As Dungeon Masters, we see inspiration all around us. Books, television, movies, music, and much else inspire our games. But often we’re short on ideas when we sit down to build our world or prepare a game session. Let’s look at a simple approach to capture ideas that are there when we need them.
The problem is this: inspiration usually strikes when we don’t need it. We see a cool concept or name in a television show and think, “that would be awesome in a D&D game.” But we might not have the opportunity to use it for months or even years. We can solve this problem by creating a simple capture system.
A capture system is a process by which you capture ideas. That’s it. It needs to be simple and accessible. If it feels like work, we won’t use it. Try to avoid fancy apps or frameworks. We just need a place to record something. Remember, we’re not worried about organization at all. Toss ideas into one massive list.
It’s no secret that I love using Obsidian for all things D&D. While my ideas eventually end up there, I’m willing to admit that it’s not a good fit for capturing them on the fly. Instead, I just use the Notes app on my iPhone. It’s simple and accessible. The app opens quickly and I have one giant note to capture ideas. If my hands aren’t free, I can use the voice-to-text feature to just speak my notes into existence. It’s great.
What to Capture
In short, anything and everything. My capture note has roughly 2400 words on it. Anything that inspires you should be captured:
- Loose concepts and ideas
- Mechanics (game rules)
Here’s a look at a section of my actual capture note:
Nothing here is sacred. We might not use it anytime soon. But if we’re vigilant about capturing ideas, we’ll quickly build a list we can turn to when we do need something. When you’re worldbuilding and need a place name you’ll be able to check the list!
That’s all there is to a capture system. Keep it simple and accessible. Capture—don’t organize.