what D&D can teach us about note-taking

I’m preparing for my first ever Dungeons & Dragons session as a Player (as opposed to Dungeonmaster), and the information overload is real.

It is a mindboggling amount of information that is contained in this world. The history, the lore, the races, classes, the mechanics – so many details have been thought out so players can easily join a campaign by picking and playing from a plethora of ready-made items. Yet, a player’s character is rich with backstories, unique skills and abilities that give them a leg up in certain situations, and do you know what’s in your backpack?

Keeping track of all of this information (from world events to contents of backpocket) is a venerable challenge.

As a result, the only thing other than good roleplaying abilities that players would definitely benefit from is good information organization.

So of course, being the PKM geek that I am, I open a new vault in Obsidian.

I search this in Google: “Note-taking for D&D players”

And what I find shouldn’t be shocking at all, but it is:

D&D enthusiasts have developed very useful PKM systems that frankly can work just as well in the real world.

Example: A D&D campaign can run over many many sessions, which translates to days and months of playing.

A note-taking template I found suggests various categories of things to record each session: People. Places and shops. Groups. Cities, Towns, and Geography. Quests and Tasks. Events. 

Then, it suggests that every time a session ends, you copy over important information from your notes to an index, which you place in the front. If the entry in the index already exists, add to it. This way, 6 months from now when you return to the tavern your campaign first started at, you can easily retrieve the details of the owner and find more relevant information about that encounter by looking back at your original notes.

In other words, playing D&D sounds like a splendid way to practice basic PKM habits and information organization skills.

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