PDA

View Full Version : DMs, how do you organize yourselves?



Titanium Fox
2011-09-13, 05:26 AM
Just a curiosity question for my fellow DMs. I've personally tried a lot of things, from just keeping it all in my head (great for outlines, bad for details), to keeping typed up notes on my netbook (kept losing files, got all OCD on my notes); and now I have a little green composition notebook (afraid to write in it because if I need to add something in the middle I won't be able to).

How do you do it?

flumphy
2011-09-13, 05:40 AM
If it is not kept digitally, I will lose it. Paper and I don't mix. I basically have an entire hard drive devoted to gaming stuff, from sourcebooks to tokens to DM notes, and since it's not taking up space on my real life desktop I manage to keep it organized.

Hel65
2011-09-13, 05:51 AM
I keep everything I produce for sessions I DM (or play in) that needs to last digitally in a Dropbox. Can't lose it that, all notes autosynchronise between all my computers when they connect to the net, it's very neat.

However, finding everything I need during a session is sometimes annoying. Don't know how to deal with that, I've designed a program to help with it, but haven't had the time to write it. Also, not sure if the designed interface would help all that much...

Jjeinn-tae
2011-09-13, 06:00 AM
I've used three different methods, and still use two of them.

The first is to keep it all in my head, works awesome for me since I remember random tidbits and such for years... That doesn't help you much though, and it doesn't work well as the only thing that you use.

I used to have an accordian-folder that I'd separate materials based on faction (I tend to run intrigue) on loose-sheets of paper. It works well and you can re-organize as much as you want. I don't use it any-more since I can only play PbP at the moment...

So, I've gone to creating a folder directly on my desktop and making elaborate documents of all sorts of random things... You never lose it because it's right there on your screen every time you boot up, but probably inconvenient if you work with a normal group.

...Still, I mainly keep it in my head though, I type enough with my work, school and PbP posts, writing things up when I don't need it is inconvenient. :smalltongue:

Eldan
2011-09-13, 07:21 AM
I tend to keep stuff in my head, really. I guess it helps that normally, I start with a published adventure, make a few changes, and then use it as a rough outline. I tend to improvise a lot, especially if the PCs move away from the main plot. If they want to investigate something weird, I usually try to make up a side quest around it.

Bearpunch
2011-09-13, 08:06 AM
I tend to map out theadventure ahead on notebook paper, but it doesn't allow a lot of room for added stuff. I have the same problem you have, OP.

B!shop
2011-09-13, 08:26 AM
I've found Google Documents a life saver for my stuff, both as player and DM.
I have most of my stuff uploaded in PDFs, or copied in documents.
I've also all my character sheets, and eve some maps (in png format).
I started using spreadsheets as simple database for hooks, NPCs and similar.
Very useful and everytime reachable, even from my smartphone.

mint
2011-09-13, 08:30 AM
I have a notebook for ideas and drawing in math class.
When I am about to run a game I create an outline document and write down the ideas I want to use from the notebook/my head.
Like what books to use, NPCs I find interesting, plot twists I might use, rough drafts of enemies and encounters, locations.
I start knitting them together in a way that might work in a campaign.
As the outline fills in I create a second reference document where I keep statblocks, feats, obscure rules and magic items.
Save it to dropbox to keep the files synced.
My netbook reads pdfs so slowly it hootz though, I really want a shiny new slate.

I find writing things down works better for me. Lets me examine ideas as I write and reiterate a lot. I couldn't do that in my head easily. Let us say I'm using the three clue rule to make sure my players catch on. Well its easier to examine how the clues are laid out critically in text. Problems become more obvious.
Another example might be schemes. Say someone has a plan to outsmart or scam the PCs. Well, genre savvy players can handily see through the first twist or trap and counter it. Where it gets fun is when you plan the con longer to account for that. Any good scheme should have like three contingencies for when the target sees through them. Like have a plan for turning initial failure into subsequent success.
I really can't do that in my head :3 At all.

