Order is the foundation of all things, and the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe.Isaac Asimov
The Organization Quest – Notes, Journaling, and Digital Tools
The importance of organization in your RPG journey is undeniable, and in this section, we’ll explore how finding the right balance between analog and digital tools can enhance your gaming experience.
In the beginning
Let’s journey back to the initial stages of my D&D 5E solo campaign, where my entire campaign world resided within the pages of a single notebook. Every aspect of my character’s journey was etched in ink and pencil – strengths, weaknesses, and all. The charm of scribbling notes and rolling physical dice resonated with me, evoking nostalgia for the tabletop RPG sessions of yore. I dreamt of hosting analog games with friends, immersed in a world guided solely by imagination, pencils, and paper. However, the realities of modern life often make gathering around a physical table challenging.
Revisiting a valuable lesson from my software development days – “Use the right tool for the right job” – prompted me to rethink my approach to organization. While the allure of analog tools is strong, embracing digital aids can streamline processes and ease the demands of a busy life.
Blending note-taking and journaling, I maintain comprehensive records for my RPG sessions. For quick thoughts and notes, Notepad is handy, though I seldom save them. Crucial elements like overarching plot ideas, intriguing hooks, and significant NPCs find their home in Onenote, where I can easily record and track essential information.
To capture ideas on the go, a trusty pencil and notepad are never far away, ensuring no brilliant concept goes forgotten. When writing isn’t feasible, voice assistants like “Hey Bixby!” come to the rescue, reminding me to document specific ideas or concepts.
Character management for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is a breeze with the Digital Character Sheet in D&D Beyond, helping me keep track of primary characters and sidekicks effectively.
Though I value the digital efficiency, there’s a special magic to the tactile experiences of analog gaming. The feeling of pencil on paper, the weight of a character sheet in hand, the sound of dice clattering – these are irreplaceable. My desire to conduct entirely analog games remains, especially with a group, as it fosters unique camaraderie and immersion reminiscent of RPG roots.
The key takeaway here, whether you’re playing a solo game or participating in a group game with friends, is the importance of maintaining comprehensive notes. Don’t be the person who struggles to recall events that occurred just five minutes ago when the GM asks, “So, what are you going to do with this information?” Incorporating digital tools into your RPG experience can greatly enhance organization and immersion.
Sometimes, the desire to be perfectly organized can lead us down a winding path. I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of this myself more than once. Yet, there are moments when simplicity is the key. Just a concise outline of our thoughts can suffice, without getting caught up in jotting down every single word. Perhaps you already have a method that keeps you organized, and if not, striking the right balance between too much and too little information is the goal.
Picture this – it’s the crack of dawn, and I find myself hunched over a table at a local diner, determined to craft a new character for our RPG adventure. With grand plans of utilizing my trusty collection of random table books, I had packed my backpack like a seasoned adventurer ready to face the unknown. Little did I know that the universe had a quirky surprise in store for me.
As I reached into my backpack, excitement turning into dismay, I realized I had left those prized random table books behind. Panic set in momentarily, and I frantically searched for their digital versions, to no avail. But then, a moment of clarity washed over me like a refreshing breeze on a hot summer day – it was just a name I needed!
Here I was, hoping to find inspiration in those books, only to realize that I had all the creativity I needed right there in my own mind. I chuckled at the irony of it all – getting lost in my preparations while a simple name was waiting to be plucked from the depths of my imagination.
But with that said, I believe I’ve discovered that perfect harmony in organizing my solo games with just a few essentials:
- A dedicated folder that holds my character sheets, a printout of the core Mythic Game Master Emulator tables, and any game-specific printed material I need.
- A compact notebook, exclusively for the solo game, where I jot down scratch notes, keep track of XP, treasure, and other vital details.
- The core rulebook of the game – there’s something special about having a physical book in hand.
- Any additional resources like worldbuilding notes, NPCs, or bestiaries for the story I’m working on. Except if it’s a name table. I seem to forget those.
Depending on the solo game I plan to run, it’s effortless to grab its rulebook, folder, and notebook, tossing them neatly into my trusty backpack.
Of course, when I venture outside the house, I add a couple more essentials to my bag:
- An extra notebook for jotting down ideas about all my games or any random thoughts that I might later want to transfer to a specific game’s notebook.
- A convenient roll-out dice pad, housing a standard set of Polyhedral dice, alongside a mechanical pencil, additional lead, and an eraser.
- My loyal laptop, mouse, and power cord – a digital ally in my gaming adventures.
And that’s about it! Finding this well-balanced approach to organizing has made my solo gaming experiences even more enjoyable. So, whether it’s through a simple outline or a collection of essentials in your backpack, remember that the ultimate goal is to fuel your imagination and unleash the magic of RPGs in all their unbridled glory.
In the end, whether you embrace digital tools or revel in analog charm, comprehensive notes are essential for enhancing your RPG journey. Finding the right balance that complements your style will make your gaming adventures even more enjoyable.
In the moment I described above about needing a name, I learned a valuable lesson about the beauty of spontaneity in RPGs. It wasn’t about having the perfect tools or being overly organized; it was about embracing the joy of creation, whether it sprang from a random table or the whimsy of my own thoughts.
So, dear adventurers, let my tale serve as a reminder that sometimes, all we need is to trust in our own abilities and let the magic of our imagination guide us. As we embark on the organization quest, let’s remember to enjoy the journey, appreciate the surprises, and savor the moments when we find that all we need is right there within us – just waiting to be unleashed upon the world of RPGs. So, prepare your backpack with the essentials that inspire you, and unleash the boundless magic of RPGs!