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Okay, so i`m being curious of late.

After last week`s Run (that i wasnt supposed to be running) and using some half prepped notes (and i work pretty openly anyway) to come up with something that turned out to be rather enjoyable all round. I set to wondering...

What last minute Run`s (or other gaming session events) have you guys pulled oput of the hat at the last minute? And are there any out there with some words of wisdom upon the improv method of GM`ing?..
In my limited experience, I've found that less is more. A few pages of bullet point notes is fine. Depends on your group, I guess.
To be honest, I do most of my runs on very little preparation. It typically alternates; I'll prepare somewhat (or even extensively) for one run and do the next one entirely off-the-cuff, coming up with it during the game as we wrap up the previous one.

I prep a few things that are going to happen. There are a few key events that will happen. There are a few events that could happen. Then the players drive the rest with me keeping stuff in line with the story I have planned out.
I usually prep everyhting in my head (though when I have lots of time to kill I make notes).

I have a skeleton plotline and let things play out as they will.

I am reminded of a time when one of our players decided he wanted to Gm, and not having a run ready, he did one on the fly. After dying to 4 trolls with LMG's we asked him what he was thinking:

"It said the Ingram Valiant was a Light machinegun, so I figured it wasn't that good." Hilarious.
"It said the Ingram Valiant was a Light machinegun, so I figured it wasn't that good." Hilarious.

It's Saturday Morning, about 4pm, I should've spent time after I got home from work Fri night to plan out the game, but I didn't, instead I spent 5hrs chatting online with my sweetheart from wisconsin. I can hear just outside the door that the players have arrived. I stumble out to the kitchen, nuke myself a mug of coffee when one of them asks "Are we ready to start" I just growl and shuffle back in the room with my coffee, to go outback and enjoy a cigarette in the sunshine.
half an hour later I'm awake, I pull the Rules of Combat and Survival they never taught you, I roll on Percentile, make note of the rule, and let the players know that I'm ready. "It's early afternoon, yer at the bar. . . ." If I wasn't feeling up to planning an adventure, or studying a book adventure, It's Combat Simulation time, the one rule of Combat designated by the die roll is used eventually, I don't use UberPowered NPC's, just a group of "every punk with a predator" who just wanna see if they can make some easy cred.
Crimson Jack
I ran an solo amnesia game unprepared once. It was pretty fun, although a lack of sleep on both the player's and my parts put the game to rest after a mere four hours. One of those "fond memories" runs.
Almost all of my runs are by the seat of my pants. I sketch a background, maybe a few interesting twists and scenes and then go with it. I feel running like that better helps you frame the pacing. When I used to put in too much prep, I felt like I had to force it down my players throats because I spent so much damn time working on it. Now that I'm older and wiser, I have seen the value of allowing the "game" to dictate the direction and pace, not some elaborate decision tree. The rule for seat of your pants GMing though, is be consistent.
Welcome to the Dark Side!
nuyen.gif nuyen.gif nuyen.gif
I like to call that type of GMing, "Friday nights." Although I'm actually starting to go in better prepared with mission briefs and the like.

Practice is good for it. The other thing is to play NPCs like you were a PC. So keep track of what they know and what their motivations are. When you're winging it, it's much harder to do plot-driven games. It's much easier to quickly create characters and act them out, and create scenarios that respond to your players. Take notes of the stuff you make up. Especially the key details you don't want to debate later with the players.
The one campaign I'm presently running is all spur of the moment. I've a folio of nondecript building plans and NPCs sitting next to me as we play, and pull magic handouts and characters out as the need arises. It's amazing what you can do with a nondescript johnson, an old blueprint of an office building and a few pencils. nyahnyah.gif

By the time people are done arguing about how to approach their objective, I've had time to figure out why the johnson want them to be there and what defenses are in place. Twists and double-crosses I make up as the players do legwork (it's amazing how many ways to screw themselves over the players will voice while planning for all alternatives). ork.gif
The White Dwarf
Thinking a run over in your head, plus a few notes or bullets is the best way to do it, imo. For experienced SR Gms anyhow, who can come up with decent archtypes or setups on the fly for things. And falling in that category Ive done this a few times. Usually it doesnt happen on *zero* preperation, but a few times on little or not enough preperation. Still, the more thought in, the more everyone gets out of it. You dont need a novel of notes, but the difference from "think fast" to "engrained in memory" does show and matter.
I write up a stable of named NPCs and take the rest from the books. If the game goes where the NPCs are at, they are there, doing their thing. You know, like the cop was at the Stuffer Shack because he wanted a donut, not because he was there to ambush your PC.
I always somewhat extensively plan runs when I GM.

