Adventure Notes Templates in Notion
Hello and welcome back to Earthmote. Today we are going over the second part of our Adventure Notes Notion database. We are talking about the template to use with the database. Our adventure notes template is valuable for a few key reasons. First, we save a lot of time by not having to recreate our formatting. By designing once, we save that time every time we use it into the future.
Second, we standardize our notes. By using a standardized process, it lets us become familiar with our notes structure. This saves us time at the table, because we know where to look for information. We don’t have to fumble through poorly formatted notes. If you have ever tried to run a Wizards of the Coast adventure straight from the book, you know that its difficult. Unfortunately, they design their books in a way that is readable. Not a way that indexes and structures information in a way that is useful for running the adventure.
Third, by using the standardized template, it reminds us to cover all parts of the adventure. Its essentially a checklist. You can make sure you are covering all the vital parts of an adventure in your notes. That way, when you get to the table, you can be confident that you have prepared the material to the best of your ability. Of course things will come up in play that aren’t covered by your notes. But what you do have prepared should help you improvise from there.
Section 1: Table of Contents
First, I start with a table of contents Notion block. This lets you scan your notes section from one spot. You can click the hyperlinks to jump right to the section that you need.
Section 2: Overview
The overview section acts as the command center of your adventure notes. I link all my important tables in this section. From here, I can jump to the necessary database entries to pull up the information I need.
Database Filters in Notion Templates
For each table you include, it is important to set up the following filter in your Linked Database.
This filters your database to include entries tagged in the adventure notes template. When you apply the template to a new entry, the filter automatically updates to the new page. Anything you have already related with the adventure notes will now pop up. Or, if you relate extra items they will appear.
In my overview, I use toggle list Notion blocks. This lets me expand information I need in the moment, and hide the other sections that I don’t. I use the following toggles:
|Adventure Summary||Bulleted List||List the key points of the adventure. What is the synopsis of the situation?|
|Scenes Outline||Bulleted List||List out the key/probable scenarios in the adventure.|
|Locations||Linked Database||Contains the locations database. Entries that are associated with the adventure are shown.|
|Characters & Factions||Linked Databases||Contains the characters and factions databases. Entries that are associated with the adventure are shown.|
|Secrets||Linked Database||Contains the secrets database. Secrets that are associated with the adventure are shown.|
|Random Encounters||Linked Database||Contains the encounters database. Encounters that are associated with the adventure are shown. Note, if the encounters table is specific to a location within the adventure. Then I leave that nested inside the location. Not the adventure notes.|
When its done, it looks like this:
Section 3: Scene Template
I prefer to structure my adventure like “scenes”. This terminology maybe a bit misleading. Scenes may make you think that the players are on rails. And they will experience these events with predetermined destiny. That is not what I mean. As the Alexandrian says: Don’t prep plots, prep situations.
Scenes describe what is happening at the locations during the adventure. We build out the locations in their own database. And link to them. We also build out our NPCs, and factions in other databases. The scenes highlight the intersections of your Content databases.
- Why Death Knight Thraxis is at the Wellspring of Souls?
- The Blight Hollow Coven is using what items in their ritual to summon the Eternal Black?
- What are the key negotiation points of each side at the peace summit between warring nations?
These are all pieces of information that you need to capture in your notes. Include any information about probable actions in your adventure that doesn’t fit in your Content databases.
Here are the standardized elements I use in the Scene section of my notes:
|Title||Give your scenario a title. I use the Header 1 Notion block.|
|Location||List out the locations involved in the scene. This is usually just one. Or a location and sublocations. I link to the pages directly using the @ linking system.|
|Key Points||List out the key points of the scene. What is happening? What information do you need to know to run the scene? Involve that here. I will link to pages directly in my notes using the @ linking system in Notion. I reference characters, items, traps, etc.|
|Reminder||For each scene, I like to use a callout box. I call it my scene reminder. I try to distill down the key information of the scene into a single sentence. What am I trying to achieve by including this scene within the adventure? Call it out, and review it when you are ready to start the scene. This will keep you focused on the important details.|
My Scene section looks like this:
Section 4: Session Notes
No plan survives contact with the enemy. Or in the game master’s case, we can modify it to: No plan survives contact with the PCs. I do not view my players as enemies, but the phrase applies well here. I love watching the player’s solve their problems with creativity. As a GM, I devise scenarios. They devise ways to navigate them.
When the players come up with plans, or take actions. I take notes. If their plans involve something I hadn’t accounted for, then I can go back to the drawing board. This helps me make sure my notes include the appropriate responses.
When the players take actions, there are consequences. By taking notes on their actions, you can review them for future sessions. This lets you prep the appropriate consequences to their actions.
Additionally, events that come up at the table can generate seeds of new ideas or adventures. If you capture those in your notes, you’ll have a reliable source of inspiration to rely on.
Session Notes Content
My sessions note section is very basic. I use toggle lists to capture notes from different sessions. Often, my adventures will cover multiple gaming sessions. Or, you could use the toggles to split out different key events (PC decision points). Do whatever makes most sense for you. Inside my toggle lists, I have embedded bulleted lists to capture notes within.
The Session Notes section looks like this:
Copy and Pasting Notion Blocks
In my template I only include one Scene placeholder. In your adventure, you are likely to have multiple scenes. When I create new Adventure Notes, I copy and paste the Scene section blocks as many times as I need. I do this before filling it out to avoid deleting already inputted content.
Notion Template Wrap Up
That covers the main sections of my Adventure Notes template as it currently sits. I do revisit the template from time to time to make adjustments as I learn how I like to prep for my games.
I try to keep the template as simple as possible. You’ll have to find the right balance of what makes sense for you. How do you like your information structured? How easy is it to find that information? Do you have everything delineated and quickly identifiable?
I love the template customization options in Notion. They let me design my information exactly how I want it. I encourage you to play around with Notion and see what works best for you.
The Adventure Notes database is your most important database in your GM Notion system. It is the convergence of all the other content you have captured. Its what lets you run the games at the tables with structure and confidence in your adventure notes. Make sure you spend sometime to find a system that works best for you!
This concludes the Notion case studies of our procedural databases. Last up is the Meta Databases.
Further Reading on Notion:
Feature Art Credit: Ede László