Friday, March 15, 2013

Discussion - Winging It

Man, this week has been out to get me. Started off with a weekend of traveling across state to  care for/check on/help out hospitalized family members and ended with me being ill myself. In between work came fast and hard enough that when a player asked me if I was looking forward to game tomorrow (tonight, when you are reading this) I was honestly confused by what they meant. As in, I'd totally forgotten that game was even a thing. In my defense, the game is fairly new. We've only been at it for the past 3 years or so... (different campaigns, sadly.)

So, anyhow, a large part of tonight's game is going to be winging it. Luckily, the big thing one of my PCs wants to do I've had planned and written down for weeks. Also, my players are awesome enough that I could probably burn a straight month of sessions (like a session every day) just reacting to what they're doing and seeing the antics they get into. Still though, it does leave some room to be desired.

Still, that's neither here nor there. My question for you guys today is, what is your favorite technique to go to when you have to wing it? Do you just try to make the best of a bad situation? Do you pretend you had it all planned while hiding specifics in vagueries? Do you drop a big combat on the group to eat up a large amount of session time with the mechanics heavy portion of the game?

All of these are viable, and done right can make for a very entertaining night. I'm just curious what works for you?


  1. I only write down the bare bones stuff I need to know. The players will usually lay waste to any of my best laid plans by either doing something I never expected or by just being too cautious. In either case I find myself frustrated and I feel like I wasted my time with all the planning.

    I see the whole experience as a guided improvisation class. Play along, try to leave things open and explorable and just admit it when the players have hit the edge of the map.

  2. My campaign are always 45% framework laid out in advance, 10% campaign prep before the session and 45% winging it. Similar to the poster above me, my players tend to destroy any plan they come in contact with. Usually I don't have a problem with players going in a different direction because I have the possible directions noted down in my framework, and in case of "wait, what?" I always have a couple of backup-plans (NPC's, locations) prepared in advance. Those are NPC's or locations the party would visit anyway, but the "where" and "when" are flexible.
    It's a lot of preparation in advance, but it works for me. :)

  3. Going to be starting a new campaign in a couple of weeks where I'm the GM. Don't have a lot of experience at it & this is one of the many topics I've been thinking about.

    The game is Dark Heresy and the universe is extremely deep, dark, rich & complex. One thought I've had is to simply "know my stuff". As best I can, have down cold the way this world interacts. That way, at the very least, I can subject them to the quite engaging DH milieux.

  4. One trick with 40k is that the universe is so big that there are exceptions to almost every rule. It is big, dark, and huge. But the location the players are in may not go by ALL the rules that are there. Make it your own, know it, and don't be afraid to let your players know they can run wild and free in it. :)