Some people claim that on the fly DM’ing is a natural skill, improving things left and right to entertain their players. While other DMs will prep every little detail, making sure there is no unanswered questions that come up for the most common things, there is no lull, there is no lack of consistency at all in his games.
I mostly fall under the DM’ing on the fly, and will jot down only key points that happen when I am “making things up”.
Most people enjoy either style, while most people dislike on the fly DM’ing, because things are not constant and things happen to change too much for their taste.
I did an entire Actual Play podcast, called the Book of Sorrows, where all I did for prep was jot things down on a yellow sticky note at work before the game. Could the players tell? Yes. Did they have a great time, Yes.
What style do you enjoy or use?
3 thoughts on “The Evil GM – DM Style, On the fly vs Prepped”
I prefer both…meticulous prep and lots of plans, but be ready to toss it all into the garbage if you're sensing the players are going to fly off the rails.
I started running Hoard of the Dragon Queen for my players. New campaign, new characters, all of it. After one session, nothing felt right. Everything was awkward with both myself and the players. I was ready and had prepped pretty hard for it, but I just couldn't make it work. So, next session, retcon the whole thing and start over, with my ideas and on-the-fly game mastering.
My planning usually goes out the window about 20 mins into a game. Unless I put them in a sealed maze with only a single solution. Even then they usually think of a valid alternative approach. Now I prep the major story elements and let the adventuring details be on-the-fly. I have still managed one or two excellent prepared plot twists for the crew, despite them doing their own thing.