For the past couple of weeks, I have been trying out Johnn Four’s Campaign Logger app to record my gaming notes and prep. Although I haven’t really begun to delve too deeply into the power of this tool, I can already see the potential.
Campaign Logger is an app that runs in a browser on any device that can run a browser. I use it on my PC and iPad, which allows me to make quick notes whenever I am playing or prepping. There are two main tools: logs and pages.
Logs are for making quick and short entries either during play or whenever inspiration arises. I have been using the logs to drop down quick ideas during my Tiny Prep process. I’ve also used it during solo play to log each scene and separate my narrative notes from the more gamey arbiter notes. In live games, especially while playing online, you can type in quick notes from each scene and then go back to review them later.
The power of the logger is that you can tag various different types of entry – such as people or places, items or factions – and then search for any one of those tags to see all the entries which contain information on each entry. The tags can be expanded into pages, extended entries which you can think of as being like a larger entry in a gazetteer. The power of the app is that it automatically links all the tags together so that you can quickly see everything ever logged on a single topic.
Johnn describes the logger as his “source of truth”, meaning that it’s the tool he uses to keep all of his core notes in one place. I can see the benefit of this already, despite my usual misgivings about using computers at the gaming table. Maybe I am just a bluff old traditionalist, but I somehow resisted trying this out simply because I held a belief that writing notes by hand is more like roleplaying. Silly, really.
It’s early days but so far it’s been really handy. The most powerful use has been during Tiny Prep: opening up the logger and adding an entry can take just a few seconds. Sometimes I write for a few minutes. Occasionally, I find myself adding several short entries. The trick is that, over time, it all adds up and your notes begin to flesh out.
The biggest point of learning has been that you don’t need to write very much to have a reasonable set of notes ready to play. Recording scenes in short log entries during play also helps to keep a firm record of the game as it emerges, allowing you to go back afterwards and edit / tag things of importance. Short and sweet notes are proving effective.
I do worry a little about the age-old question: “What happens if the platform goes away?” That said, Johnn has had this tool running for several years now and it’s pretty stable. On top of that, you can easily export your notes into a text-based file and access it using other tools. So maybe that’s less of a fear than it feels.
I’m going to keep using it and see if I can build up a stronger sense of my Worlds through the steady accumulation of notes. In many ways, I am curious to see how the addition of small entries builds up over time.