DM Prep Work Leading To Burnout: Help? - Page 3

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  1. #21
    - Don't prep. Or rather, prep loosely. Make the game dynamic, and just go with what the PCs want. If you find yourself going, 'and after they do this, and this and this, that happens' stop. Even if you have a bunch of options, you're still falling into the prep trap. Go more like 'here is this person/situation, here is what they want, see what (if anything) the PCs do about it".

    - Keep it below 12th level. Seriously, at that level there's not much you can do.

    - Once you get an established group, play a simpler game. I know, D&D is the common tongue of gamerdom, but once you use that network to get a good group, there's nothing stopping you from running a system more to your liking.

    - Follow the grand old GM tradition, just make stuff up.

    More than a single page for a night's gaming is a waste of time. As is planning more than one session in advance other in the roughest (and most flexible) of outlines.


  • #22
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    If you want
    a) to keep DMing and
    b) to keep with 3.5 but
    c) reduce prep drastically, I can recommend
    d) E6

  • #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flynn
    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.
    You might just need a short break from running a game. I tend to take a six month break every few years, letting someone else run, and just being a player. Inevitably after a short while I get enthused about the idea of a game, and start doing the background prep - with no session looming in front of me, I can go at whatever pace I choose, and prep a series of adventures to kick off the next game. I've done this from way back in the 2E days. In my case I actually have had less burnout in 3E than in 2E (I didn't run enough in 1E to really get to a point of burnout)

    The other suggestions here are all great, and ones that I've used in the past.
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  • #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by rycanada
    If you want
    a) to keep DMing and
    b) to keep with 3.5 but
    c) reduce prep drastically, I can recommend
    d) E6

    That E6 is a pretty cool take.

    As for what I did, I told my players, "I'm not DMing after "X" date. Don't know when I'll start DMing again. IF you guys want to play I'm willing to play too. Just one of you is going to have to step up and DM for awhile."

    Much to my surprise and delight (especially the first time I did it), 2 stepped up. Every time.
    It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules, which is important. NEVER hold to the letter written, nor allow some barracks room lawyer to force quotations from the rule book upon you, IF it goes against the obvious intent of the game. As you hew the line with respect to conformity to major systems and uniformity of play in general, also be certain the game is mastered by you and not by your players. Within the broad parameters give in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Volumes, YOU are creator and final arbiter. By ordering things as they should be, the game as a WHOLE first, your CAMPAIGN next, and your participants thereafter, you will be playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons as it was meant to be. May you find as much pleasure in so doing as the rest of us do.

    -1E DMG, page 230

  • #25
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    I'd love to give you advice, but I'm there with you.

    I love the game, but am tired of being a DM. I'd rather play.
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  • #26
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    You might want to pick up an adventure and run it. All the prep work is done for you, all you have to do is fill in humorous NPC voices.

    You might want to try something dramatically different. Your regular campaign is a bit ho-hum, so try something totally out the other end genre-wise. If you're used to FR-style high magic games, try a low-magic sweatfest. If you're used to dungeon crawls, try blasting in an interesting story.

    You might want to crib from other media. Did you like a movie recently? Read a good book? Think about it, but think "How can I use this in my game? What would this look like in D&D?"

    You might want to get inspiration from your players. Give them options they've never had before. Say "Okay, this time, I want you all to create characters with some psionic trait" or "Envision that your characters are alone on a desert island" or "I've got this new book, one of you make a character from it." Their banter might just work up some juju for you. No reason you have to come up with everything on your own.

    You might want to take a look at the 3,000+ monsters out there. Turn to a random page in, say Denizens of Avadnu and think about how that critter can be used. Inappropriate CR? Whatever. Just don't expect the PC's to straight-up fight it.

    Finally, you might want to consider making someone else DM for a while, rest your creative juices.

    Prep work is overrated, IMO. Roll d100 on the adventure ideas chart, pick a map-a-week from the website, grab a monster of about the right CR, and connect the dots.
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  • #27
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    Just do modules linked by a basic theme man... I'm finding it to be very restorative.

    All role playing advice is given without knowledge of you and your group. Only you and your group knows what is fun for you. What you are doing is not badwrongfun. My advice is offered based on what I think might be fun for you to try.

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  • #28
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    I generally run published modules that I've adapted. Most of the design work is done and I fill in the cracks. I think up a lot of things while mowing the lawn...

