There are a lot of things that go into characters preparing for an adventure or mission: spells, gear, potions, etc. It’s common for spell casters to create a list of the spells they’re preparing for the day, but a preparation sheet can also benefit non-casters as well.
Here are four reasons to have your players use prep sheets:
1. Saves Time
Players can write down the things their character would do before a given event. This saves time– for example, instead of explaining in detail about applying poison to weapons, the player can write it on their prep sheet and show it to their DM if it comes up.
2. Holds Players Accountable
This can help avoid those after-the-fact moments when a player claims their character would have prepared in a certain way, but never specifically declared it. For example, during a fight with a werewolf a player says: “My character would have silvered her weapons before we went hunting,” “But you never declared your character got silvered weapons.” While it’s true that a knowledgeable adventurer would have thought to get silver weapons, it’s a tough call if the player never actually declared it beforehand.
To avoid spending time on this kind of deliberation, the player can write down that they got silver weapons before embarking on their quest and show it to the DM as proof, if it comes up. If the silver weapons aren’t needed after all, no harm done and no time wasted. Double win!
3. Prevents Metagaming
As a DM, it’s easy to inadvertently come up with additional obstacles and twists to the upcoming mission in response to what players have prepared. While this isn’t inherently bad, it can devalue the players’ ingenuity and efforts to be prepared for everything. When players use a prep sheet, however, the DM is blind to their plans until they become relevant to the task at hand.
4. Encourages Player Imagination
A prep sheet can also add some flair to role-playing. When a player wants to stash a knife in their boot, they can write it down instead of telling the DM. Knotting a climbing rope, sharpening weapons, applying poison, preparing spells, stashing hidden weapons, and researching an enemy are all good examples of things players could write on their sheets.
How to Make a Preparation Sheet
A prep sheet is essentially a series of notes on the nuanced actions of your character. All you need is a sheet of paper and something to write with. There’s no right or wrong way to make it; the point is to have your character’s preparations on paper before an adventure begins. If you want to save paper you can use a note taking app, but be sure to save it before the adventure begins so that it’s time-stamped.
Do you use preparation sheets as a player or dungeon master? Let us know how they help you in the comments.