How I Use Evernote to Organise My Campaign

For the last four months or so, we’ve been playing the Shattered Star adventure path and it’s going very well. As always, though, campaign prep is a constant struggle.

Evernote High Res

 

Like you (I expect) I’m a jolly busy gamer. Family life, running Raging Swan Press and my near obsession with running all conspire to constrain the amount of prep time I’ve got for our weekly sessions. To stay ahead of the curve, and to be jolly organised, I use Evernote.

Evernote’s got loads of advantages for players and GMs alike and I’m finding that it’s instrumental in keeping my campaign on track.

For me, using Evernote efficiently is all about clever tagging. Don’t get me wrong, the search function in Evernote is tremendously powerful, but a comprehensive but simple list of tags means I can quickly navigate my notes and find what I’m looking for—even in the midst of a session. I use several tags to organise my campaign notes:

  • Shattered Star: I apply this tag to every note relevant to the campaign. This tends to mean it gets applied to a lot of notes, but it also means I can quickly scan and search everything that might apply to the campaign. It’s all there—effortlessly—on a single screen.
  • Shattered Star Session Summaries: I write up session summaries of every game and post them to my blog, as a handy record of the campaign. I find the process jolly useful in ordering my thoughts and remembering important events that might affect upcoming sessions. My players read them as well to refresh their memories of recent events before the next session. Having them in Evernote—searchable—is an added bonus.
  • Shattered Star PC: I use this tag on any note pertaining to the PCs. This includes (but is not limited to) copies of their character sheets, their backgrounds and any special magic items or plot devices I might have designed for a given PC. This is also handy if a player can’t make it to a session. With a copy of his character sheet ready to go, I can hit “print” and someone else can run the character—meaning the party doesn’t lose out on healing, offensive magic or whatever. Worst case scenario—and we are playing somewhere without a printer—I can simply share the note with the relevant player and they can run the character straight from their device.
  • Shattered Star NPC: In a similar vein to the Shattered Star PC tag, I use this tag to keep track of important NPCs. I can add important notes, their statistics and so on to a note and have it close at hand. If I suddenly get asked a question about an NPC who hasn’t appeared for several sessions, I can quickly refer to my note—and not spend ages leafing through the module trying to find the relevant information.
  • Shattered Star: Module Name: I’ve got several tags named after the various modules in the adventure path. Whether I’m designing extra encounters, extra dungeon dressing (like this  or this) or just organising my session summaries these are handy tags.

Now, you might be wondering why do all of my tags start with “Shattered Star”? True, it does make the tag longer and somewhat cumbersome, but it means they all appear next to each other in my tag list. This makes finding the right tag much quicker than if I had to search through the entire list.

Got Any Other Tips?

So that’s a brief overview of how I use Evernote to help run my campaign. Are you a GM that uses Evernote to run the game? Got hints and tips I missed? Leave them in the comments below and help me run my games better!

 

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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5 thoughts on “How I Use Evernote to Organise My Campaign

  1. Evernote can be a great tool for not only the GM at the table but also for the players.

    You can create a shared notebook for all to use at the table – works best if everyone has an account with Evernote but the web interface for shared notebooks is pretty functional.

    Personally I’ve moved onto other tools due to issues I encountered with Evernote but I did post how I was set up while using it on my blog (
    http://ofdiceanddragons.com/my-gm-binder-evernote-of-course/)

  2. How do you find the learning curve of Evernote? I have noticed that over the years all sorts of gadgets, apps, and programs have popped up claiming to simplify my life, but–for me at least–no matter how good the features are, if it isn’t convenient to learn it just doesn’t get used. Or, more generally, if I have an idea I need to get it down immediately, lest it evaporate from my brain before I can find a keyboard.

    Thankfully, I always seem to have a pen and scrap of paper on me, so I rarely miss the chance to jot an idea down. My problem lies in what comes later, when I have a stack of scribbled-on receipts, empty envelopes, folded notebook paper, or flyers stuffed into a file folder.

    • It’s a doddle to learn! All the basic functions are (well) basic and easy to work out. The great thing about Evernote is that you get more out of it the more you use it. I’d highly recommend having a play around with it.

  3. I use Evernote for private notes only. Information for players, like campaign or story summaries, goes into Slack. Anyway, with Evernote, I do the following:

    – one notebook per campaign
    – one note per sesssion, date in the title for ordering notes and exporting them
    – play is often on roll20, pasting screenshots into the session summaries makes them lively
    – tag notes with character name to remember important events
    – use notes to prepare encounters, shamelessly copy and pasting from sourcebooks

  4. This is the second time in two days I’ve seen folks going on about electronic note services. I started down this path in part to your last series of posts about Evernote but ended up wasting a truck ton of time getting it to work on Win, Linux and iOS. After a year of frustration I’ve thrown in the towel and for gaming I am going to handwritten notes and stuff using a modified Bullet Journal format. I appreciate they are neat tools but they need to be much better before I go back to them.