I like playing role playing games because I like to tell stories. I was reminded of this while attending a memorial service for a friend who passed away recently. My friend Ted was a professional storyteller. For most of his life, he spent his days telling tales of adventures to countless children, and even some lucky adults who took the time to listen. He would often tell his audience that stories are treasures that are much better when shared.
Do you share your stories?
The stories that we create when we play a Role Playing Game like Dungeons & Dragons are special because nobody knows how the story will end. We take turns telling the tale, and sometimes we roll dice to see what happens. This is the essence of any RPG. At the end of the evening, your story has come together like a patchwork quilt of fabric taken from the garments of many characters. Perhaps these pieces were given freely, or perhaps they were torn in the heat of a great battle. Regardless, the pieces are woven together to form something new and wonderful. Something that often deserves to be retold. Something that is better when when shared.
I think one of the most common ways to retell the stories from previous adventures is through an adventure recap at the start of the next game session. If I’m running a game, then I will always ask for volunteers to remind everyone what happened last time. Not only does this get everyone back into the game, but it also helps to catch up any players who may have missed the last adventure. This kind of retelling is great in terms of game play, but it is restricted to only those who are present at the game, and it is subject to the inevitable losses of memory that can result from too much time and possibly too much ale.
Creating an adventure log
The easiest way to keep track of the events of your stories is to chronicle them into some kind of narrative. These adventure logs can be a simple summary of what happened or it can take the form of some kind of prose. Over the last few years, I’ve tried everything from creating a scroll that’s read by a herald to creating a newspaper page for a cyberpunk campaign. The problem with this method is that it takes a great deal of time for one person to put it all together. If you create the story as a group, then shouldn’t the chronicle be created by the group as well?
One of the ways to create a group chronicle or log is to create some type of shared online workspace and then have each player keep a character journal. In addition to the character journals, someone, probably the game master, can create a short summary of the major events of the session. Since a lot of the details and personal parts of the narrative are created by the players, this makes the game master’s job a lot easier when creating that summary.
How do you make your chronicle available to others?
One of the easiest ways to create a shared work space for your group is to create a community on Google+. When you create a community, you have access to shared documents, like your chronicle, and you can also create a forum to talk about the game or share other ideas about important things like pizza toppings and ale. Best of all, Google+ is free.
There are also a number of online sites where you can track your campaigns, like Obsidian Portal or Scabard, for example. These are freemium sites, so you can get some simple options without having to pay. I’ve tried both of these sites and they each have their positives and negatives. If you are interested, I suggest you open a free account and just try them for a while.
The real challenge of course is getting everyone to participate. It’s challenging for some people to find the time to write something on regular basis. It’s difficult enough to find the time to come together and play, so realize that some players may not jump on board with your idea of a weekly chronicle, but if everyone does a little, the end result is quite rewarding.
So go and tell your stories and share them with those who will listen. The world recently lost a grand teller of tales, and while I will never be the storyteller that my friend was, I can play my part and share what stories I have.
RIP, Ted Esquivel, and thank you for all the stories.