It’s easy to get started with Obsidian but the organizational possibilities are endless. Let’s take a look “behind the screen” at my setup for Dungeons & Dragons. This is how I organize my world and campaigns within Obsidian.
One Vault to rule them all…
I started with two vaults: one for D&D and one for everything else (this blog, home projects, work, etc). Most of my time is spent working in the D&D vault. Eventually, I combined these into a single “main” vault for everything. It was easier than managing two vaults and my non-D&D stuff is pretty light. If you have a lot of extra stuff in your collection, you might consider making D&D its own separate vault. If not, things like the search function might get bogged down with irrelevant results.
Why One Vault for D&D
You can make the argument that a vault for each D&D campaign would be ideal. But I disagree. I have a number of “shared” notes that I would be referencing in each campaign. I don’t like to duplicate notes if I can help it. I run almost every campaign in a shared universal setting so I need to reference world lore (NPCs, locations, cosmology, etc) across games. Additionally, I keep rules references (like the 5E SRD) in Obsidian. I reference them regularly in any campaign.
To recap, I have a folder for D&D and folders for non-D&D stuff. So far, my vault’s looking like this:
main-vault └───_assets └───_templates └───dnd └───other-stuff
Now let’s just focus on the D&D stuff.
Dungeons & Dragons “Behind the Screen” Organization
dnd folder changes over time. But here’s the main folder structure. Let’s break it down.
main-vault └───dnd └───Atlas └───Campaigns └───DM Tools └───History & Cosmology └───Items └───Life
The gazetteer of my connected settings.
Note: My organizational strategies under the Atlas change more often than any other folder.
I start with universal regions. For my universe, those are Prime (the material plane and majority of the setting notes), Feywild, Shadowfell, Astral Dominion, and Elemental Chaos. Within Prime, I separate out world regions: Dorgothian Belt, Nerathi Hold, and Xanthomir Dominion. Each of these might contain multiple continents.
main-vault └───dnd └───Atlas └───Astral Dominion └───Elemental Chaos └───Feywild └───Prime └───Dorgothian Belt └───Nerathi Hold └───Xanthomir Dominion └───Shadowfell └───Campaigns └───DM Tools └───History & Cosmology └───Items └───Life
At this level, we’re now looking at what I consider individual “settings” as a campaign will rarely span into more than one.
Individual Setting Gazetteer
My last campaign took place mostly in the world region of the Nerathi Hold. Let’s break down what that looks like in Obsidian.
The Fold is one major region in the Nerathi Hold and Kandalur is another. So each gets a folder. Most major regions are too large for a single governmental body (save maybe an empire) so I don’t add settlements yet. The only notes I might have for a major region pertain to huge monuments/landmarks or geographical data.
So let’s keep going with Kandalur. It has five minor regions, each of which gets a folder. Folder or region burnout yet? Don’t worry. We stop here. These minor regions are typically tied to governments. It’s within these folders that I add a note for each settlement or fantastic location. Here’s a simple recap:
main-vault └───dnd └───Atlas └───Universal Region └───World Region (typically single campaign setting) └───Major Region (rarely single government) │ geography.md └───Minor Region (typically single government) │ settlement.md │ fantastic-location.md
Campaign-specific notes for planning and logging.
To start, I have a folder for each campaign. Within a campaign, a section for player characters, session notes, and the world machine.
Player characters contains a note for each player character in this campaign. I like to have a picture, passive ability scores, a list of trained skills, and any other information I want to keep track of for this PC. That might include destinies, dream sequences, allies, enemies, etc. I also
iframe their D&D Beyond character sheet into the note for easy access.
Session notes contains a note for each session. If you’re curious about those, check out how I prepare for D&D.
The world machine is where I keep notes for major campaign storylines. These represent ongoing threats. I document how they will evolve in the world if the player characters do not interfere or change their course. I generally like to have at least three major storylines evolving in the world machine for each campaign.
main-vault └───dnd └───Atlas └───Campaigns └───Campaign 1 └───Player Characters │ player-character1.md │ player-character2.md └───Session Notes │ session1.md │ session2.md └───World Machine │ storyline1.md │ storyline2.md │ storyline3.md
Tools to make my DM life easier.
Every DM needs their trusty tools. This is where I keep mine. I’ll be honest in that the organization of this folder is almost nonexistent. It’s just a collection of tools I find useful. Someday soon, I’ll make it make sense. For now, here are a few things I have there:
- Random tables (for NPCs, locations, wild magic, and other stuff)
- Adventure building binder
- Homebrew rules
- Lazy DM Steps
- 5E SRD
- DM Screen
History & Cosmology
Universal truths and systems that reach across settings.
This folder documents the histories and cosmology shared by the universal setting. I have notes for cosmology, creation myths, legends, magic, and the divine pantheon.
*Magical and non-magical items of interest. *
This category is self-explanatory.
All about the people.
This is everything related to the people of the shared universe. I have folders for ancestries, classes, cultures, NPCs, and organizations.
Ancestries (often called races in D&D) provides notes for each ancestry in my setting. Classes contains notes on the classes available to play. I like to add information that ties each of these to the setting and call out anything that differs from published materials.
Cultures is a newer section that I use to detail any prominent cultures within the setting.
NPCs is my largest folder. Here you’ll find a note for each and every NPC that’s introduced in a game along with a picture and details about them.
Organizations details the various organizations at play in the setting.
That’s a quick overview of how I organize my Obsidian vault for Dungeons & Dragons.
In an upcoming article, I’ll dive deeper into my notes and provide note templates for things like NPCs, settlements, and more. Subscribe so you don’t miss it.