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39417879 No.39417879 [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

How much of your campaigns are made up on the fly?

>> No.39417883

About 40% maybe.

>> No.39417901

Like 90%.

I write the basic idea down and the general main events to go on, then once I get my group started I just write the next part coming up while they're making their decisions for the current moment.

>> No.39417919

>>39417879
The campaign?

None of it.

The adventures that occur in the campaign?

90%

Plans made of string, anon. It' the only way to deal with clever players.

>> No.39417933

>>39417901
I'm on about the same level here.

>> No.39417944

>>39417901
>>39417919

Pretty much this.

>> No.39417960

>>39417901
>>39417919
Okay, say you have a dungeon.
Do you make the map up and just draw rooms? Do you pull random creatures out of the books and toss them in the rooms?
Or...do you just not even have dungeons?

>> No.39417969

>>39417960
I just use some autistic ability to randomize a dungeon suddenly in my head, I'll sketch it down for the players on our whiteboard we use, then by the time they make an action I'll have an event ready in response for everything they could do in the dungeon.

Unless it's an important dungeon, then it was already pre-made and each room specifically designed beforehand.

>> No.39417973
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39417973

>>39417879
That’s very difficult to answer numerically. I usually have some versatile challenges (statblocks etc.) or small items (incl. descriptions) that I can plop down anywhere, but the only purpose that serves is to give me some time to think.

This is backed up by huge folders of maps and images to crib descriptions from, both of which are sorted and tagged for my convenience.

>> No.39417983

>>39417960
Not that guy, but I have a similar mindset of preparing very little when it comes to sessions aside from the general direction the plot is going towards. I'm GMing a mapless system so I don't HAVE to design a dungeon beforehand, I just wing the layout on the fly as I describe it to the players. The one thing I DO preparebefore sessions are monsters, as they need to be tailormade (the rules comes with a dedicated system to making monsters instead of a monster manual).

>> No.39417997

>>39417960
Not them but I do a similar 90% deal.

For dungeons I try to have some number of themes depending on the size of the dungeon. Small stuff, maybe like one tribe of kobolds, or a spider infestation or something. The layout is semi-random, in that I'll decide what encounters I want then sketch out a vague connections between them and have the layout end up being whatever I feel fits best on the fly. For larger dungeons I might have multiple groups of things in there, maybe one group has tamed a weird thing or made a deal with something like an ettercap or w/e to justify its existence in the dungeon.

That said, whether I _have_ a dungeon or not can be on the fly. It depends on what I feel like the players are looking for that session. It's pretty easy to come up with stuff on the fly if you prepare beforehand for how you're going to generate things.

>> No.39418002

>>39417973
>versatile challenges
Skeletons are orcs are bandits, eh?

>> No.39418009

>>39417919
Depends on where the players are going and what they are trying to do at any given time. when they make plans and decide to do thing, I populate whatever area they are heading into with whatever makes ecological/sociological sense, and sprinkle in campaign based plothooks and information. They pick up on those about half the time, and when they involve themselves with people/places more often, I expand their knowledge of the real situation more and more.

Bait and tease. You do have to have a REALLY good understanding of what they are capable of and how well they do the things they do so you can choose appropriate monsters for them to tangle with.

>> No.39418015

>>39417983
>>39417969
Okay, these are kind of the answers I expected to get.
Do you reeeaaally think that 'preparing important dungeons' and 'tailoring monsters' only comprises 10% of your campaign's activities?

I'm not saying it doesn't and that you're wrong; I'm just actually curious what your group does if they spend, honestly, 90% of the campaign time not delving an important dungeon or fighting monsters.

>> No.39418029

>>39418015
It's not that the party spends 90% of the campaign outside of dungeons. It's that we as DMs spend only prepare a fraction of the stuff that goes on in the campaign and improvise for the vast majority of it.

>> No.39418036

>>39418015
I made a campaign with a plot about hunting werebears in the mountains near a small village but about 7 sessions of it (several hours each) included my players becoming farmhands on a pig farm and trying to make it the most successful pig farm in the village.

