Outside of the game play itself (which I will cover in later articles), getting the paperwork right at the beginning and the end of the adventure can make the whole session flow nice and cleanly. Hiccups with the paperwork can be a real pain for both the players and GM alike.
Living Greyhawk has a good amount of paperwork to keep track of and staying on top of it can be a challenge anyone. As a GM, it can be bewildering if you don’t know how to handle it. Even at its simplest, each PC will get one adventure record (AR) at the end of the event that needs to be filled out. It can be a lot tougher though; magic item creation logsheets, master item logs, cohort sheets, and unique certificates can make for a whole lot of paperwork that needs to be reviewed and signed. Due to this complexity, a good deal of this paperwork goes overlooked by the GM who just blindly signs every piece of paper put in front of him. This can lead to errors that cause big grief later on down the line.
At the beginning of each event, it is best to hand out the scoring form right away and get everyone to add his or her player information to it so that it does not clog up the end of the event. This can usually be done while everyone is getting ready to play. Next, I find it best to let everyone know that I will need to see their previous AR at the end of the adventure and that it should be completely filled out. Although this is usually a standard, when time is rushed the final few boxes are rarely added up. It’s also a good idea to remind the players to work out their magic item creation and basic purchases before the end of the event so that less time is spent during wrap-up. The players can complete most of this simple paperwork while the adventure is rolling along, during small breaks, or when their character is not present.
At the end of the event, filling out the AR does not have to be all that time consuming. The key is getting all the players working on their paperwork as quickly as possible. I find it is best to mark one carefully and use it as a template for filling out all the rest. Once you have their access items determined (what did they get from the adventure) you can easily cross of all items and favors that they did not receive. The only two information boxes you must concern yourself with right away are the two red boxes labeled gp gained and XP gained. Getting these tallies from the adventure can ordinarily be done throughout the course of the event on a piece of scratch paper. Then, simply circle the APL that the adventure was played at and you have your template. Copying that same information to all your other blank ARs is a breeze.
Once you’ve got the ARs filled out, it’s time for the players to go to work filling in their information. When they hand it back to you to be signed, it is best to get their previous AR as well. You can then quickly check the previous TU, gp, and XP values to make sure they were copied correctly onto their new AR. All that’s left is to take a quick check of the math, sign the AR, and date it. Any other paperwork the character might have is easy enough to deal with while you wait for others to finish filling in their AR.
The keys to this system are to get as much of the paperwork underway before the end of the event as possible, keep the paperwork unobtrusive on the play, and to keep it moving at the end. Paperwork does not have to be an anchor that weighs you down. With a little bit of planning, you do not even have to notice it at all.
Future articles in this column will deal with running a better game, dealing with problems at the table, where to go when the adventure does not give then answer, and the nature of judging for the Living Greyhawk campaign.
©1995-2007 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Wizards is headquartered in Renton, Washington, PO Box 707, Renton, WA 98057.