So what do you (yes, you, personally) prep?

E-Rocker

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Hey Pubgoers!

I am curious, when you're getting ready to run a game, what do you prep? Obviously it will vary a bit from person to person and game system to game system, which is why I'm asking what you prep.

I've never been a heavy-prep GM, but I have run the gamut from medium-prep to completely winging it off the top of my head. Currently trying to find my sweet spot.

Typically, I will at least prep:

  • a starting scenario where the PCs find themselves
  • 3 or so potential encounters the PCs could have, depending on which way they jump
  • A handful of NPCs with names and stats
  • A list of names in case I need to create more NPCs on the fly (Last time I forgot to do this, so of course my players asked Random Weirdo # 2 his name)
How about you?
 

under_score

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A dungeon, or at least the first couple levels.
Random encounter tables both in the dungeon and for traveling there.
A rumor table.
A list of any people and places in town that might be of interest to the players.

That's generally enough to roll with the first few sessions.

Although typically when starting a new game I've already got some idea that I want to incorporate that will influence things a bit. Usually a setting concept that gives a little uniqueness to the particular campaign.
 

TristramEvans

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depends entirely on the game

for fantasy, I'll generally have a map, cultures, political situations, random encounter charts, and largely improvise from there

for horror/investigation, I'll usually have s situation, fleshed-out NPCs and their goals (usually a picture I've drawn on one side of a note card, with stats, some notes on the back). Occasionally I'll do a clue diagram/flowchart. If it's historical, I'll usually do some research into the time period and historical personages, events in the area. Mock-ups of newspapers.

For supers, I start with the city, then a set of villains and their schemes - usually do a timeline of what they'll attempt to accomplish, and b-plans if things go wrong. Add in an encounter chart of random street crime.Again, sometimes a clue flowchart, depending if investigation is required to uncover the villain's plots. If it's a campaign, I'll also have a random chart of events in the heroes' civilian lives
 

ffilz

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For my Wilderlands of High Fantasy play by post, I got the City State of the Invincible Overlord ready (the campaign started with the PCs entering the city). They picked a rumor and chased it (easy setup, 2 minotaur lizards in a cave). On the way back, they got recruited to escort a druid to a ruin that had a dungeon. I used Dave's Mapper ( https://davesmapper.com/ ) to create a dungeon level (I edited it some). I then populated enough of the rooms to handle any direction the PCs went from the entrance. I need to prep another dungeon soon...

For my RuneQuest campaign, I got Apple Lane out and was ready to run Rainbow Caverns. When the PCs finished that, they went off to train for the winter and I dangled another dungeon hook at them (White Wyrm Lair from White Dwarf), not they're on their way to Pavis. Along the way, I rolled an encounter with vultures or condors. With them near Tada's High Tumulus, I couldn't resist redoing a hook (of the kind that actually draws blood) that I used in a previous campaign and changed the encounter to a pair of Rocs who are trying to catch food to bring back to their nest on the top of the mountain, from whence I will adapt UK5 Eye of the Serpent to RQ. This is assuming of course that the PCs do find a way to catch up with their duck companion that got carried off by a Roc (the other Roc fumbled and ripped a wing off itself, crashed and was dispatched by the PCs...).

For my Classic Traveller Campaigns, I spent weeks setting up a couple sub-sectors and placed various groups into the setting. I have some ideas of what's going on, placed a couple hooks to official adventures (mostly ignored) and am running with what the PCs decide to chase after.

I tend to be a low prep GM, though I handle some of that by grabbing modules when they make sense.
 

Moonglum

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These days I always GM in my longstanding 'sandbox' setting for The Fantasy Trip. There is just a ton of stuff already there because it is an amalgam of gobs of converted OSR and original D+D dungeons, plus sites I've written up, plus commercial TFT adventures, plus things that came up during play in the past but got written down in my notes and are now part of the setting. Because of this, I pretty much never feel the need to prep a specific set of NPCs or dungeon maps or whatever; I know how things will stand at the open of play (right where they left off), and the players will go where they go and do what they do.

