Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Hate Prep

I hate to admit I'm lazy, though there's ample evidence that such is the case. Certainly there are times that I can get up the energy to work hard for long stretches (or work very hard for short stretches), but sustained, disciplined effort without noticeable results or pay-off is not really my thing. It's why I've never been able to maintain a workout-at-the-gym exercise program, or why I will probably never right anything approaching vaguely resembling a novel (i.e. a long continuous work of fiction). There's a certain stamina that is required for these activities...even for efforts that might not be judged a "success;" see the failed novelist archetype, for example.

Could I develop such stamina? Perhaps...but the development itself requires a certain amount of stick-to-it've-ness, i.e. stamina. I have, in the past, prided myself in being able to fast for seven days (for most people, getting to three is a real challenge...mentally, you start to freak out about not eating, more that feeling actually hungry), but more than that is...well, I get bored. I like eating. And I miss trying or tasting food (especially food that is terrible for me). A seven day fast is about the limit of my endurance, not because of physical incapacity but due to a lacking of mental will. It's just "not so much fun" after awhile...or not as much fun as a big plate of Mexican food or a martini/steak combo.

Which is why, while I dig on being a game master, I'm not much for prep.

Not that I do NO prep...I can prepare an adventure, a plot, a scenario, etc. for an RPG. I've done it many times before for many games in many different genres. But there's a limit to the amount I want to do. Games that require too much mechanical prep are total bugaboos for me. I hate them, they hate me, and damn if I'll ever run such a game. Mekton Zeta is the first such game that comes to mind. GURPS is another. Champions ("HERO System") a third. For me, the amount of work that goes into the set-up of such a campaign is far too much to get me excited about any system features the game has. For a lot of people, the "toolbox factor" of these games IS the "system feature." For me, it's just more time spent doing something other than playing/running the game.

As said, this is my personal failing. But it explains why I design the types of books/games I do (and part of why I favor certain types of games over others).

Ugh...I started this post Monday morning, and I can't remember what the point of it was. So I'm going to stop now. Oh, wait...I remember! FATE! FATE is another game that I will never run because I hate the prep involved. Ugly, ugly stuff, in my opinion. I know lots of people like it...I've played a couple FATE games at cons (Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files) and I had a great time. But I didn't have to prep those games...I'd play 'em again, as long as I'm not asked to run them. And maybe so long as we're using pre-gen characters or quick-play ones.

The guy should be charging $$.
I was reading Bulldogs, which is a neat take on FATE, and chock full of neat stuff, but sooooo...ugh. It was looking through Bulldogs and comparing it to the fairly magnificent Beat to Quarters that made me sit down and start writing this post Monday morning. BtQ really needs its own post; it's like someone's Napoleonic, alternate-reality version of DMI. But, wow, it cuts prep down to my level of management...assuming one has a grounding/background in Age of Sail adventure fiction/history. Not everyone does.

But that kind of prep (what I'd call "research") is fun, and I can do it all day. In fact, I spent a couple hours on the internet this morning just reading various online articles about nautical battle strategy in the 17th and 18th century.

Okay, this post has really tanked/gone off the rules. Sorry. Let me try writing something different tomorrow.

OH, WAIT...just as an almost completely unrelated aside: I downloaded what (I thought) was supposed to be a Spanish-language copy of D&D off the internet, and what I got instead was a PDF copy of the 4th Edition Players Handbook; a volume I've never owned or read. Well, I spent a few minutes skimming through it today, and there are some things here that look like fun! I mean, there's a LOT of stupid here...dragonborn and astral diamonds and WoW-style bullshit and whatnot. But despite being a far cry from anything I'd call "Dungeons & Dragons," it doesn't look like a terrible game to play. On first pass, I could see myself writing up a character and taking it for a spin on someone's battle mat.

Just so long as I don't have to prep/run this monster.

[hmm...I guess that wasn't a terribly unrelated aside]
; )


  1. I'm confused -- FATE is super-duper prep light in my experience. What is it about prepping for a FATE scenario that you find so tedious?

  2. I'm going to guess it's the campaign prep that bugs you about Fate, right? In my dabblings with Fate, I found the game so light and vague that it was almost impossible to do any meaningful prep for it.

    ...but hell, I have trouble prepping for anything. I almost always end up coming up with something better at the table, so it seems like prep is always wasted effort on my part.

  3. @ Jack and DMW:

    Campaign prep, yes.