When I played Dungeons & Dragons in high school, I was never the Dungeon Master (or Game Master). I made my character sheet, brought a pencil and a set of die, and did what the DM told me to.
When I started playing again, it was up to me (as the one who wanted to get back into D&D) to be the DM. This involves not only knowing the rules of the game, but building and running a dungeon, as well as managing all of the players.
Being a DM is a much more daunting task than I had thought it would be. Building not only a good dungeon (one that’s not too easy but not too hard, has an interesting and unique set of challenges, and is above all fun to play) but keeping track of it all is a lot of work.
I discovered discovered Obsidian Portal about a month ago, and our D&D game has almost completely transitioned over to it. Obsidian Portal is a website that allows DM’s to create a custom wiki (think wikipedia) for your campaign. You can also view other DM’s campaigns and (depending on their permission) utilize it for your own. Here are just a few reasons why I love Obsidian Portal:
It’s Free: Obsidian Portal is 100% free to players. DM’s can create a free campaign (with some limitations) or can opt in to an “Ascendant Membership” for $4.99 per month. This allows you to have more than 2 campaigns, more than 1 map per campaign, multiple GM’s, email notification, remove ads, among other features.
Maps: The maps in Obsidian Portal run on Google Maps’ API, which allows you to upload an image, then tag it. The tags can be public or GM only, and they can link to other pages in your wiki. The map is zoomable (but only with 3 levels of zoom) and scrollable, just like a Google Map.
GM Secrets: The best part about Obsidian Portal is that it allows for two levels of knowledge: Player Knowledge and DM Knowledge. Lets say your players have encountered an NPC in the last game. You create a page for this NPC, and put in all the information the players were able to gleam from the character. However, lets say that this NPC is a spy for the main villain of your campaign. In the “DM Only” section you can put this information and the players will not be able to see it. When, later on in the game, the players discover the character’s true origins, you can edit the page and move that info into the player knowledge section.
The Wiki: Obsidian Portal is, at it’s core, a wiki. As such, players as well as GM’s can edit pages (The player section). This is great in case the players remembered something that the GM forgot to add, or something that got made up on the fly.
Forums: Obsidian Portal offers a forum just for your campaign. A great feature for larger groups of players, the GM can add sub forums, stickies, and even moderate comments. The forum also allows for email notification
User Specific Permissions: The best feature is that you can create pages, wiki articles, maps, etc, that only certain players can see. Have someone who’s playing a dwarf and want them to know the layout of Hammerfast because thats where their character is from? No problem – just create the map and give that user access to it.
All in all Obsidian Portal is a great website, and until recently that was what we were using for the longest time before we decided to create our own website. I highly recommend it, especially for people who can only play on a monthly basis, or those who are playing using some Virtual Tabletop software.