It’s been on my mind to share something that I’ve been doing lately that has really helped my session prep. It’s sort of a combination of the 5 Room Dungeon, Binary Method from RPG Mainframe, and Flowcharts from Dungeon Craft.
Essentially, when I think about the upcoming session I create a matrix of nodes on what I think the potential encounters/locations might be, trying to keep the options fairly straightforward.
Then I connect the nodes with arrows based on which might lead to the next. Sometimes it’s a basic binary split or they converge back to a single node but from a different angle.
After that, I go through and mark off what type of encounter or situation those nodes might be in based on the 5 Room Dungeon categories, trying to include at least one of every type.
At that point, I have a pretty good idea about the feel of the overall session/each of the encounters and then I can begin to apply notes and details around each node. I try to keep things pretty general so it can be my GM Map as I run the session. If I need more details, I work those out on a different part of my page.
What I like about this method is that it keeps things loose and allows for flexibility when I’m actually running the session, but gives me a safety net/map that I can fall back on as my players go about their adventuring.