If you want to run better RPG sessions, you need to gather feedback about the good and the bad. The positive feedback helps you realize your strengths and what makes the players happy. The negative feedback helps you grow as a GM (and sometimes as a person).

Doing a post-game review

At the end of every gaming session I run—and even some games where I’m just a player—I do a review exercise. I used to call it Roses and Thorns. I would ask for something good and something bad about the session we just played.

Then I played in a game run by Dan Brown, who reframed the exercise as Wishes and Stars for a more positive focus overall.

Wishes and Stars exercise

Doing a post-game review using Wishes and Stars usually takes 5-10 minutes. It can take longer from time to time, usually when a session was particularly good or bad.

I would like to wrap up with an exercise called Wishes and Stars. Wishes are things you would’ve liked to have seen or would’ve made things better. Stars are your favorite moments from the game.

I don’t do this in any sort of order. I just let people contribute when they are ready.

On the road to being a better GM

Waiting for people to volunteer feedback guarantees you only get feedback when things go really badly (or really well).

I’ve been using variations of this exercise for nearly a decade. Using feedback from my players, I have leaned into my strengths and improved my weaknesses.