I ussually start with NPCs, followed by possible/likely locations for which I make fairly detailed maps for.

I compare the goals of npcs to goals of pcs and "free form" start of game so that pcs get interested/involved in npc's goings about.

Well PCs pursue things I mentally play the villan(s)/oppositon in my head/paper
(since I consider one of the biggest faults of many GMs/adventures is the assumption main bad guy/target is sitting around with his thumb up his ass till the PCs arrive in thier central control area). So that the main opposition is constantly countering players with thier availible knowledge.

Summary: My games are pretty extensively prepared, and run styles center on NPCs and expand outward.

I prefer to plan things, but I am a very fluid orator, and skilled story teller-winging it isn't hard. Add in that I make a point of rereading the boooks on a regular basis, and I usually have a good working knowledge of the game world and its mechcanics.
I have the basic idea of the game plan written down. Key people, events and the such. After that I let the players actions drive the game. If they need to get from point A to point B, I let them decide how they want to get there. What happens along the ways depends all up to there actions.
I usually keep a sheaf of tattered, random, one-line notes in my SR binder just in case. Most of my runs start out as me thinking, "Oh, that would be pretty cool..." and it snowballs from there.
It depends. If its just a 'simple' run, then I wing it off of just some simple notes.

If it is a run I want to write out as a story, I put a lot of background work into it and flesh out as much as I can ahead of time. Then I let the players move the story from there. smile.gif
I have never run a fully prepared campaign in my life. I find the games are much more enjoyable if I let the action flow and insert plot hooks and encounters as they feel approporate. Matrix host random generators and a big pile of NSRCG NPCs are a godsend.
I think it depends on your players. If certain players are there, I can pretty eaily predict what they are going to do and fly by the seat of my move by wire pants for the run. If certain players are there, I know I better have somethings ready as they will demand detailed maps and find every flaw with non thought thru stuff. Like building designs not being up to standard building code, or windows in lame places. It is little things but can ruin the sense of realism in a game if they bust you for it.
They sound like pains in the ass. I can handle a little give and take, but building code stuff is BS in my opinion.

PC1: Your stairway is not wide enough per code. It needs to be a minimum of 36" here. And I'd bet they updated it after goblinization.
PC2: Yeah and your guardrails are only 42" high. It would be higher for trolls and stuff.
GM: You are both dead. You both had terminal pissmeoffitis.
"Hey, wait a minute, this stairwell landing has insufficient clearance for a wheelchair!"

(Yes, I worked on a job where that was a problem.)

I just make stuff up as I go along. I got my NPCs, and the loose plot in my head, then everything else just happens the way it happens.

Quite fun in my opinion.
QUOTE (Brazila)
I know I better have somethings ready as they will demand detailed maps and find every flaw with non thought thru stuff. Like building designs not being up to standard building code, or windows in lame places. It is little things but can ruin the sense of realism in a game if they bust you for it.

Tell them what I tell my players. It's extraterritorial. The only code they have to conform to is their own.
Plus, I hate drawing maps, i'm a Game MASTER grinbig.gif , not firk dinking cartographer/drafting apprentice.
Your mates are round havin' a beer, one says lets shadowrun can you GM?

Oh My God What The Fu.. Am I Gonna Do Now????

Well you know the guys you hacked off on the last run? They've traced your home address so its time to relocate at high speed...

Lots of bullets, bombs, snitches, stabbings, abandoned gear and car chases...
JUST the way a nasty low down shadowrunner should like it especially if they get to kill the squeeler or Johnsson who set them up...

PS make 'em pay the months life style costs first for added sadism.
Nice input guys. For the record my games are usually planned with an introduction peice to a session that covers the date, environment etc. Sometimes recaps on where we left off or drops in some filler info for time elapsed between sessions.
Also on hand are the Plot notes (bullet points on who`s doing what etc) and info notes revelant to the session and any arching plots the chars are in (sercurity shifts, whats on what floor of what building What info is avaiable via certain contacts, and Newsnet reports.) Finally i, like many here utilise the NPC files both my own and those in the books.

For my on the fly stuff I like to have one of my overarching plots available (this is part of why i use them) and sometimes some char history, its easy to throw together something in a coupleof minutes that fits with what the chars are doing, has a connection to some of them and doesnt feel like it was just thrown together.
I've run everything from planning every detail to doing everything off the cuff. I find I prefer working more towards the latter.

I develop a general plot and some key encounters/interactions to move the story along, but I don't decide where these happen or how events unfold. I find if I plan to have the players go to a specific place, they'll find someway to get around it.

I've had too many "You're doing what?!" moments to take any solid notes I might make seriously.

And improvisation makes the game far more interesting, in my opinion. smile.gif

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