The GM's binder

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This site replaces my traditional GM’s binder.
When I started gaming, I used a note pad or a coil-bound notebook to keep all my notes together. That typically grew into a 1/2" binder, and in one case it grew into a 3" binder (the campaign ran for over 12 years and only in the latter part of it did I have a laptop). It took me a good 6 years to transition from paper to electronic, but now that I’m here – I don’t want to go back.

When preparing a campaign (using traditional or electronic media) there are a lot of devices and aids out there. Whole books have been written about campaign management, and you can even buy special notebooks for it.

When I started the current campaign (Signs & Portends), I was examining new ways to document the campaign. Locally I used a TiddlyWiki and I wanted a website where I could post limited versions of that information. While there is a public website available for tiddlywiki’s (TiddlySpace), I stumbled on Obsidian Portal first. Poking about, I enjoyed the camaraderie of the community enough to try my hand at crafting a very simple campaign (For Rise of the Runelords). I called it the Legacy, but my players didn’t like the name, so I guess only I called it Legacy.

When the Reforge happened, my ROTRLLegacy site broke, as did many others on the site. Over the years I occasionally go and fix a few pages, but most of the deeper information on that site remains broken as I spend most of my free time trying to fill out this site. As the Site Map shows, there are still an awful lot of “empty” pages in this wiki. I had a plan when I started creating this site: namely, i wanted it to be my GM’s binder for the game.

What is a GM’s binder

To me, a GM’s binder is the primarily organization tool of the campaign. I keep everything I need to run a session or plan an adventure in my binder. The last paper binder I had a series of dividers in it, that map pretty closely to the way I laid out this site:

  1. Cover. A title page. My style gives it a poem describing the theme and or setting of the campaign. The Obsidian Portal site has both a main wiki page and a frontspage. While my two pages don’t differ very much – they are completely different pages and as such can contain different information.
  2. Places. Geography – some known to the players, some not.
  3. People. NPCs of note. Can also include plot hooks the party knows about, politics & intrigue.
  4. House Rules. Combat charts, overviews, and house rules.
  5. History. Kingdom-level, Local lore, Manorial life, Legends, and Religious lore.
  6. Culture. Cooking, fashion, common sayings, and the like.
  7. Logs. My notes on the previous game. The logs can be updated or written by any one of my players (or me) or edited by anyone in the campaign. They are stored chronologically and have their own interface.
  8. Adventures. GM only. If there’s logs, there’s an adventure behind it. Mine are closedsm.pnghidden on another site, but that’s just me.
  9. Monsters. My bestiary. PC lore (if any) will be visible on these pages, and probably cross-linked to the relevant History (lore) pages.
  10. Loot. Stuff I create for the adventures. As it is discovered, I’ll unlock the pages. & Lists of stuff given out in a session. Just a series of lists, really; but ideally cross-linked to the Adventure and the Log.
  11. Maps. Locations known well by the PC, kingdom and island-wide maps.
  12. Links of interest. Bookmarks for this campaign.
  13. Copyright. When I use something, I’ll list it here with info on who holds the copyright and how to get your own copy.
  14. Symbols. What do the symbols used on this site mean.

Why Obsidian Portal

When I found Obsidian Portal, I was debating between using a wiki (like PBWiki) or some other generic hosting site; of which there are many. But the idea of Obsidian Portal was what sold me. The site has the space I need to store and display the information I want my party to see (and that bit that I want to hide from the party too). But the benefits come with the community. The format of the site comes from the community, a group of like-minded folk who helped me when I got stuck (in several ways – including… well, we don’t talk about it.)

A wiki, even a Tiddlywiki doesn’t offer the type of friendly support that Obsidian Portal has. Not to say the place doesn’t have issues — ups and downs — but overall, I like being here. I must, this is my second campaign as a GM hosted on Obsidian portal.

Future changes

This site has changed its look twice. And it probably will change its look again. The really neat thing about Obsidian Portal is that it can change. It is after all a simple marriage between a website and a wiki with a ton and a half of under-the-hood configuration.

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The GM's binder

Signs and portents ketherian