by Mike Shea on 24 December 2012
Every Wednesday evening I have a panic attack. It happens at the same time every week, in the exact same place, on my way out of my office building to the parking garage at about 5:30 pm. At that exact moment a shrieking banshee wails out the same words I heard the week before, the words Illidain shouts to those who would dare enter Outworld to begin to farm fel-pigs for flanks of fel-meat for about a thousand hours:
"You are not prepared!"
I've had this panic attack ever since accepting the ways of the Lazy Dungeon Master. How can I possibly entertain a half dozen of my good friends for three hours when I only spent about five minutes writing stuff down on a 3x5 card? I can't possibly be ready!
When this panic attack happens, I have to instead take a listen to the calm soothing voice (a voice that sounds a little bit like The Id DM) who asks me to analyze those feelings. Where are they coming from? What causes them? What am I really afraid of?
This voice has to remind me that being prepared isn't about doing hard work or spending a lot of time. Being prepared means having the right things on hand to take the game in whatever direction the imaginations of my players and I decide to take it. It means having a good list of random names, a good set of poster maps, a fantastic monster book, some NPC face cards, and just a tiny bit of an outline to keep me comfortable enough to sit down in front of my friends and not throw up on the table.
I don't try to push away the feeling of panic each Wednesday. It will come regardless of what I do. I don't have to worry about that panic attack, though. It's just part of the process. I know where it's coming from. I know what's causing it.
And I know it's full of shit.
Have a happy holidays, my friends. I'll see you in the new year.
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