Shpadoinkle
2011-09-13, 08:57 AM
I far, FAR prefer to have a laptop (I have to borrow one because I don't own one myself, but I do have a thumb drive and an external HD) because I know exactly where everything is and how it's organized (and how it's going to stay organized,) and if I don't know where something is I can look it up in a few seconds.

Barring that, I've got a three-ring binder full of papers, and includes stuff like NPC stat blocks and a couple pages of ideas to throw at the players when things are going badly/too well/slowly/whatever.

Tyndmyr
2011-09-13, 09:00 AM
Mostly poorly.

Roak Star
2011-09-13, 09:54 AM
Well, for my latest campaign, I wrote a lot of general information about the setting in a 3x5 memo book. Anything else that i think of for the setting I right down in whatever notebook i have with me at the time, and I make sure to have a couple of pages written about what i think will happen during each session. The memo book is good because it has the outline for almost everything in my setting, so even if the party decides to go somewhere i wasn't expecting, i can still whip up more details about that area more quickly.

sdream
2011-09-13, 10:12 AM
Another vote for google docs.

Flexible, portable, reliable.

I share some stuff with players directly from there, and print my notes in a tiny font for easy reference, but protection from player glances.

Tusalu
2011-09-20, 06:50 AM
I always end up having a lot less notes than I'd wish and having to improvise a lot. This is mostly due to large periods of no-ideas or procrastinating my planning. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I always have an ideal of the perfectly planned game, but I'm content whenever a game runs the way I had intended. I usually have a few keyword notes, and stats for as many fights I have time to prepare for.

I know it's a bit unnecessary but I always try to maintain the illusion that I'm better prepare and more in control towards my players. Somewhat like a conjurer I try to hide the tricks and the improv I'm doing, to give the image of a coherent and consistent world. For example I never tell the players when I'm improvising until after the game to avoid breaking immersion.

Kaun
2011-09-20, 07:32 AM
yeah i have a series of documents on a thumb drive, i generally make fresh folders and docs for key npc's or factions or places or what ever.

I make folders for the PC's and keep records of things they have done in there as a ref.

I often make audio recordings of the sessions and store copies of them r on the drive also.

Mastikator
2011-09-20, 08:05 AM
This is my general method:
Think a lot about the encounters of the next session, possible actions the players will make. I write notes about things that can occur based on their various choices. I make sure that it's loose enough that I can improvise, but detailed enough that they can't de-rail me.
Then they throw a monkey wrench when one of them doesn't show up, a guest player instead shows up and all my calculations based on the personalities of the PCs are useless, so I throw my now useless notes on the goddamn flood.
Improvise the whole thing, focus on pre-made NPCs that I "magic" in somehow.
I'm not very good at describing the environment, but I do NPCs well.

When things go according to my plan the players usually are very happy about the game, because each element is well thought out and my plan doesn't involve rails.
When they don't, well... they seem ok.

Usually only stuff like pre-drawn maps and NPCs tend to always be useful.

Dr.Epic
2011-09-20, 01:21 PM
Well, I'm fairly good at improving stuff, so I can easily pull an adventure, city, location, quest, or NPC out of myy bum at any time. Just make it semi-random and quirky but with still a serious tone to it and people will think you planned it out.

TheThan
2011-09-20, 01:28 PM
I used to just keep things in word documents and print out whatís necessary. But thatís expensive, but since I donít do a lot of face to face gaming, I started using Google doc s (donít own a lap top either), and have just started using Map tools to keep track of maps, tokens (as opposed to hauling around a ton of minis), etc. I plan on running a campaign with it in the future so this is mostly just prep work.

Knaight
2011-09-20, 01:35 PM
Well, I'm fairly good at improving stuff, so I can easily pull an adventure, city, location, quest, or NPC out of myy bum at any time. Just make it semi-random and quirky but with still a serious tone to it and people will think you planned it out.

