You know how it goes. The session ends, the day is saved, and all the plot points are burning bright in your mind’s eye. But then you go home. Weeks pass, memory fades, and all those niggling little details like character names and story arcs get mixed together in your head. Whether you’re a GM or a player, the lesson is clear: it pays to keep good campaign notes.

But what if you’re a PC though? What if it’s the character that can’t remember what happened? That’s the question that led to one of my most successful sessions.

Basically, I stole the plot from The HangoverThe idea was to start the session in medias res. Everyone woke up with a killer headache, and they were all handcuffed to something, married to someone, or in possession of some maguffin. The structure of the session was a mystery, as the party had to revisit the various sites of their drunkenness from the previous evening to find their missing friend.

In my specific case, it was a band of inebriated exalted heroes who woke up attuned to the anti-party’s soulsteel weapons, in a blood feud with the local god of cattle / war, and part owners of the finest sushi restaurant in Paragon. It also proved to be a handy way to explain away a player who had to miss that session. Her character had passed out drunk on the roof of a nearby gambling den.

For purposes of today’s discussion, I think it’s worth noting exactly how I went about crafting the session. I happen to remember the step-by-step because I still have my notes from 2012. (You see? Write that mess down!)

  1. I waited until the characters decided to go drinking. They’d just come off of a big heist, and did the usual “we go to the tavern” thing at the end of the night. That made the setup work unusually well rather than forcing it.
  2. I figured out the story from the night of drunkenness. In other words, I began by writing out the events of the party’s bender in chronological order. Since I had the rare opportunity to decide what the PCs did as a GM, I had them split into multiple groups so that they could more easily follow their idiosyncratic interests. That also made it more challenging for them to track their various adventures. Note however that this requires trust among your players, and that you should strive not to do anything too out of character with someone else’s PC.
  3. Next, I figured out the plot of the session. These are the various encounters that would happen as the players retraced their characters’ steps. For example, the aforementioned god of cattle / war causes a stampede through city streets; a fortune teller gives “another reading” to her young benefactor; a monstrous ally is still passed out inside a brew vat, and will be accosted by city watch if they can’t sneak her back to the sewers. These situations were set to “go off” as the party wandered into them, and were designed to happen in virtually any order.
  4. Finally, I seeded clues into the adventure. That is, I gave each passed-out PC some object to start them on the trail (fresh tattoos, someone else’s magical weapon, a bill from a restaurant stuck to someone’s head). I also invented a device I called, “Drink this. You’ll feel better.” Basically, an apothecary NPC gave them three doses of potion. If they drank it and passed an easy check, they could remember one event from the night before. These functioned as “omni-clues” in case the group got stuck.

So in the interest of trying out something a little different in your next session, what do you say we brew up a few “hangover” scenarios of our own? What crazy shit did the party get up to last night? What repercussions are they faced with this morning? Give us your best The Hangover encounters down in the comments!


EARN BONUS LOOT! Check out the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. We’ve got a sketch feed full of Laurel’s original concept art. We’ve got early access to comics. There’s physical schwag, personalized art, and a monthly vote to see which class gets featured in the comic next. And perhaps my personal favorite, we’ve been hard at work bringing a bimonthly NSFW Handbook of Erotic Fantasy comic to the world! So come one come all. Hurry while supplies of hot elf chicks lasts!