When planning something for your game, there are many ways to do this. One way is to make lists of things. This can get rather cumbersome after a while. One could also just type notes in a word document or even some basic text editor. You could use a wiki like TiddlyWiki. While all these may work for you, I suggest you might try another approach. It’s called Mind Mapping.
A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.
What’s nice about Mind Mapping is that you can use it with just a piece of paper and some pens. Below is an example from Wikipedia of a non-RPG related Mind Map.
Of course you may want to use software to do the same thing. Here is an example from Wikipedia for a computer based display of a mind map.
As a matter of fact, you can find a freeware mind mapping program called Freemind at http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page . The nice thing about this program is that it has versions for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. You may even be able to run it on other platforms because it’s written in Java.
Even without software, it’s pretty easy to make a mind map. You just have to follow some basic rules. First thing you need to do is place your central idea in the center of the page. Usually, you draw a circle or something around it. From there you draw branches (lines) to sub-ideas. The nice things is that you should worry about having too many or too few branches. They suggest that you use curved lines to attach branches. You should also use as few words as possible on each branch. The idea is stimulate your mind and not get bogged down in the details. Remember this is all about brainstorming, you may want to write something down even if you don’t use it.
Here is an example of a haunted house adventure.
As you can see, I have some ideas I may not use at all here. I just wanted to get them down so I could use them. I’d be very interested in know if anyone has used this technique and any additional advice they could give. If you have not used this technique, I’d like to know what you think of it.