Welcome to Day Two! Today I read a bit from Kate Bullock’s excellent solo journal game, savior.
I was inspired by the #ReadtheDMG videos that went around last week. I wanted to do something similar to celebrate and encourage folx to read and play Indie RPGs. Once a day, all through April, I will record a short video reading a passage or two from RPGs by some of my favourite creators. If you’d like to join in the fun, please post your videos using the same hashtag so everyone can find you.
In the meantime, please enjoy my NSFW (language warning) video for #iHunt.
Heya, gang! I wrote a review of Olivia Hill’s and Filamena Young’s #iHunt: The RPG over at The Rat Hole, up today! Please check it out, and then immediately get a copy of the game your own self. Pro Tip: buy it on Itch, Olivia and Filamena get a bigger piece of each sale over there.
Then feel free to let me know what you thought of the game, in the comments here or at The Rat Hole, or hit me up on Twitter.
Yes, I realize that time is fluid, and that we arbitrarily section it up into manageable chunks in order to make sense of a chaotic universe. I’m actually okay with that, so I want to talk a bit about this past year, and look forward a bit into the next.
I have to admit, the last year was a thoroughly mixed bag for me. On the one hand, it was probably the hardest year for me physically, as I got hit with pneumonia, a bad patch of migraines, and a number of injuries which kept me sidelined. Add in a number of family issues, and all of the things I had planned to do on my personal projects fell by the wayside. Prairie Dragon Press didn’t put much of anything out (though I am proud of The Hedgicorn), and while the Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games added to its collection, I wasn’t able to get that active in the way I had planned. My total time spent gaming was also down, and that’s just bad news at any time.
But then, my freelance editing work really took off in 2019. I worked for a number talented of writers on DM’s Guild and DriveThruRPG, I wound up working on the Uncaged Anthology (I’ve talked about how amazing that is before, so I won’t go into it again), and there are roughly eight to ten TTRPG publications out there with my name tucked into the credits. More than that, I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and I have been fortunate to work with some excellent writers and a stellar Managing Editor/Publisher, Ashley Warren.
I was also busy for half of last year consuming content for the ENnies and working with the judges to come up with a pretty amazing list of nominees. While I do think the awards themselves need some work and changes going into the future, I’m proud of that work as well. There were literally hundreds of strong contenders last year, and out of that we nominated some truly innovative and excellent games. I stepped down because I think there needed someone other than an older white guy in the judges seat, and I am excited to see that coming true with the latest team of judges.
Yeah, a mixed bag. Not great, not awful, it was a bit of a slog but I made it through. Taking time to reflect on the past year and look ahead a bit, I realize that many of the issues which plagued me last year are not there anymore. My doctor and I seemed to have fixed the migraine issues, and apart from a bit of the flu earlier this winter I have generally felt good. Given the changes I have already put in place ( better eating, more activity) I expect to move forward into 2020 feeling better than I have in a while; stronger, higher energy, more physically competent. And if that’s true, I can hope that a lot more things will fall into place for me, because my health has always dictated everything else I choose to do. After all, if I feel like crap, I am less likely to want to sit in front of my computer and write, let alone go to cons or play games with folx.
So assuming my health stays on an upward curve, a few things I plan for 2020:
- at least four publications from Prairie Dragon Press next year. I have the text of an adventure complete, and I have outlined two other products. At worst I want to hit one project a quarter, but if I can get that to bi-monthly so much the better. This is as much about learning some publishing skills as it is getting some ideas I have had out into the world, so these will be mostly solo projects, not including art commissions and editing.
- continue working as a freelance editor. I have some work lined up in January, with some “maybe” work in February. Beyond that, I look forward to seeing what I get to work on next.
- attend more conventions. This shouldn’t be hard, as I attended *checks figures* one gaming con last year. It was fun, and I will be back again this year (to both, IntrigueCon runs a spring and fall con event), but I would like to travel to a convention as well. Big Bad Con is high on my list, and if I can get the funds together in time I’d also like to hit Breakout Con in Toronto in March.
- start putting up content for the Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games. I really want to start talking about some of the history of gaming, as well as look at a lot of the new stuff coming out on itch and IPR. I’m not certain if this will be blog posts, videos of some kind, or a mix of both. But I want to get those conversations going with folx.
- play more streamed actual plays. While I squeaked in under the wire and kept my annual average at one streamed game (thanks to Scratticus Academy), I would like to get that up to the dizzying heights of two or even three games over the coming year. Maybe even GM a game on stream for the first time, though I don’t want to push my luck.
