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Hitting Record on Your Sessions

December 10, 2015
Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

When it comes to game mastering, I am an obsessive note-taker. One reason is that I use Obsidian Portal to document my sessions and post adventure logs. I want these logs to be as accurate as possible so that my players can refer to them and see what happened each session.

Part of the drawback of this is that I get so busy taking notes that I miss out on some of the game play, some of the great back-and-forth between the players during the session. This is especially true for my Dresden Files RPG sessions, which are primarily dialog-based–I practically have to transcribe the session to get it right. There has to be a balance.

In order to achieve that balance, I’ve started recording my sessions. I bought a relatively inexpensive digital recorder, the kind college students use to record lectures with, and simply record the whole session. My note-taking is reduced to actual notes instead of attempted transcription. Later, I go back and listen to the session to compile my adventure logs.

Going back to listen to the session gives me an added benefit–I hear myself gamemastering. And what a eye-opener that was.

It’s taking me a while to get used to hearing my voice–I still wonder how people can stand to listen to me. But, more importantly, I can hear the pacing of the adventure. This has been especially useful in my Pathfinder sessions.

I have found that I must the slowest-reacting GM this side of the Mississippi. The pacing of my adventures is about as exciting as listening to paint dry. Yes, listening to paint dry. It makes me wonder how the players come back week after week.

Part of the reason why I’m so poky, I realize, is that I’m a contemplator. I like to think things out before going forward. I also like to look things up and make sure I’m going them “right” before going ahead. But all of this kills the pacing and stomps on its corpse.

So what can I do? I can try to be better prepared so I’m not looking stuff up “at table” as much. And I can try to let go a bit and just see what happens instead of trying to plan it too much. Maybe my players will get a bit more enjoyment out of a faster paced game–especially combats, which are supposed to be fast-paced and dramatic.

So anyway, even if you don’t make it a habit, I encourage to record at least one of your sessions and play it back. You might be surprised at what you hear.

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