In Need Of Process

As the world’s most flaky GM, I have a reputation for starting games and bailing out on them. This is partly a feature of my neurology but mostly due to my total lack of process. As a GM, you need to develop a methodology not only for the table, but also for preparation.

The best way to become consistent with any behaviour is to develop habits that support it. What most people don’t tell you is that habits form as part of the larger context of your life. Your life, of course, is probably built around processes. Routines are strongest when they are part of wider process-driven sequences of action.

As an example, I have a process at work for creating and delivering lessons to students. It has been developed over time and honed to fit the specific context in which I work. As I change roles and schools, so I have also had to alter my process so that it meets the needs of the new context.

With gaming, I am very ad hoc. I used to laud this as my ability to improvise. Then I used to feel proud about how many one-shots and short-play games I could run. Look at me, I would think, and see how many different RPGs I have run and tried out. But all the time, I couldn’t get the average game past six sessions. My record in the last 20 years is 25 sessions and even that owed itself to me developing some kind of (flawed) process.

The issue is that my processes are not robust enough for my needs.

I need to be able to prep my games roughly bi-weekly in a much higher level of fidelity than I used to get away with at the table. For example, I need to design and develop NPCs who have deeper personalities and motivations. It’s no longer enough to grab a stock stereotype, grab a random name, and wing it. When you want the kind of deeply Otherworld-immersive game that I seek to offer, you’ve got to work out the details.

This prep also has to fit into my extremely busy schedule as a teacher which leaves me mentally exhausted each day. Thus, the process needs to incorporate Tiny Prep practices which allow me to build small things daily. To support small prep goals, I need templates and tools which make it really quick and easy to begin. I have some of these tools, but the whole thing needs better coordination and organisation.

Which brings us to organising the whole thing. In the end, I need to find stuff quickly and be able to get stuck in before my brain cries, “This is too hard!” and shuts me down. Ironically, I need to invest some time in prepping my prep process. Then I need to practice the habit change I want to make. I am so incredibly grateful to the advice of BJ Fogg about managing behaviour change, especially for the idea of Tiny Habits, because now I know how to get this right.

This is a new beginning for me. The flaky GM is going to leverage the science of behaviour change to allow the possibility to create the thing I have wanted for all of my adult gaming life: a consistent, regular RPG campaign built around a deeply-immersive Otherworld.

Game on!

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