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Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #17

6 Tips For Great Campaign Journals


Contents:
This Week's Tips Summarized

6 Tips For Great Campaign Journals

  1. Reward All Contributions
  2. Make The Journal An Event & It Will Become Its Own Reward
  3. Keep The Journal Interesting & It Will Keep The Interest Of The Journalizer
  4. Take Brief Notes In-Session And Flesh Out Afterwards
  5. Use A Tape Recorder Discreetly & Strategically
  6. Commit & Keep Your Self-Promise

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A Brief Word From Johnn

Well, a very hearty thank you to L. Silk for inspiring this week's topic. I have personally kept many campaign journals and was never disappointed when I did. Unfortunately, I have no "add water and stir" tips to make journalizing a piece of cake.

Through research and responses from readers though, I did discover that journalizing is an extremely interesting topic.

Based on recent feedback from readers I'm trying to keep issues shorter and to the point (thanks for the honest criticism! keep it coming) so today I'm providing 6 major tips and then I'll be writing a more in-depth article for the web site in the future about additional journal options, tips and advice.

I hope you enjoy this week's tips. Cheers.


Johnn Four johnn@roleplayingtips.com

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6 Tips For Great Campaign Journals
  1. Reward All Contributions
    Although journals are their own reward in the long run, an immediate incentive from the game master can help a player pad the possible short term pain or lack of enthusiasm for keeping a campaign journal. Give out experience points, hero points, or story points relative to the size of the contribution. Also consider a few good luck or good kharma bonuses, such as automatic successes, fortunate events or pleasant surprises.

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  2. Make The Journal An Event & It Will Become Its Own Reward
    Make the journal a celebration of the players, GM and shared campaign experience. Integrate it during play and make it important. i.e. "Reading of the Scrolls" at start of sessions to review last session's PC antics; ask players when they request information from the campaign journal that they do it in-character; the GM can request journal information in a flattering and grandiose manner to acknowledge the player's journalizing dedication. Have fun with it and make it part of the play.

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  3. Keep The Journal Interesting & It Will Keep The Interest Of The Journalizer
    Instead of a boring chronology of events, make the journal interesting by writing from the character's point of view-- including his/her prejudices, opinions, insults and compliments. Add personal comments about other characters in the journal: their feats, high points, low points. It makes it entertaining for everyone to read and for the journalizer to write. And if the other party members disagree with his/her opinions, well, they can just start their own journal now can't they?

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  4. Take Brief Notes In-Session And Flesh Out Afterwards
    During sessions, just focus on grabbing the important details and flesh things out during slow periods or after the game. Use point form notation, mind mapping or page spidering to capture the main points quickly without interrupting your play.

    From: M. Sapp:
    "The most realistic trick I've found is to keep quick notes and fill in the blanks later that night or the next day. The following is a quick list of things to jot down. Names, places, travel time, enemies fought, things found and any one liners that you really liked; keep these notes divided by day, follow up on filling in the details after the game and a nice journal begins to form."

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  5. Use A Tape Recorder Discreetly & Strategically
    For the single person or Gm that wants to have their own Journal to write up that has their own particular flair, a small tape recorder works the best. Just put it on record at the times you feel it is important to your Journal and then compile a journal at the end of each session. The best part about this one is the fact that you can also record some of the cool and exciting quotes from the characters about the villains, situations or strange spoutings.

    From: M.Sapp
    "...they [audio and video equipment] are simply too obtrusive and bothersome to be effective. Audio tapes have to be changed frequently and a tripod for a Camcorder gets in the way. Extension cords solve the battery problem but get underfoot. A game session can turn into an 'I love lucy' skit when the guy playing a barbarian trips on the cord and catapults your two hundred dollar Camcorder into the dining room wall."

    Lesson learned: use a small tape recorder in a discreet manner to just record the highlights of a session as they happen.

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  6. Commit & Keep Your Self-Promise
    Understand that journalizing does take some time and effort. There is no hands-free technique unfortunately. So make it a real goal to keep a journal and then do it. Do it every session and don't get frustrated if you feel you're not doing a perfect job. Just by keeping up with it your skills will improve, journalizing will become habit and therefore much easier. And soon the journal grow and become inspiring all by itself.

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Read more campaign journal tips and advice from readers. A special thanks to Mark J. Young for his very thorough and valuable response.

Feedback or questions about this week's article? feedback@roleplayingtips.com

Have more fun at every game!



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