How I organize my Campaign notebooks in OneNote

How do I organize my campaign notebook? This has been one of the frequently asked questions I get when I talk about my OneNote. Below is a screenshot of what I call my “Template“.

tabs from template

A “Template” is a blank OneNote Notebook I created to use when I start a new campaign or reference guide for my games. Simply copy the notebook file, in OneDrive, and rename the new file.  This keeps me from reinventing the wheel every time I start a new campaign notebook. Then, open the notebook in OneNote as usual.

This is not a notebook for jotting down ideas, or clipping articles. It is strictly for when I have a game that I expect to go more than a few session and needs more info for me to run it. It will hold my evil Game Master plots and plans for world domination! … Sorry the power went to my head … It has the following categories denoted as tabs on the top of the page:

1. Adventure Journal
This section is used to take notes during the evenings session. To later be summarized and posted for everyone to read. I use a Surface Pro 3, Window Tablet, and this allows me to write on the screen with a stylus. OneNote can transcribe Ink to Text with a quick right click. It saves me a lot of time in the rewrite.

2. Campaign Outline
I create a new page for every chapter in the campaign; adding sub pages as needed to describe the encounters/scenes. I tend to write in an outline format with as much detail as I need to describe the story as it goes. But, you can use any format you like! Here is an example:

Campaign Outline: <Existing Tab>

  1. Chapter 1: Relic Hunters <New Page>
    1. Lovers Quarrel <New Sub-Page>
    2. Off to the Races <New Sub-Page>
    3. Jungle Home <New Sub-Page>

campaign outline

3. Player Characters
When at all possible I try to keep a scanned copy of the player character sheets in this section for my review in game and for archive purposes. Just in case a player forgets theirs!

4. Monsters
I usually copy and past from the PDF to this section, to keep all of the monsters I plan to use during the game. It makes it a quick reference and I can write or type in any notes I make. If the monster requires conversion from one system to another for the campaign, I usually keep the both version in this section, on the same page if possible. If all else fails, I press the Windows key + the “S” key, and take a screen clip of the monster from the pdf.

5. Maps and Locations
Obviously, this contains all of the maps for the campaign, from battle maps, to pictures of countrysides or cities that I deem fit the look I am going for.

6. NPCs
Another obvious one, the BBEG (Big Bad End Guy) goes here. For him, I create a fully fleshed out non player character for my reference. Then I can change, edit, or note, any specifics I make, on the fly.

7. House Rules
Last but not least, I use this section for any quick rules questions that may come up. I copy forum, and FAQ from the system here for ease of reference, also. Pictures, stats, maps, pdf’s of supplement pages, and anything else I deem cool for the game, I send it here. I guess you could call it my ‘Brain Dump’ page.

So, that’s how I use OneNote, in terms of notebook setup. Remember, notebooks and journals are as unique as the individual. Make the notebook any way you think will help in organizing your campaign. There is no wrong way… Here is a picture of my latest game journal for Savage RIFTS.

session journal

As a side note, if you are interested in an analog method, I have a series of posts on using Bullet Journal methods for Game Masters here.

How do you organize your gaming campaign notes using OneNote?


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