I've been lucky enough to find a good group of people to play D&D with on a regular basis (and by regular I mean just about every week). However, as is common with some gaming groups, it is hard getting the same group of people together every single week. Our group solves the problem by having a large number of people in it - when everyone shows up, there can be like 10-12 people playing! That's quite a lot of people for a single D&D group; which is a good and a bad thing. When everyone shows up, encounters may take awhile and we may not get through much story, but when we have weeks where a couple of people cannot show up, we still typically have enough people that we can still play. Yet, this presents another problem; which I'll talk about along with how one of our members solved it past the break.
With not having the same group of members playing week to week, it can be hard trying to keep everyone informed about what has been happening. If someone can't make it for a couple of weeks in a row (like I have once or twice), they could miss out on a lot of story and not understand where the group is at when they return. This puts a lot of pressure on the DM to try and recap what has happened recently, but people's memories of our "adventures" tend to deteriorate past a week or more.
This is a problem that isn't limited to our group; any gaming group playing through a long storyline in their pen & paper RPGs runs into the issue of trying to recall what happened last time to help get everyone back into the adventure. Back when I was in college, we would be lucky to get everyone together once a month to continue our adventures. Unless the DM still had really good notes from his previous session, it would be hard to recapture all that had taken place; and even if they did recap it, there was bound to be some small details left out that could impact the story later. After college, when I ran a Star Wars RPG group and would use Facebook to organize when and where we would meet, I used the group's Facebook page to post up a summary of what had happened in the previous adventure. This help mitigate this problem to a certain extent, but it just added another task onto myself as the GM (game master) to do in my prep for the next adventure. For those that have never run a game before, let me tell you, there is already a decent amount of work that needs to be done by the GM prior to the gaming.
So, a couple of months ago, one of the guys in our current group came up with a solution to the problem. He had won a free domain name in a contest from a podcast that he listens to and set up the domain name to link to a Wiki that he had started for our group (no, I'm not going to give you the address). On the wiki, there are pages where each of us can create pages for our characters, allowing us to tell our backstories. More importantly, each time we meet, there is a page posted up on the wiki describing what happened during that session. During the actual session, one of us will write down all the important/funny/interesting things that happen during that session on a laptop (or iPad in my case), and then post it to the wiki when they get a free chance. If one of us misses a session, now all we have to do is logon to the wiki and read the synopsis that was posted. Even better, if we get deep into a campaign and forget why we are doing this "quest" in the first place, we can go back a few sessions and remind ourselves of what happened.
This has become a very useful tool for our group over the past few months. It takes some of the load of recapping the previous adventures off of the DM (dungeon master, what game masters are called in D&D). Yeah, it does mean one of us has to sit and type down what happens (and yeah maybe we haven't rotated the job as much as we should), but I think of it as a small price to pay. Plus, as an additional benefit, the fact that other players have been posting their character's backstories made me sit down and actually think about my character and his backstory.
So in conclusion, many props to that guy for getting this all set up for us, and I just wanted to this out there to you other gamers as a suggestion that you could take for your gaming groups as well.
In a related question - what pen and paper games are you guys playing? I've been curious recently to try out some different games besides D&D and would love to hear your suggestions. Comment below or send them to Chris@ocdcast.com.