Note Organization for Gaming

Ever feel like DMing is akin to being in school?
Ever feel like DMing is akin to being in school?
When I prep a game, I must admit that I am still in the realm of pen and paper and whatever is in my brain, since I tend to do a bit of improve during my games. I still use a notebook that has all my goodies and information in it. I am SLOWLY warming up to PDF’s as my staple (although I still really prefer having a hard copy in my hands).

I will admit that I wouldn’t mind doing PDF if there was a better, full colored handheld PDF reader, like Amazon’s Kindle or Sony’s equivalent… but I want COLOR!

Oh Yeah...  Taste the Rainbow..
Oh Yeah... Taste the Rainbow..

I really have yet to delve into using a wiki in all honesty, although I did start one. I just don’t have a laptop near me when GM/DMing so it kinda seems moot at this point since I can’t utilize it then and there.

I update a newsletter for my group after every session with new information, ideas, house-rules, etc.

When running a session I usually have a list of NPC names ready with levels, classes, and single sentence summaries of their personalities and quirks. I also have a few mundane NPC’s ready to go (commoners, scholars, etc).

I have a few spare one page dungeons and villages handy in case the group goes off target and starts wandering around and causing trouble.

Something that really deserves mentioning is Dave the Games 5×5 method. It is simple, brilliant, and really handy! My current DnD campaign has been going on for a year now and is starting to draw to a close. I was able to completely map out the final confrontations using the 5×5 method.

If I don’t jot things down using the 5×5 method my notes tend to be very brief and bulleted.

• Group arrives at village of Respite
o Village is small fishing community of tropical peninsula.
o Houses are made of bamboo, reeds, and some wood.
o Many houses have seen better days.
o Villagers seem disquieted by groups appearance.
o Two buildings near the center of the town appear to be in good condition:
 A Tavern/Inn w/ a swing sign above door- Bloated Fish.
 Chief/Mayors/Nobles house. Two guards stand out front of door armed with weapons.

• NPC’s-
o Madame Crowlee- (looks slightly mad, hair disheveled) her husband was taken by the sea, but every night he appears to keep her company.
o Old Man Jake- (plump, grizzled, human, about 65) he has been awe of the town and actually accumulating resentment from other fishermen. Jake has been, somehow, to get sizable amounts of fish everyday, leaving hardly anything for the other fisherman. *Jake made a deal with a demon to give him powers to catch fish, in return Jake has been, once a month providing It with a sacrifice.*
o Little Warren- (Small human boy- Brown hair, bright blue eyes that are filled with sadness) He sells jewelry that he and his widowed mother make. If asked about why he looks so sad or Warren hears the group talk of their deeds or they are spread around he tells them his sister went missing two months ago. He thinks that the bog monster got her (could lead to another adventure in finding the bog monster- but really Old Man Jake sacrificed her).

I think you get the point. Sometimes I also do random encounter stuff. Here is an example from a play-test session for Savage Worlds:
o Travel to watchtower takes 1 day. Roll random encounter.
 1-3- Goblins attempt to ambush the party 1d4+1 goblins.
 4-6- Group overhears Goblins noisily setting up a pathetic trap, talking about getting yum yums soon 1d4+1 goblins.
 7- Encounter a human hanging upside down, grateful to see a living person, he is fairly high in the tree. When asked what happened, he says he was snagged by this trap, apparently set up by goblins- they came to eat him, but he was too high up thankfully. They went away to go get a saw. He begs them to let him down.
 8- Dead body on the side of the road. A crude hatch buried in his head. Searching the body reveals 2g, and a stack of letters (all love letters from a girl named Sarah (Knowledge reveals she is a local girl in the village. There is an empty ring box near the body. The last love letter says she wants him to come to the village so they can be together.
 9- A group of 2d8 goblins swarming around a bugbear that is thrashing at them with a mace that looks decently nice, some of the goblins are shouting “shiny shiny!” 20% chance for some of the goblins notice the players. 1d4+1 attack the players.
 10- Group comes across a sleeping man under a tree. Dressed like a pirate (Wild Card), has several weapons. Will join group if they ask, simply because it sounds interesting, and there may be treasure to be had. Named Reece.

Your Turn

So how do you organize your notes? What do you do? I’m looking forward to seeing new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Author: Mike Evans

I am the dude behind DIY RPG Productions. I have a fuck all punk rock attitude, love meeting new people, doing nature shit, and gaming (tabletop and console) and having a good time. I love craft beer (maybe too much), punk, grunge, and industrial music. I write books. Good for me.

2 thoughts

    1. Thank you for coming up with it! It really is handy, adds room for improve, and a simplistic structure that gives total breathing room for player creativity!

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