Tomorrow will be the first session for my newly formed gaming group. The group is constructed from people that I have gamed with before, each having varying experience with tabletop roleplaying games. Since this will be one of the first times I've run a game in months, I decided to keep it simple and run Crypt of the Everflame and its two sequels, Masks of the Living God and City of Golden Death.
Since I'm going to be using published adventures for the foreseeable future, I decided to spend most of the day today refreshing myself on the first adventure and getting everything I needed to run a session of Pathfinder together. While I was looking through my boxes of pawns, looking for the ones I would need for the session, I started to think about the prepping process and why I do things the way I do.
Like most people, my personal prepping process is based on what will make the game easy for me to run and what do I need to run the game. For example, this upcoming session requires me to read the adventure that I'll be running (Crypt on the Everflame), take note of anything that I might want to change, leave out, or expand upon, find all the pawns that I'll need to represent both the players and their opponents on the battle mat, making sure I have enough character sheets and pencils for the players, and anything else that I might need. If I was running an original adventure, I would spread the prepping process out over a few days so I can make sure what I bring to the table won't be a slapped together product.
While it usually requires a little bit more work, I usually find prepping an original adventure a little bit more fun than prepping to run a published adventure. Maybe its because I'm working with my own material and my imagination has more to wonder, or it could be that I don't have to read through a 32 page book and only have to work on the stuff the players have a high likelihood actually encountering. For original adventures, I tend to just detail the main adventuring site and keep a set of notes about everything else so I won't forget them during the game. I find this process to be a lot more useful than trying to write out a complete module working on stuff the players will most likely never experience.
Now, with my ramblings done, I'd like to know how you guys and gals prep for a game session? Do you spend days detailing every little element or do you create a set of simple notes and an adventure site and improv everything else? I'd love to know.