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How I use index cards for D&D

I cleaned out my box of A7 index cards. Turns out it was pretty well sorted already. I’ve been kind of messed up about what goes where, records-wise.

Now, I often think A7 was a little small, so don’t take this as a reco for that size. But, I’m leaning towards sticking with them.

I’m gonna start using it more, knowing it’s for locations such as towns and islands, and for NPCs and characters on that level. While stuff specific to modules will go on post-its in the modules, right in the relevant room. In other words, the index card box is sort of like the overworld, the glue that tie everything together, stuff that crosses over between adventures and keep the campaign a coherent whole.

The index box has two A-Z registers. The white, in the back, is places only. Safaq stuff go under S, for example. Jumlat stuff go under J. I’m gonna get better at using subdividers or paper clips when two locations start with the same letter.

NPCs go under the location they are currently in. It’s location-based.

The blue register, in the front, are for special categories of cards. Rumors and quests go under Q (for unheard mysteries) and B (for more information about already revealed things). Cryptospider memories for a particular character who is amnesiac and the player doesn’t know his own backstory go under C. Rivals (for the downtime tables in XGE) go under R.

This stuff is explained on a card in front so I can maintain a li’l bit better order.

I might also start using portrait-oriented A6 notes folded once (to fit among all the landscape A7 cards) instead of being overly terse and cryptic. I have to realize that when something goes in the box, it’s gonna get retrieved months later, rather than hours later, and needs to be clear and usable. Most of my notetaking in everyday life is optimized for fast jotting down, since the notes are gonna be used within a day or so. Here, I need to instead optimize for myself as future reader, not for myself as current writer.

A box of indexcards is technically enough to qualify as a Zettelkasten, although I don’t use Luhmann’s famous linking method for this thing. Instead, the white A–Z dividers are meant to represent physical locations (like a particular city in the D&D world), and then the blue A–Z dividers handle spillover that don’t fit neatly into one specific place.

This box is just one part of my DM notes.