Last time we introduced Notion as a content organization tool. Then, I shared some references to get you started on the basics of notion and how Notion operates. Now we are going to dive into one of Notion’s key components: tables.
Our focus will be on how tables are useful for Dungeon Masters. What types of tables would you want to create? How do we want to use the different column types to their full potential?
A Look at Notion Tables
Tables are the ideal place to store our campaign and D&D world information.
- They allow us to keep ideas that are similar in a single place (e.g. NPCs, Locations, Items).
- Tables let us capture information that is common among that thing. For example, NPCs have an ancestry, a gender, personality traits, and so on.
- We can customize our own templates for each table. This lets us quickly structure our pages in a common formatting.
- We can cross-reference one table with another through relations. This becomes powerful when we get into embedding our tables into other pages and filtering on those cross-relations.
Why Not Pages?
If we create a bunch of Notion pages, we can link them together. But they will lack cohesion and properties described above. You’ll quickly lose track of your different pages. When I used OneNote, I had a hard time wrangling them together when I needed them.
Plus, the real secret power of Notion is that each row in your table is a page. When every row is its own page, it only makes sense to keep your like-items together in tables. That way you can reference them efficiently.
Types of Tables
As you start using Notion as a Campaign Organization Tool you can take two approaches. You can start organically and create tables as you go. Or you can give some preemptive thought to the tables you will need.
The advantage of creating organically is that you focus on what you need immediately. You don’t waste time with excess. The downside is that you may find yourself going back to the drawing board often. You will rethink how you have set up your tables possible making major overhauls. In the long run, that time can add up.
The advantage of giving some preemptive thought to your table structure is that you will reduce that rethink time. I’ve found two downsides with the approach. First, it’ll take you more time to set up initially. The hope is that the structure will pay off and save you time in the long run (it will). Second, you won’t eliminate all rework. Issues are bound to pop up that you’ll want to solve. But, the hope is that they are minor and take less time if you’ve done your due diligence with the planned set up.
It’ll come as no surprise to you that I prefer to plan out my table structure. And throughout these articles, I’ll share with you how you can do the same. My hope is that this will reduce your initial effort by using what I’ve done, and take it to make your own system from it.
Tables for a D&D Notion System
Here is a list of tables I’d consider including in your Notion system. I’ll be making separate articles that walk through how I’ve set these up in the future.
- Adventure Notes
- Characters (NPCs)
- Player Characters (PCs)
- Traps & Puzzles
- Ideas & Notes
- Secrets (See: Sly Flourish on Secrets)
- Fronts (See: Sly Flourish on Fronts)
Notion Column Property Types
When you add a new column to your table, you can set its property type. You can also change a column’s property type at any time. There are are several options to chose from Notion’s drop down menu. But, I’ve found that I use a few most of the time, and the rest only in special cases.
Commonly Used Property Types for D&D Organization
- Text. It should go without saying that you’ll want to have some free form text in your tables. But I do believe you should use this carefully. The important text should go in the body of your page. You can categorize key pieces of information into select/multi-select options. This will make your table filtering much easier in the future.
- Select. Lets you create categorical tags that describe the item in your table. The select property lets you assign only a single tag for that column. A good example of select would be ancestry in the Character table. A character is an elf, dwarf, human, or half-elf and so on. Use multi-select for instances where you want more than one tag assigned.
- Multi-Select. As above, but you can assign more than one tag. A good example of this would be personality traits for characters. Or alignment if you use it.
- Relation. This property lets you link to other tables you have created in your system. For example, I can make a relation between my NPC table and my Faction table. That way I can link Sir Reginald to the Order of Silver Knights. If I pull up Sir Reginald’s page, I see that he is a Silver Knight. Or if I pull up my Order of Silver Knights page, I see that Sir Reginald is a member. The cross linking lets you move between pages easily.
- One thing to note when using the Relation property column. Once you establish the link between NPC Table and Faction Table, Notion will create a corresponding column on the other table. So if I create a it on my NPC table, Notion will create the column automatically on the Faction table. You will want to go to that table and rename as you see fit.
Less Common Property Types
- Number. You’ll want to use numbers every now at then. Item prices or PC stats are good examples.
- Checkbox. For simple yes/no situations, checkboxes are your go to. You may want a checkbox for if the character is deceased or not.
- URL. You may want to have a URL links that you can reference. The Media table is a good example.
- Formula. Formulas key off other columns you have set up. For example, in my PC table, I have set formulas to calculate the PC’s proficiency bonus, saving throws, and passive skills. These rely other columns: level, proficient skills, proficient saving throws and stat modifiers.
The others not mentioned are very rarely used. But you may find good uses for them. If you do, let me know!
Art Credit: Ede László