Keeping Notes

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What kind of notes should I keep on my sessions? What kind of notes should I have written prior to a session? How do you keep track of whats going on?
What kind of notes should I keep on my sessions? What kind of notes should I have written prior to a session? How do you keep track of whats going on?

Names, basically. It's nice to have the names of NPCs, locations, items etc. at your fingertips. Those are easy enough to keep track of on a page of paper, I should think.

Maybe I should try it.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

During a game, I just have a piece of paper I can jot down notes as the game goes on, usually just the names of locations and people that I make up on the fly. After the adventure, I transfer anything important to some master notes I keep for the campaign. The master notes explain the course of the campaign, both what happened in the past and what may happen in the future. There are also notes and maps for recurring locations and NPCs, along with a listing of any house rules.

How big the campaign notes are varies widely. My current campaign doesn't have a lot of overall campaign, it's mostly a series of unconnected adventures, so the campaign notes is mostly important locations and NPCs. However, when I run a complex sand-box campaign, I might have an entire book that covers what events are going on behind the scenes and extended descriptions of locations and people, even if the players might never run into them. The more open your campaign, the more background detail and plot you need to write up ahead of time.

As for planning an adventure, it is one of those things that you have have to work out what is best for you. For me it depends heavily on how complex and free-form the adventure is. For a simple adventure I might just have a paragraph or two of notes, a map and print out of the monsters. A complex adventure might have pages of notes that chart out what will happen, what might happen, what issues might come up, possible encounters, and so on. The write up for an encounter with a complex puzzle or trap or some social event might run more then one page itself.


I find I need a lot of scribbling just for battles. 

I usually just have loose sheets of paper I can make rough notes on, then I pull it all together some other day on a Word Document.

I've been meaning to get a really nice notebook for DM notekeeping. You know, make the PCs feel like I have some book full of Godly secrets.

Parental unit asks what I want for Christmas:
"Oh... just. Socks. And a really good pen no don't look at me like I'm crazy. I mean it. A pen. I need a pen for Christmas. And a notebook."
"... I'm going to go to the washroom and by the time I get back you better have an actual suggestion. One that's not lame." 

Like JayM mentioned, charts for advanced adventures, puzzles, maps, etc. might come in handy, but I don't find I'm getting into that until we've at least established some good plot movement.  
..and the game's date..
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. - Willy Wonka
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