Likewise, though it has more to do with improvising stuff than improving it. Then one merely memorizes.

Umberhulk
2011-09-20, 01:45 PM
I write put everything by hand to brainstorm. Then I either rewrite or type it depending on my needs. It all goes in an accordion style folder with lots if pockets so I can find a page when I need it. I also keep a notebook to track what happened in the session.

Dsurion
2011-09-20, 02:41 PM
I prefer to start by brainstorming with no medium in front of me, just thinking. When I find I like certain ideas I like, I'll start typing them out in a word document, as it's easier to reorder lines and edit and such. Then I'll start weeding out concepts and expanding others. Once I feel I have enough information to start making separate documents, I'll start organizing them by folders and make sure to put everything on a flash drive or upload to my SkyDrive. Or both.

Once I'm content with that, I'll start writing out on paper, but usually only abbreviated versions and in outline format, so I have just enough to work with, but the gist is in my head for when things ultimately change from what I had expected. I have a fairly sizable binder for this sort of thing, with dividers for things like maps, NPC's, plots, monsters, etc. all organized by campaign and all with different dividers/folders.

It all sounds incredibly organized now that I write it. But it's probably the only thing about me that is :smalltongue:

Lord Loss
2011-09-20, 03:57 PM
The computer is your friend for this. Save word files, and start them all with the same word. That way if you want to browse your campaign files, you just type the word (like DnD, Paranormal Investigations, Anadivine Campaign, as examples from my previous and current campaigns) and scroll down to look through them all. Otherwise you start forgetting the names of your files and folders.

Also, keep your player's character sheets in one place. Before I implemented this system, myself (or them) would forget or even lose the sheets.

Mark Hall
2011-09-20, 04:34 PM
A few ways I do it.

1) I keep a spreadsheet for notes. Upper left corner has character information (in C&C, that's name, player, race, primes, AC and HP). Below that is relevant equipment (i.e. magic items), along with who is carrying them. Upper right corner is important NPCs... just a few notes about characterization and place... level and the like, if necessary.

2) For monsters and antagonistic NPCs, I keep note cards. I do this, especially, with common monsters I'm likely to need again and again, and happily repurpose monsters I have cards made up for. I keep these in a plastic bag, along with blank notecards, spare pencils, and the like.

For more general organization, I can't help you. I tend to have a good idea of where the bad guys are going, but I'm also prone to sketching out maps as we need them, rather than doing them all in advance.

TheEmerged
2011-09-20, 04:43 PM
In the past I've used a combination of Word, Excel, and creative file structure. Since I suck at map making, I generally do this shorthand on a battle mat or use those cardboard grids you can mix/match.

However, I have recently discovered that OneNote (also a MS product) does everything I need from Word and about half of what I need from Excel. My current campaign (the "homebrew superhero world using the Gamma World system" mentioned in my sig) is running about 80% from OneNote. If I can figure out how to get certain things to work in the OneNote tables instead of doing them in Excel and then copy\pasting into the table, I'd be 100% OneNote.

OneNote is essentially a tabbed interface for Word. Sounds simple in concept, but I swear a DM built this to run his campaign with :smallbiggrin:

Take the 4D&D campaign that just ended. We were running in the Underdark, and there were nearly two dozen "players" in the scenario (it's the Underdark, you should expect intrigue). This included the 8 Houses running the campaign city, the Derro, the Myconids, the draconians, a good dragon, a neutral dragon, a cult, and so forth.

Running out of Word\Excel I had something like 15 different documents I was working out of, including the Excel spreadsheet with a page for every encounter (I preroll initiative to save time at the table).

The last couple of sessions, using OneNote, I just had OneNote opened. I could tab between the various pages/subpages etc and keep the battle statistics in the one application. Now granted most of the tables had to be created in Excel and then copy\pasted in, but that's probably more operator flaw than program.

