Do Game Masters Really Need Prep Advice?

Jan 20 2009

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I’m confused.

I see a lot of articles on the RPG Bloggers Network providing game prep advice. What to think about before a session. What to write down. What to roll up.

Do GMs really have that much trouble preparing for a session?

Seriously. Do we not know how to prep? When I started GMing, I used the advice provided in my GM guide of choice, which laid out the things I’d probably need (maps, enemy stats, etc.).

So, before each game, I made sure I had mapped out any places the players were likely to visit, rolled up stats on any enemies, and figured out what I thought would happen.

Then I GMed. Oh, I’ve tweaked the formula over time—I love world creation, so I suss out lots of details—but I didn’t need to read half a dozen articles about game prep.

And I wonder if other GMs are the same way. Do we really need prep advice? Don’t we know the basics that need to be set up?

I wonder if it isn’t anxiety, stemming from a desire to control the events of the game. Perhaps GMs hope that, with the right prep, the session can go exactly the way they want it to.

Problem is, it rarely does. The story belongs to the players as much as the GM. They have the freedom to pull the story in a different direction, no matter what the GM has prepped.

So, shouldn’t we all just prep the basics, and go with the flow?

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