Today’s prompt was “examine”, and this led me immediately to the idea of the AAR, or after action report. Typically, every session or two I ask the guys how it went. Usually, you’ll get the non-committal “It was good”, or “It was fun”, or something to that effect. But it also gives the players a chance to give the GM feedback on things when they crop up.

For instance, when a player realizes the character they created has veered off in a direction, due to the stories and the direction of play, that they didn’t anticipate. The character may have become less interesting. Maybe they don’t like where it’s going and a course correction on their arc is needed. Maybe they want feedback on how they want to advance the stats, skills, etc. They might not be as interested int he direction of the campaign — it’s not bad to get that feedback; it’s best if everyone is interested in the game. maybe they don’t feel they’re getting enough “screen time” or there’s a personality conflict that they need to resolve.

It’s also a chance to let the GM know what’s working. When “that was fun” gets pretty explicit about why it was fun, the GM can adapt the focus, themes, adjust the “rating” of the game (maybe it got a bit too explicit or violent; or wasn’t enough of the same), or otherwise play up the good things. It’s also a nice ego boost to the guy or gal who put all the effort into putting the game together.

As a player, it’s also not a bad idea, as you play, to think about what your character’s motives are, how they might change with their experiences, and how you understand them. Is a new flaw/weakness/trait appropriate? Is a reduction in a stat a reasonable idea. (Most players aren’t looking to weaken their characters, but I’ve had some who have done just that because it “made sense.”) You can think about your character’s interests, the skills they’ve used, and what a reasonable vector of advancement might be. There’s nothing wrong with, “I want my ranger to become a multiclass with druid” — actually, that makes a lot of sense — but it’s also fine to have your ranger multiclass as a sorcerer. But it helps to explain why and how that’s going to happen. A character that gets their ass handed to them might decide they’re hitting the gym to up their strength, or take some self-defense classes to improve their fighting skill between adventures. That’s a perfect explanation for a skill increase.