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As a GM, how do you manage your time?

It's hard to quantify because a lot of my gaming is play-by-post. For my IRL games, I try to do about an hour's worth of prep (maybe more if I feel like doing a cool map) for each session's worth of gaming. A lot of that is helped because I don't tend to flesh out my ideas a whole hell of a lot, since I rely on ad-libbing in response to what my players do. For example, I ran a short campaign of steampunk Genesys that I hardly prepped for at all since my players seemed to go off in any direction other than what I'd considered.

For PbP, I tend to go with the flow a lot rather than extensive prep. My notes tend to be pretty simple so I can flesh them out more fully as I write my GM posts.

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I also play by forum here and elsewhere. I rarely plan more than one scene ahead. In my supers game, there's a fight going on in the basement of a bookstore that use to be a speakeasy. There's an unconscious body on the floor and the door to another room is ajar. A fight starts as some apparitions float in through the opposite wall. I still haven't decided who is unconscious on the floor. Nor do I know what is in the next room. Don't need to. By the time it matters, I'll have a day to figure it out between posts.


David Jose
When I was running D&D, the big time saver for me was in coming up with tools and procedures that made my book prep work easier so that I could spend more being an artiste, making maps and props and toys, and making everything look pretty.

Lots of time writing excel macros that tore apart the character maker files and monster stat blocks so that I could click a single button for information instead of having to flip through pages in a book on game night.

For the most part I luck out. Professionally my work is very "on again, off again" so that when I have time to run a game, I have the whole week to putz around and get things ready for that one night if I need it.

Now however, I run games that are practically 0 prep, and the only time I have to spend is leisure work. Watching other people's Youtube videos and reading up on their games for things that I can use/steal as inspiration later on.


I tend to spend a lot of time each week as well. I try to stay a few encounters ahead of the PCs and every couple months the other campaign comes around for a week of play. The main group is fine and I can make a map one night for a tomb or lair of some sort and plan the first couple encounters. I may put the stat blocks in for a few more encounters, but write the details and text later. I mostly finish the modules to post on DMsGuild, so it does take longer to make the maps and fill in descriptive text to clean up the adventure before posting. The odd campaign takes longer most weeks since I make the adventure to play in the one night and be done since we won't play for another month or two.

My GMing style is a lot of improv. Most of my prep is in preparation to improv. The Prep notes that I keep behind the screen are really just lists of names, places, one sentence plot hooks, etc.

The campaigns I run begin as simple ideas. My current Mutants and Masterminds campaign started as the idea of a factional high magic fantasy setting. I filled out a couple factions. Then when my players made characters during session we determined what their roles would be in the setting. The players themselves decided where they fit in the world and what the premise of their campaign would be. I just provided the background setting, then I soft suggested some ideas to incorporate their ideas for their faction into the setting at large. Otherwise since then it's been mostly player lead. I introduce complications, they overcome them, the pursue new ideas, I introduce new complications, they overcome them, and on and on.

At the end of the sessions I just ask, "Where do you envision going next?" or "What do you plan on doing next time?" so I know what to prep. Whether it's an encounter or two, or a map for a new city, or whatever. Keeps my prep time down because I prep what they ask for, throw in my own complications into the mix while doing so, and we have tons of fun as the story unfolds for all of us.

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