The Future of the Items Section

The items section on Obsidian Portal started out with the best intentions. I thought: “Hey, if we can track characters, why not their items as well?” I took a quick stab at it, then switched to some other features, and I haven’t looked back since. There has always been something more important to work on, and the items section has remained untouched.

Here we are several years later, and the items section just doesn’t do what it should. It doesn’t allow you track loot for your character, or for the party as a whole. It doesn’t allow you to keep track of how much gold (or whatever currency) you’re carrying. It doesn’t even have item types beyond a very limited fantasy-centric set like armor, weapon, cloak, and so forth.

So, after some hard thinking, I have decided to take action and sweep the items section out of view. It will still be there if you want to use it, but for new campaigns after we launch the Reforged website, the items section will be hidden by default and you’ll need to enable it if you want to use it. Perhaps in the future, we may disable it completely for new campaigns. I haven’t fully decided yet.

But couldn’t you X, or change it to Y, or make it Z?

There are a lot of things we could do to make it better, but all of them require a real time investment. That’s time that we’re not spending in other places. Time is our most precious resource, and we have to be very careful about how we spend it. Right now, we would much rather work on things like natural editing, or the uploaded file library. These are features that every campaign could use right away, while the items section is less essential. You can always use a special wiki page to track loot, or just keep a list on your character’s page. The bottom line is: The items section just isn’t as core to Obsidian Portal as the other features, like the wiki or the characters.

But why hide it? Why not leave it alone?

Right now, providing as little functionality as it does, the items section provides an unsatisfactory experience. So, for someone who is brand new to Obsidian Portal, they’ll click around, find a few things they really like, then land on the items section and wonder, “Huh? I don’t really get it, and it kind of sucks.” Its mere presence serves to tarnish the surroundings. It’s like having a beautiful back yard, but there’s an old shed that’s decrepit and crumbling. Sure, you can just leave it there, but it will always be an eyesore unless you take steps to either fix it or get rid of it. For now, we’re going with option 2.

We want everyone to have the best possible experience when using Obsidian Portal, and for now that means hiding the items section. My hope is to one day come full circle and turn it into the first-class loot tracker / item catalogue that it should be, but for now, we’re going to focus our attention on more important features.

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  1. I am fine with this- we have used a wiki page for the items for a long time.
    I agree- much more important fish to fry!

  2. I actually think this is the right approach. You can do so much more by using wiki pages to list items, so the section really shouldn’t be missed (at least not in its current incarnation). Good call.

  3. I would suggest changing the items section to “Places” because that’s what I’ve been using it for.
    It’s really useful to supplement the map with descriptions of all the different places there.
    One alternative would be to simply have a list of places under the map section.

    • I really like this idea. And it wouldn’t require much investment besides a rename and a different icon (a little globe or something?).

      • It is a pretty good idea, but imagine how all the people currently using Items would feel if suddenly it was called Places.

        I had plans a long time ago to add places as its own section, but I never seemed to find the time for it. There’s always something else more pressing to attend to.

      • As a new member setting up his first campaign on the site I second (Third?) the idea of changing the items section to a places section, we can link a map to the area in place of the item and so on.

        heck, you can limit it to Ascendant accounts… adds even more value to the package and adds a solid addition to the campaign page’s layout!

  4. I’ve been using the items section to keep track of important items in the game, stuff like special quest items and such. For that, it has been incredibly useful. I can see what you mean about using it to keep track of all the players’ items. That wouldn’t work well. But thanks for keeping it open so I can continue to have pages for the important stuff!

    • Yeah, thanks for keeping it. Even running a canned Pathfinder adventure like Jade Regent, there are plenty of “new” items, and the Items section provides a great spot to put the stats for those things.

      As for a method to track all the stuff my players carry/have – good luck with that. My players have just come up with a scheme where they load up their Eidolon with gear, dismiss it back to its domain with orders to drop the stuff and then when they get back to their caravan they reverse the process.

      • Seriously smart players. I wish my players were that smart, or at least smart enough not to accept a quest to kill a dragon at level 1.

