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View Full Version : What software to use for everything not on the map?



SowelBlack
09-14-2011, 06:22 PM
What do you all recommend for storing/organizing/brainstorming everything that isn't on the map? Things like what each nation is like, info on each important city, world calendar, weather info, etc. Are there some tools that help with this? Or is it just a word document, word doc with a template, wiki, etc?

cantab
09-14-2011, 06:33 PM
My head. Pen-and-paper for anything that needs maths or sketches, and anything else I feel like doing that way. Text editor for most shorter things. Word processor if I'm writing something longer. Spreadsheet if I've got something really mathematically heavy (like when I was working out the possible size and position range for a moon given that I didn't want significant tides on the planet).

Redrobes
09-14-2011, 07:53 PM
My ViewingDale app can link all of that stuff onto the map itself so you can click a person and get their stats etc. Obviously my preferred solution. But if you didnt like that idea then I would definitely look at a Wiki. You dont have to run the wiki online, you can host it locally which is what I do as well. So I keep all my internet bookmarks, things to do, peoples phone numbers and what not in a local wiki which means I can click about from topic to topic and then edit the page and add / change anything I like.

If you want an example of that then the guilds community driven mapping world is the CWBP (look at the main forum topics) and click into the wiki for it. Its a little hap hazard and it didnt get the en mass community input and editing that might have expanded it to something fully fledged but it does stand as a good example of an RPG world on wiki.

BTW, my personal (non RPG stuff) wiki runs on the Usemod wiki type which is free but doesn't have any images but you can browser link to images of course. I run the Tiny web server to host it. The two together are an awesome combo.

Greason Wolfe
09-14-2011, 09:21 PM
You might also check at http://www.nbos.com for an application called The Keep. Not sure if that will have all the functionality you are looking for, but it might be a step in the right direction. Sadly, however, I don't think it is free.

GW

AlanShutko
09-14-2011, 10:08 PM
A few suggestions that are in related veins are MS OneNote (included with most Office bundles), various Wiki software, and my favorite, DEVONthink. Each of them allow you to store bits of information in separate packs, while linking to and from other bits of information. I believe OneNote even allows you to put together image maps so you can link from the image to bits of info. I believe Evernote is in the same universe, but I haven't used it. This is what I do. DEVONthink lets me do wiki-style links between items, and it has a pretty sophisticated "See Also" feature that uses an AI engine to guess that other notes are related. I've heard rave reviews from GMs who use OneNote, and a lot of people use the wikis available standalone or in sites like Obsidian Portal to good effect. The main value in this kind of system is that you can hook from any note to any other note, rather than being a straight top-down method.

Another type of option is outlining software. MS Word does this of course, but there are also dedicated outlining tools like OmniOutliner. If you think well in hierarchal outline fashion, this can be a good way of doing it.

zaffu
09-14-2011, 10:24 PM
I use NoteCase. Basically, on the left side of the screen, you have an outline view of all the notes you've made. You click on the title of a particular note, and it comes up on the right side of the screen where you can read it or edit it. It's free and available on multiple platforms, though the open source version is no longer being improved.

RobA
09-14-2011, 10:41 PM
If you want a wiki, tiddlywiki (http://www.tiddlywiki.com/)is a great local, single file wiki. Just put it on a memory stick and open it in any browser to access and edit.

-Rob A>

Ascension
09-14-2011, 10:42 PM
I use a napkin and a pencil since I do most of my thinking at work drawing and making stained glass windows. When I have too many napkins I organize things in Word. Anything else works just as good.

jaerdaph
09-15-2011, 12:06 AM
Over the years I have tried all kinds of systems, techniques and software (and even some smart phone apps on my DroidX most recently), but at the end of the day I always come back to my old tried-and-true standbys: a stack of index cards and quad ruled graph paper steno notebooks. :)

jaerdaph
09-15-2011, 12:09 AM
But I will add that this software really impressed me at the time when I started to use it (but it is a bit dated now):

The Literary Machine (http://sommestad.com/lm.htm)

Come to think of it, I'm not sure why I stopped using it...

ravells
09-15-2011, 12:13 AM
For mind mapping stuff I use Free Mind. Must check out DEVONthink. Cool thread this!

jfrazierjr
09-15-2011, 12:43 PM
I use a napkin and a pencil since I do most of my thinking at work drawing and making stained glass windows. When I have too many napkins I organize things in Word. Anything else works just as good.


OT: I shutter to ask just how many napkins you must have used to make your "everything on a map" document....lol

Ascension
09-15-2011, 04:17 PM
Tell me about it. Those are all gone now but I have a couple dozen more of new stuff when I get around to typing it in.

Midgardsormr
09-16-2011, 02:07 PM
Johnn Four of Roleplayingtips.com recommended a product called MyInfo from Mylenix a while back. I never got around to trying it, though, since I already have OneNote.

