Guide to Running a Session

The Digital Storyteller Screen (from now on, just DSTS) is a set of tools designed to be used while you run a session. It includes an encounter manager, a notebook, a log tracker, a handout screen and a virtual diceroller (among others). This page will guide through all the options in the DSTS.  

Starting a session

Assuming you have already prepared your campaign, go to the Sessions section of the campaign and click on the green Start button of the session you want to start running:  
session start button.png
  You don't need to keep the tab open to keep the session running, so don't worry if you accidentally close it (or if you want to take a break)! You can go back to the DSTS using the Resume button (you'll find it in the place of the Start button) or the Open your Storyteller's Screen, which you can find at the top right corner of any page.  

Using the DSTS



The Home page of the DSTS looks like this:  
dsts home.png
  The Home page is the general dashboard of the session. Let's break it down:  
  • Top menu (red): it contains all the different sections of the DSTS. Read below for more information on each section.
  • Party box (purple): you can see the profile picture of the PCs of your party. Clicking on the View Party link will take you to another screen where you can manage different party settings (see below). You can also click the pictures of the characters to quickly see their profile.
  • Message box (green): use this to send messages to your players. You can also send them as private so they will be for your eyes only.
  • Session stream (yellow): below the message box you can find a stream of everything your players post during the session.
  • Dice roller and log (cyan): Click on any dice to roll it! You can also input the formula using standard dice format (e.g. 3d20+5). All dice rolls are logged and will appear in the dice log box below it (including your players' rolls).
  • Party

    You can access the Party screen by clicking the View party link in the DSTS sidebar. This will open a page with the PCs, the quests and the shared equipment you set while configuring the campaign. The options in this section work just like the ones explained in Guide to campaign creation, so take a look at that guide for more information.  


    The Notes section lets you take session notes (as well as read other sessions' notes). The Notebooks are persistent and universal, meaning that they won't be deleted when the session ends and will always appear, no matter what world or campaign you are in. When you first open Notes, you will find a single notebook called My First Notebook and, if you had any previous notes before Heroes, they will appear inside an Old Notes section. In the following screenshot, you can see three sections: Dungeons and Cookies (another campaign), Old Notes and The Lair of the Cookie King (which is the currently selected one):  
    note edit.png
      To create new notes or sections just click on the + Page or + Section links. To create a new Notebook, click on the small hamburger menu and then on the + Notebook link. Notes allow all BBCode, so if I click the eye button on the top right, the above note will look like this:  
    note view.png
      To delete a note, just click the Delete page at the bottom of the edit box.  


    The Library lets you quickly look up articles and blocks for your campaign world. When in the Library section, use the search box at the top of the screen to find them. When you click on them, their full text will appear:  
      The Show to players button will post the article or block in the Handout screen (see below), while the Add to Library will add it to the sidebar library box. To remove the article from the library, just click the red button. Additionally, all recently opened articles will be displayed in the sidebar too. Just click on their names to put them in the Library.   Note that the Library is visible to you only. If you want your players to see an article, you have to post it to the Handout screen.  


    Image Gallery

    The Image Gallery contains a list of all images you have added in your campaign (including NPC art). To upload new media, just drag and drop them in the box (or click on it to select from your computer). When the image is uploaded, three buttons will appear on the image, as you can see in the screenshot:  
    media image.png
      The screen button will send the image to the handout screen, while the edit button will take you to the image edit page of your world. The red bin button will delete the image from the campaign.  

    Audio/Video Collection

    You can also add Spotify, SoundCloud or YouTube files in your campaign? Just name them and paste a link in the text box and click the Add to Library button:  
    audio-video media.png
      The video or audio will appear in the sidebar of this page. Click on them to play them and bring some epicness to your session!  



    This section of the DSTS is similar to the Library. The sidebar has a list of all plots you added to the campaign before the session started. Clicking on a plot will bring the World Anvil article up so you can read it form the DSTS:  




    Watch Live Stream

    Clicking on this option will take you to a public page where people can follow the campaign in real time. All handouts are posted there, as well as the party members and a dice log.  

    Campaign Public Page

    This is the public homepage of your campaign. It has the list of your cast members, as well as all past and scheduled sessions and links to the campaign's world, maps, timelines and NPCs.  

    Session settings

    From the session settings you can invite players, send them messages, and edit the session details. This is also where you can delete the session (careful, if you delete it there's no going back!).
    Rather watch a video? This Quick Guide unpacks the complete Digital Storyteller's Screen!


    I have started the session, but I can't enter it. Why?
    Make sure you create the session after all characters have been invited to the campaign. Any session that starts before the characters are added to it will not allow characters that join later.


    Please Login in order to comment!
    8 Jun, 2019 20:54

    Is there any way to rename notebooks and notebook sections?

