I don’t write reviews. Not here, at least. What I do write are recommendations. When I see something cool, geeky, and likely to otherwise be overlooked, I’ll pass it along here on the site to help spread the awesome. Because spreading the awesome is what I do.
Today’s awesomeness is Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Session Prep. This slim handbook of advice is aimed at tabletop RPG game masters. I’d never heard of the book before scoring a copy at the local game convention a couple weeks ago, but now that I’ve read it, I’d recommend it to anyone who runs games. Even though I’ve been running RPGs for over 20 years, I still found plenty of helpful advice lurking between its covers.
While the meat of the book is dedicated to identifying and codifying the five stages of preparing for a game (brainstorming, selection, conceptualization, documentation, and review), the parts I found most useful explained how to create and use templates. Rather than just fill your notebook with lists of “cool things that can happen” in a game’s session, the author suggests creating templates that you can fill out for each campaign, session, and scene. By creating a bunch of blanks to fill out (“Who are the main characters in this scene? What is the players’ goal? When does the scene end?”), you can (a) make sure you don’t overlook any important details, and (b) have those details handy when actually running the game.
If you run a tabletop RPG, or are thinking of doing so but aren’t sure you’ll have what it takes, I recommend giving Never Unprepared a read. Your players will thank you.