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For GMs: What do you do after a game session?


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GMs often have to make up NPCs, villains, heroes, episodes and sometimes props to make a particular game episode work. After all the work is put in and the players have gone through your episode, what do you do then? Do you keep your episodes around for later referencing? Do you toss your (paper?) props away? Do you keep track of each and every single episode and make comments on what happened? What do you do?

 

 

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Currently I am only running a solo game with alot of sandbox elements so process tends to go like this.

 

- Going into session have notes for MY general story plan for the overall story.  Also have a few generic mini-encounters and sheets for them on hand to use as needed.

- During session make short hand notes of anything that goes different from the plan  (usually MOST of it)  as well as name of on the spot NPCS and events.

- After session do quick review of notes and write up something a little more clear and I keep those sheets in sequence in my binder for the game.  Kinda like a history of the game.

- Lastly:  every few months I review the notes and update the master computer file that i keep for the shared campaign.

 

...having 3 or so differnet single character campaigns going in same city that are happening similiar-ish time frames.   What the heck was I thinking?  :D

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Eat the left-over pizza and relax.

 

I tend to keep my notes for other games and put it all in a campaign journal [3-4ing binder] so that I can keep track of what the players did and what my decisions were to various things. I also keep a few USB drives for my games so that I can keep my Hero Designer and Docs separate from each other.

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Hide the bodies.

 

...what?  Why are you all looking at me weird?

 

Okay, seriously, sometimes I'll solicit feedback from the players on what worked or didn't work, suggestions for making things better, etc.  I keep any of my typed notes that I hand-wrote on (for the rest, I have the electronic files).  The exception is the weekly news sheet - I always save them in a separate binder, for later reference.  I usually keep the speedsheets (on which I write the number of XP awarded), so I know who was captured and who got away.  

 

Then I hide the bodies.

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2 hours ago, greypaladin_01 said:

Yeah I guess the IMMEDIATE after game is just to chat with my player and get her input on how the session went.   What she liked or didn't and such...but the notes come soon after that.... either that night or next day.

 

 

Find out if your sleeping on the couch?

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Hmmm....   Well I am old so I usually go to sleep.

 

So for one shots, I usually box up my handouts and props for next time and and go over my notes to see if anything needs to be adjusted.

 

For a regular ongoing game, I usually write up my notes and post my session synopsis to the players.  I then fix/adjust for the typical "contact with the players" results and then prep for the next session.

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15 hours ago, archer said:

 

Seriously, you have left-over pizza after the game?

 

Maybe we should start a companion thread "How Many of You Have Left-Over Pizza After a Game?"

 

Who said I put it all out? Always hide a pie.

Now the question is who does trash duty after the game...

 

 

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I write up all my sessions in Word and keep any pictures or soundbites in a folder designed for everyone for that episode. After I'm done with an episode, I ask if everyone liked the episode and sometimes explain the reason behind the episode, something that only the GM might know and the players will never know unless they're told; it's sort of an optional thing. By doing that, it also lets the players know my thoughts on a particular episode. Sometimes I ask for feedback and other times I give players suggestions for the hero; something that will make life easier for GMing like a hero buying the Streetwise skill. Any props or minifigs are moved to a cabinet; battlemaps are cleaned. After the players have gone, I move my computer session folder into my "Ideas - Done" folder.

 

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I remember a sheet like that from the Big Blue Book era... might have come in the GM Screen.  Those were really helpful for group game for sure.

 

For the people that are doing more digital files for their notes and reference.   Have you found good ways of filing or sorting to make it quick to locate things later on?

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4 hours ago, greypaladin_01 said:

For the people that are doing more digital files for their notes and reference.   Have you found good ways of filing or sorting to make it quick to locate things later on?

 

Nothing spectacular.  I used One Note for the last few times, but it isn't great to print pout table notes for when I go to run. 

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On 4/26/2021 at 3:48 PM, archer said:

 

Seriously, you have left-over pizza after the game?

 

Maybe we should start a companion thread "How Many of You Have Left-Over Pizza After a Game?"

 

 

Okay, since Mightybec has beaten me to the punch with the video review of Western HERO (don't fret: I still intend to do one; this just means it's a bit less pressing so I don't have to devote all of my precious spare minutes to the study of it-- a "pressure's off" kind of thing  ;) ), I'm going to forego five minutes worth of reading and note-taking and instead give a more useful answer to the question (thought thanks for the love on the first answer, folks.  Completely unexpected, and very welcome).