That’s a bit of looking forward to the next year. I think it’s all achievable, and I have started working on the specific details to get to each goal. After all, intent is not a plan. So expect a post in the next little while getting into more details about one or more of these goals.
For now, I want to say thank-you. Thank-you for reading my content here or over at The Rat Hole, and for chatting with me on Twitter. Thank-you for the comments and feedback, it has helped me at every turn. Thanks to those of you who picked up a copy of The Hedgicorn, validating my desire to publish and donating some funds to Extra Life. Thank-you to everyone who hired me to edit their work this year, it was a privilege.
Most of all, thank -you to everyone who works every day to make out hobby and industry more inclusive, and a less-friendly environment for gatekeepers and predators. More than anything, I would love to see 2020 be the year we finally fix the broken stairs instead of walking around them. Thank-you to everyone working to make that happen.
As we pass from one arbitrary year number to the next, I wish you all the best. May your dice always roll interesting.
It was just before Gen Con, and I had had a good run. I had gone months without thinking about anything related to Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Zak Smith. I realize that is a luxury and a privilege that some don’t have. But any obligation I had to think about LotFP was in the rear-view mirror, and I was happy to let it stay there as long as possible.
A bit of background. In February of this year four women came forward with credible allegations of abusive behaviour against Zak Smith, a loud and undeniable exclamation point to what many in the TTRPG industry had been saying about Zak for years. This caused several companies to finally cut ties with the abusive Zak Smith, among them Lamentations. What made the LotFP split different from others at the time was the “more in sorrow than in anger” attitude of Jim Raggi, head of LotFP and himself a controversial figure. While the industry was finally responding to a situation it should have dealt with years ago, Raggi had a slightly different opinion:
“You all need to keep your eyes out for these snakes slithering among us, feigning compassion when they once spat only cruelty, loving what this has done to us, ready to take advantage of the situation for themselves and further erode what we’ve all collectively built as a creative community.*
Don’t let them.
And one last thing. I’d like to thank Zak for all the work and support over the years. I am absolutely crushed that we cannot continue to collaborate.”
Despite this attitude Raggi seemed to be true to his word. The abuser Zak Smith was no longer profiting from LotFP publications, and would not be involved in any future work by the company.
Fast forward to Gen Con, and the tweet by Daniel Kwan, and the first sign I’d had in a while that Raggi and Lamentations were not going to let the situation go without one final heel-kicking, snot-blowing tantrum. Welcome to Zak Has Nothing To Do With This Book, or as I’ll be referring to it for the rest of this article, 3W (for “waah! waah! waah!” which is all I could hear as I read it).
3W was written, obviously, with the sole purpose of giving the middle finger to the people Raggi thinks of as, “…snakes slithering among us…”. In addition to the title, there are several other subtle clues sprinkled throughout that show this is the case: the back matter which is simply the statement “He really doesn’t.”, the copyright notice attributed to “Not Zak” (with a cover-my-ass alternate copyright notice on the Credits page for Raggi), and the Credits section, which are all variations on it not being Zak. Except of course where Raggi credits Inspiration for the book directly to Zak: “Fuck…it is Zak after all, isn’t it?”
For more subtle clues you have simply to flip to the back of 3W. The last three-and-a-half pages of text, entitled “A Word From The Publisher” layout Raggi’s opinions on Zak, the situation surrounding his ejection from the TTRPG industry, and how he (Raggi) intends to move forward. If Raggi seemed awfully quiet and subdued about the situation after his official announcement back in February, he wasn’t any longer. Like a sloppy drunk who seems to be holding his liquor until suddenly he isn’t, Raggi spewed his opinions all over the page. And after months of careful reflection and thought…they were very much in line with his announcement in February, just a bit more explain-y.
He makes two statements in the first several paragraphs about what he believes the role of a publisher should and should not be. Remember these, I’ll come back to them later:
“A publisher’s job (or any sort of employer, really) should never be to police the personal or legal life of its creators or contractors beyond what is directly involved in the creation and production of its publications. A publisher that acts as a moral guardian or enforcer is laughable and ridiculous…
Nevermind that it is a publisher’s job, one of their most important duties, to protect their talent and their work from attack, even if it is offensive to their personal sensibilities. I completely abandoned my most important responsibility out of self-preservation. It was cowardice of the worst and most unforgivable kind.”
