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surveys and game-assessment

Started by kwill, November 06, 2001, 10:03:00 PM

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over in">Assessing my group w/ survey Matt [chimera] started a discussion with a survey he recently gave to his gaming group

discussion has moved on from there, but I thought it might be interesting to look at forms of self- and game-assessment, and discuss why and how people have done it

(take a look at the first page of">Assessing my group w/ survey to see what has been covered already, including a neat use of character focussed surveys to serve as a basis for a Dreamlands scenario in a Cthulhu campaign)

also note that finding your GNS label is not the issue here, but assessment of the game itself and roleplayers contributions and goals (ambitions) in terms of the game (ie, understanding GNS preference/viewpoint is a part of all this, but labelling is not)

I know that berin kinsman over at" target="_top">Uncle Bear has a few articles on game "management" that may be of interest/relevance

to get the ball rolling, here's a survey from the first long-term campaign I played in; as a noted in the previous thread the major impact on me was to *start thinking about this kind of thing* rather than just pitch up and play (or not, ahem)


Lands Of Mystery Player Feedback Form
Game Section

1) Setting

1. How interesting do you find the setting?
2. How exciting do you find the setting?
3. How believable do you find the setting?
4. How well do you think that the Western, Fantasy and Horror flavours are mixing?

Comment on the setting (game world) - what do you like most, and what do you like least?

2) System

What do you like most and least about the Deadlands system that we are using to run this game? Are there any elements you would like to see included?

3) Adventures

In which order of preference would you rate the following types of adventure action:

(Ticks in a 6x6 matrix indicated 1st thru 6th ranking)

- Combat (e.g. Fighting the Black River Rail saboteurs in teh forestry station)

- Interaction (meeting and conversing with NPCs, even those not central to the plot)

- Investigation (uncovering clues and information and solving puzzles)

- Achievement (making a significant difference to the game world - the degree to which there is a 'big picture' which affects, and is affected by, your actions)

- Character Advancement (putting up skills, buying off Hindrances, and becoming more competent and skilled)

- Roleplaying (including the development of relationships with NPCs and other PCs, and the degree to which you like seeing your character develop as a person)

4) What do you think is the most disruptive thing associated with the game - disruptive in the sense that it makes it harder for you to enjoy yourself during the game?

5) In terms of the long-term campaign, what are your ideas for the Posse and for your character?


Lands Of Mystery Player Feedback Form
DMing Section

1) How well do you think the following areas are being handled within the game?

- HORROR: Scary and tense scenes which genuinely act on your fear.
- ACTION: Well-choreographed and gripping narration of action.
- HUMOUR: Humour is appropriately placed and of the right duration.
- DETAIL: Detail is neither too much nor too little.

2) Which of the adventures we have played thus far have you enjoyed most... and why? Which scene(s) stick out?

3) Do you feel that there is enough for your character to "do" in adventures that are presented?

4) If you do, then what do you see as your specialization - if not, what kind of situations do you feel would allow you to bring your character into the limelight?

5) Do you feel that your character does enough to take initiative in terms of plot development - starting adventures, making character plans, and so on - or, do you feel that you are "spoon fed" all your adventures?

6) If you feel that you are spoon fed, what would help get you off your complacent grain-fed rump and working with me on this thing!? :smile:

7) Lastly, if you were running this game what thing/person/adventure would you have introduced LONG ago, which I haven't?


phew! I will refrain from giving my answers because they're not pertinent, wordy and I don't have 'em on me (although perhaps we should discuss how people answer surveys and how to interpret and discuss 'em)

notice the almost-GNS-preference query in Game Section question 3, pretty cool, huh?

we can use this as a basis for dissection if y'all want; and in case you're wondering, that Deadlands game that I put in my top three in the profilin' thread was this one


Paul Czege

Hey David,

On the topic of surveying players, below are the questions I emailed my group after I ran the first session of my scenario for The Pool:

1) Which NPC from the game is most interesting to you now as a *player*? Why?

2) Which player character is most interesting to you now? Why?

3) What was the most compelling scene of the game? Why?

