Thank you!! And you’re not wrong, it is super over-the-top. GM burnout’s been a serious issue in our organization for awhile now. But we keep insisting on trying to top each other, hah. It’s not the wises thing to do, but in a global pandemic, what else can we do but hone our gaming, uh, game?
The Semi Organized Play Campaigns I describe above typically have 3-6 months of planning ahead of the actual 3-month season each year. Mind, that planning can skew lighter or heavier. New Guard was rife with complicated player storyline charts, relationship dynamic matrices, massive pools of NPCs, etc. It was several hours a week a lot of times, especially as the season drew nearer.
Seek the Stars! genuinely strives to be lighter; we do a couple of meetings a month for 3 months, 3 hours each, without a lot of “homework” between, and keep in touch via group chat when needed. The playtests do require folks to start really writing down and fleshing out the ideas we’ve developed in the planning meetings, and then, obviously, the time to playtest 2-3 4-hour sessions each month for a few months.
During the season itself, the work does ramp up, though. No matter how much prep we do to complete storylines and mission write-ups and NPC stats ahead of time, we always find a bunch of stuff we neglected to get done and have to rush to finish, and then we try to do brief, GM-centered write-ups of what happens at each of our tables each game-week (since we run 2-3 tables at a time each week, the only way we know how the other GMs actually advanced the shared plot is to communicate!).
Mind, at that point, we’re also, well, running sessions for our friends in the group, having after-parties at the local bar (well, on Zoom this year, of course), and chatting away in the big group Discord server about people’s goofy ideas and jokes, so it’s pretty fun, too!
The plot tracker above is more for our (GM) purposes right now, to keep track of which tables advance certain storylines. We’ll reveal a more general kind of storyline info the players each week when they sign up for tables (since they can bounce between GMs each week, it’s good to include some info, so they can follow a particular thread if they want). Here’s mine for the game I’m playtesting today:
"Oh boy, pups, try not ta get too exciterated, but gosh, yer gonna be workin’ with tha most famous of all tha Plodnars, Sadie Earwin – ya know, from The Cryoscale Hunter ‘n’ all dem other real good shows on tha Tri-Vis. Acourse, plenty of you’s already done worked with her before on other missions, but gosh, this one’s real important!
“Ya see, thanks ta some of tha intel we’ve been gathering up from the big fight with Fuzbie, we think we’ve done traced down one of tha first big fights anybody ever had against them Artaxathingies. And we think it might be just fulla datas to get! But it’s also a real scary place. That kinda place that Sadie’s a real expert at gettin’ into. So she’s gettin’ into it – with alla you!”
— Commodore Fetcher, Leader of Expeditionary Team Delta of the Systems Accord Space Patrol
Storyline: The Artaxian Cataclysm
Session Expectations: Spooky Mysteries, Mysterious Spooks, Investigating the Unknown, Living History!, Future Death!
Sadly, since the RPG group encompasses about 25-30 core members (and about as many other folks who show up more infrequently for our one-off and mini-con events), it’s hard to get the okay from everyone to record our games, but if the other GMs are okay with it, I can try to record some of our playtests this year :)
Dude, I’m not all that great with VTT stuff, but that looks awesome to me!! I’d love to get to explore that map. And hah, I recognize me some TokenTool tokens, I think :-D
Though I rarely run the kinds of games Seth does, I adore his channel. Like his advice a fair bit more than a lot of Matt Colville’s, too, hah, though I doubt I’d play at either of their tables.
Oh my god, I love that! Lord, a time travel horror mystery? Your GM is a crazy person!!
Oh man, I adore MotW. I got to play in a short campaign of that last year and had a blast with it. I love how it can really up or tamp down the campiness as needed. And I feel you on the hexcrawl thing. . . that’s been my gaming white whale for years now :(