Dungeon Master Journaling, my step by step brainstorming process.

I’ve been asked a few times how I do my planning for any of the games I do, whether it be AD&D 1e or Marvel. I did a video on what steps I take, but a few people wanted to see it written out, so I’ve decided to put down the idea I expressed in the video, into blog form.

So I normally take like an hour a day, or an hour every other day (normally my lunch time at work) to sit and brainstorm idea for my game. I sit in a nice comfy chair in the lounge area at work, and pull out my journal notebook, and my pencil. Sometimes throughout the day ideas strike me when I see a picture or someone else has a great idea. I normally print those out and take them with me, I’ll even cut them out and tape/paste them into the book if I need the picture as a reference.

During your hour, start off by quickly jotting down five ideas, in bullet points.  

Day 1  
  • Step 1 – Concepts – Things you’d like to do during) 
    • Concepts stage is an overview of things you’d LIKE to do in words, and it doesn’t always mean you will be doing them ASAP, they can be moved towards another day, weeks down the line. 
      • Could be an idea for a trap
      • Could be an idea for a custom monster
      • Could be a hook for a side adventure
      • Could be drawing a map for game
      • Research for an item, a location,  a new race
  • Step 2 – Applications of first five steps.
    • Taking something from your list, and actually do it. 
    • Take one of the 5 bullet points and DO IT.
    • Spend as much time on each as you want.  
      • Example: Idea 1, So let’s say you decide to draw a map, and you spend that whole hour, drawing it, making it a rough outline of what you want. It may not look like much at the end of an hour, but this is where the genius of this idea comes up. You leave it after the hour, now you have a new bullet point for the next day. 
      • Example:  Idea 2, so let’s say you want to write up a hook for a side adventure.
        • Sit there and think, jotting down ideas of an NPC can get this side quest/adventure to the characters. Just go nuts, write down any possibility you can think of, until you are exhausted of ideas. LEAVE IT. Jot this down for the next day bullet points.
  • Step 3 – Finalizing and wrapping up things, moving ideas forward 
    • Taking the ideas you have left on your bullet points, moving them to the next day, plus the new breadcrumbs you’ve created.
      • In the last few minutes of hour, look back at what you did. Look at your original list.
      • Cross out or put a check next to everything you accomplished on your list. 
      • The things left over, get moved to the next page/day. 
      • Look over what you’ve written or drawn. 
        • Move the breadcrumb ideas to your list. 
        • Drew a map? Add to your bullet points, Drawn map, Page x. 

Day 2

  • Step 1 – Sitting down for day two, start over again at Day 1, step 1 (concepts).
    • Look over what you did the previous day to refresh your memory. 
    • Look over your list of things, can you add towards it? NO, go to Applications (step 2)
  • Step 2 – Moving into Applications, described in Day 1, step 2.
    • Continue alone with this step as normal. 
    • Use the map from the previous day, map you want to fill in the areas? Maybe you want to write the hook for the map? Map you have the hook, but need to tie it into the map? Plot it out, plan it!
  • Step 3 – Finalizing and wrapping things up as described in Day 1, Step 3.
    • The only thing you’d do here different, is if you don’t have enough ideas or bullets to move forward, you take a few minutes to jot down some idea or don’t. Its totally up to you!

For those that would rather watch instead of reading, I did a video on it:

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