As anyone who has gamed with me will tell you–when it comes to running RPGs–I like to do my prep, some people can pull off amazing sessions with little to no prep and that’s absolutely grand, more power to them, however, I’m not blessed with a particularly good memory so it buoys up my confidence to know that I have notes prepared concerning what has already occurred in a campaign and what might be about to occur. However, this has left me with something of a dilemna recently when it comes to the prep for my Heart of Darkness Star Wars campaign and my Dungeon World campaign; both campaigns are recorded on my Youtube channel meaning I’ve got the actual play videos that I can refer back to in order to update my notes.
The main problem is the amount of time that this takes; my sessions tend to last 3-4 hours on average with the Dungeon World game running weekly and Heart of Darkness running bi-weekly, this means that on a week when they’re both running I have potentially up to 8 hours of footage that I have to listen to and make notes on. It’s enjoyable to playback the sessions because I pick up all those heroic and amusing moments that have a tendency to slip out of your mind when real-life stuff starts crowding in, but it’s a serious investment of time when I’m doing nothing other than sitting in-front of a computer with my earphones in, time I’m not spending with my wife, or making videos, or even reading books.
I’ve been struggling to keep my prep up for the past few weeks and have just about managed it, but it’s pretty much eaten up all of my free time and has left me quite tired. At the moment I can only see a few solutions:
- Cut down the amount of games I’m running. I don’t really want to do this since I enjoy both my games and think that you only really improve as a GM when you’re actually working at your craft.
- Take more notes during a session. This is a possibility but–although I’m quick at typing–I doubt I’d be able to keep up with all the stuff going on during a session, and I find it difficult to concentrate on anything else whilst making notes, I could see this having a detrimental effect on my ability to run a game.
- Get the players to make the notes. A possibility, but it relies on finding someone enthusiastic and reliable enough to do it, there’s also the distinct possibility they may miss stuff they consider to be unimportant when in-fact it might have a deep significance to the game.
- Use transcription software. Given that I could rip the sound from the video file, transcription software is a distinct possibility, although I would still have to sort through the resulting output since such software isn’t 100% reliable.
So I thought I’d throw this open to the wider role-playing community, to see if you have any suggestions regarding a way to solve my prep dilemna; if you do please post them in the comments section of this page.