Session Writeups and the DF Criteria

Over at Dungeon Fantastic, +Peter V. Dell’Orto lays out what he looks for in a session writeup.

Now, I enjoy writing me some Play Reports. I’d like to think my transcripts are fun, informative, and I do try and find good pictures to illustrate points.

But how do I do using Peter’s Principles of a good After-Action Report?

Precis – Peter throws down some criteria for a good post-play session report, and I evaluate Gaming Ballistic’s transcription-style writeups by those criteria.


Omniscient GM perspective. I want to see this through the GM’s eyes.

Thiss one I basically can’t do, because I’m not the GM. When I do GM, my notes are minimal and I am too busy trying to focus on the four to six players in my game to take the kind of notes I’d like to in order to meet my own standards for what a GM writeup should be. That Peter can do this with his DF session reports is pretty impressive to me.


After action reports (AARs). How did it go? What went wrong?


I could stand to do more of this, which ties in to the Notes comment below. My writeups are session transcripts that shift between “this is what my character cares about” and “this is what the group is doing.” 

The superhero game I’m playing in with Christopher and others has lots of opportunity to explore and ditch tactics for what went well and poorly. The DF/Action mash-up that was Mark’s game (Castle of Horrors) we never really did AARs or tactical improvements as a group – each person did their own thing, mostly. Always have.


Rules commentary and reflections on the rules. “ACKS does this.” “In GURPS, we see PCs do a lot of this.” “In D&D 5e, I noticed monsters do less X and more Y.”


Again, this is only obvious in retrospect, and I don’t call it out much. “What happened a lot?” is a good question. In the GURPS Murderhobos in Space game that +Derrick White is runing, I saw two things I never ever see in any other game I’ve played: (1) the bad guys used high-RoF lasers to vaporize our weapons more than once. They literally shot the guns out of our hands. (2) As a result of fairly high, specialized armor and poor breadth of weapon selection on the players’ part, we found that the only viable combat option in a high tech game was force swords, vibroblades, and grappling. That was different.


Maps and pictures, if possible.


I got this one. I take screenshots when I can.


A cast of characters at the beginning, so I can see who to look for. Games are like Russian novels, so please let me look up who they are before I confuse Ruslan Ivanovich Kotin with Ruslan Illych Kotin during actual play. Or, to go all Robert E. Howard, confuse Amlaric with Almaric or Amluric.


A valid point, and something that once you do it, you can copy/paste it into future summaries.


Matter-of-fact summaries.


I think I got this too, as I just transcribe what happens, with the occasional sarcastic comment. Vlad Taltos style, perhaps.


Notes. I love end notes talking about the good and bad of play, decisions, rulings, etc.


See above. By the time I get done with four hours of play and transcription, I’m ready to pack it in, but more analysis would help me as both a player and a writer.


Parting Shot


I don’t think my session summaries are terrible. I think they give a good feel for what it’s like to actually play in the games I type up. They also seem to serve as a pretty good “what the hell happened last time?” reminder so I don’t need many notes, nor do the other players.

But as a learning tool, they could be more.

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