I'm a new DM and I'm in the process of running my friends through the 5e LMoP starter adventure. We're a few sessions in and everyone is telling me that they're having a great time (yay!). However, we're getting to a point in the adventure where the players could really throw me for a loop. I don't want to seem unprepared when I inevitably have to fumble through the pages trying to find the appropriate section to where they'd like to go.

I know it's my responsibility as the DM to be prepared for our sessions (as I also expect of my players), but the problem is that I can't seem to figure out a good way to take notes and memorize (so to speak) the module. It's just so much to keep track of while still being new to the rules (just like my players). I never was the best note-taker in school, and it would appear this trait is still with me as an adult.

One idea I've had that I haven't acted on yet is to record myself acting out short biographies of each NPC and attaching a stock photo from somewhere online. I'm hoping that helps me remember the names of NPCs and how they'll respond to the players.

I'm hoping to learn from some of you how YOU prepare for sessions. Is there a certain structure or format of note cards you've found to work well? If it helps, I tend to be an auditory/visual learner. Maybe you can share examples of your notes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This question has to do with the art of being a DM. It isn't all science. I'd recommend that you edit it to more tightly focus the area of DM task/skill requirements that you need help with . \$\endgroup\$ Jan 24, 2016 at 22:01
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Limit your question to this adventure, for starters. Limit your concerns to NPC prep and content prep. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 24, 2016 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


My basic advice is not only D&D oriented but can be applied to pretty much anything. When you read your adventure or your rules, you can take notes by summarizing the important elements in point form and writing down key words. You'll be able to gather information faster as you go over your notes.

For example, let's pretend you wrote the scene in LOTR Two towers where Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli arrived at Edoras to liberate the king from Saruman's grasp...


  • Edoras description Cloudy, silent, sinister/shady. Horse flag flies down on ground. Looks like cemetery (Gimly's quote :P)

  • Gamling give neutral welcome. Order of Grima: Hand in weapons (DC 15 persuasion check to keep weapons)

  • ENCOUNTER: 4 guards. If one escapes by main door, can warn 4 more.

  • Saruman talks through Theoden, says they can't free him. Contest: Int (Arcana) vs. Int (Arcana) to free Theoden. (This is pure improvisation).

etc. etc. etc.

See you write short lines, important key words organised in point form and you'll remember it all. ;)


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