I did not plan for this pig farm.

>> No.39418078

>>39418029
I'm not sure I understand this. If the party was spending more time in prepared parts of the campaign, then it wouldn't be 90% improvised, so it is actually the fact that the party spends 90% of the campaign outside of prepared areas, isn't it?
>>39418036
Yeah, this is kind of what I'm thinking. I'm seeing this, and I wonder why this is the case.

>> No.39418114

>>39418078
If I say "There exists The Bandit Lord Jeremy and his Five Loyal Retards. They harass the town of Fucksford and the residents offer a sizeable sum for expedient dispatch of said Bandit Lord (cocksucker)" then I have prepared actors in my campaign but I have not necessarily prepared everything about that. I could stat out Jeremy, his dicksucking lieutenants, and some flunkies. Then say I want the players to fight such that encounter 1. flunkies, encounter 2. 3x lieutenants. encounter 3 2x lieutenants and a mob of flunkies, encounter 4 Jeremy himself in all his dickwaving glory. I haven't planned out much. If I went a little farther I could slowly say "well if the players approach in fashion D then maybe they avoid dealing with the 3x lieutenants encounter." or whatever.

The point is to provide an enjoyable narrative with a sufficient level of verisimilitude.

>> No.39418117

>>39418078
>I'm not sure I understand this. If the party was spending more time in prepared parts of the campaign, then it wouldn't be 90% improvised, so it is actually the fact that the party spends 90% of the campaign outside of prepared areas, isn't it?
Just because they're dungeon delving and slaying monsters doesn't mean that particular delving of dungeons or slaying of monsters was PLANNED.

Basically, the following is what I prepare for any given story arc in a campaign:

*Where are the PCs now?
*Where do the PCs want to be ten sessions from now on?

Everything in between is usually made up on the spot. The PCs have a goal in mind, but what they do to actually achieve said goal is up to them.

>> No.39418132

>>39418114
Yeah, that makes sense to me, I guess.
I mean, it makes sense that you'd call that 10%, because I guess it is.
Why don't you prepare more though?

>>39418117
>doesn't mean that particular delving of dungeons or slaying of monsters was PLANNED
Yeah, I totally get what you're saying, and I'm definitely not arguing that fact.
I think what I'm actually asking is this: Why do your PC's do things you don't have planned for them to do?

>> No.39418163

>>39418132
because PC's have free will and hate being on scripted adventures? one of the best things about RPGs is your decisions actually matter and you're not limited to one fixed story path. also, just because not everything the pcs do is planned doesn't mean its irrelevant filler. i ran a game where i hinted at a powerful artifact, only really expected it to be a fetch mission for the PC, but because of how events turned out it became crucial to the plot.

>> No.39418183

>>39418132
>Why do your PC's do things you don't have planned for them to do?
In order to reach things I HAVE planned for them to do. I said I prepare very little, I didn't say I don't prepare anything at all. My players aren't chaotic stupid lolrandumb idiots and actually bite the story hooks I prepare for them.

Take the following example: Your part is currently in random generic town #785656. The BBEG's fortress is half-way across the world on another continent. You need to get there in order to stop him/her from destroying/conquering the world. What do you do?

That premise is the 10%. Everything in between is improvised.

>> No.39418187

>>39418163
>hate being on scripted adventures
Subjective.

I'm not saying that unplanned stuff is irrelevant filler. I use unplanned stuff all the time, too. You pretty much have to just to get by.
I'm just curious why if you draw up a dungeon, tailor the monsters, place them in it strategically, and then offer both a reward and a story reason why the player should want to go, that he would decide to be a pigfarmer.
Seems weird, really.

>> No.39418194

>>39418183
What stopped you from planning the in-between then? Do you think they wouldn't do it if they could tell it was planned?

>> No.39418195

>>39417879
As little as possible, and at the same time, a huge amount. I prefer to create places, people and circumstances and let the rest come naturally. I don't really use dungeons - the closest I get is a lord's castle or, extremely rarely, an actual cave system or ancient ruins in the rare event that we come across one.

