As a GM, you’ll often have extra ideas that you have no current use for or ideas for some future game. Stealing an idea from writers, you can write a few sentences about each one (so that you don’t end up stumbling across a note like “junkyard angel and transceiver of the gods” and wonder what the hell you were thinking) on a post-it note and stick the notes on an idea board. If you like, you can certainly color code them, putting all characters on pink post-its and all locations on blue, or maybe sci-fi on yellow and fantasy on green for example. Whatever works.
Using an idea board helps organize ideas for easy access and makes sure they don’t get forgotten. You can sort ideas into types and have a section of your board for characters, one for locations, etc…, organize them into categories or groups such as genre, or assemble them into “plots” (Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with the candlestick).
Keeping notes in this way ensure that when you’re in need of an idea you can simply peruse your idea board for what you need instead of coming up with a new one or digging through old notebooks or the like. but it also serves as an inspirational tool. When you’re stuck without a starting place, try playing “idea board roulette” just randomly grabbing and pairing up post-its until something comes to you, gels, or looks awesome.
If your idea board is dry-erase, a marker and your notes can easily create a tree, diagram or outline, organizing ideas into all sorts of forms as necessary. The same goes for corkboard and string. You can use this to help your “roulette” brainstorming, creating the form first then filling in randomly.
Don’t hesitate to cull ideas for your board from the leftovers from your games (the left path in the dungeon they never went down), from games and books you like, both RPG and otherwise, and from all those games in your backburner list that you’re never going to get to.
A wiki is a good electronic substitution for the idea board. It’s an improvement in terms of organization, since you give multiple tags to each item and then call up lists easily, as well as having far more options for portability, but it’s not as easy to make as a basic board setup or to randomly mix up ideas and see what you get. If anyone knows a better electronic substitution, please let me know in the comments.
What about you? How to you keep track and organize your unused ideas? How do you utilize them and how do you draw inspiration from them?