10 Time-Saving Tips for Busy Dungeon Masters

10 Time-Saving Tips for Busy Dungeon Masters

Being a Dungeon Master (DM) is a rewarding but time-consuming role. Between planning sessions, creating NPCs, and designing encounters, it can feel like there’s never enough time. To help you manage your time more effectively, here are 10 tips that will streamline your preparation and keep your Dungeons & Dragons game running smoothly.

1. Use Pre-Made Modules

Pre-made modules are a fantastic resource for busy DMs. They provide ready-made adventures with detailed maps, NPCs, and storylines. This allows you to focus on customizing and enhancing the adventure rather than creating everything from scratch.

Check out some official D&D modules to get started.

2. Utilize Digital Tools

Digital tools can save you a lot of time in planning and running your sessions. Platforms like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds offer virtual tabletops, character sheets, and automated dice rolls. These tools can streamline gameplay and reduce preparation time.

3. Create Reusable NPCs and Locations

Design a set of generic NPCs and locations that can be adapted to different scenarios. This way, you can quickly insert them into your sessions without having to create new ones every time.

For example, have a few tavern templates with descriptions and common patrons ready to go.

4. Use Random Generators

Random generators can quickly provide you with names, plot hooks, encounters, and more. Websites like Donjon offer a variety of generators that can save you a lot of prep time.

5. Delegate to Your Players

Get your players involved in the world-building process. Ask them to create their own backstories, suggest NPCs, or even design parts of the world. This not only saves you time but also makes your players more invested in the game.

6. Streamline Combat

Combat can take up a significant portion of your session time. Use initiative trackers and pre-roll common dice results to speed up the process. Tools like Improved Initiative can help manage combat efficiently.

7. Focus on Key Plot Points

Identify the key plot points and scenes you need to prepare in detail, and keep the rest flexible. This allows you to focus your time and energy on the most important aspects of your story.

Keep notes on the main plot threads and be ready to improvise the rest.

8. Simplify Record Keeping

Use apps or spreadsheets to track important campaign information like NPCs, plot points, and loot. Tools like Notion or Trello can help you organize your notes and access them quickly during sessions.

9. Set a Time Limit for Prep

Give yourself a set amount of time to prepare for each session. This helps prevent you from spending too much time on unnecessary details and encourages you to focus on what's most important.

Try setting a timer and sticking to it to avoid over-prepping.

10. Recycle and Adapt Content

Don’t be afraid to reuse and adapt content from previous sessions or other sources. If your players missed a particular plot point or encounter, find a way to reintroduce it in a new context.

Adapting existing content can save you time and ensure nothing goes to waste.


Being a DM doesn’t have to be a full-time job. By using these time-saving tips, you can reduce your preparation time and focus on creating a fun and engaging experience for your players. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the game and create memorable adventures together. Happy DMing!

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