Have you ever sat down to start hashing out how you are going to lead your game group in next week's game and have NO idea where to start? Being a Game Master (GM) can be a daunting task but it doesn't have to be. Putting together a single one shot or a full campaign takes preparation and practice. Never Unprepared is a complete Game Master's guide to session prep. There are a lot of blog articles written and websites dedicated to GM's but this book brings it all together.
This book goes through all the aspects of preparing for a game. There is a lot of great information in the book along with tips and tricks to help a GM get ready for the next game session. The writers break up the book into 3 sections; Understanding Prep, Prep Toolbox and Evolving Your Style.
In the Understanding Prep section it starts off stating that prep is not a four letter word. Sure there are games out there that don't need a lot of prep, which are a lot of fun and great for the last minute sessions or when someone cancels. There are also a lot of games that take more than 5 minutes before the session to get ready. Being prepared for a game session allows the GM to be ready when something unexpected happens and can help move the characters on through the story. In Never Unprepared, Phil Vecchione (the writer!), discusses the phases of prep and offers techniques for improving your skills.
In the Prep Toolbox section, Phil discusses using different types of tools and what works best for your situation. You can prep for your game anywhere. How do you record your ideas? Do you carry around a notebook or a tablet? Everyone has their own tools they go to and sometimes its good to mix it up. Phil also talks about time management. Setting aside time to sit down and think about the game without any interuptions can be a difficult task. Even if you finally get a moment at the end of the day is that time going to be useful or are you exhausted from the day? He gives some good advice on how to find time to fit in gaming prep.
The last section of the book discusses the evolving your style. In this section Phil discusses how to review what your strengths and weaknesses are and how to improve them. Being a GM is an awesome title to hold. It's not just a one time thing - you can always become better and learn how to be a better game master. This book highlights the aspects of game mastery and gives a lot of quality advice. You can check out Never Unprepared at Engine Publishing and Gnome Stew.