Confession of a serial campaign prepper

I guess this is an improper use of the reblog-function. It was my first time, bear with me.
Please read the original article of Chaosmeister first…or below… or whatever… if you don´t, my “answer” here will not make any sense…

I hear you and I guess I am just the same. The name of my game was “Vampire”, starting with “the Masquerde”, in our modern times as well as in the “Dark Ages”, Especially the following line of you is something I could have said myself:

# # # #
One reason for this problem I think is that in my head everything is awesome. The characters, the scenes, the dialogue. At the table I then face realities. I am not as good a GM as I thought I was, players are not as engrossed and engaged as I had thought. I need to look up stuff, break the pace and immersion. It is just not the game I wanted to run in the first place. And I am weirdly lazy as well. I regularly invest 30-60 hours on preparing a campaign, and then can’t be bothered to invest an hour for a second session.
# # # #

To be honest, I never actually ran games with my group again (edit: for a long while!). I played some DH2nd but that did not went well for other reason (mostly ingrained in the system itself). So, all you will read now is ADVISE, not a tried-and-true solution.

Try to develope a small series instead of a campagin. Make it a triology or (at maximum) plan for something that is meant to last for five sessions. Only start to entice players when you have the “mission/adventure” groundwork laid out. And tell your players up front (they know about problem right now already!). That will feed you with the fun of developing something while the game itself will not bog down because you don´t want to invest any more time. To make sure that you have the ground work, grab three cheap OSR moduls (or similiar readily available source) and TWEAK them into your world. Don´t hesitate to grab something that has NOTHING to do with your game world. After you are through with it, you will have ripped out half of it (perhaps including the heart) and replaced it with your own creations, so a lot of people will be hardly pressed to even recognize the individual body parts… they will just see your Frankstein =)

Use one rules system and try to use it for your next mini series as well. If you come up with a brand new idea, your players will at least not have to chew through all the basic mechanics anew. They will be familiar already, and that is very important: your players might not enjoy reading rules

Think about pre-generated characters. And I mean like “offer a cast that is half set, half ready for your players to flesh out”. The players might not like it, but it will keep their time investment (and their potential frustration about it being gone with the wind of change) a bit lower while it still allows them to INVEST something into their characters. Make sure they have enough options ready. so. The fact that they will play these PC for  three or five missions (which can take a YEAR to finish, depending on how frequent you meet) will give them three to five “level ups” and the “I-make-it-MINE” changes all players want to have.

Last but not least: adress your players and say them that you are sorry for all waist of time that happened up to now. Even if that is not changing a thing, it is the rigt thing to do.

…and by the by… what is it that makes session prep a pain to you? Is it just the fact that it will lead to a SESSION? Is their perhaps something a player is doing that annoys you? Something one should not adress in a blog but towards the player? Or is it really just this “it-ain´t-not-my-thing”, thing? 🙂

Chaosmeister Games

Over the last years I have been trying to get a proper campaign up and running. Most I get to is session 1. I long looked for a reason and after some self reflection I had to realize a hard truth. I enjoy preparing a campaign, with custom or tweaked rules, some pages of background, handouts. Creating the major players and then creating characters in that world.

Another symptom of this is the tons of RPG things I have started but never finished. Take the ShadowOps thing (still not done, sorry). I put in tons of hours for a one shot that then never happened.

A realization that totally baffled me: I  do not enjoy running as much as creating. I had blamed everything, from difficult schedules to wrong rule sets or disengaged players. But never considered this. I wager the “problem” began when I had a dry spell of…

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2 thoughts on “Confession of a serial campaign prepper

  1. The reblog worked great! All good advise. On the note of adventures: I would do that, however I don’t run fantasy, that limits options tremendously. When I did fantasy stuff that is exactly what I did.

    Sessions prep is not really a pain, I just can’t be bothered with it. I guess a big reason for that is that I usually improvise anyway. And that works well, just not when you play maybe once a month as you pretty much always begin again at zero. I guess another problem is that my players do not prep, and player prep is something that would help when you play rarely. But as it is I can prep but they won’t know where we are at what’s going on etc so the first hour or ore is usually wasted.



    1. Let´s confuse our readers, shall we? I will answer here as well as in your blog 😉

      @Session prep & the once-a-month problem
      As my players swore to keep their nose out of my blog I was able to post my own session-prep as well as a session-rep(ort). Obviously, that does not work for anyone as not eveyone is able and/or willing to “ban” once friends and fellows from reading a blog they osterwise might enjoy reading.

      …but… how about writing the session prep and session rep up as a blog post *without* postin them until the respective adventures are over? It is a good exercise in writing, putting something down keeps the memory vivid and one can always re-read the own notes. Plus, the fact that one will have blog-fodder for about a week or month (once the adventure is over) is an added motivitation to actually do the session prep and rep. The only disadvantage: doing it that way is that it is a rather ineffective way. Let´s face it what would otherwise be notes and stat blocks into a series of sentence somebody else would be able to follow is tricky. BUT inregard to not doing any session prep, it might still be the better option 😉

      In regard to commerical modules: what are you currently running? Did I get it right that you are running some post-apocalypse stuff? I have an post-apocalyptic sandbox on my own wishlist at If you “green light” me to post a the link (and/or other links) here I will be happy to make suggestions for material that might be a source to be salvaged. As it is #NOT# “MutantFuture” it might be seriouse enough to be compatible with something based on the Fallout-series (which is your current game, isn´t it?) =)


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