But I do have to pull together and organize a lot of 'stuff' that is used at the tabe for TFT, like battle mats and megahex tiles and marker chits. I basically pull that stuff out and organize the first half hour or so that will be encountered, just based on where I know play will start.
 

ffilz

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These days I always GM in my longstanding 'sandbox' setting for The Fantasy Trip. There is just a ton of stuff already there because it is an amalgam of gobs of converted OSR and original D+D dungeons, plus sites I've written up, plus commercial TFT adventures, plus things that came up during play in the past but got written down in my notes and are now part of the setting. Because of this, I pretty much never feel the need to prep a specific set of NPCs or dungeon maps or whatever; I know how things will stand at the open of play (right where they left off), and the players will go where they go and do what they do.

But I do have to pull together and organize a lot of 'stuff' that is used at the tabe for TFT, like battle mats and megahex tiles and marker chits. I basically pull that stuff out and organize the first half hour or so that will be encountered, just based on where I know play will start.
Can you share more (maybe in a different thread) how you use OSR and D&D dungeons in TFT? TFT being among the games where PCs tend to have to rest up after a significant encounter seems to make lots of dungeons tough to run. I am careful which dungeons I port to Cold Iron and RuneQuest for this reason. Just wondering how others do it.
 

Moonglum

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Can you share more (maybe in a different thread) how you use OSR and D&D dungeons in TFT? TFT being among the games where PCs tend to have to rest up after a significant encounter seems to make lots of dungeons tough to run. I am careful which dungeons I port to Cold Iron and RuneQuest for this reason. Just wondering how others do it.
Each of these non-D&D games has its own conversion challenges (i.e., when using classic D&D modules); all might share a similar overall issue - you are presenting PC's with a challenge that exposes them to risk of injury in a game system where injury can put you out of action for a while (or kill you). The questions are whether and how to change things so that it hits your sweet spot re. danger in that system and campaign. So, the advice below works for my preferred danger level in TFT but might not work for your game.

1) First realize that the dangerousness thing cuts both ways: PCs are at risk from some foes that are not very dangerous in D&D, but also the PC's are able to present a serious threat to other things that are super dangerous in D&D. The issue isn't that PCs are weak, but rather that the whole spectrum of who-can-hurt-whom is compressed. The practical implication is that you shouldn't worry about adapting the scary big monsters.
2) In TFT the main danger to any PC is being surrounded by multiple foes. So, there are situations where D&D characters would open fire on a gang of dozens of orcs whereas a TFT party should slink away or try to make friends. The practical advice here is that if you are effectively forcing the party to fight another group, make sure that group doesn't have exception advantages in numbers, particularly on an open field of battle.
3) Any encounter that is boring and would just add to the grind of HP-depleting fights should be 86'd and replaced with an interesting bit of scenery or a very different kind of encounter.
4) Any time you and/or the players are itching for something to do, have that something be an interesting challenge that is not a fight to the death. A trap, natural obstacle, nuisance creatures, etc.
5) Just change your expectations about what dungeons are for and what PC's are supposed to accomplish. Many players and DM's inn D&D feel that an adventure wasn't a success unless you stripped a dungeon back to its wall studs and carted off every gold piece. But your dungeons will be more mysterious, interesting and long lasting if players approach them as a spooky place they will only briefly enter for some purpose.
 

PolarBlues

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Not very well. My actual games notes tend to be very concise and I don't run stat-heacy games, but the thought process to get to those concise notes is hard work.

Partly it's, for a variety of reasons, of late I've tended to do more one-shot, episodic games than ongoing campaigns. The later, once established, can be kept going with very little effort.