If the end of that quote is confusing, it’s in response to the previous paragraph. One of the first things Raggi wants us to know is that he only cut professional ties with Zak because he is a Responsible Business Man:
“[…] and the demands to get in line, right the hell now, or else were there. I had just a few months before taken on my first actual employees, one full-time, and the same week the allegations went public I’d been approved for the last of a series of large loans intended to be used to expand the company, I was responsible for other peoples’ lives and I was leveraged to hell and back. I was in no position to make my own decisions, let alone put up any sort of fight over it. So, I had to announce that I would no longer work with Zak.”
He then goes on to laud Zak and credit him with the early success of LotFP (which if true is one of the lesser crimes Zak will have to answer for), and for allowing Raggi himself to be a Real Boy:
“For the first time ever in my forty years of life, I was both earning my own way and not sweating about next month’s bills. He did that for me.”
I’m assuming the sentence, “And all I had to do was ignore Zak’s deplorable personality and how he treated the folks around him like shit.” was cut from that for concision. He does take an entire paragraph to compare Zak to his ex-wife, though. I’ll leave you to make of that what you will.
Then there are several paragraphs that can summed up with “Jim has a sad”, as he rails against all the horrible folks in the industry who want to ruin everything by *check notes* holding abusers accountable for their actions and removing them so the industry can flourish. Because remember, in Raggi’s own words, publishers are not responsible for employing abusive shitbags, but are responsible for protecting them. Why, what sort of industry would we have if publishers actually took a stand against abusive behaviour among their employees? Speaking for myself, and you’re welcome to agree with me or not, one without any Zak Smiths in it for a start.
And likely not any Jim Raggis either. Because in one of the most puzzling defensive maneuvers I have ever read, similar to an animal that defends from predators by punching itself in the face, Raggi tells us about the not one, but two women who are accusing him of assault and sexual abuse. You see, Dear Reader, Raggi has also felt the cruel sting of people holding him accountable for his shitty behaviour, so how could he not sympathize with Brother Zak? Let he who has not beaten, or stalked, or sexually assaulted a woman cast the first stone!
Raggi goes on to admonish us for several paragraphs about our failure to separate the creation from the creator, like life is one big centrifuge and we can spin the garbage away to keep Creation pure. Setting aside for a moment that what he’s talking about is, well, LotFP material, and the purity of that creation is questionable on a good day, there is no way to separate the two completely. Whatever form the art takes, whether books, paintings, films, and yes, TTRPG materials, creator and creation are linked. There is no process which separates them. I have heard too many artists talk about “giving birth” to their creation, that it’s a part of them made real, to let anyone slip around the side door and try to argue the opposite point. Frankly, it’s a horseshit opinion and it’s what got us here. I’d also like to note, it’s an opinion which only comes out when the artist is a ratbag; no one ever tries to separate the art from the decent, kind artists.
Because even a stopped clock is right twice a day (“What’s a clock, Grandpa Brent?” “Shut up, kid.”) I will share one quote from the screed which I think is important. Raggi rightfully brings up an important point about Zak’s work, both for LotFP and others:
“And I will say again, you lavished all of those books with great sales and tons of votes for awards.”
And he’s not wrong. To what should be the TTRPG community’s shame, Maze of the Blue Medusa won ENnie awards. And I spread that blame between the ENnies judges that year, and the community. The judges nominated the work (with the same attitude of splitting the creator/creation atom as Raggi, apparently), but the community voted for it. This, despite everyone knowing what the abuser Zak Smith was and is.
Don’t think I hold myself apart from this inditement. I may not have been aware of exactly what was going on. I was not hugely involved with social media beyond Facebook, and I was certainly not by any description an industry insider, but I knew there were issues. I have never purchased anything from LotFP, but I certainly grabbed the “edgy” Free RPG Day offerings they put out prior to this year, because “edgy”. So I’m not guilt free in any of this. Both I, and the community, still have work to do.
Back to the book. Raggi begins to wind down his tantrum with a couple of bold declarations:
“[…]and the house must be rebuilt.
And it will be rebuilt in accordance to my wishes, and mine alone. Anyone that thinks they have a say in this is very badly mistaken. The ‘community’ will have no say in the matter, because the ‘community’ is poisonous. You’ll take what you’re given, or you’ll go away.
