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The Art of the Session Recap
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The Art of the Session Recap

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Featuring selected submissions by Don Hupp, Panzer Leader, Oneinchsquare, Matt Harris, Lt. Col Colin Callahan, and 3 entries around a race of sci-fi beings known as the Watchers from S.D. Hilderbrand, Tom Walton, and Frank J. Kim.

Many of today’s gamers, especially those with young families, can’t make every session of a weekly, multi-year roleplaying campaign.  I find it much easier to keep up with and interested in a campaign if a fellow player or the DM posts a recap on a wiki, a bulletin board, or even sends out a summary via email.  In addition to keeping players in the loop, these recaps provide players with a chance to digest the session’s material and to prepare for the upcoming session.  Furthermore, session recaps provide a more in-depth description of events, allowing the players to add the richness of the story, either in character or taking their turn as the narrator.  

I find these journals, logs, and correspondences to be great time capsules of the campaign and memory logs when remembering adventures with friends.  These annals provide additional flavor to the campaign world, and add perspective.  After all, no fun roleplaying world is purely the thought of one individual.

Unfortunately, in most campaigns, not every session is logged, transcribed, or otherwise captured by the DM or players.  DMs are often swamped making sense of dice rolls and character actions, while planning the next moves of the challengers in a given encounter.

Here are a few methods and ideas for inspiring players and DMs that you game with to keep an ongoing log of the adventure.

  • Set up a blog, wiki, or bulletin board (or all three!) and make sure your players have accounts and tutorials.
  • Take turns acting in the role of scribe of the session, ensuring that the key moments are covered.  Different players will cover the events differently, and this is fun to see play out.   Players may even challenge one-another to come up with increasingly creative and interesting session recaps.  Offer XP, perhaps even on a per-word or per-ten-words basis, to dispel the curse of writer’s block.
  • Players playing characters who are bards, historians, politicians, or others of the “literate class” of the campaign world have a natural stake in ensuring that the story is correctly told.  These players make natural scribes, allowing their characters to use these opportunities to feed back into the history of the world and potentially affect change by increasing the popularity of the party, or by casting the ruler of a land as a tyrant, etc.  This provides another avenue of agency.

My favorite session recaps are those written in character, or with the constraints, openness, and information dissemination methods of the campaign world in mind. 

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File Last Updated:
March 20, 2012
This title was added to our catalog on March 20, 2012.