    I use Heroforge for major NPCs. It's reasonably fast and easy and has nice printed output. Saves a lot of time.

    I tend to write out my stat blocks in a word processor so I can adjust and mark them up as necessary. Now, that's fairly time consuming, but I'm usually many weeks out in my prep work and do it bit by bit during my lunches at work. So the prep time isn't all that huge at once. And I reuse stat blocks a lot by keeping a single file off all of them compiled together.

    One friend of mine got a mini-tape recorder to record his brainstorming wherever he was. Driving, shopping, mowing the lawn, whatever. Helped him use his other time productively for gaming ideas without losing them.
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  • #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flynn
    Good Morning, All,

    As a GM/DM of D20 games in general, I've found that, as time goes on, DM Prepwork is a greater and greater burden, to the point where it has actually started causing me to experience DM Burnout. Now, I don't want to suffer this foul malady, so I'm trying to find ways to work around it. However, given the increasing complexity of the game through the sheer volume of character and rule options, and the increasing amount of material that one has to keep track of in order to keep up with the players, DM Prepwork has become overwhelming in many regards.

    Now, I could write my own simple gaming system (and have even done some work in that direction), but the problem with not playing D&D v3.5 is that you lose a lot of the potential gamers who don't want to play anything but D&D v3.5. Therefore, trying another gaming system is not likely to be an option for me. Simply put, I like having a greater variety of gamers to choose from, as it's a lot easier to build a compatible gaming group if you are choosing from fifty potentials rather than choosing from five potentials.

    So, here comes the big question: Aside from suggesting that I play something other than D&D v3.5, because that's not what I want to do, what suggestions do you have about making the DM's life easier for prepping for a v3.5 game, and for removing/preventing DM Burnout?

    Thanks In Advance For Your Time,
    I hear you and feel your pain. My suggestion - Use any and every option you want or your players want. Then -

    1) Learn just enough about the options in actual use not to appear totally uninformed, if you chose a particular option;
    2) If a player chose the option put the total burden on the player to explain it to you and everyone else until everyone is clear, especially you;
    3) Make a crib sheet that lists the salent points of the options your players will expect to see in action and generally how;
    4) Announce very, very prominently that you like templates (and not just for monsters but for magic and environments too) and will be using them - alot;
    5) Then run the game pretty much any way you want, fudging what you want to fudge, but recalling the crib sheet list and keeping a good record of the big fudges you pulled.

    If you do this right, your players will not only not know that you are fudging but will consider you a brilliant DM who is fair (remember that crib sheet and fudge record!) but also highly innovative and prep time drops to 1E levels.

    Now, there are those who have decided that "fudging" in 3X is off limits and that 3X should be played like Star Fleet Battles with endless resort to rule books for justification for any ruling or occurence. Show those so and sos the door. My game. My rules. You want to see behind the DM Screen? Fine. You DM. Otherwise, play my game and and if I entertain you and if you have fun, continue to play with me.

    In a way, its sort of like going to see Penn and Teller. If they entertain you and if you have fun at one of their shows, you will be willing to go to see them. But they are not going to tell you how they did what they did. You don't have that right. Just as you have no right as a player to have a DM explain why the game went the way it did. Or if you think so - hit the bricks. There's more players than DMs. DMs choose. Players are chosen.

    And a bit of historical perspective is not out of order. OD&D's rules are so light DMs had to regularly fudge or house rule any number of situations. 1E hardly changed this. 2e was a bit more solid. 3X is so solid that its feet are set in stone, or so many would have you believe.

    What I'm suggesting? Play 3X rules with a 1E elan. Seems I've heard something like that from some publishing companies even.

    Don't let the 3X rules lawyers get you down. As a DM, you are in the drivers seat in terms of rules application and being the scarcer commodity than players. So drive already!

  • #30
    For unique monsters and NPCs, I try to make use of the Wizards of the Coast website. It is filled with all kinds of interesting monsters and NPCs, often with complex templates and class combinations already written up. The problem is the monsters are scattered all over the place. To find something appropriate for a CR, try the following search string in Google:

    Code: grp "CR 13"
    It should return mostly monsters/NPCs with a CR 13. You can change the 13 to whatever CR you are looking for. The grp is unique to the 3.5 stat block, so it helps filter out older 3.0 blocks.

    Also, take advantage of the many sample NPCs in almost all the supplementary books. A list is available here.
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