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Chuck Dee
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Yes, I take notes and try to weave a narrative after from the events as they happened. Of course, this is PbEM, PbF, and other digital gaming, so the definition of "at the game table" is a bit different...
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Trencher for Life
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I always use notes. And I record my sessions with my players to draft up a summary of the session on Obsidian Portal. I'm currently tardy on it now, but I will add all the summaries to the 3 seasons of BattlestarNotGalactica when it's all over.
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Art Gorski
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I track my board game plays so when a game is over I record a voice memo with the details until I get back to a computer.
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Chris Abbott
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As a GM I always had flip notebooks full of barely legible chicken-scratchings. Three days after a session I couldn't make any sense of them. If they needed to be incorporated into the next session's planning, I had to do it right away. My players never took more notes than they could fit on the flap of a cigarette pack.

Recent campaign games (as a player) had me writing up a summary soon after each session. I missed one day, no one else took notes, and I was halfway through the following episode before I was back up to speed.

For one-shots, I limit my notes to possible clues for solving whatever conundrum has been set before us.

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Rebus Carnival
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When I was last running a f2f game I would send an action-packed synopsis with light commentary by email at the end of every session along with xp earned, usually as pithy bonus trophies or medals. I got zero feedback about them for months and eventually stopped. Some folks said they had enjoyed them but the rest just ignored it.

This was mostly a player issue, some of them just were not plugged in or only used their mail at work. I enjoyed it but afterwards kept less flamboyant notes just for myself.

As a player my notes are mostly doodles, but I will sometimes focus on some red herring and draw force fields around it until I run out of space.
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Hein Ragas
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I mostly play by video chat these days. Next to the video screen, I have a text editor open and I write down what happens, as it happens. After the session, I edit that narrative for clarity and submit it as a session report on here.
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William Hostman
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Yes. A good GM usually should be.

As for my players... yes, the Saturday group does so extensively

That group is currently an L5R magistrate campaign. They're taking notes as they interrogate NPCs, discover key facts, etc. Often, their notes are emphasizing tangential elements. I write mysteries with lots of "noise" in which the clues are hidden. Once they get enough clues, they usually suddenly see what's noise and what's not. Usually.

Of course, this being set in Rokugan, there's always someone shagging someone they shouldn't be, and someone wanting to shag someone who doesn't want them; it's sometimes plot relevant. Usually, it's noise. Tho', "In the house of Hida Kiyoshi" had a case where the sudden LACK of interest in such side relationships was a big clue. One they didn't catch until N. was killing the badguy. (The bad guy was poisoning the tea.)

When they looked back at their notes, it suddenly made sense to them.

bobcatt wrote:

As a GM I always had flip notebooks full of barely legible chicken-scratchings. Three days after a session I couldn't make any sense of them. If they needed to be incorporated into the next session's planning, I had to do it right away.
Being able to read the notes isn't always the most important part - the writing of them in the first place helps to fix the memory.

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Mavis
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enduran wrote:
My general feeling is that if something needs to be written down in order to be remembered, then it's a rather extraneous detail and probably won't be referenced again, even if someone does write it down.


My take on this is that if a player makes the effort to write some thing down it means something to them and therefore if there is any way that I can, as GM, make that detail slightly less extraneous and more relevant then I will. Out of such acorns many mighty trees have grown.
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Paul Unwin
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Mavis101 wrote:
enduran wrote:
My general feeling is that if something needs to be written down in order to be remembered, then it's a rather extraneous detail and probably won't be referenced again, even if someone does write it down.

My take on this is that if a player makes the effort to write some thing down it means something to them and therefore if there is any way that I can, as GM, make that detail slightly less extraneous and more relevant then I will. Out of such acorns many mighty trees have grown.

I agree in principle, though that doesn't justify requiring or expecting players to take notes. If they're writing something down because they don't think they'll remember it, then we've already taken a wrong turn somewhere.
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Doctor Tough
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I try to take good notes as a player mostly NPC names and things my character needs to do. Half the time it ends up more like:

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Chris L
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As GM, lots.
And write up a condensed session report within a day (while it's still legible).

As a player, I am less diligent.
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enduran wrote:
Mavis101 wrote:
enduran wrote:
My general feeling is that if something needs to be written down in order to be remembered, then it's a rather extraneous detail and probably won't be referenced again, even if someone does write it down.

My take on this is that if a player makes the effort to write some thing down it means something to them and therefore if there is any way that I can, as GM, make that detail slightly less extraneous and more relevant then I will. Out of such acorns many mighty trees have grown.

I agree in principle, though that doesn't justify requiring or expecting players to take notes. If they're writing something down because they don't think they'll remember it, then we've already taken a wrong turn somewhere.


My GM in one of my campaigns had the policy that if you didn't write it down, you didn't have it. With the number of players that he had and how many revolved through, it made sense.
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Patrick Zoch
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I take notes during the games I run. I do so for a couple of different reasons.

1st, to keep track of the campaign and keep the campaign world "alive." While I have a general list of key people, places, etc when I run a game, the dynamic nature of the game often requires me to fabricate NPCs on the fly and change how the world and its actors respond and feel about each other and the characters. This requires me to write everything down so I can keep track of the world developments and changes. I use the notes in follow - on games for continuity -- players love returning NPCs!

2nd, to keep track of the player characters action in the world. There are consequences for things they do -- good and bad. If I do not keep track of their actions, I can not ensure that the world responds accordingly.

Lastly, to keep track of the entire game so I can build the next adventure to fit the current continuity of the game. I have a story arc and general plot lines in mind for the campaign, but I never develop anything too far ahead as the characters are a living part of the story and influence how the story should naturally progress. Unfortunately, some of our sessions are months or MANY months apart and it is easy to forget what everyone has done and why. (see reasons 1 &2 above).

