I just wanted to make a quick recommendation to all Dungeon Masters out there, especially those who run games in home-brewed worlds. Get Yourself a wiki!
Personally, I recommend Mediawiki, the wiki engine used for Wikipedia. It’s robust and has a huge community for support and plug-ins, as well as an extensive set of help pages.
For the basic user, simply being able to write up descriptions of nations, NPCs and new monsters in a place where your players can access it is priceless. You can store documents related to your campaign there as well, from letters the players receive to treaties or puzzles they might have to peruse.
For the advanced user, a place for players to add their own notes and character descriptions is really helpful for enhancing their memories of things they’ve done and places they’ve been. Even I haven’t implemented anything like that yet, but I think my game would be much much better if I had players write short “journal” entries at the end of every game, which they could then read at the beginning of the next game. It is such a good idea, I might have to sit down and work on it in the next few weeks.
If you’re like me, you have a pet setting where you intend to run D&D games for the forseeable future. Using Namespaces to separate pages relating to a specific campaign makes organizing campaign-sized NPCs versus adventure-sized NPCs a snap! And if you need to hide some details from players but ensure you can see them, there are plug-ins that allow a degree of security – basically invisibility – for certain namespaces.
Even if you don’t need to store a whole campaign worth of data somewhere, a wiki can help you out. If you don’t need a whole wiki, Google Docs can work just as well.
Here’re just a few notes on using MediaWiki for this purpose:
- I highly recommend you restrict editing to users and don’t allow anyone to register on your wiki. Spamming wikis is a popular sport. Putting the following in your LocalSettings.php file should work:
- Register your users manually, since they’re likely to be just you and your players.
- You can easily hide the whole wiki from the public by making it viewable only to logged-in users and giving logins to your players, if you’re into that kind of thing.
If a wiki isn’t for you, there are plenty of other web solutions that can be a huge boon to DMs. Log all the events that occur during a game in a WordPress blog and post them for your players to remind themselves. Use Google Docs to make a spreadsheet to track what magical items the players have to ensure you’re filling their slots and distributing things fairly. The internet is one big DM tool, especially if your players bring their laptops.
As an example, here is my poorly maintained campaign setting wiki. It’s likely full of contradictions and outdated information, so don’t bother trying to proofread it. It is, on the other hand, a great example of what you can do with a wiki while expending very little effort to keep things straight.
If you’re doing online roleplay in a MMO or something similar, a wiki can be handy for the same sort of things, like write-ups of characters and events.