Campaign Manager Tools, yea or nay? Your opinion wanted


Campaign Managers . . . such as World Anvil or the newly developed Legend Keeper . . . have you used them much? Would you?

I’m often tempted to dive into one but am hesitant due to not wanting to invest a ton of time into it if players wouldn’t put much energy into it (either with input or review). They do look cool though.

I’m of the mindset that when you ask members of a group to start going to a number of places to keep up that engagement drops. Sort of like trying to keep up on too many social media sites. i also see many great players who are fully invested at session time who have a hard time participating in any way outside of the session (such as downtime RP by post in Discord or something).

To date, I keep everything in my campaigns for the most part as handouts in Roll20. Then if needed, I may have links in the handouts to external documents but I try to limit that. Generally less is more imo.

But yeah, it’s tempting to go down the path of one of those campaign manager platforms. I just worry that many GMs who do find themselves talking to an empty room what with players being busy and such.

I could see it being worthwhile as a GM, even with limited player engagement, if it were for a long term campaign world that one might use over years with different players/groups.

I do know I can always talk to my players and intend to, but I would like to hear thoughts from you as an interest general check.


Legend Keeper looks amazing, i’m cheap and don’t see enough play to warrant subscribing though.


With me both as a player & GM, I try to keep up what is popular & what works. And what works for me is Roll20, Discord, & zoom. But I am will give stuff a try. I would like to try out the new Runehammer VTT., & Fantasy Grounds. But I have not found a game to join to try them out, yet. I might be old school but these games are for me something I like to the more than watch a show or watch a movie. Playing in an RPG is like nothing else. And yes I agree we need a more visible easier way to find groups. And keep our groups educated on what is happening, also when & where we next meet. With us playing with people from different time zones I know I get confused when the next game is. We all want what we consider a full group that will be with us through time. I know I am showing my age, but it was respectful to show up early & get ready for the game. you do not know how stressful as a player & GM to sit and wait for the last mins for people to be ready to play. I know the group we might all play with RPG with as kids we were friends first players second. So spending the hour before the game started chatting & catching up. But things happen, & things change, and we like these days we face now we have to adapt. WildStar & I have talked about over this many many times. And I have great respect for him, & what he is trying to do. And I too hope you find that respect for every people that take the time to make that Great past time a little bit better.


I don’t do campaign management in that sense and I never will.

It is very tempting and fun for a GM to delve into campaign managers but in my experience it takes a lot of time & effort and doesn’t add any real value to a campaign. It even detracts from the game in my experience because it shifts your focus from creating to writing recaps or writing too much stuff that will never be used. We used to enjoy it when we were in our teens but time is way more valuable when people grow up.

The bigger problem is data ownership. I want to own my data and therefore I’m not going to leave it in the hands of a propriatery platform to lose it years later. These days I find myself constantly repeating this: Propriatery platforms run by single a person or a small team has a miniscule chance of surviving in the long run.

Personally I’m in this hobby for the long haul, so I can’t risk my data and all my note taking efforts.

So what do I do?
I only keep text logs and sometimes add artwork or maps where necessary. I used to use OneNote for this. Hell, I even wrote Khan’s Spells & Feats in OneNote. It was an extremely inefficient and a crappy experience. Hence, I switched to Emacs a couple of months ago and never looked back.

Regular text editing is crap. Regular text editors are crap. Regular text searching is crap. If one is writing in any capacity, then one should better choose an open and a capable platform. I can write anything, I can link anything to any document, I can instantly search a folder full of files for a word, I can use todo lists in a document, I can use different formatting etc. etc. The capabilities are endless.

But… This is not an Emacs plug, so I’ll stop here.

The most important things is, Emacs was here 40 years ago and it will be here 100 years from now. This is the power of open platforms.

Don’t let your data become hostage to propriatery platforms.


Honestly, my mind runs on a different file system and the transition would be too much work if I ever wanted to use one.

Anxiety keeps the memory banks full of possibilities and everchanging, something I would never be able to keep up with if I were using a campaign manager.

So for now, and the foreseeable future, it’s brain and notebooks.


Thanks for the feedback all.

When I look at these things, they are obviously shiny. I mean, the pins and detail and cross referencing . . . very cool. But I’m not convinced the player (and possibly even GM) engagement would be there. I imagine most of the accounts are similar to the millions of blogs out there that start strong only go out with a fizzle.

I am sure there are those player groups who leverage these things to the max and get a great return. But I think they are certainly a small percentage.

As I romanticize what the hobby was like back in the 80’s I imagine there were many more players all in on world building and long term campaigns. The irony is that the very thing that brought us the bells and whistles to do it in a really cool way , technology and the internet, is also the thing largely distracting us from having the bandwidth and focus to enjoy them.

Ultimately i think it is a case of the juice not being worth the squeeze.