Partly it's that I favour reactive/investigative games. So you got to come up with a villain, a scheme for the villain which the characters care enough to want to stop,. The scheme also has to be something the villain can't achieve without somehow alerting the player characters, isn't the same scheme as the one I used last week and hopefully a scheme that makes a little bit of sense, at least by genre conventions.

And finally it is also partly due to poor discipline. I am easily distracted when prepping and switching on Netflix is so much easier after a long day at work.
 

under_score

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And finally it is also partly due to poor discipline. I am easily distracted when prepping and switching on Netflix is so much easier after a long day at work.
I get distracted from watching Netflix by wanting to prep things. Can't seem to finish a show when I keep going back to my notepads and books. I'll never have time to run most of this stuff.
 

PolarBlues

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I get distracted from watching Netflix by wanting to prep things. Can't seem to finish a show when I keep going back to my notepads and books. I'll never have time to run most of this stuff.
I envy your work ethic.
 

ffilz

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Each of these non-D&D games has its own conversion challenges (i.e., when using classic D&D modules); all might share a similar overall issue - you are presenting PC's with a challenge that exposes them to risk of injury in a game system where injury can put you out of action for a while (or kill you). The questions are whether and how to change things so that it hits your sweet spot re. danger in that system and campaign. So, the advice below works for my preferred danger level in TFT but might not work for your game.

1) First realize that the dangerousness thing cuts both ways: PCs are at risk from some foes that are not very dangerous in D&D, but also the PC's are able to present a serious threat to other things that are super dangerous in D&D. The issue isn't that PCs are weak, but rather that the whole spectrum of who-can-hurt-whom is compressed. The practical implication is that you shouldn't worry about adapting the scary big monsters.
2) In TFT the main danger to any PC is being surrounded by multiple foes. So, there are situations where D&D characters would open fire on a gang of dozens of orcs whereas a TFT party should slink away or try to make friends. The practical advice here is that if you are effectively forcing the party to fight another group, make sure that group doesn't have exception advantages in numbers, particularly on an open field of battle.
3) Any encounter that is boring and would just add to the grind of HP-depleting fights should be 86'd and replaced with an interesting bit of scenery or a very different kind of encounter.
4) Any time you and/or the players are itching for something to do, have that something be an interesting challenge that is not a fight to the death. A trap, natural obstacle, nuisance creatures, etc.
5) Just change your expectations about what dungeons are for and what PC's are supposed to accomplish. Many players and DM's inn D&D feel that an adventure wasn't a success unless you stripped a dungeon back to its wall studs and carted off every gold piece. But your dungeons will be more mysterious, interesting and long lasting if players approach them as a spooky place they will only briefly enter for some purpose.
Thanks, lots of good advice there, some similarities to what I do.

By the time of my 2nd Cold Iron campaign, I was a subscriber to Dungeon Magazine (I subscribed from when it was announced until it ended), which was a nice source of smaller dungeons. And they provided a source of some RQ adventures also.

Another thing that an be a factor in some games is the large solitary beast doesn't work as well as it does in D&D (heck, they don't even work great in D&D 3.x).

One idea of yours I haven't done much of is set up so that a large dungeon is something a group would just make small excursions into. That idea certainly has merit though obviously it works for some kinds of dungeons better than others.
 

ffilz

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PS

On the positive side, improvising names has never been a problem for me. I guess we all have our strengths as GMs, mine is just kind of lame.
I've always collected lists of names, but these days I almost always use Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names.
 

E-Rocker

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On the positive side, improvising names has never been a problem for me. I guess we all have our strengths as GMs, mine is just kind of lame.
Normally, it's not a problem for me, but I just drew a complete blank last session. It was mildly embarrassing.
 

Nobby-W

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Normally, it's not a problem for me, but I just drew a complete blank last session. It was mildly embarrassing.
I'm terrible at coming up with names on the fly so I compiled a big list of names. There's about 12,800 in the list. Link.
 

