D&D General Your Top Tip(s) for Prepping a Published Adventure

Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
It's true for me... but maybe that's my fault. Large modules (say, more than 100 pages) make me feel like I have to know/remember a lot of stuff in advance, and reading the module once is not enough, and it starts to feel like studying. On the other hand, if I design an adventure myself the details flow naturally to my mind and I never forget them because they were my ideas. The real problem for me is that I am not good at writing good plots, for them I still have to rely on professional authors.

Ah, okay. I think I see where you're coming from. I usually define anything that long as a "campaign" or "adventure path". In my parliance, an adventure module is anywhere from about 2-32 pages and will usually take anywhere from 1-4 sessions to play through. The monster campaign books that WotC puts out have to be broken up a bit to be digested properly....

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Small God of the Dozens
Some of those bigger modules break down nicely into subsections that can essentially be run one piece at a time. Phandelver and Dragon Heist come to mind. If I were to pick how to prep for those I'd probably favor prepping in-between bits for the part I'm running over getting too deep into what comes after that. Players have a way of doing to unexpected, so I always like to have a couple of extra adventure bits ready for when they zig instead of zag, So long as you're a session or so ahead, and have a rough idea what the whole thing is going to look like you're probably ok.

I'm not suggesting that you don't read the whole thing first btw, only that you don't need to prep it all before hand. If you prep too far ahead stuff could change because of player actions and you have to re-jig it anyway. If it's more than a couple of sessions away I have back of napkin notes at best.
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I've just finished DMing Princes of the Apocalypse and I'm really glad that Past Me took the time to make a spreadsheet of who was in which room of the megadungeon. It meant I could, at a glance, figure out who might hear a battle and come running, and it meant that if the characters took a long rest I could immediately re-deploy the cultists to retake the areas the players had cleared out. It helped it to feel like a living place, with intelligent enemies who didn't just wait in their designated room until they got slaughtered.

I like this idea. Thanks.

Someone above mentioned having players track inspiration. What I did for this was buy fancy metallic d20 dice that are handed to players when they get it. That die is what is then rolled for inspiration. Anything remaining at the end of the session is quickly jotted down so they can be passed out again next go-round. This visual reminder works much better than trying to keep track on paper, and is a lot less work.


I've just discovered a new resource for prepping the major published adventure paths: YouTube. I probably should have thought of this ages ago, but it turns out there are people who'll make videos anywhere from 10 minutes to multiple hours long in which they go through a published adventure and share their tips for running it. This is great because I can listen while doing other things.

(I also like to find someone else's play-through if possible, but those are guaranteed to be multiple hours long, so I don't always have time for that.)

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