Today I want to talk to you about Evernote and the Evernote App. Why? Because one of the things that a lot of Game Masters (DMs) seem to find daunting is tracking the information in their games. Even as a DM who has been running games and con one shots for about 10 years now, I absolutely hate the paperwork and NPC tracking that comes with games. This is, for a large part, why I have developed my own special style of DMing that consists of waking up on the morning of game day, jotting down about 3 sentences on a piece of paper, and finally throwing that out the window when it just doesn’t work because my players have different ideas.
However, with Vampire the Masquerade (oWoD), you can’t really do that.
Game day usually consists of me frantically writing up NPCs, printing out their disciplines, and having tons of paper that I have to shuffle through during the game. Why? Because my players have collectively figured out just how useful the backgrounds Contacts, Ally, Mentor, Fame, Status, and Spy Network are. This has lead to a collection of NPCs that populate the area where the characters are and each has to have their own knowledges, stories, likes, dislikes, ect that I have to keep consistent through the chronicle. I hate it, but it’s the nature of V:TM due to the very political and roleplaying nature of the game.
I don’t know why I didn’t do it before, but last month I started looking into what other StoryTellers (the name of DMs in Vampire) did to keep track of all their NPCs. Someone suggested a program called Evernote, which also comes with an Evernote App for Android devices (could be for iOS too, but I’m anti-apple so no idea). I installed Evernote on my desktop and then the Evernote App on my HTC smartphone and it’s been love at first sight.
Yesterday I got a Nexus 7 tablet and immediately fired up the Evernote App on it and I’m very much looking forward to my Vampire Darkages game tomorrow, since I know it’s going to be a very ‘information’ heavy game with Contacts and Allies.
A Brief Rundown of Evernote and the Evernote App
In short, I believe this was originally meant to be used as a quick way to keep notes, lists, and as a collaborative tool (kind of like Google Wave if you remember that). Evernote consists of a program where you make “notebooks” about different subjects, then you put notes in your notebook about that subject.
When creating a note, the editor is a pretty standard ‘see what you type’ type of editor. So if you bold a word, you immediately see it bolded without having to type html or some sort of wiki/bb markup. You can also insert tables and images.
Then, like most wiki’s or note keeping tools, you can tag your notes. I’m finding this particularly handy in keeping track of which NPC belongs to what clan, who is who’s childe, and who can do what kind of disciplines. It makes bringing the information up in games much quicker.
The Good about Evernote and the Evernote App
- It’s free to download and use on both PC and the Google App Store.
- The notebooks make it very easy to keep track of specific groups of things, such as individual Vampire Clans.
- You can have a main notebook and “stack” notebooks in it (in tech geek speak, you have a parent notebook and can put child notebooks in it).
- Tags make life wonderful.
- Whatever you put in your notebooks on your PC will sync with the Evernote Apps if you’re logged in.
- You can easily make checklists in your notes.
The Bad about Evernote and the Evernote App
To be truthful, I really don’t have a whole lot of bad things to say. I think the most disappointing thing, for me as a DM, is that the collaborative ability of Evernote is a premium only feature. I can make a notebook and invite someone to view it, but I need to have a premium subscription for them to be able to edit that notebook. To be completely honest, I’d be happy to pay for that feature but the price is a little on the stupid side.
There are a few things to mention also, that the free version doesn’t allow:
- Enough space for pictures and sound clips and whatnot. You can put this in, but you can only have a certain MB in your notes. This goes up to 1GB a month if you’re premium.
- Offline notebooks are only for premium members.
- No way to ‘lock’ your notes on your phone, unless you’re premium.
The Ugly about Evernote and the Evernote App
The cost for Premium. For someone in the EU this is 5 euro a month or 40 euro per year. I wouldn’t mind paying 20 euro a year for this service or 2 euro a month, but that’s a little much.
Overall though, for something free, this is a very powerful program for Game Masters wishing to go paperless with their NPCs and game notes. I’ve even officially ditched my workout notebook for the gym, now that I have a tablet, and moved all that info into a Evernote notebook.