I've loved using the Stars and Wishes approach at the end of games to get conversations going about what people enjoyed and what they're hoping to see more or less frequently. It's such a great tool to keep the game comfortable, safe, and enjoyable for all. It's very easy to take the time for this in my free games.
However during paid sessions, I run into potential issues, as Stars and Wishes tends to run a bit long especially for larger groups (at least in my experience). I frequently don't have ample additional time to allocate after a scheduled session run, and many times my players will have hard outs at the end of a session.
I've thought about building it into the length of the session, but this will of course diminish my players' play time. Do you have ideas for addressing Stars and Wishes in a way that could still accomplish the goals of the process while taking up less time (or simply encourage people to be more succinct in the amount of space they take up)? Perhaps I just find myself in very chatty groups - for which I'm very grateful! But I want to be cognizant and respectful of everyone's time while still building safe and equitable gaming practices. Thank you!
Wishing for Time
Dear Wishing for Time,
I’m so glad you’re using Stars & Wishes! It’s such a great tool and it makes it so much easier to do your job as a GM.
I can totally understand struggling to find time to use the tool at the end of a session. Some people have hard stops and others just have things to do. How do we as GMs manage this balance without asking our groups to compromise time or safety?
“Stars & Wishes” does many things, but one of the most important, in my opinion, is bleed management. If you don’t know what “bleed” is, it’s when emotions from a TTRPG start to affect players/GMs outside of the TTRPG. There are some times when this is totally okay and consented to, but otherwise, it’s a major issue. “Stars & Wishes” gives players & GMs a chance to acknowledge and talk about their emotions regarding the session in a safe way transitioning them out of the game space. I use Stars & Wishes at all my tables. It ends each session and I write them down to read during the start of the next session, allowing my players to easily enter that same game space.
In a situation like you are experiencing, I suggest the following: Make a space for folks to do their Stars & Wishes “offline”.
If you have a discord, that can be as simple as adding a new channel. If you don’t use discord, that can be making a google spreadsheet, a group chat, or a forum. Encourage your players with hard stops to input their Stars & Wishes into your “offline” space. You as the GM can copy over the Stars & Wishes from those who stayed to discuss. Advise all your players to treat the offline space like you’re doing Stars & Wishes. Discuss what everyone says, talk about what they liked, talk about their emotions etc.
In the situations where you don’t have time to lead the Stars & Wishes, ask your players to fill it out in that space. This allows everyone to discuss and talk about their emotions while making sure you can keep track of them, and also record them for future note. It’s also important that you as a GM share your Stars & Wishes in that space. Lead by example for them and show that you take these tools seriously.
I hope this helps! Stay Safe and roleplay with protection!