Game: DM Campaign Tracker
Publisher: Goodman Games
Review Dated: 6th, September 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
Every now and then a product like Goodman Games‘ DM Campaign Tracker comes along. I have mixed feelings about these things as I can be one of those compulsive note takers who seem to be unusually common among gamers. Normally I prefer to take my own notes, in my own format because I tailor everything exactly as I need it. Sometimes, though, I’m a disorganised so-and-so and benefit hugely from a structure suggested by someone else. I’ve also been gaming for years. It took me a while to really realise the benefits of good note taking as a player and of obsessive note taking as a GM.
It’s a single shot victory but perhaps the best use of a structured folio like the DM Campaign Tracker is the initial suggestion that keeping on-going notes, and keeping them in this sort of format, is a good idea.
Goodman Games’ DM Campaign Tracker is one of the best. There are 16 grey-scaled pages, with the inside covers used effectively (therefore 18 pages) and just under US $5.
Let’s look at the inside covers first. On the front cover we’ve random NPC traits, names and random tavern names. The Amazing Dungeon, I just diced that up now but it suits wonderfully if I was going to comment on the irony of having taverns so prominent in what is a d20 branded product. The back cover squeezes in the legal foo and finds space to let you jot down a custom encounter table. And yes, this is a Goodman product and so there is a column for Aerial encounters.
The first page, so to speak, of the planner is rather interesting – it is space to record which published resources are allowed in the game and even which pages or material from it is allowed. I think this is a good mindset to encourage.
The World Overview, on page two, starts to fall into more traditional zones. There’s space to record kingdoms and capitals (along with rulers, political systems, alignment, population, religion and some notes). The idea of a large continent with many kingdoms, some good, some bad (see alignment) is particularly D&D. The Forgotten Realms spring to mind – but, of course, it’s very Tolkien too (Gondor / Mordor). I suppose if it’s a common set-up to use then it’s a good thing to have in the Campaign Planner. Similarly we go on to see if copper, gold, silver, etc, coins have different names, what the major deities and guilds in the campaign might be. Similarly in following pages we have single line entries for cities and tiny spaces for NPCs found therein (and shops too). If I was using this I’d probably end up using the official space in the tracker to record only the page numbers to my own notes. On the other hand it’s enough space for many gaming groups and campaigns. It all depends on the style of your play and just how obsessively you note take.
The middle of the tracker, the double spread, is used cleverly. Across two pages there’s room to record the current state of eight characters. If you’re a busy DM then this one page will show saving throws, current hit points and skills like listen, search and spot. Really, really handy.
There’s a page to keep track of the group’s items and the number of charges they have left and an appropriate wealth per character per level chart. An interesting concept. There’s a basic calendar (hours per day, days per week, weeks per month, month per year) and of when Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn are. (Except this is an American product so Autumn is called Fall). These seasons can last for five months, at most, each so if you want to use all four, you can’t have more than a twenty month year. I suspect that’s not a limit which is going to be challenged often.
There is one page to record what happens in gaming sessions and two pages to log the XP. That’s a bit unbalanced but the DM Campaign Tracker is set up to be able to cope with eight characters and there’s only room for four characters per XP log page. On the other hand, I suspect just a half page per set of four characters would suit me and I doubt I could struggle to record what happens in each session on just a small column. Again, its worth saying over and over, it all depends on your level of note taking. On the whole the DM Campaign Tracker does well.
The last few pages in the product are there for some column sized lines to scribble house rules or rules you often forget. Once again the DM Campaign Tracker is there to cater to players who’ve been able to move out of the mould of canon rules and offers encouraging nudges to those gamers yet to follow.
The DM Campaign Tracker does well in GameWyrd’s review model. How well does it do what it sets out to do? It’s good. Whether you want to use it is a different question (but so is whether you like game system X) but I suspect most d20 DMs (or, oddly, players) would be able to get some use out of this tracker.