Kassoon

4 Easy Ways to Speed Up Game Prep

DMing can seem like a daunting task because of all the work you have to do just to get ready before the game even starts. Then once the game starts there’s even more unexpected stuff and difficult decisions to make. It can be hard to even get started. Well here’s a few ideas to make it easier, faster, and just less work overall.

Preparing

1.

Having a theme to each of your sessions makes everything else easier and faster, as establishing a narrow focus will make coming up with appropriate responses both as you’re planning and as you’re playing that much quicker. For example, the Library of Flying Books module you already know what it’s about. I wanted a library full of animated books, and every time I needed to come up with something I can go back to that well to get a quick idea of what should happen by thinking of things related to libraries and animated books. Golems, wizards, leylines, spells, artwork, reading. Need a location, an enemy, an unexpected improv on the spot from one of your players? Library. Books. It’s much easier to deal with than a void of infinite possibilities.

Monsters

2.

Choose a couple of locations and a couple of monsters, then use those as the core of the session. You can use the Interesting Locations Generator to help you come up with a couple location ideas, and flip through the Monster Manual until you find a couple monsters you like. Base the session around that, they go to that place and encounter these monsters.

This can cut down on prep by simply letting you improv more. Instead of having to get a dungeon map and a bunch of encounters ready, choose a few monsters related to your theme and sprinkle them around as needed to reach your player’s desired level of monster killing and your desired level of PC killing. They won’t be able to tell you made up the number of gnolls in the room, and of course they’re fighting a lot of gnolls it’s the gnoll masquerade party. What’s behind that door? The… wine cellar, where someone has stashed a couple backup masks. You don’t need to map the entire thing out, you know what rooms a masquerade party has. You’ve seen at least one musical.

Gollum

3.

Have a memorable character or two ready to go. A character is “memorable” by being a bit different from the norm. The NPC Generator can be helpful for this, or just thinking of some unusual people you’ve met. What are some weird speech patterns you’ve heard, how is their motivation different from someone usually in their position? What if they’re just a giant lizard? That’s a question that lead to dragons, dragonborn, and lizardfolk, so it’s a question worth asking occasionally.

Insert this character somewhere in the session if it’s taking a nosedive, you don’t need to plan out where because a good time and place will present itself. Who else is here? Well… there’s a woman named Jillian Sunmeadow who’s very sensitive about her name. She’s an adventurer who loves to crochet. She’s a lizardfolk. Long after the memory of what you actually did in the session fades, the memorable character will remain and come to define it. So even if the session bombs you can trick your players into thinking it was actually a good session because all they remember now is Jillian Sunmeadow. They spent the whole session talking and doing stuff with her, so you can just re-use what you had prepped next time.

Book

4.

Come up with a very high-level outline of how the session should go. Where do they start? What’s their motivation? Where do they go? What do they find there? How do they achieve their goal? What consequences does that have? How can they deal with those consequences? How does this affect them? Hey, you’re pretty much done and ready now. Any time the session slows down and you need to figure out what happens next, go to the next question and answer in that list. It doesn’t matter if your players go in completely the wrong direction and do something unexpected. They achieved their goal by killing the baker instead of paying him to bake the cake, okay, what consequences does that have? Well, there’s no one to bake the cake now, oh and also customers keep coming in. Okay, let’s keep going.

By having these higher level decisions and narrowed constraints ready to go, you can save time on session prep by simply having to do less to get ready. For your next session, try just a couple of these and see how it makes all your other usual decisions and work go by faster. You can incorporate more of them as you get used to it and see the difference it makes before session, during session, and after session.

Want even more help with your D&D session? Check out all the other tools, generators, and articles: https://www.kassoon.com/dnd/

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Shout outs: Stacey.
Their contribution stands as a beacon of hope for all adventurers!

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