Since I’ve moved over completely to using Roll20 for running my planned weekly game, I’ve likewise started to use a completely digital solution for tracking and planning my games. In the past, I had the literal GM Binder, typically a three ring binder with colored tabs something like these:
I’d fiddled around previously with a few ideas, and since starting my search had a few options fall by the wayside:
- Google Docs. Sure, I can have everything from spreadsheets to documents, but navigating all of it is a bitch. I still lean quite heavily on Google Docs (and Drive) for quite a few things, but campaign organization isn’t one of them.
- Google Keep. Nice for shopping lists, but doesn’t have most of the functionality I would really want for a “binder” feel.
- Evernote. Honestly this came the closets for my needs, but it does lack a few features that I really was looking for – particularly separating out various sections within the same notebook (I realize it does it, I’m just not as fond of how).
- YWriter. This is a free program similar to Scrivener. The biggest issue I have with it is that is purely a desktop application, and would require hacked together syncing using Google Drive or similar.
Also, my issue with a lot of custom-made campaign management software is flexibility. They tend to either be targeted toward a particular audience (usually d20, Pathfinder, etc.) – which is great, because those games probably benefit a lot from having tools like those – or are just shy of being configurable enough without a lot of futzing around. In the future, I may take up an offer to take RealmWorks for a test drive – when I do, I’ll likely be comparing it to OneNote.
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OneNote is filled with a few features ranging from useful to just cool. I’m still exploring the tagging functionality – basically, you can tag various notes and even create custom tags. This is useful because you can use a “Find By Tag” search. Unfortunately there’s no way to customize the icons, but there are about 50 or so that can be selected when creating a custom tag.
On the “just cool” side, you can add lines or a grid to your pages, as well as make use of some rudimentary drawing tools.
Combine this with the ability to bring pretty much any kind of content into the notebook – links, images, PDFs, you can even record audio or video – as well as a handy feature called Linked Notes (that I still haven’t quite figure out how to get to work as advertised). There are also ways to send pages and clippings to OneNote directly from the browser (IE includes this natively, but there is a plug-in for Chrome, not sure how to make it work with Firefox or other browsers), and I know that Feedly has a button for it as well.
All in all, OneNote has single-handedly helped me organize my campaign. It just goes to show that when Microsoft hits a home run on an application, they hit it out of the park.
I’m also interested in hearing about other people’s solutions for campaign organization – different layouts, templates, formats, etc.