Monday Musing. Planning Preparation & Progress

Over the last week, I found myself continuing to feel like I am playing catch up on my blog. No matter how much I wanted to get done each time I sat down. I was confronted with a pile of products that I wished to get out to my readers. I was filled with a sense of dread that I would not get to these things in time. It became abundantly clear to me something had to change.

First I am the only person that can see or perceive the products and projects that I continue to insist to myself I am behind on. The reality is that yes there was a lot that I wanted to get done in the last weeks of 2016 and 2017. Health and Holidays saw that I was unable to do as well all know. Secondly, I could choose to continue to feel like I was behind a proverbial 8-ball and stop enjoying my blog and let it overwhelm me resulting in nothing getting done.

Last week’s muse flipped the switch. For the first time in January, I blogged from the heart again. That set the tone, It also reminded me to take my own advice to heart. I could continue to play catch up, focusing looking backward not forward. Or I could take one more week and make a proper plan.

The resulting week that I took to plan things out had some interesting results. The stress of blogging that has been looming when I sit down to type is once again gone. For the first time in 2017, I am again looking forward to sitting down and blogging. Because I took the time to make a Plan. The result of making a proper plan has also given me a clearer direction of where I want to head with my blog for the year. This is the first time I have ever laid out a course that I want the blog to take in such a way. It’s with this plan in hand and the preparation from the prior year that I can now see the road head.

Progress.

Monday Musing: The 7P’s

Continuing on last week’s theme of Gracefull recovery today my thoughts turn to an old military adage. The 7ps are a good rule that can be applied to everything in life. They are simply memorable and hold true even in the life of a Game Master. As far as adages go this has always been one of my favorites. It is such a good adage that you can find 4, 5, and 7-word versions of it. There are tons of variations of it. Because it is just undeniably sound advice. So my muse to you today is if you want to perform better as a GM a Player or just in life overall. Remember the 7 Ps.The seven P’s are:
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Now I know some out there will say that a GM needs to be able to think on their feet and improvise well. While I will agree with you that improvisation is a wonderful skill to have a high level of mastery of. The fact is that the more prepared you are, the smoother all aspects of your game are going to run.  Allowing you to then focus on other portions of your story. Once you have begun to master proper planning and preparation. You will see that Improvisational skills become a tool in your GM box.. not the Box itself.

The seven Ps apply to you as well as a player. Arriving to game on time with the proper material ready is all part of the 7Ps. If you do not properly prepare as a player you can grind the flow of even the best prepared GM’s games to a virtual Time Stop while you look up this that and the other thing.

Until next time!
 

 

 

 

Monday Musing: Graceful Recovery.

Today’s musing is about gracefully recovering and moving on. We are all human, and we are not perfect. We invariably all at one time or another have moments where we screw things up. Sometimes more dramatic than others. Sometimes we hope that we can recover before anyone notices.

This weekend I had one of those moments. I have not regular weekly 4+ hour D&D game in over a year. Tack on this holiday sessions games that our group has missed and I can say I have not run a game back to back for months. Well, the rust showed this week and my initial recovery was less than spectacular. But with some determination, Good friends and a bit of patience, I was able to recover gracefully and move on.

As most of my readers know by now I run a homebrew game. Our recent campaign kicked off and I am running a homebrew of a published adventure. But not to make things easy on myself I decided that I wanted to mash up much of the first portion of Princes of the Apocalypse with Storm Kings Thunder. Somewhere between my notes and my homebrew plot timeline and a week before the game began I made a change. Instead of running the story out of Triboar. I decided to run the story out of Red Larch. I had also taken little to no notes on Red Larch. I had read over the town several times. Each time I read it for whatever ever reason I just could not seem to retain the information of what the heck was going on in Red Larch.

Maybe it was because there were two of several of the storefronts and such. Or I was overcramming that part of my game prep. I am still not exactly sure what it was. But a few days before the game I decided I was going to pull Red Larch and use another location in place of it. Yet when game day hit as my players arrived I pulled out my books and gave Red Larch a once over one more time.

The game went wonderfully in the early goings. Right up until we hit Red Larch.. and then everything went pear shaped. The next few moments were like an out of control dumpster fire. As soon as the players arrived in town one of the PC’s inquired about where he could find the mayor. Another stated they were going to the local tavern to inquire about a person they were searching for.

It was in this moment that my brain exploded. Where was the Mayor?

He hangs out in the tavern ..you can find him there around dinner time.

Thinking to myself that will buy me time to sort myself.

But no, no it won’t. Because half of my table had already played the first portion of Princes of the Apocalypse when my other player started to run it… half a year ago. I get a moment of pause and a questioning. Umm Red Larch doesn’t have a mayor it’s got a council of elders. From there, things spiraled out of control as every scrap of what I did recall from the Larch Fleed from my skull leaving me staring at the pages of the book like I had never read it before.

This is the moment of graceful recovery, It is in moments like this that you can recover or just stoke the flames and pass out the marshmallows. I had two options, I could wing it or ask for a moment to collect myself. This is when my table shined and showed me the class acts that they all are. After a moment of me flipping the pages and blankly staring at the mess, I had gotten myself into. One of my players took the initiative and stood up from the table. Called for a smoke break and a snack run.

It was in those moments that I was able to collect myself enough to sort some of the I had made out and pick up the pieces. I tried not to dwell on the error. I apologized to the table for the FUBAR and set to taking advantage of the snack run. It was just what I needed. I cobbled enough of the town together in my mind to get them on task and adventuring again.

The rest of the night ran without a hitch. All & all it was a good night. One of my players thanked me for a good game I chuckled apologized for my tragic flub. His reply is what inspired today’s blog.

