Glad that I prep very far in advance

Tomorrow is my night to run D&D and I will be continuing with my E6 campaign. The PCs are right in the middle of what the bards will call “Gnoll Wars” in their songs and tales. Of course I also have school to contend with as well as laying the ground work for my upcoming D20 Apocalypse game. Out of these three activities the apocalypse game has the most draw and is taking up most of my attention.

Luckily for me I tend prep very far in advance, it is highly unlikely that I will run this apocalypse game before next February, possibly not until April. My E6 game for tomorrow will require virtually no prep, I already have several NPCs set up and lots of events and encounters just waiting in my spiral notebook.

It is well known that no plot point survives encountering the players. They always kill that important NPC or let the evil guy’s lackey go and he is then able to warn his boss. After the first game the whole world changes.

My players don’t feel railroaded, well at least they never say they do when I ask after a game. So how do I do it, what is the secret to my success?

First the world is alive, things happen in key places whether or not the PCs are present. Unfortunately this means that some potentially vital NPCs die before the PCs even meet them because the PCs weren’t there to stop their death. This means that my world is constantly changing and evolving between sessions anyway so the players totally wrecking something is expected. They can wreck a plot line simply by going left out of town 3 rather than sticking around for the night.

Second most encounters are generic. Fighting 5 gnolls by the river can happen at any point along the 500 mile long river provided that it makes sense for gnolls to be there. A couple of “boss” type bad guys can be created and they are active in the world, they don’t just wait in their fortress of solitude for the PCs to come kill them. So if my players aren’t moving towards the final confrontation with the villain, I find a way for him to come to them.

Thirdly the PCs are the center of THIS story, but there are other stories in the world. If they neglect to kill the kobolds then the kobolds may take over the mining town or someone else may kill the kobolds and be the heroes of said mining town. Tell your players the exploits of the world’s other heroes. This gives them someone to look up to and gives them ideas for how to play truly epic characters. Just make sure that you have NPCs being cool off-screen and that they don’t overshadow the PCs in their own story.

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~ by katallos on November 19, 2009.

One Response to “Glad that I prep very far in advance”

  1. The worst problem I have is not planning enough ahead of time. I have an over-all story arc I am guiding them towards, and have a random encounter table, but that is pretty much it so far. The worst part is that if I do plan it out, the players without fail will manage to avoid everything I have planned šŸ™‚

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