With every ones increasingly busy lives I’ve often wondered just how the hell I can fit game prep into my daily schedule.
Sure you’ve got the lunchtimes at work if you don’t mind your colleagues knowing about your hobbies or the half an hour after your kids go to sleep, if you have any, where the house is finally quiet before you collapse unconscious yourself. If your lucky enough to be a student then stop reading. We don’t want your kind here. You flaunt your free time in our faces with your drinking, drug taking, computer game playing and lazing about in front of TV shows designed for the lowest common denominator. Can you tell I’m jealous and just a little bitter about my early departure from university?
Anyway, back to writing an adventure in your lunchtime.
Every DM will always have a flicker of an idea for a game but they might not be able to work out the storyline for it without spending hours getting it just right. There are shortcuts though.
Steal a scene from a movie. If you are struggling to find a finale for your adventure where better to find an explosive final encounter than in your favourite movie. Your characters have led a revolt against the local power but some of their contacts were captured and are due to be executed? Take the scene from the Star Wars movies were Anekin and Padme are tied up in the gladiators arena and the Rebels/Jedi attack to save them. You can take it wholesale, scale it up, scale it down or even just steal one aspect of scene. The director has already done his best to make the scene as good as he can and the pictures are in your head. All you need to do is place your characters into the feet of the characters in the movie.
Steal a storyline from a novel. We all do this anyway. Even authors ‘steal’ from other authors when they go looking for inspiration. As DM’s and players we tend to read far more than your average person anyway but I’ve yet to meet a group of people that only read the same books and do not branch out. My group for example all have a common grounding in the WOD fiction and anything based on the military and zombies. The thing is though I’m the only one that will touch sci fi on a daily basis while others tend to favour fantasy works instead. Of all the books we’ve read the number that we share is surprisingly small. Pick a fun story arc from a book most of your players will not have read and push, pull and shape it a little to make it your own.
Pick a movie and change the setting completely but keep the core story line intact. Take 28 Days Later and move it into your DnD campaign. Hell even the official game producers do it over and over again. My Shadowrun game that I’m just about to start has been done this way. I don’t have the time to invest in writing a game from scratch so I’ve stole the storyline almost wholesale from a well established and popular movie. I just need to see whether any of the players work out which one before the plot twist kicks in. Just moving the setting is often enough to completely throw the players which means the even if the ‘surprise’ events that are well telegraphed in the movie may still catch them off guard.
Buy an adventure and run it without any changes. Obviously this is the easiest way to do it but I’ve never been able to bring yourself to run someone elses game without huge changes to the story/encounters/setting. What that usually means is I spend more time customising these kind of games than I do writing one from scratch. Don’t get me wrong as there are thousands of really good premade adventures out there ranging from free downloads to elaborately printed hard copies bought from the store. It’s just not my preferred choice.
All these choices mean taking 30 minutes out of your lunch break at work over a couple of days will allow you to get an enjoyable game running with very little real work.
This may have been quite a short post but expect a post in the near future where I elaborate on a couple of the ideas I’ve mentioned.