Making Prep Doable

In this week’s episode, “Making Prep Doable” on the Roleplay Rescue podcast, I shared a list of the one-time and recurring behaviours that I have identified which help me to actually prep my sessions. I thought it might be useful to publish those lists on the blog for easy reference.

A quick aside: the behaviours that work for you will be things that you both want to do already and which you feel capable of doing. If you want help with figuring those out, read Tiny Habits. And, no, I am not getting a kick-back or royalty for mentioning Fogg’s book – this is a genuine recommendation.

One-Time Behaviours

Before starting a new campaign, do these one-time:

  • Choose the players
  • Organise a conversation with the players about the World for the game
  • Choose the system of rules for this particular game
  • Co-create characters with the players
  • Write an adventure skeleton
  • Find or draw and key a World Map

Recurring Behaviours

To help prep for the next session in an ongoing game:

  • Review the characters
  • Look at the current player’s goals for their characters
  • Create obstacles to the player’s goals
  • Create secrets for the players to discover
  • Provide three clues per secret
  • Link adventures to the character’s backstory
  • Plan adventures with a node-based structure
  • Decide which of the four key game structures are in play
  • Grab stats for NPC combatants
  • Grab maps for locations – although you’ll only need them when you deploy The Location Crawl game structure.

And, for my Mystamyr and other online games:

  • Grab digital battlemaps for combat scenes
  • Input necessary data, images, tokens, or whatever to the VTT
  • Build necessary encounters within the VTT – this usually involves putting tokens on maps and placing key objects, setting up lighting effects, and similar numerous fiddly tasks.

Making It Tiny

The key is to focus on the actual behaviours you want to develop for prep. Break it down. Break it down even smaller. My list is a basis but each individual behaviour breaks into smaller definable actions. This clarity helps to make you believe that you can do each tiny step in the larger tapestry of your prep.

I hope this helps you find a pathway to more consistent prep. I will keep you updated with my progress as I refine the process.

Game on!


  1. I know that GMing has always daunted me, but reading these lists of tasks for prep makes me appreciate even more just how much goes into prepping for a session.
    Knowing that each of those points breaks into smaller pieces might make them each more doable, but it does make the list far far longer.
    That’s all time n mental expenditure.
    So again for past, current and future games/sessions, thank you, to you and all GMs that have so much to do for us players.
    Genuinely, thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So… I’ve got a idea for a campaign… one just having a hard time setting it to paper (virtual or tree type). I’m using Night’s Black Agents, and depending on how the campaign goes it will either have a happy ending or I will transition to Shadow of the Demon Lord (using the Godless expansion) if they fail.

    That being said, I have a “vampyramid” created but need to some how document the connective tissue (pun intended) between those NPCs. The clues, the relationships from one tier to the next, the locations… and I believe this form of documentation works to establish the NPCs, but also inhibits documenting the meat (yes another pun) of the campaign.

    Do you have a method to tie a complex campaign together, with various paths to get there? Possibly make a podcast (or better yet a video) about it?I only ask because this has been infatuating me for weeks and I can’t get it down on paper.


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