I find that the more I prep for a game, the more likely it is that the group will ignore what I’ve got ready.

For example: One time I prepped a whole bunch of things for this port city my players were about to visit. I had various NPCs readied with personality quirks for each one, everyone of them was going to have just a small nugget of info for them regarding their eventual destination. There was a three day wait for the boat they needed, giving them plenty of time for them to check out the town and maybe gather some information.

None of that happened. The group simply stayed at the inn for the three days and didn’t talk to anyone, essentially skipping everything I had prepped. I smuggled one nugget of info in there, but other than that, a chunk of the mystery surrounding Shiny Pebble Island was missed.

I find that prepping a little outline for what I want to happen, and then winging the rest is what works best for me.  I’ll give you another example.

Another group of mine wanders into a desert town, stopping to restock before heading to their destination. As I described it, one of the players got excited, and asked if it was like one of those old west towns you see in westerns, and while I didn’t really plan on that, I decided to go with it. We only had about…45 minutes of game time in, and were down two players that night, so going to the temple they needed to get to seemed like a bad idea, as I knew the temple would require all of them there. Instead, I made up a quick bounty quest at the sheriff’s office. A band of outlaws, with crimes including cattle theft and robbing the stage coach, has evaded capture for too long. Their leader, McGriddle, was also wanted for assaulting the bar keeper’s wife in an argument.

The groups Gunslinger (the one who was excited about the town) rolled out of town to find the criminals. He was accompanied by the group’s Magus, and the two of them eventually find them hold up in a old shack near a water hole. After quickly ambushing the outlaws (they weren’t too tough), they find a woman in the shack screaming after hearing a fireball explode outside and smelling burning flesh. They calm her down enough for them to find out that she was McGriddle’s woman, and she was pregant with his outlaw baby. The Magus, after a short yelling match with the woman, knocks her out. The two players find the missing cattle outside, and decide to stride into town (woman strapped to one cow) riding the cows.  They turn in the bodies of McGriff, McGriddle, and McGraff, and collect their bounties.

I had never seen the gunslinger’s player so happy before. He ate the whole thing up, and loved it.

That town actually stayed a place where I just made things up. The next session was another completely off-the-cuff story involving the town and it’s inhabitants (turns out it was actually a ghost town the whole time!), but that’s a story for another time.

Share Button