Crisis prep for GMs!

TRANS FOR ME(Should work for most traditional games. Crowdsourced on

The scenario: You have the characters (with some background, motivations and special abilities), an idea about setting and genre, and the system you’ll use. Maybe you have notes from previous sessions.

But you have no idea what’s going to happen next time you meet!

It’s a couple of days until you play, and – knowing yourself – you know there’s somewhere between half an hour and two hours remaining for prep.

What do you do?

In prioritized order (drop the one’s you don’t have time for):

1) First of all; skim through character and setting notes, and notes from previous sessions (if any). Make a note of any ideas they give you.

2) An explosive start: not necessarily violent, but something the characters have to relate/react to. Something that changes the status quo, preferably involving 2-3 NPCs (it’s good if at least one of these is central to the game). The scene may well start in medias res (in the middle of unfolding action).

3) Prepare 3-5 NPCs especially for the session. You can detail predefined secondary characters, or make up some new ones. Preferably tie them to the characters and/or their agendas (as adversaries, helpers, obstacles).

3) “Cool elements” to sprinkle on top: a couple of specific scenes/moments, a specific setting, a group/organization (with agendas), items with unique properties. The characters should be able to interact with these in a meaningful way. Dilemmas are good.

4) Threat clocks/countdowns (if time): make a note of a couple of “background processes” where events will unfold in such-and-such a manner unless the characters intervene. This can also be combined with 1-2 further “crises” like in the opening scene, 1).

Over half of the items and ideas you come up with may be tied to specific character agendas/abilities/backgrounds/contacts. Give the characters a chance to shine.

All of this information can be organized in a mind-map (with lines between the elements denoting order of appearance or how they relate to each other). A few keywords should suffice.

Further inspiration for making up NPCs: Your next AW NPC is going to be awesome.

Further reading from Imagonem: Some tips for new Game Masters

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