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!