Random RPG Thoughts #14: Planning Shining Moments

Do you remember that one time that something worked real well for your character in a session, when everything went like a flow,  and you felt like everybody cheered? Remember when you finally defeated that nasty rival, or humiliated him back? Remember when you solved that puzzle unexpectedly? Or that time your sneaking action saved the day?

Those are examples of shining moments for players. As a GM you can have these as well, when you really surprise the players, have a scene that really has the players glued to their seats, or whenever you feel you're really making the game flow great.

Here's a thought I had today about shining moments. Usually we wait for them to happen.

Then, if you're good at spotting them, you'll expand on them, by using more description, and making these moments last longer. One Game Master friend I know is really good at this. He can really make his players shine. But I suspect he also just waits for them to happen.

I figured: we don't have to wait. We can plan them. Maybe we cannot force them to happen, but we can make sure, that there are specific opportunities, for each single player, to make them happen.

Three Possible Ways to make Shining Moments Happen
1. You can plan them. Especially if you play old school, you'll know that there are some things that only one character class can do. A thief is better at traps or stealing, a fighter at killing something, a mage at solving a puzzle with spells. Make sure ahead, that there is at least one occasion in your session, where each one character class can shine. Do that for every player character you have in your party.

If you're playing newer style, or if there is less differentiation in your party, find the areas where each player character is special and different from the others. Focus on that skill, or asset, and make sure it needs to be used somewhere in the adventure. And once such a moment happens, and the player picks up on this, build on it. If a hero does well, give it some extra power. If not, extend the moment and give extra rolls, make it a tense moment. Fudge the dice if necessary, embellish, make the moment longer.

2. You can make shining moments more probable, by making sure the player characters need each other. When players are dependent on each others actions for success, it's also more likely that a rescue action, or team action, becomes a shining moment.

3. You could have a non-player-character, specifically aimed at one of the player characters. It can be a rival, an enemy, a friend, an admirer, a lover, anything. Anything that helps to get the player hero to have special attention, and generate a special moment. The non-player-character could need a rescue for example, or a duel, or a very romantic moment, and so on.

How about you? Did you ever plan your shining moments? Did that work? Or do you only pick up on when they happen?

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