When I accepted the A to Z Challenge, I had high hopes. I got four completed and had planned on writing “E is for Elethar,” “F is for Fun,” G is for Gregory,” “M is for Maps,” “S is for Shanor,” “X is for Xashthrapot” and “Z is for Zentlan.” Alas, I was not successful and I know why, I procrastinated.
Every Game Master can, most likely, tell you of times when he or she, for no good reason, put off working on Game until it was nearly too late to run the game. It is true that GMs procrastinate; “Never do today what you can put off till next week,” so quoted my mother. The given fact that I procrastinate is not important. What is important is the reasons why I procrastinate and how I deal with the causes of procrastination.
Procrastination is not simply not doing something that needs to be done; it is choosing to do something else, when one has time to do the needed thing. It is sitting down a playing Sid Mier’s Civilization, instead of working on the A to Z Challenge. So, why do I put off working on my game? Some days, I am just worn out. Work has taken its toll. There is high drama being played out on the stage that is my home. I’m sick. On those days, I just want to do something that occupies my mind, but doesn’t require me to think. I don’t really have anything I can do to deal with these situations, because they are external to my game. Other times, I procrastinate, because I am unhappy with my game. When this happens, I have a problem upon which I need to work.
When I am procrastinating because I am unhappy with my game, I usually find one of two causes. Either I have devised a setting which doesn’t interest me or my players are making me miserable. The latter problem is often caused by players who are uninterested in the setting which I am running or by players who get more enjoyment out of ruining the game for the GM or the other Players. When this has happened in my games, the players in question were also my friends outside the Game, so I decided to focus on doing what I could to engage those players and focus on the things that make the Game fun for me. It usually works and we all have a fairly good time. Always focus on the positive and always remember the other Players.
When I procrastinate due to my lack of interest in my setting, I must figure out what I don’t like about my own campaign. Sometimes discovering what I don’t like about my campaign is quite simple. Other times, I spend hours or days trying to figure out what is wrong. Either way, once I discover it, I begin to change the setting. I don’t do it suddenly without warning, because that isn’t fair to my players, who have worked hard to make characters that fit the setting. I start small and give the Players time to adjust their characters to fit the changes. The few times that I made sudden and hardcore changes in my games, I had players rebel. So, now, if I am unhappy running a gritty desert campaign and want to run a high fantasy Celtic campaign, I can start with dropping magic items from the style of campaign I want into my desert setting. Then I start sending the PCs on short excursions into the net setting. After a few trips into the Celtic setting, I craft longer adventures and attempt to give the PCs touchstones and hooks, so that my Players want to explore this world. If I do it right, I’m running y preferred game of choice and my Players are caught up in the depth of my world and the story that we are creating together.
Do you procrastinate? Why? What do you do return to active game work? Until next time, Game On!