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D&D General What goes in your DM binder?

toucanbuzz

Legend
If anything at all?

For those who use books and paper, what are your must-have items? I'm perhaps a bit old-fashioned in that I don't use a laptop, but I operate better that way. Even so, I've always had some sort of notebook, binder, folder...something that has my essentials. Curious what others feel is "must-have" and anything anyone is willing to share!
 

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Chaosmancer

Legend
Notecards. I pass messages to players and stat out unique items on them.

Other than that, I've got my folder with character sheets and notes, and generally I carry around a little thing with glass beads and odds and ends to act as minis. Those are about the only essentials besides dice and books. I usually have a map, but I also usually don't use it.
 



Tallifer

Hero
Pencil scribbles of possible encounters with NPCs and monsters. Lists of strange effects and powers for various things (such as 10 different kinds of Gnome cookies and their properties; 20 different noble houses and their goals).
 


Zio_the_dark

The dark one :)
Epic
If I don't have time to print my USB key has all my data and is always in my pocket ^^

Otherwise light set of printouts and cards for my players if playing "Live".
Oh and some additional sets of dices just in case! (Even if they don't go to the binder ;) )
 

A Whiteboard that's somewhat bigger than A4 but fits in my backpack (Just)
Index Cards.
- Index Cards. Good for monster stats, or location notes and the like because they can easily be sorted through - plus making players write stats for animal companions or wildshapes on them in advance speeds up the game immensely. Also good for NPC stats if you want to hand them over to a player to play them for some reason.
  • A plastic pocket with things like useful maps. I also have a photocopy of the inside of the DM screen because I find the actual cardboard pysical thing just gets in the way. I usually also have photocopies of key pages for each character class, in case people need the rules and don't have books.
  • The tokens from the 4E starter set. Some of my players occasinonally bring minis, but I have them if I need something to represesnt locations for a more complex battle.
  • Dice (of course), pens markers etc.
  • A sketchbook that has my scrawled location maps on it if I've prepared them in advance, or which I scrawl them on as we go.
  • A giant D6 (used for escalation die in 13th Age, but also generally good for countdowns and timers, and trakcing success or failures toward a goal.)
  • Sometimes I take my rolled up Chessex battlemap - but less and less these days.
  • I'll take my IPAD if I have art that I've found that I want to show players, or I haven't had time to print out my notes.
 

atanakar

Hero
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Our games are not hosted at my house. My travel kit includes:

Binder: (which as a zipper that prevents anything from falling out)
  • Maps : regional, local and towns
  • The info on the campaign setting
  • The current and previous adventures
  • Index cards of the foes
  • Copies of each PC sheet of all levels.
  • A pad of grid paper

Backpack:
  • Individual ziplocks with miniatures for each encounter and tiles
  • Dice box
  • Non-permanent markers, pencil and eraser
  • DM Screen

Tube:
- Chessex battle map
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Too much to fit into a binder?

What actually goes into the binder
  • Laminated name tags. More useful for AL games, but even in home games I have a name tag "tent" that people write their name and their PC names, AC, Passive Perception. Because I'm terrible at names and it saves me asking "does X hit". It's laminated so people can just update numbers as needed.
  • Big Lists of Names. Towns, businesses, taverns, organizations. NPC names broken down by race and gender.
  • Maps of the city and region. I have a big map of my world that's too big to fit into a binder.
  • World reference material. List and quick description of gods, a world timeline of major events, a party timeline I try to keep up to date but usually fail, major regions and power players.
  • Quick notes I try to take after every session. Simple stuff like NPCs, major turning points. Never more than a few bullet points.
Other stuff
  • Dice of course.
  • Dry erase mat. I have a couple if I have something detailed I draw ahead of time.
  • Markers
  • Clay blocks and a few other minor terrain things. I've tried more elaborate stuff but either it takes too long for me or they make it difficult to see. So now I use some things like chairs/tables but usually just draw or throw down clay blocks that I've made for terrain, elevation and things like bookshelves.
  • A couple of laser pointers, one for me, one for the person that inevitably sits at the end of the table.
  • Pop bottle rings for marking things like concentration and who's affected by a spell.
  • Minis. Generally metal/hand painted for PCs, plastic for NPCs and monsters. Occasionally I use tokens, especially for mounts.
  • Monster cards (although lately I've been trying online option). I use a template to write monster stats 4 to a page, laminate them and cut them into standard index card size.
  • Initiative cards - blank laminated pages used with the monster cards. I write PC names (using wet erase at home) on them and can jot down temporary effects, etc. I can have everybody roll initiative, write on the card then sort. Turn sideways if they're readying, etc.
  • Map of the world.
 


