Daily Illuminator

July 18, 2023: Bug Your Players!

I've been a fan of roleplaying games for decades. However, I suffer from a curse that I suspect afflicts many gamers: I'm a GM who loves the rich tapestry of in-depth campaigns and detailed developments, but I'm also really lazy when it comes to taking notes. However, I've found a possible solution that might be useful for your gaming table, depending on your talents and inclinations: Record your players!

With a portable recording device (such as, for me, my trusty iPad) and maybe a microphone (depending on the proximity of the group and how sensitive the recorder is), I can record all the activity at the table. This greatly obviates the need to take copious notes, since I can be reasonably certain I caught the action in the moment. Then, after the session, I can use audio software to skip to different points, listen at double speed to catch the highlights, and search for important bits. (I'm a fan of Sound Studio for my Mac, but there are great free options out there as well.)

If the recordings are good enough, I could even use snippets to reintroduce important bits from past sessions – the tabletop version of "Previously on . . ." If you're a GM who likes to use different on-the-fly voices or mannerisms for NPCs, it can also be a great way to remind you how certain NPCs sound.

Of course, only record the group with their permission! If you make the recordings available to them as well, you'll help them refresh their memories of past sessions or interactions quickly and more accurately.

If you go this route, you may still want to jot down really important notes during the session. These notes can serve as a backup in case the recording fails, and can also provide an "outline" to make searching the audio file easier.

If you use this technique – in your GURPS game or otherwise – I'd love to hear about your experience!

-- Steven Marsh

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