Note-taking is the perennial hobgoblin of RPGs. Taking notes during a session can bog you down, break up the flow for the PCs, or even make you forget parts of whatever else might be going on.
Not taking notes is worse, because then you have to try to remember all the little details, especially jokes and throw-away lines that might make for great lore or world building. Sometimes after a session, it is late, and you need to get to bed so you can be ready for work the next day. Sometimes life happens and you can’t create a proper summary or session report until days later.
So, good note-taking skills are important. As are good note-taking tools and practices. I’ve written about this before (DM RPG note taking)
Josh Walles at Angel’s Citadel has penned a great post on note-taking and shares some of his tools.
I know that when I take notes as a GM I’m not as frantic preparing things because I can go back and look and see the logical outcomes of choice and consequence easier, both from the standpoint of the PCs and those of the NPCs, which adds to the feeling of the “living world” that I’m trying to create in my games.
Keeping track of NPCs, and the things they say, especially if it turns out to be a Lore Drop, is vital. Walles uses a formatted notebook with lots of room for tracking NPC info.
I’m gathering up all of these notes, ideas and good practices and iterating a “GM Notebook” for my own campaign. As it grows and develops, I will share the concepts here.
As of right now, it consists of a two-page spread, with room for
- Campaign dates and places
- PCs attending
- NPCs encountered
- Time tracking
- Activity Log
- Monsters defeated (Killed, captured, or otherwise dealt with)
- Treasure gained
- Lore created or shared
Do you have any ideas or practices that you find to be helpful in managing your campaign? Share in the comments!