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Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
 
$19.95 $9.95
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master\'s Guide to Session Prep
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Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Justin B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/10/2019 14:47:22

A great read that dives into the rare touched subject of how and what to prep and time management. System agonist and can be applied to others things beyond DND as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Edward C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/21/2019 22:02:30

The product has been edited after the fact to replace content, namely the Sean Patrick Fannon foreward. I have no side in the Fannon affair, and do not even own a Shaintar book, but am extremely uncomfortable with the precedent of removing content from a published piece on the grounds of the author's behavior.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Mike C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2018 17:48:10

There is some sound advice in here but it's diluted with filler material and what-works-for-you and generalities to the point that I felt it wasn't of value. It's a shame because I'm sure the author knows A LOT MORE than me about being a GM and preparing for sessions. I'd love to learn from him.

For example: There's a whole section on pens and paper vs. electronics but not a mention of any online tools like Obsidian or even Google Docs. Dropbox gets a passing mention but there are paragraphs about pens and pencils.

Selecting your tools has questions like: Are your tools reliable and available when you need them? Do the devices you use have long-lasting batteries? Do your tools work well in those locations?

Some of the best advice is to build templates and put fields on the templates for the things you are weak at, so you're reminded to do them. (Do you forget weather in your scenes? Add a weather field. Forget signature combat moves or tactics for your NPCs? Add a field.) It's good advice. I feel like I read 130 pages for that, and didn't get to see any true sample templates.

This book needed an editor. A ruthless, heartless editor.

There's a really long review here by Jordan R. and he's word-for-word correct.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Elizabeth A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/01/2016 15:19:38

Solidly ok. I really enjoyed Chapter 7 on how to review your prep, and Chapter 10 on creating and using templates for your scenes. For the value of those two chapters, I felt it was probably worth the price and worth my time spent reading the whole thing.

Much of the rest read like painfully dry time-management self-help. Maybe that's something other GMs need, but I don't need to be reminded of how few hours in the day I really have or how to shift my other tasks around to make room for game prep. I definitely, definitely don't need special little names for each type of life's normal interruptions. I'm an adult and have been juggling various combinations of marriage/school/work/kid/hobbies for a while. If I wanted a self-help time-management book I'm not sure I'd come here for it. But maybe this would help someone who is just getting started with trying to strike a balance in life.

I strongly suspect this guide would be more helpful for someone running a campaign. At present and for the foreseeable future I run published one-shots or short modules. I want to be better prepared for those, and as a newish GM, I hoped that this guide would help me. But I don't really need to brainstorm, somebody else wrote the material for me.

I do appreciate that the PDF was well bookmarked, so that if I do find myself wanting a refresher on brainstorming, conceptualization, and documentation, I might come back to this guide. If I can talk my new group into committing to a campaign one day, I'll probably be more glad I read this.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Markus D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/02/2015 06:16:05

This is project-management for Gamemasters - to me a very motivational and truly helpful little book! As a beginner GM this well structured text helped me get a good grasp and an overview on the different tasks involved in gamemastering. This in turn makes it easier to fit this hobby into my weekly schedule. Especially if you liked David Allen's GTD, you will also enjoy this book. And as I am sure I will read it again, I can only give this book the best rating.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Sébastien T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/20/2015 12:28:09

This book is pure gold. As the author states quite a few times - most people "do their thing" mostly on intuition. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it's so terrible it actually multiplies your work load. I like the fact the author takes a step back and doesn't enforce his views and solutions onto the reader but offers self-evalutation, while often stating the obvious and offering a possible way of solving different problems This book aims for no specific system, as that's something the reader must figure out for him self, however the pointers and hints dropped all along the book should facilitate this task greatly. All in all, if you struggle as GM or don't feel like everything is going as well as it should, this book is for you. Even GMs who have been running games for quite a few years might learn something new as this book demands to evalute one-self. If you feel like you could improve don't look any further. You have arrived at your destination.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Scott R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/13/2015 12:17:24

I have been Gming games for decades and teach project management. It would seem I have little to learn from a short book on GM prep by a project management perspective. I was happily surprised. The book was inspirational -- particularly the system for session documentation. The book is professional organized making it an easy read and a satisfying buy.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Guntis V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/10/2014 15:22:29

So many good - and true - praises! Really, this book turns the GM's prep work almost into exact science. It really puts things in a good perspective! The author even analyzes possible 'short-of-time' scenarios and suggests how to cope with them. Love it!

I'm not a very experienced GM (just a dozen sessions), and this book showed me many things puzzling me before.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by francesco b. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/16/2013 15:02:06

Very useful, it helped me flesh out techniques I had already been using and organize processes I already was employing. Recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Paul E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/16/2013 12:29:59

I wish I would have known about this earlier. It was reviewed on a podcast a very long-time friend of mine has been involved in for some time, and I only recently heard about this, purchased it and have been making my way, VERY slowly -I read slowly- through it. I agree with many of the other reviewers of this fine work... it's really about time we had something like this, essential and inexpensive.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Emily B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/05/2013 17:21:05

This is some of the best Gamemaster advice I've ever read, and I've been GMing for almost twenty years, on a daily basis in some cases. The book is very well-organized, enough that I was able to implement its suggestions in real time as I was reading through it. While most of these concepts are things I've subconsciously discovered throughout my time as a GM, they're also concepts I've never properly mentally organized. This book makes the process faster, helps me remember every step, and brings up some ideas I never consciously considered.