E-Rocker

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I'm terrible at coming up with names on the fly so I compiled a big list of names. There's about 12,800 in the list. Link.
Amazing! Thanks!

When I have time to prep name lists in advance, two sources I've used are the members of real-life symphony orchestras, and real names of pro wrestlers. I'm the only wrestling fan in my group, so they never catch on to that one, haha.
 

Tommy Brownell

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Amazing! Thanks!

When I have time to prep name lists in advance, two sources I've used are the members of real-life symphony orchestras, and real names of pro wrestlers. I'm the only wrestling fan in my group, so they never catch on to that one, haha.
Two pro wrestlers in my group, so that one would never fly for me.
 

Certified

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Currently I'm running a Metahumans Rising campaign. When we started this last story I planned out the setup, a colony of giant ants has emerged near a school for Metahuman children in the Arizona desert, near Phoenix. The players are part of a teen super hero group, because the teachers gace up on trying to stop them so now they just try to get them as ready as possible. They are called in to help explore the colony.

Prep done by me?
The last sentence, because the players had already added the colony as part of their team origin.
Stats for ants. This took about 10 minutes.

In our last session the heroes had completed their mission and a kill team was going to be sent in to exterminate the colony. So, I made background characters for all of them based on a question about movies between sessions. That took about 15 minutes.
 

Tommy Brownell

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I try to figure out any key NPCs in the adventure and make sure they are entered in Roll20, and that I have tokens for them. I try to find maps for any place that seems likely to have combat. Otherwise, I draw badly on a white map on Roll20.

If I'm not using a prewritten adventure, I tend to just roll on a relevant adventure generator and get me an outline. Bullet points of any character subplots going on as well (especially in games like Savage Pendragon or East Texas University where the group has other shit going on besides adventuring).
 

Skywalker

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What is your favorite game? How would you prep for it?
I currently do a lot of PbtA which makes prep very easy. I have a few doom clocks, a few named NPCs, an opening scene, and a few stakes questions. Every few sessions I may write a "what's really going on paragraph or two to consolidate my thoughts.
 

K_Peterson

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It varies according to the type of game. Quite considerably.

With Lovecraftian Horror/Mystery:
  • Sometimes pregens.
  • Props and handouts. Lots. Sometimes handmade.
  • Timelines.
  • Listings of NPCs with notes on their personalities, and behaviors.
  • Summaries on the all the locations, in some cases including maps.
I'm currently prepping a Cepheus Engine/HOSTILE scifi campaign, which I'm going a little prepwork-nuts with. So far, it includes:
  • A 20-page "chargen guide", which includes: chargen instructions, lists of careers. Doctored up with character concept artwork I found around online.
  • Other players docs: an equipment list exported out from the HOSTILE pdf.
  • A 4-page guide on the specific solar system, including details on planetary bodies, and space stations.
  • A list of NPC and corporation names.
  • GM screen inserts that I put together based off Cepheus Engine examples.
I still need to work on:
  • A guide to the patron (independent mining/transport company) that the PCs will work for.
  • Details on locations around the system. (like, a map and details on the colony on the only habitable planet in the system).
  • A general timeline of the adventure.
  • Probably a few more things that'll come to mind that I'm forgetting.
Prepwork is something I enjoy. Ask me about the messed-up, handmade props I've got that I use to run Pagan Publishing's In Media Res. :wink:
 

The Butcher

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Not much.

For single ssssions or small arcs, which are my most common form of gaming these last few years, I have a pretty solid idea of a scenario and the key NPCs.

For my last longer games — Godbound in 2016 (we’ll, it would have been longer had the group not imploded) — I started with a tiny sandbox (a Raktine village, a Black Academy, a local lord’s manor and the bigger town around it, and relevant NPCs). As PCs quickly grew in power (as Godbound PCs do), I grew that sandbox fractal-like, improvising in real time and then filling in gaps between sessions (and this is where Sine Nomine’s sandbox tools truly shine), and so on.