>> No.39418220
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39418220

>>39418194
Because the whims of players are fickle and planning anything more coherent will usually end up with said plan being smashed into a million pieces ten minutes in. Unless you railroad them to hell and back, in which case, why even bother asking them what they want to do?

>> No.39418225

>>39418187
ah, i see. i think its different planning encounters and plots. personally i think planning plots is better if you leave it mostly open like guys in thread suggest. for encounters i like to be more detailed. but you can't invest too much in them, if you have some super encounter you really want to do you're far less likely to let your PC's bypass it with some amazing PC-plan.

>> No.39418259

>>39418220
But if you gave them something to do, a reason to do it, and a reward for doing it, why would they just smash it into a million pieces? Who's going to look at the in-between part of your example and say to themselves, "No, let's take the long and dangerous way around, despite the treasure laden shorter path because fuck the world."
I'm not saying you have to force them to take the short path, right? I'm just saying that laying that treasure there and plopping a dungeon down doesn't hurt anything.

Do you think PC's disregard planned content just because it smacks of being planned?

>> No.39418282

I think I just disagree with the concept that PC's are going to do crazy shit all the time. I think GM's just use that as an excuse not to spend any time planning anything. They say to themselves that one time, a plan didn't go as planned, so why bother doing it again? Or they say that they've seen players do crazy stupid shit on /tg/ so why bother trying to reign them in?

But I feel like a lot of it's bullshit. I feel like tons of people pick up and play Adventure Paths, knowing full well that it's all preordained. I think preparing a segment of your campaign with proper story motivations and proper rewards will convince your PC's to go there 9 times out of 10.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying all this to put down improvisational play. I like improvisational play plenty, and I use it myself often, too.
I just don't think it's a valid replacement for preparation. I don't see why people use improvisation as their first option, rather than preparing tons of content and using improvisation as a last resort for if that content doesn't pan out.

Just doesn't seem logical.

>> No.39418284

>>39418259
No. They disregard it because this is a game, it's meant to be fun and if the PC's aren't feeling like going into that dungeon they're going to go a different direction.

This isn't a case of bad design or poor players, it's the reason that playing a TTRPG is so fun. You can always choose what to do, always, so one the player sees a path in front of them obvious or not, they choose what to do. Not based off reward or difficulty but just what they want to do, no matter how obviously planned it is.

>> No.39418313

>>39418284
You really think that there's an even chance of a PC doing whatever he wants vs. doing something that he's motivated by story reasons and rewards to do?
Seriously, a 50/50 shot of him either following the Orc tracks to recover the kidnapped mayor and get the promised reward and bounty vs. leaving it behind and, let's say, looking for some ancient ruins nearby so that he can go delving to try and find old magical weapons?

Both are fine options, and I could understand why someone might do one or the other. But really, 50/50?

>> No.39418329

>>39418282
>>39418282
The answer to this is simple, yes, we've all had PCs do whatever they want and disregard your prepared things. This doesn't mean we stop preparing things, we all prepare stuff to do.

However, the level of of preparation involved in a game should never be large, the idea that a GM should spend large portions of their time outside a game to prepare a large amount of materials is silly. Instead we outline 2- however many we want ways for the PCs to go in the session.

Also, on the note of Adventure Paths 1) the author is paid to write all those details, so unless your advocating paying GMs? And 2) when you play an Adventure Path you have essentially agreed as a player and GM before the game that this is what you will be playing and that you'll both try to stay true to the material.

>> No.39418343

>>39418259
>But if you gave them something to do, a reason to do it, and a reward for doing it, why would they just smash it into a million pieces?
Why do madmen do anything? Because they're bloody madmen, that's why.

You and I must be talking about different things because I'm starting to feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall, here. I don't do it because I think the PCs utterly hate anything that's been even remotely planned beforehand. If you're doing things right, the PCs will never be aware that 90% of the campaign was improvised to begin with. I do it because I don't like railroading, and neither do PCs. It's to give players AGENCY. I COULD plan absolutely everything beforehand down to the last minute detail, but there's no guarantee that things will ever go the way I planned.

