How do we reflect on our sessions after playing / running?

Guy Milner

I've just been blogging an after-action report on a one-shot game that I ran a few weeks ago (Index Card RPG's Ghost Mountain setting) - and I wonder if we do enough post-game reflection in order to analyse and unpack the play experience and what worked and what didn't. In the past I've used the following with varying degrees of success:

  • stars and wishes with players at the table
  • reviewing play in a session report
  • after-action discussion on whatsapp of what worked and what didn't

What are other gamers' experiences of this? Why isn't it more commonplace?

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Does curling into a fetal position and weeping for a few hours count?

But seriously, I usually try to reserve 15-20 minutes at the end of a session to talk about things at the table, and if I can't do that I'll (outside of one-shot demos, where I usually lack contact info for everyone) trade emails in the next couple of days to see how everyone thought it went and where they hope it will go. During it at end of session works much better IME, even a few hours can make big differences in folk's perceptions of the experience.


My weekly games tend to end at or part the time I wish, so things just get packed up and we leave. I try to take some time the next day or two think about where things went and where they are going to plan some ideas out for the next game. I tend to have an idea on where the play is heading so it is easier. I do not plan out helpful things like cards for the NPCs in town or that they met. I could do better with that.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
No discord? That's a surprise. I do the reflections there which is usually me and one other dedicated player. A few others comment occasionally, but its like pulling teeth to get them. So, I get the base amount of it, but I would always love a little more.

I admit that even after regularly running games for four and a half decades, I still sometimes feel a bit fragile afterward. I'm not sure I could handle sharp criticism in the immediate aftermath of a session. This combined with the fact that it's usually late and people need to get to bed means that we don't usually have a prompt debrief. Informally, however, I touch base with the players over the next few days to hear about what went well and, hopefully, what didn't. I've intended to formalize this into a quick Google Form or something like that, but haven't gotten around to it.


Victoria Rules
If you're trying out a new system, which it seems was the case in the OP, then getting player feedback makes loads of sense.

For ongoing games/campaigns/systems, though, I don't think anything anywhere near this formalized is needed. If the players have a problem with something I trust them to bring it up at some point, be it before or after a session or over a beer during the week or whenever.

The only time I actively seek feedback is if-when I'm contemplating a rule change that's big enough to potentially affect ongoing play and-or overturn established precedent.

As a player, I review the notes that I took in the session, which frequently generates ideas for things to ask or try in the next session.

As a GM, I work on the things I can anticipate happening in the next session.

I only GM long-term campaigns. Between sessions, there's enough player interaction and IC chat on our Discord server to keep an eye on how things are going.


I am often running up against players needing to get to bed so they can get to work in the morning, so we have time to talk after session only here and there. I always do a review of session, but that's more focused on "how could I have run the session better?" Based on that I may make a comment in the discord about a particular ruling, but that's about all that gets contributed to the discord.

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