I run very improv heavy game sessions. I also do a lot of sandbox style game. Because of this, there are a lot of nights around my gaming table where I’m picking at the players for some direction for the story. Sometimes the players know exactly where they wan to go, sometimes the players really just want to do “stuff” and want someone to tell them what that is. It’s brewed, over the years, a lot of dark roasted Colombian thought in my coffee pot head about how defined your goals need to be.
Well John, what all types of goals can there be? I’m glad you asked hypothetical reader. Here are a few that I can think of.
Defining Goals & Why It’s Important
Whoo. There are a lot of different types of goals, and they overlap a lot. That brings us to the point of this article. Define the goals of your game, players, and story. It helps. There are a slew of ways to define them, and how you do it isn’t actually that important. The important thing is that you do define the various goals in the game. Why?
Knowing the goals of your players, as a group and individually, helps you craft and change your stories so that the players are satisfied. Knowing the character group and individual goals helps you to introduce elements that are important to the characters, and thus to their players. Keeping in mind your own goals as Game Master helps you to stay on track and not go completely into a player motivated game. Keeping Campaign, Adventure, and Session goals in mind helps you control the flow and pacing of the game.
Ask The Players
A lot of the goals in the last half of the list are fairly easy to define. They are usually inherent in the adventure you are running or come straight from the Game Master or a player’s request. Players don’t always come right out and say what they want to happen though. That makes the first half of the list of goals a bit hard to codify. So feel free to ask them what they want to happen. Even better, hand them a printout that says:
and ask them go fill it out for next week. It seems a bit like homework for the game, but it gets people thinking about it on their downtime and tells them that you, as Game Master, want to involve them in the game more.
Write It Down
Keeping goals written down somewhere helps to keep them fresh in your mind. When I GM, I’ve got an excel spreadsheet open at all times. Anything of significance gets written down into it. Every character has a section that I check to see if there is anything I’m forgetting or could be bringing into the game.
So what kind of goals can you pick out of your current game? How solidly do you feel goals need to be defined? What sort of goals do you, as Game Master, set for your game.