What Tools Do You Use for Your Campaigns?

by Hawke Robinson published 2017/10/04 05:50:00 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:26:12-07:00
As asked in Geek Therapy Community on Facebook by Pâris Conte, "To those here that write campaigns, build campaign settings, etc... What system do you use to store and organise your notes? A hand written journal? Specific software? Why did you chose what you use?". Such a lengthy response would be a terrible wall of text on FB, so I'm answering it here where both longevity and formatting are MUCH better...


I have been involved with RPGs since the 1970s. I have been known to juggle a dozen or more monthly campaigns, all with completely different settings and game systems, simultaneously, so organization and efficiency are critical. Any methodologies or tools that can help improve this are very much welcomed. This might not be a bad topic to add to the RPG Optimization document: http://www2.rpgresearch.com/blog/rpg-optimization-1

Here is the link to the original post that triggered this discussion, and you can see others' responses there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/GeekTherapy/permalink/1773320066305888/

Here is a Google Plus (G+) thread on the same topic:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/110136358070289646661/posts/9fsgR7UvBM9?cfem=1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hashtag/rpgtools?src=hash



LibreOffice Writer for most of the text, but also use: Draw, Sheet, Plan . Visio / Kivio / Dia (for flowcharts / mindmapping / event mapping/logic), Campaign Cartographer and Gimp for maps, Sweet Home 3d for other maps and especially video/VR walkthrough/videos, and iPad Pro 12.9" draw for sketches, scenes, etc., all gets bundled in my campaign folder on my OpenSuse linux system, and an online copy on my website, and hard copies printed (just in case) and stored in a 3 ring binder. And finally: battlemats, whiteboards, dungeon tiles, and Costco large clear lidded tubs to store for each campaign and/or group which Okay, now I'm tired just thinking about all that work.  Even more details are provided in the "Why" section below...





The RPG Trailer & RPG Bus (mobile transport and storage of everything below!)

http://www.rpgtrailer.com -- http://www.rpgbus.com  -- Donate today: http://gofundme.com/rpgtrailer

I used to have to drag ALL of the items listed below, back and forth to/from my offices or whatever location I was running the games at.

Now it can all be prepared and stored in the RPG Trailer and RPG Bus! (mostly)

This can be not only a huge time saver, but also saves my injured back and knees considerably!





I am a strong opensource advocate, and I mostly use Linux, but also do have OpenBSD, Mac, and Windows sytems, so I need something that will work on all platforms.


LibreOffice Writer (word processor)

 Opensource equivalent to Microsoft Word.

This is where I spend the majority of the time in creation, preparation, and logging. Often much is copy-pasted from here to the various other tools as needed.

I have dysgraphia which means both that my handwriting is atrocious, but also that it is extremely painful to write with a pen/pencil for more than 5 minutes.

Typing is far, far, better.

I do create a table of contents, and try to use headings liberally, and then update the TOC frequently, to make it much easier to find sections of information.

Also, when your campaign notes stretch into the hundreds, and thousands of pages per campaign,  you can CTRL+F to find the keywords you need, though you better have a TOC or else it could take a while to find.

Also for larger campaigns, I try to start utilizing the Index features, so that specific instances can be found more readily.

I can't stand RPG books that do not have a decent TOC and a decent Index, that is just plain laziness any company that publishes their books without decent versions of each. This has become a terrible trend since the early 2000s.



LibreOffice Sheet (spreadsheet)

Opensource equivalent to Microsoft Excel.

Statistical information, npcs, etc.

Extremely useful for keeping long term statistical information on key NPCs, creatures, weather, random encounters, character generation, and much more.

Can also be useful for creating charts to visually find information or analyze some concepts, it is surprising the stuff you come across visually that you might have missed otherwise.



LibreOffice Draw (basic graphics)

A  basic (mostly vector) graphics program. 




Libre Plan community release (or other similar products) (project management)

(Gannt charting for orders of events, milestones, dependcies, resource allocation, and branching)

I haven't really settled on any one PM software product, I just listed that one for convenience. The key thing is a project management application can be very helpful for laying out epic quest, key events, tracking NPCs, minions, armies, etc. Gannt charts are very helpful visual aid for these events.




