Tabletop QOTD 2020-07-10

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

How do you store your digital collection?

Last time I asked about storing collections purely out of self interest in my move and trying to brainstorm how it was going to look in the new house. Someone answered about their digital collection, and it got me wondering what others do.


I have a pretty extensive PnP collection, though I've actually never printed and played any of them. As such, I have never really given much thought to it, and they're spread all over the place. I've lately tried to consolidate them into the same location as my RPG collection, but it's been slow going.


In contrast to my board games, I'm methodical to the point of being OCD because I depend on it so much. I rarely use my dead tree books anymore, which is the reason that most of my books are in pristine condition.

I store them in two different root folders- one for books that I access all the time, and another for books that I just have and rarely read. In each, I have the folder structure set around system (in most cases), drilling down to the specific game and type of expansion. In some cases, I have to separate out more than that, i.e. Eberron, which I actively play, but D&D itself is archived.

My root folders are synchronized to all of my devices in the case of my primary games. For both primary and archived, they're on OneDrive, and on a massive NAS that I have set up on my network.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
@UnclePirate (Stan McCann)
I use Google Drive/Storage for my files on my laptops, and keep copies on thumb drives. A few I also have printed out in binders for use as needed.

About half are also baked up on an old school external hard drive and a small percentage of older ones are stored on Data CD Discs (this is mostly stuff from pre -2000).

All my computers have DVD/CD capable drives on them, even though thats out of vogue, its a feature I will continue to look for as long as there are companies making them.
I'm a data guy, so my solution might not be for everyone but I kind of need it... especially with the number of files and titles I've downloaded.

Calibre (https://calibre-ebook.com/), with lots of custom columns.

I wrote a script to go through my entire OBS download folder [1]and load all the files into calibre. (Next step is making it so it recognizes updated files and will update the matching file in the library... I haven't gotten to this yet.). I wrote another script that scraped metadata from OBS and loaded that. Sadly, no automatic concordance available, but because the metadata includes the publisher name and the files are downloaded into folders by publisher, it's not hopeless. I can match the OBS metadata to the downloaded file and merge titles. Tedious! So. fucking. boring. But doable, and worth it in the end because I can find my shit.

... 'scuse. When you've got this many files downloaded and their metadata is basically absent in the file (kudos to Green Ronin and Echelon Game Design -- i.e. me -- because you care to get do it, most people either leave it blank or worse, wrong).

For merged titles, I've got title and authors and artists and tags and game systems and sales copy from OBS, plus the files with path I loaded it from -- which will be used to updated as new versions come available.

Then I add my own metadata, such as a keywords indicating content (I don't often do this), what stage it's in for capturing information for the Echelon Reference Series, and so on. My list of game systems is a little more detailed than the list OBS uses, so I often augment the information.

[1]Files downloaded via the DriveThru desktop app... if it had more metadata and search capabilities, and could better handle duplicate files such as when multiple titles include the same file names, I'd consider using it as more than a downloader, because it's crap as a document manager.

Calibre Title List

In the first image below, I show the entries for Echelon Game Design titles. I have some work to do.
  • Blue text indicates I've got OBS metadata and a file
  • Green text indicates I've got OBS metadata only
  • Black text indicates I've got only a file and what metadata was available from the file. Notice I've got title, author, and publisher all set! THIS IS HOW YOU DO THIS, PUBLISHERS! ... sorry, sore spot.

Calibre Detail

This next image shows much of the detail I have about the file. I left out a bunch of the purely technical details (they don't fit on the dialog box the way it's configured; I could scroll down to show you file names, obs title ID number, file size, file update date, etc. if you want, but didn't here).

... and I managed to pick a title that I don't identify the artist. I'd composited that cover myself and left that field out. Huh.

