Preparing for, and posting to, Actual Play

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Tim Alexander:
Hey Folks,

There are near constant references to how posting to Actual Play gives context to pretty much all the other theory stuff that goes on at the Forge. I know personally that some of the most thought provoking stuff I've seen has come directly out of Actual Play posts. I also know that I get more out of some posts than others, but I feel like I personally have a hard time constructing a post that really reveals the useful stuff. It ain't the cake walk I'd expect it to be.

Part of this I think is related to a sort of laissez fair note taking during play on my part. I'm just not good at it, and so the player kibbitzing, and the group dynamics that I'd really like to get across is often lost. Part of it comes from wanting to get across how neat this scene or that scene was, but replaying the game as fiction falls somewhat flat. So, I'd like to talk about successful techniques for both keeping things like:

-Kibbitzing at the table
-Player resonance
-Interesting social resolutions

fresh in your mind after play, via notes or otherwise. I'd also like to talk about how you best combine the fictional events with these metagame inputs in order to provide the most effective look into a play session. Things like the 'Moose in the City' PTA thread, and Vincent's 'Adventures' threads are great, but there are lots of examples.

So, how does one go about preparing for and creating an engaging and analytically useful Actual Play thread?


Hi Tim,

I can't say for anyone else, but I know the big thing I'm always looking for is the information about interaction amongst players, mood/flow/synergy of the group, and what aspects of system went exceptionally well or poorly.  The in-game events(Transcript, or whatever word we're using for it now) are the least interesting bits to me, because they tell me nothing about what the players liked/disliked or how the system worked.

Usually, in my own accounts, I do a high focus on those things, and pull out a few short examples of in-game events as concrete aspects to point to a given thing I thought was cool or not working out right.


Mark Woodhouse:
Speaking for myself, I'd like to contribute to AP, but I find that whenever I try to consciously prep something, it is just quicksilver.

All of the stuff that really matters for an AP post is so referential to past history, social context, the specific personalities involved.... every sentence I draft seems to need six more to give context.

And inevitably I give up. This thing is hard to write about.

Two suggestions. AP with a new group or a one-shot may be easier to see meaningful total-System phenomena than AP with an established group of players who have a lot of history or tacit culture. And if you can get group consent, tape the session.

Now, if only I could get myself to act on that advice.



Tim Alexander:
Hey Guys,

Chris: I think it's a careful line between the interaction stuff and the in game events stuff. I think it's important to relate one to the other, but I agree that the long recaps aren't as engaging as well supported interaction information.

Mark: I find it hard too. I've got a few Sorcerer sessions, a couple of dogs sessions, all kinds of stuff that I can't quite get out. I want this thread to help guys like us by giving us some sort of template. Certainly having better raw data is part of that, but how to distill that data is important too.

Towards that end I'm sort of searching for something akin to the format you learn for a book report:


Can we map something similar to an actual play post? I think having some sort of template might be useful for guys like Mark and I who feel like we flounder whenever we're trying to relate things.


Hi Tim,

I think you just wrote it out for yourself right there :)  To elaborate try some things along these lines:


-What are you playing?  How long have you been playing/how long do you intend to play this game?  Is this your first time?
-Who's playing, how many people, any notable things about them(demographics, relationships, blood kin, etc.)?
-Group history- how long have you all played together, if at all?
-Logistics- Face to face, LARP, online chat, email, forum post game?  How long are the sessions?

The Game
-How did it go?
-Pro's/Con's - what caused them?  specific examples to highlight them?
   -System? Techniques? Drifts, house rules?
   -The People?  personality, communications, etc.?
-Compare and contrast- how does this compare to other sessions, other games, and/or other campaigns?

Wrap up
-How did people like/dislike it?
-Are you gonna play more?  What will you do differently?  What will you do the same?
   -Any questions about the system/rules?
   -Any questions for advice on how to do X, or do it better?
   -Ask for comparisons- "Has anyone else encountered this?"

I'm sure there are tons more, but that seems more or less comprehensive to me.



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