Campaign Cartographer "The Whole Shebang" (CAD mapping software)

A powerful, but somewhat klunky, CAD-style mapping software suite. Very powerful, but lengthy learning curve. Not good for quick and dirty map creation, but if you have the time, great for well prepared multi-verse down to galaxies, solar systems, worlds, continents, countries, cities, streets, building, dungeons, and more.

Also has a basic character creation (image) tool that is somewhat useful, though I tend to use something like character animation programs instead for those features.





Sweet Home 3d (floorplans, 3d photorealistic rendering, video "fly throughs", VR walkthroughs)

 Really awesome opensource, free, community supported, floorplan software that also can render 3d photorealistic images, real-time 3d walkthroughs, and produce 3d rendered video walkthroughs/flyovers, etc.

Not really useful for medieval style castles and dungeons (see Campaign Cartographer for that), but any modern-to-semi-modern structures, extremely useful.

Both a powerful, but also easy to use, tool.




Gimp (graphics / photo editing)

 Opensource, cross platform, graphics and photo editing software.


iPad Pro 12.9" (sketches, fast maps, scenes, etc.)

 Use the stylus a lot to whip up sketches, scenes, etc.

Also, with the protective case I bought providing a stand, I can prop it up on the table to use for signage, video presentations, etc.

I don't really use it for anything else.



OpenSuse Linux (operating system)

 Up to version 13.2 my preferred OS. Since LEAP I have not been happy with them, but I am even less happy with Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, and many others. OpenSuse has had the best laptop compatibility for me, though again LEAP has been disappointing.



OpenBSD (operating system)

 I have been an OpenBSD supporter for nearly 20 years. It is the most secure operating system you can get your hands on. It has a lot of limitations on hardware and software, but for a web server it will make your life so much safer than any other option, which means a lot less hassle with constant patching, fighting off hackers, etc, so you can spend your time being productive working on, and running, your campaigns. :-)



Mac OSX (operating system)




Apple iOS (operating system)






Microsoft Windows (operating system)





A valuable resource for campaigns, and your players. You can have a lot of shared resources available.



Plone (content management system for website)

Opensource, free, Python-based content management system (CMS)

This is what I run all my sites with. It is an incredibly powerful CMS.

I can control easily who can access which information based on their group membership.

So one group can see one part of the wiki or forum postings, while another group cannot, etc.





 Extremely useful for sharing static world information. Especially when players wanting to make characters that fit the world, having this at their fingertips is very useful.

Also a useful format for organizing a lot of the concepts and ideas of the campaign, especially cultures, locations, events, etc.


Example: http://www2.spokanerpg.com/beru/




Web Forum

A nice way to have long-lasting conversations, rather than the fly-by-night social media sites like FB. This has longevity, and you can reference back easily. Much preferred format.



Email List

Useful especially for notifying groups of schedule/location changes, quick idea discussions, etc.

Can also be archived, but forums better for that.



IRC (chat)

Real-time chat is great for real-time needs.

Not good for long term archival (though logs can be stored and shared on website, not a clean format for long term use).

Lots of bots and plugins for RPG solutions.



Online mapping tools




Digital / Online Character Sheets




Online combat / action resolution




Digital Projector




Large Screen Monitor/TV




VR / AR Glasses/goggles




Bluetooth Speakers

Placed strategically



Archiving Video Camera

I video/audio record most of my sessions. This is useful for refreshing before each group about significant events and/or where we left off.

It is important that I am keeping a log, roughly timestamped so I can quickly jump to sections in the video as needed.

Also useful for long term research.

Also useful if contention about what happened previously.

Also useful if I improvised or let something slip, that I need to update/correct in the campaign for the future.

Also useful if some player(s) missed a session, they can catch up.

The list of benefits is considerable!



2+ webcams

1 overhead above the table

1 showing group view, and/or one for each participant




Drone(s) with cameras (pending)


Especially useful for LARPs



Campaign Folder

3 ring binder with pouches and/or accordion folder.




GM Screen






8x10 Small Graph Paper

Not just for mapping, much of it is used to for PC and NPC rosters to have their stats at my fingertips for that session. Longer term I store them in spreadsheets and/or word processor documents.




















Dungeon Tiles






Lincoln Logs



Large Costco, clear, lidded, tubs (storage for each group/campaign)






















































































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