I’m currently in the process of reorganizing the binder I use for my Pathfinder campaign. It’s a campaign notebook, as a opposed to a gamemaster’s notebook, because it contains information specifically for this campaign, rather than generic gamemastering aids or even general Pathfinder aids. I can’t help it. I’m hopelessly old fashioned and I love working in the dead tree medium.
(I’d like to thank my wife Katie’s familiar, the lovely and talented Indiana Piano Rabbit, for helping to model the binder)
What You Need
An easel binder – I discovered these things when I was a corporate trainer. They’re a bit on the expensive side, but they’re incredibly durable. I’ve had this one for nearly 10 years, and it shows very little wear. In the worst case scenario you can use a regular binder and a cookbook holder.
Tab dividers – To separate section by topic for easy reference. This is pretty standard binder swag, and should need no explanation. In later posts I’ll talk about the sections I use and what I put into them.
Label maker – To neatly label the tabs and/or the spine of the binder itself. My label maker was a gift from my buddy Xose Lucero, and I have used the heck out of it over the years. I label both sides of the tab dividers, so when the book is open I can navigate in either direction.
Sheet protectors – I only use these for handouts, maps, and anything that will get taken out of the book and handled a lot, or written on with dry erase markers. Yeah, you can write on sheet protectors with dry erase markers, which makes them great for scribbling on maps and marking off hit points and all sorts of clever things.
Magazine holders – With magazines going the way of the dodo these are becoming harder to find in office supply stores, but they’re still available. It’s a slim piece of plastic with three holds to go into a binder, and a long slot to slip the pages of a magazine through so the magazine can be stored in the binder. Good for composition books, published adventure modules, and yes, magazines.
The standing binder works as a combination GM screen and reference book. Short of using a laptap or tablet, it’s the best space-saver at the table possible. I have, in theory, everything I need right in front of me, assuming I’ve prepared properly, and the whole point of the binder is to insure I’m prepared. Unlike using a laptop, I find that I spend less time with my head in the binder and more time making eye contact with the players.
During play I keep a composition book open in front of me, to track monster hit points and take notes. At the end of the session it goes right into the binder, courtesy of the magazine holder. When I get home, anything that needs to be transferred or copied into the binder will be recorded as part of next session’s game prep.
“Dat’s very in’resting. It sez u takes a kajillyun pointz dmg or makes a DC 75 save for haff.”