Elves and Wizards and Dragons, oh my! A Transcriber’s Adventures in Fantasyland
Our work as a transcription service traditionally takes us into doctors’ surgeries, boardrooms and police stations, but we’re always happy to get involved with a new challenge, especially if it involves journeying to far off places on spellbinding adventures!
This week I spoke to a group of Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts to explore how they use transcription in an unconventional way – as a tool to record their progress, keep their notes in order and as a souvenir of their leisure time.
What is Dungeons & Dragons?
Dungeons & Dragons is a role-playing game created in 1974 but which has recently increased dramatically in popularity due to the influence of TV shows such as HBO’s Game of Thrones and Netflix’s Stranger Things. Players create a character (commonly taking on the persona of a dwarf, elf or halfling) who is guided through a fantasy world by a dungeon master (the storyteller who introduces a plot, puzzles and problems for players to solve). Whenever your character attempts an action that might result in failure, you roll a 20-sided die to determine whether you succeed.
Why is it useful to have your sessions transcribed?
“We don’t have to worry about taking notes as we go along so we can keep track of the story – a lot of things are ad-libbed so it’s good to be able to go with the flow and not have to worry about remembering every last detail. We’ve all got quite busy lives so we don’t get together as much as we’d like and there’s often long gaps in-between games so having good notes to recap is essential.
It’s nice to have a full record to look back on – it not only makes it easier at the start of a new session to pick up where you left off, but also to be able to look back on old games that you particularly enjoyed, you can keep the transcripts as a bit of a memento of having fun and hanging out with your friends.
We’re thinking of starting a blog recording our D&D games and if we do we’ve already got a lot of material prepped and ready to go.”
How do you record your games?
“We all use smartphones and they all have some sort of voice recorder built in. It tends to be the person with the most battery who records the session, but we just put the phone in the middle of the table and forget about it other than trying not to whisper or mumble anything too important. It helps to keep clinking glasses and shuffling papers away from the phone too!”
If you’re interested in more information about how to record good quality audio for transcription purposes, please see our blog post on the topic.
Can we see a sample from one of your games?
“These are a couple of excerpts from our most recent transcript. As you can see, the documents are always peppered with improvised jokes and comments that would otherwise be lost and often can spark ideas for future plot lines and character developments.”
Dungeon master: Continuing to travel that way, you get to the top of a very shallow hill. The path leads down and you can see a lake, and a river running down from the mountains. The wizard’s tower you’ve been looking for is on an island in the centre of the lake.
Dungeon master: It looks like there’s a little dock at the edge of the lake with a boat. You can see the boat doesn’t have any oars, but it does have a little plaque and that plaque says, “Theodores Malign”. There’s a couple of pegs for tying your horses up to and a trough full of hay.
Phaellen: That’s quite nice, very grateful for that for the horses.
Gutterbrush: Is it a puzzle?
Felonia: I don’t know; it might be a puzzle, Brushy.
Gutterbrush: Don’t call me that in front of the horses.
Felonia: Is there any way that we can check if the rowboat is enchanted?
Dungeon master: Do you have detect magic prepared?
“The player who is playing Felonia is new to the game and keeping these notes is really helping her get to grips with game mechanics and how everything works as it gives her something to refer back to.
The transcriber is able to keep a track on which character is talking and even adds useful notes in square brackets that add context.”
Dungeon master: [Speaking as a giant tortoise wearing a crown] Oh, welcome. We weren’t expecting visitors, I suppose. Are you looking for the good wizard?
Dungeon master: Well, this is actually quite fortuitous then because he’s… well, I suppose incapacitated is the word, but I can’t help him become… un-incapacitated.
Gutterbrush: Oh no.
Gutterbrush: Is he another turtle but on his back?
Dungeon master: No, the wizard is not a turtle.
Dungeon master: He has locked himself in his study. He’s forgotten his keys and he’s… well, his study is magic-proof, essentially.
Felonia: Where are the keys kept and can we help?
What if you’re a solicitor, doctor or regular human rather than an elf, dwarf or hobbit?
Although the content of our intrepid explorer’s transcripts is more unusual than most, it highlights some key points that are applicable to any transcription client.
- A good transcription service can come up with a custom transcription solution that fits your needs, no matter how uncommon. They should tailor formatting, layout and anything else to your exact instructions to make the resulting documents as useful as they can be to you.
- Transcripts are a great tool for easy note-taking, especially when the opportunities for a face to face meeting are made difficult by conflicting schedules and thorough notes are required for reference in future.
- Complicated recording equipment is not required and if you have access to a smartphone you already have everything you need to get started in the palm of your hand.
Have you ever used transcription services for an unconventional purpose? Let us know in the comments below.