At the beginning of each prep session, before I put finger to keyboard, I ask myself, “What am I doing here?”
In asking this question, I’m not doubting my GMing abilities, or having a ‘senior moment’, or feeling guilty about slacking off on husbandly duties to write game material (OK, so I’m not always feeling guilty about the latter.)
I’m asking myself, “How will this add to the story, action, and fun of the campaign?” Forget the current notes. Forget how you first imagined the scenario. Forget the little niggling details that you still haven’t finished. Forget the perfect names or the perfect descriptive text.
Is there any aspect of the game that you could be working on right now that would be more fun for the group than what you’re about to do? If so, then stop what you’re doing, and work on that ‘more fun’ aspect.
Sure, you could force-feed your Epic Tale of Adventure™ to your players, or carefully calculate the reactions of every NPC in the world, or write about the ecology of your latest custom critter. These can be important elements of GMing. But I like to take a step back and simply ask myself if my prep time is maximizing the level of enjoyment around the table. Am I following the players’ leads? Is this going to be the most fun thing we can do at this point? Will this create a fun and interesting situation for everyone at the table?
Do you have any guideposts or touchstone questions that you ask yourself during prep, or during the game? Sound off and let us know…