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Find Your Ideal RPG Campaign Organization Method

Find Your Ideal RPG Campaign Organization Method

Are you gearing up to run a new RPG campaign this fall? Do you need to get a better handle on your long-running game? Let us help you choose the campaign management option that best suits your group’s needs and your personal prep style.

A Three-Ring Binder and Notebook

Sketch of Arianne Adell AKA Sailor Deimos by Jonathan Ying.
Put the “pen and paper” back in pen and paper RPGs.

It’s for You If:

  • ✔ You’re on a budget.
  • ✔ You’re a crafty, DIY, or “by hand” type of person.
  • ✔ You want flexibility: you can fill the binder with handwritten and printed notes, and you can be as vague or detailed as you please.
  • ✔ You like to run your games in electrically challenged locations.
  • ✔ You want to enjoy a beautiful campaign keepsake at the end.

It’s Not for You If:

  • ✘ You’re constantly forgetting to bring things with you. There’s no backup or cloud access with this analog option.
  • ✘ You want a “Search” function for your materials.
  • ✘ You want to let players or a co-GM reference campaign material on their own time.

Obsidian Portal

Obsidian-Portal
Obsidian Portal is a semi-free online campaign website builder that works like a wiki.

It’s for You If:

  • ✔ You want a social hub for your campaign, where your players can chat in a dedicated forum, RSVP to sessions on the calendar, and submit character journal entries. You can advertise to potential players.
  • ✔ You want your players or co-GM to be able to add or reference campaign material on their own. You can also share secret info with the players of your choosing.
  • ✔ You want to be able to edit and access your campaign materials from any device.
  • ✔ You’re familiar with Wikimarkup. You like the idea of being able to customize your campaign site with CSS and Google Fonts.
  • ✔ Need a gentle learning curve.

It’s Not for You If:

  • ✘ If the basic account won’t suffice and you don’t want a monthly subscription ($4.99/month).
  • ✘ You like to run your games in electrically challenged locations.
  • ✘ You have a lot of mechanical considerations you want to keep track of, such as stat blocks, or you want access to a library of preconstructed items, abilities, and adversaries.

City of Brass

City-of-Brass
City of Brass is a paid online campaign manager with a focus on worldbuilding, adventures, and stat blocks.

It’s for You If:

  • ✔ You like to run campaigns in the same system or setting. Once you’ve created a setting, an NPC, or a monster, you can use them in any of your campaigns or adventures.
  • ✔ You like to utilizing libraries of stock art, adventures, creatures, NPCs, items, abilities, and more from half a dozen major RPGs.
  • ✔ You want to be able to edit and access your campaign materials from any device.
  • ✔ You want your players or co-GM to be able to add or reference campaign material on their own.

It’s Not for You If:

  • ✘ Your prep materials in broad strokes. City of Brass is better suited for detail-oriented GMs.
  • ✘ You and your players don’t want a monthly subscription ($3/month each).
  • ✘ You like to run your games in electrically challenged locations.
  • ✘ You don’t want to spend time learning how to use the site. There is a moderate learning curve.

Scrivener

Scrivener
Scrivener is half word processor, half writing project manager. With a bit of adaptation, you can use it to organize your RPG campaigns as well.

It’s for You If:

  • ✔ Your campaign prep is an iterative process: you go from index cards to outlines to drafts.
  • ✔ Your campaign prep ends up looking like published adventures. Scrivener makes it easy to format and export files.
  • ✔ You want to be able to cross-reference or link to other files in the project.
  • ✔ You want to collect relevant images, PDFs, or web pages in one place.

It’s Not for You If:

  • ✘ You want something built specifically for RPGs.
  • ✘ Don’t want to pay an up-front cost ($35-45 per platform).
  • ✘ You don’t want to spend time learning how to use the program. There is a moderate-to-steep learning curve.
  • ✘ You need other players or co-GMs to be able to reference the material.

Realmworks

Realmworks
Realmworks is a dedicated campaign management program that doubles as a virtual tabletop.

It’s for You If:

  • ✔ You want use your prep program to also run games online. You can toggle exactly what your players can see.
  • ✔ You are someone who tends to prep exhaustively, planning every detail in advance.
  • ✔ You want to create adventure flowcharts or character relationship webs.
  • ✔ You want to collect relevant images, stat blocks, sound files, and videos in one place.
  • ✔ You want your campaign automatically backed up and synced across PCs.

It’s Not for You If:

  • ✘ You and your group are cost-conscious ($49.99 for GMs; $9.99 for players).
  • ✘ You don’t like steep learning curves.
  • ✘ You’re overwhelmed by too much detail or customizability.
  • ✘ You’re an Apple person, or you don’t want to have to lug your laptop to the session.

How do you organize your campaign material? Share your tips in the comments below!

Image Credit: Monte Cook Games

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