Method of Session Prep Combo/GM Map



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.


Definitely a good way to figure out a flow of a dungeon/space without having to draw it all.

I’ve used Ironsworn’s Delve Theme/Domain Site mechanics in a similar way to randomly gen a space


Thanks! It’s been really nice especially to just get past the fear of a blank page really quickly and to invoke a feeling early on instead of stressing about the mechanics.

I’ve never looked into Ironsworn. What are those mechanics like?


Delve is an add-on for well dungeon delving. As a GM I would take a Theme and Domain - let’s look at Fortified and Ruin as they best match your diagram dungeon

If I’ve a good idea of what I want, I just write it up - but when I get stumped THAT is when I roll a 1d100 for a Feature which if 1-20 is on the Theme and 21-100 is on the Domain.

Additionally if I don’t have a solid idea on the danger in a space - another d100 roll 1-30 goes to Theme, and 31-45 goes to Domain, while 46-100 are on the Reveal Danger move

Again these often just to get inspiration when I hit something I’m stumped with - heck you can flip the d100 roll and see if that result is more interesting based on what you’ve already got worked out already


The thing I like about this is how even though you’ve kind of tailored a well balanced meal of gaming goodness, you haven’t locked the players into solving a room that way. They could Tank or Rogue or even Face their way through the whole thing if they wanted to try. And there’s no saying they have to start at the Guardian either, for it to work.

Re: Ironsworn— second the recommendation, I use it as a “big picture hole filler” when prepping sometimes. Give me an idea about what kind of detail to toss in and what kinds of problems. Etc. I find that during play I rarely want to slow things down by going to tables, so it just works better for me if I have some pre-rolled stuff staged. And Ironsworn Delve is a great resource for that.


I know the other two, but what’s Binary Method/RPG Mainframe?



RPG Mainframe is the name of Hankerin’s podcast, available to all patrons. You can subscribe for as little as $1 and just about everything will be made available to you.


Exactly. I’m a very simple GM and I like my sessions to be straightforward with plenty of opportunities to adventure however my players wish. For example in the session using the map, my players RP’d the first troll guardians into unfavorable positions before sniping them off the bridge. They snuck through the prison successfully, recruited the goblins to help fight the big ogre, and after an epic battle in the great hall managed to escape with some magic waystones that negated the escape encounter at the end. It was awesome, but I felt great as a GM knowing that I was able to hit all the key notes I was aiming for.

Like skippy said, it’s one of Hankerins podcasts from the patreon and very much worth the dollar. I wont spoil the method (I couldn’t adequately explain it anyway) is to create binary options for each session that can help you progress through and plan multiple sessions/campaigns.


@Brandoff On a related note, the lessons of Social Encounters Decoded and Trap Theory can apply to more than just their namesakes in a broadly relevant way.

Binary Outcomes mainframe kind of distills the above into even more highly concentrated, essentialized goodness, And takes it in an exciting new direction. But if you aren’t a Patreon buck a month supporter able to see it, these two will get your motor revving up plenty till you’re ready to make that leap.