Anxiety is a regular companion of mine when I'm coming up on gaming sessions that I am excited for, particularly if I am the GM. Now, I don't get so bad that I'm huffing into a paper bag or anything. In fact, I'd like to think that most around me don't realize how fast the gears get to churning in my head, but it is something that's there. The reason for it is simple: I've got this idea which I think is great, but it needs to be communicated and handled well or it's just going to flounder. Which then brings in the problem that my communication and handling of situations are things that I feel need a lot of work.
I'm sure most of you have had the experience in some way or the other. You end a game session and it was good but not great, and you know the idea could have led to a great session but you screwed it up somehow. You couldn't describe something right. You broke the flow of the game with some pointless aside. You couldn't keep people on task. Heck, you couldn't keep yourself on task. It's something, always something, and it can feel terrible; especially when you know how awesome the session could have been.
So why am I talking about this? Well, because I'm starting to feel that anxiety again. It's subtle right now. I still have a few days until game time at the time of this writing. However, I think I have a fun first mission here for my players. I think it has a lot of depth and that if executed well could be a great way to see how the party works at solving problems, how they approach issues, and what they do with the information they gather. However, like all ideas like this it is going to require good execution.
Part of the story is a mystery. That means I need to be strong with my descriptions and convey the "out of placeness" of certain things while also helping to keep them feeling normal. Description has never been my strong suit. I'm the kind of person who can write a 50,000 word work about two guys and a van and never describe the van beyond being a work van with some rust spots on it. Now, Description is something I want more of in my game, so this could be great practice for me. However, I want it to carry well and right now I'm not so sure I can do that well enough.
The rest of this story is heavily dependent on character. The minor daimyo that runs the village the PCs are going to, said Daimyo's family, the peasants in the village, the local ronin, etc, etc, they all need to be conveyed properly and I'm not sure where I stand with that. I've been told that I have good characters and NPCs. However, I'm not strong at portraying them. I can talk about them, show them through words, but not really inhabit and act them out in a way to bring them to life. I'm not sure how much this will impact my game either.
All in all, there isn't much that I can do aside from continue and try my best. I have strong players. Four of the best RPers I've ever actually had the pleasure to share a table with. They're all good enough to take something and run with it, or to carry the game when they need to. Between that and preparation I should be ok and the session should be enjoyable.
How about you though? Do you get performance anxiety before a game? How do you handle it?