Friday, May 7, 2010

How I DM: Planning

How I DM, is a series of articles that reflect back on my time as a dungeon master over the past year. I am currently DMing two different games, one on a virtual table top and a brand new local game. Today's article will focus on the tools I use to plan my campaigns.

Google Documents
There is nothing more simple than the functionality offered up by Google Docs. It is essentially Microsoft Office in the cloud. Which means I can work on my campaign from home, work or where ever I find myself with free time. I write my outlines and notes in the word processor and store item and monster list in spreadsheets. A pen an paper could get the job done just as well, but this isn't the time of cavemen and dinosaurs.

Lovely Charts
I started off using Lovely Charts for plot flowcharts. Other tools are better and offer up similar functionality with the explicit purpose of campaign planning, but none that I know of do it on the web. As my plots and sub plots grow more complex I have started to create NPC relational charts as well. How does the lumberjack know the king's niece and the like.

D&D Compendium
Until very recently I was not a DDI subscriber, but I still used the compendium in my research of all things monster, item, trap, etc. Think of it as the near end all be all of D&D encyclopedias, but with better search. I just had to look up the specifics in my books once I found what I was looking for. Now I can do it all on the web and even print everything I'll be using for my game right off the site.

Asmor Tools
Where WotC falls short in encounter building and other helpful applications, Asmor picks up the slack. The Encounter Planner and Quartermaster specifically have been life savers on a few occasions.

Orokos Tools
Having a player base made up of adults with jobs, kids and spouses can make scheduling a free Friday night a nightmare. Role playing by email or at least attempting to can take the sting out of month(s) of down time. Orokos allows my players to share their characters sheets with me and keep a log of their dice rolls.

Obsidian Portal
The best place on the web to chronicle every detail of my games for my players and anyone else who is interested (does that person exist?). I make extensive use of the wiki page and do a write up on every game night. You would think it would be to jog my players memories, but sometimes I forget too.

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The Wise Man's Fear
Dynasty of Evil
100 Bullets Vol. 07: Samurai
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100 Bullets Vol. 05: The Counterfifth Detective
100 Bullets Vol. 04: A Foregone Tomorrow
100 Bullets Vol. 03: Hang Up on the Hang Low
100 Bullets Vol. 02: Split Second Chance
30 Days of Night
100 Bullets Vol. 01: First Shot, Last Call
Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Street
Uzumaki, Volume 1
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