Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hunter Session Review

Had our next session of Hunter today. I'm a much better GM than I am a player-- I have to say that up front. It isn't that I'm a bad player (I have been a bad player before and I'll admit that) but that I end up analyzing and second guessing the GM in my head. I can see that sometimes when I run for other people who are currently gamemastering. Usually it doesn't bother me because other GM runs very different games with very different goals than I do. All that being said, I end up watching Will's game because he's very good. He's, in many ways, a better GM than I was at his age. He's got a handle on characters and he's getting better at pacing. I imagine I must be a pain to run for-- certainly other people have said they don't want to run for me because they're intimidated. And, yeah, I can't help but pass judgment in my head about how a game is being run. But I've sat through some really, really shitty games. I put up with Chris' Exalted campaign which was painful (and having sat patiently through that game, he got pissy in mine...which pissed me off even more, but that's another story).

In any case, Will did a nice job with the pace this session. We'd had a conversation relating to some of my ideas about pace (which I mentioned in an earlier post)-- not that I want to say it had any effect, but it seemed better to me. He'd mentioned he had a plot device for one of the players that he wanted to include that might make things go longer. My reaction was negative, since it seemed like we were already at the climax of the session (beginning the session at the fight with the Big Bad). However, he managed to integrate it, make it feel natural and give one of the players-- who has less to do in combat, something to chew on. It was good and I didn't expect it.

Some things I noticed to keep in mind when I run:
1. When you're flipping between two scenes/locations, with a single player at the other location, you have to handle that carefully. There should be some choices and action to parallel what's happening with the main group-- motion or travel done quickly would be good. You also have to make a big point about the shift, maybe using it for an end-cap to a sequence. otherwise, there's the risk of the Netrunner effect (where one player's left out because their actions take place in a different time frame or level of interest for the GM).

2. Anticipation and excitement can be the GM's friend, but they have to watch it, especially when they get to the climax of the scene. As a GM, I know that when you're getting to the end of something, especially something you have visualized well in your head, you want to rush forward. I think a GM has to deliberately slow themselves down. Otherwise you move too fast for the players to keep up, lose description, and even take power/choice away from the players. Your instinct is to press forward then, but I think you have to rein that in. Not that you drag things out, but you have to be conscious, very conscious of what you're doing or saying in that moment and make sure a) the players know what's going on and b) you've dealt with the elements you wanted to get out there. I hate it when I do a big climax and at the end I realize some players weren't sure exactly what was going on. Or that I've left out some major point. My instinct, especially coming out of combat and into narrative is to keep the game in gear or ramp it up. I think you need to keep the combat pace, but not go faster or else you risk throwing everyone out of the car.

Or something like that.