The Importance of Actual Play Reports

Posted: July 10, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Actual Play, Advice, Articles
Tags: ,

I’ve occasionally been described as a GM with a remarkably long memory. Decisions made in the early parts of a campaign often return to haunt my player characters by the time the endgame rolls around. They find it amusing and frustrating at the same time, but ultimately it adds to their fun.

I attribute this mostly to the Actual Play Reports. I feel that my games have gotten better after I’d started writing them up as practice and as a means of digesting my notes. Writing the Actual Play accomplished two things: It allows me to better remember the key decisions and encounters in my campaign, and helps my ability to tell a story.

I also cheat a little bit by taking the time to flesh out the setting and the situations a little more during the actual play, letting my players absorb setting detail over time if they go over the recap. This is especially important in campaign settings like L5R and the World of Darkness.

Actual play reports may be a pain to write, but the more care and attention I put when working on them, the more they are able to give me something to latch plot hooks on.

Besides, it’s also fun as a topic of conversation between my players as they discuss the last session’s recap.

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Comments
  1. ShadowAcid says:

    I agree.

    I got inspired to run a Shadowrun game after reading some AP’s on RPG.net. I then did my own AP of the game as we played. The benefits to my GMing were enormous due to having a written record of each session and the mental processing of game events that the writing process gave me. After the game was done I collected them and edited the APs into a collection for my players to remember the game by.

    I now do an AP for every game that I run. Some I have put online, some I have kept only for my own benefit, but it has always been useful.

  2. Sergio Maxjr says:

    I couldn’t agree more. My level of comfort with the plot and world building also increased, since I usually add colour and drama to the way I portrait what’s been going on. Sometimes the players only understand a given outcome when we’re reading the AP’s, and they love it. An extra benefit in my group is, since our sessions take place weeks apart, it helps keep events fresh for the new episode.

    And I love reading other groups AP’s, especially when it’s about a game I’ve been meaning to learn.

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