Content of the article: "For Lazy DM’s: How to prep a session in 3 steps or less or your money back!"
Suppose it's game night and you forgot/procrastinated/was too busy to prep the session, and now you're down to the wire. Do you cancel the session? Of course not! You can prep sessions fairly easily with minimal effort. Here's how.
The guide presupposes the following:
- You know your players and you've played with them for some time now.
- You're not in the middle of a dungeon or a story arc (i.e. you can run a one-shot OR sidequest within the current campaign).
- You're running a homebrew (technically, this can also work in a published campaign, but it takes a little more research and work).
- You have some improvisational skills
The method is thus:
- Think of something that the players want to accomplish based off their backstories. If you're working with fresh characters, what kind of stuff do your players enjoy when playing? Do they like looking for random stuff? Creative ways to get out of combat? Do what your players already want to do. For this example, PC1 is a druid who's obsessed with Slimes, PC2 is a Paladin who can't say no to someone in need, PC3 is a bard who just really, really wants to roll performance, PC4 is a Wizard who's lampooning as Sherlock Holmes and PC5 is a rogue who's just in it for the cash.
- Set up a quest such that every single party member has their boxes ticked. Let's say, a town is in trouble because a steel dragon is terrorizing the village, and the mayor will pay you half the town coffers for you to get rid of it (PC 2 and 5: check). You check out the lair of the dragon only to find that you guys are no match for it, but Sherlock Wizard does his thing and he discovers that the dragon has two weaknesses: True Ice from the nearby glacier and a potion that the local alchemist makes (PC4: check). The glacier is home to slimes, and the local alchemist is a little loose in the head and you're going to need some creative ways to get to him (PC 1 and 3: check).
- Pad the encounter with roleplay. This step is completely optional, but since the quest is, in essence, very short, improvising how the NPCs interact with the players is of utmost importance. In the instance I've done this method, the Bard chose to cast Charm Person on the alchemist. The alchemist rolls a natural 1 and well, stuff got too heated. Your players still have fun even if the quest is short because they are immersed in the story.
This is the method I've employed to great effect whenever I wasn't able to prepare a good session for my players. When done right, it won't even look like you just slapped in a bunch of story beats within 15 minutes.
- Fellow DMs who only have a session once every several weeks/once a month, how do you keep yourself motivated?
- Consider having a side campaign
- Prepping for Out of the Abyss – General and Character Questions
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