Let's take an example from my current campaign. There's a civil war that's going on. The side that the PCs are on are losing a naval war badly thanks to the other side having a massively powerful warship with experimental weaponry. If they're ever going to receive foreign reinforcements via sea, they're going to have to sneak on board and destroy it somehow. The goal in question was thus: "How do we get on board this warship?"

I had a tentative plan for a mini-session to aquire a wind drake so they could sneak aboard the warship by flying to it in the middle of the night. They instead assumed that a warship that always stays at sea and never goes to port has to get its supplies from SOMEWHERE, and thus devised a plan to sneak onto one of the supply ships that. Before they came up with the plan, supply ships I had never even considered that the supply ships EXISTED, let alone that they were a viable way on board!

No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. The same goes for session plans and PCs.

>> No.39418354

>>39418313
Not 50/50, I never said how they rated these decisions. I can't know, nor can you, we're not the players and we cant read they're minds. I'm merely saying that players do these things because of personal reasons that we as an online community can not generalise.

>> No.39418373

>>39418329
>However, the level of of preparation involved in a game should never be large, the idea that a GM should spend large portions of their time outside a game to prepare a large amount of materials is silly

I'm not seeing proof of this. I'm just seeing that it's a pervasive idea.

>1) the author is paid
Ha, fair enough.
>you have essentially agreed as a play and GM before the game
I don't see how this can't be done for any other campaign as well.
I mean, if you're intentionally playing something sandbox-y, that's all good, and everyone can surely agree on that. But can't they agree on a more structured campaign, too?


I guess that's really the rub overall. If your PC's want a super structured campaign, like mine often do, then you have to prepare a lot more stuff. If they want sandbox stuff, like yours seem to, then you want to prepare less.
That actually makes a lot of sense.

I just wish people would actually say that. No one ever says, "Oh, my PC's like it more sandboxy." They just say, "Preparing content is stupid, and only retard GMs like that anon do it, because it's only gonna blow up in their big stupid faces." which drives me fucking nuts.

>> No.39418385

>>39418343
> I COULD plan absolutely everything beforehand down to the last minute detail, but there's no guarantee that things will ever go the way I planned.

Right.
I know.
Why not do it anyway? What does it hurt?

>No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. The same goes for session plans and PCs.
That's just false, and people know it. It's a fine quote, but it's hyperbole, and we all understand that. There are plenty of times when plans work perfectly well.

>> No.39418397

>>39418354
>we as an online community can not generalise
Okay, so now you're saying it would be wrong to generalize? But you're saying that 'PC's will ignore your plans often enough to make it silly to plan much'.
How is that not a generalization?

>> No.39418402

>>39418385
>Why not do it anyway? What does it hurt?
Because I don't want to throw away hours, possibly days of my life on something that probably won't even get used anyway. I have a job. When your free time is limited and you run a session every week, you don't have the time NOR the patience for hyper-comprehensive plans.

>> No.39418422

>>39418402
I play 4 campaigns a week on Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Friday night, and Sunday night. Of those, I am the GM for 3.
I work between 40-45 hours during these same weeks, every week, from 12AM-8AM. I have family obligations, friend obligations, girlfriend obligations, and other errands just anybody else.
I plan every dungeon my PC's enter, every room, every monster, and every reward, and it takes about 10-15 hours a week. It is not hard to make the time.

How much time do you really think you'd need to spend on preparation?

>> No.39418444

>>39418422
Then your patience and persistence is legendary and far overshadows mine. If all that planning is what makes you happy, then fair enough, who am I to judge? You do things your way, I do things my way. My lack of planning hasn't really hurt the campaign so far, at any rate.

>> No.39418463

>>39418444
>You do things your way, I do things my way.
This is the actual sentiment that I have. I don't mean to say that your method is bad.
I just don't like being told that planning is stupid and that it shouldn't be done.