The biggest kicker, at least for me? When I say I only had OneNote open, that includes the character sheets. Character sheets printed directly from the online character generation software, appearing as pages in the notebook. I may be geeking out a bit but I found this very handy.

king.com
2011-09-29, 05:40 AM
What do you mean organize?

suhkkaet
2011-09-29, 06:30 AM
Another vote for OneNote from here.
Also because it lets you tag your notes, so you can search on tags. You can also search on text in the notes (similar to "find" in almost any text-editor), if that's needed.
The only downside is that it doesn't have the functionality of Excel with regards to tabels etc. (That is, I can't auto-update charsheets by updating a simple table, I have to do it all by hand - which can be tedious, but meh).
If someone desides to create an addin for OneNote which incorporates even the basic functionality of Excel (such as "=D3+D4"), then I'd never look at Excel again (well, probably, anyways :P).

I've been working on making an online-based version of notes which are heavily influenced by OneNote - but also includes Excel stuff. If I ever get this done, I'll throw a link somewhere. (This also eliminates the possibility of losing notes due to HD crashes etc., but for now, I compensate by keeping my notes in my Dropbox and do occasional USB-key backups)

OneNote also lets you export as .pdf and such, which makes it ideal for writing things to your players, as well as printing things to keep on hand (to add written notes on it, or to have index cards etc for quick reference).
If you can find a tablet (or similar), you can even do hand-written notes directly from that (and OneNote had handwriting-recognition stuff which lets you search handwritten notes too! I also believe this works for scanned notes)

If I don't have access to OneNote (for whatever reason), I keep my notes on papers which are subsequently put into a folder. This lets me arrange things, but can be cumbersome. Alternatively, I use Google Docs. Or something as simple as notepad.

Edit:
But as most people, I do a lot of things in my head. When I get a good idea, I jot it down. My problem is that my memory is bugged, so when I make up NPC's on the fly, I tend to forget their names. Which is a problem, since I have a player who writes down all their names (and other details), so it puts me in a bad light, when he asks "I go look for X", and I have no idea who X is. :P
But ideas for adventures, characters (both PC and NPC), etc. I put into OneNote (or something else, then put it into OneNote later). I tend to focus on one thing at a time, though, so it's very helpful in the times where my focus is somewhere else.

LansXero
2011-09-29, 06:33 AM
Mostly poorly.

Second that. I mean, I make tons of stuff and print out tons of things, I fill up folders with things I may need... then either forget to read it, or bring it on game day or end up winging most of it. Maps I trace by memory or on a whim, stats I do on little sheets or the online monster advancer or straight from the manuals, or I make them on the spot... same with NPCs. So I tend to carry a lot of stuff Ive used before, tweak it and use it. Im really trying to get better, but whenever I wanna organize I undertake too much and get overwhelmed :(

INDYSTAR188
2011-09-29, 07:32 AM
I like to use my laptop for sourcebooks, game ideas, adventures, evil DM tricks I thought up, homemade solo's, ect ect.

For in game stuff I take some time when I'm bored at school or on the john or whatever and write down my general idea's. Then when its time to flesh them out a use my sourcebooks and computer materials to map out the session in a notebook. I write down each planned encounter including stat blocks, xp, magic items, traps, and draw a map. This way when I'm actually in game I can refer to my notebook for everything I need! It's a lot of prep time but it's worth it for the game to run smooth.

Also, if they get off track (which is fine) I try to either help them improvise or use a already created encounter in a refluffed way. Maybe those orc's become human guards or whatever the case may be.

shadow_archmagi
2011-09-29, 07:34 AM
Just a curiosity question for my fellow DMs. I've personally tried a lot of things, from just keeping it all in my head (great for outlines, bad for details), to keeping typed up notes on my netbook (kept losing files, got all OCD on my notes); and now I have a little green composition notebook (afraid to write in it because if I need to add something in the middle I won't be able to).

How do you do it?

