Love it or hate it I find note taking to be an important part of D&D, but why does it have to be a chore? You theme everything to your character, from your weapons to your dice. Or maybe that’s just me. So why not theme your note taking to your character and keep them as an IC notebook, journal or list? No matter the character I try to take some level of notes, there not always regarding plot points, locations and npc’s. Sometimes they are none of those things…
I think taking notes is a great way to look back on a campaign and in general your DM will love you, in some ways I’ve found note taking to expand certain characters. Have a look at some of the ways I’ve themed note taking in my games to my characters below and see if it’s something you might try yourself.
My Warforged Juggernaut character analysed each creature he met with a threat rating (I would guess their challenge rating) and took note of their combat abilities. The weapons they carried, their body size, any ‘other’ abilities.
I had a pompous Waterdavian Noble that rated everyone he met, from the dress style, demeanour, vocabulary etc. He did the same for major locations based on their decor, inhabitants, smell… He kept other political intrigue and rumours from noble courts but paid little interest to that of the mysteriously cult we chased, well except for the fact they were all snazzy dressers at least.
A Half Orc character kept simple notes and drawing of creatures are group had defeated in combat, the abilities and combat prowess they showed. He also rated them on a scale from 1-25…. He tallied the kills of each individual character and would often praise the party on their numbers or offer advice and encouragement where required.
One character was a member of the games Thieves Guild, he jotted rough estimates of wealth for both the people he met and the buildings he visited. He would look for valuable targets, entry routes and any visible security. He had limited information on the kingdoms troubles but knew every way into the kings castle…
In one campaign I played the Bardic retainer of an adventuring Knight looking to make a name for himself, I would sing his praise from town to town. I took note of all his heroic deeds to add to the legendary saga of his adventures. It was a great way to take campaign notes and awesome roleplay with my knightly companion.