>> No.39418481

>>39417879
I used to plan out sessions beforehand, but now I just plan what should happen in the game. If the players take their sweet time getting to the place where shit'll happen then I'll just improvise some NPCs and events, like have an assassin go after them or something.

>> No.39418522

>>39418422
>Family obligations *and* girlfriend obligations
Hmm... looks like you lead an interesting life there. Hope the wife don't find out.

Seriously though, I'm with you. Live and let live and all that, but that I prefer some preparation for my own games.

>> No.39418533

>>39417960
If I were to ever include a dungeon I'd do it beforehand, but I've barely ever used dungeons in games I've run.

>> No.39418751

>>39417879
I never write campaigns, I write characters, their motivations, and have them play out in my head while the PCs do shit.
So say there's an ambitious warlord from the east that's planning on attacking the main city. If the players literally spend all their time west, they might never hear about it and the city would be conquered.
Or on the lighter side, two shopkeepers might get married, or maybe one dies and the PCs only find out when they visit them.
If they do stumble onto it, they'll have a chance to intervene and shape the outcome, but the world can live on its own.

>> No.39419908
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39419908

>>39417901
>>39417919
Best answers. Campaigns shouldn't be planned to much, because PCs will always find ways to turn your plans upside-down.

>> No.39420161

>>39417879
Majority.
Most of my pre-game prep is coming up with starts of interesting scenes, and if those scenes require characters or places I might think about them a bit.
But most of the play comes from seeing how characters react to those scenes and then improvising from there, until things get resolved or just calm down when I ether ask from players what their characters are doing or throwing them another prepared scene.

Pretty much my definition of group of good players is one that allows me to be lazy by having their characters do lots of interesting stuff without much input from GM.
I'm much rather reactive GM than proactive.

>> No.39420492

15-20%. As a first-time DM I'm fairly nervous about not having an adequate response and prepare tons of shit for various scenarios.

>> No.39420706

>>39417879

Pretty much everything beyond the first session. Those are tightly plotted to introduce players to key concepts, mechanics and NPCs. From there it's pretty much single paragraphs and the seat of my pants.

>> No.39421216

>>39418187
>I'm just curious why if you draw up a dungeon, tailor the monsters, place them in it strategically, and then offer both a reward and a story reason why the player should want to go, that he would decide to be a pigfarmer.

I don't actually prepare the dungeon and the monsters until I'm fairly certain that that's where the players are headed.

>> No.39421257

>>39417960
I don't generally like to use dungeons cause I can't justify in my head how they would work, mostly because of the "something for everyone" rule they seem to run on. Like you'd have trap rooms so the guy who was stupid enough to make a rogue or a monk can have a daring escape sequence and you must have a magic room sealed by a riddles or puzzles so that one smarmy cunt can prove how smart he is and the lore nerd can show off his knowledge of the settomg and you have to have lots and lots of combat encounters in between so people don't get bored and it makes no fucking sense.

I remember my first ever DND game, it was a pre-made adventure (don't ask me which, I have no idea) and the deal was we were looking for a group of missing kids and found out that they were kidnapped by kobolds and taken to an abandoned monastery.

So we enter the monastery and immediately we get attacked by all sorts of shit. There's giant spiders, giant bats, even a werewolf. All of these monsters have supposedly been feeding on travellers, except the only bodies we find must be years old from the time when place was originally abandoned. So we head down to the basement (it's a dwarven monastery so the ground floor was basically just a watchtower and a giant attic) and get into the real place and find the kobolds. We kill some, take some prisoners, start interrogating and then a gelatinous cube attacks. We back off and ask the kobolds how they deal with it and they just shrug.
So we fight the cube and (barely) destroy it, a few rooms later there's the same situation with a wraith.
These fucking kobolds are supposedly stationed in this monastery for months now, stocked the kitchens, restarted the fires, have been maintaining the old traps and building new defenses but they've also just been living alongside fucking ghouls and ghosts and werewolves, so they should have all been eaten by now but they're still here attacking human towns for no reason. It's fucking daft.

