The Stairwell System
(or “How to remember everything that happened in the session”)
In episode 18 of On the Shoulders of Dwarves I’ve briefly mentioned how I use “The Stairwell System” to remember everything that happens in my gaming sessions. We got an email from one of our listeners (Hi Jim!) that asked if I can expand on this system. So, The Stairwell System is a variant of The Roman Room technique / The Journey Method mnemonic device, both are great systems for remembering stuff. The basic TL;DR idea behind these systems is that you imagine a room you know, like your living room or bedroom, and you imagine yourself walking in that room in a regular pattern (usually turning left, walking to the corner, turning right, walking to the next corner, stopping by the table etc.). You imagine items in every stop that reminds you of what happened in the gaming session. The reason it works so well is because it’s easier to remember visual images set in a well known location and a simple narrative (“I’m walking in the room”) than just a list of events”.
Here is an example how The Roman Room technique can work for a gaming session: let's suppose that in our previous session we had a battle with orcs from the white hand clans, then talked with an apple merchant on the road that told you of bandits and then we went ahead and fought the bandits and discovered they were sent by the evil magician kirk. So , in order to remember the events of the session I would imagine myself walking into my bedroom, turning left and seeing a decapitated orc head with a white hand painted on its forehead, then I’ll turn right and see on my desk a crate of apples with a warning note scribbled on it signed with the wax seal of a merchant, next I’ll go to the window and on the window seal I’ll imagine a cut purse with the dagger that cut it, the dagger will be held by a plush toy of captain kirk who will be wearing a wizard robe. Every item in this imaginary walk is meant to remind me of an event in the session by the chronological order that they transpired. It’s easier to remember an imagining of a stroll in your room rather than a whole session. For example, close your eyes now and try to remember the story I told by walking the room, can you? Easy.
What is the difference between The Roman Room and The Stairwell System? The Stairwell System is built on the same basic principle but expand the Roman Room to include multiple gaming session. Imagine that each room is on a different floor with a stairway leading form one to the other. If I’m running a long campaign – every floor can be comprised of several rooms and thus every floor is depicting a different adventure in the campaign. You can also add specific rooms for specific characters, if you want to keep track on the events that are relevant to the personal plotline of those specific characters.
Hope that make sense and will help all of you to keep track on everything that’s going on in your game.
[First published on On the Shoulders of Dwarves blog]