    26 Jul, 2019 16:09

    Hi! I was wondering why the possibility to change the date a session concluded is no longer an oprion. I'm trying to write something for all the past sessions and before I could change the date it ended to the right date and now it is automatically set to today.

    27 Jul, 2019 13:08

    Hmm not sure I follow. If you edit a session, you should be able to change the "Date & Time" fields regardless of if it has ended or not. Is this what you are having trouble with?

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    9 Feb, 2020 21:09

    Is there any way to roll dice as the DM so that players can't see it?

    10 Feb, 2020 19:27

    Good question! But I don't think so. You can suggest it as a feature here:

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    20 Apr, 2020 00:09

    How do you guys go about actually running visuals with a grid and whatnot during campaigns?

    20 Apr, 2020 09:59

    Hi! For GMing advice, I suggest you join our Discord server and make use of the #gamemastery channel, it's full of awesome helpful people!

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    2 Jun, 2020 17:04

    I am wondering if it is possible to show a map to my players in the DSTS. Or do they have to head to the Homepage of my world? Also, are there any plans to allow for a grid overlay and token representations of the players?

    3 Jun, 2020 09:28

    Hi! It's not possible currently, but if you send them the presentation link to the map, they should be able to paste it in their browsers and see it.   I'm not sure about grid overlays and tokens. World Anvil is not a VTT, so if it's planned it has a low priority. Tokens can somewhat be reproduced with the draggable markers feature, but they are a Grandmaster feature. A grid can also be reproduced with map layers (they are not transparent, so you have to upload two version of the same map), which is a feature available to freemen (max 2 layers per world).

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    23 Jun, 2020 21:05

    Thank you!

    Master Didz
    David Hatch
    21 Sep, 2020 08:46

    Has anyone actually used the storytelling feature to run a session? If so could you point me to a review or AAR that describes how it went? I'm really curious how this feature works and whether it does what I need it to do to run a session.

    24 Sep, 2020 10:50

    Hi! I'm not aware of any reviews focused on this feature. I use this feature to run some campaigns, and I can tell you it works. I suggest you just try it out! Create a dummy campaign and a session and play a bit with the feature.

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    4 Dec, 2020 12:26

    Hey Ondo!   Do you know if it is possible to make a poat in the game stream that only selected players can read?

    PatheticBarrel, Logo by Sai
    4 Dec, 2020 21:54

    Hi! I don't think it is. Suggested workaround: a "notebook" article with subscriber groups for the players you want. It could work depending on the use-case. Regardless of that, it's not a bad feature suggestion!

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    Master Dyir
    Robert McClanahan
    3 Jan, 2021 01:50

    I was organizing my notebooks and I noticed that even if I click on Manage Notebook, I cannot find a way to delete sections or pages. Is there a way to delete some sections and pages without deleting the entire notebook?

    3 Jan, 2021 11:15

    Yes! You can delete individual pages using the button in the bottom right of the page content. You can delete sections from Manage Notebook once the section has no pages.

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    Master Dyir
    Robert McClanahan
    3 Jan, 2021 17:46

    That was it! Thank you!

    10 Jan, 2021 21:59

    Is there any way to resume/restart a session that has concluded?   We were testing out the technical side of running my campaign and we had to close it and open a new one since my players were not properly invited.

    11 Jan, 2021 14:39

    Not if you pressed the end session button. If you just close the tab, the session doesn't end so you can resume it.

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    26 Jan, 2021 14:01

    Greetings!   I was preparing a session and tried to post a message in the storyteller screen, but when I click the share button nothing happens.   I noticed that this happened during the first session I was running as well. Can only players post?

    27 Jan, 2021 09:39

    Hi! It looks like it's a bug. Could you report it? You'll find the bug tracker link in the help page.

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    29 Jan, 2021 01:11

    Thanks much, Ondo! Its reported

    13 Mar, 2021 17:30

    I've created a new session from scratch and it kept showing the handouts I threw up in a previous, deleted session. How do I delete a posted handout, or clear the handout session?

    14 Mar, 2021 12:20

    There should be a delete button in the media gallery of the digital GM screen. If this doesn't work (or the images aren't showing in the media gallery) this is probably a bug. Can you report it? You'll find a link to the GitHub bug tracker in the help page. Hope this helps!

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    15 Mar, 2021 19:45

    It's not directly related to the media gallery. There are articles I have "shown" in the handout section too, and I can't see a way to remove them just from the handout page.

    11 May, 2021 15:04

    Hello! My players are unable to update their health tracker from inside the session. As the GM I can update from the Party Summary page and then can leave the session and update the Health Tracker from their Sheet tab. Does anyone know why this is or how to fix it?

    12 May, 2021 16:11

    Hi! Can you elaborate? I'll to know which character sheet/RPG system are you using and what do you mean exactly when you say they can't update their health. Do you mean that they can't type in the health field, or that they can but then their input is ignored?

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.