I have no idea if this concept has been floated before, but it’s new to me — and it’s been enormously helpful over the past couple of weeks.
As my Mage game draws to a close , I’m working towards a specific ending scene. I don’t know what’ll happen in that scene — more to the point, what the PCs will do — but I know what I want it to look like. What I didn’t know was quite how to get there.
So with three or four sessions left to go, depending on how things shook out, I got an idea: I jotted down the ending, and asked myself how to get there. What immediately popped into my head was the concept of “waypoints” — crucial scenes or game elements that needed to happen in order for us to reach the ending I had in mind.
After writing down a sentence about the ending, the waypoint that led into that scene came to mind immediately. I took a few notes about that one — whatever I thought of, unfiltered — and then was pleasantly surprised when the next waypoint back in the chain came to me just as quickly.
In less than 10 minutes, I had three sessions loosely mapped out: the second to last, based around one waypoint; the next to last, also based around a single waypoint (and connected to the prior waypoint); and the finale, which was reachable by hitting both waypoints.
You could look at it like this:
- You know the starting point (wherever you left off last session)
- And you know where you want to go: the end of a campaign or a story arc, or just the next major plot point
So you jot them down and try to connect the dots with waypoints. It’s really just brainstorming with a light conceptual framework wrapped around it — a little structure, which I often find useful.
The end result is:
Starting point > Waypoint > Waypoint (repeat as needed) > ending.
Prep usually takes me a long time, so anything I can come up with — or read about, or steal from another GM’s bag of tricks — that saves some time is a blessing. Much like shower insight and clearing GM’s block , the idea of waypoints is something that just works for me.
Since your brain works differently (lucky you!), this technique might be totally useless for you — or, conversely, it could be just as awesome for you as it’s been for me. I hope it’s the latter!