An often overlooked aspect of Dungeons & Dragons is time spent planning. I do not refer to the copious amounts of time spent by game masters to keep every session as engaging as possible, but to the planning that must be done by the players as they stagger foward in the storyline. A lot of these schemes can be done in private, naturally, but eventually the game master has to be included in the plotting to help weave everything together. This calls for a game session in which no actual gaming takes place.
There can still be experience gained, though. Having dedicated players integrally tied into the story makes them even more important, and their contributions need to be rewarded accordingly. This becomes even more crucial as players reach upwards of level 8 and beyond. They aren’t just your average adventurers anymore. They have become extremely important elements of a story that can have impacts far afield from what the players themselves are aware of.
An example of this kind of planning is a warrior getting close to the point where they will begin drawing followers. Finding a place to build a stronghold, and securing the supplies to undertake construction, can require a lot of planning by both player and game master. Cooperation is key if the storyline is to make sense and stay intact. From time to time it is just smart to step back from the game and have a jam session about everything else that is happening in the background of the adventure. Proper planning leads to a better story. Just ask that “Game of Thrones” guy. He didn’t plan for anything and now he has no idea what the hell is going on with his own television show. Don’t be like that.
Oh, and don’t wear a Greek fisherman’s hat unless you are a Greek fisherman. Because that’s just silly.