Obsidian is a favorite among personal knowledge management (PKM) enthusiasts and TTRPG players alike. Why all the hype around Obsidian? The app, which is available for desktop and mobile, lets you link your notes to each other to create your very own Wikipedia. What makes Obsidian so much more powerful versus other note-taking apps, though, is the graph view that lets you see how your ideas connect with each other and the robust support it gets from the community in the form of apps.
Now, you can probably tell from your search results that there are tons of ways to use Obsidian for D&D campaigns with some of them being much more robust and complicated than others. This guide is just a simple, low-fuss way to get started that focuses on making a setup that works without you having to go through several videos and tutorials.
How to Get Obsidian
First things first, let’s download Obsidian into your device. If you’re on mobile, you can get Obsidian through the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. For Mac or Windows, you’ll have to go directly to the Obsidian website. Once you have the app, Obsidian will ask you if you’d like to create a new vault or open an existing one. Since you’re starting with Obsidian, you’ll want to select “Create a New Vault”.
Creating a new vault will take you to the next menu where you’ll be asked to name your vault and select the folder it should go in. The vault name can be whatever you want to use the vault for or the name of the campaign. If you want to keep all your notes together, regardless of what campaign they’re for or whether you’re a player or dungeon master (DM), you can just name your vault after the TTRPG system you play with. If you want to keep your campaigns separate, you can make a vault for every campaign. Obsidian does not make you pay for additional vaults so feel free to make several of them.
Linking Your Notes in Obsidian
Obsidian’s main selling point is that you can link your notes together to create topic clusters that are easy to understand from the graph view. You can do this by starting a new note and using the “[[ ]]” command. Putting a word between brackets turns that word into a link. If you click that link, it will open a new note that’s now connected to your previous note.
While it’s okay to just link your thoughts together as they come, it’s best to start with an overview topic that can connect to all of your other notes. As you add more notes that link to that first note, you’ll see the node dedicated to your first note grow bigger in graph view.
Another way to do this is to just list topics in your first note so that you have a directory for everything.
Setting Up Your Obsidian Vault for D&D
This is where the fun starts. Obsidian has a plugin directory that lets you browse all of the plugins and themes that the community has made for it. You can access the directory from the Obsidian app by going to Settings > Community Plugins > Browse.
The plugin directory functions like an app store so you don’t have to worry about installing your plugins manually. Just make sure to select ‘Enable’ after your plugin is done downloading.
D&D Plug-Ins for Obsidian
1. Fantasy Statblocks
Fantasy Statblocks lets you create stat blocks and format them in the style of D&D’s official handbooks. It’s a powerful tool for DMs who love to homebrew their own monsters and enemies. You can even integrate it with the Dice Roller plugin so you can automatically see whether an attack hits an enemy and, if it does, how much damage is dealt.
2. Dice Roller
The Dice Roller plugin lets you roll digital dice from within your notes. You won’t need to set this up with blocks of code, just make sure the plugin is enabled and type in “dice: XdX” (i.e. 4d6) and enter preview mode to see the results. You can also tack on + and – to make it calculate modifiers, advantage, and disadvantage for you.
The Gallery plugin isn’t a necessity, but it’s nice to have if you want to see all your inspiration photos and art in one place. Aside from serving as a collection spot for all of the character art your players/you and your fellow players make, it’s also good for storing maps.
4. Obsidian Timelines
Obsidian Timelines is primarily a worldbuilder’s tool. It lets you set up a timeline for historical events in your fictional world that you can use to keep track of your campaign’s lore. For non-DMs, it can be useful for tracking notable events during the campaign and session notes.
5. Initiative Tracker
It’s hard to keep track of whose turn it is during a session that’s 3 hours into an encounter. Even the best of DMs get confused, after all. This Initiative Tracker can keep track of enemy HP, AC, and the XP they grant upon defeat for you. The tracker can also keep track of multiple encounters at once so you don’t have to worry about tracking two encounters at the same time just because your players decided to split up.
6. Obsidian Leaflet
Obsidian Leaflet is a plugin that lets you turn any image into an interactable map. All you have to do is upload your image into Obsidian in a note and start a second note where you’ll add a block of code (you can get this from the Obsidian Leaflet webpage) that links back to the image.
Is Obsidian Worth It For D&D?
With so many plugins available to support a campaign, whether you’re a player or a dungeon master, Obsidian is definitely worth it for running a TTRPG campaign. There’s just one thing you might have to give up: collaborative note-taking.
Obsidian has two main limitations. The free mode doesn’t let you sync to the cloud, but that can be remedied by buying a monthly subscription or setting up a connection to Google Drive. What can’t be remedied is the fact that you can give other campaign members a link to the vault so you can share session summaries together.
Overall, Obsidian is great for D&D, but you might want to keep a second note-taking app around so you can share notes with the rest of your party.