Doom comes from the DM Notebook

Published 1/31/21

My DM Notebooks

I personally have numerous "notebooks" that I use for dming but today I'm going to talk about some of the notebooks that I think is important for other Dms to have for their games. In a world of digitalization any of my ideas can be put into a digital format as well. I personally like having paper and pencil but a digital format would also keep everything in one place.

The Book of Untold Stories

My main DM notebook that I use is my journal of one-shot and small adventures. When players go off book, when there is a need for a job board or a random event I go through my notebook and pull out something for players to experience. Two examples that I have written and used at my table include a circus dream where they had to save the absent player character from a cage in the freak show and the second was the players went through a swamp and found three wizard towers. The wizards were based off of the swamp benders from Avatar Last Air Bender and it made a hilarious break in the campaign.

This journal is a composition notebook with each page numbered for a new adventure. In the inside flap of the journal I have loose leaf paper folded in as the table of contents with each line with a title / brief description of what can be found on that page in the journal. I have some that I grouped together titled under "The Cursed Art Museum" where each featured art piece has its own page. Some I have as events that can happen based on location where others are items or perception checks that need to be made to notice something is off.

Each page at the very top before any lines is the title or the two line description of what is written on that page. I try to limit to a page each to make sure that I can add as many ideas as possible in the one journal. When I use one of the pages I put a post it note on the page with which players/group did that event to make sure that I do not replay an event with the same people.

The pages I don't have a ton of details written to give more flexibility. Each page has written a basic description to read to the players similar to what you would find in a printed adventure. At the top of the page I have a list of the monsters featured in that event. Then I have a list of bullet points of more specific details, any dialogue I have written and any notes that I wanted to remember for when that event comes into play.

Where Do I Collect Ideas From?


I love searching for maps, interesting homebrew items/monsters, beautiful fantasy art and things pinned from reddit to help spark some one shot ideas. There are a lot of pins in my board of things that I want to keep handy for future events.


There are many people that I follow on Instagram that I follow for homebrew and ideas to add to my notebooks. I also love seeing people's fantasy artwork on Instagram to get inspiration for characters, npcs, villains and homebrew settings.


Sometimes memes make some great "what if.." thoughts. I will be one to admit that I have more D&D pages and meme groups in my news feed than friend posts on Facebook. The Facebook things I save is usually for a funny moment or something I want to add to bring a bit of flavor to an inn or instance.


There are always some great classics that will influence the gaming that comes to table. The works of J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and R.A. Salvator to mention some have brought many creative thoughts. I also love fantasy movies and sometimes even scifi brings things to my table.

For a session in Pathfinder one of my player's had a back story that had me pull out Starfinder for a session and my players found themselves in a Farscape episode at the table that day.

Video Games

Right now I am on a Sea of Thieves kick which has put DM Bork and I in a sea shanty frenzy causing lots of pirate themed sessions being written in my mind. The Witcher is also a game that both of us have gotten inspiration from to bring some epic moments to the table. Among Us has brought thoughts of doppelgangers invading the party. Phasmophobia may have scared me more than one time but now I feel like DM Bork can use all of the sounds and ghost tactics to scare anyone at the rpg table.

Skyrim/Oblivion have also shown up as jokes my players make to things that happen in my games as well.

Real Life

As much as I try to keep politics and current events out of my games there are definitely things that influence my game.

Under this category is also what my "oh shiny" brain feels is cool that week. When we have in person games sometimes there is a homebrew encounter purely based around a cool mini I found.

The Session Tracker

I personally love the session sheet that I bought from Gyld. It is great way to keep my scatter brain on track with what I want to make sure to get done in a session (or two). It also helps me visualize to make sure that my players are getting a variety between rp, combat and puzzles. I do less puzzles but I try to keep rp and combat in equal measures. I usually write more detailed notes on the back if I need to remember something but otherwise the small lines is a good bullet point outline to keep me on track.

More Journals I Keep

Story Journal

This adorable and punny journal was gifted to me by one of my players. In this one I write stories of the adventures my players go through. Its great to write down funny quotes or happenings that go on with the parties to share later down the road. I also pen down our players heroic and emotional stories as well. At the end of campaigns I think it is important to go through and review some of the great memories shared between everyone.

Journal of Reflections

As a Dungeon Master it is important to reflect on what is going on behind the screen. When something doesn't go right, or if the evening felt a little off I write down things I thought needed to be improved upon or researched to help improve me as a DM and to help improve the game for my players. As my parties go through campaigns I also like to check in with players and if they have suggestions or things that they would like to see I write them down so I can make changes to our game.