OneNote as My GM Binder

OneNoteI mentioned back in December that I was moving to OneNote as my tool of choice for my gaming material and I thought it was time to take a look at how I’m starting to organize things.

I should point out that this is how I’m currently going about organizing my material and it will likely evolve over time as I add new areas and combine some. I also suspect that once the characters start to interact with it there will be other items that need to be added.

Just a quick note about how OneNote is setup up – it’s just like a three-ring binder. You have a notebook, which contains sections and those sections contain pages (ok, you have have section groups and sub-pages as well but right now let’s keep it simple).

A Notebook for the Campaign

First things first, I created a notebook for the campaign. Since we’re going for simple I just used a generic ‘RPG Campaign’ title for the notebook, I know that title is not very creative but I have a tendency to let the campaign name itself during development. I should point out that you can change the display name of the notebook along with the color of the icon in the properties for the notebook (right click on the notebook name to bring up the menu).

property-window

If you want to change the name of the directory/notebook you need to close the notebook in OneNote and either change the name on your hard drive (if you store it locally) or at the OneDrive website (if you sync it across devices as I do), and then reopen it.

Sections Instead of Notebooks

When I was using Evernote for my campaign notebook I used a notebook stack with a different notebook for each area I wanted to track, not so with OneNote. What I’ve done now is set up an section for each area and will be adding pages to those sections as I move forward.

While I’m still in the planning stages I’ve set up the following:

  • Session Notes
  • Setting
  • Plot Ideas
  • NPCs
  • PCs

section-tabs

One thing I like over Evernote is that I can place the sections in any order (and reorder them when I want) I’m not locked into alpha-numeric order. This allows you to put you frequently used sections on the left while your not so often visited sections can be pushed to the right (or even dropped into a “reference section group”).

Add pages as needed

So now that I have my notebook and initial sections laid out I can just added pages in the appropriate secitons and interlink them (yes, OneNote allows you to link to pages in the notebook). So, each session will get it’s own page, plot ideas can be collected on a single page and then expanded on others (again, linking them together), NPCs and PCs each get their own page, you get the idea.

Tagging in OneNote

I wanted to take a moment and mention tagging in OneNote. Unlike Evernote you don’t tag the page (a note in Evernote) you tag anything on a page. This is extremely powerful as you can add items to a to-do list, reminders, new ideas brought up during a session, it can be anything. I’ll be exploring tagging in a later post but wanted to let you know it’s handled.

So that’s how I’m currently setup and organized – do you use OneNote? If so, how are you setup?

May your dice roll well.

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Home-brew seems to be the way to go

the-creation-of-adam-436007_1280A couple of weeks back I asked folks if they prefer home-brew or published settings and I would like to first thank those that took the time to comment on that post (or on Google+) – I really appreciate it.

It would seem, based on the responses, that readers of the blog lean toward the home-brew category, and to be honest I wasn’t overly surprised at that trend. It was interesting though see that while many create a setting for the campaigns they run, the settings are not entirely home grown, as many of us “borrow” from established settings and material. It is important though that when you borrow from another source to adapt it to your own setting and possibly mask it so your players, or game master, can’t determine what it is.

As an example, in a past campaign I had the opportunity to run a fighter type character who wielded a sword as you would expect but had additional “powers.” In most fantasy settings the inclination would be to use some type of wizardry or sorcery but in my case I leveraged the psionics rules. I didn’t add anything over-powering, just things such as the ability to move objects, walk on water, and augment his natural abilities – all to create a Jedi like character. It was fun to play, most at the table figured out the connection, except the ritual saying he used when parting company with someone, “peace favor your blade,” as I said, you need to make the material your own.

Over the years I’ve picked elements from other campaigns, movies, and literature. It’s important though that as you start to cast your net for ideas you included material from outside of the genre you play in, like I did with the Jedi cross-over to fantasy. Maybe you’ll see something in a tank commander in modern day material that you can apply to the leader of the heavily armored platoon of dwarven rhino riders the party if facing. Always be looking for ideas that you can use and be sure to write or record them somewhere so you’ll have them handy as you start build out your next setting.

What item have you “borrowed” and brought to your campaign? Why not share a bit of it below and maybe you can inspire someone else to use it or find their own item to “borrow.”

May your dice roll well.

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Returning To My Gaming Roots

ray-of-light-526506_1280Those of you have been reading this blog for any length of time know of my desire to return to active gaming. I will admit it, the challenge is not an easy one as having the desire is just the start, you have to then act on that desire.

For me, that’s starting with a return to my gaming roots. I’m not talking about going back to playing the Basic Rules or even going back to 1st Edition (and yes, I do have all my books still). I’m talking about going back to what I enjoyed in my youth and where I found my inspiration for my games, I’m talking about returning to those items that just 10 years ago (give or take) helped drive the Realms of Rylon campaign (and likely contributed to its downfall).

In my younger days I spent a lot of time reading and devoured more books than I care to admit to. Below are the ones that jump to mind first and are far from my complete collection (I have a hard time letting go of books). These are the ones I’m going to dust off and enjoy again and which I hope will help to get the juices flowing again.