I really had it down to a science with Vampire (Masquerade and Dark Ages, though the formula does apply to Requiem and pretty much to any WW game): I decide on what sort of game I’m going for (what they called “theme” and “mood”); choose or make up a city (or domain, in Dark Ages games); set up the Prince, Primogen council and other movers and shakers; prod the players for character concepts, stat up their sites and mentors and slot them into the city hierarchy as appropriate; come up with a few points of friction between factions and characters and bam, campaign ready.

I really want to tackle a more traditional D&D sandbox, but prep intimidated me until reading the GM advice chapters in Godbound and in ACKS Lairs & Encounters. Kevin Crawford and Alex Macris are my sandbox gurus and both of them seemed to converge, in these books, on practical strategies for building up sandboxes as you run them. Fantastic stuff.

I know hope to run Sinister Stone of Sakkara (ACKS) and use Lairs & Encounters scenarios with what Alex calls “dynamic encounters placement” (placing them on the map only when they come up on the dice) and hopefully we’ll get that sandbox up and running.
 

Séadna

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Rules: Read through and attempt to summarise by comparison with certain "base" games I know well. I find that I can remember 80% of the rules of most games via simple phrases like "Oh it's BRP with the increments changed and Y from Vampire and additional subsystem Z". Some don't even require that much. The remaining 20% are often specific situational rules so you have time to learn them.

Dungeons: Basically just reskin or smush together various OSR stuff. Dungeon design isn't my forte.

Investigative games: Same as Tristram above. Flesh out NPCs, their goals and the location. If suitable a background "clock" of what the setting might do in default undisturbed mode. However once the initial state of the place is fixed how it progresses flows fairly naturally. I do make sure there are several ways to solve it, but in my experience people solve things in ways I never imagined. So often I just make sure events leave the sort of evidence they should. PCs seem to always figure it out.

This also includes games like Vampire (without the clues part). Also what @The Butcher said.

Point crawls: Try to fill each node with something interesting and think about what kind of back and forth interactions there might be between nodes.

Wandering Campaigns in an Established Setting: Again flesh out NPCs, know the setting well enough to improvise. Make liberal use of random generation charts if available. I find building on the random stuff is more fun, I remember it better and it's more surprising for myself. The main point here is knowing when to stop for detailed settings.

Historical: The most prep I do. Read Academic monographs, very detailed prep on the NPCs and familial ties, detailed geography etc. I do this rarely as it is a lot of work.

Although most games outside Historical start off with some weird coalescence of a novel I read, some piece of art I saw etc forming a nascent idea in my head.
 

PolarBlues

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Not much.

For single ssssions or small arcs, which are my most common form of gaming these last few years, I have a pretty solid idea of a scenario and the key NPCs.
That's my issue, I can't get to the "pretty solid idea of a scenario" ... or even "barely passable idea of a scenario" without a lot of work, moslty in terms of scrutinising, rejecting and rearranging ideas.
 

The Butcher

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That's my issue, I can't get to the "pretty solid idea of a scenario" ... or even "barely passable idea of a scenario" without a lot of work, moslty in terms of scrutinising, rejecting and rearranging ideas.
I don't really have an answer to that; I developed this skill by scheduling games and not prepping and having to whip something up in an hour. Favorable reception from players encouraged me into bolder and bolder improvisation.
 

CRKrueger

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For my Mythras Conan campaign:
Map of Zingara.
Map of Kordava.
Major families, factions, gangs, etc.
NPCs for a lot of the major locations the PCs are likely to visit.
Headshots/Illustrations/thematic art.
A few major situations the PCs are likely to get involved with.
A bunch of minor situations the PCs are likely to get involved with.
Random encounters for different parts of the city at different times.
That's most of it.

A lot of prep since I started in a Capital Port City. Usually I try to start smaller and build out from there.
 