I spend a lot of time thinking about it, and then I tell it to a friend. That gets me thinking about all the things I've left out, or things I could change. Sometimes they themselves give good feedback, but the main point is to run it through a rehearsal or six. I repeat the process whenever I see one of the people on my list, up until the game starts.

peacenlove
2011-09-29, 09:33 AM
Paper notebooks filled with a skeleton of a story and completely detailed statblocks for NPC's (I tend to play rules heavy hack'n'slash games, if they want some RP, I usually improvise something, but knowing my players it ends in either the NPC thoroughly scanned with a mixture of divination and enchantment spells, or some poorly disguised excuse for said NPC's inclusion in an orgy or taken as a slave. Or both. Luckily they are antisocial most of the times.)

Used Word once but since I mostly edit old stuff rather than produce new ones, I found it not suitable to my tastes.

Printed pictures and maps, and the pathfinder SRD for rules greatly help speeding up play.

Lastly my players do the map making and notes for combat writing (Initiative, damage and HP) for me.

Orran
2011-09-29, 10:00 AM
Some good stuff for designing a game here, but when it comes to actually playing some useful things are:

Index cards for NPC's and monsters, then when in combat put them in initative order, with their AC, Attacks, spells on their for easy reference. Add in ones for your players and use them like a deck each round.

A big squared whiteboard, or assetate if you feel like printing something onto them for instance. Then a marker of some kind. Makes battles so much easier when you can just draw the terrain features right onto the table.

Rules cheat sheets. Similar to the index cards, but keep them around on the table, or on a DM screen if thats your kind of thing.

All pretty simple stuff, but great for keeping a game flowing.

DrBurr
2011-09-29, 05:35 PM
I tend to Draw up the next chapter of my campaign in my notebook between classes on Tuesday, Including Maps, NPCs and a flowchart of events i think might occur then Wednesday morning I transfer all my notes in a 4e program called Masterplan, then proceed to flesh it all out. Sometimes though, like this week, I run late and don't get my stuff done till Thursday then i just go straight from my notebook and just print out the enemies I need.

Tyndmyr
2011-09-30, 09:01 AM
I have a game at six. I get off at five. In the meantime, I need to get replacement ink, print off the bit for the next part of the adventure, and advance all encounters by 3 CR. Also, calculate out all the xp earned for last session.

The great thing about being a procrastinator/disorganized is that you get really, really good at pulling stuff off swiftly.

Bearpunch
2011-09-30, 10:05 AM
The great thing about being a procrastinator/disorganized is that you get really, really good at pulling stuff off swiftly.

This. I won't do anything all week, and in the last day before the session, or the hour or two, and I can pull out my best sessions then.

the_fencer0
2011-09-30, 10:41 AM
One trick I've found is to use a forum or wiki online to organize all the details, and keep things nice and neat. Not only does this allow for logical arrangement of material, it also opens it up for your players to look at and know the setting, assuming you don't put things in there you don't want them to see. The forum is better, IMHO, since you can restrict access to boards easier than a wiki, so you can have a personal DM board for the info your players are not supposed to know.

kieza
2011-09-30, 04:06 PM
My high-level stuff, like my campaign setting, general campaign notes, and collections of homebrew material, I keep in digital form. But my actual campaign information (monsters, tactical maps, pre-determined loot, NPCs, etc.) I keep written down in a notebook. I also have a binder full of entertaining sidequests and oneshots that I can pull out if I need an adventure on short notice.

If I plan to use an established NPC or a monster from my setting, I copy him out into my campaign notes, and if I decide to incorporate something from the campaign into setting canon, I write it up in the digital copy (usually taking some time to streamline and revise my notes). Sometimes, an adventure works out really well, and I put a copy in my "improv" file so that I can break it out again for a different group. I've got an adventure that works really well as an introduction for new players (I've used it six or eight times so far) that started out as a well-received adventure in my main campaign; I reworked it afterwards for low-level characters and had it printed up nicely after the second time I reused it.

