by Mike Shea on 1 May 2012
This article has been updated from the original written in 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. We can, however, shrink these banker boxes down to the size of a campaign folio.
The folio itself is a simple durable plastic file folder, usually running $5 to $15. My personal favorite are the Filexec Single Pocket Expanding File which come down to $6 a piece for a six-pack. Six of these means you can have one for each ongoing campaign and maybe one extra for your GM walk-away kit. If you only need one, the single-pocket Smead poly wallet can work well. 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 using a banker box or folio to stash your campaign stuff is that it is both structured and unstructured. 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 Pathfinder 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.
Here's a checklist of some items you may want to keep in your folio:
Sometimes the boundlessness of D&D can overwhelm us. 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.