D&D 5E Actual Play Transcripts

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Since the very first time I read (if I remember correctly) the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide back in the 80s, I was enraptured by the example of actual play therein, a script showing how the DM and players interacted as the characters explored some dungeon or another. While today we have an interweb and sites like the YouTubes and such packed with videos of actual play, there's something to be said for a written transcript which makes for a good reference and a touchstone for discussions about roleplaying techniques we can learn from one another.

After conducting Session Zero and having in-depth character discussions, my group of WotC forum regulars started to play some D&D 5e using Roll20. These are 10th-level characters engaged in a re-imagining of Monte Cook's D&D 3e adventure, "Demon God's Fane." Part of our goal with this game - other than having a good time and telling some exciting, memorable stories - is to create actual play transcripts that we can share with the community. I'm posting these transcripts so that new DMs can get a feel for how a typical game might play out and so that old DMs can pick up a few tricks of the trade that might be suitable for their own tables.

Session Zero
Character Discussions
Session One
Session Two
Session Three

I welcome your constructive feedback and questions and I will post updated transcripts weekly as we play.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Update! Here is the transcript for Session Four!

Bagdolin, Kanati, Marshal Haldon, and Tarandir face unspeakable horrors emerging from the depths of Golden Lake...

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Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Session Five transcript is ready!

Summer at the Lake, Session Five (265 KB)

This session mostly involves the social interaction and exploration pillars. See if you can spot the "skill challenge" in this session.

The party explores an unsettling chamber:

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As always, constructive feedback is welcome! Thanks for reading!
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Session Six sees our heroes battling foes they previously faced, exploring deeper into the dungeon, and coming across a threat that could easily spell their doom!

Summer at the Lake - Session Six (277 KB)

Much like the battle at the docks, we really see the players come together with their tactics in this session. They know what each other can do and those who can support the efforts of another do so. We also continue to see fun banter between the characters even in dark circumstances. This is a team that is coming together for sure.

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If you're still following the transcripts, thanks for reading and let it be known! Feel free to drop us a line and give us your feedback.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
At last, the transcript for Session Seven is ready!

Summer at the Lake - Session Seven (259 KB)

A good balance of the three pillars in this episode, starting with a terrible battle between the adventurers and the dreaded Iron Inquisitor! While some of the conversation seems a bit disjointed and truncated because of transcript errors, we started the session talking about the stakes of the battle, what success and failure looked like. This is a way of securing buy-in from the players so that everyone is playing for stakes they enjoy. As well, during the short rest, I showed that it is a good time (in addition to doing paperwork on healing and such) to encourage interaction and reflection on traits, ideals, bonds, flaws, and character ties in the preceding scenes. Finally, I like how we get to see some interaction between people who don't often interact directly with each other when they split up to explore. And of course, we end on another cliffhanger...

The Aftermath

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The Sphere Chamber

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Thanks for keeping up with our game so far and I welcome your constructive feedback!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Live from the Demon God's Fane it's...

Summer at the Lake - Session Eight (291 KB)

Well, I guess it's not live since it's a transcript, but anyway... Lots of excitement in this episode as the adventurers do battle against horrid dungeon denizens in a continually escalating conflict with no rest. Some exploration is undertaken when there is a quick breather and there is great character interaction through and through. What's gotten into Badger? What's going on with Kanati's odd sense of humor and his endless rage as he drags the group deeper and deeper into the fane...?

Badger and Casei race back downstairs... again:

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Thanks for reading and I welcome your constructive feedback!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
After much anticipation and rumors of demise, the next transcript is ready!

Summer at the Lake - Session Nine (260 KB)

In this session, we picked up with the vrock battle, fading Casei to the background and bringing Tarandir back into play. A split battle unfolded with the party choosing to keep it that way. The old adage of "Never Split the Party" is good advice in some situations, but in this case, it raised the stakes and made for a more interesting session. There's exploration in this one in the form of dealing with a trap (which is telegraphed!) and a little bit of social interaction. And, of course, a cliffhanger!

Tarandir Battles Bulustres Solo in its Lair:

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The Rest of the Party Faces Sekeren the Glabrezu:

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Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy it.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The climactic resolution of the battle with the glabrezu plus trouble descending upon Golden Lake!

Summer at the Lake - Session 10 (244 KB)

The rest of the fight was pretty exciting, full of dialogue and desperate maneuvers as each side pulled out all the stops to defeat the other. Note the resolution of longstanding ties between the player characters and how each player played to character type. There isn't much exploration in this session, but good engagement with combat and social interaction pillars. Even as things wind down in the moment, the next challenge is clearly foreshadowed.

Thanks for reading and we welcome your constructive feedback!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Season Two kicks off in:

Summer at the Lake - Session 11 (234 KB)

Much like the first session of Season One, this one sets up what will follow and is heavy on exploration and social interaction rather than the combat pillar. But there were conflicts for sure as the party tried to figure out what to do in the face of the looming chaos the ghost-demons are sure to bring about. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
And so we bring you:

Summer at the Lake - Session 12 (225 KB)

In this session, we do some collaborative storytelling in the form of a montage to advance time. This might be a technique you can use in your games to skip over periods of time while still adding context that might be useful later. One thing that's apparent here is that even though the players had a lot of narrative control in this situation, they actually used it to make things worse, not better. This is a phenomenon I see quite frequently when encouraging players to add details on their own. They almost always choose to make things harder than easier.

Later on, you'll see a little of each pillar - exploration, social interaction, and combat. And of course, a cliffhanger!

Thanks for reading and I welcome your constructive feedback.

Isabella's Boudoir...

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