I also keep two versions of my campaign setting: one containing stuff for the players, and another that also contains DM-only material. I can email the players a copy of the appropriate file whenever I start a new campaign, without worrying about spoilers.

valadil
2011-09-30, 05:31 PM
My notes are split. I don't like using a computer when I GM. I feel like the screen of the laptop gets between me and the players. I have a hard time typing and talking at once. For me a paper notebook just works better.

The computer stores my long term notes. I keep the files in my Dropbox because I never know where I'll be when I get an idea. I keep a file full of ideas for the next session and I keep files for each NPC and each plot. Between sessions I write updates of what the NPCs did and how their plots advanced. A couple days before the session, I copy the relevant ideas into my session notebook and try to put them in some sort of useful order.

I also keep a log of the games on the inside cover of my notebook. It's usually a list of things like "Day 1 - PCs met each other. Day 2 - Found body. Day 3-4 Travel. Day 5 - Met Cptn. Feldspur." etc. It's helpful for when the players want to know where they were two weeks ago.

I used to keep an index card for each NPC as well. That helped in my Game of Thrones campaign, where NPC turnover was high, but for my last 4e game it was more overhead than was worth the trouble.

Silus
2011-09-30, 05:44 PM
I used .txt documents to hold my creature info and whatnot. Everything else was up here *Taps head*

Though of course I was making up like 90% of the game as I went...

RandomNPC
2011-09-30, 07:12 PM
I don't know where my game is going right now, but I've got a series of adventures figured out. There's a few notebooks floating around my house, and when I find one, I put details in it. Currently my group is adventuring in notebook 1, about to meet "The Bard" from notebook 2, and I'm writing in notebook 3. 4 is MIA, but will probably turn up and replace 1 soon.

Basically I write down individual adventures or encounters where and when I can, but my party is to random to let me write down main plot. When they find a few similar adventures they specifically like, I'll tie them up with plot and make the game about that.

So my game tends to be open sandbox for levels 1-3 and by the time they reach 4th the party knows how to work together and I've got something tailor made that I just need to tweak to likes and dislikes before making a story arc instead of an adventure path.

Valameer
2011-09-30, 10:29 PM
Lined notebooks for brainstorming, mapping, doodling and taking down notes of stuff I make up on the fly.

EditPad for expanded notes. Usually character or history shtuff that requires constant updating.

Grid paper for floor plans. Music playlists for ambience. Pictures that capture the "feel" of a character.

My short-term memory or the seat of my pants for everything else. But a lot of my best DMing is reactionary, or off the cuff.

Anderlith
2011-10-01, 02:31 PM
I hate typing so I write out all my notes.
I use loose-leaf collage ruled papper (I prefer the smaller lines)

I like encounters so I usually sketch out a map of where the encounter is taking place, a craggy bluff, a tree-specked meadow etc. along with the treasure & the creatures tactics. I keep the creatures on Index Cards. They are great for reuse
As for the little I write on plot...
I will write out a outline for plot (as in the entire campaign not just the local adventure) & any NPC's or buildings that I know that the players will be in contact with. Any other NPC or building or such is made up on the spot & written down later for continuity. My best NPC's seem to be improvised ones (a goblin named Gnish & a dragon child named Sheepbiter being at the forefront)

Other than that I keep it all in my head

zanetheinsane
2011-10-03, 05:12 AM
One of the primary reasons I got a netbook was that it was easily small enough to fit behind the DM screen and the battery easily lasts long enough for an entire session.

I generally keep a directory for each campaign and inside that directory I structure it like this:

chapters: if the campaign is organized into "storyline" chapters, each one gets it's own folder with all enemy and ally npcs in there
each named NPC gets his own text file (sometimes these go in an NPCs folder)
text file that does nothing but keep running xp totals
important names and places text file: anytime I make up a name or place spontaneously it all goes down in this file in case I need to reference it again
Always create your own blank NPC template that best fits your style. Put this in a separate text file and never touch it. Copy-paste it every time you make a new NPC so that all of your stat blocks are consistent.


