03 May 2022

The Swap from Physical to Virtual, Part 1

It's Wednesday night. Caught in Galen, the fifth campaign set in the world of Eldar, has been on hiatus for quite some time: over five months! Between the birth of a baby, graduations, promotions, and more, much has occurred in the real world and the game's remained at a stand-still. Regardless, everyone is excited to finally return to this long-running campaign. Currently, the group soars above the continent of Aelonis toward Galen, the City of Magic, mere days after saving the mortal world from certain doom at the hands of an avalanche of epic spells. However, they accidentally "destroyed" Vapoa, the Elemental Plane of Water in the progress.

Mistakes happen.

Aboard their airship, they're surrounded by allies: Blast, their warforged artificer and Sinen, their gazer aberration aficionado; Preston Fairfields, a wild halfling barbarian (and good friend), alongside the gelugon-blooded tiefling Captain Virtue. Yeah, there's more and I (the DM) need to track them all.

Then there's the countless plots at play. The accidental destruction of the verse. What's inside the semi-sentient sword of Nailen the Lord of Madness? Who awaits the party in Galen after their terribly long voyage away? With a spiral campaign such as Caught in Galen, there's a ton of threads tangled, lost, and created...

In my attempt to continuously improve my craft, I've swapped the way I observe and record notes at the table. At least temporarily. Though for how well it worked in one session and the prep beforehand, I wouldn't be surprised if it's a permanent switch.

I was always a pen and paper DM, but I've made the switch, at least for now, to a 90-10 split: virtual and physical. 

It worked swimmingly.

Now, I use a laptop, a few notecards, a piece of notebook paper, and a pen. With some D&D books in tow, that's my arsenal.

After a few more sessions, I'll delve into what's working, what's different, and what's troubling, but at present, I'm loving this new style of noting. All of my notes are in Google Drive, with all the session notes in a single document which makes it easy to search past sessions for key details. Pieces of artwork? Easily accessible either on Google Drive in a folder of NPCs, monsters, and locales or in a favorites bookmark on Edge. Scraps of lore? Also, quick to find on Drive. Control plus the "f" key is your friend!

That leaves only a few things for the table: some books, tracking monster HP and actual battle maps (and minis), when we use them. Otherwise, it's all virtual.

Another update will arrive soon. Have you tried going to a laptop while at the table? What worked? What didn't? What do you wish you knew when you started?

Let me know!

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