Love the Details

I once found my first Dungeonmaster in mid-prep for his next session. It was the first Game i'd ever played: Stormbringer - the Elirc Saga RPG.

David was the DM and when i found him he was bent over a lap-full of content material, a personal journal, and notes. He looked up at me and began to describe the world he was forging for the next session. There was a crypt, ruled by a Lych, which was the problem. Within the crypt there were chambers, tunnels, and so much to be discovered.

I remember only one detail. The mesmerizing description of a small demon. While both explaining the games rules, the settings themes, and the ideas he'd created on his own, David told me about a small room in the crypt. In the small room would be a whole pages description worth of interesting objects. Among them was a box. In the box was a hand, human, severed at the wrist, and engraved with chaos runes in it's flesh. The hand was possessed of a demon. All demons required a Fetish, and this hand would meet that requirement by finding something smaller than it, killing that creature, and soaking in it's blood.

Utterly pointless. Absolutely useless. Intimately connected to the setting, the precise color of the game, the rules, and the fiction intertwined. It was amazing. It sticks with me to this day.

Hearing about that demon hand in a box made me realize how much i'm blown away by the details of fiction. I'm very in love with the fractal infinity of dreaming.

There's a lot of dislike for pre-planned games these days. People consider Preparation a four letter word. To me that's a shame. I know it shouldn't be required for someone to come up with details like a demon in a hand in a box in a room that we might never ever enter. But the ephemeral nature of gaming, and the open-ended practice of letting the players determine the direction does not reduce the value of good prep. If anything, throwing out this practice only eliminates the possibility of ever finding that cool Hand. By making it so the GM never thinks it up in the first place.

To me the fact is simple: There is nothing of intellectual pursuit that can't get better if you spend time mulling it over. Prep is just thinking about something before you do it. You think before you speak, you consider before you put words on the page. Prepping for a game is only a benefit. Games that require it are harder, yes. And if your game requires prep and you don't do it the session might not happen, and that sucks, i get that. But that doesn't mean Prep should be eliminated or skirted. If anything, it should just be made fun.


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