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RPT Newsletter #1,186 | Highlights and Hopes — How to Get Valuable Feedback From Your Players

How frequently do you ask for feedback from players (debriefing)

  • Between sessions

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Never. I fear criticism.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Never. I know what I am doing.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Never. I don't see the benefit.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other (Please explain in a post)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    5

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
Wizard of Combat
Borderland Explorer
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Highlights and Hopes — How to Get Valuable Feedback From Your Players
From JohnnFour | Published January 3, 2022

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1,186


Happy New Year!
May 2022 be a year full of happy gaming and dice rolling for you!

I hope to get back behind the screen this year after taking 2021 off.
I managed to play in quite a few one-shots and adventures run by Patrons and friends in 2021, though.
Savage Worlds, Chill, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Blades in the Dark, and D&D 5E kept my characters hopping and dodging.
Thank you for the great games!

What's got me busy now is prepping from scratch a brand new campaign. More news on that in future newsletters.
Meantime, Jonathan has an excellent solution for gathering valuable session and campaign feedback from even our most reticent players.
Take it away Jonathan....

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Highlights & Hopes
By Jonathan Hardin, sojournersawake.com

If they are having fun, then you’re doing it right.
With my Highlights & Hopes technique, I can immediately receive feedback on how my players define fun.
I gather these Highlights & Hopes right after the game while they are still fresh in everyone's mind.


Definition
Highlights & Hopes is a post-session debriefing.
The GM goes around the table and asks each player to deliver a highlight of the game, followed by a hope for future sessions.


Examples
Highlights

Highlights can be a moment that made the player laugh, a chance to congratulate another player on their clever thinking, or a chance to *ahem* let the GM know what a great job they did on designing the Five Room Dungeon.
If my players struggle for a highlight moment I ask them:

“What did you see in the game that you want to see more of in the future?”

Thank you, Jonathan, for that really cool magic shield.
Hey Perry, I really liked how your wizard Ignitus negotiated us out of that fight — you really kept us alive.
Oh Sandy, I laughed so hard when Roghan lost the horses. Honestly, the best part of the game!


Hopes
Hopes are requests from players to allow them to participate in the development of the future sessions.
Players might ask for shorter combats, a chance to reveal their character backstory, or a quest they want to follow next.
If a player struggles with an answer, I will ask them:

"What do you wish was a highlight of the game?"

I love combat for sure, doing a great job, but I was wondering if we could look forward to a chance to parlay with the villain?
I would love it if we took the underworld mission.
I really want to see Sandy’s new character - can’t wait to meet them.


Warning
Sometimes a player might have a complaint about the game system.

Hear the player out and respond with, “I can see your point, let’s find a way to satisfy these specific points next session.”

Also note that a player might use this as an opportunity for constructive criticism to the GM.
I’ve had it happen and it feels like an attack. Generally, people are not taught how to deliver criticism gracefully.
Rather than burning your campaign down in anger, receive this “highlight” as proof your players care about the outcome of your game.
Thank the critical player. Then let time be your friend in processing the feedback. After a few days' cooldown, you can be more objective and respond to the negative comments in constructive fashion to improve your GMing.


Closing Thought
Maximum value is achieved through full participation.
The more often I have my players participate in the game, the more invested they are in the experience and outcome.
Highlights & Hopes brings all of your hard work back to focus on the players at your table.
While I can learn from other GMs and hear from other players, using this method reminds me that the most important people in my game are the players.
 

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
Wizard of Combat
Borderland Explorer
Reader Tips of the Week
Tips, ideas, and inspiration from your fellow RPT GMs.

Idea: NPC Updates
From RPT GM Jesse C Cohoon

Johnn,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I just did something neat for players of my play-by-post game.
Because the players each have their own interests and contacts, it's almost like running a completely different game for each of the PCs.

But since it's not always easy (or even possible!) to get a chance to cover everything that's going on with them, I thought it would be neat to give a glimpse of what the NPCs were doing when they weren't interacting with the characters.

Before I posted the information, the players knew all the information was out of character and would have to get the information out of the NPCs somehow.

Here's a couple of questions that will help your readers see if it would work for their games:
  • Are the NPCs recurring?
  • Have they any emotional attachments to them?
  • Is what they're doing interesting, useful, or relevant to the plot? Why is it interesting to the PC? What makes it useful? How is it relevant?
  • Does what they're doing show character growth?
  • Will the PCs keep the out-of-character information out of character?
Here's a few examples of what I did:
  • Legion, (a being that has 17 souls in a robotic shell) with their ability to make solid illusions, has been asking contractors for quotes for a new building in the location where the PCs found the Hoarfrost coffin.
  • Jase has just gotten a promotion in the police department. With that, he's able to keep an eye on things behind the scenes without being on the front lines so much.
  • One thing the department is investigating is an increase in violent crimes among people who've never had any criminal record before.
  • Robert has gotten an undercover job at Omnicorp Pharma-medics division. They are doing research on next year's flu vaccine. He's given reports that he's concerned regarding its safety.
 

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Platinum WoA
Wizard of Story
Wizard of Combat
Borderland Explorer
re Jonathan: Thank you very much! I will try this out in my next session. My debriefing parts are similar but your focus is a little bit different. Let's see if this works with us.

re Jesse: I like that idea very much. Sometimes, I use a description of a scene from an NPC perspective (even if he/she/it is far away) as a prelude to the session. Sometimes, I give updates on what the PCs have heard or seen or otherwise between adventures about NPC developments and motivations.
(I would want this very much for our Borderland campaign, @JochenL, but just a few sentences in the beginning)

But I never used it in a way that the players had to make their PCs not know of it. Going after those tidbits in-character while the player already knows it, is (a) an unnecessary roleplaying hassle without a reward (because you already got the information and there is no feeling of achievement) and (b) a drag to keep track of what the PCs know and what the players know in case the PCs don't go after that information. Thus, I would probably not use that trick this way.
 
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