This is a personal project of mine, a OneNote Notebook. If you’re not familiar with OneNote, it is a free word editing program that creates an entire notebook of different pages instead of just having either a single document whose pages scroll linearly and endlessly, or alternatively having multiple documents sitting around in a folder. This digital notebook is complete with individual pages and subpages, along with section-tabs and groups which make it very easy to organize as if it were an actual book. As an added bonus, it will sync with other devices allowing you to access your work anywhere. But what really sets it apart for me is how quick it is to find the exact page you’re looking for; as soon as you start typing in the search bar, results will appear and pages load instantly.
Since D&D is a note-heavy game, I began converting it to this format. Not only could I instantly locate a spell, monster, or the price of wine without having to pause the game to flip through a book, but I could rearrange this information however I wanted without being constrained to the size of a piece of paper. This meant I could do things like list equipment descriptions on the very same table as the equipment stats, or edit in any official errata corrections. Below are some screenshots that show how my digital Notebook is organized. Scroll to the very bottom to download something similar (a notebook that features only the free/SRD content).
Right away you can see how OneNote is laid out; with tabs and groups of tabs along the top, and the current tab’s various pages and sub-pages along the right. I wanted it to look more interesting and creatively inspiring than a white office document so I’ve updated every page (except for a few printouts) to include a new visual design that mimics fantasy themes.
I’ve tried to format the book in a way that visually separates lore (fluff) text from 5E-specific rules and mechanics by storing the latter inside white table cells. Additional errata corrections and official ‘Sage Advice’ clarifications are listed directly on their appropriate pages for easier reference, with their own colors. Everything entry is page-sourced across multiple sources to help you cross reference with the books and pdfs.
I’ve split the Notebook into as many individual pages as I could, whenever doing so made sense. This change was made to allow for OneNote’s search feature (found in the top-right) to instantly find whatever entry I’m looking for. This Notebook is essentially a database of conditions, spells, monsters, magical items, and more.
Section Group: Spell Book
This notebook can also be used to instantly look up spell information.
Spells are sorted alphabetically, and each spell is on its own page so that you can use the search tool to instantly find the spell you are looking for. They are corrected with any errata and sage advice articles, and include the additional spells from the Elemental Evil companion and Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. The public version contains around 358 spells – this means it is only missing 35 spells that can only be found in the official books.
This notebook can also be used to instantly look up monster information.
The layout of the monster pages has since been updated to keep a stat block on the left, description in the middle, and image on the left (usually – landscape images might appear underneath instead). All monsters share this formatting. There’s also a combat tracker table now, which will be covered below. My private version includes every monster, image, and description. The public version is limited to just the stat blocks, but has more than 360 free monsters.
Section Group: Magic Items
This notebook can also be used to instantly look up Magic Items.
I’m still working on images to add to my private notebook. The public version wont have any, but contains entries for at least 255 free magic items.
Section Group: Player Creation:
This is one of the latter additions, and so I’m still working on the layout. But for now it at least contains the races, classes, and backgrounds that can be found in the SRD and Elemental Evil companion.
DM Tools: Campaign Tracking
While I usually track campaigns on another notebook, I’ve included a template calendar that can easily be pasted between books.
This simple table-based Calendar of Harptos comes in handy for tracking the progression of time over an adventure. For each day I create linked entries as I see fit. These entries can link to individual Adventure Log sub-pages that serve as a journal to track the player’s progress. If you’re interested in seeing more about how I’d lay out a campaign notebook, see my Curse of Strahd example.
DM Tools: Player Tracking
I also created various template ideas that can be used for keeping track of players and NPCs in a more streamlined way similar to monster stats.
These templates can also be easily printed out if needed.
DM Tools: Combat Tracking
The notebook now contains a combat tracking table.
Each monster page now features a text container with a table that can quickly be copied and pasted into the desired initiative slot, which will provide the default AC and HP values for that monster along with an instant link to it’s full statblock. The combat tracker and monster are always one-quick-click away from each other. This also makes it easy when preparing encounters in advance, as I can just keep the pre-filled encounter blocks handy.
Forgotten Realms Lore Database:
I’m still very new to The Realms, but I’ve liked the world so far that one of the latest additions to my notebook has been an effort to build a wiki-like database that keeps me informed. Currently its limited to some of the locations and entries that are found in the Sword Coast Adventure’s Guide, but I plan on filling it out even more with other source books and wiki information.
Layout Example: An Adventure
Last but not least, I converted the Curse of Strahd Introductory Example into a OneNote format to show how in can be done. Typically I would have actual campaigns separated into their own notebooks or groups rather than just floating around with the rest of the rules, so consider it more as a template for what it could look like.
Curious for a bigger example? Check out how I’m planning my Curse of Strahd campaign.
As you may have noticed, I’ve mentioned two notebooks; my private version and the public version. Please don’t email me asking for my private version; it doesn’t matter if you already own the books and can prove it, it doesn’t matter if you ask real nice or offer money. If I can’t even trust myself not to share it then I wouldn’t be able to trust anyone else not to. Instead I’ve created:
The Public Notebook. This notebook is largely identical to what what shown above, although I’ve removed any content that can only be found in the official books (so the monster pages only feature the stat blocks, not the text paragraphs and images). In an effort to make sure this version features all the content that WotC have released for free through various PDFs, I’ve combed through the Basic Player’s Rulebook, the Basic DM Rule Book, all the individual story line supplemental pdfs as they come out, and finally the 5E System Reference Document. This means that every single free monster, spell, and item has been aggregated into this one document for you. As a result it contains more than 357 spells, 255 magic items, and 360+ monster stat blocks (along with all the core basic rules). It’s a shorter list to see what has been excluded, and I’ve compiled one here to help people who want to rebuild all the missing pieces.
You can download the Basic Rules edition of my One Note notebook here:
Last Updated: May 16th, 2016
Note: If you are using the free version of Onenote then the download many not work, the package file will probably want you to have an office subscription, or to have at least had a subscription active at some point in the past.
If you are on the free version, you could try downloading and opening the notebook using the docs.com service.
If that still doesn’t give you an offline version of the book, then hunt down my email or find me on Reddit and I can share it that way.