Old dog, meet new trick!

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Hello all… I’ve been silent for a couple of days, actually more than a couple; thirteen days to be exact. Sorry for my silence, real life just would not relent. I still have the last of my Lovecraftian posts to complete, but I’m back with a shorter post, and I’ll promise I’ll hammer out the last Lovecraftian posts soon!

The older I get the more I realize I’m set on my ways. There are things I do that when something disrupts them it annoys me to no end. In an effort to fight stagnation I’m trying break my routines, do things differently and shake things up in my life. Gaming is no exception!

Over this past few months I’ve been exposed to many new gaming friends, through the Puerto Rico Role Players Facebook Group, Twitter and this wonderful blog, and from everyone I learn something new.  Some years ago I would not consider playing games of a more collaborative nature between the Game Master and Players, help organize large gathering of gamers or written my ideas about gaming and shared them with the world. All things I’m doing, and I’ve decided my next game will be more in the vein of modern storytelling games. I’m really itching to run a game using FATE.

But in the more immediate reality of my weekly gaming session I recently tried out something new. When you are a DM/GM on a weekly game for a prolonged period of time it’s easy to fall into a rut, or begin repeating yourself. I’m a big advocate on player feedback, and always end my session asking my players:

  • Did you like today’s session? Why?
  • Tell me one thing you liked…
  • One thing you didn’t like…

It may sound simple but those are some tough questions, especially when someone tells you they did NOT like the session and shoot off a list of things. I think it’s best to discuss something like this before hand and establish some ground rules like: avoid personal attacks, be constructive), etc.

My current campaign has been ruining for close to a year now and due to character death and some player changes, I believed it may be due for some refocusing, repurposing, letting go of old plots and trying out some new things. Of course I’m working from my point of view, so I figured I need to try something different. A player questionnaire!

I tried this before for a Star Wars campaigns some years ago, but it was at the beginning of a campaign, no tin the midst of an ongoing game. I was asking them to pick apart the game I’ve dedicated the better part of a year to, so you can imagine that if you need to strengthen your resolve and not take it personally for the simple question at the end of every session, it would be that much harder for a campaign questionnaire.

So far four of my six players have answered the questionnaire and the results have been revealing.  What they expect, where they see their characters, what they like and dislike. Some have been pretty blunt and some details might have shocked me, but I consider this exercise a success and it already has given me ideas I used as recently as last night’s session.

I realize there are a lot of gaming questionnaires out there, but I’ll share a version of my questionnaire with you. I’ve cleaned up specific references to my campaign so you may change it and use it to your own needs. I’ll just let you know this was for a year long fantasy campaign in which characters are all in the 7th to 8th level range. I hope it can be of some use…

Let me know what you think, or what sort of questionnaires you use for your own games. Happy gaming!

6 thoughts on “Old dog, meet new trick!”

  1. *snif, snif* I feel so proud to see you embracing so-called hippie techniques. 😉

    Share also (in the comments) what you have discovered from the replies. Not so much specifics, but the overall trends.

    And yeah, you need to play FATE. And Primetime Adventures.

    Maybe next year when I go.
    .-= Daniel M. Perez´s last blog ..My Mom Used To Say… =-.

  2. I also tend to just ask players if they had fun. I used to have more ornate means of getting feedback — many years ago I created a "feedback sheet" which asked players to rate various aspects of the session from 1 to 10. And then I'd average them to see how I did — but then decided that was kind of OCD and weird, and dropped it. Now, I just ask players if they had fun, try to get them talking, and hope they'll drop some hints about where they want to go next.
    .-= Daniel Swensen´s last blog ..Getting Player Feedback =-.

  3. Daniel I’ve always been a little hippieish… (Is that even a word?!)

    I want to run a test game using FATE. I don’t know if my players would embrace it for a long term game. I’ve also had the idea for this strange modern, thriller PbP or PBeM game that may use FATE as an engine.

    Next time you are here we have to play! (And work on the kosher Gordopletas®)

    Daniel (oh wait you both have the same name!) My first attempt at a questionnaire, the one I used for Star Wars was too detailed, to long; it was a hassle for players and was not as effective. The fact that I gave them a report on the results with a spread sheet and graphs was a tad bit too much!

    As far as results from the questionnaire, it’s been a mixed bag, the interest in different storylines is mixed and someone seems to like something. There are some duds in there that I will phase out. The type of adventures they what to play is revealing and they want more pirate/swashbuckling action. The fact that their characters are not best suited for that is slightly problematic. I’ll see how that works out.

  4. I've been asking my players these questions after every sessions for a long time, and it is truly a neat technique to get into the heads of the players. However, I encountered a few problems.

    In my experience, there will always be players who are too shy to point out what they did or didn't like. Especially the latter is a real problem for some to express, and I think you have to be very careful as a GM to find ways to make these players talk

    On the other hand, you'll always have players that like to share their opinion a bit too much. This seems like a good thing, but if one player dominates the discussion process, others won't see the need to say anything. Know when to make those persons…ahum…shut up 😉

    Oh, and I agree that less is more in this. Don't write extensive lists of questions, just keep it to these simple three. It gets you all the info you need! 🙂

  5. Markus, excellent points… I have a player who is shyer and soft-spoken, in a room full of boisterous guys. I always ask him what the thinks and make sure everybody is quest so he speaks his mind. I also talk to him privately as the session closes to make sure he said everything he had to. I try to concentrate on them giving me one thing they liked and one thing they didn’t like form every session. Thanks for the feedback!

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