Today, at the table, we reached a point where we have no more goals in sight, and need to think of how we continue the game from this point onward. We are all level 6.

The problem I'm facing here is that my character background doesn't set me goals that my character wants to achieve in the game. I'm a life cleric aasimar that felt the need to wander from city to city and heal people, pushing my deity and her favors forward, and gathering more followers in the process. The problem is that just healing people as a goal in life is boring and doesn't impose any interesting challenge to overcome or seek.

So now I'm facing another problem:

How can I develop my character's goals and overall story without spoiling myself on what's going to happen to my character?

For example, if I want to ask my DM if it's okay that my character will have a dream in which XYZ happens which will set me on an adventure to fix ABC, I'll practically spoil myself the story that my character is going to have in the future, which is boring.

On the other hand, my DM said that if I want to have more depth to my character, it's something that he can't make up for me and that I need to think of a twist of some sort by myself. What do I do then?

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    – V2Blast
    May 23, 2019 at 23:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: How do I get inexperienced, reluctant players to set in-character goals? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    May 23, 2019 at 23:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi! Welcome to the site! Can you tell us what system you are playing? Different games have different expectations for this sort of thing so it helps to know which you are using. For example if you are playing D&D 5e you can edit in the tag dnd-5e. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    May 24, 2019 at 2:36

2 Answers 2


Willing only provides the DM with an occasion to affect the world.

If you want to define as little of your future as possible, you can tell your DM what you want your character's ends to be, and give them the initiative to decide the means. Then, in addition to the immediate surprise ahead of you, you'll have the long-term tension of whether you'll be able to overcome everything they put in your way and actually do the thing you wanted.

In this case, you've been doing your god's will in wandering the land, doing good works, and spreading the word, the least that can be expected of a wandering cleric. Where do things progress from there?

It sounds like you want your god to expect more from you. To see something they want done in the world, say "yes, send Dawn", and then you're tasked with it and you carry it out. So your ends are the thing you see yourself doing.

And it's a bit of a balancing act. You've said you want to be surprised and leave as much up to the DM as possible, but the DM needs something definite enough to start plotting around. Well, when I'm the DM and I want my players to feel like they have more options than I'm saying, I usually "rule-of-three" things; present three different options, that I feel cover as much as possible.

So you start out: "I want a mission from God." Then drop three examples: "Like, go find a miracle cure, or fight a plague demon, or recover a lost relic."

Or maybe those aren't three examples you think sound cool. Maybe you don't want to have lonely adventurers out in the remotes and you want to see all those followers doing something, so: "I want a mission from God to do something with all these new followers. Like, lead a pilgrimage somewhere dangerous, or put together a festival, or restore a holy place fallen to ruin."

If in the process of hashing this all out your DM asks you to define more than you're comfortable with, well, it's probably because they don't think they'll have fun spelling it out. And they're a person trying to have fun at the table too, so while you can push back a little bit, ultimately try to find a compromise everyone's happy with.


Preface: You actually describe two problems-- a rootless, groundless character that doesn't seem amenable to goals, and the self-spoiler issue. I'm going to try to address both of those.

I have been in, and been running, PC-goal driven games for a long time. Sometimes they are pure PC-goal driven, other times, they are half-that and half-GM over-arcing plot. In that time, I've found three separate things that help, but which really work best when all employed at once.

1) As a player, be willing to work with your GM.

This sounds trite, and if you read this site you will see "talk to your GM/player" coming up as a frequent refrain. So I want to emphasize that in this case, I really mean it, and I really mean work, over an extended period of time, not just have a little chat.

Start out wherever you feel comfortable.

It might be an admission that you're flailing for suitable goals because you accidentally came up with a character that is rootless. (I've done it.) Or because you don't feel like you have a good handle on the background. (I've been on both ends of that, player and GM.)

It might be you have some ideas and you're not sure if they're appropriate, so it's more of a brainstorming session. It might be a request to add a little hitherto unknown depth to your character's background so he's not so disconnected any more.

Hopefully your GM is willing to help out at least a little bit in this regard, since this is not just coming to the GM saying, "I can't do it." I certainly would be; it seems odd to the point of perversity to watch a player flail and not help.

2) As a character, be willing to care about something.

Your character background is not constant. Just because you start with the goal, "Walk the earth, healing and curing, building a movement," doesn't mean that's all your goals ever are. At some point, they can (and probably should) either sharpen and focus on specific aspects of those goals, or fall away and be supplanted by new ones.

Either of those is okay!

If you came to be as a GM and did step one above, and also confessed that you were worried about self-spoilers, I would spend a few sessions drawing out some possible goals and conflicts for you. But I would expect you to meet me half way. I would expect you to be observant and if at all possible pick one or two.

3) As a player, set open-ended goals, and don't worry about spoilers

Knowing the type of goal you have is more or less knowing the object of the current quest. It's not inherently a spoiler, any more than Frodo knowing he has to destroy the One Ring is a spoiler for The Lord of the Rings. The spoiler is how it plays out in the fateful moment and what built up to it.

However, some people really are genuinely more sensitive to spoilers than others.

In which case, suitable goals are more like, "Learn more about X," and "Make progress about Y," and "Bring closure to Z." Note that none of these specify anything about the result. None of them specify what the end state looks like in detail.

If a raging debate between your followers is between some rival branches of heterodoxy, then "bring closure" could be your character finally endorsing one, or the other, or laying down the law on orthodoxy and dealing with the consequences of any of those choices. I've had great success with this approach as a player in PC-goal driven campaigns, even though I'm not troubled by the kind of self-spoilers that you are.

(I will note, this does presuppose a game world rich enough that these more meta options make sense.)


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