The GM Binder (Alpha Version)
My GM binder is big and pretty; all leather bound with metal rivets and a cool twisting locking mechanism on the cover. I bought it at GenCon two years ago I think it is very sexy to have out on the gaming table and play from. Sometimes I sleep in the basement and not in bed with my wife just so I can be next to the binder...
Of course, though the appearance of a GM binder may help the eye candy quotient of your table, it isn’t there to be looked at. The pretty binder in the post is my “Alpha” binder and has all the functional items I need to run a fully planned out campaign. The focus of my Alpha binder is to make a planned game shine at the table. My “Beta” binder will be the subject of a future post.
The “Alpha” binder is the only thing I keep infront of me while gaming, except for pens, markers, dice and maybe a book full of monster stats. Yes, I am a screen less GM. I try to minimize the junk in front of me to only what I need. Here is what I keep inside
All the notes I need to keep nearby and review before each game. They include:
My Session checklist for the game: I try to hit the following items for a perfect game on a Saturday (longer) game: World (Where are in the world setting?) Recap (What did we do last time?) Prelude event or a cut scene that leads into the session, Description of where we are picking up the game (in town at the bar, in the caverns underneath the ropers) and then Action! (something happens, even if it is not combat)
A post-it that says “Exciting!” “Action!” “Drama!” “ They are Heroes!” to remind me of those facts.
One that simply says “Magic is always special”, because it should always feel that way.
A “To Do” list with things I want to work on, like “More Foreshadowing”.
Notes on things to just keep in mind, usually stuff I threw in (aka, made up on the spot) that I can tie back to future events. Like when the glowing salamanders predict the future to the silly druid using magic to communicate with them. Yeah, you should have remembered what they said Nate. Too Bad!
Character notes about PCs or NPCs until I put them in the PC’s folder or add the NPC note to the adventure somewhere.
I even have a note to “make tonight’s game awesome”
The binder has a printout of the current adventure we are playing through. In the picture, it is the Fortress of the Stone Giants, which I have added liberal pen notes and highlights to. I’ll also tack on any print outs of monster stats, such as those for some stone giants, so I can minimize the amount I need to refer to hard cover texts while gaming.
I will include loose notes of NPCs, random worthless but fun items, a wilderness encounter I want to throw in and a few maps.
The inside of the back cover has notes that the PCs have given me in game. I like to keep them for sentimental value and sometimes to come back to. (“Oh.. remember how you stole the blue glass swan… well…”)