Yeah, but you recovered and the game went well.

My moral today, if your game flys off the rails and you lose control of the moment there are a few things you can do as a GM.

  •  Improv way more of D&D is improved than most DMs will ever admit anyway.
  • Take a moment, Call for a bathroom break or smoke/snack break.
  • Ask for help, were playing a game and most of us have a rules lawyer in the group.
  • Drop a Random encounter in hopes that you can sort out what went wrong while the players are dealing with your encounter. (buy yourself a few rounds)

If none of these thigs help or its just that damn bad. I hope you have some marshmallows on hand. After all, everyone loves SMORES.

 

Monday Rainy Monday. Monday Musing 9/12/16

a6b0b700dc0305c8b44fe92a5775010a-d4987paA lovely rainy day greets me today as I sit down to muse. Today like many other gamers out there I am undertaking preparations to run Storm Kings Thunder. The newest adventure line in D&D 5Es lineup. Fitting to muse about Storm Kings Thunder while it’s storming outside.

My first thoughts on the product are that this is an excellent sandbox for my players to play in. My second thought is… Oh my, where am I going to stick this in my personal world! The adventure itself is set in the Forgotten Realms. But I run a homebrew world so placement will be important for my personal game.

The thought of this is very exciting for me and at the same time fill me with a bit of anxiety. As many of you know this is the first time that my players will have the opportunity to leave my homebrews “Motherland” so to speak.  As well as with Storm Kings Thunder being a large sandbox story with plenty of options for the players to travel great distances in their effort to complete the story. The likelihood that this will be the first game campaign that will spend at least part of its time outside of the region of my world where my games have been taking place for nearly 20 years is strong. Hence my anxiety.

But I go into this knowing that I am very pleased with the new regions of the world that I have developed. Even if I do have some anxiety I know it is only natural and I look forward to reintroducing my players to the world of Primordia.

With growth comes change I guess.

Monday Musing 7/25/16 Keep it short and simple.

One thing I have noticed as I have been spending more and more time working on my homebrew world is how easy it is to fall down the “Rabbit Hole” and get lost in overcomplicated and unneeded fluff. Or head down paths that your players will likely never go or even think about. So that brings me to today’s musing KISS Keep it Short and Simple. Or when I was in the army Keep it Simple Stupid.

When working on this project I often took the time to pause while I was working. I would go back over and look at portions of what I was doing and ask myself. Is this important to my players ? Or am I writing this for myself ?

When we make things as GM’s we have to remember that far too often much of what we create for our players to enjoy will never be revealed. Unless we leave them clues for discovery often much of what you write will be written only for you. So when you find yourself  slipping down a Rabbit Hole. Here is my best advice for you. Ask yourself  this key question.

Is this needed or important for the story that I am running ? 

  • If the answer is NO, then KISS applies set it aside and move.
  • If the answer is YES, Then you must make sure you have several methods for this information be discovered by your players. Never forget If you only have one layer of opportunity for the players to learn about it then you have increased the odds that they will miss it.

 

Just a few random thoughts knocking around in my brain. If you would like to see me elaborate on this topic in more depth leave a comment and I may come back and dedicate a full blog post on the subject.

Monday Musings & A BIG Thank You!

Welcome to my first Mondy Musing since having taken a one month break  from my regular blogging. I had planned to get back to regular postings on the first of the month. But one thing led to another and I just did not happen. Partially because I never thought about the fact that the 1st fell on a Friday  and I just did not want to dip my toes back into the blogging water on a theme post. I also did not take into account for the 4th and the impact it would have my desire to just take ONE more week off. But it turns out for several reasons that waiting was perfect and I am glad that I listened to my inner voice and just gave it one more week.

Each year in the past around this time I take a few weeks off as I would be focused heavily on the now Defunct Strom-Con. I decided to still take that break as I intend to participate in August’s 2016 RPGaDay blog this year and I wanted to hit it with a fresh head of steam and not burn out.

So today’s musing is a little trip down memory lane of my blog.

First, I would like to send out a HUGE thank you to any and everyone that swings by R.P.G. and gives my blog a look. When I started the blog going on three years ago I had no plan or direction where I was going to take this blog. I was just going to be a “Repository” of thoughts and ideas about gaming and it seemed a better thing to do then writing them down in a notebook.

I started my blog back in 2013 and it was very obvious that I was just doing it for myself. This continued into 2014 and then I began to notice that people were actually coming by to take a look at the things I was sharing. It was a kind of revelation, people actually were visiting my page! So at the end of 2014 more than 3,000 of you had come to R.P.G. and given the page a look. I was floored and going into 2015 I set a goal for myself that I would strive to push past the number of visitors I had in the previous year from now on. In 2015 I was shocked that my numbers ended with more than 11,000 visitors to my blog! I could not have been happier.

So I stormed into this year with the intent to do even better. Improve the blog as well as my writing skills and a laundry list of other ideas. My biggest milestone that I had for this year like the year past. Finish out the year with more visitors than the year before. I was confident that I would reach that goal by the end of the year. Well, I am proud to say that as of today my first real day back blogging again after taking that month off. I have already passed 11,000 visitors to the blog! Thank you all so very much to each and every one of the 11,000 of you! As of this moment, I am 50 visitors past last year, WOW!

But I am a realist. I know that there are pages out there that see hundreds of thousands of visitors a day. That’s okay but at the end of the day I am still growing and this was one of the best incentives to keep on heading down this path. I am stoked to see how many total visitors I will end up with by the end of the year!

My humblest thank you!  It’s good to be back!