Currently I’ve been using two tools to help get my adventure ideas ready for a session. The first is a module template from the guy at Key Our Cars blog. I have heavily modified my own template, but I like the layout and it follows pretty close to WoTC adventure formats.
I like having the overall theme and behind the scenes plans of the villains laid out. I list out a few hooks with major and minor quests. I put together an opening scene and sketch out any interval situations (including planned skill challenges). I’ve been leaning away having a detailed encounter write ups. However, if there is a lot going on in the manner of environmental effects, traps, or hazards, all which might require some additional tactical notes, I do give a general write up of specific encounters.
One of the nicest features about this template is that I can cut and paste monsters from the DDI compendium directly into it. So at the end of my adventure write up, I have every monster or trap listed out. While I run the game I have all my notes neatly organized, and have every baddie my group runs across right at my fingertips. It’s a nice template, check it out.
The second tool I’ve been using is the one page dungeon. This was originally an idea proposed by Sham’s Grog and Blog. The concept is simple and its elegance is noteworthy. Get your entire dungeon together on one page. Fill in each room with a slim list of details and monsters. Then just run your game. Don’t bother with a detailed description of each room, just sketch out the details and improvise when you need to. All the meat for the session is planned out and summarized nicely on one page.
I’ve not completely transcended into the zen-like state of the 1 page dungeon for my entire preparation. As I said, I still fall back to having more details prepared for specific encounters. I also like having my major plot lines written up beforehand. So I fall back to the module template from Key Our Cars quite a bit. Still, using both I am able to get a lot down efficiently with limited prep-time.
I’ve been dabbling in using another tool. It seems to be a nifty program but I need a little time to work with it. Expect another post in a few weeks after I get a chance to plan a few sessions using it. Still, it looks pretty awesome.
Until then, I’ll leave a link to a recent contest that Chatty DM had hosted. They compiled all the 1 page dungeons that were submitted. Be sure to browse through them. There are some absolute gems there and tons of neat ideas for your own game. Good stuff.
So what other little tools have folks been using to prep their own games?