With this book I reclaim my power and deny the policers, the censors, the puritans, the kindly inquisitors, all those that seek [to] define for other people what is ‘proper’, and those who endeavor to enforce their moral will upon the dreams and imaginations of others and dictate what other people may and may not create, purchase, or read.”
Wow, okay. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one slim volume with an initial printing of 500 copies, but dream big I guess?
So this section is the middlest finger of all, in a screed built on middle fingers. It is Raggi’s Hill He Will Die Upon™. I have to admit, the first thing that caught my eye, after the “Glorious Leader” tone of this section, was the reference to the community as being poisonous. I’m pretty sure he meant it was venomous, since that would be the condition most dangerous to him. A poisonous community could only be of concern to him if her were trying to consume the community in question, which is a bit telling. Since being poisonous seems to work pretty well in the animal world for dissuading predators, I for one hope our community gets more poisonous, not less.
Though not quoted, he says at one point that, as consumers, we have the choice to consume what is given to us, or make our own thing if we are dissatisfied. This is a pretty common point made by many who argue against “forced” inclusivity in gaming, to counter critique of a given work’s lack of same. And it’s no less a horseshit point because he took three pages to make it. Yes, of course consumers have a choice. It’s just funny (in the same way that clowns are funny) that for people like Raggi, that those choices are only ever right if it includes their work. Because as soon as it doesn’t, as soon as we choose not to support the work of writers, artists, and publishers who create a venomous community environment, we’re suddenly the Bad Guys.
It should be apparent by now that I am not a Lamentations of the Flame Princess fan. I wish I could remember who said it, because I want to properly credit them for this masterfully concise scalpel of a review of LotFP’s work, but someone summed them up thusly: “…it’s like a thirteen year old writing to impress an eight year old…” If you said this, or can point me to where it is written, get in touch because I want to properly credit you and buy you a beverage of your choice. But that’s why there is no discussion of the adventure which makes up the bulk of this book. It’s frankly not very good, and suffers at the hands of a publisher who thinks he don’t need no damn editor! I was going to make a big deal earlier about how the “Not Zak” contrivance in the credits deprived someone of due credit for their work. But in this case I think it’s for the best. Assuming it wasn’t Ol’ Raggi his ownself, better to keep this credit off the CV, and do better next time.
I can only hope that we have seen the end, in any effectual way, of Lamentations. If, as Raggi himself has said, Zak was the key to his success, I get the feeling that even Raggi knows his days of relevance are numbered, and largely with negative integers at that. I’m sure we’ll hear little noises and alarums for a bit yet. Like a child loudly declaiming dirty words so the adults will pay attention to him, expect to see some execrable offerings in the next while. With any luck those will trickle off and we can enjoy our poisonous community once again.
Calling out this sort of thing is one thing, and should be done. But pointing out a problem without offering up some actions to go with it feels a bit hollow. So going forward, no more coverage for LotFP from me. I don’t think I have ever written a formal review of anything they’ve done, so that will be easy enough to manage. As well, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the names associated with LotFP, and doing some necessary digging before I support anything else they work on. I get that freelancers often take the work where they can get it. And I also understand that a person could accept work with Raggi’s company and not realize at first who they were dealing with. But if a particular person has repeatedly gone back to that well, they know who they are working with and have decided they don’t care about the harm.
The fact is, there are more than enough creative folks in the TTRPG industry and hobby who are not abusive sexual predators, there is no excuse not to call them out when you see them. Our hobby will be fine without them. And I suspect that once we do purge them, finally, the hobby will get even stronger.
Update: For another perspective, check out this post over at Papers Falling from an Attic Window, who was kind enough to mention this article.
The annual nerd festival I run is over for another year, and a number of other impediments have fallen by the wayside. So this is me getting back in the saddle. Sorry for the long silence, but expect to see more from me more often.
I haven’t been entirely idle, of course. I wrote some things over at The Rat Hole, and you can catch up there. I’ve been jumping in on the monthly RPG Blog Carnivals, which has been excellent fun. Not only are the subjects interesting, but it has helped connect The Rat Hole with other TTRPG bloggers. And I highly recommend checking it out if you just want a curated list of good bloggers writing about good topics.
In addition, work has proceeded on the Uncaged Anthology, and Volume Two drops on Tuesday, July 2! Of all the projects I have recently worked on I think Uncaged Anthology is the one of which I’m most proud. I am forever grateful that Ashley Warren allowed me on board as one of the editors, and I look forward to the adventurers I’ll get to work on for Volumes Three and Four. And if you haven’t picked up Volume One yet, I recommend getting on that.
