Imagine a spectrum of planning effort. On one end you have every possible detail worked out, including complete world development, all the adventures until campaign end, a complete cast of NPCs, everything. Let’s call this end 10.
On the other end of the spectrum you have nothing planned. You show up to the table and ask the players what they want to play. Hopefully you have the game rules players picked on hand. You have no plot, villains, setting, or campaign climax in mind. Further, as each session passes you still don’t plan ahead. Facts and details get nailed down as you play. Let’s call this end 1.
What’s Your Campaign Prep Sweet Spot?
- Where are you on this spectrum for most of your campaigns?
- Think back on your best campaigns. Where were you on the spectrum for those?
- What about your worst campaigns, from 1-10?
7 is Just Right
I find I do best on a 7. I like to know my world first before layering on my adventures. I also like to have two or three adventures lined up before play starts. If the character deviate from my plans that’s ok. However, knowing a lot of details about the setting, villains, NPCs, adventure sites, and upcoming encounters often lets me shift things to suit changes in the situation.
Some might call this railroading. However, I find all this preparation beforehand gives me more freedom to have the world react to the PCs as well as act upon the PCs.
My current campaign suffers from a lack of preparation right now. I’m slowly catching up, but right now I’m at 4 out of 10. It’s tempting to switch from world building and adventure crafting to pure published fare, but I’ve been running published stuff for past two campaigns and I’m eager to design as well as run game sessions.
What about you? In addition to your answers to the questions above, where is your current campaign in terms of preparation level?