During the last Leveling Up Podcast I talked about some of the surveys I use for my games. I send these surveys to my players using Survey Monkey. Now, I play with all of my players in person, and you might wonder why I use surveys instead of just asking them in person. I do this for two reasons. The first is that I like to give my players a chance to think about answers to some questions. Asking at the table may get a quick response, but it might not be a very considered response and that may not be how they actually feel about something in the long-run. The second is my issue, I don’t always remember the details of my player’s sheets or elements of their character. I remember bits and pieces, but sometimes they have things that I forget about that are drastically important, but don’t come up in play frequently.
I use these surveys to check-in with my players too. If a session was rough, deep, or really awesome I want to hear about it. The table feedback is great, but using these tools helps me to be holistic. A player might think of something awesome to include in the game while they are sitting at work and want to pop that information into the survey. What follows are two survey examples I’ve used recently.
Q1: Where is your character from?
Q2: How does your character dress?
Q3: What goals does your character have that you would like me to take into account?
Q4: Are there aspects of Vampire that you would like to have addressed in our game? (example, descent into the Beast, feeding on other Vampires, Golconda)
Q5: How much combat do you want?
Q6: Is there anything you absolutely do not want to deal with in game?
Q1: Character Name
Q2: Where was your character born?
Q3: What Flaws do they have?
Q4: What are some of your character's goals?
Q5: What goals do you have as a player?
Q6: The World of Darkness can be dark, are there any elements you'd like to avoid in our game?
Q7: What is your highest level skill and why?
These surveys act as a second and third order way of communicating with my players. I want to run the games they want to play. I also want to run games that I find interesting. So these surveys act as another layer of making sure we are both having our interests met by the game. I also do regular conversation check-ins with my people, but those have their limits in social environments if people were to become uncomfortable with answering any of the various questions I have for them. That’s not common, but it has happened before and this is another way of avoiding those situations for the social conflict averse person. You can also check-out a much more in-depth survey here, which I found to be a great resource.
With 17 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He recently launched,www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s a player in Underground Theatre’s and One World By Nights Vampire LARPs and is running both a Mage game and a Dark Ages: Vampire game. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a recent graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C.
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