Gaming Advice: My Gaming Ritual (and How it Helps Run our Sessions)

Do you have a gaming ritual? Have no fear, I’m not talking about some bizarre practise involving a Cthulhu plush and some understanding friends. Rather, I’m talking about things you do to make your game session fun and easy to prepare.

Ritual by Bradley K. McDevitt



Having a gaming ritual has been incredibly useful to me. Its something that has evolved over the last few years into a structure that helps our sessions run smoothly. It saves me time and helps with the smooth running of our games.

It’s important to note we play at Raging Swan’s Global HQ, so my ritual is somewhat different to someone who plays at someone else’s house or game store. That said, the basic principles can apply to virtually any game. Here’s my ritual. It’s got three distinct parts:

Before the Game

  1. Setup the Space: Getting ready for the game takes a bit of time. Furniture must be moved and set up. I also have to give the room a decent hoovering as we have a dog and one of the players is somewhat allergic to her hair.
  2. Make Sure I Have My Gaming Kit: I’ve previously talked about having a gaming kit, and even though I play at my house this still holds true. Making sure I have everything I (and the group) need to play is jolly important. Interrupting play to go look for a battle mat, figures or whatnot is less than ideal. Thus, I make sure all that kind of stuff is close to hand. (With my eldest starting to run his own game, you’d be surprised where I’ve found my books and other gaming supplies!)
  3. Check I’m Ready For the Session: It’s one thing to have my gaming kit ready, but it’s another to make sure I’m ready for the session. Not being ready for the session wastes both my friends’ time and precious chunks of the session.

Starting the Game

  1. Welcome: As with any other group of friends, participants straggle in over a half-hour period or so. As people turn up we get comfy, I provide drinks and people set up their stuff.
  2. Chat: As people turn up, we shoot the breeze for a while. Not only does this mean we can catch up with each other, it also means we aren’t doing this during the actual session. Good players pay attention and it’s hard to do that if other are discussing their last night out, a new computer game or whatever.
  3. Dues: We all pay monthly dues into a club fund. On the first session of the month, we pay dues. It’s quick and easy and takes under 5 minutes.
  4. Any Other Business: If an upcoming session is going to be canceled, moved or be otherwise atypical we take a few minutes to discuss the changes. This way everyone is on the same page. obviously, later everyone gets reminded of this but having the initial discussion face to face saves a tremendous amount of messing about via text message.
  5. Session Recap: We start the session with a quick recap of the previous game. Sometimes the GM does this, while other times one of the players runs through the events in the last session. We find this particularly useful if we’ve missed a session and it makes sure everyone knows what has previously happened and what we are trying to achieve.

After the Game

  1. Photograph Situation: If we are in the middle of a fight, I photograph the battle mat and initiative tracker. This helps the setup for the next session immeasurably.
  2. Reminders: If the next session is going to be odd in some way (different venue, time or whatever) we quickly reconfirm the details so everyone is up to speed.
  3. Tidy Up: It’s often surprising to me how much rubbish we create when gaming. Tidying up immediately after the game means it gets sorted quickly. If I don’t it hangs around for ages.
  4. Set Up Tasks: Before I call it a day, I quickly review the session and check to see if I need to do anything before the next session. This could be something as simple as levelling my character or as complicated as prepping the next module. Making a list while the game is fresh in my mind means I forget less.

Help Fellow Gamers

Do you do anything else to smooth your game preparations? Let us know what they are in the comments below and help your fellow gamers game better.

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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