This is part 1 of 2 of a guest post by John Arcadian of Silvervine Games. The Silvervine website itself is a wiki, and it holds lots of info about their campaign world, Cyrus.

John responded to my request for a post on this topic (which I made at the end of TiddlyWiki as a GMing Tool) — thanks, John!
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The topic of wikis as GMing tools has come up recently on TT, and there are a lot of great ways that GMs can use wikis.

You can use a wiki as a campaign chronicle, and keep logs and records of all of your players’ journeys.

If you are creating your own world and want to give your characters detailed access to background information, you can tailor your wiki for worldbuilding.

You can use your wiki to keep your GMing notes and have quick access to them from any computer.

With the proper use of groups, passwords and detailed links, you can even use one wiki for all of these purposes.

There are lots of other uses for your wiki, too, like handling NPCS (providing information to the players, keeping track of NPC movements and information), places (detailed information, maps, encounters), characters (GMs can keep track of them, players can access information about each other), plots (plot hooks, possible encounters) and enemies (detailed information, random encounter tables).

However you decide to use your wiki, though, there are a few things which should be kept in mind. (Most wikis use similar markup syntax, but my experience is mainly with PMwiki. Certain referencs will only be valid within the PMwiki format, but I’ll try to stick to general guidlines for use with other wikis.)

Basics

When first installed, most wikis are set up with a standard left sidebar setup with content in frames to the right. There is no need to change this as it is one of the best ways to organize information.

The left sidebar can be used as a starting place for your group links. By editing the links here, you can have links to the head pages of each group or category that you create, and include sub-links to major topics.

If you want to change the format, however, most wikis include a template file which organizes the way that information is stored. Editing this requires a decent grasp of HTML and CSS as well as backup files. Always back up the template before editing it! Always.

If you want to give your wiki a personal touch, changing the logo is one very easy change that you can make. Changing the logo is as easy as pointing the link to a brand new image. You can also download skin files for most wikis to change the color and layout, as well.

While wikis don’t use HTML and it’s easy to edit content, making changes to the design or adding in special features (like a search box, for instance) requires a bit more knowledge. The best place to start when you want to expand your wiki knowledge is by going through the master markup index and basic editing guides.

The master markup index should hold all of the information about what commands the wiki understands. Here you should find every command that the wiki will understand, and be able to copy them into your own wiki.

If you want to change the title of a page, you’ll find the (:title text:) command here. If you want to add a search box, you’ll find (:searchbox group=Group size=size label=label:) here as well. If you want to list all the pages in a group, you can put together a longer command like this one: (:pagelist incl -excl group=abc fmt=def list=ghi order=jkl:).

The basic editing guide will not give you as much advanced information, but it will tell you how to change the basic style of the text, links and images. In general, this is all you’ll need, but invariably advanced users will want to go mucking through the code.

Links

In order to keep a wiki well organized, it might be necessary to make use of detailed links. While it is possibe to merely enclose a word in [[ ]] brackets and create a link to a new page, it is also possible to define the link text and set the link location.

You can use a detailed link to denote a group, to change the name of a page or to point to an outside location. You can also use special markup to cause links to open in specific places. For example:

[[ http://www.treasuretables.org | TreasureTables]]
[[ npcs.tensero | Tensero]]
%newwin% [[ http://www.treasuretables.org | TreasureTables]]

This is a more advanced technique, though — a link of [[Tensero]] is not the same as [[ npcs.tensero | Tensero]].
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Up next: groups and tags, passwords, history, plugins/recipes and out-of-game information. Stay tuned for part 2, which will be posted on Wednesday, March 8th. (Update: Here’s part 2.)