Before starting a run I usually read the story. I prefer to know what’s coming so when one of the clever little…I don’t want to say shits… but I also really want to say shits… shits tries to be clever and do something weird in accordance with their strange desire to relate to their character I know just in what way I should “coach” them to not do it.
I tried incorporating one of my own storylines for a bit, but it was underdeveloped and intended for a short run. To supplement it, just before finishing the run, I bought a book with the story already laid out. A quick flick through the first couple pages showed that it would be pretty easy to follow and should be fun.
Important note, by quick flick, I mean quick.
With the ever-good intention of reading ahead and getting familiar with the story and the enemies, I proceeded to promptly forget about everything that wasn’t IRL for a period of time.
The night before the big event, in addition to remembering that I haven’t pre-read the adventure I now realize I cannot find either my dice or my DM folder containing said unread adventure. Also the house is trashed. Just in an awful state of affairs. And there’s this smell like the kitten was stockpiling dead lizards (still yet to be confirmed).
Things were looking bright for the next day.
Morning of: I followed my usual compulsion to make food for the group. If nothing else, I would refrain from being a shitty host. I was also running around cleaning up (or hiding) 3 weeks’ worth of mess that I had been strategically avoiding by virtue of ignoring it.
Exciting side note: In addition to an intense enjoyment of levitating our en-biggened warrior, DH appreciates these events because I am overcome with an inspiration to lend more than a begrudging hand towards the housework.
At this point, warm bodies start arriving. The pally customarily arrives first and chips in a bit with the moving of things. Usually next is either the sociopath or the other dwarf and then we all play a waiting game. Our warrior is sometimes delayed in her timing.
By this stage I have also come to the realization that I will not be pre-reading the adventure. It’s okay though. We have the final dregs of a dungeon that was just a smidgen too high for my beloved crew of player characters. Divine will and dumb luck had taken more than a passing interest in keeping them alive. Based on the average speed of the last couple sessions, by the time the final rooms were cleared and the rewards allocated, it would be time for a well-deserved dinner break.
At that point I would suck it up, deal with the shame of looking ill-prepared in front of the group, and read as much ahead as possible during dinner. My years of experience as a trainer have conditioned me to deliver bullshit one page ahead of the learners, and though I knew this would be uncomfortable as a playing experience, we would survive.
Gameplay ensued as expected. I took terrible notes last go-round and there was a bit of pestering over whether I thought I might owe some individuals just a titch more XP. There were a few gentle reminders about using OOC knowledge when making personal judgements of members of the party. Snack was eaten, booze was drunk, heck; there were even water balloons.
Pro-tip: Water balloons don’t mix great with pen and papers…
The dungeon was finally done! Everyone rejoiced. Including the now buck-naked warrior.
With everyone now moving safely towards the food, I picked up my copy of the next part of the evening.
And, well…shit. The story line was still engaging. But upon closer (read: actual) inspection I had now found a host of baddies at around abouts the level 9 region. Well above the survivable level for even the scrappiest of my PCs.
Although I’m certain with time and preparation this could have been reworked by a competent DM into a functional game play for the team. I had neither resource and did not feel very much in the way of competence at that stage.
The only thing left to do was to own up to my negligence. I done did goof.
The players took it in stride and were downright forgiving. There was plenty of shit to be shot, board games were on backup, and food was still feasible. There was only a single threat levelled about me making sure it never happen again.
It might be time to start getting my ass in gear for the next go-round.