Friday, October 8, 2010

Discussion: Character Goals

Character Goals are wonderful things to have as a player. They help you with staying focused in the game, give you something to work towards, and give the GM something wonderful to lead you through personal plots with. Having a goal for your character, in short, gives the GM the carrot needed to reward you for going through the hoops of the game.

That being said, I am curious how the GMs feel about these. Do you prefer your players to have big goals? Small goals? Middle goals? Or a mixture all around. How do you handle it when your player has an astronomical goal that is next to impossible to pull off? I mean, you can't just say no, can you? But do you move things around to help them with getting it? Do you make it easier to achieve the impossible because a player is going for it? How easy is too easy?

I like my players having goals all over the place, but I love the big goals. To be fair though, I also like epic games. I like my PCs to feel, at least by the middle to end of the game, like they are the movers and shakers of the world. The kind of people who, if they play their cards right, could terrify others with their name a lone.

I also ask though, as I recently told a GM (Atraties) of an insane goal that I as a player just cooked up for a game he is running. The game is Dark Heresy, and I ended up rolling a Sister of Battle in random char generation. The goal? Well, wouldn't it be awesome to work your way up the ranks, play the politics, and become a living saint? Now, 40k lore is full of saints. Especially the Sisters of Battle. However, these people are still the things of legend, and doing so is about the equivalent of saying "I want to naturally turn into a star, like a real star, that burns bright in the night sky".

So, how do you handle it? What do you like?


  1. I feel like as a GM, if people don't have at least small, medium, and large of long term goals, and small and medium of mid range goals I'm not doing my job fully as GM. I feel that a wide range of goals in characters is important and shows that I the GM have gotten people to invest in the world/game.

    When people give me goals it tells me they want to be in a situation where either A: They have an opportunity to gain the goal, or B: they want me to put them in a situation where they have to decide between sacrificing the goal or something else important (failing a mission, keeping a teammate alive, etc.) I like that kind of thing because it's like a more engaged back story in terms of cues.

  2. Much like the OP, I do love me an epic game, and therefore tend to encourage the big goals right up front.

    But I also love the smaller, provincial, closed cycle story (not necessarily one-shot, but low impact), and for those even the big goals can be consedered small or medium.

    As I tend to run sandbox games over anything else (I suck at railroading, good or bad...), unless the characters have some sort of goal or motivation, the game simply won't go anywhere, so even if the characters start the game with no goals or if they are not well defined, what I try to do in the first sessions is to establish those - or the game will die.

    The above is valid for my TT or RL games, as online it gets more complicated, but yeah.