>> No.39421323

>>39418259
>But if you gave them something to do, a reason to do it, and a reward for doing it, why would they just smash it into a million pieces? Who's going to look at the in-between part of your example and say to themselves, "No, let's take the long and dangerous way around, despite the treasure laden shorter path because fuck the world."

The easy path is always trapped.

>> No.39421329

Depends on my game. CoC? Nearly none of it. It's a game that relies heavily on clues and shit like that, and that stuff is planned out well in advance. The only time it'll be improvised is if they're not going to a place to find a clue, I'll move the clue to wherever they're going.

With pathfinder? A solid 95%.
Back when I would run it all the time, I would pick out what enemies/monsters the party may run into and that's it. If they're a dungeon, it's made up as I draw it. Some are better than others, but my players were never the ones to appreciate a well crafted dungeon over a simple one with some traps and some monsters. Besides that, I know how my world works. In the last campaign, the majority of it took place in a large, semi-industrialized city. I knew inside and out, how it worked and all it's little secrets, so it would react accordingly whenever the party did something. I would almost never go into a session thinking, "Well, this is what they're going to do tonight." because they never would. My party is notorious of ignoring every hook and doing whatever they want. And that's fine. One of my favorite sessions was a heist on a gun store that ended with them leveling a city block and killing a little over 100 people. I hadn't even thought about that gun store when we had started. It was great though.

Improvisation is the greatest strength a DM can have, followed by consistent, solid worldbuilding.

>> No.39421509

>>39418422
>10-15 hours a week
That's about 1/10th of your waking time. Now if that's something you REALLY enjoy, fair enough, but it's still a lot of time.

>> No.39422717

>>39417879
I'd say like 80% in terms of story.
If we're talking setting don't get me started. I make shitloads of NPCs to plop when needed. I spend hours on making settings I know they will be visiting, for dat immersion

>> No.39423441

How do you guys wing something with a vast setting where players enter a land and it's up to them to figure out what's going on?

For instance, if the players where playing in a skyrim setting, and knew nothing about it (and you didn't have everything memorized because we're assuming this is a storygame setting from a book, not a visual game you put 100 + hours into), what would you write down, what would you map out, and what would your method be for such a huge setting with players able and wanting to go everywhere?

>> No.39423485

>>39421323
My players just gave up a 2 million gold payout at level 8, because they did not believe they could make it out of the bank they were heisting with the gold in hand.

The only traps present were the ones their informant had already told them about, but those had scared them enough that they were unwilling to risk more. They took the modest payout they were hired to take and ran.

>> No.39423579

>>39418397
Not him, but for me the answer is that chaos is stronger than order. It is easier view players as people who all have different opinions, and those opinions will clash, and from that clash their consensus is born.

I either need to be extremely good at reading people, or passable at improvising. Why? Because you'd have to read 2-5 dudes mental landscape, predict what their consensus will be, and then do a lot of work to prepare for that consensus. That requires skills I do not have.

On the other hand, you can be given their consensus, and you come up with stuff on the spot. That is not a hard skill to learn, and the iteration time between coming up with stuff and seeing how the players like it is so, so much shorter. You see instantly if they liked what you just pulled out of your arse, compared to prepared things that you have done a few days before.

Improvising is easier than preparing, is what I'm saying.

>> No.39423586

100%
I have my players collectively decide what they want the general setting to be, once they've made characters I make up something to bring them together, maybe sketch out a vague world map, and go from there.

If they want a planned out campaign one of them can try GMing, but no one else ever wants to.

>> No.39423640

Most of it.

My notes consist of a list of things I need to introduce in some way to advance the story, and then I work them in as the PCs run wild.

It tends to work out really well, and then I make the next session list based on how the PCs went about things in the last one.

>> No.39423650

>>39423441
The more you know the easier it is.

Improvisation needs constraints, funnily enough. I've never ran a game in established setting, but if I were to do so, I'd probably delve into the setting wiki and learn as much as possible.

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