want to do during a gaming session, I’ve found out through experience that is good to not have every detail planned out. Leaving room for the players to flex their creative muscles is a boon, in my opinion. On the other hand, sometimes pulling something straight out of your ass in the last minute can be good to, if you like to roll that way.
There are a few key questions you can ask yourself while prepping a gaming session: Do I have an idea of where I want the game to go tonight? How detailed out is my plan? Is there room for the players to make their own way? Do I have fallback plans in case the players do/go where/what I don’t want them to do/go? Knowing my players and their characters, can I plan ahead enough to anticipate how they’re going to react to what I throw at them?
Answering these questions will help any GM be ready to run an awesome game for their players. But sometimes answering them isn’t as easy as it seems. Well, first of all, I’d like to quote Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and I can’t believe I’m doing this) with saying… “Don’t Panic.”
Worrying and fretting over it isn’t going to help things at all. On the other hand, being completely laid back isn’t to good of a help either. Now, I’m taking this under the assumption that you have some idea of an overall plan for the campaign, as small or basic as it may be. Having an over all plot will obviously help string the adventures together and give you an idea of where you want to go with them.
Looking over your previous session/adventure is another good springboard for ideas. What did the characters accomplish last time? Are there any lose ends that can or need to be tied up? If you are starting up a brand new game, as one of those I was helping was, you have a bit more freedom. You can simple state what they were doing and go from there. Or you can ask the group for some input if you want. This helps if you are having trouble coming up with the groups history and your players may give you an idea that you never would have thought of.
Now that you have looked at where they need to go and where they have been, hopefully you should have an idea of what they can and/or need to do this session. But I know some GM’s have issues of figuring out how to get them to do it or how to start. This doesn’t have to be all that complicated. Is there a way you can tie the hook into one of the player characters? Will you have to use an NPC to bring them to it? Or, worse case use the universal motivater: Money. Having the PC’s paid for the adventure is always a good way to get them to do what you want them to do. And this doesn’t have to be some form of employer paying them either. The classic dungeon crawl usually as the modivater of treasure somewhere within the crumbling halls of the labyrinth or the hoard of treasure the Dragon is guarding. Money drives the world of the adventurer.

Well, hopefully I’ve been some help with this. If it really comes down to it though, and you are still stumped for ideas. Ask your players! See what THEY would like to see/do in the game. Maybe one of them has an awesome idea for a plot that could take the game in a direction you never would have guess! And think of it this way, if it turns out to suck, it’s not YOUR fault this time. 😉

Well, hopefully you’ll join us next week for Rho Pi Gamma! I’m your GM Byron and just remember the motto of Rho Pi Gamma: Roll High, Play Well, Die Hard!

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One Response to “Season 2, Episode 18: Pre-game planning”

  1. Would love to hear more about your Dresden Files game! Keep the good stuff coming! 🙂

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