Secret Goals

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Goals that players have which at least some other players do not have knowledge about.

Games gives players goals. However, some game give players Secret Goals which other players are not aware of. This makes it more difficult for other players to disrupt those goals but at the same time makes players want to find out what goals the other players have while continuing to keep their own goal secret.


Secret Goals are most commonly used in Board Games and then to provide either victories if they are fulfilled or bonus points for determining winners. Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game and Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game are examples of the former in cooperative games and have the added twist that some players may be working against the other players. Examples of games where players can earn bonus points by reaching their Secret Goals include Amun-Re, Egizia, Ticket to Ride, and Lords of Waterdeep.

Players of Roleplaying Games such as Dungeons & Dragons and Vampire: The Masquerade often have characters with Secret Goals and when players adopt these as part of roleplaying it becomes their own Secret Goals. Secret Goals can also appear in Massively Multiplayer Online Games such as Eve Online where players try to infiltrate each others' organizations.


Chess and Go are examples of classic games which have public goals. Settlers of Catan have development cards that give bonus points, but these are fixed and do not provide goals so this is not an example of Secret Goals.

Using the pattern

Secret Goals are typically introduced in Multiplayer Games to introduce Player Unpredictability and Tension, and by doing so make it more difficult to perceive a Predictable Winner. This in turn makes it less likely that players will try to Beat the Leader or begin Surrendering due to feeling that they cannot win or have meaningful gameplay any longer. Secret Goals can also be used to create or strengthen Internal Conflicts as well as make players become Traitors.

Designing Secret Goals is not very different from designing other goals except of course that they require ways of keeping these secret. This may be done through Dedicated Game Facilitators but in many cases Cards can work just as well (all the Board Games examples above do this). As a form of Dedicated Game Facilitators, Game Masters can also handle Secret Goals but more interestingly they can have their own Secret Goals. A specific way of implementing Secret Goals is through Secret Scoring Mechanisms, which is basically the use of Secret Goals to affect players' Scores rather than simply providing them with victories. Player Defined Goals are in principle Secret Goals until players tell others about them; when they are created for Player Characters in Roleplaying Games they are shared by Character and player and provide good basis for more challenging Roleplaying. That being said, having any Secret Goals in a Multiplayer Games encourages one to try and keep this secret which requires Roleplaying, so the pattern does give rise to Roleplaying (or perhaps more accurately Enactment) even if there are no Player Characters (the players are basically Roleplaying a version of themselves that do not have the Secret Goals). A prime example of this is any game where a player is planning to commit Betrayal.

Turn Taking in games can allow players more time to observe what other players are doing, and by this try to figure out what their Secret Goals are.

Interface Aspects

Secret Goals is not an Interface Pattern but as mentioned above relies on a game interface which can provide secrets between players.

Narration Aspects

Secret Goals relate to gameplay goals and not the goals of narrative agents, so the pattern is not a Narration Pattern. However, Narration Structures can provide the basis for Secret Goals that relate to gameplay and can additionally make them easier to understand and remember due to being mirrored in the narration.


Secret Goals introduces Imperfect Information into any game and makes it difficult to perceive a Predictable Winner in Multiplayer Games, thereby both adding Tension and making it difficult to Beat the Leader and consider Surrendering.

The use of Secret Goals tend to affect gameplay on a general level. Since it is beneficial for players to know what the other players' goals are, the pattern gives rise to Gain Information goals and to counter this players may engage in Bluffing and Roleplaying to hide their true goals. This makes for more Player Unpredictability and Complex Gameplay in games that have Secret Goals. The Gain Information are likely to become even more valuable to succeed with if the Secret Goals are also Committed Goals.


Can Instantiate

Bluffing, Complex Gameplay, Gain Information, Imperfect Information, Player Unpredictability, Roleplaying, Tension, Traitors

with Committed Goals

Gain Information

Can Modulate

Internal Conflicts, Multiplayer Games, Player Characters, Roleplaying

Can Be Instantiated By

Betrayal, Cards, Dedicated Game Facilitators, Game Masters, Narration Structures, Player Defined Goals, Secret Scoring Mechanisms

Can Be Modulated By

Turn Taking

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Beat the Leader, Predictable Winner, Surrendering


New pattern created in this wiki.