Overall, one of the best RPG supplements I've ever read.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Viktor V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/05/2013 12:16:37

This was a really good book. It has some great insights and methods into how and why to prep for sessions. It's easy to read and understand. One caveat might be that it is somewhat loose, it doesn't tell you PRECISELY what to do but it does the next closest thing.

This book is solely about prep, and how to make prep more enjoyable. It's not about running a session or anything like that. If you're looking for tips about prep, and want to find a good mentality and methodology around it, then buy this book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Alex N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/06/2013 06:34:25

One of the reasons this is so successful as a MUST HAVE is the price point. There are a lot of "must have" books or collections that aren't really must-have because of their cost and sadly a lot of people don't purchase them. Never Unprepared is the perfect read for the perfect price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Benjamin B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/24/2012 19:15:30

[Originally posted at http://secondleft.blogspot.ca/2012/10/review-never-unprepared-complete-game.html]

I've recently finished reading through Phil Vecchione's, Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep, and now that I'm finished, it's review time.

Never Unprepared is 134 pages long in what appears to be a large digest format (I only have the PDF version, not the print copy.) This short length of the book, plus the easy writing style, make it very accessible and easy for even a busy GM to read and get something out of. Additionally since the pages are in a smaller format, it's easy to read on a smartphone or small screen tablet.

Screenshot taken from DriveThruRPG for illustration purposes First off lets go over what this book is not. This book is not a plan to tell you how to do your session prep. It will not say you should do X and Y before a game, and will not solve all the problems that you have in getting preparation done before your game.

So, what is it? I've never seen one before, no one has, but I'm guessing it's a white hole. Sorry, been watching too much Red Dwarf lately (if you've never seen the series it's a BBC sitcom set on a deep space mining vessel, and the early seasons are really good.)

So, what is it? Well Never Unprepared is a book that takes some project management principles (don't worry, it's not scarey) and attempts to apply them to the art of game mastering. Effectively treating the approach to game prep the same way one would a project plan for a large project. Yes this may sound daunting, but don't worry it's all distilled down in the book. The aim of the book is to provide you with a means of developing your own method of gaming prep that is repeatable and honed to suit your gaming needs and your GMing strengths and weaknesses.So the book doesn't tell you how to prep your games, it tells you how to go about working out how is best for you to prep for your games.

I'm going to borrow from the index now to guide you through the book contents. Foreword Introduction How to Use This Book Understanding Prep Prep is Not a Four Letter Word The Phases of Prep Brainstorming Selection Conceptualization Documentation Review Prep Toolbox Tools for Prep Mastering your Creative Cycle Evolving Your Style Your Personal Prep Templates The Prep-Lite Approach Prep in the Real World Conclusion References and Inspiration Index The core content of the book is explaining the five phases of prep that Phil has identified over his years of GMing. Brainstorming, Selection, Conceptualization, Documentation and Review. Each of the sections on that particular area of prep goes into details on what would be contained in that phase, some common pitfalls to avoid, and a quiz to rate your effectiveness at the particular phase. Additionally there are a load of hints and tips along the way on how you may be able to accomplish this phase without telling you how to do it (in other words it doesn't dictate a methodology.)

For example the section on brainstorming suggests just throwing ideas down on paper that seem vaguely interesting. Don't think about them in great detail, don't analyze whether or not they'd be useful or how you can use them, just basic thoughts. Deciding if they're good comes in the Selection phase, and fleshing them out in Conceptualization. Some hints on capturing your brainstorming, such as always having a note application on your smartphone, or a small notebook tucked in your pocket.

There is advice on how you can improve what you do in each section, and how to spot when you are doing too much. For instance are you really good at coming up with evocative location descriptions on the fly? Then you really shouldn't be wasting your time writing it out in more than a bullet point or two to keep a focus.

Yes some of the advice in the book may see obvious to many, but sometimes you still need someone to point it out to you to make it stick in your mind.

It's hard to pick out specifics that are good, and what is bad, but there is so much useful ideas in the book that I'll end up taking on a lot of them and most won't even be conscious. From that perspective you can get more out of the book that you think. In many ways it's a self help book to give you the push towards thinking in a more efficient way about the approach you take to gaming prep.

Conclusion: Is this a book worth reading for any GM? If you find you're not ready in time for your games, or that the gaming prep is taking too much of your time and you consider it sometimes to be time wasted, then definitely buy this book. In fact I'd recommend buying it anyway as even the most experienced Game Masters will likely find something in there that is useful to them. Myself, I'm taking the templates concepts and applying them into my notes, it's already improved things. And since reading the book, I now use Evernote on my smartphone constantly to enter ideas and carry a small notebook in my jacket pocket.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/29/2012 20:28:11

Often times game masters (GM) spend as much time preparing for games as they do running them. Every GM has their own methods which are usually developed through trial and error because quite frankly, for everything written about game mastering there is very little said about the process of "session prep." The lucky GMs have someone to guide them but the unlucky ones are forced to stumble through until they eventually figure things out for themselves.

Never Unprepared shows GMs how to skip the grueling task of learning game prep. Based on decades of experience this book helps GMs boil down session prep to a simple but thorough process with allows for focus on what is most important to the game. Then it shows you how to schedule those tasks so your session prep can go as smoothly as possible.

This book is written independent of system so GMs will find it useful for any game. I have been a GM for over two decades and I found this book had plenty of suggestions to make my session prep even easier.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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