Im pretty similar to what others have posted. Calendar, list of conditions, etc, basically somethings that are on a DM Screen. Few things Ive kept in my binder are the card from the Undermountain and Undermountain II boxed sets. Also I have the random professions, street scenes and city random and pickpocket tables from City Systems and Cities of Mystery boxed sets. Last thing I can think of off hand that less standard is a list of random planar location generator. In the case where a dumb player does something stupid and walks through a planar portal I get to determine where they end up.
 

aco175

Legend
I tend to write a lot of the adventure out like a module. This lets me have most of what I need as far as names and statblocks. I try to keep a random encounter and some NPCs as back-up if needed.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I carry stuff to gaming in an old backpack. I have a notebook with two sections: one section for session-plan notes, another for background events and other off-camera considerations. I have a binder with the handouts I want to, erm, hand out--a map and local info if they go to a new place, setting info if it's something they've asked about, that sort of thing. I copy monster stat blocks into index cards, because I haven't been running at home, and that's fewer books to lug around. I have a little spiral notebook that's my initiative book--start of every fight I write the initiatives on a page, in order; after the fighting is finished, I turn the page. I have my dice and a dice tower.
 

the Jester

Legend
I have a ton of different binders. There's a 3" thick three-ring binder full of monsters; then there's one that has the printed versions of all the adventures that I have run in the current campaign arc (so basically, all of 5e); then there's another that has notes on the setting- write ups of details on the city's demographics, politics, factions, neighborhoods, the races and classes, religion, history, etc. Also, a bit of discussion about the outlying areas.
 

Odysseus

Explorer
maps.
random names.
a quick reference sheet. Which is mostly for conditions.
Price list of potions.
Monster cards,I use the inkwell cards.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
When I started playing again when 5e came out, I used two three-ring binders held together with binder clips and page protectors with various references (e.g. How to make a dungeon master screen - Tabletop Games World). But I didn't like the height of the screen and I had too many reference pages.

Then as I go more comfortable with the rules, I got the mini version of The Worlds Greatest Game Screen from Hammerdog games (http://hammerdog.com/twgs/) and used a lightly modified version of the inserts created by DM David (http://dmdavid.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/mini_screen_5E_v2.pdf)

Now, my laptop is my DM screen. I have a set of tabs that I open for each game and a couple programs that I use for my 5e games.

Google Chome with tabs open for:
  • DnD Beyond Spells
  • DnD Beyond Monsters
  • Improved Initiative

RealmWorks: I use this to organize and display maps. Was great for in-person games, but now that I'm abroad and running my campaign online I'm looking into VTTs.

Evernote: While Realmworks was supposed to be an all-in-one campaign management tool, I don't find it convenient for taking notes on the fly. Evernote serves as my campaign diary.
 

Richards

Legend
Since we now play exclusively at my house, I no longer need to bring everything in a backpack with me. So my campaign binder is actually just a series of pocket folders, in which I keep the following:
  • My PC tracking sheet, which has each PC/NPC's AC, touch AC, flat-footed AC, hp, spell slots, alignment, level, and ability scores, with space to jot in temporary modifiers (like spells currently in effect on each PC), plus a spot to track initiative for each battle
  • My monster stat sheet(s) for the current adventure
  • The adventure itself, written up in the same format as Dungeon magazine (some habits die hard), including read-aloud boxed text as needed
I also have a separate folder for the NPC druid (which gets passed to whoever's playing her that particular session). Each player has a six-part folder with the details of their PC (character sheet, attack matrices for their various weapons, a class abilities and feats sheet, equipment listings, and spells/familiars/animal companions/druid wildshape forms/etc. based on their specific class needs). And I have my five card boxes with my homemade initiative cards for the PCs/NPCs/monsters encountered, my under-the-bed storage container with our D&D Minis, my two dresser drawers of homemade battle maps made on the backs of used desk calendar pages, plus a closet full of homemade 3D props/buildings, most of them made of cardboard or poster board.

I also have two bound notebooks for each campaign, one college ruled for jotting down adventure ideas and one of graph paper for the adventure maps.

Johnathan
 

Since we now play exclusively at my house, I no longer need to bring everything in a backpack with me. So my campaign binder is actually just a series of pocket folders, in which I keep the following:
  • My PC tracking sheet, which has each PC/NPC's AC, touch AC, flat-footed AC, hp, spell slots, alignment, level, and ability scores, with space to jot in temporary modifiers (like spells currently in effect on each PC), plus a spot to track initiative for each battle
  • My monster stat sheet(s) for the current adventure
  • The adventure itself, written up in the same format as Dungeon magazine (some habits die hard), including read-aloud boxed text as needed
I also have a separate folder for the NPC druid (which gets passed to whoever's playing her that particular session). Each player has a six-part folder with the details of their PC (character sheet, attack matrices for their various weapons, a class abilities and feats sheet, equipment listings, and spells/familiars/animal companions/druid wildshape forms/etc. based on their specific class needs). And I have my five card boxes with my homemade initiative cards for the PCs/NPCs/monsters encountered, my under-the-bed storage container with our D&D Minis, my two dresser drawers of homemade battle maps made on the backs of used desk calendar pages, plus a closet full of homemade 3D props/buildings, most of them made of cardboard or poster board.

I also have two bound notebooks for each campaign, one college ruled for jotting down adventure ideas and one of graph paper for the adventure maps.

Johnathan

I like the idea of having the players rotate having the extra NPC. Do you take a turn with that as well, or do you keep her for the players?
 

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