Warstories is the name I gave to a series of short articles meant to spark discussions and advice amongst DM’s. With the series, I hope to tackle common problems that crop up during the game, and see how other people deal with them at their table. If you have an idea for a future subject to tackle on Warstories, please send me an email.
For D&D players, life is fairly easy. You build your character and every now and again you have to select a few things, feats, powers or whatever, you add a weapon here or there and off you go. For the most part all you really have to do is show up and bring your A-game to the table, the truly hard work for your week’s enjoyment is done for you behind the scenes by guys like me… the DMs.
So DMs, it’s no surprise to any of us that what we do is hard work. It’s our job to craft the adventure, the encounters, the monsters, the maps, the monster minis, the npc’s, sometimes the food, many times we have to juggle real life with game life and inter party dynamics… whew, it’s a lot of work. And it doesn’t even stop at the table. Nope… we have to prep. Prep may be the most important and least thought about (by players) part of the job. But it has to be done. So if you are anything like me, you have responsibilities outside of D&D. Yes, my hard core gamer friends, these responsibilities do exist, so the trick is to find a balance that works best for you.
After pulling out a very nicely printed, (monsters keyed out btw), adventure battle map from Dungeon to scale, a player once asked me “Where do you find the time for this stuff? When do you see your kids?” The truth is that due to my personal situations involving work and family life, I really only have prep time late at night. So that’s when I do the majority of my prep. You see, my wife isn’t a gamer. My wife couldn’t give less of a crap about D&D. What my wife wants is for her husband to help her out with the kids and with dinner when he gets home from work. And well, me being the wonderful husband that I am, I do. If I were to tell her, “Nah, I need my prep time woman, you bathe the kids!”, she’d put me on the curb with the recycling bins.
And so it is, I am forced to prep late at night, blog late at night, play online late at night, and indulge in my hobby late at night on the weeks that I am not actually playing (which lately seem more often than not). Thankfully, 4e makes prep flow like a gentle breeze under a Hawaiian palm tree. Clumsy as it may be, the Monster Builder has nonetheless been a wonderful play aid for me, as has the Compendium and the other DDI stuff. Could it be more polished and run a little better? Sure, but why am I going to dwell on the negative? I’ll let others do that. I need to prep.
So the questions I pose here for discussion are the following: When do you prep? Do you have time restraints due to real life? Is your wife/husband a gamer, and does your prep time “count” as your play time? I look forward to your comments!