'Failing to plan is planning to fail', as I've often been instructed. Planning is what you do after you've researched the best you can or want, and is a much needed, and many times required, aspect of gameplay, yet it is so very often missed, or simply ignored.

Say you're heading up an expedition into some evil-infested dungeon or keep. It should not matter how many times you or others have been in it, if you make RP the main focus of the adventure, then the last thing it will be is boring, if at all. Heck, even the planning can become an adventure, if only a small one.

I remember one particular D&D session I was in, way back in the day when the joke was making sure an adventurer's standard equipment list included the 10' pole. It was always a matter of fun picking out who was going to carry the thing. My party was in the process of purchasing our equipment when the 10' pole option came up. As we were arguing over the pros and cons of it while going from shop to shop looking for one, we realised the DM was playing a trick on us and had made up something about there being a severe shortage of 10' poles in the city. Well, that decided it for us as a group: we were not going into any place without our bemoaned and yet beloved 10' pole. So, the adventure became finding one! Improvisation like that and in such examples is what helps keep gameplay inviting.

Assigning roles, like healer and treasurer, can become fun. Perhaps you could only get to the place by a certain path, or kill the boss demon with a specific item. Plan how to find that path, what encounters may be expected along it. Select one person to carry that mission critical item, and implore everyone else to keep that person alive the entire time. What dreadful monsters inhabit this place, and what special equipment or power will be needed to counter them? There really is a hard-to-reach limit on what questions could be asked and planned for, all in the name of keeping your gameplay exciting and new.

Go! Enjoy! Don't just have fun with it, make it fun! Whatever you do, don't just fall into the trap of routine same old same old. For example, your group has slain the big bad evil, and in the process of dividing up the loot, someone remembers they think they saw an interesting book some rooms back. Play along with it. Maybe the mage is having difficulty with the porting spell, or there's some aura in the place that is negating the use of magical recalling. Simply vanishing from the party is a rather boring way to go, I think, so inject some RP and liven it up.

Most importantly, savor the experience. I see way too many characters running heedlessly around everywhere they go, trying to get this or that done in a hurry. I believe many of these players are the very ones who complain of being bored. Take your time, and take the time needed to smell the flowers. Just watch out for the ones that spit poison. Role on!

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categories: fantasy