For my Shattered Star campaign, I’ve just spent a rather frustrating couple of hours preparing the next module.
Obviously as a GM, I spend longer than the players getting ready for each session. That’s fine and cool—it’s part of the GM’s bag. What I hate is unnecessary preparation. Or to put it another way, I hate wasting my time preparing things that should already be in the module.
Providing player maps with a module—particularly one with above ground or urban elements—is a great game aid. It makes things so much easier and it helps the players visualise the area. (Particularly, if like me, the GM has terrible drawing skills.)
The early parts of the adventure I’ve been preparing take place above ground. The module has a marvellous GM’s map and the web enhancement has a handy player’s version. In theory, I can hand out the player’s map so they can easily see they lay of the land.
However, while the player’s version of the map has had most of the GM features and all the tags removed a few remain—and they depict features the players really wouldn’t know about before the game begins. This means I had to correct the map using my excellent graphics manipulation skills. (On the plus side, it means I had a good excuse to learn some graphics manipulation skills).
In modules, I hate with the fiery power of a thousand blazing suns, this kind of phrase:
- Monster: hp XX (see Pathfinder RPG Bestiary)
I’m a GM that likes to be prepared. I’m also a GM who doesn’t have infinite space behind his GM’s screen (which I love and wouldn’t be without).
So when I’m running a combat, I don’t want to have to be flicking backwards and forwards through one or more books. That way, confusion, disaster and (inevitably) mistakes and frustration lie. (It’s also not an ideal medium to record hit point loss, conditions and mark off expended spells, magic items or spell-like abilities). And it increases the amount of material I’ve got to drag to the game.
So, for every combat encounter I have to print out the relevant stat blocks. For the first section of the module I’m preparing I need to print out in the region of 20 stat blocks. That’s time consuming (and also sucks up a fair amount of ink and paper when printing direct from the various Bestiarys).
- Pro Tip: Print out your module single sided. This gives you loads of space on the facing page of an encounter to make notes. I also cut out and stick all revenant stat blocks to the page so they are right there when and where I need them.
I understand why the designers have to do it this way (the twin tyrannies of page count and print cost rear their ugly head), but I’d rather pay more for a physically bigger module which includes all the stat blocks I need and save my (jolly precious) time.
What Do You Hate?
So those are my two most hated elements of module preparation. What makes your blood boil when preparing a module? Let me know in the comments below.