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RPG Prep Road Block

I have been trying to prep for my Saturday home game of Dungeons and Dragons for awhile. I've had ideas but felt stumped which is a frequent problem in this campaign for some reason. Been analyzing why it seems so difficult for me and I can't quite put my finder on it. A lot of sessions I have had to improv because I couldn't come up with anything ahead of time I felt would be good. So tonight in a chat on G+ Hangouts that was posted by Chepe in the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group I asked people for feedback. Some of the potential reasons for my road block that were suggested were as follows...

  1. Maybe I haven't made my story personal enough to the characters.
  2. Maybe I give too much info at times.
  3. Maybe I should focus on the little things more.
  4. Maybe I should invest more into individual NPC's and let those interactions drive where the players take the story.

So I began to think about if my story has been personal enough for the characters. It clearly isn't. The story of the campaign is about a Long Forgotten God who has his body parts scattered around. There are rumors that he can be brought back to life. The players also know he may have suffered split personality disorder which also explains him being a Cleric and a Wizard. The players have stated it doesn't make sense that they would want to bring him back to life yet they have retrieved some of the body parts. There is a personal side quest I tried to get the players involved in but they didn't seem very interested in that either. Maybe this campaign is lacking that personal touch and I need to give them that.

If I am going to add some personal inspiration to the game there are many ways I can do this. Bring character family members into the mix. Get some background info from the players about their characters. Ask their characters in game why they adventure and what their characters life goals are.

Is it possible I info dump at times? Sure this is possible but I think the real problem with this is I can be quite vague or general about it. If I am going to info dump I should give them more info right? Give them the bits that will make it fun or interesting. Not just the info outright. Maybe make it a plot hook to go retrieve something.

I've played some great games that focused on the little things and I don't do this much in this game on purpose. Sometimes going on a quest to clear an area of bandits or goblins is just what the party needs. This can be a fun session and give some ok loot. It might not advance a story but it can lead to some fun interactions with an NPC as you build up a relationship between PCs and NPCs.

There is a great website by Johnn Four called Roleplaying Tips. You can go to the site and subscribe to his newsletter. Some of the things he recommends is always introducing a new NPC or two in a session as well as a plot hook or two a session. When he talks about the NPCs all NPCs should have a secret, and a descriptive trait. These NPCs should provide plot hooks for future games or the current one. NPCs can be the lifeblood of a campaign so focusing on them is a great way to get players invested in the story.

Some campaigns write themselves and prep is easy. Others for some reason or another seem more difficult. This group is awesome and I love my players. They are great people that I always look forward to getting together with so I want to provide the best experience possible for them. I want to thank Philip Posey of Maps & Dragons, Mike the Piper, and "Lumi Jo" Joseph Becker for helping me come up with some interesting ideas for my game Saturday.

Have you experienced RPG Prep Road Block? How did you overcome it? Where do you usually get caught up in prep? If you found this helpful be sure to leave a comment and share it with your RPG friends.

Motivation For Prep, Painting Minis, and Crafting Terrain

My biggest struggle with gaming is motivating myself to do things like prep. This carries over to painting miniatures and crafting terrain as well which is something I love to do. Considering my preferred way to game is with miniatures, and terrain this makes things even more difficult for me. Coming up with inspiration is easy for me but motivating myself to sit down and unplug from the internet or television so I can prep, paint, or craft is the true struggle for me.

Realizing this is one of my biggest weaknesses I need to force myself to sit down and spend a night prepping for my various games. I think part of the reason I struggle to do these things is because I find that I need to be doing it so often for all of the games I run. D&D Encounters is run weekly, and I have two at home campaigns I am running. Then there are games I run online. Most of the time I can't prep while listening to Podcasts, or watching YouTube because I get distracted too easily. 

Prep can take me as short as 30 minutes or up to 3 hours depending on the adventure. 30 minutes if the players are possibly picking up where things left off and it wasn't finished. 3 hours if we wrapped things up in a previous session and I have no idea where things may go. I find that if I prep the introduction, and just the encounters the session runs a lot smoother than if I try to anticipate a bunch of potential directions the players may go.

Painting miniatures and crafting terrain is something I am not the best at. It is also a lengthy process for me to sit down and do it. My wife keeps the paint up stairs in her crafting desk. I keep my unpainted miniatures in a box in my basement. I don't have a designated area for painting miniatures at this time. The combination of these things makes it feel like I spend an hour just getting everything I need ready and in one place. Then cleaning up is just as taxing for me. 

Once I have my game space in the basement all set up I will be able to do my miniature painting, and terrain crafting much easier. Getting this stuff done I feel like may motivate me to prep a lot more too. So setting aside time once or twice a week to just sit down and prep, another night to paint or craft terrain should do the trick. The trick for me will be to set times in my schedule to do these things and force myself to see them through.

How do you motivate yourself to prep, paint miniatures, and craft terrain? Do you have a designated area for these things? If not do you think having a designated area would help you? If you do, does it help you to sit down and just jump right into things?

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