Here’s a nifty little technique I like to keep prep light for your Marvel game and give players what they want. At the end of each session, take about 5-15 minutes to create a “pull list” (thanks Cam Banks for the name!).
A “Pull List” is what you get at your local comics for titles you want to subscribe to and pick up from the store each month. In your game you use a pull list as a scene wishlist. Basically, you can ask people what scenes they might like to see in the future with their characters or other characters. Give everyone a chance to contribute just one scene at the end of the session.
“If scenes are player-contributed,” I hear some asking, “why do we need a Watcher?” What happens is that players can suggest scenes, but the Watcher is still the one in charge of what scenes are getting started and the flow of each session. The Watcher doesn’t have to immediately use each scene in the next session. Most vital to this technique is to remember: the players can influence what scenes are started, but they don’t control the exact contents or the results. No player scen can dictate an outcome (or if it does, that dictation is ignored). A player can say “I want to fly a spaceship” but not “I’m flying a spaceship to The Skrull homeworld and bombing them into the dust.” The former is a scene starter; the latter is wish fulfillment. The Watcher can feel free to twist the scenes into a form fitting the current story, but in so twisting the Watcher need to err on the side of interest and care. The pull list is a love letter to your game, and you should honor that. Don’t make players gunshy but messing up their lists and creating lame scenes.
Once you’ve got a pull list going, you have a powerful Watcher tool for running games on the fly or a tool for improving your prep. Don’t feel compelled to use every scene in every session; it’s in fact better to let scenes stay for a while. The pull list is not a straightjacket!
I’ve used the pull list in my games and I really like it so far. So do my players! The process of creating the pull list is also a nice post-mortem wrap up. My prep is reduced and player investment is increased, so win-win!