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D&D General When you continue playing after a multi-month break (tips needed)

So I am the DM of a campaign that has stopped during the summer months (DM and players were all on holiday). It's a relatively new campaign we play: We will play session #6. (Homebrew campaign, newbie players, btw).

I want to start up the game with a little recap:
  • First players say what they remember, and what their characters are doing (which they may not remember because nobody takes notes).
  • Then I'll summarize the storyline (because I did take notes after every session), and end the summary with a description of the location where the PCs find themselves.
Any other tips how to get the story going again smoothly after a long break?
 

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Norton

Explorer
Feel your pain. Happens to me frequently. If there's a lot to cover, try keeping your summary to only the key points. They'll get lost all over again if there's too much to review. You may find that they start filling in and laughing about things they're starting to recall, so expect a longer start that might actually be a fun time.

If you really want to go all out, print out the outline so they have it for reference and maybe include a glossary of NPCs. I did a page and a half PDF that I sent them the night before so they could do a quick review prior to showing. With any luck, they'll hit the ground running and you'll get more actual playing time in.

Good luck!
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I would do a really quick review first to jog people's memories before you ask them what they remember and what they're doing. Ultimately it's really more of a conversation - you may or may not need to remind people of details and what-not.

Beyond that I wouldn't worry about it too much. You may need to remind people of some things as you go along is all. Good luck!
 


Stormonu

Legend
“When we last left our heroes” with a short recap of pertinent events is a good thing to do.

Having the players do the recap is really beneficial, more so than the DM, as it lets you know what details they were tuned-in to, and you can then fill in gaps they need to know (but keep it brief). If there’s more relevant info they need, put it on a bullet-pointed sheet of paper they can refer to as the game goes on.

The big thing is not to do an info dump off the bat and lose all the excitement of getting back together. A fun thing to do is to open with some sort of immediate hook (a fight with returned enemies from the past or terse verbal encounter with a belligerent NPC questioning their prior deeds), that lets you remind the group of past events while still having present action.
 

Jmarso

Explorer
Yeah, after each session make a note of where the characters are and where the situation stands. Of special import is the 'small things' that will eventually slip the mind- like the note one character found and slipped into his pocket during a time crunch without reading it, stuff like that. Then when the group meets again, have the whole 'And there they were...' recap, spiced with those little reminders: "And oh, Hyacinth the Rogue, don't forget you swiped that note off the table and have it in your pocket, unread..."

I try not to break sessions mid-stream when there is 'stuff' going on, but sometimes the clock ticks down to zero on a session and you can't help it.
 

TheSword

Legend
I’ll be honest, as a DM it’s been responsible for ending more campaigns than any other cause. Once you go beyond two months it’s very hard.

I’d almost treat it as a first session again. Try and capture what the campaign means in that first session back. Establish a good feel for the group ands get the play resumed. Maybe follow up with another session soon after make your first session back a double length one to up the engagement.

Good luck with it. We got our odyssey face to face campaign going after four\five months of lockdown and once we got that first session back out of the way it was great.
 
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aco175

Legend
I start with a fight. This way the players get to feel out their PCs once again and recall all the bits that the spells and powers do and know that game is starting. Then, you have a bit of recap as to why the goblins are attacking and to recall you were traveling to the secret cave for the NPS guy and that the BBEG was gathering goblins in the next valley.
 


TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
My Starfinder campaign had to stop in August 2020, and we started again in July 2021.

Just like you did, when I arrived at the first new session, I had prepared a recap of my own. Told my players to bear with me and took a solid six or seven minutes to go over what happened, putting extra emphasis on plot important points. Also told them to speak up if I forgot anything.

I asked everyone to go over their inventory and share any interesting objects they might have to remind everyone. That worked very well.

I also had a first scene that was very prepared. The way things had ended, they were about to enter one place. So I gave it all I had, it was a bit more controlled that I generally like to run things. But I had some cool NPCs, mannerism and a new job for them. It got them immersed real quick and got these roleplaying engines going.
 

I'd say that a quick recap like you have planned of what they were doing, what the goal and threat were, and where they last left off is key. But along with information, you also need to build momentum and excitement. If they enjoy combat, get to a cool fight quickly. If they prefer social encounters, get a really meaty one of those in front of them. If there are any NPCs they really liked, get them on the scene somehow. A recap tells what they were doing when they last played, but excitement reminds them of why they were playing.
 



jgsugden

Legend
I give it two sessions to get them back in the swing of things. The first session is a mini 'stand alone' adventure (in that it does not advance any existing stories) that reminds them of the story elements that they experienced prior to the break that are relevant.

For example, a nobleman might approach the PCs and ask them to help them with his problem. He explains that he heard about what they did in Session 1, and how that is relevant to the current situation, but he was nervous about approaching them given the trouble they experienced in Session 3, as being associated with that might put his reputation at risk.

Then, we pick up the next session with another recap of sessions 1 to 7 and ready for the plot to move forward.
 


Hey all, thanks for the great feedback!

[...]
I asked everyone to go over their inventory and share any interesting objects they might have to remind everyone. That worked very well.
[...]
This is a great idea that I will certainly use.
I'd say that a quick recap like you have planned of what they were doing, what the goal and threat were, and where they last left off is key. But along with information, you also need to build momentum and excitement. If they enjoy combat, get to a cool fight quickly. If they prefer social encounters, get a really meaty one of those in front of them. If there are any NPCs they really liked, get them on the scene somehow. A recap tells what they were doing when they last played, but excitement reminds them of why they were playing.
Good advice. I will plan for an encounter that forms a major threat to their pet. That'll motivate them, and then have a quirky NPC that hte players like make an appearance.
apocalypse world love letters

D'oh... Wrong thread
Not as wrong as you think. I had to investigate it a bit, but having the players roll some dice to see what effects they get for the start of the session may be quite fun.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
("Wrong Thread" is because I posted a big reply about the West Marches and then deleted it... :p )

The thing I like about Love Letters is that it gets the players playing right away, and that gets them engaged and thinking and motivated to remember what was happening. So to me, the "pick your poison" part of the Love Letter is more important than the rolling part. But if I were porting these to D&D, I'd of course include some rolling because rolling is fun.
 

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