A lot can happen in a tabletop RPG session! An unplanned NPC gets introduced. The players visit a new district of the city, visiting shops that didn’t exist until you made them up on the spot. The players might make progress on several different quest threads. They might acquire important items or relics, but haven’t fully uncovered everything there is to know about those items.
Remembering everything that happened can be a nightmare, even if your group just meets once a week. If your group meets on a longer schedule — or has to skip a session for some reason — it can be even worse.
So when I finish up a game session, I like to sit down and take a few minutes to jot down some quick notes while everything is fresh in my memory. For the most part, I stick to short bullet-notes that I can go back and expand later on. Here’s what I include in my notes:
Session length & Date
Was anyone new introduced or improvised? What details were established about them?
Did the players go anywhere unexpected? If those locations are significant, what details are important about them?
Item & Gear notes
What loot did the players find? Does any of it have secrets I need to keep tabs on?
Event & Encounter notes
This is the biggest portion of my notes. What happened this session? What plot threads were opened, closed, advanced, or otherwise interacted with?
What effect did player actions have on existing NPCs or locations? (“Broke the window of McGregor’s shop; he’s angry and raises his prices.”)
What needs to be planned?
Aside from the next adventure, what do I need for next session? A proper stat block for the half-orc bartender the players met? A functional map of the goblin neighborhood the players visited in the city slums?
Who attended and how much XP did they receive?
I usually award extra XP for good RP moments and other things, so not all players will have received the same amount. I also like to note if any players were absent.
Just other stuff I don’t want to forget about that doesn’t factor into the other sections.
I can usually fit all of this on a single piece of standard paper. In fact, to make better game-session notetaking super easy for you, I’ve created a printable PDF you can use for your own post-session notes.