I am running my first 5e campaign as DM, so I am simply running Lost Mine of Phandelver. I have experience playing the game, and a little bit of experience DMing homebrew systems. One player I have played with before but still wet behind the ears, while the other two are brand new to the TTRPG scene.
We have been having tons of fun, but we're getting to the point where they don't know what to do next. (Today's session they will be finishing up the Redbrand Hideout). We unfortunately only get to play ~2-3 hours a week, so there's a lot of time for information to be forgotten.
So far they have already learned the fate of Bowgentle's spellbook from Agatha for Graele and investigated Old Owl Well. However, they seem to have forgotten why they were doing it. They haven't returned to Graele or Daran for their rewards. And they seem to have forgotten that their next mission should be to find the location of Cragmaw Castle and Wave Echo Cave.
How can I help them keep track of what they should be doing? I should note that it's not even necessarily what I want them to be doing - I'm willing to improvise whatever they want to do. But I don't want it to get to the point where they are twiddling their thumbs, either. One player has been keeping small notes, for which I am greatful. But she can't even decipher her own notes (things like "Bowgentle Book 100 Years", she has no idea what that was for).
Some options I've thought of:
- Nudge the players with 'random' encounters. For example, have them overhear someone talk about how a druid in Thundertree knows the location of Cragmaw Castle. This is my personal choice right now, but I don't want them to feel railroaded.
- Write notes for them to remind them of previous sessions. Basically a "Last Time on Phandelver Z" kinda situation from me, the narrator. The problem with that is I already do a lot to prepare for the sessions, it would be nice if they could do it too.
- Have them roll History (Int) checks to recall information about what they should be doing when play slows down. The problem then is there's a chance for failure and we're right back to where we were.
- Talk to them about it outside of the game. Ask them to keep somewhat detailed notes and remember things for themselves. I'm a little bit concerned that this will take away from their fun a little bit - the two brand new players are full casters, which I quote "feels like [they're] doing homework" at times, and I don't want to add even more "homework".
What methods has anyone used that successfully kept a game on track with what the PCs know / want to do?