Monday, March 31, 2014

Always Be Prepared

My motto, like that of the Boy Scouts, is:
Always Be Prepared!
At least as for as gaming goes.
There has been some discussion this past month on what different people do to prep for their games, both singular adventures and on going campaigns.
The range of approaches taken intrigues me quite a bit. It would seem that this is one of the most personal elements of a Gamemaster's job, very particular to the individual and their style of play. I was amazed that much of the Play on Target podcast crew said they go over things only an hour or so before they run a given session, while my good buddy Lord Blacksteel lays out his 'Zero-Prep' Pathfinder game with what looked like the US military's preparations for coordinating the activities used during Desert Storm.
Obviously I am exaggerating (a little), but it's a matter of personal taste and of course perception (It was Blacksteel's posting of screenshots of his character generator and campaign management software that made his process appear so complex to someone like me). Add to this the fact that what can be extremely simple to do in practice may take two or three paragraphs of text to explain and describe to another person.
I am currently gearing up for a new campaign of Champions myself, and my free time is at an all time low. So how does one prepare to run a new campaign, particularly one with a system as crunchy on the back end as HERO System 4th Edition, and plot out the first adventure if one barely has the time to update their blog regularly (Ahem...yes, well).
Campaign Prep: In Advance of The Landing*

To begin with, I usually come up with campaign concepts long before I actually intend to run them.

The idea for this new Champions game started over a month ago when I ran a fill in game of it for my current group. That fill in was inspired by the fact that I'd been thinking about Supers gaming again for several months before that. My missing the Supers genre has largely been fueled by the fact that I've been playing Supers a lot as a player recently and I felt the end of our previous Champions campaign was a big disappointment.

There were numerous ideas and stories I had hoped to use in that prior campaign that I never got around to for one reason or another, not the least of which was its somewhat abrupt end. Having finished that campaign nearly three years ago hasn't stopped me from running the concepts I had over and over again in my mind, jotting them down on paper and doing maps, character illustrations and the like whenever I had a chance. 

So how long have I been preparing for this new game? I've been thinking about character ideas, reading comics, checking out old Champions products, talking to friends who game in the Superhero genre, drawing and collecting images before, during and since the last one.

Think about it for a moment. Whether I have a Champions game to run or not, I build Superhero characters, I design plots and scenarios that various Supervillains and other NPCs might engage in, and get myself ready to run a Supers campaign even if I am not running a Supers game at the present time.

When I decided I was ready to begin running a new Champions game, I was already prepared. I already have my NPCs. I have enough scenarios, plot hooks, stories and subplots to last me another year or two of gaming. Maybe more.

Did I spend a ton of time preparing to run this upcoming campaign. Yes, you could say that. Did it all happen at once? Was it some two to three week marathon creative jam where I slaved over a how desktop for hours and hours on end. No. Not in the least.

Ask me if I'd be ready to run Star Wars tomorrow. Star Trek? The Muppets? How about this upcoming campaign of Shadowrun I've been talked into for the kids over at the tutoring center where I work?

Yes. Of course I'm ready. I would love a little extra time to organize things and make them look pretty, but I could run a fairly large number of campaigns or single sessions for a fairly large number of genres tomorrow.

You see, I've already done the prep work.

Barking Alien

A few special notes:

I'm waaay behind on my blogging schedule, as such, I haven't had the chance to post a few things I want to acknowledge...

First, a very Happy Birthday to William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

Second, I want to thank everyone who helped me out this very difficult month. You know who you are. I will repay your kindness soon, or at least I'll try to. I will, but it's the soon part that is proving tricky. Please bare with me.

Some sad news I still find it hard to wrap my head around...I think the gaming community as a whole will join me in mourning the passing of Daniel A. Trampier. While Mr. Trampier, or DAT as he was sometimes known, was responsible for such iconic RPG images as the cover of the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook and numerous illustrations in the original Monster Manual, it was his work on the comic strip Wormy in Dragon Magazine that had the biggest impact on me as a young artist. I loved that comic, it's unique look, odd humor and beautiful colors.

Goodbye Mr. Trampier and thank you for your inspiring work.


Stay tuned for a least one more post before April.



  1. Goodbye Tramp, you were one of the best.

  2. Agree, I'm finding that space opera adventures write themselves as soon I start thinking in them. All it requires is a lifetime of love to everything with space ships on it ;).