While there are many ways to prepare your tabletop roleplaying games as a dungeon master, I have found that after writing 4 pages of storyline, I would get bogged down with a forest of information during the game. I decided to give myself limits by keeping everything on one sheet and discovered that if I used more visual models, I could reference the material quickly and trigger my mind into action.
Here are the opening steps for a seamless session while playing Dungeons and Dragons. First, read the introduction to describe the setting. This sets the stage for the players upon which to act.
Bonus tip! Before the session, have 1 player prepare an opening scene by give a monologue introduction (a prayer, journal entry, letter to home, dream, or even a song. This brings the players into building the stage of the setting.
Session Challenge: For the sake of keeping the table’s story intact, describe out loud to yourself the challenge presented for the session. Here, I state that the war machine is inoperable, requires repair in order for the sojourners to safely arrive at their destination given their limited time and resources. By taking time to describe the challenge, I do my part as a dungeon master to keep the tension in the game, providing happy players and meaningful choices.
Without further blathering, see below are 4 examples of a visual session preparation involving a social interaction, an exploration, a skill challenge and a combat encounter. The balloons are there as quick glance references to trigger your memory on your preparation. The dungeon master can one by one visit the scenes by either inviting the sojourner to participate or challenge them to overcome. If a conflict arises, feel free to increase the stakes in the game by advancing to an encounter. If this happens, the sojourner may lose or gain something from the encounter. Otherwise, the scene simply unfolds and great roleplay is enjoyed by all.
Imagine how satisfied you will be when, at the end of your session, you can check off each of those bubbles, one by one! This method is easy to read, easy to store and will help you make sure you don’t leave anything out of your session that you prepared.
May your story continue!