Quill

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I tend to run D&D-type adventures, so my prep consists of reading the gazetteer and module. I'm finding I enjoy less prep these days, so I improvise a lot at the table, whether it's NPCs, plot threads, magic items, or what have you. It helps that I've been running D&D and variants for about 40 years, so it's easy to have a mental library to draw on.
 

Silverlion

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It depends a great deal on the game. Quite often my prep is a page of notes (or less) and maybe a statblock if needed.
 

Caesar Slaad

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Depends on needs of the system, naturally.

In scum & villainy, I usually make what I call a trouble worksheet, a one page idea bin of things to throw at the crew once things start to go wrong.

Most games require a few more investigation locales or action scenes, and stats for whatever foes exist in the game, if the game requires them and does not provide them.

For games that require foe stats like Mutants & Masterminds, I usually print out the stats even if I have them in book or PDF, just for ease of reference and recording damage.
 

Trippy

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As little as possible, honestly.

My style, basically, is to react and respond to how the players play for the most part. When I run a published scenario I will read it through - but I’ll twist and change the plot lines all over the place at the table. For me, the most important aspect of good game-mastering is engagement (with all the players in equal measure, which is also important for me), rather than particulars about rules or highly researched detail. I will ponder on making up a good soundtrack though.

I also take note that I found the advice given in HŌL as being very formative to my attitude about prep...
 

tenbones

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Since I exclusively sandbox with the intent of swinging for the Moon...

I build a sandbox. Starting area is the most detailed. Lots of NPC's. Lots of locations/setpieces. Then expand outward to outlying areas as necessary. Then I create places where adventures might take place - usually much further out so that travel is endemically part of the game - though the setting might change some of those travel conceits. Such as space-games with FTL, I might use some handwavium or set up a few encounters just to keep things lively. But for most games I want the PC's to travel and let stuff organically happen.

Then I think of "big campaign wide issues" that I can leak into the game from the start. It may never even be a thing, but I'll foreshadow some possibilities. I try to outline the more larger regional stuff but it's just barebones if I'm homebrewing, and I'll develop it out organically as we play week-to-week.

I'll also do a hard pass over the starting region and put little secrets and mystery breadcrumbs, bend some of the NPC motivations around these things to get PC's involved in NPC hijinks.

Maps. NPC writeups (stuff the PC's would generally know - local claptrap). The game is now wound up, we do character gen, then we let it all rip!
 

Ostilio

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And the real tricky part is getting those first two circles right.
True, for me. I like to start from a core idea, be it a one page dungeon, a movie, an investigative plot to borrow, and then develop it thru play, following those players who get hooked and engage in it.

I'm not good in prepping elaborate backstory & plots, but I can improvise dramatic moments and zoom in tiny details at the table, putting forth nuanced Npcs (mostly).

The contrary of other people I know, who indulge in heavy prep and detailed scenarios, but are unconfortable improvising on Player input, while their Npcs look a bit monolithic.

They say my games tend to the chaotic; theirs I feel are too constrained.

If we could merge into one unique big Gm, it would be perfect.
 

TristramEvans

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To expand on my earlier reply, here's a post from 2017 where I went into detail regarding how I go about adapting a published module for insertion into one of my campaigns...

Generally speaking, this is how I handle a published module...I'll use Call of Cthulhu as an example, as its the game I'm most likely to use a published adventure rather than just sandboxing it...

