Plotting out encounters – “Encounter Squares”

Some people have been asking how I plan an encounter, however big the encounter may be for the game, I use the following square (see above) with colors. The colors is what I normally use in OneNote. I have this as a template in one tab and I keep copying and pasting it into various adventures as I write them for my DM notes.

The Who or What’s Here
This is pretty simple, I drag the NPC or Monster into this area, I also will jot down some notes on how I want the creature or NPC to act. I can also add little notes to myself about NPCs and how they should act towards a certain PCs.
With Onenote it’s real simple, you can copy an entire creature or npc with the collapsible tabs feature with one simple copy & paste (I’ll show you this in a later post).
Various things can be placed here, such as what location in the dungeon, wilderness or whatever. Weather situations can be added as well as land marks. Basically anything you’ll need to remember about this encounter. “-2 to saves due to…”
Event Notes
This square, I can put in any major/minor events, from the past or things that will happen as a result of this encounter. Some ideas for this square would be if you are tracking kingdoms or even races and how they feel towards the PCS. Such things as “fighting this NPC will result in -1 on the favors track”.
Here is where you can put things like treasure they will obtain from the encounter or even any extra XP for this encounter. Putting little notes as “this was a hard encounter, players who think outside the box get an extra 100xp”. Sure you can jot all those things down afterwards, if you remember, but why not put the little note now and then while you are playing write down the player names right there as well.
Not sure if this will actually help anyone, but it helps me organize and keep things in my analog note book and digital note book. Yes I carry around a small hard-covered notebook with me:


2 thoughts on “Plotting out encounters – “Encounter Squares”

  1. That is a great idea! I like the compartmentalized method of approaching encounter generation, instead of a checklist of required and optional elements.

    I'm going to use this going forward. I appreciate it!

  2. Great! Glad you can make use of it while planning your games. I found it makes prep time more interesting and when playing the game I don't forget stuff. Thanks for the feedback

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