  5. I am currently running a game with a very unique way of handling magic items that incorporates a lot of custom-designed item abilities and functionality that made tracking an item as an item very important. I’ve also had a number of intelligent items involved in the game that need to have a carefully tracked history of interactions with players, other NPC’s, and the like.

    Regarding the intelligent items I can always simply use a character page, but with a number of the plot items and other magical items I found it incredibly useful to have a separate area to find them, and leave notes about their location, their function, and in some cases who had made use of them.

    I can see how for a by-the-book dungeon crawler / beat-em-up type of campaign that an items section may go unused, but I think giving people a tool that they choose not to use is much better than hiding a tool they may want and not know how to find.

    • I too use the items sections pretty heavily. I custom-build the majority of items that I give out as treasure to the PCs, and we record the book entries for more complicated equipment on OP. Also, we create entries for key plot devices and other notable items. All of these are logged under the Items tab currently.

      The Item page layout is nice because of the separate boxes for mechanics and backstory. I like that the drop-down menu lets me clearly assign a slot to my custom items.

      It’s interesting to read about others’ use of the Items pages for Places. I currently use the main Wiki section for locations, with the Wiki main page as a sort of “Table of Contents”. All locations are listed by bullet point under an “Important Locations” title.

      Combining these observations, I see no reason why I couldn’t simply use the main Wiki for items. Although our item pages are numerous, we would probably just use the tag “item” to make searching and browsing easier.

      I look forward to the day OP gets around to an Item Section restructuring (assigning items to characters, mapping character item slots, etc). Until then, I’m grateful the Item tab is still viewable by option!

  6. I’m unhappy about the lack of item support, so it looks like I will have to transfer all of them to wiki pages. I am running a Lovecraftian campaign with lots of handouts and detailed books and items. It is nice to have a separate section for them, but since I can’t link them into the adventure logs like I can wiki pages, looks like I have a lot of work ahead of me to make these items functional in the wiki site. You are better off getting rid of it entirely, because I am greatly annoyed that I have something which I enjoy using but that can’t even be bothered to be linked or searched for when trying to have the items posted in the adventure logs.

    • There is not a GUI way to link to Items, but since it has a Slug you can use the format
      [[:Item_Slug | Item Name]] to link to it like any other page that has a Slug.

  7. I don’t want to push my ideas on others, but I also found the Items tab to be pretty useless. In the end we just created a Wiki page for cataloging loot. Now if an individual item could be tweaked so that it was given ownership to a character, that would be more useful.

  8. I like the idea of a “Places” tab that’s based off of how the “Items” section looks now.
    But I use the Items section VERY extensively. Out of all the things that players seem to forget the most it’s “what does that item do again? Where did we get it? Did we have to do something with it?”
    Losing the item section would be a great hindrance to an OP-based game, from my perspective. I do look forward to a time when it can be assigned a type (and those types can be easily customized) and “body slot” on a specific character. Even just a quick link to the character who currently has it would be great.

    As for the request to be able to link it easily from an adventure write up in the same way as the links to the wiki or characters, I think this is sorely needed.
    Above people have suggested using the slug, or the default link codes to link to the page, but this is an unsatisfactory and incredibly time-consuming ordeal. It may be easy for those who have fewer items (or great memories) but for the rest of us it means we have to have to open another reference to get that information instead of a quick insert tool.
    Want to link to the a specific sword? Keep your adventure tab open and open another to get the slug for the sword. Insert manually in your first tab.
    Seconds later, want to mention that book/note that they picked up from the last NPC with a clue to their quest? Open it in a secondary tab, get the slug for the book/note. Insert it manually in your first tab.
    All of this is FAR more work-extensive and annoying than the current quick add of a character or wiki page. I don’t know how easy this would be to do, so I can’t say it’s an obvious answer to improve, but it would do a lot for making OP more user-friendly, at least for users like me.

    Still, thanks for all you do. OP is incredible. Please see this as a description of what I would like to see and not a criticism of your intentions, nor an attack on others’ opinions for what best suits them.