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OK, so I'm curious as to how much time and effort you other GMs put into Prep work.

Me? I'm never sure what direction my players are going to go, so at this point I gather together a few basic ideas, then make up most of it on the fly, using NPCs out of the books as needed, and fabricating more important NPCs on the run. Granted, my runs consist of two players, so I think it may be a bit more simple.
Depends on the run. Most runs, assuming I have a good clear idea of waht I'm doing, I can just write down names. For runs that are more involved, or I don't have aclear idea on, I usually write out a synopsis, usally consisting of a few pages (usually 3 to 10 dependsing on the run and the amount of detail I need). Then there's maps of course, assuming they're needed.

Rarely I check up on a rule for clarification, usually only if it's something I'm not familiar with. Also, checking up on subjects the run covers or crosses over in books. For example, goals of people involved, details on corp, just to refresh on it.And if I'm not familiar with the PC's that will be in the game, look over tehir character sheets again. Then make sure I knwo who's showing up that day! biggrin.gif
My prep for games is pretty much limited to reading, more reading, and then maybe some movies in between bouts of some reading. I almost never write anything down outside of the game itself (other than adding to game notes immediately after the session).

A few hours for a run, with additional mulling time spread through out the working day. An additional few hours can be added for general campaigny stuff (making new NPC's, etc). over the course of weeks. That said I do work very professionally. I say to myself: I need stats and descriptions for X NPCs and maps of Y and Z. And then I sit down and work to that spec.

This works because I keep a fairly mission-based approach to the first parts of a campaign. As a campaign progresses, then the above approach is less relevant, but the more PC driven game that it evolves into is much easier to improvise. At that point, I'm just relying on a few mind maps and an increasing library of NPCs.
QUOTE (knasser)
an increasing library of NPCs.

Second this one, big time. I've been updating a list of all the NPC's and general info on them from a campaign is just finished. That was a mistake because I have no idea how many NPC's I've completely lost track of. But this way at least, I'll be able to have a good chunk of them.

So now I'm listing all the NPC's, broken up in groups by who they know (of the PC's) and likely hood of coming back, also noting their general attitude towards the PC's. Started keeping track of locations too. Makes for a much better sense of continuity.

I usually put a lot of work into major plot lines. Once that is done, I wing the changes caused by the players.

I have a large index of premade NPCs, from pedestrian to super elite company man. Any time I need the stats for an NPC, it is all there, ready to go, no matter where the players end up going.
I don't necessarily consider that kind of thing 'prep work', as much as 'game maintenance'. But then again, I make most of my NPCs on the fly, and just jot down notes as I go. At the end of the game I gather my notes and do all the correlations. Doesn't' take long.

Of course, over time I have amassed quite an NPC stable ... but I do have my favorites. smile.gif
I spend about a week on each quality game I run. I have index cards on which I keep notes, I determine in advance the weather conditions for a two week period, any possible NPC's of note, the security sheath of the expected zones of activity, including but not limited to any potential targets, or areas of operations. I determine in advance likely security responses to possible situations. (If the building is set on fire the guards have been instructed to do this. If someone sounds an alarm response time on this shift is X, on this shift it's x+5 minutes, etc...)

It sounds cumbersome, but it's really a lot of fun for me.

I also generally do a lot of mapping. Ten to twenty hand drawn pages of graph paper is not unheard of. I make use of satellite imagery, from various sites, and we use a big screen or computer monitor with a lap top to play sounds, make animations or display maps.

We have a 2x4 sheet of 1 inch grid square paper, and a piece of Plexiglas over it, which we use dry erase markers on. I have some combat condition monitors under it too.

In the past I've used voice actors, and other people t volunteer as characters, and made video footage and more. We've used props-brief cases, etc...whatever makes the game more fun.
Eryk the Red
It appears that the more prep I do, the more likely my group is to decide to do something completely unrelated. So I pretty much just have a background plot worked out, which progresses semi-independently of whether they do their part in it (that sometimes changes the outcome of some background events), and I make stuff up on the fly. The last couple runs were completely conceived during the sessions. Also, this game has developed a vast cast of background characters, so it's very easy to come up with something to do that involves the player characters, whether it's an actual shadowrun or not.
Prep time, on average, is maybe 3-4 hours a game. Most of that time going into maps, 1-2 hours. All stats for 'grunt' opposition I make in 15-30 minutes, and the occasional characterized NPCs in 1 to 2 hours, but thats not every game. Checking up rules I know are going to come up and jotting them down is maybe another 30 minutes

Actual storyboard is close to nill, cause I know what I want in my head and, of course, players never follow written stories anyway (if they did, you may as well just write short stories for them!).
I usally prepare for 10-15 minutes before the start of the game usually while waiting for players to show up. Flying by the seat of my pants is easy, generally fun for everyone and allows me to adapt to unexpected player behavior. Further, I've discovered that flipping to any three pages in New Seattle (or the Seattle chapter of Runner Havens) will give you just about enough hooks to make a solid run.

That said, every time I've had a plot up my sleeve before arriving its been a more sucessful than average run.
Run specific prep time goes to making up names (hard for me) and a short storyline. Add half an hour for searching maps on the internet.

Fortune: You donīt by chance happen to have your contact list in digital form?
Unfortunately, no. frown.gif

Also unfortunate is that the likelihood of my overwhelming laziness preventing me from changing that situation anytime soon is pretty high.. wink.gif
Zen Shooter01
Names are easy. Google "baby names" and a list of sites organizing names by gender and ethnic and national origin will pop up. Or look in the phone directory for any place where they speak the dominant language of your campaign. Need Spanish names? Open up the Mexico City phone directory.
I used to put in a lot of work on the runs/missions and then the players would screw it up and do it totally different than I expected (none of the dozen ways were correct for them). So I started putting less time in writing it all up. I have a clear consise idea of what needs to happen, what is happening outside the run, etc. But the players are soooooo dynamic and random that you can not plan their side out very well or they wont have fun since they are being lead around by their noses.

The run I am about to throw at them today is one that I have GMed several times before, and played once. Each time it is different but same basic plot line. None of my current players have played this run. so we will see what happens.
Generally, I use the random generator from the GM Screen to give me a starting point, then tweak it (often to the point where it is completely different from the original) to fit the theme of the campaign. I have an idea where I want it to go, and I make runs that move toward that goal in baby steps, and sometimes obliquely.

Our games are weekly. My planning usually starts the day after a session, assuming that I don't already have plans that have carried over several sessions. I let the idea roll around in my head for a while, so that by the time I'm doing the physical prep work (props, maps, stats, etc.), it's the day before or the day of the next session.

For names, the random generator at makes me very happy.
Large Mike
For backround material (i.e. things that may be encountered at any time, possibly again and again) I spend lots and lots of time. It's fun for me, and as I work four days at a time in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do, alot gets done.

Run-specific material gets about an hour or two per run. If it's a big important run (like The Halloween Run or The Orbital Cow Run, or anything that gets a title) maps generally get handmade with a big ruler and a gel pen for up to and including eight hours.
QUOTE (Fortune)
Also unfortunate is that the likelihood of my overwhelming laziness preventing me from changing that situation anytime soon is pretty high..

Didnīt you want to say that it is un-fortune-ate (unlike Fortune) that your laziness will prevent you from changing that situation? Slight but understandable mistake, yes?
its all really a simple equation

Quality of the run is equal to the Time spent preparing plus the Quality of the opposition minus the quality of the Player Characters in the run

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