Last time I mentioned it’s been over a decade since I ran a game that was a story I laid out. Since then I’ve developed what I call foundational prep which gives me the tools I need to improvise sessions.
First off, if I have a location I know what’s going on there. I hate static dungeons, towers, spaceships, warzones, whatever. There needs to be something going on in the place that the PCs need to deal with. It also needs to be something that has a real conclusion if the PCs don’t mess with anything in it. If you’re not running a location based scenario then come up with some solid motivation and goals along with an understanding of why the bad guys or gals want to achieve it, and how they go about doing it. For longer games I drop in more locations within the place, have a few more threads of events going on, and mix up the previous two ideas. A great example of this is in the beginning of Masks of Nyarlathotep. The final and most important piece to this is to make sure the characters are tied to the troubles that are about to happen or build your adversary faction with pieces the PCs want to interact with. There are tons of ways to do this but directed questions work pretty well for me which is where I’ll pick up next time.
Talk to you then,