Sagenlicht
10-23-2011, 02:32 PM
As a mind mapping tool I use Xmind (http://www.xmind.net/). Xmind is Open Source. It tries to tell you to share your work online but you do not have to and I do not use that feature.

But I do all of my brainstorming work in Xmind, be it an adventure idea, designing a new class or whatever. It got some useful layout options for every brainstorming task you need.

As RobA allready recommended tiddlywiki is a very useful and small wiki. I used Tiddlywiki before I moved my campaign to Obsidian Portal (http://www.obsidianportal.com/). Obsidian Portal offers a free version of its service that is more than enough for me. Though Obisidian Portal is only useful if you actually design your own campaign, for a single adventure I think a mind mapping software is enough.

Seeria
11-02-2011, 09:48 PM
I use The Journal. yes, it was created as a personal journal but I find the ease of indexing (expandable) and features for extensions to be great for mind bending notekeeping. Prefer it over Microsofts, so far.

jaerdaph
11-15-2011, 12:21 PM
For mind mapping stuff I use Free Mind.

I've been playing with FreeMind all week and I'm really impressed. It's really easy to learn and use, and I'm already seeing its benefits over pen and paper. I can definitely see myself using this now for a variety of things. While playing with it though, I started to realize that what I really want (or perhaps I should say also want) is an open source flowchart software. I did a little research and discovered Dia (http://live.gnome.org/Dia).

Does anyone know about or have experience using Dia? How is it? It looks like something I might want to try, but if there are any other, better free options out there I'd love to hear about them too.

ravells
11-15-2011, 01:03 PM
I've just downloaded it and playing with it now. It's really simple to use and pretty effective! I like it. Thanks for the pointer!

jaerdaph
11-15-2011, 03:54 PM
I've just downloaded it and playing with it now. It's really simple to use and pretty effective! I like it. Thanks for the pointer!
Glad to hear it's easy to use - I think I'm just going to download and install it and dive in too!

ChicagoMay
11-15-2011, 07:26 PM
Lots of new goodies for me to check out! I have a few programs for when I'm trying to organize thoughts related to a plot, character, setting, etc I wanna write but so far haven't found anything I like. Gonna go try all of these!

Silverleaf
11-17-2011, 10:27 PM
I'm not sure if you play AD&D, so my 1st comment may not suit your exact needs. I do reviews of RPG DM/Campaign software at my blog, and although the focus is for 1E campaigns, much of the software has been developed for multiple RPGs.

http://bloatedblowfish.blogspot.com/search/label/DM%20Software%20Review

Next, if your looking for a simple software app to keep notes, I'd recommend NoteTab Light - a FREE robust Notepad style app, which can do HTML design if needed, but straight out of the box is suited for simple notes. On the downloads page you'll find the link near the bottom.

http://www.notetab.com/

Lastly, I carry a small Piccadilly notebook (with locking enclosure) that I keep notes in. Its very portable, and allows me to write down things on the go when inspiration hits. I then transfer those notes to NoteTab Light when I work on my 35 year old campaign.

Cheers,

Obliro
11-29-2011, 06:48 PM
I use TiddlyWiki and Keynote (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynote_%28notetaking_software%29) (I checked DEVONthink, I suppose it's a similar type. Less elaborate/pretty). I tried/used/uses Liquid Story Binder (http://www.blackobelisksoftware.com/) for awhile, and it's very pretty, you can customize the background and colors, link images and audio-- but can't help but feeling unnecessarily bloated because I always end up only using one or two features of it.

I really, really like TiddlyWiki most.

jaerdaph
12-02-2011, 08:39 PM
I'm sold on TiddlyWiki now too. Mark Thomas (Kredoc from RPGNet) posted these three blog entries on getting started with TiddlyWiki and how he uses TiddlyWiki's features to track his campaign. Great stuff so I'm sharing them here. You could be up and running in less than an hour with TiddlyWiki after reading these:


Using TiddlyWiki - Part 1 (http://rpgdump.blogspot.com/2010/02/using-tiddlywiki-part-1.html)
Using TiddlyWiki - Part 2 (http://rpgdump.blogspot.com/2010/02/using-tiddlywiki-part-2.html)
TiddlyWiki - A Minor Tip (http://rnd-diversions.blogspot.com/2011/10/tiddlywiki-minor-tip.html)

In the second and third posts, Kredoc talks about a cool concept in TiddlyWiki called transclusion which allows you to include the content of one Tiddler inside another Tiddler and have that content always be up to date if you update the Tiddler the content is linked from. Really powerful, useful and easy thing to do worth checking out.

jaerdaph
12-02-2011, 08:52 PM
And if anyone is interested, these three video tutorials had me up and running with FreeMind in no time at all:


