I love gaming, and I love GMing. GMing, sadly, is a time-consuming hobby.
Beyond actually running game night, GMing requires a decent amount of preparation. Sometimes getting ready for the game takes longer than the game itself! That’s not ideal. Luckily, I’ve recently been testing a new plan to crush my GM prep woes and make my campaign more awesome.
During previous campaigns, I’ve scheduled campaign prep for Monday night. I’d try to sit down and spend a couple of hours getting ready for the Wednesday game night. Inevitably, I’d fail to get as much done as I’d like. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even get started—family and/or work often muscling into my prep time. Clearly, that tactic wasn’t exactly a storming success.
Coupled with this, my new campaign—Dark Adventures—is a megadungeon sandbox affair set in Gloamhold’s benighted depths and the surrounding Duchy of Ashlar. The players can literally go anywhere, and I must be ready for almost anything.
Clearly, my old way of campaign prep wasn’t going to work. I needed to do something different, or the campaign would die in a morass of half-arsed, badly designed encounters, generic cobbled-together adventures and cancelled sessions.
Little, But Often
Terrifying power lurks in the practise of “little, but often.”
It turns out for me carving out about 30 minutes every weekday to design, plan or plot is relatively simple. Thirty minutes is roughly 2% of my day. In my monthly bullet journal, I have it listed as “Daily Design”. I’m not shooting for a certain daily word count, as designing and running a campaign requires diverse work. Maps must be prepared (badly, in my case), character notes maintained, plots plotted, strange creatures such as zombie mimics created and so on. Focusing on time instead of mere word count gives me the flexibility to work on what needs attention.
This approach “Daily Design” approach keeps me fresh as there are no all-day design slogs to get through.
Spending 30 minutes a day on my campaign means I rack up 150 minutes a week (or two and a half hours) of prep time. I find that’s pretty doable, and if I manage to carve out time at the weekend, my total goes up a whole hour (behold, my maths).
The other handy thing about “little, but often” is that if I happen to miss a Daily Design, it’s not a complete disaster in the same way as failing to do any prep that week.
I randomly picked 30 minutes as my daily target, but you could choose any length of time. For example, 15 minutes is roughly 1% of the day. If you love GMing, it should be relatively easy to carve out 1% of your day to work on something you enjoy.
If you are struggling to get ready for your game, I highly recommend you have a crack at implementing a similar system. Pick an amount of time you can commit to daily and go for it!