Planning Your Session from A-Z

If you're new to session planning and feel overwhelmed by the sheer scope with which you can take things, this is for you. Veteran GMs reiterate upon the simplicity with which your encounters, sessions, and even entire campaigns can be planned under the FFG Star Wars RPG system, but, as a new GM, I tend to overthink things and script out way more than what's needed.

To top it off, players are bound to derail even the most carefully laid plans in the blink of an eye - it's in their genes. "Oh, your group killed the one NPC that contained the information they needed? Tough break." "What's that? Oh, they kept the Hutt's weapon cache instead of turning it in for the reward, which was supposed to kick-start the next segment?" PCs excel at throwing a hydrospanner into your hyperdrive (somebody rolled a despair!) and utterly shattering whatever you had planned.

So what do we do about it? These situations can be combatted in-part by thinking on your feet and becoming more comfortable with improvising, but we can take it a step further by implementing a brilliant idea from none other than the system's creator, Jay Little.

He proposes grabbing a sheet of paper and writing A-Z down the side, then, write one word for each letter that can relate to your upcoming session. Perhaps it's dealing with your campaign's current overall theme, such as "Betrayal" or "Revenge", or maybe it's a planet (Ryloth) or random NPC name (Vadrii) you can introduce at a moment's notice.

It doesn't matter if you know what it means or how you'll work it into your session, and that's the beauty of it: you'll know when the time is right and it will be there waiting for you on the page. The more you write the more things will gel together, and ideas will start to form as you connect the pieces in your head. If there are two or three words for a particular letter that you'd really like to include, I say go for it - I did my first time. However, I do urge you to resist writing out anything more detailed so you can experience just how dynamic having a simplistic plan can make your session.

As with so much in this system, this is really a case of Less is More. Instead of writing detailed notes for your next session, try creating an A-Z list, and, if you want, brainstorm a few ways you can weave things together. I think you'll be surprised at how smoothly things move when you stop overplanning and simply go with your players' flow.

For more great info on this and more session planning, check out episode 22 of The Order 66 Podcast, "GMing A-Z with Jay", and stay tuned for more tips here!

Mike Branski

A first-time GM diving into FFG's Star Wars RPG, Dungeon World, Fiasco, and more, sharing his experiences and helping you get the most out of the systems you love - even if you don't know it yet.