I’m also excited to take part in Ashley Warren’s RPG Writer Workshop this July. I’ve needed to get some focus on my own creative efforts, and I’m hoping this workshop will help me get a handle on better managing my adventure writing. The people and resources involved are impressive, and I look forward to coming out the other side of July with a publishable D&D adventure.
Editing proceeds apace, of course. My June was full, but I have time in my schedule July onward. So if you or someone you know is looking for an editor for an upcoming project, check out my page and get in touch. I’d love to talk to you about your project.
And one scant month from now I will be at Gen Con! I’m running a few games of Crossroads Carnival in the Magpie Games room (which have already sold out, so thank-you to my players!), and I will be at the ENnies Award Banquet on Friday night. Otherwise, I’m there to take in excellent panels and play some games. I’ve scheduled a few things each day, but I also have a mitt full of Generic Tickets so I can try to jump in on games or panels that catch my eye. If you’re running something, or have a panel, drop it in the comments so I can check it out. I can recommend the Uncaged Anthology panel if you want some behind-the-scenes info on how an anthology comes together. It’s also a great opportunity to get your copy of Volume One signed, if that sort of thing appeals to you.
And that’s my summer! Expect me to post more regularly here over the next couple of months, as I keep you up to date on my writing, editing, and playing. It’s looking like a good summer for TTRPGs, and I can’t wait!
I was just going to add this to my previous post regarding Uncaged Volume One, but there was just too much!
The hardcover version is now available through Drivethru’s print-on-demand. And there is a special bundle price if you want the PDF and print copies together. Which is what I did; the PDF is easier to use at the table, and the print copy is easier for me to pick up and read through. Plus it’s way easier to get the print copy signed at cons. Sharpie is just so hard on my laptop’s screen.
Also, a huge thank-you to everyone who purchased a copy so far. Thanks to you, Uncaged Volume One is currently a Platinum Best-seller on DM’s Guild, and steadily working its way to Mithril. That’s all down to the support you have shown this amazing project. If you have purchased Uncaged, please also leave a review on the product page, as active reviews help keep it in everyone’s eye. It’s not a surprise to me, having read through it, that Uncaged is enjoying an average of five stars.
If you have a moment, stop by and tell Ashley Warren how much you appreciate the work she has done in pulling these anthologies together. And if you are so inclined to thank her in a more tangible manner, you can check out her website for other things she has worked on, and purchase whatever strikes your fancy.
As well, Uncaged is partnering with Non-Toxic Gaming to host a charity stream benefiting RAINN. The community around the Uncaged Anthologies is so wonderful, it’s probably one of the best parts of being part of this project, to be honest. Details at the link, but keep your day free and your wallet full for that.
What else? Uncaged Volume Two is on track for its April release, so get ready for more adventure goodness. And if you’re going to Gen Con, keep your eye out for an Uncaged panel on the schedule; no details yet but it will be a good time and I plan to be in the front row with all the enthusiasm of a winning sports team’s biggest fan! I’ll leave the airhorn at home, however.
Bit late to the party, I’ll admit, but welcome to 2019 everyone! This past year was…interesting. Definitely low points, some personal, some societal. On both fronts, though, 2019 seems to offer hope, so I choose to focus on that.
You’ll start to notice some small changes around the site in the coming weeks and months. I’m committing myself to a three post a week schedule, which will shake out to be a post over at The Rat Hole on Mondays, with two posts here either W/F or Th/Sa. I’m a happier Renaissance Gamer when I’m writing, so I’ve made time for myself to do that every day.
Two new projects are starting this year as well. I have promised myself that 2019 is the year I publish something for TTRPGs, hopefully several somethings. I have a short side-trek adventure ready for other eyes and playtest, that I hope to publish to DriveThruRPG or DM’s Guild in February. I’ll talk that up more when it’s ready, but as a teaser, check out the snazzy logo for my imprint, Prairie Dragon Press. It’s one of two logos by my pal and local designer Mike Kendrick (@ironcladfolly on the Twitters), and if you haven’t seen his work before I highly recommend it. He also did some poster art for the Pure Speculation Festival, and he is super talented and a joy to work with.
