Anytime you participate in a long-term endeavor, it is good to take stock of how you are doing and why you are doing it. The same can be said of a role-playing campaign. You want to be sure that the players are still invested in their characters and that they are still getting something out of the campaign. You want to sure that the campaign is still on-track with their goals. If you don’t have player buy-in, you are not going to have a successful campaign.
Recently, when my players reached 6th level in our Pathfinder campaign, I decided to do a campaign assessment. I wanted to know how things were going in our campaign and if I needed to change anything to make things better.
These are the questions I asked of my group. I asked them to answer them as players, not as their characters, and to answer them as honestly as possible.
- Overall, are you enjoying the campaign so far?
- What, specifically, are you enjoying about the campaign?
- What, specifically, are you not enjoying about the campaign?
- When you created your character, what were some of the goals you set for your character?
- Have you met any of those goals? Are you on track to meeting any of those goals?
- Going forward, what are some of the short term plans you have for your character?
- Going forward, what are some of the long term plans you have for your character?
- Do you wish to continue with the campaign?
I then took all of these answers and applied them to the campaign. Turns out I did need to make a couple tweaks. I ended up changing the experience track from the moderate to the fast track and have also made some behind-the-scenes changes to the storyline to try and accommodate some individual character goals. Now, I hope, I’m going to have more player buy-in and a more successful campaign. And I wouldn’t have necessarily known I needed to make these changes if I hadn’t stopped, taken stock, and asked questions.
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There is a great article over at Lifehacker on how to really enhance your experience with table-top roleplaying.
I think that one of the most important pieces of advice given is to get all of the players on the same page. Whether you use one of the worksheets provided or simply have a conversation, it’s important that everyone understand their roles in the process and the expectations that everyone has for each other. Of course, I should take my own advice for my own roleplaying group. This could be a New Year’s resolution for me as a gamemaster.
What about you? What do you think you can do to level up your game? Share your thoughts in the comments!
When it comes to game mastering, I am an obsessive note-taker. One reason is that I use Obsidian Portal to document my sessions and post adventure logs. I want these logs to be as accurate as possible so that my players can refer to them and see what happened each session.
Part of the drawback of this is that I get so busy taking notes that I miss out on some of the game play, some of the great back-and-forth between the players during the session. This is especially true for my Dresden Files RPG sessions, which are primarily dialog-based–I practically have to transcribe the session to get it right. There has to be a balance.
In order to achieve that balance, I’ve started recording my sessions. I bought a relatively inexpensive digital recorder, the kind college students use to record lectures with, and simply record the whole session. My note-taking is reduced to actual notes instead of attempted transcription. Later, I go back and listen to the session to compile my adventure logs.
Going back to listen to the session gives me an added benefit–I hear myself gamemastering. And what a eye-opener that was.
It’s taking me a while to get used to hearing my voice–I still wonder how people can stand to listen to me. But, more importantly, I can hear the pacing of the adventure. This has been especially useful in my Pathfinder sessions.
I have found that I must the slowest-reacting GM this side of the Mississippi. The pacing of my adventures is about as exciting as listening to paint dry. Yes, listening to paint dry. It makes me wonder how the players come back week after week.
Part of the reason why I’m so poky, I realize, is that I’m a contemplator. I like to think things out before going forward. I also like to look things up and make sure I’m going them “right” before going ahead. But all of this kills the pacing and stomps on its corpse.
So what can I do? I can try to be better prepared so I’m not looking stuff up “at table” as much. And I can try to let go a bit and just see what happens instead of trying to plan it too much. Maybe my players will get a bit more enjoyment out of a faster paced game–especially combats, which are supposed to be fast-paced and dramatic.
So anyway, even if you don’t make it a habit, I encourage to record at least one of your sessions and play it back. You might be surprised at what you hear.
I’ve found myself immersed in the Dresdenverse of late, playing a great deal of The Dresden Files RPG.
I’m running a main campaign of the game based in Portland primarily by play-by-post, as it is our “pick-up” game between sessions of Pathfinder and D&D. I’m also running two different sets of “side jobs” with my wife set in the same city. These have picked up in frequency and overtaken the main campaign in volume.
My wife and I have also joined another RPG group in Oklahoma that play the game set in Seattle. That’s been a new and interesting experience–very positive. It’s a good group. Their game master saw my website online and thought it was interesting and met with us and we met with them and voila, new experience.
So, lots of new Dresden action for us.
What’s your latest RPG obsession?