If you are like me, prepping a 4 hour role playing game can take an entire Saturday. I use to spend hours and hours working out all the crunch to the plot I have been thinking of all week, figuring out the nuances to an NPCs personality that could counter the player that questioned every possible inconsistency, looking for the way to help bring out the quiet player more, and ways to keep another player from playing WOW between combats. Then for about the span of a month, my life got busy and I didn’t have an entire Saturday to prep anymore. I did have an hour that I could devote to prepping my game. I pulled out all my supplements and went to work. The end result was actually better than my typical sessions. From that time forward, I now only take an hour to prep for a game.
How do you do it? First set a timer. When it goes off, stop. Discipline yourself. You will get faster with time. For the basic plot, I still come up with that throughout the week, but I will not start writing it up until my one hour prep session. To start off the hour, write down a quick outline of that plot. Don’t go into to much detail since the players are going to wreck any plan you have anyways. The less fully develops the plan, the more players tend to stick with it. I don’t know, it appears to be some kind of inverse law, but it generally works for me. Second, the NPCs. The great thing about Traveller, is that the stats are very easy to fudge if you want to skip this step. I tend to work with pre-generated characters or write down 2-3 key stats for the character. Third, ships and vehicles. I use to make up all own ships. Now, I use pre-generated ships. If I really want to go non-pregen, I take stats of a pregen ship and customize them, lightly. Then I find new artwork. Players don’t need to know the stats are from a book. I’ll paperclip a scrap of paper with an NPCs stats on them to use for the crew. This saves considerable page flipping at game. Lastly, and this is I have found to be most crucial, come up with a list of names for NPCs, ships, planets, corporations, cities, bars, night clubs, streets, crime organization, and anything else your players typically ask for. This allows you to come up with a name of … whatever they ask for on the fly and not have it be repeated. The d66 series is great for this, but there is no reason why you cannot come up with your own. This typically eats up the remainder of my time, but if you still have time left over, write up a few short descriptions of locations. This will help them get into the mood of the scene.
Your first time trying this, you probably will not get as much done as you use to. That is ok. Try it out. Fly by your wits and the seat of your pants and you may well soar. Best of luck to you.
Some artwork copyright Octavirate Entertainment, used with permission.