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Some of us are getting together to play an RPG, but not everyone has been in one before. One of the prospective players has asked me for a transcript or something they could read to get a sense of what actually goes on in a game. I'd point them to a podcast, as in Where can I find actual play podcasts for RPGs?, but I'd like to read it myself first (and I can't listen to podcasts), so:

Where can I find written transcripts of actual game sessions?

I'm basically looking for a script like:

John (Thograk the Orc): I dig through the pile of dead rats.
Susie (Minzen the Paladin): Eww, that's gross!  Why did we invite this orc again?
Frank (DM): Some of the rats look tastier than others, but no, you don't find
    the Barrel of Healing buried in the pile.

but from an actual game.

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Related question: Where can I find actual play podcasts for RPGs? –  SevenSidedDie Jul 18 '12 at 16:50
    
Related (Duplicate?): Where to find game session reports? –  wraith808 Mar 9 '13 at 0:45

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

There are a few rare bloggers I know of that write up their games like this.

Hack & Slash writes transcripts of his old-school games for illumination of the old-school playstyle and for self-improvement as a DM, as far as I can tell. You can read them all at Hack & Slash's transcript tag. There are only six as of this moment, but each one is extensive and reads like an authentic session transcript, "uhs" and everything.

An excerpt from a Hack & Slash transcript:

DM: Well, uh. The only thing you see under the planks is stale fetid water, and inside the pond, you see a giant floating frog corpse about five feet in length.

Rachel: Is in intact?

DM: Fairly intact, yes. It's in the water? So you would have to, I don't know, either get in the water or pull it towards you in some way.

Rachel: How far into the water?

DM: Well, the whole pond thing is maybe 25, 30 feet across, So 10-12 feet?

Rachel: I bet we could throw, what do you call them? One of our grappling hooks.

Garth: Do we want. . . a frog corpse?

Rachel: Well we might be able to figure out how the frog died.

[transcript continues like that]

Another I know is the Delvers. The style there is editorial, not the line-by-line transcript that you're looking for, only interspersed with quoted exchanges. However, I've yet to read a reconstruction of a game that felt more like what roleplaying is like. The editorial effort goes into helping the reader appreciate what it's like being player and DM in these games and on some choice player interactions, and the quality of the writing is such that it becomes transparent to the feel of the session. As a bonus, the entire blog is editorialised-transcripts and updated frequently, so you've got a mountain of material to choose from there.

An excerpt from the Delvers:

Looking back at the animal trophy, Alina and Circe realized this was no giant owl head. It was the head of an owlbear, slain by the two dwarves. It was the source of farmstead harassments of Eastbrook.

The rage in the owlbear’s dead eyes appeared to stare back at the celebrating farmers below it.

The girls had never heard of an owlbear. It was fun describing this creature to them for the first time.

Starlight: That thing is pretty cool.
Galem: Alive, it’ll crush you to death, if you’re not careful.
Starlight: Unless you’re too short to crush.
Galem: Look who’s talking.

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I only just remembered that these exist. I can't believe I didn't remember these immediately on reading the question, but I've been neglecting my feed reader… –  SevenSidedDie Jul 17 '12 at 20:47

In general people don't do transcripts of entire game sessions. I think you have four major options:

  1. Podcasts or video podcasts. If you can't listen to them (hearing impaired?) use whatever speech-to-text thing you'd normally use. Consider having someone else "screen" them then send them on to the others. Strength: most accurate; weakness: you can't listen to them. Maybe there's some that are so professional they have subtitles? (Unlikely)

  2. Written transcripts of "fake" sessions for intro purposes. Many RPGs have one of these at the beginning; it's written like a transcript for educational purposes though it's not of a full, real game. Strength: a pure transcript; weakness: short and "cooked."

  3. In depth session summaries. Not always line by line and roll by roll, but can be close - for example, my play group does ~12-14 page session summaries of every session with dialogue; here's our ones from the Jade Regent adventure path. Strength: Cover entire sessions; weakness: not every back and forth detail.

  4. Watch a play-by-post forum. (See the [play-by-post] tag here for more.) There's loads of these; some are restricted but many are public and you get to see all the back and forth. For example, Paizo's play-by-post forum.

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There are some online play-by-chat games, and some play-by-post transcripts which may be of limited use. Searching for PBP and play by post can lead to some.

I will note that with the way I run PBP, it's not a good model, as I put actions and dice in one thread, and narrative alone in a second, with table chatter in a third.

A quick google came up with a site that has a pretty reasonable play-by-chat session not too different from my table play: http://gameworld.thesnakefarm.com/starwars/transcript-05.php (The system is WEG's d6 Star Wars)

It looks VERY much like what you're looking for. Some sessions are pure narrative, others, like the one linked above, include dice rolling and action scenes.

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Out of curiosity, how do you separate actions from narrative? –  Joe Jul 17 '12 at 17:19
1  
@Joe I think he means declarations of mechanics-use. The narrative thread then would be the translation of the mechanics used and results, leading to a more book-like narrative. –  SevenSidedDie Jul 17 '12 at 20:04
1  
Pretty much correct, SSD - action declarations and mechanical resolution goes in the actions thread. After the result, a narration of the action and its result go in the narrative thread. –  aramis Jul 18 '12 at 1:27
    
@Joe oldschooltrek.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=aramis Not currently going (We're playing a boardgame at present), but the files are there. –  aramis Jul 18 '12 at 1:30
    
@aramis, thanks, I'll check that out! –  Joe Jul 18 '12 at 1:46

I posted this same link to a similar question but I think it fits really good here to.

Pen & Paper Games is a place for all things RPG. There is a particular blog on here about a Barbarian named "Og" (and his party of course). He is hilarious and it's a must read. It's been awhile since I first read it but I laughed to tears when reading some of them.

Here's the link to the DM's posts. There are other blogs on here as well, if you want to browse around. Hope this helps. Pen & Paper Games

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2  
That's not a transcript. It's a play report about in-game events; crucially for this question, it's missing any description of what the players are doing around the table, i.e., what roleplaying looks like from the outside. –  SevenSidedDie Mar 9 '13 at 1:22

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