I also keep a hardback binder for each campaign that I keep maps and all character sheets in (that way someone doesn't forget where they put their character sheet and you can always reference it in between sessions)

This all sounds very organized but it really is just a huge disorganized mess masquerading under the facade of organization.

Techsmart
2011-10-03, 11:02 AM
I usually do a combination of notes and memory. Maps, and important things pertaining to them (storywise included) are all kept on a single piece of paper. If there's a lot of important information I want to keep about a single map, I write it on the back. Any other important information, excluding notes I give to players, are kept in my head. My parties tend to try to send so many things awry that trying to keep everything perfect tends to be an exercise in futility.

Kol Korran
2011-10-07, 08:22 AM
how do i organize? well...

My main tool for preparation is PBworks wiki (https://my.pbworks.com/) which is quite handy, and works quite similar to attached word sheets. recently i've been introduced to obsidian portal (http://www.obsidianportal.com/) which looks like an RPG specific wiki! it looks interesting, still checking it out. perhaps for next campaign

As to the PB works, i keep two:
1) the group's wiki, where we write short session logs, about the characters, general things about the setting, and most importantly- the rules and decisions. so they can be referenced.

2) my own "DM files" wiki, where i store info about the campaign. this can be divided to several levels:

- general themes and ideas: here i right basically anything i think of- ideas for cool encounters, special mechanics, campaign spanning issues and so on. this is so i don't forget. from time to time i look this up. often i have ideas about the campaign months before it's time, and on adventures and more a long time before they come as well. i slowly flesh out ideas a bit at a time, till i'm ready to really "make them happen".

- general campaign info: the antagonists plans and schedule, repeating NPCs, repeating monsters, special effects, places and the like. anything that might crop more than once or twice.

- detailed info about each chapter. this is my main source for running the actual game. this too is divided:

General: here i keep XP charts for accomplishments, the general plot/ situation, a list of DCs for the different skill checks and so on.
Opponents: basically the statistics blocks and short explanations of powers/ abilities specific to the opponent. my little "monster manual" for the chapter.
A loot page. this includes things the party may find, sure to find, and other possibilities i think of (the worth of the Bullet's plates?). the main reason i keep it separated is to enable me to work outthe total (or approximate) treasure for the chapter, try and keep by WBL.
handouts: this includes pre written notes to players (" the curse feels you with a rage, a rage for blood!"), letters they receive from NPCs, pictures to show them and so on.
all of these i print for the meeting (often i prepare for 1-2 meetings ahead). so i have them handy. i don't deal well with computers in meeting, so no laptop.


- i also print out a grid sheet (19x28 squares, as the regular D&D sheet) and lay out on it the main visible features for most combats. (some you can't really expect)

- an important part of my wiki is a sort of "recycling bin". some ideas that were finished but had to be dumped, or weren't used. at times i can take such an idea and with little work fir it again to the campaign. it's a big time saver.

note: all the preparation is nice, but the players will still surprise you. however, i do find that good preparation helps you improvise BETTER.
hope this helped,
Kol. :smallwink:

The Glyphstone
2011-10-07, 08:42 AM
What's organization?

theflyingkitty
2011-10-10, 07:45 PM
3-hole punched papers, color coded, into a three ring binder with tabs.

OR, atleast, color coded sheets specific to the night.

Notes can be printed and taped onto existing pages for ease.

All files backed up on laptop and thumb drive.

Templarkommando
2011-10-12, 11:55 PM
Recently I've been typing up my dungeons with microsoft word and saving it to my hard drive. It's nice to have my laptop here where I can reference material without an internet connection when my connection is iffy for good portions of the time. I also have world information typed up on word documents. I draw maps up on square graph paper and keep it in a two inch three ring binder in addition to NPC character sheets, spell sheet, PC back stories and any other paper resources. I bribe players to write backstories with an XP bonus.

I keep my player's character sheets in a separate three ring binder. Between sessions I store my books, dice, dry erase mat, and folders in tote/gym bags. I used to keep them in one of those big rolling suitcases.

