As I write this I am remembering a number of things that I forgot to do today. The clients at work I need to call back about their various issues on campus, the laundry I need to get done before Saturday, and whether or not I forgot to take anything out of the freezer to make dinner. At the same time I find myself remembering that my game this Saturday isn't cancelled, and that it is supposed to be one of those "Epic" sessions that are nigh impossible to pull off. Why? Well, let's talk about that.
For those not tracking my life like a crazed stalker, the Saturday game is the Deathwatch (Warhammer 40k Space Marine game.) The current situation for the PCs is that they're on a planet that is going to be host to a 5 way dance. Which, in more plain text, means that there is fighting going on with Imperial, Tau, Chaos, Ork, and Tyranid forces present, or at least on the way to the fight. Odds are the planet will be ravaged beyond use no matter what, but everyone is pretty set on having it be their useless ball of rock and not anyone else's.
More specifically, the PCs have realized that Chaos is setting up a massive ritual to the 4 gods of chaos in an attempt to summon something to the planet. Their actions have been a bit slow with plotting locations, and we ended the last session with the PCs dropping into Tau space in an attempt to stop a chaos attack that would kill 8...anythings...in sacrifice to Khorne. Unfortunately, just as the PCs' droppod launched, the Ork fleet jumped out of the warp right beneath them. Four way dance coming up.
The session coming up is obviously going to be full of action. We have Ork forces, Tau forces, and Chaos forces showing up for the ball. There's a good chance the Tau and Imperials can work together, albeit briefly, to hold their ground but otherwise it is mostly going to be a free for all. Even with Tau/Imperial not actively shooting at each other, it isn't like either side will care if their ordinance hits the other side in the splash.
Still, with this there needs to be room for some RP, some heroics, and hopefully some drama.
The problem is that there is anticipation for this session. The players have it, along with some growing excitement as we get closer. I have it also. This is a session that could very easily make or break the game. If the PCs get wiped, obviously it is a break. If the PCs roflstomp it could also be a break though. There is a lot to live up to here, and that puts more and more pressure on the GM in crafting the session. Anticipation creates expectations, and expectations are hard to live up to sometimes.
How I'm Handling It
the first thing I've done is made sure that I have more time for prep for this session than others. Mechanically alone I need the time. Four enemies means a lot of different abilities, gear, weapons, and things to throw at players. I need to respect that and work with it. The other thing is I am making myself relax. Sounds contradictory I know, but basically I am allowing myself to obsess over other things when I am not actively working on the game. Aside from this blog post, I haven't done much with the game outside of those prep times - which is unusual for me - and it has helped to keep me relax.
Finally, and this isn't really a thing but does help a little, I keep reminding myself that living up to the expectations for the session is going to be up to the players as well. As the GM I can always fall back on just throwing waves upon waves at them. As the players, they're responsible for creating and jumping in to opportunities for the acts of heroism their characters are known for. This is, while not a thing, probably the most important thing to keep in mind as a GM or player: the epicness of a session is 50/50 responsibility between players and GM.
How do you handle the anticipation for a big session? Do you do anything special? Just treat it like normal? Do you let yourself get caught up in the energy (try it once, it can be fun.) Sound off in the comments.
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