DM Prep Work Leading To Burnout: Help? - Page 6


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  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flynn
    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.
    Heh. Sucks, huh?

 

  • #52
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    Aside from playing Savage Worlds (which I know you expressly do not want to do but I cannot resist the temptation to recommend it), here are the things I've done to make my d20 DMing as bearable as possible:

    Stick to a core game. I only use the PHB, DMG & MM. Makes things much simpler. There's plenty of options for the players. They should be able to come up with any character concept they really want to play based on the PHB. I don't even use prestige classes from the DMG.

    Use modules. Dungeon was my best friend for years. I grew out of it, but there are other options. Paizo's Gamemastery line looks good as does Goodman Games' Wicked Fantasy Factory (I would probably take out the video-gamey elements), judging from the free RPG day freebies. I've been using a book-sized module from Necromancer for the past few weeks, and it will probably last indefinitely.

    Along those lines, I like the Fantastic Locations from Wizards. Each has a series of scaled encounters that can be linked or used independently. They have poster maps, too. That makes a night's adventure visual & easy.

    I also like D&D minis for the great RPG stat cards. I was already using initiative cards, so those are a great shortcut. Plus, the minis look pretty good. And, you don't have to paint them. I've used many for random/wandering encounters. I'll even sub in minis that I have for module foes of about the same CR just to make my life easier.

    Hope that helps.

  • #53
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    I had the same problem as the OP. I was prepping, zooming in e-tools, using MS Publisher and exporting to .pdf and going nuts with a professionally polished (and illustrated) log with 5-8 pages detailing each session the party played. All the players agreed: it was utterly and extremely cool.

    And it was a helluva lot of work. It became like having a third job (I have two already).

    My solution? I stopped the scratch adventures and stopped the log entirely. Zip. Ziplch. Nada. Full stop.

    I swtiched my campaign over to the Age of Worms. Prep became reading the adventure quite thoroughly and reading it again and again before the sessions. I'd tweak here and there - and after 20 months or so I actually wrote an entirely new module for the Aow AP that takes place just prior to the Spire of Long Shadows to boost the party a level and a half.

    It's the first serious design work for PnP I've done in 20 months +for my campaign. It's fun and I do miss it - but the plain fact is that I don't miss doing it for every session. It will burn you out.

    So to the OP: run an Adventure Path (Shackled City, Age of Worms or Savage Tide) and lighten your load for a bit. Let some of the best designers in the business do that work for you and you concentrate instead on the fun of being a DM for a while.

    It will do you a world of good.
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  • #54
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    I had a similar experience to Steel Wind with the World's Largest Dungeon. The WLD is nowhere near as polished a product as the Adventure Path's, but, it does do the job. Being able to sit back and only prep stuff when you feel like it, rather than having to, is such a liberating experience.

    Most definitely the most fun I've ever had DMing.

    On the point about only using a Core Game. Another way to go is to only use the Core game for yourself. Let the players go nuts and use whatever splatbook fits with your game, but, when you prep, don't bother going through umpteen books looking for that perfect feat. It's just not worth it. Stick to the core feats/spells and mostly core monsters and you're pretty much golden. Change around the descriptions a bit and you go from a displacer beast to a tentacled monster from beyond space pretty quickly.
    The rules don't give the DM their authority. The consent of the players does. - Mallus

  • #55
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    Take some time off from DMing, use pregenerated stats and such, run printed modules, use a published setting, and stick with Core Rules material for a while (plus, possibly, at the very most, one non-Core book appropriate to the setting; such as the ECS for Eberron, or maybe both the FRCS and the PGtF for Forgotten Realms, or the Living Greyhawk Gazeteer).
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  • #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by scourger
    I also like D&D minis for the great RPG stat cards.
    QFMFT! I now pick monsters by looking at the figures and grabbing whatever strikes my fancy, then I grab its card. Rinse & repeat as necessary. Sooooo easy. When I'm running the combat I usually look over its MM entry to get the details of its abilities, then run it straight off the card. Sooooo easy.
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  • #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calico_Jack73
    That works if there is anyone else in the group who is interested in DM'ing. Often that is not the case.
    Then the affected GMs have more problems than burning out. Join another group.

    I can't imagine wanting to be in a group where I was the only one willing to get off my bum and run a game. Are there really groups where all but one of them is a leech?

