Staying Organized as a GM

For years, I always played RPGs in the old man cave, where all my gaming junk is sitting around on bookshelves, in the closet, in storage containers... and scattered about on just about any flat surface I could find. I go through various stages of cleanliness in the old man cave, but no matter how messy it is, I can usually find whatever I need pretty quickly.

However, my current campaign is being played at our FLGS, so I can't just reach over to the shelf and grab a new map if the players go off course. I have to be prepared for improvisation, but I can't lug around all my miniatures and maps. That means being more organized than I normally would be, so I have adapted over the last few months of playing in a space where all my stuff isn't within arms reach. Now I get by with just what will fit in a small duffle bag.

Here's what I carry:

  • Old beat up laptop
  • Pathfinder Core Rulebook
  • GM Screen
  • Bestiary Box
    • I don't bring all the miniatures from the set. This box is just for transporting the maps and minis for the encounters I prepared for that session. I started out using card boxes, but they're an awkward size. Then I switched to the Dungeon Tiles Master Set, but Bestiary boxes are a lot sturdier and the lids are less likely to pop off in transport.
    • Miniatures for 1-2 encounters per hour of play, organized in small sandwich bags except for solo monsters
      • At least one of these is always a "generic" encounter - one that doesn't depend on them being in a specific place at a specific time. That way if they go off course, I can throw in a "wandering" monster for them to fight while I figure out how to tie their side trek into the main storyline.
    • Dungeon Tiles, Map Packs, and occasionally a Flip-Mat organized in Ziploc bags according to which encounter I'll need them for. Sometimes Pathfinder Pawns go in these Ziploc bags with the maps, but miniatures tend to scratch up the tiles, so I store them separately.
  • Extra dice
  • Extra pencils
  • Note Pad
  • Miniatures for any players who don't have their own
With these things handy, I can handle just about everything my players throw at me... and rearrange the board pretty efficiently as well.
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