Replying here because other people may be interested!
Compushwa wrote:heyo, just messaging ya so we don't clutter up the thread with me asking a bunch o' stuff. what do you mean by using modules and railroading?
also another question was how far in advance do you plan the game y'all got going on now? was talking to my friend about how difficult it might be to be a DM, and he said he thought you can make it as easy or hard on yourself as you want. like planning out a shit ton of scenarios or just bsing through it and everyone rolling with it.
A module is like a mini plot. It's generally good for 1-5 sessions depending on players, session length, etc. Lots of people make them and then put them online! It'll have characters, a plot, maps, stats, etc. I've never used a module, but I've been a player in several fun ones!
Railroading is leading the players to your destination or helping them not go outside of your box. Some people really like this, but my DM'ing style is the anti-railroader.
In terms of prep... It depends on the campaign style and how good you are at Improvisation. If you're bad at improv, you gotta plan more. If you are good at rolling with the punches (one of my few DM'ing talents), you can do less. My prep generally consists of writing out a basic "plot framework" that's a half page or so long that describes in general what the players have to do. "The players will find their way into the building and meet with the League of Janitors. There will be a single guard on the outside." That sort of thing. Then I have characters written down with stats, personality traits, and their action (grand motive), tactics (how they obtain that motive), and activities (what they do in their environment to showcase their personality). Those three things are a theatre directing trick and I employ it extensively to make fun and enjoyable characters that aren't all basically the same.
In terms of how far in advance... Generally each session has some planning involved, but you build off of previous planning. The first session is the hardest to plan for. After that it's just modifying stuff to react to the players while adding new stuff to ensure future stuff.