FreeMind Tutorial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grut_2cardM)
FreeMind Free Mind Mapping Software Tutorial MInd Map (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsiwD4NMR68&feature=related)
Freemind - How to import data to a mindmap (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mhUjsK7ALc)

ravells
12-02-2011, 09:44 PM
Very cool thanks!

jaerdaph
12-03-2011, 09:48 AM
Things I'd still like to learn how to use in FreeMind, if anyone has any suggestions:

Attributes and the Attribute Manager. I can't seem to find a good tutorial on using them or how they even work. They look like they might be quite powerful.
(and I don't know if this is even possible) Add a text label to a Graphical Link (those lines/arrows you can add between nodes). Yeah, I'm pretty sure that labeling those graphical links isn't considered a mind mapping Best Practice so that's why it might not be possible, but it would be cool if you had the option. It's also the reason why I felt what I really wanted was flow chart software that I mentioned above.

Midgardsormr
12-03-2011, 01:49 PM
Is there a way to add an elbow to a line, then label that? Or possibly just put in a color-coded text node between the two with your label, but that might start looking very messy.

jaerdaph
12-05-2011, 03:52 PM
Is there a way to add an elbow to a line, then label that? Or possibly just put in a color-coded text node between the two with your label, but that might start looking very messy.
Unfortunately there is no way to add an elbow or node to a line and label it. But thanks for the second idea - it helped me come up with a work-around. What I did was add another node off of a nearby parent node with the label I wanted for the arrow. I dragged that new node to a position so it was near the arrow and between the other two nodes linked by the arrow to label the arrow. I then went into that new node and formatted the edge color to white so that everything around it including the line connecting it to the parent node turned white like the background, effectively "hiding" the branch. I then changed the formatting of the text for the label of the arrow so it stuck out from regular node text. It's a little clumsy and awkward but it might be a good work-around.

ravells
12-06-2011, 06:54 AM
I guess the thing about mind mapping software (for me anyway), is that it's meant to be quick and easy to use to get your ideas down quickly. If you start getting bogged down in formatting problems then it's not really carrying out its function.

jaerdaph
12-07-2011, 12:41 PM
I guess the thing about mind mapping software (for me anyway), is that it's meant to be quick and easy to use to get your ideas down quickly. If you start getting bogged down in formatting problems then it's not really carrying out its function.
That is very true. And my method of labeling the arrows is actually more of a nuisance than a help, especially once you start moving branches around the "invisible" branches get in the way.

Revock
12-09-2011, 10:56 PM
I started using Tiddlywiki and Notecase from this thread, great stuff. Here's my Tiddlywiki http://home.ptd.net/~miller67/ I've found alot of Tuts on things like hiding the edit functions when its uploaded, changing themes etc. really neat, :) just need to finish doing it. I did get maps linked in, that was easy, they're in the tiddlers right under the site title.

jaerdaph
12-11-2011, 07:42 PM
40541
I started using Tiddlywiki and Notecase from this thread, great stuff. Here's my Tiddlywiki http://home.ptd.net/~miller67/ I've found alot of Tuts on things like hiding the edit functions when its uploaded, changing themes etc. really neat, :) just need to finish doing it. I did get maps linked in, that was easy, they're in the tiddlers right under the site title.
Nice work, Revock! I think the next thing I'm going to tackle with TiddlyWiki is figuring out how to share them online too. :)
Speaking of putting some of this into practice, here is a PNG export from FreeMind of a mind map I did this afternoon while collecting some of my ideas about creating a pantheon of goddesses based on the nine traditional D&D alignments for a homebrew fantasy world I want to create. While the process isn't as evident from just looking at a PNG, I was able to just think creatively, move things around and edit on the fly as the thoughts and ideas came to me. I can come back later to the mind map too and pick up where I left off and expand on and edit my ideas as well. It's a really valuable tool and a great way to get random thoughts organized as they come up.

Revock
12-12-2011, 12:00 AM
That looks way cool! Jaerdaph,
I'm looking forward to a link to your wiki. I've been searching for a definitive straightforward explanation of the TiddlyWiki CSS, it's surprisingly difficult to find. I began by using the Tuts here: http://www.giffmex.org/tw/tiddlywikicentral.html TWfortherestofus/recent changes/using tiddlywiki for webpages. Although i didn't follow every bit he reccomended. You might notice on my minduril page that if you mouse over between "forum" and "search" you'll get a pointer to the hidden showrightsidebar link. Sadly I've yet to get the edit links in each tiddly hidden or the header a bit thinner to reclaim space. Also looked into PMwiki, easy to set up, plenty of themes.

I'm going to continue adjacent maps in my world and building in NWN or NWN2 after the holidays