Sleepycrow
2011-10-13, 05:03 PM
I like to use Evernote. That way, if I don't want to lug my laptop to our gaming venue for the week, I can just pull my adventure notes up there. It allows you to organize your notes into notebooks, which you can name. You can also add images into your notes simply by clicking and dragging them in.

I am a very disorganized person, but the best campaigns I have run have been since I started using Evernote (http://evernote.com). The power of organization!

Kaervaslol
2011-10-13, 05:18 PM
I start very tidy in a notebook. Then I get bored and do it on my laptop. Finally I get terribly bored and do most of the things in my head.

I like DMing, but I'm very lazy.

potatocubed
2011-10-16, 05:19 PM
It's all on the laptop - out of habit I work pretty much entirely in my Dropbox, so I can get at it whenever I have an idea.

I also tend to run more improvisational systems than D&D, which keeps the amount of pre-prepared material I need down to 'a few ideas and some misspelled notes'.

Gerner
2011-10-25, 09:58 AM
I keep all my material in Dropbox and when playing I just have my Ipad by my side where I can log on to Dropbox if needed. I feel the computer is to big to have on the table when playing thats why i like the ipad

Maps etc. I have in paper, when playing but I have a copy scanned in to Dropbox.

All the players keep there information in Dropbox as well, which I also have acces to so I can see there info if need or one of them forgets his sheets.

nedz
2011-10-26, 09:31 PM
In the old days I used to use lots of paper which I kept in an accordian file. That worked fine until my entire campaign notes were stolen :smallfurious::smallfurious::smallfurious:
Now everything is on a PC. Backed up onto a memory stick which is all I take to sessions.
Normally I start by making notes on either paper or in a .txt file before I type it all up in Word (StarOffice) which I then print out before the session.

Rejakor
2011-10-27, 05:12 AM
I keep it all in my head and use paper for mnemonics.

If you just have a single page of keywords, possibly in groups, possibly arranged geographically, whatever, it's a lot easier to keep track of / organize than a massive sheaf of notes.

I then create handouts, of various kinds, make sure I have the right minis/monster tokens, and very occasionally pre-draw/graphically composite a map.

One thing I personally have a huge difficulty with is names, of people, places, inns... so I write them all down in massive lists, and put together short 'cheat sheets' of any names I might need, organized geographically, before each session.

The Boz
2011-10-27, 06:14 PM
A laptop for campaign notes, character cheatsheets, NPCs etc, and a notebook for player-accessible knowledge, maps, pictures etc.

Mr.Moron
2011-10-27, 10:46 PM
It varies game to game, some games I do almost no prep & organization.

For my current game though this is my setup

-Large 3-Ring Binder split into sections with dividers & tabs.

Before any of the divided sections, I have the Calander for the game's setting, with notes on the weather and other pre-pgenerated random events. I also use this track what day it is in-game and upcoming deals/appointments/goals the players may have made.

After the dividers:

The first section is all the notes I think the players will be getting to these sessions, including any monsters/npcs etc.. that are needed. Along with a few more generic elements for stuff I have to deal with on the fly.

The second section is old event notes.

The third section is old NPCs and monsters.

The fourth section is Setting Information & Notes I don't think will be relevant during the session.


Finally I have a standard folder (I fit it into one of the pockets) with maps, quick rules references and other things I need too look at all the time without flipping around in the binder.

This obviously means my 3-hole punch gets a workout. I don't mind though, it's kind of fun.

Sgt. Cookie
2011-10-29, 04:01 PM
My, current, game uses OpenRPG. Most of the organisation can be done right there on the program. Maps, NPC's traps. All right there in a handy, easy to edit program.

Pyromancer999
2011-11-01, 03:36 PM
Honestly? I make it up on the spot. My players are the type to go all over the place and are hard to make to stick to any one fixed or loose storyline, so I just do it as we go.