Unpack Last Session To Loopy Plan Next Game
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1100
After each game, let’s take 10 minutes to review our session log to help plan for next time.
I outline below a quick approach we can follow using my Loopy Planning method.
We do this for a couple of reasons.
First, we tend to improvise a lot during sessions. So we want to review and update our logs while things are fresh in our minds.
Second, we can use this review to make a quick outline plan for next game. This gets us a huge win, which I’ll explain in a moment.
Take 10 Minutes
Try to do this quick action within 24 hours after each session.
Open up Campaign Logger or your note-taking tool of choice.
Read your notes and tweak:
- Add missing details that come to mind
- Correct any note mistakes made in haste while GMing
- Consolidate notes to make cleaner entries for future reference
We get a ton of benefits from having excellent, well-curated notes.
But here’s the real boon of this quick exercise:
We get ideas for next session.
In just a few minutes, while last session still swirls in our noggins, we can create a pretty cool outline for next game.
And then, for the rest of the time until next session, we can mull on, tweak, polish, and flesh out any of those outlined ideas.
No more writer’s block. No more panicked prep the hour before the game. No more death by procrastination.
So as we curate and tweak our notes, we also mine them for ideas.
We get two natural 20s with one die roll! Good notes and great ideas.
The fastest way to mine your session logs for next session ideas is PPP:
Think PPP as you curate each log entry. If a log entry mentions an NPC, a location, or hook, add it to your outline.
We want to call out new NPCs, recurring NPCs, and any changes in relationships with the party.
- Did the PCs meet anyone notable?
- Did the party make any friends?
- Did they make any enemies?
- Did you make up any NPCs?
Positive hits on any of those answers give you awesome potential for follow-up encounters.
For example, you made up Ssithor the lizardman chief, in the moment as players chatted with a local ranger.
“Ssithor, lizardman chief, one day walk from village.”
So you add that to your outline:
- Ssithor, lizardman chief, south one day
If you need an NPC out in the wilderness for any reason, you don’t have to make a new one now. You’ve got Ssithor.
And because Ssithor exists, even in name only, he’s got plot potential you can plan for.
Likewise with locations, we want to highlight areas we can use next session and beyond:
- Did the group learn about new locations to explore?
- Did you mention or name any new locations?
- Did the PCs discover any doors?*
* By door, I mean any new avenues, literal doors, or paths to follow.
Places can be dungeons, rooms, sites, landmarks, businesses, settlements — anything you’d pin on a map.
For example, “Smithy at end of village.”
A quick note made in-game now added to your outline:
- Smith, village north
People and Places feed into Plots.
So do any items mentioned last session. Things players want to buy, get as treasure, or find to unlock more plot.
- Did the party block and interfere with any villain or faction plans?
- Did they tip off the villain or a faction about future intentions?
- Did they find any clues and hooks?
- Did they discover any mysteries?
For example, “Someone is stealing animals.”
- Who’s taking village livestock?
Putting It Together
Within a few minutes you should have cleaner notes with a few added details to help your future-self out.
You also have a fantastic start to figuring out what might happen next session.
You’ve got a short list of Loops for People, Places, and Plots.
The act of writing them down can trigger ideas.
You can muse on your list as you walk, drive, or wait. Write down any ideas you get.
But even if you do nothing else until next session, you’ve got a fantastic cheatsheet for in-game improv prompts.
If you use my Loopy Planning method, then you can use this activity to make the process go faster.
As you curate last session’s log entries, and you find People, Places, and Plots for future gameplay consideration, you can:
- Update Loopy Plans
- Make new Loopy Plans
For example, let’s say you’ve got a Loop going for the villain’s lieutenant, Balthor Grum.
While reviewing your session logs you realize the PCs have blocked his plan by defeating the smugglers.
What’s Balthor’s Next Action?
He needs to do something quick, else his boss is going to feed him to the fish.
Scanning your outline, you wonder if Balthor could ally with Ssithor? Perhaps the lizardfolk could become smugglers?
I find this kind of campaign development a lot easier if I’m looking at a list of possibilities.
Being able to scan People, Places, and Plots lets me connect dots a lot easier than going from memory.
Try It Out Yourself
Imagine you kept up with this practice after each session.
Make one Log Entry just for your outline. Tag it as *Outline.
Update it each session.
Now you’ve got an awesome list of carryover ideas.
Remove stuff you use. Keep the rest. Update after each game.
A simple system that becomes an idea machine for you.
Hopefully this help you grapple with all the details that come up in your games.
It’s not enough to make notes. You need to review them, improve them, and mine them for future gameplay.
This quick and simple approach helps you do that if used consistently. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.