The Reset - or what will go wrong, well, will...
Article by Bill Parslow
Speaking as a GM who occasionally (ahem) misses something on a reset I have to say that it does happen. I've made checklists (which were helpful for new GMs), but the main thing is going round and re-checking everything as you go round the room. Also when I start I always check the previous GM's reset as we're all human and all fallible. It's the recheck that's important.
When I actually do the reset, which has to be quick, I start with the nearest thing at hand and carry on in that vein. It’s quite likely that at least one padlock has been scattered to the furthest corner of the room. Rather than try and find it, search through the debris of the last group that played, I just continue my reset and tidy up until, hopefully, I come across it.
So the only organised, in the same order every time practise I have is the check at the end. The reason for this is that you can spend too much time looking for little items that you would have found anyway as you went through the room.
This is where, though, especially when you have an inexperienced GM you should have spares. And a change log! (see my previous post :Change Logs!). And of course training is important - but as important as the training is remembering that what you say doesn’t, can’t just sink into someone’s head just like that - they need time and experience to absorb things. (See Training Escape Room GMs!).
So the reset is always going to be the place where things go wrong - and the trick is to always expect that and prepare for it. Lessen the probability, make it less likely but then minimise, as much as you can, the impact of a mistake.
At the end of the day if a small and vital prop just cannot be found you might be unlucky - someone has misappropriated it. But as long as you have a spare, use that - more often than not your next group will find it for you!