DM Prep Work Leading To Burnout: Help? - Page 2

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  1. #11
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    Voadam's Avatar

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    Jan 2002

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    1 use modules

    2 use monster stats unadjusted from the books (no add on templates, class levels, HD advancement, higher ability score arrays, etc.). Can just print out the page or put a bookmark next to the one you want to use instead of statting them out yourself.

    3 don't sweat the mechanical details of NPCs who don't fight.

    4 use premade npc stats such as from the NPCwiki or various sourcebooks.

    5 Limit player options, spontaneous divine caster variant from UA cuts down on the number of spells you need to know to just the ones the players know instead of everything from their lists they can possibly choose from. You then evaluate individual spells as players choose them, not a whole level list when they advance.
    PBP games:

    Death in Freeport IC OOC Adversaries RG Info
    Wildwood IC Old IC II OOC RG Info Old IC Monsters
    Dwarven Vengeance Monsters

    ToEE Sir Merrick OOC IC Old IC
    RToEE Inquisitor Miltiades OOC IC Old IC
    Ptolus Longcoat Garn OOC
    Against the Giants Voadam IC OOC
    Pool of Radiance Kordunn IC Combat OOC Info
    Invasion of Mori Snargle fiendish troll rogue IC OOC
    Red Hand of DoomSir Conrad Cyr Tiefling Soulknife

    Old Games


  • #12
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    I was there a couple years ago. What you want to do is do the things you like to do and try to automate the things you don't like.

    I hate drawing maps, so I invested in a digitial projector to show the maps on. Obviously that might be a bit much for most, but what you could do is preprint map components. Doesn't have to be color or the detailed kind. But you could print out about a dozen corridors, a dozen empty room and be set. You cna use dice or beads to represent objects as you describe the room.

    I am also a fan of taking adventures and editing it to fit in with what i want to do. Take an adventure, edit out the npcs, and plot and replace it with what works for you.

    A lot of dms don't like using electronics at the gaming table, but they are a life saver for pregame prep.
    NPC designer for automatically statting characters (
    DM genie for keeping campaign, character and npc notes (

    Finally, try to prepare for things a few sessions at a time. IF you know your pcs are going into a lengthy dungeon haunt, write up the entire haunt and sketch notes on what could happen next. My PCs are going through an election, and i've designed enough encounters and circumstances saturday, that I probably won't have to do any serious dm prep for three weeks.
    Dungeon Mastering. If you don't love it and live it, hang up your dice.

  • #13
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    Crazypixie got it - limit options. Nobody says you have to keep up with everything that has come out. If your players are interested in new options, let them do the leg work, you don't have to understand the nuts and bolts of it. If they can't understand it, and need to to help them, then they can't use it. If you can't trust your players to use the new options correctly, and feel you have to check up on them to ensure they are, then you have a different issue.

    As for yourself, the opponent NPCs do not have to be outfitted with the latest feats, prestige classes and spells. The options can add flavor, but since most NPCs last only a very short time (a matter of rounds in some cases) and the players don't get to see all the cool abilities and powers they might have, it is a waste of your time and effort to labor over it. For most NPCs, keep it simple. Save the harder work for the BBEGs or NPCs who are likely to recur.
    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein

  • #14
    I condense all my prep work into a week or two or three, and let that carry me through the next few months. Nearly all of my prep is in detailing NPCs, so I go the extra mile and make them simple to grasp in an instant, since I may not be looking at these sheets again for months. We don't play when I'm in a prep mode. Then, before each session, I can review in fifteen minutes.

    Also, it helps that there's another campaign going on, so it's not like there is nothing to do when mine isn't playing.

  • #15
    9 out of 10 doctors recommend Dungeon magazine. It's wearing a lab coat, therefore it must be true.
    Red Hot Swing
    "In Inspired Sarlona, nightmares have you!" -Klaus

  • #16
    Of course sometimes burnout isn't necessarily just about time -- it could be about what you do or don't enjoy spending your prep-time doing (I happen to like putting stats together, but I often face crises of imagination w/regard to plot, interesting NPC backgrounds, etc.), or it could be another issue that's staring you in the face but you simply aren't aware of (you aren't getting as much pleasure from DMing as you once did and thus the preparation feels like it won't pay off, for example).

  • #17
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    Block Flynn

    There are some great suggestions here so far. Eric also brings up a good point, too: I do not get as much pleasure from DMing as I used to. I don't know if that's a product of the Burnout, or if that's part of the source of the Burnout.

    I have reached the point where I do not prep as much as I used to, hardly any at all any more, because the effort somewhat overwhelms me, especially in comparison to the reduced pleasure I derive from the game. My players just aren't as forthcoming with the genuine interest and excitement as they have been in years past, and a part of me might be taking that to hear too much. (Then again, maybe it's because I'm not giving 110% either. Who knows...)

    Please, keep the suggestions and feedback coming. Who knows what bit of advice might spark the "Ah Ha!" moment for me, or for others that might be going through the same thing.

    In Like Flynn:

  • #18
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    TPK and re-boot?

  • #19
    I had my "aha" moment not too long ago and it was simply, "Stop doing stuff you don't really need to." Why try to recreate a stat block every time PCs run afoul of a city guard? Now I have one generic one in a special section of my gaming folder called "Stock NPCs." Every time I need a stat block for something I don't already have one for, I go ahead and make it up...then I stash it in "Stock NPCs" section so I can use it again, and again, and again. City guards make good bandits too...and pirates if you lose the armor...and gang thugs if you swap a weapon out.

    I used to haaaaate lycanthropes because, foolish me, I'd work up three seperate sets of stat blocks, one for each form. I gave myself nightmares with a Barbarian were-boar. Then, I had my "aha" moment and realized...I only need the hybrid form, the rest is window dressing. Don't need stats for it because the PCs aren't going to be fighting it in that form.

    If the PCs are going to kill it, stat it. Otherwise, an NPC is window dressing, setting decor, so much fluff. Even if the PCs are going to kill it...odds are they'll never guess that those highwaymen they just killed are the same guys, stat wise, as the prison guards they killed while escaping the dark lord's dungeon.

  • #20
    Get one of the players to start DMing another campaign. When you're feeling inspired again, run a night of your game. Then trade off every so often.
    Red Hot Swing
    "In Inspired Sarlona, nightmares have you!" -Klaus

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