First I'll read through the adventure once to get an overall feel for how it is meant to transpire. Then, I'll read it again, this time specifically looking for "traps" i.e. areas where players wont move forwards without railroading, or performing a specific anticipated action (searching in exactly the right place, talking to exactly the right person etc). These are the primary things I need to fix before the adventure is ready for play. Next, I'll prepare a flowchart for the adventure showing what points lead to what other points (with a mystery, this often means clues; in fact, I'm going to refer to everything as 'clues' for simplicity's sake, meaning a magic item, a key, a map to a wizard's lair, a town rumour, etc - anything vital to the completion of the adventure). I prioritize clues as "Vital", "Bonus", or "Chasers". Vital Clues are needed to move forward. Chasers are hints that point towards the direction of Vital Clues (I often have to add these). Bonus Clues either allow the players to skip steps or provide some advantage (a magic weapon, an opportunity to learn a spell, grounds for blackmail, etc). I'll often add Bonus clues, especially if the adventure is part of an ongoing campaign, as stuff related to the bigger picture rather than the immediate concern. I then will make up two charts, one of Vital Clues, one of Bonus Clues and Chasers. These are the charts I will roll on (or chose an appropriate one) when the players are clever or successful (as opposed to acting 'correctly' as dictated by the adventure). For example, if the adventure calls for the players to search the archives at a university library to find a Vital Clue in a specific book, and the players instead search the private library of a suspicious person of interest looking for information, then the roll on the chart will occur based on their success at that attempt.

Next Ill look at significant NPCs and antagonists. Generally what I'll do is draw a picture of them which for me is a great method of getting to know them and get inside their heads. On the back of the picture I'll give them stats (I convert everything to my House system, Phaserip, which was specifically designed to allow me to easily model characters in game terms on the fly), and then record their primary and secondary motivations and a few notes to aid in roleplaying. Depending on their role in the adventure I may also create a flowchart that shows what they will be doing at any point during the adventure. So instead of the players meeting them at one appointed time and place, they may encounter them anytime their paths cross in the course of events.

Something else I like to do is tie my Mythos adventures to specific places and dates in time in history, and so at this point I may do some research to see if the adventure lines up with any significant or odd pieces of historical interest. This often means I'll change the location to a specific realworld city or even replace NPCs with appropriate historical figures. Not major famous icons of history, mind you, but the sort of people you'd only know about if you actually did some studying up on the time period or location. A few of my players are in the habit now of taking to google the week after an adventure and seeing if they can find the people or events I used. This goes even deeper with me inserting complex in-jokes, most of which pass over my player's heads, but a few have landed successfully or been discovered after the fact. But that all is just my interests, it has nothing to do with making the adventure a success. The point is mainly that you can enrich a published adventure by inserting parts of yourself, or your interests into it,

So thats the basic prep for the course of the adventure. Now I start thinking in the more abstract. Moods, themes, etc. I spend a day or two putting together a soundtrack for the game. A mix of period music with ambient stuff. I draw out any maps needed. (even if the adventure provides maps, and I'm still using the same setting, I like to redraw it as it instills in me an innate familiarity, and gives me a broader sense of geography). I'll google up a collection of photos of architecture and items that are applicable to the game. And, this is probably the trickiest part, and something that only comes with experience, I look at the pace of the adventure and then alter what I need to to either increase or slow it down as appropriate. For a horror game, a simple premise with a slow burn is good, but hard to accomplish in a single night's game session, or maintain over several sessions. For an action adventure, I make sure there are a few opportunities for quiet times to collect thoughts, interact, and assess. etc.

All in all, I'll spend about a week with an adventure before I've made it my own and ready to run. Does this mean that its now foolproof, above critique, and always plays out well? Of course not. But at this point I feel prepared enough that everything else I can easily handle on the fly. A large part of actually GMing is spur of the moment, but the more solid the basework, the easier improvisation is for me, because I know the subject matter and what I'm (or the NPC I'm roleplaying) is trying to accomplish and can predict the ramifications of anything "Off-script".
 

AsenRG

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I read the setting. I pick a starting location and re-read the part about that :tongue:
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Then I make a list of names and tell the group to create PCs. I keep jotting down notes while they do that, regarding people that would be by the same circles, but they might have never met. And random notes about the circles they're moving in. And whatever else comes to mind as I re-read the relevant part(s) of the setting.
Then I grab a random list of names from Internet, because by that time I've probably misplaced the initial one, and we begin playing :shade:!
 
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