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Keep a Campaign Website!

posted Thursday, August 30th 2007 by Jonathan Drain
Dungeon Mastering Advice

It was once the sole domain of nerds and academics, but now just about anyone can have their own website. If you’re also a dungeon master, you may not only enjoy maintaining a website detailing your game world and rules, but find it a practical addition to your game. Modern web-based content management systems exist which, once installed, allow you and your players to collaboratively edit pages with surprising ease.

Roleplaying gamers have been keeping websites for some time now. One dungeon master keeps a website to publish his house rules, along with new game material (in this case, new rules for fencing). You might also use a campaign website to keep a log of the game’s storyline, session synopses and character sheets, or to collect information on your homebrew campaign setting. I know of one DM who offers his players bonus XP for contributing. A campaign website can also be a useful way of publishing homebrew game material, from feats to entire prestige classes.

Modern open source web software makes a website like this quite straigforward to set up. One such piece of software is PmWiki. PmWiki is more modest than Mediawiki, the software used to run Wikipedia, but is simpler and better suited to sites with a small number of editors, like a D&D site. You will, however, need to be comfortable with uploading files, and require a webhost that supports PHP.

If that’s too hi-tech for you, Google Page Creator offers webhosting and page editing. However, it doesn’t offer the functionality to let your players edit your pages – you may want to look for a friend who knows web stuff to assist you with the setup of your wiki software.

The important thing, as is it often said about dungeon mastering as a whole, is to make sure that your campaign website is something enjoyable, not a chore.

Comments

  1. Stripes

    August 30th, 2007

    I find my D&D campaign blog useful for a few other things as well. I’m currently just doing a writeup of what the PCs did in a session. I tend to post it one to two days before the next session (we play on Wed night, so I like to post it Mon or Tue).

    Everyone seems to read it before they come over, so we don’t have to use the first 5~10 min of game time trying to remember what we were in the middle of doing.

    I also get to share it with people I use to game with in collage (and in one case I guy I worked with who I would have gamed with but neither of us knew the other gamed!). So it is kind of a nice geeky “staying in touch” thing.

    (personally I’m using .Mac and iWeb, it was super easy to get started with, but the lack of user editable templates is making it more work then it should be to make new entries — more work is setting the same fonts each time and minor stuff like that, but still…)

  2. Alex Schroeder

    August 30th, 2007

    Surprisingly, awarding 100 XP to the player who writes the session summary has led to players contributing to the campaign website.

  3. Daniel E. Chapman II

    August 31st, 2007

    Another good resource is wikidot, which provides the wikisoftware AND hosting that I use, and it’s free.

    It may not be as rich as the WikiMedia software, but it has all of the features that I’ve wanted and a lot more that I probably won’t get to use. It also offers forum capability and some other pretty impressive thing.

    My own campaign website is pretty modest, since I haven’t entirely gotten to using it, but it’s there.

    Anyhow, check them out.

  4. Kristin

    September 1st, 2007

    Our group has been keeping online journals (and character sheets, maps, character art, etc.) since 2001. The DM gives out a 10% XP bonus for timely entries, though I enjoy the session summaries enough that I’d write mine for free (don’t tell!).

  5. Matt

    September 7th, 2007

    Those creating their own homebrewed campaign settings might want to check out a new site called Eruvian.com. The site allows anyone to publish their homebrewed content in a searchable, standardized online format. You can publish individual components, such as characters, locales, spells, and whatnot or entire settings.

    Eruvian has a community rating and review system, setting-specific forums, the ability to publish content in both GM-only and player views, and a sophisticated toolset that facilitates and encourages collaborative world building. The site’s been around three-and-a-half weeks and has about 140 registered users and 1000 pieces of content. And, of course, everything is free and there’s no annoying advertising.

    Check it out! =)

  6. Phil

    September 9th, 2007

    If you want to have an online community that is not easily accessible to the whole world, Google Groups are also a great possibility.

    It’s a free Mailing list with a light wiki-like Web-page system. You can store your House rules, your Adventure summaries and Character Stories.

    You even get 100 MB to store files like Character Sheets or PDF excerpts of Books you own but your players don’t. You can also have discussions on the Web pages and any discussions with group member. You set membership to private or public like you want.

    If you’re interested, drop by our group and request a membership, I’ll give you 24 hours to poke around. It’s partly in French though.

    Nice site BTW. I’m adding it to my DM blogroll if ya don’t mind. :)

  7. Phil

    September 9th, 2007

    Oops here’s the link…

    http://groups.google.com/group/gamedephil

  8. Karma Guard

    October 1st, 2007

    Another option is Google Documents.

    It lets other people see and manipulate (if you want them to) a document that uses Word-like controls.

    I found it pretty useful when a group of me and my buddies were compiling quotes from a dude we knew.

    But looking around, Google Groups looks like a better version of this.

  9. Jay

    October 10th, 2007

    I have a domain leftover from a previous life of being a WoW addict and use the space to host a MediaWiki for the campaign. The players love it as a resource – they store a lot of NPC and general player knowledge there for later access. Considering all the players have net access at their homes the site gets updated quite a bit during the session.

    I think I’ll use Alex’s idea above though to encourage some of the players to participate more. Like all things you find some who really use all the tools at their disposal and others who are just happy to hit things.

  10. Micah

    October 18th, 2007

    I designed Obsidian Portal ( http://www.obsidianportal.com ) from the ground-up as a way to create campaign websites easily. You get all sorts of stuff including a blog for your adventures, an NPC tracker for easily tracking and tagging (like del.icio.us) of NPCs, and a wiki for everything else. Heck, there’s even a way to upload your maps and then pan and zoom just like Google Maps.

    Create your campaign, invite your players, and you’re ready to go. As easy as killing a sleeping kobold.

    If you’re curious, come check out my D&D campaign: http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/kensing

    On the note of getting write-ups, here’s the deal I made with my players: At the start of the session, one player is picked to take notes. I award XP to the entire party within 24 of the blog posting being added. So, no blog post, no XP.

  11. Jonathan Drain

    October 18th, 2007

    @Micah: Nice site. Valid markup, CSS-based design and MCV URLs. Is that Code Igniter?

  12. Micah

    October 22nd, 2007

    Obsidian Portal is written in Ruby on Rails. Using Rails has allowed us to very quickly add features and push the site into production.

    I’m not familiar with most of the PHP frameworks. I’ve used Symfony, and I’m currently exploring the Zend Framework. Still, PHP is definitely not my best language.

    If you like the site, we’d definitely appreciate a link in the main post! It will get seen by more people, plus it isn’t flagged with a nofollow like the comment links are.

  13. Micah

    December 2nd, 2007

    I’d still love to get a link in the main post to http://www.obsidianportal.com You have to admit, our site has a much lower barrier of entry than buying web hosting and managing your own wiki or blog. Plus, there are lots of tools specifically for RPGs. We’re getting better every day…

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