Notion is Back!
A couple of months ago, I completed my series on Notion. It is an online note taking and database tool. I have found useful for managing my role playing game campaigns. I liked it so much, I did a complete in-depth coverage on how I run my Dungeons and Dragons campaigns in Notion.
When I finished those articles I decided to take a pause on Notion, to discuss other topics. Well, the Notion development team behind it is active in improving and updating the tool. So, this post will go over the recent updates that I have found useful for my campaign management system.
Notion Header Toggles
Notion finally added toggle headers to their block repertoire. I love toggles. They help keep my pages manageable when I’m looking for pieces of information. They prevent information overload as I search for the important information.
Having toggles in header format is awesome. They make the sections pop with the larger text. And let me hide the whole segments when I don’t need them. I have implemented into a lot of my templates where I previously used toggles.
Simple tables are a new feature to Notion. And they are a great one. I love the database tools that Notion has to offer. But I don’t need every table to be a database. Before the recent updates, they all had to be. This left a lot of extraneous “databases” in your Notion. They didn’t serve a purpose outside the page you created them on. Sometimes you want to display information in column and row format without all the extra strings. That is where simple tables come in.
For me, the biggest value of simple tables comes into play for random effect tables. Random tables have a long and lengthy tradition in table top roleplaying games. But your random table might be specific to a single adventure or location. In that case, I’m using simple tables to capture that information. Previously, I had used a couple of options:
- Create a database. I’d usually make these inline databases. But they still had a lot of extra strings attached that I didn’t need.
- Use numbered lists. This worked well enough, but it didn’t have that classic table feel. Numbered lists limit you to a single “column” per number. Without using clunky formatting.
Tables are a great organizational tool. And I’m glad that Notion has enabled users to make tables in the simplistic format.
Rethinking Encounters Databases
In my original Notion series, I talked about the Encounters database. It let me insert random encounter tables into my adventure notes. Something that is useful for the style of games I like to run.
The encounter database is somewhat clunky though. I have to link through and select which “options” I want in the table. They are all stored in a large repository which is nonsensical when examined in isolation and totality.
In general, simple tables will serve me better for random encounter tables. But I do see some value in the encounter database. If you run a hex crawl, you may associate your tables with terrain type. So, for each hex page, you could connect in your swamp, mountain, or forest encounter table and be good to go from there. That would keep you from having to copy and paste the simple table for each different hex key.
Create Views from Existing Notion Databases
Notion has streamlined their databases. When you create a linked database in your page, it will ask which database and view you want. This lets you copy your views over which is fantastic.
It saves you a lot of time if you are creating pages from scratch. Note that you always had the option to save time on views in your templates. Because, templates let you create views in the template. Notion applied and carried the views over to the new page you used the template on. Still, its a valuable quality of life improvement.
The better part of this update is the “tabbed” database feature. You can now essential create a dashboard of tables in your page. Each table can be a separate view of a separate database. That means on one tab you can have your Knights of the Silver Circle character roster. On the next tab you can have all the locations they are actively found. And so on.
I see a couple of benefits to this feature and a couple of disadvantages. The good news is that you can chose when to use the tabbed view, and when to use multiple separate tables on your page. So all in all, its a win.
- Cleaner, less cluttered feel.
- Quick to navigate and flip between the information. I don’t have to scroll through the page to find the different tables. Or open different toggles if you nest your tables inside toggles like me. In the past, it helped keep that minimalist appearance.
- Quicker to build out a new page. Less work to pull separate databases into your new page.
- Your tabs will be on “full display” at the top of your table. Can make the table look a bit more clutter than in the old version.
- Sometimes you want to have the tables next to each other. So you can see the information from two tables at once. You can’t do that with the dashboard style tables. But as I mentioned above, created two separate tables on the page is still an option. So this isn’t a big deal.
Hide your Notion Database Titles
A very minor quality of life improvement, but you can now hide your linked database titles! Sometimes it is nice to have that information. Other times its repetitive (if you use a header, toggle or header toggle) right before the database. Super simple, but a nice improvement.
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