The Short Answer
If you keep a pile of notes and a laptop open behind the GM screen, this site is the answer to your gaming dreams. Obsidian Portal gives you every digital tool you could hope for to keep track of all the information about your game and campaign setting. Plus it’s free, and ridiculously easy to use.
What Does It Do?
The GM signs up for a free account and gets a webpage for your game. Each player can sign up to contribute, too. There’s an “Ascendant” pay option which gives you a few extras and regular promotional offers for the die-hards.
Within your page are several subpages, all linked through a central wiki (well, almost all).
- Home: Your homepage is whatever you make of it. Most folks put a little image and some basic info about their game. Lots of people also post updates for their players, like who’s house to go to and who brings the snacks.
- Adventure Log: This is a basic blog setup, so you can track the events of each gaming session with a timestamp.
- Wiki: This is the real meat of your page. You get a full wiki where you can track basically everything – places, people, things, events, house rules and meta-game info – with a simple interface and tag structure to organize it. The big advantage here is of course how easy internal links are, so your game world can have more cross-referencing than the Vatican.
- Discussion Board (Ascendant only): It’s a simple forum for you and your players. Not much else to say.
- Maps: Upload a square image and get it Google Map -ified, complete with the option to put markers down that link to wiki entries.
- Characters: Keep track of all those PCs and NPCs. The interface is somewhat bare-bones, since it isn’t keyed to any specific game systems. They’re making a push right now to create form-fillable character sheets for each system that’ll do all the math for you (not to mention look gorgeous). You can also designate who’s a PC and give joint-custody to the player. The only catch here is you can’t do wiki-links.
Each section has a GM-Only field where you can jot notes to yourself. It’s particularly handy in the Characters area.
You also get lots of options for networking. You can give your game some contact info and make it publicly visible, including setting it open to find new players. You can also make your NPCs available for community use, so others can drop your characters into their games (and of course you can use that same pool for ready-make NPCs). Plus, there’s a huge active forum.
Who’s It For?
Roleplayers who like digitally tracking information. It’s also handy for finding a new game in town.
You can use it for non-RPG purposes, too, although it’s really not designed for it. A blog and wiki in one place can be handy for just about anyone, and it’s great for finding new players.
The Bottom Line
Try it. It’s free, you don’t install anything, and it might make the GM’s life a whole lot easier. It’s not as handy during actual play. Sure, it’s got a dice-roller, but who really uses those?
I use it for my D&D game, and I think it’s amazing for organizing all that info. Between sessions it’s invaluable for tracking all those NPCs and places the players go, and exactly what they know versus what I know.