D&D Campaign Tracker, How to Get the Most Out of Yours
Finally! It’s that time again. All your hard work is coming to fruition as you and your players stand on the cusp of a new adventure. This time though, things will be different. This time, things are going to be organized. The days of comparing and sifting through pages of notes are gone! Instead you have decided to use a D&D Campaign Tracker to act as a central hub for any and all information relevant to your campaign. But you want this to be something more than a knowledge base, you want this to create new opportunities for you and your players to immerse yourselves. We’ve got some tips and tricks to help you and your party get the most out of your tracker!
1.) Have your players take responsibility
Let’s be honest: DMing can be a lot of work. Countless hours are often spent carefully curating a world full of intrigue and potential. But one of the wonderful things about tabletop role-playing games is that while the DM creates the playground, it’s the players who bring it to life. If they are willing, have them take charge of your D&D campaign tracking. Not only is it one less thing you have to worry about, it gives the players another way to interact with the world, empowering them as fellow storytellers to provide their perspective and flair. Doing so reinforces the idea that campaigns are not meant to be DM vs. Player as much as DM and Player VS the story.
2.) Communicate important out-of-game information
Many seasoned DMs know the importance of communication, clear boundaries and party cohesion. Do you have any rules for conduct at your table? Are there special homebrew adjustments you’d like everyone to have access to? Maybe you have a unique approach to character creation. The point is, dedicating a small section of your campaign to tracking these rules means you can communicate this information to the party collectively. That way, you can be assured that even if they forget, they have a place to refresh their memory. There is also little room for confusion about expectations, which can cut out a lot of unnecessary back and forth.
3.) Don’t get too caught up in the details
“But wait!” you might say, “I thought you said the point of a campaign tracker was about tracking the details?” And it is. However, the goal is also to provide easy access to pertinent information. While many trackers, like Obsidian Portal, make it easy to quickly search for keywords, having to search through mountains of text to remember a simple name or trinket can be frustrating. There is absolutely a place for exposition, but when it comes to needing a quick refresher, it’s best to keep it simple. It can be helpful to utilize bullet points or nested lists, however it’s easy to make these overcomplicated as well. You don’t want your wiki to become a maze of links to sift through.
4.) Have it open during game play
This one might seem a bit obvious, but you’d be surprised how often trackers are treated as after-the-fact depositories of knowledge. And there is merit to doing so, keeping a log of session summaries provides a running timeline of your campaign. However, one of the biggest benefits of using a D&D campaign tracker is to have quick and efficient access to important information. If players and DM alike have the same information to refer to, not only does it ensure clarity and cohesiveness, but it can help the game run much more smoothly. This means you and your party have more time to actually play the game.
5.) Write in Character
Remember what I said about exposition and session summaries? This is where your party can get really creative. Writing in character furthers the immersion as it encourages players to consider not only their experience, but what that experience was like through their character’s eyes. Not only does this add depth to the world you are creating, it gives players an opportunity to further explore their character’s feelings, motivations and drives. This can be especially effective if players rotate writing summaries, providing their characters’ differing views and opinions of the same event.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you and your party to decide how to best utilize your D&D campaign tracker. However, there are lots of opportunities to transform what could be a simple knowledge dump into a collaborative tool that enriches and drives your campaign forward!