I’ve used all manner of methods for storing campaign notes for games over the years, from tiddlywikis, to Obsidian Portal, to Bullet Journals, but when I need to jot down some notes quickly during a session I reach for a stack of my faith index cards. The cards are portable, easy to write on, can serve as bookmarks if you need them to and are just all round handy.Continue reading
As anyone who has gamed with me will tell you–when it comes to running RPGs–I like to do my prep, some people can pull off amazing sessions with little to no prep and that’s absolutely grand, more power to them, however, I’m not blessed with a particularly good memory so it buoys up my confidence to know that I have notes prepared concerning what has already occurred in a campaign and what might be about to occur. However, this has left me with something of a dilemna recently when it comes to the prep for my Heart of Darkness Star Wars campaign and my Dungeon World campaign; both campaigns are recorded on my Youtube channel meaning I’ve got the actual play videos that I can refer back to in order to update my notes.
Previously my 3Brothers campaign notes have been stored using Obsidian Portal, by and large I’ve found it easier and user-friendly to create the campaign wiki, etc in OP, however due to Google Hangouts seemingly eating up all of my bandwidth when I’m running a game using it (as most of my TT games are run nowadays) using it during a session has been very problematic, which is unfortunate since that’s when I really need to check my notes.
So this weekend I’m transistioning my notes onto a Tiddlywiki that will be hosted on my dropbox account, since I will be able to use the dropbox version saved on locally on my machine and not have to rely on the scraps of bandwidth Hangouts leaves me.
At some point in the next couple of days I’ll be removing the campaign from Obsidian Portal, from that point on anyone wishing to see the campaign wiki can access it at this link (and previous OP links will become inactive):
The Tiddlywiki is already active but not all of the information has been moved over yet.
Since my Skyless City Jadepunk campaign has now come to a close I wanted to make all of the notes I made and used within the campaign available to people to have a look at so you can see how I prepare a campaign and in-case there is anything of use for people in there.
A zip file containing all the notes can be found here:
Please note: During the game some of my notes were stored on dropbox and some (such as the newletters, etc) were stored on my Google Drive; now the game has finished I have zipped these files and put the zip file on Google Drive, previous links to my Jadepunk files will no longer function.
These notes are in the same state they were when the campaign finished, some were for plotlines never used or developed in a different way in play, but I hope you’ll still find them interesting.
* RPG BUGBEARS – Excessive searching and obsession with detail.
* GM tips – Make sure your players understand the goal/aim of your game.
* GM tips – accents & vocal mannerisms
* Player tips – collaboration & selling
* RPG Questions – Importance of maps
* GM tips – The entirely improvised session
* RPG Bugbears – Lengthy scenery descriptions.
* RP based around equipment.
* Published metaplot vs sandbox
* Soundtracks in RPGs
* Getting new players involved in RPGs
* Balance of Prep
* Selling for other people
* “what people want” – make sure NPCs have motivations
* When to cut your losses with a rules system
* Player Tips – Creating compelling characters
* GM tips – Describing a scene
* Player Tips – Be cooperative
* Player Tips – The pluses and minuses of social characters
* Combats that take too long, chewing up entire sessions
* G+ hangout sessions – when to cut your losses
When it comes to planning out roleplaying games, particularly if you’re running a long-term campaign then the search for inspiration is never-ending, after all, you don’t want your game to become stale and boring. For the past few days I’ve been updating my plot notes for my Jadepunk game Skyless City, and I’m always on search for things to inspire me; my mind wandered back to some of the games (not all of them successful) that i’ve run in the past and I thought about several campaigns i’d started that seemed to be going well and then ran out of steam and ended up either just fizzling out or being bought to an unsatisfactory conclusion because I ran out of interest in them.
I’m more prepared for campaigns nowadays and rarely have dedicated games that go this way, so I thought that I’d jot down a few helpful pointers for people running campaign games to keep your interest in the game up and hopefully help inspire you during your games.
- When you start your campaign, set clear beginning and end goals.
If a campaign is allowed to drift with no real goal then it can be difficult to sustain enthusiasm, i’m not saying that you should have the entirety of a campaign scripted out, but having a rough idea of where it’s going and when it will end can help a lot.
- Look for sources of inspiration everywhere.
Read books, comics, watch films, anything that has even a vague connection to your game could spark an idea in your head and fire your enthusiasm for incorporating it into a game.For example: In the Jadepunk session I’m running this evening I have taken inspiration from the Babylon 5 episode Day of the Dead.
- Try to set aside some time for thinking about plot and writing your notes down.
Whilst it’s posssible to train yourself to produce material in a very short space of time (and some folks even thrive under that kind of pressure) most of us need a little bit more time, so give yourself time to mull things over and really think about them, after all, why add pressure if you don’t have to?
- Write your campaign notes and any ideas down somewhere you can easily access.
It can be helpful to go back through your old notes and refresh yourself on what has happened in your game so far, maybe there was an old plot thread not resolved or an NPC who could show up again that you’ve not used for a while. I store the notes for my Jadepunk game on a Tiddlywiki in my dropbox, but you don’t have to go to these lengths, a notepad and a trusty pen can do just fine.
- Talk to your players and other GMs.
Most GMs are in the same boat they’re always looking for inspiration or getting ready for that next great session, talk to them and bounce ideas off each other (there are several social media based communities that are great for this).
So there you are, a few ideas to help keep your enthusiasm going and get inspiration whilst running a campaign, don’t forget to write all your ideas down, no matter how wacky they may seem, after all, you never know when that idea is going to become the next great plotline in your game.
Happy gaming all 🙂