Extra Pages...needs more planning?
At the urging of my group I made the leap from being a player to the DM. I was tasked with making an epic story for them to play through. I spent weeks and months preparing while the group was assembled and characters cobbled together.
I had a world where the home kingdom of the players had been invaded and subjugated by a powerful force from across the seas. There was a resistance movement fighting in small skirmishes, whittling away at the overwhelming forces of the enemy. I had a 2.5-inch ring binder filled with events and a good six months worth of in game stories ready for them to progress though.
I was ready. I knew precisely how the story was to unfold. Each event intricately connected, not only to the next, but also to the grand story as a whole. Then we actually played the first session and I watched everything I had built crumble before me.
The players started off as prisoners escaping from their chains on the way back to their cells. I had this happen directly across from a weapon shop they could break into where they could get weapons and armor. They, of course, completely ignored it. The NPC prisoner who helped them escape and was meant to give them vital information was almost completely ignored.
They attacked the guards they were supposed to run from, and let one of them get to the alarm bell and raise the town. Despite this they went back for their fellow prisoners and freed them all. Then the whole group, freed slaves included, ran into more guards at the entry square to the city and a massive combat began, one which I was completely unprepared for. Somehow the Wizard, on a 1% chance of success, managed to pull off a spell causing wild chaotic magic to bombard the courtyard turning the human Paladin into an elf and causing dozens of other wild transformations to happen before they all escaped.
I was forced to flip ahead, month’s worth of gaming skipped. I tore a handful of pages from my binder and threw them over my shoulder.
"We won't be needing THESE anymore!” We all had a good laugh.
The moral? Tell your story outside of the lines, roll with things, and always bring extra pages for your binder.