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The Gamers Notebook - A Bloggers Perspective

The topic of this month's RPG Blog Carnival, kindly hosted by of Dice and Dragons, is the Gamers Notebook and I'd like to focus on one tiny aspect of this massive subject which is the notes I take (or don't) during a game session as a player.

My Hellfrost Notebook
My Hellfrost Notebook

Sad to say but until recently, I had been fairly lacadaisical with my note taking. My fellow Dragons Keep club members will attest that I was fairly blase about remembering stuff, but in my present capacity as official session writer for our Savage Worlds Hellfrost campaign Trouble in Somerlisse, it's something that I've taken to with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm.

I am taking notes on behalf of the group and then putting these together every week in the form of a "cinematic" session report blog for this site. I say "cinematic" because I'm no shorthand typist or stenographer. I don't aim to capture every dice roll, every shot fired and blow parried or even every quip or quote. I'm recording the general feel of the game and the important points like:

1. The main NPCs

2. Who killed what

3. Important facts and lore

4. Secrets

5. The main story beats

6. Maps, symbols and diagrams

I have a cheap A6 faux leather bound 6 ring filofax which I bought from (for about £2) which serves me well. It is small and portable, the filofax style binder means I can replace the pages pretty easily and it looks arcane...

I am often asked by new players what do I need to start roleplaying and I recommend that a notebook is a great addition to the usual accoutrements of dice and minis and the like. In fact after my recent experiences I would say that a notebook is the second most important thing to bring to the table (your imagination being the first).

It is a game enhancer as it helps train your mind to listen to everything, identify the key info as outlined above and to write it down. That focus is hugely important when you are new to the table. You aren't distracted, busy trying to formulate your next joke or daydreaming about what's going on at the other tables in the room. Your GM will appreciate your engagement and you will have a permanent record of your game.

Between sessions I transfer all my notes into session reports on the club blog for the benefit of the other players and the enjoyment of other members who aren't in the game and also to my own blog. This I do via my iPhone using Siri's "take a note" function and then accessing those stored notes via iCloud. The speech recognition is pretty dire especially where any non standard words like places or characters are concerned but it does save a little time typing things out. If anyone knows a better app please comment below.

My blog is where I get to add a little flair by adding character portraits and other imagery which adds flavour and spice to the story.

In summary, taking notes is an essential part of the game. If you are not doing it, you aren't going to get as much out of each session that you could. Give it a try, you might be surprised what an effect it has.

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