So I have an opinion question to ask you guys.

So I have an opinion question to ask you guys.

So I have an opinion question to ask you guys. 

I tend to not do a lot of preparation for the campaigns that I’m running. What I mean is that I have a general overall direction, but what happens in between is really all up to the adventurers. I’ve adopted this strategy for a few reasons. One of them is that it means the world is created by the players and feels like it belongs to them. The other is that I really don’t have the time to prepare a lot of materials. 

I’m pretty good with improv and this tends to make the conversation and game flow pretty smoothly. My issue is that I end up feeling a little lazy as most of the campaign is theatre of the mind. I have very few premade materials besides our campaign map that shows the entirety of the continent.  There are no geographical features on it and we’re drawing those as we go.

Does this feel like an effective way to run a game? Do you guys feel that theatre of the mind is the best way to play DW or are prepared materials better in your eyes? 

9 thoughts on “So I have an opinion question to ask you guys.”

  1. My GM took a certain piece of Apocalypse World advise to heart, Draw Maps Like Crazy.

    We had a world map which was detailed at the centre but very quickly fades to blanks and whenever we were in a position where location mattered(like a fight) and people were getting a bit confused as to the layout he would sketch out a rough map just to help us picture it. 

    The problem with preplanned maps is that there is never room for blanks. If the players mention something cool during the game that you want to include then you have to change your plans right in front of the players, which looks sloppy. I feel like a GM is at their best when they seem to know exactly what is coming next, no matter what. You can’t let the players peek behind the curtain and see the frantic man making up bullshit on the spot.

  2. As long as you feel the players had fun and everyone (including the GM) enjoyed themselves then why feel lazy? David Guyll GMs a lot like this and it make me feel like my character and what they want to do means something to him. Instead of pushing my character through a certain story line, which I wouldn’t be as invested in.

    I think you are doing it right! 🙂

  3. Chris S I had indeed, but I’ve also participated in a few campaigns that were put together in a much more definite way that mine typically are. They felt very well rounded, but also a bit constricted in options. I’ve had feedback from some players that they like more structure and others that like more freeform.

    I was just seeking some opinions from other folks who are as deep into it as I am.  Thanks a ton for the comment though!

  4. Melissa Fisher We’re pretty early in my newest campaign and this is the first one I’m making up completely on my own so it’s a bit nerve racking. I’m excited for it though and I believe the players are having a good time. Thanks for taking the time to reply!

  5. I think it depends partially on the players’ preferences and needs. If the other people in the group benefit from prepared materials to generate fiction, then taking the time to have props, maps, figures, or what have you will strengthen the story at the table. Some folks relate visually, so check with them.

    Personally I tend to run things in a similar fashion to what you described. It’s been successful thus far, though I think I could use more prepared materials for those reasons.

    However you’re right in that your approach lends itself to fewer materials. It might be best to take those elements created in play that you think will be revisited and create materials surrounding them in between sessions, especially if these things appear in your fronts, since you’re pretty sure those will come into play.

    If it wouldn’t break the flow of play too badly and if you have the means to do so, you might have an Internet-connected device handy to pull up reference material (pictures, sounds, etc.) when the moment hits for things that come up. The flow-breaking caveat is pretty critical there, though.

  6. Just go for it, and if you feel like something is missing, add it as you go. Your players should trust you enough to give it a shot, and ask for feedback of how you could improve/make it better next time.

  7. I feel you, Matthew. I came off of 4+ years of running dnd4e, where prep is king (set pieces, balanced encounters, skill challenges). I still feel weirdly unprepared every time I show up to run a DW game, like I’m somehow cheating or not doing my job.

    Thing is, I am doing my job in Sony have a clue what’s going to happen and we’re going to find out. It’s nervewracking and awesome.

  8. hihi, that is really what we are talking about in business context. The idea, that only that if you have invested hours of work, blood and tears – only than work is valuable… hmm… 

    why not look at the outcome? 

    If players (and you) are happy and having a great time you did a great job.

    (you can still prepare large dungeons, fill them with carefully balanced creatures and throw it all away right before you start to play … :P)

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