4) What one thing would you have done differently as the GM? (I'm only asking for one, because I suspect I'll get a different answer from each of you, and I'm not sure how much "I would have done this differently" feedback I can handle beyond that.)

5) If I told you the Premise of the scenario is, *Should you expect more than safety in the face of your own extinction?*, can you see yourself working up an individual thematic resolution to that Premise with your character and his current situation?

6) Other comments?

I've become very interested in understanding how NPC interactions and adversity work to deliver player character protagonism, so most of the questions are related to that.

My thinking behind the first question is that the players would pick the NPC's who'd been the most effective at protagonizing the player characters. I wanted to know what I was doing right. The same idea was behind the second question. The players are the audience for the narrative. My thinking was that the most interesting player character to them is the one I've been most effective at protagonizing.

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Waaaay long ago, I used to give regular surveys to my Champions players every ... oh, 6 to 10 sessions. I probably have them buried in the folders from those days, but for now, here's what they included from memory.


1) Here are the villains you've dealt with in the last
  • sessions. [list follows] Which did you like the most, and why? Which did you like the least, and why?

    [by "like," they understood it to mean, "want to see again," or "want to see as a more integrated piece of the setting"]

    2) Here are the problems and plots you've dealt with lately [list follows] Which did you enjoy the most?

    3) Here are the main non-super NPCs in the story so far. [big list follows] Whom do you want to see more of? Who doesn't interest you very much?


    For those of you who remember, John Ostrander used to run reader polls in the letters pages of the comic Grimjack, and that had a big influence on me.

    I took the answers very, very seriously. The next two story-sets (I used to run very formal five-run sets or "mini-series" with longer-term issues running underneath) would reflect the poll results in a big way.


Jared A. Sorensen

Nutty idea which might work for a superhero game...

After the game (in-between sessions), have players write fan letters to the "comic," like you see in the back of comic books.
jared a. sorensen /


QuoteAfter the game (in-between sessions), have players write fan letters to the "comic," like you see in the back of comic books.

Sounds like a perfect addition to John's superhero idea, although it should somehow translate into a game mechanic (the GM...errr, Editor-In-Chief...has to pick a "letter of the month" and that letter presents the conflict for the next "issue".  Or something like that.)

- Moose

Jared A. Sorensen

See, I would use it as a way to get players to respond to and comment on the game. So more of a critique session than any kind of game mechanic.
jared a. sorensen /

Mike Holmes

Sure, use it for feedback in general. There's no reason that a "fan" can't suggest that the next edition include something in the plot, and no reason why the "editor" can't use it if he likes it. Very cool.

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Mike Holmes

Sorta related, I use questionaires quite a bit for chargen. Before just letting the player loose with the chargen system I have them fill out a questionaire that asks questions designed to elicit responses that will make for a fleshed out character. Afterwards we can work up the character together from the responses, or, somtimes, I just make the stats up myself. Removes the worries of odd characters due to min/maxing or list picking.

Responses to such a questionaire can sometimes reveal things about the style or mood that the player is looking for. Or they may ask about those things while filling the questionaire out. Either way it helps establish the game.

Interviews can work similarly, of course.

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-Get your indie game fix online.


in that regard (pre-game questionnaires), I found Unknown Armies had a stunning char gen system; all of the right questions are asked for an UA game, and a fleshed out character is made to boot

(so yeah, it made sense when I saw Ron classify it as Sim Character in his essay)

I can see this helping in a Narr game as well, perhaps asking questions not central to, but surrounding the Narr Premise (eg, examples of the character having answered the question before, perhaps prompting as to why they would/n't do the same again)


Ron Edwards


It can go the other way in Narrativism too - using the questionnaire to generate the Premise, probably in part rather than in whole, but certainly significantly.

Another method is for Narrativist play in which Setting provides the bulk of the Premise, as in Castle Falkenstein. In these games, the character questionnaire is mainly about style and background, merely to situate the character into things in a fun way.

(As I often repeat, this looks like but is not the same as a Sim/Char process as in Unknown Armies.)