 

I can't do anything with leftover pizza because there isn't any pizza.  There hasn't been in a couple of decades.  The older I get, the less I like it.  I don't know if pizza is changing or if I'm changing, but pizza cheese tastes more and more like vinyl and I swear pizza sauce gets _sweeter_ every time a new competitor arrives on the scene.  It's just wrong.

 

So what do I do after the adventure?

 

While I am making mental notes, I listen to my players decompress or discuss things from the game-- throwing out their favorite moment or moment, their own pet theories about what is or isn't going on and what is or isn't going to happen next.  Mostly, I try to key on what they are _really_ excited about, particularly if it is something that hadn't occurred to me already, or it is something I had considered and shot down before the game even started.  I particularly like to take note of those "Dude!  Wouldn't it be _great_ if X ?!"  and the reaction to those.

 

Because sometimes they're right:  sometimes, it _would_ be awesome if X, and by God, I'm going to find a way to, if not work that in, either work toward or-- more evil, but just as fun if done well-- work in something that certainly makes it seem as if X is where we're headed, but then we're not.   Yes; if you have an over-arcing story, that's harder to do, so I tend to keep my plots as little more than some randomly-generated bits of information, clues, a list of NPCs, the bad guy and rough timeline of what he is doing start to finish.   It seems to be maddening to most of the other GMs I've met, but I find it makes it easier to work in a new thing the players are beginning to clamor for, and to eliminate things that just aren't working out without actually making it feel like something was just dropped.

 

I collect the notes from the note-takers (I like to have one "assigned" note taker-- not so that I don't have to take my own notes, mind you; I take my own notes-- but so that I can kind of see how the game is going from the other point of view.  Generally, more than one player will take notes-- each about different things: one wants to be a record-keeper; one wants to make sure he remembers a particular thing or person; another still has questions about something from two sessions ago---  I like to see that.  The biggest immediate benefit is that I can see what was important to the players that I didn't think would be (you know: those things you just tossed out to flesh out a scene; you didn't take notes about it because you didn't think it was more than filler, but now you find out that you've got at least one player who wants to know just why that vase was up there, and where it came from.  Even if it's just a garage sale find, you've got to remember that vase.  Better write it into your notes, too.

 

I don't solicit player feedback, at least not in a traditional sense.  I _used to_, back in the early days of my GM'ing:  "How'd I do?  Do you like where we're going?  Is the story okay?  Are you excited?  Is the coffee okay?"  but one day I noticed that this direct Q-and-A was a bit off-putting to some players-- particularly newer ones...  _and_ I noticed that I would get a lot more useful, actionable information from listening to the players re-hash bits of the game: I've never had a player rehash something he hated two and three and four times in a post-game "let's finish the snacks and get the hell out of my house" session.  They were more free complaining to each other (and they do) and more excited re-living their preferred story or action points, and their speculations run on faster and faster and it's all so stinking _useful_ to me.....

 

So what I do mostly during clean up is to encourage player interaction and write down new notes while pretending to copy theirs.  :D

 

And when the room is salvaged, I point to the door and encourage them to use it.   No; seriously: it's faux jerkism.  I've learned that they have a better memory of the session if they are still discussing it when they leave than if I let it play completely out and they find themselves thinking "well, that's over.  Why am I still here?"

 

 

 

And having read some of the excellent responses in this thread so far, not only do I look like the odd man out, but I suspect I may be doing something wrong.   😕

 

 

 

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I take notes, scribble them on paper and put them in the binder (which is just chronological in organization).  Mostly these bear on two broad categories: plot elements, and encounter notes.  The latter bears on both how individual encounters went (and what was fun and what wasn't), decisions on what to use again and what to drop, speculations about tweaks on the tactical deployment and terrain layout that might go better in the future.  When we're playing at my place, most of these I write out after the session.  When we're playing at someone else's, then they don't get written and put into the notebook until the next day.

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I actually try not to do much right after a game, but chill out. I like to de-stress and come back to things in a day or two, collect my notes (if any) and I'll gradually assemble them in Libre Office. I try to have office hours between games, so I can deal issues, paperwork or side RPing then rather than at the formal game time. When I was making the transition from 4E to 6E, I was particularly rusty and didn't do particularly well as GM but I've shaken out the cobwebs since.

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Within the next few days I do a complete write-up of the adventure. I keep a detailed timeline of all the adventures in the campaign. I also update the adventure log I keep on each adventure with which characters, NPCs and villains were involved, so I can look and see this info at a glance. If any villains were captured and sent to Stronghold, I add them to my prisoner list so I can remember who's been jailed at this point in the campaign. If I drew out a map of a location that might be used again, I may make a physical paper copy (I usually draw them on a vinyl hex-map).

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