I am the kind of person who is willfully paralyzed in almost any task until I find an organizational tool to help me get my shit together. While this might sound overwrought — paper and pencil are time-honored organizational tools and are still readily available in this digital age — I have years’ worth of anecdotes that inform me of the fact that “flying by the seat of my pants” is not a valid strategy when working on complex projects. My problem is that I am such a sucker for technology that I demand that my organizational tools be as full-featured and attractive as possible. Because of this I always run into the same problem: nothing I find can provide exactly what I want in a form that I want it.
One of my recurring needs/wants is for a tool to help organize TTRPG content. I have written about this a few times, I know, but it’s an ongoing struggle in part because I often forget what I’ve already learned, and because I sometimes stumble across new opportunities to put off the project and dive into evaluating another set of tools.
I’m not going to re-enumerate those which I’ve already talked about, but I will point you (and Future Me) to this site which has some new-to-me offerings for keeping a TTRPG campaign organized. It covers some that I was already aware of (World Anvil, Kanka, Obsidian Portal), some I hadn’t heard of (LegendKeeper, Fantasia Archive), and some which I hadn’t actually considered when setting up an organizational tool (Obsidian, Notion).
That last one, Notion, is familiar to me. It’s become my go-to note-taking platform for a few years now and I have abused their free tier quite thoroughly. While the idea of using Notion to organize a TTRPG binder had crossed my mind in the past, I was always hamstrung by the way I had been using the tool, which is to say mainly for stream-of-consciousness journaling mainly focused on development projects and learning.
After watching a video on using Notion with D&D, however, I was blown away by how little I had been privy to when working with the platform. If you have 30 minutes and are interested in learning the same, check this out:
Notion is basically a rich-text editor on top of a series of on-the-fly databases, and with some recent updates behind the scenes, these databases can interact with one another to provide a relational data editing experience that can make working with TTRPG content a lot easier. One aspect of planning that I always struggle with/look for in a tool is how to easily jump back and forth between related content without having to dig through lists and hierarchical trees. Clicking on an in-line link will beat any search faculty hands-down, every time, and relying on a relational database helps with that.
While I could have cloned Anna’s stunning template showcased above, I opted to try my hand at creating my own. I have added a few data tables, but then went straight into creating a “page template” for NPCs:
No, it is not as pretty as it could be with a tool designed for…actual design, but for what is essentially a text-based platform, it’s not too bad.
I’m going to continue to work with Notion, translating what I have currently in Fantasy Grounds into this new format, and will see how things go. Then I might try one of the other options from the PHD20 site that I haven’t already tried to see if any of them give me a better feel than any other. As much as I appreciate Notion’s flexibility, I know me, and expect that no one solution will be the solution that my organizational needs will accept.