You know how fantasy novels tend to come with a glossary of proper nouns in back? There’s a reason for that. As it turns out, when the name of the game is simulating an entire world, you’re going to have a shitload of people and places to remember. And unless the ghost of Robert Jordan decides to sit in on your campaign, you’re not getting a glossary for free. Someone is going to have to write that mess down.

Last time I sat down as a 5e player, I decided to take up the burden. I had my system all planned out. PCs listed at the top, NPCs broken down by location, a party loot table, bullet points detailing individual sessions by date, and the whole enchilada shared on Google Docs.

“This is going to be great, guys! You all have editing rights, so we can just keep it updated as we go. All of our notes in one easy-to-use place!”

This went about as well as you’d expect. By session three or so, my notes were still the only notes. People had lost the link, forgotten it was there, or defaulted to asking the DM, “Who was that one guy at the place again? You know, the one with the accent.”

Learning from my mistakes, I decided to 86 the cooperative angle. Instead, I would take the bull by the horns and write full narrative summaries. So with no expectations of outside aid, I faithfully sat down with my trusty word processor. And much to my surprise, the system worked! I knocked out each and every summary after each and every session, and posted them to the group’s Facebook page like clockwork. At last count, the combined “campaign session summaries” doc was sitting in the neighborhood of 72,507 words. It’s probably double that by now. And if that sounds like a lot of work to you, then you’re not alone in that opinion. (I’m so tired, guys. So very, very tired.)

Yes, my “solution” worked, but it takes a lot of time and dedication to pull it off. I’m beginning to suspect that “just the highlights” summaries would be a better bet, but I’ve come this far with the long-form narrative summaries. Stubborn pride refuses to relinquish its grip!

Anywho, those are my latest efforts at solving the session summary problem. What about the rest of you guys? How do you go about organizing your notes? How do you handle recapping at the beginning of sessions? Let’s hear how your group does it down in the comments!


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