The Art of the Session Recap

We are pleased to announce the release of The Art of the Session Recap, 28 pages of creative roleplaying session summaries, featuring selected submissions by Don Hupp, Panzer Leader, Oneinchsquare, Matt Harris, Lt. Col Colin Callahan, and 3 entries around a race of sci-fi beings known as the Watchers from S.D. Hilderbrand, Tom Walton, and Frank J. Kim..  Get it here for free!


Many of today’s gamers, especially those with young families, can’t make every session of a weekly, multi-year roleplaying campaign.  I find it much easier to keep up with and interested in a campaign if a fellow player or the DM posts a recap on a wiki, a bulletin board, or even sends out a summary via email.  In addition to keeping players in the loop, these recaps provide players with a chance to digest the session’s material and to prepare for the upcoming session.  Furthermore, session recaps provide a more in-depth description of events, allowing the players to add the richness of the story, either in character or taking their turn as the narrator.

I find these journals, logs, and correspondences to be great time capsules of the campaign and memory logs when remembering adventures with friends. These annals provide additional flavor to the campaign world, and add perspective.  After all, no fun roleplaying world is purely the thought of one individual.

Unfortunately, in most campaigns, not every session is logged, transcribed, or otherwise captured by the DM or players.  DMs are often swamped making sense of dice rolls and character actions, while planning the next moves of the challengers in a given encounter.

Here are a few methods and ideas for inspiring players and DMs that you game with to keep an ongoing log of the adventure.

  • Set up a blog, wiki, or bulletin board (or all three!) and make sure your players have accounts and tutorials.
  • Take turns acting in the role of scribe of the session, ensuring that the key moments are covered.  Different players will cover the events differently, and this is fun to see play out.   Players may even challenge one-another to come up with increasingly creative and interesting session recaps.  Offer XP, perhaps even on a per-word or per-ten-words basis, to dispel the curse of writer’s block.
  • Players playing characters who are bards, historians, politicians, or others of the “literate class” of the campaign world have a natural stake in ensuring that the story is correctly told.  These players make natural scribes, allowing their characters to use these opportunities to feed back into the history of the world and potentially affect change by increasing the popularity of the party, or by casting the ruler of a land as a tyrant, etc.  This provides another avenue of agency.

My favorite session recaps are those written in character, or with the constraints, openness, and information dissemination methods of the campaign world in mind.

Thanks to all who entered or contest, and congratulations to those selected to appear in the collection.

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Carrion Beast

Carrion Beasts are undead monstrosities in the shape of enormous, skeletal vultures.  During the war of the Phantom Lord in the Deadblight of Soguer great flocks of these accompanied the cloud-born castle of that dread shade’s army of the dead.  After his armies had slain all in a town or village his Carrion Beasts would haul the corpses aloft, to be used for horrible purposes in the chambers of that flying fastness.

In battle these creatures descend in flocks upon those below, snatching them up and carrying them aloft, only to drop them from great heights to fall to their deaths.  Some dread necromancers have even been know to ride upon their backs above the slaughter, directing the living dead below.

Large natural magical beast (undead)
Level 23 skirmisher XP 5100

Initiative +21        Senses Perception +19; Darkvision
HP 214; Bloodied 107
AC 37; Fortitude 35, Reflex 36, Will 34
Resist 20 necrotic
Speed 4, fly 10

Bite (standard, at-will)
Reach 2; +28 vs AC; 4d6+17 damage.

Snatch (standard, at-will)
Reach 2; +26 vs Reflex; 3d8+10 damage and the target is grabbed.

Bony Buffet (minor, recharge 4-6)
Close burst 2; targets enemies; +26 vs Fort; 3d8+10 damage and the target is pushed 2.

Dread Gaze (standard, recharge 5-6)
Ranged 5; +26 vs Will; 3d8+10 damage and the target is Dazed until the end of the Carrion Beast’s next turn.

Alignment Evil        Languages none

Skills Acrobatics +24, Athletics +23, Perception +19
Str 24 (+18)      Dex 27 (+19)      Wis 17 (+14)
Con 22 (+17)      Int 17 (+14)      Cha 24 (+18)


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Warlord of the Dread Host

Raised by The Phantom Lord to lead his army of the dead, these great warriors had lain in their sepalcures, some for many decades, some for centuries, before he and his ever growing host came to rouse them from their rest.  By foul magics did he once again give movement and strength to their limbs, and by darker magics still did he give them the powers of their former experience and bound their wills to his.

Wearing black and tarnished crowns of iron and silver upon their skulls, dressed in mail and bearing blades infused with unholy power, these warriors are terrible foes to behold.

Warlord of the Dread Host
Medium humanoid (undead)
Level 25 Soldier XP 7,000

Initiative +19        Senses Perception +5
HP 234; Bloodied 117
AC 41; Fortitude 38, Reflex 37, Will 37
Immune fear
Resist 20 necrotic, 10 cold
Speed 6

Soulblade (standard, at-will)  Weapon
+30 vs AC; 4d6+19 damage and the target is marked.

Stunning Blow (standard, recharge 5-6) Weapon
+28 vs Fort; 5d6+23 damage and the target is stunned until the end of the Warlord’s next turn.

Soulblade Flames (standard, encounter)  Weapon, Fire, Necrotic
Close burst 5; +28 vs Reflex; 3d8+12 fire and necrotic damage, and ongoing 15 necrotic and fire damage (save ends).

Soulblade Block (immediate interrupt, when hit by an attack; encounter)
The Warlord gains +4 to their defense against the triggering attack.

Alignment Unaligned        Languages Common
Skills Athletics +26, Knowledge (History) +24,
Str 28 (+21)      Dex 20 (+17)      Wis 25 (+19)
Con 26 (+20)      Int 25 (+19)      Cha 20 (+17)

Equipment: sword, armor, tarnished crown.

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