    I was posting the story hour for my campaign for a while but got to the point where I was running the game 3 out of 4 Sundays, with 6 hours of tape to transcribe for each. Time came when I was 5 sessions behind and I chose to stop, rather than screw up my life.
    Hardly anyone read the damn thing anyway so no real loss.
    Last edited by robberbaron; Friday, 29th June, 2007 at 08:56 AM.
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  • #58
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    I wish I could help you, but when I was asking myself this same question the answer told me to find a dfferent system (for which I ended up going with True20). For what it's worth, I was afraid I'd lose some players because they ALWAYS play D&D (and nothing but), but to my astonishment they all went out and bought True20 books themselves!

    I guess if the players are friends and if the enjoy your DMing style they may surprise you and give other things a try!

    It only surprised me up until around 1977, ... I had thought we were going to have a considerable audience of gamers and science fiction and fantasy fans. I thought easily with those we'd have 50,000 or more [buyers], but when people began to write me [with questions] about what fantasy books to read, and I saw the wide range of both younger and older people who were attracted to the game, I understood that it was reaching a deeper chord, something deep within us. E. Gary Gygax (July 27, 1938 March 4, 2008)

  • #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith Form
    The thing that burns me out is unfamiliarity with spells or combat maneuvers while statting NPCs. I review the spells, casting times, duration, etc and re-familiarize myself with Cleave or Bull Rush or somesuch and it ends up taking a few hours of my life that, game-wise, eats up 30 seconds.
    I think the solution to that is (if you're writing adventures yourself) to reuse. For my Asian campaign I have various samurais: Sam-1 for guards, Sam-3 for young relatives of the samurai, Sam-5 for the lord, his eldest son, his commanders, Sam-7 for the sensei. They all take the same feats. Thus, I minimize on feat variety and make it up with more fluff.

    I usually try to minimize the number of spellcasters. If they get to cast spells, I plan for five rounds of combat max. Then I pick the spells I'd like them to have. I go the same route as for the samurai. There is a death cult, they are all Cle-5, and they all like to use Sanctuary and Summon Monster, and when summoning monsters, they all like to summon hell hounds. What varies is that the first of them had many undead to fight for him, the second had an unholy spear +1 on him, and the last one read a scroll of Planar Ally and made a deal with a bearded devil. Stat-wise, the clerics were all identical, and I only really had to know three spells for every fight.

    I'm constantly playing a balancing game to make sure they're not over- or under-whelmed. THAT is especially draining--I tend to use an adventure that's a level lower (3rd, currently) but I have to adjust up all the HP, ACs and equipment/treasure for each NPC. CHORE. I tried the eTools route to help but man, that program is utterly unreliable.
    I'd never do that. I'd just add or remove standard mooks. If the party is unfairly overwhelmed, reduce their morale and have the monsters flee earlier. If the party is unfairly underwhelmed, have reenforcements coming. Adjusting the number of standard monsters or mooks is much easier than fiddling with the stats.

  • #60
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    I have a job, a long commute, two kids under three and a weekly(ish) game to prep and DM.

    My tips:

    • Use a pre-written module - an Adventure Path is a great choice, as is 'Lost City of Barakus' from Necromancer/ TLG, which has a massive Dungeon Crawl, urban investigation, politicking and wilderness locations packed into one book, with enough hooks to keep players busy for months. I've added in two Urban adventures to my fledgling campaign and prep time has been minimal (changes to up the stats on one NPC and take account of a religion change for another down the line).
    • HeroForge is a great NPC statter, and you can print out either complete Character Sheets or a Statblock summary. You can download it here. Check out SpellForge for creating spellbooks and the MonsterForge, which makes adding Templates and Hit Dice to nasties a breeze (Fiendish Grey Render, advanced to maximum size, anyone?).
    • Pull free adventures off the internet - there's lots out there - and strip out the bits which can help. NPC's, maps, room descriptions - they're all fair game.
    • Use the SRD to rip out traps for your rogue to disarm. Dress them up a bit to make them less obvious, but keep the crunch there and don't try to change the mechanism.
    • Start again from L1. There's nothing like the look of fear on a player's face when he realises that he's down to 1hp and the raging orc barbarian he's up against has just rolled a natural 20...


    And if you can get away with doing some of this at work...
    Last edited by meomwt; Friday, 29th June, 2007 at 12:48 PM.
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