The Valley Standard

A style guide for solo roleplaying game note-taking.

Introduction

Version 1.0The Valley Standard is a style guide for making notes whilst playing a solo tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG).The purpose of this guide is to provide a note-taking structure that
— helps new players get into solo TTRPGs (by removing the burden of formatting decisions)
— aids continuity between play sessions
— provides consistency for published actual play reports
The guidelines presented here are designed to be modular. If a part is irrelevant or unsuited for your play-through, you can simply disregard that part. They are also designed to be used for handwritten as well as typewritten notes.The Valley Standard defines three different sections of your notes: the coversheet, log and appendix. The coversheet and appendix are smaller sections designed to help organise your notes, and the log is the main part for blow-by-blow notes.This is a living document and may change over time depending on player feedback and revisions. If you have feedback, please leave a message on the Valley Standard's itch.io page.The Valley Standard was created by me, Alfred Valley. Please consider supporting my games: https://alfredvalley.itch.io/Note: on mobile, this page is best viewed in landscape mode


The coversheet

The coversheet provides contextual information about the game you're playing. Usually you would add this section at the start of your notes before play begins and only return to it to update the date when you finish your game.Its main purpose is to provide a clear record of what's being played and how, which is particularly useful when returning to notes made a long time in the past.Version numbers and publication details for games and resources aren't always apparent. If in doubt, leave these out.If you expect you'll need to refer to a resource listed on your coversheet during play, consider giving it an abbreviated title and also list that in this section.

FORMATTING
Game:
Title of the game
Author(s) of the game. V Version number. Publisher. Year of publication.
Additional resources:
Title of the game (Abbreviated title)
Author(s) of the game. V Version number. Publisher. Year of publication.
Notes:
Notes about any gameplay variants, homebrew rules or custom rulings in place.
Notes about your character(s).Date of commencement (YYYY-MM-DD)Date of completion (YYYY-MM-DD)

EXAMPLE
Game:
Ironsworn
Shawn Tomkin. 2018.
Additional resources:
Ironsworn – Lodestar
Shawn Tomkin. 2018.
Lay On Hands – The Oracle (LOH)
Alfred Valley. V 1.0. Haus of Valley. 2021.
Notes:
Using Lodestar for rules, and the Lay On Hands oracle for inspiration with open questions.
Zhan is a tempestuous wanderer who has strayed a long way from his roots.2022-06-282022-08-10

The log

The log is where the blow-by-blow account of your playthrough goes.The main formatting point is that mechanical text (e.g. "Weak Hit (4 vs 1, 10)") is differentiated from descriptive text (e.g. "Zhan wakes up from a restless slumber") by indentation.A line beginning with an em-dash is used as a middle ground between the descriptive and mechanical text, usually conveying a question that is being resolved by the mechanics.Some apps and online platforms will not let you indent text. In this case, you should use code block text for the mechanical text. In Discord this is achieved by using three backticks (```) either side of your text. In Reddit this is achieved by including four empty spaces at the start of each line.A randomiser is anything used to achieve a random result. Common ones are dice, playing cards, coins. When listing the randomiser reference you may choose to detail any bonuses that are being applied.

FORMATTING
Scene number: Title / location (Character)
One line description of scene
Unfolding description of scene / added detailQuestion for randomiser
⠀⠀⠀⠀Randomiser type: Randomiser reference (Bonuses to apply)
⠀⠀⠀⠀Randomiser result: Mechanical / rules text outcome
⠀⠀⠀⠀Updated value of relevant character stat
⠀⠀⠀⠀Outcome choices (Choice 1, Choice 2, etc.): Choice
Unfolding description of scene / added detail
...

EXAMPLE
1: The Hinterlands (Zhan)
The quest begins
Zhan wakes up from a restless slumber full of awful premonitions and gazes out over the forested expanse of The Hinterlands. In his dream he saw a vision of Rockfall*, his ancestral home, being strangled by an awful corruption. The morning air tastes bitter on his tongue and he knows he must answer Rockfall's call of aid.Is the next step clear?
⠀⠀⠀⠀Move: Swear An Iron Vow (+1 Heart)
⠀⠀⠀⠀Weak Hit (4 vs 1, 10): +1 Momentum, and envision what you do to find a path forward
⠀⠀⠀⠀Momentum: 3
Zhan looks to the south-west horizon and then back to the treeline below him. Traversing the forest will be his first challenge.


The appendix

The appendix is usually placed at the back or bottom of your notes. This section records information about features of your play-through like locations or characters and can be repeatedly updated and appended as required.To start a new entry in the appendix, simply mark the first instance in the the log of the feature in question with an asterisk. In the appendix, create a new sub-section and add your notes. Alternatively, you may choose to mark the feature with a superscript number and maintain a numbered list in the appendix (i.e. like endnotes).When new information emerges about a feature, return to that sub-section and amend or add detail.

FORMATTING
Title of feature
— Detail about feature
— Detail about feature
— Detail about feature
...

EXAMPLE
Rockfall
— Built into a sea stack just off the south-west coast
— Defended by deadly natural rock formations
— Connected to the main land by a series of bridges


Glossary

Appendix: a section used for recording added detail about in-game features
Coversheet: a section used to detail contextual information about the game being played
Descriptive text: text that describes details in the game's universe (as opposed to Mechanical text)
Feature: an entity in the descriptive text, e.g. a character, location, faction, etc.
Log: a section used for describing the unfolding action of a game
Mechanical text: text that describes the mechanics of the game itself (as opposed to Descriptive text)
Randomiser: any device used to provide a random result, e.g. dice, cards, coin flip
Section: one of three distinctly formatted parts of this notation system

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