Now, if you saw my desk right now at the Prospero offices you would immediately discount any opinion I might hold on the topic of organization, but I beseech you for a bit of leeway here. Maybe I should just put it this way: if I can organize and run MoN amid these piles of papers, typewriter ribbons, and ink stains, so can you.
After your initial pass through the campaign books, you can begin your preparation in earnest, which will naturally include reviewing and preparing the first chapter or scenario you will be running for the campaign. Playing TTRPGs in our digital age offers a wide variety of tools to facilitate organization. While Keepers in decades past relied on index cards, pencil and paper, we have the additional benefit of tablets, phones, and online gaming spaces. How easily you can rely on having these tools on hand depends on what’s available to you, your personal preferences, and whether you are playing your game IRL or online.
Personally, I like to prepare all my notes and campaign references using a combination of word processing and spreadsheet software. Over the years, I’ve leaned towards the Google Workspace tools since it allows me the opportunity to sneak in prep work across several different computers when time allows and reference my documents easily on my various devices. When organizing a chapter, you can consider breaking your material up into several distinct documents, such as key scenes, feature NPCs, and outlines of potential conversations. Whether you are using your references from a screen or a print-out (or even hand-transcribed), this allows splitting important information into easily accessed packets.
For example, in preparing the Reading of the Will scene in the New York Chapter, you can write the scene details and set up in your main campaign notes, and place the contents of the Jackson’s Will and/or Carlton Ramsey’s dialogue in a separate document(s). That same NPC sheet can contain a description of Ramsey, his traits, and any key role-playing hooks as outlined in the campaign books. It’s also a good place to store notes about player interactions with NPCs.
The campaign book contains several useful timelines, which detail the Key Campaign Events, as travels of Jackson and the Carlyle Expedition. Condensing these events into a single, easily referenced timeline can be extremely helpful. For a more detailed discussion of creating this timeline, as well as tracking time in MoN, check this out.
In addition, you should begin organizing your handouts. Again, the most effective means of organization depends on whether you will be playing online or in person. The campaign handouts are great, but you can always punch them up in a variety of ways. Definitely be sure to put the Stumbling Tiger Bar cover on an actual matchbook. It’s a timeless crowd-pleaser. Additional props and handouts will go a long way in maintaining player engagement, and we offer an ever-growing collection of resources on the site. For in-person play, purchasing the award-winning H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society prop set will certainly take your campaign to the next level.
If playing online, you will need to decide on the most effective way to show your handouts. It may include scanning the relevant handouts before each chapter and sharing your screen. With attention to respecting copyright laws, you could set up a secure location where your players could access the clues for review during and between play. Regardless of how you play, encourage your players to set up a clue board or diary for themselves.
As you work through the chapters and campaign, you may find it helpful to create a reference for all the spells, tomes, and artifacts your players will discover or have uncovered. You could insert this as an appendix to your chapter notes with key details. It will preclude flipping through rulebooks to check sanity loss or Mythos gains when your Investigators decide to drop everything and start playing with Dark Magic. Alternatively (or additionally) you could use a separate document or spreadsheet for tracking with detailed notes, including who possesses the item, spell, or artifact. As the players’ collection grows, this can be useful as you may find them stashing them all over the globe for safe-keeping.
Finally, I would like to return to our tried and true Keeper’s friend, the index card. Any of the information discussed above can be stored on an index card. You may also use index cards to track details about particular campaign locations and add notes about events transpiring there. In my Keeping, I like to create index cards for NPCs, particularly those that I expect the players will be making opposing rolls against. You will also find stacks of cultists (and maybe the odd Shantak) on my desk so that I can track key stats and HP for combat with pencil and paper. And scattered all over my floor you will find various index cards containing quick notes taken during sessions about new NPCs, the latest Investigator fascination, or a PC scheduled appointment. On completing your session, you can transcribe this into your campaign journal for future reference…or lose them under all those manuscripts…
What are some clever organizational tools you’ve deployed to keep all your fantastic campaign content within your grasp?