There are two types of gameplay for Dungeons and Dragons, really all tabletop games. You can go old fashioned pen and paper, calculating everything in your head or with the trusty calculator at your side. The other option is to do everything on a tablet, computer or even a phone. There are ups and downs to both of those options.
Digital is great in that everything is within the click of a button or tap of the screen. You can move from notes, to pictures to your character sheet by moving through tabs with a few clicks. The math can usually be done for you too, especially when using things like DnDBeyond. Using digital platforms like Roll 20 can allow you to find a DM/GM more easily and you can find a broader range of people to play with. You can make friends with people from all over the world!
Paper is great for the person who loves taking notes. Digital notes are a thing but there is something to be said for using a good old fashioned pencil. You feel more in control of your character and their actions. Notes are faster on paper than typing depending on your wpm. For me, no matter how fast I type, written notes are always faster. I also love that I can build a whole book to write in based on the campaign. Right now I have an icy themed A6 binder that holds all my notes, inventory, money, character sheet and maps.
The drawbacks of digital gameplay are the various problems associated with internet and connection. Even at our table, some of the players that use DnDBeyond exclusively, have trouble accessing their character sheets and have trouble taking notes. We have had issues where someone who wasn’t able to take notes denies doing something in game to save their ass only to be reminded by those of us that took detailed notes that they did do that terrible thing. WIFI can also be a terrible issue. Not being able to connect or having a choppy video feed can really break the ambience of a game.
Paper has its drawbacks too. You can lose your notes, ruin them with drinks or stains, forget them at home. Players have asked for backup notes plenty of times when they couldn’t find their own. Binders and journals for notetaking and handout storage can run out of space and then, by the end of the campaign, you have three different binders or journals full of information. It sounds small but, trust me as an avid writer in journals, they add up and take up so much space.
I love paper myself but I would actually recommend a hybrid of the two. If you love the use of digital platforms or note services, I would suggest a cheat sheet on a piece of paper for the more important points of information you don’t want to scroll forever to find. This way you still have your phone or computer but if something goes wrong you have your cheat sheet just in case. For those of us who love paper, we have to acknowledge its frailty. I would suggest copying notes onto a digital medium to ensure its survival. It takes a bit longer but makes sure you never lose your notes.
Have a third option or differing opinion? Leave a comment below or find me on twitter @DnDWifeStories or on Instagram @dndwife and share your ideas!