My means of organizing have changed a lot as I transitioned to running games online.
I had settled into writing out scenes on index cards, with some notes on what would happen in the scene, and how the scene might lead to other scenes. That way, I could just suffle to the scene that made sense to come next. If I never used one of those scenes, I could save it and potentially work that index card scene into another scenario later on.
This worked for any game where I was using my own scenario, and where I either could look up stat blocks in the rules, or potential opposition or hazards were super easy to stat on the fly.
I went into games feeling organized, but whenever I improvised a name or a place, or an important situation, I would have to write down a note quickly, and often I was at a loss to remember exactly what my shorthand actually meant.
When I started running online, I started to keep a simple Google spreadsheet open, and I would type in names and locations whenever I improvised something. It felt easier to have the spreadsheet open on one screen and have the Zoom session open on the other, than it did to look away from the table to take notes.
I also liked this method, because I could share the spreadsheet so that people could see all of the places and people that came up. Anytime the players wanted to look at it between sessions, those things were in an existing, shared space. This wasn’t like when I tried to set up wikis and fill in information later based on my notes. I could get down the basics, and maybe fill in some details later, but it was all there.
I did this for my Star Trek Adventures game, my Streets of Avalon game, and the Eberron game I ran. It became kind of handy for the Avalon game, so I could keep track of NPCs that had died and locations that were burned down or drastically changed in some way.
I got away from this a bit with my Sentinel Comics RPG game, mainly because I was getting used to using Roll20 at the time, and also because I was pre-planning environments and twists for the scene tracker, which took up a little more of my mental real estate.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I go back to running face to face, but as simple as it sounds, I really like having the shared spreadsheet to use for common information.