Calibre Tag Browser

I tag things as much as possible, to help me find them later. Calibre comes with authors, languages, series, formats, publishers, ratings, news, tags, and identifiers all built in. I declared a new identifier, 'obs', for the OBS product number, then added the columns shown below.
  • Artists, those credited with art in the title
  • Book Class (which normally would be things like 'core rules', 'supplement', 'adventure'... this is set manually and I haven't done it yet)
  • Capture State, to do with Echelon Reference Series data capture
  • Content Tags: 'classes', 'feats', 'spells'... set manually
  • Game System, initially from OBS metadata but will be extended and made more detailed
  • Product Line, Publisher Code, Publisher Product ID... all manually set, covering how it seems the publisher organizes things.
  • Publisher Stock Number, when present. For instance, all ERS entries are 'ers-YYYYMM-##-[3p]' (ers for Echelon Reference Series, year and month of publication, number of publication within the month, then '3' to indicate it's a 3pp+prd title, or 'p' to indicate PRD-only)
  • Setting: Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Golarion, etc.
  • Source Added: when the source was added to OBS
  • Download Date: date stamp of when it was downloaded to my system
  • Source Format: Original Electronic, Scanned Image
  • Source Path: Where the file was loaded from my hard drive to calibre -- used when looking for files to update
  • Source Site: right now only OneBookShelf, but I expect to eventually add the Open Gaming Store, Humble Bundle, etc.
  • Source Updated: last time the title was updated at the store
All dates are presented in a tree view, YYYY-MM-DD. I don't use the date fields often, but I do use them at times... and this was an easy way to navigate them.

#- ##-
@Keith Davies - I've started moving towards Calibre- I have my most used books duplicated in my calibre library. I have so many books that it's a slow process moving towards it.
And can I say that I wish you'd put your script somewhere that I could take a look at it!
@Chuck Dee automation was key. I tried to do it manually, and going through to update the metadata manually sucked.

I'd be happy to share the scripts with you, but they're kind of in pieces right now. I made a version specific to purpose when I did this in the first place, then I had some changes that I haven't finished. Sending the scripts now would be doing you a disservice.
I can understand that @Keith Davies - thanks!
When I get it touched up and working again, though @Chuck Dee, I'll shoot you a copy.
Wow, Nothing like this. I have a 4TB drive, it has an RPG folder, that folder has a folder for every game.

It works well enough for some things but not for others, like generic sourcebooks and a lot of the ORS stuff. Do I put it in its own game folder or with the edition of D&D it emulates, etc?

This is how the root of my primary RPG systems folder looks.
My collection is spread across two laptops, a portable hard drive, a 256 GB thumb drive, and Google Drive.

This year, I started actually paying for google drive space so I'd have enough storage for email AND my gaming crap. As part of copying everything to Google drive, I organized it, removed all the duplicates I could find, and split up gaming source stuff from home-brew stuff from old campaign stuff. In the process, I realized that I would literally never ever touch 98% of it, but I'm keeping it anyway.

Also: If you store all your stuff in Google Drive (or One Drive or DropBox or....) PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BACKUP. From time to time, cloud providers lose data. Not often, but it happens. And cloud providers may shut down your account arbitrarily. Google shut down one of my accounts a few years ago without any notice. I supposedly violated their terms of service. How? I don't know; they don't say in their shutdown notice and I hadn't done anything. I contested it constantly, but they refused to re-enable me and eventually killed the account. If Google determines you've violated their terms, they DO NOT LET YOU BACK IN. Not even once. So anything on your Google Drive account is basically gone if that happens.
Your google drive has a mirror on your computers, each system has a copy sitting on it. That should have been untouched if they closed your account.

(I have a thumb drive copy of everything I can anyway, in case of hard drive failure or loss of internet access. And I maintain a backup email address with another company that important emails are auto forwarded to from my google email).
@Joseph Teller - exactly. I never upload anything to a cloud provider that does not have a copy locally. I'm not sure of anyone that really uses it in that way- other than for google documents, which is the reason that I try not to use google documents.
Yeah, the account I lost was 99.95% used for Google+. I'm guessing I posted something that pissed someone off somewhere? Maybe? Anyway, it didn't hold anything I needed, except G+ which I wasn't backing up very often.

Not a large scale loss, but it made me far more diligent about exporting / backing up my things -- Google Docs for example -- stored in other Gmail accounts.