Friday, March 1, 2013

Clock In

1. Next time you plan to read and prep a module (or just part of one) you're going to use in a game, look at the clock when you start.

If it's something huge and long, just count the time you spent prepping the part you're planning to use and reading any other stuff in the module that was necessary to run that part.

2. Then look at the clock again when you finish.

3. How long did it take? Write that number down.

4. Then, after running that module (or that bit of it) count how many hours worth of gaming you got out of it.

5. Then, the next time you want to run a game, think of a picture or a short passage from a book you really like, even just a phrase, and sit down and write an adventure from scratch spending exactly the same amount of time you spent on steps 1 and 2.

6. Figure out how much the module or the fraction of the module you prepped cost. (Maybe it was free, if so, skip this step). Use that money to buy something that would make the game you are about to run more fun like miniatures or funny dice or beer or a punching nun puppet to hit your players with when the evil cleric attacks.

6. Run it.

7. Compare the results.

8. Write about the results in the comments to this post.



  1. Well, my current campaign has spanned approximately 48 hours over 8 sessions spent entirely in B4 The Lost City, and the players don't seem to want to leave, no matter how much I prod them. I didn't closely monitor my prep time, unfortunately, but I know that there was a lot of it, that most of it went into the hexcrawl around the Lost City that my players have ignored, and that the prep time - whether longer or shorter - was more fun than the prep time for the last 8 sessions of my previous, totally original campaign. B4 was, um, not commercially available when I started, but you can get it for only 5 bucks now. So I'd say it's totally worth it, though I realize these results are atypical.

  2. This is why i spend all my time creating sandbox tables and geomorphs - spend time on things that can be used lots - like your setting or modular things that can be reused forever. Ive slowed from being a BRP GM because i dont want to spend time recording monster stats (why "monster coliseum" is a good product rather than worst ever rpg product as a few say)

  3. The Former:

    Charnel Crypt of The Sightless Serpent by Jeffrey P. Talanian, North Wind Adventures

    Date of Preparation - 2/25/13
    Date of Game Play - 2/27/13
    Player Count - 4
    Time Allotted For Prep. - Roughly 3 - 3 1/2 hours (Excluding Labor Time Regarding The GM's Completing of All Character Sheets)
    Total Unit Cost: $25.00 (Negating Tax because I'm married, which means I do not figure tax when relaying cost)
    Individuated Product:
    $20.00 (ASSH PDF)
    $5.00 (Module Print)
    Technically a clean journal and a new felt-tipped(Cost Excluded As They Are Still In RPG Employment).
    Estimated Time of Game Play: Roughly 2 1/2 Hours

    Notes On The Former:
    Module Played Out Directly As System Exercise With Minimal GM Manipulation of Presented Content. Naturally, This Effected Overall Gaming Experience.

    1. No noticeable behavioral modifications found in Player(s) via relationship(s)to Characters.
    2. Module Executes a Well-Informed Presentation of Traditional Fantasy/Horror Tropes. At Times, Could Be Familiar and Comfortable, if not relatively exciting.
    3. Player Characters Handled as if Objects by Players.
    4. GM Lagged Frequently When Required To Weave Action-Oriented Encounters.
    5. Somewhat-Hygienic Game Play, Though Considered It Pleasant

    The Latter:

    Song: Skin Man Palace
    Artist: The Grifters
    Album: Crappin' You Negative

    Song introduces character 'The Mambo King' and is lyrically written from his perspective. The Mambo King is a skins trader and alludes to dealing in rare/exotic hides. e.g. "Wrapped Tight In My Tarantula Skin." Then it grooves a second. Komodo Dragon Ladies know how to parlay Voodoo for Steam. There are numerous other encounters, interactions, objects, etc. scattered throughout the song. All of this occurs within the 'Skin Man Palace'.

    Date of Preparation - 3/1/13 (Scrapped Original Idea For The Evening After Viewing This Post)
    Date of Game Play - 3/1/13
    Player Count - Five
    Time Allotted For Prep. - 3 1/2 Hours
    Total Unit Cost - Free
    Estimated Time of Game Play - 4 1/2 Hours

    Notes on The Latter:
    Incorporated as an excursive, exploratory location within the homemade campaign that we play regularly.

    1. An imaginative investment dependent largely upon all participant's conceptual dexterity.
    2. I ruled it with a brutish elegance.
    3. Restless Leg Syndrome - All Players

  4. Sorry, can't join. I need more time to prepare a game from a module. So, if I was to use the same time, I wouldn't get to run the module at all!

  5. Respectfully, for about 18 months I have only been using modules in campaigns which I both GM and am a player. I only look at the book once the game starts, that is the point.

    The prep is almost zero. I do glance at the books to determine if they are suitable or not. I will not list my preferences here, other than to say I have come to trust the products from one specific company who is currently out of business (but their website is still up). They put out many free .pdfs but I have spent some money on their hard copies, (less than $10).

    As to prep 120 hours for world building up front, then 3-4 hours prep per session. Money? I dunno, am I collecting game stuff because I want it or for the game?

    1. well that's all very mysterious and I suppose you are being vague on purpose for weird reasons only you understand so...have fun with that i guess

  6. I find I work best with limited prep but that published modules can help - if they have good maps and tables. Maps and tables take time. They are also something that works in multiple sessions if done right (treasure tables for example). I am also fond of modules with 'excessive' room/monster description - I can read it, paraphrase and get a 'feel' for the place beastie and that saves me time & effort. Minimally keyed stuff often doesn't give me enough and I have to spend more time than if I did it myself "why are their skeletons in the only room leading to the goblin lair? How does that relationship work?"