Gary Gygax's GM Prep Checklist
|Gary Gygax photo by Thomas Hand Keefe|
Over the course of the last few week's I've been reading Gary Gygax's Role-Playing Mastery in my Let's Read series. The book has been a hodgepodge of interesting ideas and advice mixed with some really harsh criticisms.
One of the more interesting bits of advice for Game Masters came in Chapter 3: the Master GM when Gary outlined the process for preparing a campaign prior to actual play. Now he did this in the form of a narrative exposition of the Game Master's process but I liked it enough that I'm going to outline the process in a checklist format so that I can use it in my own preparations.
You're all welcome to use it if you'd like to do so too.
Gary Gygax's Game Master
1.) Determine the genre for play
2.) Establish the setting for the game (for example, turn of the century San Antonio).
3.) Create the main goal of the quest
3a.) Establish a reasonable circumstance for the quest
3b.) Determine the motivation of the antagonists in the quest
3c.) Develop the motivations of possible allies in the quest
4.) Draw a ficticous map for the location with special buildings, important places and non-player characters, secret locations, hidden exits, and the like noted on the map.
5.) Create several sub-plots that can be featured in your scenario.
6.) Consider the competing factions that might be involved in the scenario and flesh them out.
7.) Provide a series of false leads to be given to your players.
8.) Create a mastermind behind the antagonistic elements in the scenario.
8a.) Ensure that he is as intelligent, if not more so, than the players' characters
8b.) Make this master villain aware of the players' actions and responsive to them.
9.) Have the mastermind actively plot against the players' characters.
10.) Establish all of the mastermind's ancellary factors
10a.) Where is his headquarters?
10b.) Does he have additional strongholds? Where are they located?
10c.) Who are his lieutenants?
10d.) How many people work for him?
10e.) What is his ultimate plan?
10f.) What are his individual goals and objectives involved in that plan?
11.) What other locations are your players' characters likely to visit in the immediate future?
11a.) How long does it take to travel there?
11b.) What is the cost of traveling there?
11c.) Re-answer questions 4, 5, 6, and 7 for each of the new locations.
12.) Now consider all the variables you haven't accounted for yet and attempt to bring them to account.
The list is pretty comprehensive for what you should be able to account for as a Dungeon Master. I've yet to actually accomplish all of those goals prior to my first play session, but I'm thinking that I'm going to attempt to do so with the new campaign I'm going to be launching after the first of the year.
I have a feeling that I'm always going to just wing number 12 though.