by Mike Shea on 1 May 2012
In her excellent book on the process of art, the Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp discusses her use of banker boxes as a way to store all the junk she collects when working on a creative project. During the first days of this website I wrote about using these boxes to build a D&D campaign box but sometimes these boxes can be bigger than we need for our mini-campaigns or games on the road. Thus, comes the campaign folio.
The folio itself is a simple durable plastic file folder, usually running $5 to $15. I've used these Smead Campus folders for smaller campaigns, pictured above for my White Plume Mountain game. The single-pocket Smead poly wallet with a single large pocket is a better choice for larger campaigns, like my Gardmore campaign also pictured above. A single pocket folder ensures you won't waste time trying to organize things into separate areas — time better spent on your game itself. The whole point of a folio like this is to build structure around our campaign but give us the freedom to throw whatever we want into it, without spending time organizing.
The beauty of Twyla Tharp's banker box is that it is both structured and unstructured. This concept works just as well with our campaign folio. Because our folio focuses on a single campaign, it has structure. If we happen to be running multiple campaigns, we can have multiple colored folios, one for each campaign. If its in the folio, it's for our campaign. If something is for our campaign, it goes in the folio.
But that's where the structure ends. ANYTHING can go in that folio. Maybe it's a picture cut out from an art book. Maybe it's a set of applicable Gamemastery Face Cards. Standard gaming supplies like the all-powerful flip mat and a zip-loc bag of monster tokens are obvious choices. But puzzle sheets or character profiles from your favorite one hour drama can also find a place in this folder.
There's a good standard set of tools you may want to stash in your campaign folio to make preparing and running your game easier. Here are a few:
Page protectors work well to protect the sheets above as well as character sheets for your PCs.
Sometimes the boundlessness of D&D can overwhelm us. Using some simple structure, like the campaign folio, can help us get our hands around our campaign, define some boundaries, and lets us explore our campaigns in the most useful and productive way possible. A campaign folio gives us a place to stash every little scrap of paper that helps make our games easy to prepare, easy to run, and fun to play.