You haven’t played in two weeks but you’re ready to go. You’ve got your wild cherry Dr. Pepper, your dice, and your character sheet. Or maybe you’ve got your computer booted up and the windows opened that you need. If you were smart, you kept notes on what was going on as you played. You look down and see “1 elf, blueberries, 5 gold”. What? You also see random names scrawled sideways “Pinkerton”, “Orcbottom”, and “Whatshername”. You may have a small sketch or two if you’re the type. You may even have directions to a town nearby. None of it makes any sense for the most part.
Effective note keeping not only keeps your gameplay moving but can help keep your character sheet organized so nothing gets lost. You will know more than you found “gold ring – magic”. So here are some tips to help you keep great notes.
Enough is Enough – put down enough pertinent information so that you know what you need to know. Don’t put down one word or two that you think will trigger your memory. It probably won’t. So put down enough info to know what you need to know.
More is Just More – putting down every single detail and writing extensive notes is no better than a single word. Sometimes it can drag down gameplay if you spend too much time writing out complete details or leveling up your character during gameplay.
People are People – When you meet a new NPC, put down the important facts, such as name, things they tell you, where you met them, any special features. It can help to underline names in your notes, making them easier to find during gameplay.
Loot – There’s nothing worse than finding a really cool item and forgetting you got it or not remembering what it does. Put down what the item is, any stats the GM gives you, what it does, who has it if you’re in a group. This can help when splitting loot or when you go into battle to know who has it.
GM Speaks – When your GM is giving you the breakdown of a new city, the details of a task at hand, or a list of loot. Whatever they are telling you, there is probably a reason – you should note it. They don’t usually share things with you for no reason.
Keep it Together – Keeping your notes organized is helpful. Scrawling all over a page in random order may be the quickest way while gaming, but it can be impossible to decipher after. Whether you’re typing them into a doc or writing on a sheet of notebook page it can help if you have some form of organization to it.
Review – Within two days of gaming, it helps if you go back and re-write, organize, go over, and flesh out your notes. This would be a great time to add any new info to your character sheet on new items. It is also a great time to put down any questions you have for your fellow players, your GM or just in general.
You can get as fancy as you like with your notes, with some players writing different info in different colors – green for loot, purple for people, blue for places, etc. Some keep individual note cards, highlighters. If that’s your thing, go for it. But usually, the type who are that organized probably don’t need tips on note-taking. You don’t have to be that intense if it’s not your norm. But taking some time and effort to keep decent notes can really help gameplay.
For more tips and tricks or talk about all things RPG/tabletop gaming, you can join us on our Discord chat. Or you can pop onto our Facebook page with questions or comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.