I’m a big fan of working smart not hard, I’m also a big fan of being prepared. I am a prepper GM!
I’ve talked before about the kind of normal stuff I keep behind my beloved GM screen and in my gaming kit. Along with these gaming basics, I also have several other things ready to go at a moment’s notice. To save space, some or all of these things–depending on the situation–might actually be lurking on my iPad. Irrespective of whether they are in electronic or physical format, they’ve saved my bacon more than once!
It should come as no surprise I love dressing tables. I love how the small details can bring a dungeon (or whatever) alive. Dungeon dressing helps with the players’ suspension of disbelief and can help build mood and verisimilitude.
Part of the reason I started writing the 20 Articles (available for free on Raging Swan’s Free Resources page) was to inject more flavour to the adventure I was running at the time (Shards of Sin, part one of the Shattered Star adventure path). I tailored the tables to the events and locales the party were encountering–I don’t think they realized I was adding to the adventure.
In any event, I always like to have a table or two behind my screen. (And, if you want to know what might be coming up in my campaign, just check out the kind of articles we release!)
Sometimes, the PCs go “off piste”. When this happens, to give me time to think I often throw a prepared random encounter at them. This gives me time to think and can even help me “run out the clock” so I can spend the time between sessions preparing the areas they are moving into.
Pathfinder’s mechanics are so complex that doing this of the cuff with anything but boring, bog standard monsters can be tricky. Having a stock of prepared encounters lets me run an exciting, flavourful combat. Hopefully, if I do it right, the players never realise I’m just playing for time.
In much the same vein as the old Dungeon Masters Adventure Log, I like to have notes about the PCs behind the screen so I don’t keep having to ask questions like, “What’s you Perception modifier?” Having these notes, helps me run the session quickly and more efficiently.
What Do You Have Behind Your Screen?
So that’s just a few of the things I keep behind the screen to make my GMing life easier. What do you keep behind yours? Let me know, in the comments below.