Oh... and to write session reports.

I do not take detailed note during play, just key points and actions (names, dates, etc) that allow me to keep track of things. I usually write directly on my adventure script in a shorthand (and godawful handwriting) that only I could understand.
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Paul Unwin
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chuckdee68 wrote:
enduran wrote:
Mavis101 wrote:
enduran wrote:
My general feeling is that if something needs to be written down in order to be remembered, then it's a rather extraneous detail and probably won't be referenced again, even if someone does write it down.

My take on this is that if a player makes the effort to write some thing down it means something to them and therefore if there is any way that I can, as GM, make that detail slightly less extraneous and more relevant then I will. Out of such acorns many mighty trees have grown.

I agree in principle, though that doesn't justify requiring or expecting players to take notes. If they're writing something down because they don't think they'll remember it, then we've already taken a wrong turn somewhere.
My GM in one of my campaigns had the policy that if you didn't write it down, you didn't have it. With the number of players that he had and how many revolved through, it made sense.

If you're talking about things like items of treasure, then that's only standard, though that can also be taken too far. Unless the DM made a specific point of denying rope to the characters, then I don't require them to have "rope," or pretty much any other mundane item someone playing in good faith would suggest they have, on their character sheet.

If you're talking about "having" bits of information, well then I might not be sure quite what you mean or what the benefit of that policy would be.
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Chris Talbot
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My notes are minimal these days, but I record each session. I write up session reports and post them here ... and often over at RPG.net, as well. Unfortunately, I am way behind on my current campaign. We're 14 sessions into my 50 Fathoms campaign, and I haven't written a single session report. I will ... eventually.

Chris
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Chuck Dee
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enduran wrote:

If you're talking about things like items of treasure, then that's only standard, though that can also be taken too far. Unless the DM made a specific point of denying rope to the characters, then I don't require them to have "rope," or pretty much any other mundane item someone playing in good faith would suggest they have, on their character sheet.

If you're talking about "having" bits of information, well then I might not be sure quite what you mean or what the benefit of that policy would be.


I mean all of it. Sometimes he might forget something or it might not be in his notes. He ran a long-running campaign with several groups and we'd corral him at various times to get him to run in all sorts of combinations. And we'd talk, so keeping player knowledge separate from character knowledge (especially when there were rival groups of players) was an issue. He was good about keeping track of information, but sometimes, someone would insist that they were told something in character and that didn't jive with his memory. Instead of using GM fiat to make a decision, he decided that we needed to chronicle our adventures and keep track of things. And if we used a piece of information that he didn't think we should know, we had to justify our characters having it. If not, we'd have to go with his memory.

To give an example, I distinctly remember that there was a situation that my character knew that they were walking into a set-up by another PC. I'd planned out the intelligence gathering and we'd played through it (we were in college, so we'd play at all times of the day and night, sometimes taking a break from studying to play some). He remembered the situation, but not that my character had received a critical piece of information. I hadn't noted it down. So it was ruled to be player knowledge, and my character had to walk into the situation flat-footed.
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Hans Messersmith
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As a GM, I take incomprehensible notes, and then at the next session I'm like "I have this name 'Carloas Farlangksess-something' written down here, clearly I thought it was important at the time, anybody remember who that was?" If no one remembers, then it wasn't important. If someone remembers, than it really was important.

But seriously, I try to take note of anything that happens in play that I need to remember to make the next and future sessions connect up with the past in interesting and fun ways, but I suck at it. I'm always thankful for players that take better notes than I do, because then you end up with awesome things like my Masks Marvel 2033 wiki, which is at least 2/3 player driven: http://gaming.memethief.com/Marvel_2033

I take a lot more notes as a player than as a GM, because as a player a) I have more need to remember stuff and b) I have more down time when other people are doing things to write stuff down. I rarely write AARs myself, but as both a player and a GM I really appreciated players that do.
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Rich Shipley
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The only time I ever wrote up a campaign as a narrative was when I needed something to write in a journal I was supposed to keep for a high school English class.
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Peter Robben
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Very little. My groups have dedicated note takers and that works well enough. Plus, We start each session with a "Previously on..." recap.
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Trencher for Life
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Benevolentgamemaster wrote:
Very little. My groups have dedicated note takers and that works well enough. Plus, We start each session with a "Previously on..." recap.


Bhahahaha... That's what I do, ala BSG. I do it in the different voices of the NPC crew and also sometimes designate a PC to do the opening.
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Caroline Berg
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Do you take notes at the game table? What about after a session, do you ever write up notes or a narrative summary of what transpired in game?

Notes? Ha! I write novels of our game sessions! Which I then post on RPGG...

So the answer is yes. I'm the designated note taker for every face-to-face RPG I've ever been in. Including those I GM.
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Caroline Berg
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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StormKnight wrote:
I envy your memory. I'd probably forget what game we were playing if I didn't write it down.

That's why I take notes for my groups. I have a great memory... my friends, not so much.
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Caroline Berg
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...124 to run fleeing from the mountain. ...125 to use a rope to climb the cliff. ...126 to quickly cast "summon stairs." ...127 to dodge under the falling rocks.
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fubfubfub wrote:
I mostly play by video chat these days. Next to the video screen, I have a text editor open and I write down what happens, as it happens. After the session, I edit that narrative for clarity and submit it as a session report on here.

For the one video chat game I'm in, that's exactly what I do!
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Adam
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Since I'm usually the GM if I'm playing, most of the time, I have to.
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So for those of you who do take notes, do you do so systematically? Do you have a particular method? How do you organize your notes?
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