  • The Hobbit & Lord of The Rings – I don’t think I need to say anything about these books, they set the standard.
  • Chronicles of Amber – I own the entire set, picked up the original series when I was the member of the Sci-Fi Bookclub (anyone remember those?) and then collected the last five books as they came out. I remember the series and borrowed heavily from the main character, Corwin, on more than one occasion.
  • Incarnations of Immortality – I’ve only read the first seven (haven’t picked up #8, not sure if I will) and while the memory of them is still a bit sketchy I fondly remember the first one, On A Pale Horse. The main character is Death and while the description doesn’t match I always seem to tie this book to the movie Pale Rider.
  • Dragonriders of Pern – Only read the first series and looking forward to returning to them.
  • The Adept Series – this is an series that’s set in modern day Scotland and does a nice job of adding fantasy and magic to the setting.
  • The Riftwar Cycle – I read a lot of the books in this series but for some reason The Empire Trilogy sticks out in my mind – probably due to the Far East flavor it has.
  • The Coldfire Trilogy – An interesting series where the environment and inhabitants impact each other. It’s set on a far off world and does a really good job of sucking you in.
  • The Belgariad – The first series I read by David Eddings. I remember enjoying the series and reading through them at a fairly rapid pace.

I know that there are those out there who prefer movies for inspiration and Johnn Four put together this list RPG Movies for Game Masters over at RoleplayingTips if you lean that way.

For me though, reading is by far the better option as it forces you to draw the scene yourself. You get to fill in the details that, when watching a movie, are filled in for you by the camera. I wrote about the need to read a few years back in my open a book post, which on reading again includes a number of the series I mention here (looks like I need to rotate the books on the shelf).

So that’s my starting point and I welcome suggestions of other books/series to pick up as well. Do you have a favorite I should add to the list?

May your dice roll well!

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Home-brew or Published?

VoteI thought I would start the year off polling the community at large, do you use a home-brew campaign setting or do you prefer to use a published campaign?

I’ve never been a big fan of published campaign settings, it just a personal taste. I’ve always preferred creating my own setting, pulling together all the pieces of the puzzle and creating something I hope my players enjoy. There is just something oddly satisfying about the creation process and then being able to share it with folks that will appreciate the time and effort it takes to do.

I also know that there are many out there that prefer to use published campaign settings, it’s not often I see it mentioned on the blogs I read, it seems like everyone is home grown. Seems to me that either I don’t cast a wide enough net or all those campaign settings you see on the game store shelves or on Amazon are just there to fill up shelf space (or screen space).

So, I ask you, do you prefer home-grown or published? I’m sure many will enjoy reading which you prefer and if you have a favorite setting be sure to include that as well.

May your dice roll well!

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Happy Birthday #9 – State of the Blog

happy-birthday-72160_1280Another year passes and of Dice and Dragon turns nine. As I do every year I like to take a look back at the year and put down a few goals for the upcoming year, not just for the blog but also for my gaming life.

This year saw my offline world continue to inject Murphy in my writing endeavors but I still managed to put up a few posts and put a new coat of paint on the blog. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done any type of face lift on the site so I thought I would start with determining a color scheme and since the title of the blog as dragon it in I thought I would play on the color red. I hope you like it.

Let me also take a moment to thank all of you for continuing to support the blog by stopping by to see what’s going on and even participate in the comments. The post count may be low, there may be the occasional site issue, but you keep coming back, and I appreciate it. You, my readers, are the reason I do this, to give just a little back to the community and hope to improve my gaming just a little bit in the process.

So where did I end up against last year’s goals?

  1. Post more frequently. Unfortunately I still haven’t managed to hit the mark, and this year actually saw fewer posts than last year. I had a total of nine, one fewer than the previous year and still off my goal of 52. This will be a focus again this year.
  2. Increase blog traffic by 10%. I missed this one as well, (based on the statistics provided by Google), and if fact dropped off by nearly 13%. To be honest I’m a bit confused on this as the statistics that WordPress provides me shows a slight uptick in overall traffic. I’m considering doing away with the Google Analytic code on the site and sticking with just the WordPress stats, not because of the results this year but they also correlate them with when posts go live on the site, a really nice touch. (I also realize that there are many who would prefer Google not track their every movement as well.)
  3. Host a blog carnival. This one was nailed as I hosted not one but two carnivals this past year. I stepped in at the last minute to help out in March with, The GM Binder, and then followed it up in October with, Things that go bump in the night. The latter was very well received and marked my second carnival during that month and has been by far my best carnival event to date.
  4. Start a new campaign. I missed this one again, but there has been some movement on this goal. I started talking up the possibility of a new campaign and have even had someone state they would be interested in playing if I get the group going. It’s not really the goal I had set for myself but at least I can say I at least started working on it.

Goals for 2015

So, now that we’ve looked back at how things went last year, it’s time to set a few goals for the upcoming year.

  1. Post frequency. I am going to continue to set the bar at a post a week for a total of 52 for the year. Will I hit it this coming year? I’m not sure but I can’t bring myself to drop the goal to a lower number.
  2. Increase blog traffic 10%. As in years past I going to set a goal to increase the traffic to the blog, but unlike the past I’m going state it will be based on the WordPress statistics. To be honest given that the numbers just don’t line up I have to make the call and I like the built in nature of the WordPress package so I’m going in that direction.
  3. Participate in two blog carnivals. Yes, I participated in two carnivals this year but I was the host of both and this goal is about participation, not hosting. To his this goal I need to write a post in support of a carnival at least once.
  4. Start a new campaign. I’m going to continue to work on this one. This year the conversations started and there seemed to be some interest, next year the goal is to get it up and off the ground, with the setting put in place and with any luck a few characters generated.

So there you have it, the annual “birthday post” as I like to call it.

Do you have any goals set for next year? Did you set any for this year and if so, how did you do? Why not share in the comments or link back to a post on your site?

May your dice roll well.

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