The second logo is for something I soft-launched last year, and am ready to push further this year. The Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games is going to be a bit more public this year. While I will continue to build up from my rather small collection of books, art, and memorabilia, I also want to start on the library’s other purpose, outreach and education. To start that will mean working with local cons and such to set-up displays and demonstrations. But eventually I’d like to expand that to the rest of the province and Western Canada. I’m also building out the Library’s website, including a database of what’s in our collection. So look for more of that in the coming months as well.
And while I’ve threatened to do it for years, I think this year is when I’ll also start podcasting. Between the new publishing imprint and the Library I’ll certainly have enough to talk about. In fact, the podcast will likely be focused on the Library, with occasional updates on other things. There are all sorts of folks I’d like to interview and chat with regarding TTRPG history, specifically Canadian industry history, and I hope that will be of interest to to other gaming nerds.
That’s all the updates I have right now. Monday will have a link to the Rat Hole article when it’s up, and regular service begins this coming week. Welcome to 2019, everyone! May the dice be ever in your favour!
Before we get to today’s post, a little Extra Life update and reminder. I am currently just over a third of the way to my $1000 goal, which is excellent! Thank-you to everyone who has donated or spread the word, your support is going mean the world to sick kids at the Stollery. If you’ve been waiting, now is your chance. I posted in September about my Extra Life plans, and you can check out that post for details and how you can donate and get involved. Now, on with the post!
I know there are Game Masters out there that don’t do a lot of prep between sessions. I respect GMs that can work completely on the fly, because I am not one of them. While I have gotten better at improv over the years, I still need to do a minimum amount of prep in order to feel confident going into a session.
The very first thing I do is go over my session notes from the previous session. I’m looking for anything I said I’d have done by next session (XP totals, treasure lists, and so on). I’m also looking for any NPCs I might have to prep, and any indications of where my players are going next. Sometimes that’s straightforward; they’re still in the dungeon, so they’ll stay in the dungeon. Sometimes they have a bunch of options, though, and hopefully I noted which one they were leaning towards at the previous session.
Once I’ve gone over my notes I start putting together the things I might need for the session: NPC stats, location info, results for Knowledge checks. I read over the next portions of the adventure a few times to get familiar with them, assuming I’m using a pre-written adventure. If not, I review my adventure notes, and fill in any blanks I might need for the next session. I also assemble the physical items I’ll need for the next several encounters, like miniatures, maps, and player handouts. I like to have those things ready to go so I don’t waste playing time fumbling or searching for them. This also helps maintain the illusion of always knowing where the players are going.
I usually prepare one more encounter than I think I’ll need, and often two. Sometimes the players go in a direction you weren’t expecting and it’s great to be prepared for that. And sometimes the players breeze through an encounter you thought was going to take longer or be tougher. Either way, it’s good to be ready with the next, or alternate, encounter so they aren’t waiting for you to catch up. This is where I often dig into my collection of free encounters/adventures from DriveThruRPG or elsewhere, so I have something quick and low-prep.
About an hour or so before the session starts I prepare the playing space. I anoint the four sacred corners with the sacrificial blood…just kidding. A little Old Gamer “D&D is satanism” humour. But I do tidy up the play area, removing any distractions. I set up my end of the table with all my GMing tools close to hand. I set out the players’ minis, the map sheet we’re using, and character sheets if I held on to them. And I set out the snack bowls so we don’t have to waste time hunting for those later in the game.
One thing that I started doing fairly recently, I pre-roll about 15-20 times on a d20 (assuming we’re playing Pathfinder or D&D; I pre-roll for other games as appropriate) and note the results. This speeds up things like NPC/monster saving throws, skill checks, and surprise attack rolls a great deal. I use the same numbers for player checks when I need the check to be secret; for instance, an elven character’s Perception check for a secret door. This is useful, because sometimes you don’t want to give the game away by rolling a d20. Some players can’t help harmful meta-gaming, and pre-rolling avoids that issue.
On my laptop, I open up the PDFs of all the resources I’ll need during the session, and bookmark the pages I’ll need for reference. As part of my NPC prep I’ll have noted any spells and abilities that were not familiar to me, and I’ll have those pages open as reference. If for some reason I’m not using my laptop (rare, but it happens), I use sticky notes to tab all the pages I’ll need as reference. Either way, I want to cut down on the amount of fumbling through books I have to do during play. Not only does it cut down on wasted time, but you come across as a more confident and in-control GM.
Once that’s all done, I’m ready to play! I sit back, sip my coffee, and wait for the players to arrive.
What’s your prep routine like? How much time do you put into your session prep? Talk to me in the comments.