I’m a little late to the show, but here’s my 2c:

I do not use “campaign management” tools for the same reason @Khan doesn’t. I want to own my material, and don’t want to risk losing it when one of these platforms goes down. If they were an “install and keep forever” thing, that would be much different. My general setup is as follows (and has given me GREAT returns, is very usable at the table every session, and so on):

  • Adventure Title Folder: This has everything. It’s the folder on my flashdrive with everything. Within it, you will find…
    • Homebase Settlement folder: Everything I need to know about the settlement, using Word’s Headers for easy reference - places, prices, people, recent events, upcoming events, progress counters for events, random tables, etc.
    • Game Aids folder: Character gen. rules, gear and their costs, spell compendium, tokens for characters incase I need to reprint them
    • Art_Images folder: It contains all sorts of art. Paintings, digital art, photographs, character illustrations, etc.
    • Campaign Status Document: Word doc with all the moving pieces, displayed as timers, to keep a “living world” active without much bookkeeping
    • Men at Arms: Word Doc with all MAA met, worked with, etc. and their stats/equipment
    • Random Tables: Excel with random encounters, random weather, random wilderness sights, and so on - I use this every session
    • Session 1-x: My actual session notes, in Word doc format, for every session
  • Post Game Notes: Notepad doc with postgame notes from every session - things players discovered/did, ideas, thoughts, and so on - this is extremely useful

This is how I manage my campaign. I use a Folder, with more folders, and carefully organized documents. I usually add a prefix to files to organize them “alphabetically”. For example, I know I wanted my Campaign Status Document at the top, so I titled it, “00_Campaign Status Document”, because numbers sort before letters in Windows.

That’s it! Hope this helps!


I’m a big fan of LegendKeeper (though I got it for like 5 bucks since I’ve had it since it was in early beta). It has a working export now, so you can keep a local copy for yourself.


I can see the concern of a platform going down being a thing for sure. It’s a concern for many digital platforms i and out of gaming.

@Anthony_C your system is well organized. I kind of roll the same way, my own documents. Then when needed, I link them to handouts in roll 20 or if it’s something that I don’t expect to edit much I will just copy it into an in-game hand out.

Still, looking at Legend Keeper, it is VERY cool I must say and super effective for cross referencing.


That is my experience and my suspicion.

Keeping a local copy is way better than being locked to a platform but when you export your stuff from those platforms, you usually get a bunch of text files (or html files or whatever) and you lose everything else. If that platform were to go down, you will have to go over each of your files manually, modify and import them one by one into some other platform.

I love technology but using the wrong technology can quickly become a detriment, rather than being helpful and making our lives easier.


Some of us like the longer campaign over one shots. Your not alone.


I prefer Notion at the moment because it is incredibly flexible.


My messy journal is still my favorite way to create.

Most tools feel too constraining to me and too time intensive — the tool itself is an added layer of work.

I don’t plan too much beyond the next night of play anyway. The players may take me somewhere unexpected, so I don’t need a fancy cross-referencing, long-term planning thingy.


Minimal notes = easier to remember/funner to improvise/more collaboration + adaption with players

I like visual notes as well, like this:


So in follow up, I spent a good chunk of time looking at World Anvil. Man, it is sweet.

That said, I think I’m going to restrain myself. At least until I’m in a state of semi to full retirement. lol

I LOVE the idea of a long term West Marches style campaign where players can spend a little or a lot of energy diving into a campaign setting . . . it’s towns, locations, NPCs etc. But with gaming/hobby time being less than I’d like it to be as of now I’d rather spend it actually playing than world building.


I do not think you need to spend a lot of hours on a long campaign, unless you like to railroad your players. For me I have a over arcing idea of how the end might happen, but how they will get there & when they will get there is up to the players. i make like maybe 5-10 NPC & monsters that I will toss in to the adventure. Give them a few leads, & see where they take the story. I am very much a sandbox GM. I like to use hooks from there history / tags to pull at them. But I never say they way they want to adventure is wrong or right. We are all here to have fun & loss ourselves in the story we are all telling.


I really enjoyed how simple LegendKeeper used to be. Really, a sort of Wiki and pins on the map were great enough! But the thing requires a subscription and is online-only~ I dislike that very much.
Make me pay a single time and allow me to use it offline and I’ll dive into it for sure!! :smiley:


I use a shared folder and annotated PDF:s (maps etc) because it doesn’t require any special software or apps. Still, 4 of 6 players never clicked through to see what’s in the folder. Maybe it’s because we’re an IRL group, but I would never count on them using any online tool.

That said, I would subscribe in a heartbeat if it could facilitate my own process, but so far everything has felt like a time sink for me compared to a notebook, Excel, and a simple word processor.


I’ve tried them but found them more use than they are worth.

I reverted to using Markdown text files in an organised folder structure (similar to a wiki)


If anyone wants to give LK a shot, happy to send out some invites. Creator of LegendKeeper so of course I’m biased. Totally hear you on information ownership: online apps reduce user autonomy, period. I’ve been slowly adding stuff to fix that: Project export results in hostable static site with valid links, and I’d like to upgrade to be more feature-rich over time. I want to make an offline version of LK too, but of course I’m just one developer and that stuff takes time. :stuck_out_tongue: