Monday, March 12, 2012

Prep Time

One of the lessons WotC and other companies seem to have learned from 3E is that if the edition requiring alot of preparation before a game this is a bad thing. This apparently, is part of the reason why 4E turned out the way it did.

I can understand that 3E DMs soon grew tired of writing up huge stat blocks for their NPCs and determining skill selections for their Monsters. Some industry experts seem to think the recipe is to turn D&D into a "family game", ie basically a board game, since apparently kids today have no patience to sit down and spend hours to plan a game.

This is where I think that they are missing something. Sure it was boring to write up those huge stat blocks or do other game mechanical stuff if it takes forever. But DM Prep Time is not neccessarily such a bad thing. When you are a kid, it seems like you have all the time in the world. Spending hours dreaming up worlds and planning adventures that you can take your friends through Friday night can be almost as fun as playing the game itself. As a DM, this is when you really get to tap into your imagination.

Remember when D&D was marketed as "Products of your imagination"? This is D&D's strength. Market researchers trying to get game designers to focus on the "battle grid" and fast paced exciting combat only are missing a vital point. These are all areas that computer games do better than D&D. What D&D does better than any computer is to stimulate your imagination. I dont believe that kids today dont want that. Sure there are kids out there with no imagination, but those are the same kids who were calling D&D players geeks back in the 1980s. Those guys will always be boring. D&D should be for real gamers, not those guys who would rather play a video game alone than hang out with their friends.



  1. Anything that gets anyone to use their imagination is a Good Thing - at least that's what I imagine.

  2. I agree with you - I literally discussed how sad it was that kids growing up today that play D&D aren't encouraged to be creative, but rather to slap together something level appropriate and roll it out.

  3. Building characters as pre-play is another thing we frown on nowadays, but it's interesting to look at the AD&D goldenrod sheets and think about how much time you could happily invest in making up stuff like "next of kin". I think the difference is the way that the pre-play stuff interacts with the game. Drawing a floor plan of my character's manor doesn't seem to make me feel like the game should involve a fight in my manor house - in fact I'd rather it didn't, look at all the furniture that would get smashed - whereas when I spend an equivalent amount of time maximizing my character's combat options I will be pissed if there is not a lot of fighty fight. I feel like this expectation/entitlement is the problem first and foremost; maybe the way combat options are less creative than "next of kin" matters too.

  4. I think thought that there is a massive difference between the GM prep time in world creation, dungeon creation, plot, character, magic item, and spell creation as opposed to statting those things out. Having background, physical description, scenarios of what NPC x would do that takes an hour to finish? Good example of prep time. Wrangling between book to book to find the exact feat and skill special substitution ability? Not good.

    Of course that's all just my opinion mind you. 4e seems to have taken it both ways in that GM prep is reduced while players have enough options to stack them together and reach the closest moon.

    5th ed will be interesting to see in that regard.


Happy Gary Gygax Game Day 2023!

  Happy Gary Gygax Game Day 2023!