I thought this voicemail would be better answered as a post, rather than on the minicast. So here goes… How a DM prepares or presents adventures is something that I am sure varies from table to table. In my particular case, and how I mentioned in our new “Dungeon Master Guys” podcast, I constantly seek to reinvent myself as a DM in order to sample new and different ways of doing things.
One thing is constant however, my DM binder. This for me is a must have, as I can keep all sorts of information in here at a glance. NPC’s, handouts, regional maps, and story lines all go in here and it is an invaluable resource. I’ve blogged about the DM binder before.
While the DM’s binder is for my eyes only, the PC’s recap is a little document I put together as a PDF, using the resources available from WOTC, such as artwork and maps. This is good for those of you who, like me, do not have the luxury of playing in a weekly game. The recap is a living document that gets updated at the end of every session, and will theoretically one day exist as a compilation of the events of the entire campaign. This document gets sent to the players a few days before the next session.
In my campaign, I use both published adventures, and homebrew stuff. When I homebrew, I prepare my adventures in a Word document, but I have a Level Progression Sheet I use to plan out the encounters.
Another invaluable tool I use in my preparation is the combat tracker I run at the table, only because it lets me prepare an archive of random encounters I can use at any time. I love it and I’m pretty sure that it will be a part of my 4e DM’ing career for as long as I play. I have blogged about it before as well.
I also use NPC Tracker Cards to give to the players as they meet NPC’s throughout the campaign. I believe this helps keep all of us a little more organized.
Ultimately, find a system that works for you. Although it sounds like a cliche, it’s really the best advice I can give you. Find something that makes you comfortable and run with it.
I hope this helped answer the caller’s question, and don’t forget to keep calling the voicemail line at 305-349-3026. That number will get your question answered in either my minicast, the blog as a post like this one, or in our brand spanking new Dungeon Master Guys Podcast.