Creating a gaming log, TiddlyWiki

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More and more electronics are invading lots of spaces that used to be the domain of the ripped off piece of paper that was hastily scrawled upon to create a reminder of something for the next adventure. Laptops and Tablets have become more affordable and the use of PDFs and other file formats and programs have reduced the large, heavy library of books for one’s game to a much more manageable weight. On top of these devices comes the ability to manage one’s campaign with digital tools; from the basic like Word/Excel to more advanced programs like The Obsidian Portal site. Also apps that live on your computer so one doesn’t need an active Internet connection for keeping organized. A great example of this is called TiddlyWiki.

TiddlyWiki is a customizable all in one document system. It utilizes HTML/CSS and Javascript to create a dynamic page whose appearance can be controlled by the owner of the page using CSS. Entries in the page are called Tiddlers and like a Wiki (think Wikipedia), they can have links to other Tiddlers or even other resources (images, other web pages, etc…). The simple, searchable interface coupled with the customizability of the page makes it very useful for using to take notes on an ongoing campaign or even to just organize one’s ideas for future adventures, characters, etc…

Creating a new Tiddler is a simple process. Either click the “New Tiddler” link in the main navigation menu, or, like Wikipedia, create a link to it in any already existing Tiddler and then follow the link to edit the content. Links to Tiddlers are autocreated if you use a WikiWord (two words pushed together with the first letter of each word being capitalized) or use the syntax like with other wikis ([[link name]]). Entries can also be tagged by adding a list of tags to the text area that shows up below the Tiddler when in edit mode. This can make it useful to group Tiddlers into easily findable identifiers (like grouping NPCs by organization or entries as journals). Images and other file formats can be linked into Tiddlers for display to include things like the maps that belong to certain entries or maybe the logos seen by the party. They can be on the local computer or even links to files on websites.

TiddlyWiki’s can be uploaded to a website for sharing with others and the site can be synced to a local copy of the file that can be edited by the owner. It also has methods to update the code that runs the page to the latest version from the TiddlyWiki home site, which helps deal with issues of how to migrate information to a newer version (unlike most PDF or Excel files that exist for character sheets). Also, addons can be built for the page to add new functionality and the addons can be shared with others.

Similar to MediaWiki (the software that drives Wikipedia), TiddlyWiki does have some support for Tiddler templates. These are relatively rudimentary in that you create one Tiddler that holds the format and insertion variables, and then create another Tiddler that uses that template and is given a series of quote encapsulated strings to be used by the template. This can be very useful for things that you want to use over and over again, like a Monster Stat Template. Need to rename a stat on all the monster pages, just change the template and bingo, all the stat pages change as well.

While my skills with HTML/CSS might be a bit limited, I find that TiddlyWiki is a very useful program while sitting at the gaming table. I can sit there with it open in a browser window and just type into it a log of the party’s misadventures in Fantasyland. Even better, I can then go through the long log and update stuff about my fellow party members (or as the GM about the players) and create a journal-like system to remember what happened in our past adventures. No more trying to remember what happened three months ago in that small castle that was a minor event at the time. Just search my TiddlyWiki for the Tiddler and reread what happened.