A while back I was asked by someone what was on my bucket list. It was weird. I didn’t really have one for myself. There are things I want to do in life, but none of them feel like they are on a bucket list. However, my mind immediately leapt to the fact that I’ve yet to play my rigger concept for shadowrun or a warlock in D&D 3.5, that Jocail the Pirate wanted to turn his sailing ship into an airship at some point in his life but we haven’t played to that point yet, and that “Sun” the Warrior had yet to face down a dragon single handedly like he always wanted to.
I know more about my characters’ bucket lists than I do my own. But in some ways, that’s natural. We have a different perspective on our characters and our gaming life than we can have on our real lives. We know the types of options that are there for our characters, and we can pour through books and setting information to see what kinds of things are available. We also get to bend the ear of the world controller (the GM) a bit and ask if it is possible to work something into future sessions. That is a great power when you think about it. So it’s no wonder that we can have a clearly defined plan of things that we want to happen to our characters. It takes so little real world effort to make something awesome happen for a character, and once that thing has happened, we can move on to the next thing with little effort as well.
I know Johnn Four has a bucket list of modules he wants to run , and you might not have thought about Bucket Lists for players and characters as a defined thing, but I bet you can easily come up with 3 or 4 things you want to do with a character in just a couple of seconds. Thinking about Bucket Lists for your game and your players can have some great benefits.
Gaming Bucket List For The Current Game
Ask your players for anything that they want to do before the end of your current campaign. Do they want to explore various side elements of the campaign? Do they want to fight some awesome monsters before it ends? Do they want to rob a bank owned by the BBEG, just to stick it to him before the final confrontation? In your new cyberpunk game, do players want to explore the options cyberware opens up for them before the end of the game? Ask players for a bucket list of things they want to do in this campaign specifically. They might take a few days to think about it, but they’ll practically write your plot hooks for you, and you’ll have guaranteed buy-in and excitement for the next few sessions.
Gaming Bucket Lists For Players
Players have loads of character goals for later on down the road, and if you ask your core group of players what some of their gaming career bucket list items are, you can incorporate them into future games and get some incredible buy-in. If a player knows that they’ll finally have the chance to play their super-assassin in your next upcoming game, they’ll be incredibly into it and excited. You’ll also get a better feel for what kinds of things make individual players tick. If the majority of things on one player’s bucket list are about acquiring unique treasures, you can get a feel for what his win-scenarios are.
Gaming Bucket Lists For Characters
 While players have bucket lists of things they want to do in any game, they also have bucket lists of things they want certain characters to do. While these are pretty much just character goals, things on their bucket lists might not feel as weighty as those they would consider character goals. They might bring up the fact that they want to take down Duke Dunderhead before the end of the campaign, but not that they would love some more time to just sit in the market and pickpocket important people.
My Own Gaming Bucket List
I’ve got quite a few things on my gaming bucket list, and I’ll share it with you so that you can see an example of what a defined gamer’s bucket list might look like.
For The Current Game (Cyberpunk World Of Darkness, I’m a player)
- Explore some of the fun, but mundane uses of Cyberpunk in the world
- Get to play up my character’s introduction into the supernatural world
- Hijack a flying car in a Harrison Ford-esque way
- Walk away from an explosion without looking back
For Me, as a Player
- Fight a dragon single-handedly, and win (or die trying)
- Play A Warlock
- Play a Rigger
- Play an incredibly suave airship pilot
- Do a really awesome and sneaky infiltration scenario
For My Last Character (A steampunk mechanist skater with a jet-pack)
- Do some incredible things with my flying ability
- Face down the person who murdered my brother
- Get into a one on one duel with someone badass, but related to the BBEG
- Unleash all of my arsenal in one party saving, awesome salvo.
Those are some of the things on my bucket list as a player, and I would love to have my Game Master’s ask me about them. It shows they are interested, and phrasing it as a Bucket List makes me think of it in a defined way. Try asking your players what is on their bucket lists for their characters, the current game, or just in general as a player. I bet you’ll find that they have a lot of great thoughts. What’s on your bucket list? What sorts of things have you always wanted to do as a player or run as a Game Master?