Once you have built your frequent use Notion databases, you can start to nest them. Your databases set up the structure for each element of your D&D campaign you are trying to capture: NPCs, Locations, and so on.
Once you start editing the pages within your database, you will want to pull in a versions of your already created tables. This improves your ease of reference. You don’t have to flip between tables to find all the information you need. You can put it all within the entry’s page. With Notion, you can do that. And it is quite easy.
Creating a Linked Database in Notion
To create a linked database, you first need to have your database created. Refer to the basics on how to create databases if you aren’t familiar with how to do that. Once you have created your database, you can link it. To do that follow these simple steps:
- Create the page you want to show your table on.
- Start a new block and type the / to get the list of commands to pop up.
- Navigate to and select “Create linked database”.
- Select the database you want to appear in that Notion block.
Then you’ll see your table appear right where you wanted it to!
Automatic Updating in Notion
The power of Notion is the automatic updating that happens between the linked tables. If you make a change in one location of that table, it reflects across all iterations of the database. Hence the name “linked” database.
Linked databases is the reason why I advocate for a series of common databases. That way, when you make a change to your entry, you don’t have to worry about old versions lying around elsewhere. Build your databases upfront. Then, leverage them to the max.
Filters and Views
When you create a linked database, you probably aren’t interested in all the information that database has to offer. Let’s say I want to see the NPCs associated with the Black Hand Assassins. It would be annoying to see all of my NPCs regardless of faction affiliation. When you first create your linked database, that is exactly what you’ll get.
Happily, you can use the filter features on your linked database to get exactly what you want. Your main database will remains unfiltered of course. Or, it remains filtered as you’ve already set it to be.
You can also create different views of your linked table. Views will help you parse your information as you run your games. For example, I have an encounter table nested in my adventure notes. I could create views to see encounters associated with different terrains or locations. When my players shift from one site to another, I can find the appropriate encounter tables with ease.
Table with default view. My example on includes two terrain types. But if you have 3-5, your table will start to get busy and long:
I create some views to filter the table based on the different terrain types. I also sort by my D6 row so that they are in order of the roll. This way, I can switch between encounter sets based on where the player’s are. It helps reduce the information clutter in my face at any one time.
Using Linked Database for D&D Organization
Now you understand how to create linked databases. In essence, they let you see data from your table in one place with other associated information. Here are a few examples where I have used and like linked databases:
- In my adventure notes, I like to see lists of characters and locations involved in the adventure.
- I have my list of NPCs associated with a faction, within that faction’s entry page. That is simple to do with a linked database and a filter on the linked in table.
- I have lists of NPCs associated with a location with that location’s entry page.
- I have a table of items assigned to an NPC on the NPC’s entry page.
- I have a table of associated sublocations with a [larger] location.
Tables inside of Tables
Linked databases in Notion are a sort of table Inception. Tables inside of tables. That may seem daunting at first. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll find its a good thing. It lets us take our backbone tables for our D&D campaign and leverage them to the max. We can see the appropriate information we want, when we want it, and how we want it. We don’t have to navigate to each table separately. The information we need for a specific topic is self contained in one spot. That’s the power of linked databases.
Art Credit: Ede László