As the (self-proclaimed, I must admit) “Oracle of Organization” for Dungeons & Dragons, I’ve researched and published on the subject for almost a decade now. Each year, I publish a guide for what I think are the best options available for organizing your TTRPG notes. Between those, I’ve worked on guides for programs and even built my own solutions. I talk constantly about all of the wonderful ways to organize your D&D life. But what do I use? This question gets asked often and I thought it was finally time to answer it with a little bit more detail.
As you can tell from the title of the article, I use two programs: Obsidian and World Anvil. Why? Well, I use Obsidian for 95% of the work. It’s an excellent note-taking application that’s fast, private, and loaded with all of the tooling I need in one place. World Anvil is what I use to present my world to an audience—whether that’s you or my players.
Organization with Obsidian
Getting started with Obsidian is simple. But the program can be as powerful and complex as you want it. That’s why I use Obsidian for organizing all of my D&D notes and worldbuilding. It’s the first place I go to create or put thoughts down.
I thought for the longest time that I should “organize my organization” before showing it off to the world. But the truth is, organization itself can be messy. So prepare yourself for where mine is at: disorganized organization. Let’s break down some of that sidebar.
Campaigns contains a folder for each of my campaigns. Each of those contains notes for player characters, session preparation, and post-session adventure logs.
Gazetteer contains folders for planes and each of those has folders for regions. For example, most of my main campaign takes place in Gazetteer > Prime > Nerathi Hold > The Fold. The Fold is a region and it’s broken down further by locations—smaller regions, settlements, fantastic locations, etc.
History and Cosmology contains folders for myths, events, and the pantheon. It also has loose notes on the origin of the universe, the moons, and magic. This is where my world timeline lives.
Items contains things like magic items, books, songs, etc.
Life contains folders for ancestries, classes, cultures, NPCs, and organizations.
Meta contains 5E’s system reference documents (SRD).
Unorganized is mostly DM resources—my adventure creation document, random tables, generators, homebrew rules, and my DM screen.
Presentation with World Anvil
Since Obsidian is a private note-taking application, I need something else for sharing my world with my players and a wider audience. You can set up Obsidian to publish to the web but its costly and most of the plug-ins I like aren’t available. Enter World Anvil—a toolset that allows you to create a website for your world (and much more).
With World Anvil, I can create beautiful web pages to share our world with a wider audience. And that’s exactly what I use it for. When I want to take something from my Obsidian notes and share it, I create a new World Anvil page. It’s extra work but most of my Obsidian notes don’t make it there. I don’t do any prep in World Anvil or session recaps. Simply lore sharing. My World Anvil is a bit behind so the organization doesn’t match Obsidian but it soon will.
The other benefits of World Anvil include the community and writing prompts. Though most of my work doesn’t start there, I do read and contemplate those prompts quite often.
Well, there you have it. A peek behind the DM Screen at what I’m using to organize my notes and share them out. How do you handle your D&D notes? Head over to Twitter and let me know!