I woke up thinking about the dungeon I want to DM, and had some plans to hopefully make it easier.
I'm planning on running some Dungeons & Dragons for a regular group (The Rulebreakers) and for a change of pace doing a straight up dungeon bash. I don't want to say which one I'm thinking of, spoilers and all that, but I had some ideas to make things easier.
One of the problems I find I have pretty often is the delays caused by flipping back and forth in the module/book. That's because the layout of the information isn't presented in a way that I can really use at the table. It's just too dense and dispersed too widely. So I'm going to try manually indexing the dungeon with bullet points on a sheet with the map itself. That way I have an aide memoir right there on a single page without all the detail making it hard to spot. It means (I hope) that when the players ask what they can hear beyond a door, I can easily see what's in the next room without having to go hunting for the details because I have enough info right there to jog my memory. So it might look something like this -
- Doorway - Locked at night, pressure plate trap
- Entrance Hall - Dark. Arguing goblin guards
- Goblin common room - Messy, smells awful. Wolves in cages, drunk goblins tormenting prisoner
Now provided I know the dungeon, that should be enough info to allow me to run things smoothly, especially if I can dig the detail out for the room very quickly.
So I think I'd like to try to create a system where I take the detailed information for the room and extract it, just in case I do need the details. Monster stat blocks and so on, and any notes or links to other things in the dungeon.
That will give me a bullet point index, giving me the top level information on one sheet of paper so I have fast access to the main points but I can dig out the details if I need to, with all of the relevant bits the extra detail sheet. Sounds good in theory!
The particular dungeon I want to run also has a changing population and the locations of the denizens can change depending on what the characters do and when. Goblins rushing from the common room to assist in the defences for example. This was my sleeping brain wave - have the monsters physically on the index cheat sheet somehow. Using chess pawns or the brilliant Wizkids minis and having them placed on the location they are currently in and moving them when it updates. That way you can't forget that the adventurers already killed those extra guards while they slept because the minis themselves are no longer present.
Whether the extra work involved here will pay off at the table remains to be seen, but right now I feel like it might!