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A Fledgling Game Master | Planning

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a bit. The shorter days and the gloom of the impending winter have not been treating me well this year..not that they ever do but this year has been worse. I’m proud that despite it all I’m still continuing to try my hand at game mastering. And, if the player reaction is a good indicator, I seem to be doing a decent job mastering my first campaign. It remains to be seen if I’ll stick the landing of an ending…but that’s for future me to figure out!

I’ve so often heard the advice to start before you are ready, and I do think there is something to be said for not waiting too long. For me I was ready, mostly. I did more planning than some, and less than others. It’s really about the story. Do what you need to do to make a story. Keeping in mind that you’ll be telling this story with some other people, the players, or PCs.

It takes practice to know what to plan and what to leave a bit more loose, and it will be different for every game master, there is no exact one-size-fits-all plan. Each campaign, session and group of PCs is going to bring something different to the table.

To date, I’ve done very different levels of planning for each session and they’ve all been really fun. There is the adjustment period for each group and campaign; everyone, game master included, needs to get used to the dynamic, the story, the “yes, and”-ing.

So, planning is good, to a point. Starting is also important, all the planning in the world will get you nowhere if you don’t decide to start. A lot of learning happens while doing and you can only plan for so many things that you don’t know.

It’s honestly why I started before I was totally ready. I was at a point of needing to learn while doing so I could plan more effectively. For me that’s been extremely difficult. I have always preferred to plan out or determine all of the possible outcomes before proceeding…overwhelming at the very least and often setting me up to worry for the worst possible outcome while ending up with something generally less terrible. Not very fun. And, honestly, a waste of my time because all that uber-planning brought me was stress and overthinking.

It’s liberating and fun to leave plans open ended. One of my favorite things about role playing games is the collaboration. My character moments as a player have been better for the input and in-the-moment suggestions of my fellow players. And my debut as a game master has been far less stressful and terrifying having the support of my players for some of the planning stages.

So, from a fledgling game master, plan, sure, but do something with it too. And don’t be afraid to collaborate with your players. Obviously there should still be some mystery and intrigue to the story, but collaboration is a great tool. Use it!

PS. Here is a steam dragon I painted using the Procreate app on my iPad. The purchase of the iPad, Apple Pencil, and the Procreate app have been some of the best purchases, to date, that I've made for my creative journey. The dragon just might be related to my RPG campaign...I've very proud of the light highlights on this piece as I've been really working on depth and dimensionality in my art.


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