Content of the article: "DM Tip: Write plot hooks and dungeon objectives on Post-Its and put them on your DM screen"
Have your players repeatedly asked "so, what next"? Do they forget about side-quests, talking to that NPC or follow up on a loose thread?
When they are in dungeons or other plot-related events, do they forget about secondary objectives? Do they seem unsure about what to do, or what they need to advance the plot?
Then try giving them a "quest tracker". Write the objectives, any secondary objectives, or pending goals as short reminders on Post-Its. Put those that are currently known on the DM Screen facing the players. Put those that are currently unknown (but might come up later in the session) on the inside of the screen and move them to the facing sinde once they are discovered. Clearly mark which ones are required to advance the plot, and which ones are "optional".
Once your players complete an objective, tick it off and give the Post-It to them.
This way, you can help your players stay on track, and help turn a party that wanders around aimlessly into being driven on completing their mission.
Here is an example: Spoilers for Waterdeep Dragon Heist!!
The players have to infiltrate Xanathar's Lair to fulfill two objectives: find a Tear of a Beholder (a key for the Vault of Dragons, essentially a McGuffin) and kill Nihiloor, a mind flayer. They also learned about magic scrying sensors that are essentially security cameras, and those have to be evaded or destroyed.
So I wrote three Post-Its:
- Kill Nihiloor.
- Find a Tear of a Beholder.
- (Optional) Find a way to disable the sensors.
Over the course of the dungeon, they discover that there are barrels with smoke powder that they can use to blow up Xanathars Lair. So I have additional Post-Its prepared, but hidden:
- (Optional) Locate the smoke powder.
- (Optional) Place the smoke powder in strategic locations.
And occasionally, when they get into the boss fight, put up a Post-It with "Objective: Survive" just to get them in the mood.
This trick turned my band of mostly directionless players into a commando team that went and utterly decimated everything in the lair, moving with purpose and drive – and being on a hunt to collect all the Post-Its and then knowing when they were "done". I was both proud and baffled. Sometimes its the little things.
- This is why beholders have trust issues
- Is it fair to judge optional content in a game?
- What would happen if we couldn’t trust our pipboys?
© Post "DM Tip: Write plot hooks and dungeon objectives on Post-Its and put them on your DM screen" for game Dungeons & Dragons Online.
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