At present I'm in a bit of a dangerous spot as a GM. Why? Well, we just kicked off the last act for Generation 2 of my L5R game. What that means is that soon, very soon considering how objective/goal oriented the current crop of PCs are, the second generation is going to be over and we'll be moving forward some 30-100 years and beginning a third generation. This means that as a GM I have to start looking forward to the next generation. Where do I want to put it time wise? What big things do I want to have changed? What opening pieces do I want to have in place? It's a lot of planning. At the same time though, I can't let go of this generation. It still needs my attention and just as much planning. In effect, I'm literally caught between two time periods. Today, I want to talk about it.
The New Is Exciting
The biggest problem here is that the new generation is fundamentally more exciting than the current generation. Why? Well, because with the current generation I'm already mired in the middle of the story. While I've done some things well, I'm also mired in the multitudes of things that didn't go according to plan or that I messed up. The next generation is full of possibilities. New characters, new aspects to the setting, new PCs, it's a big wide unknown with the potential to be the best damn generation/game I've ever run. Beginnings are exciting. Endings can be, but there is something to be said about the energy of creation and setting things in motion over the energy of bringing something to a close. Anyone who has ever tried to write a novel knows this. you don't get more than 15k in before your brain starts spitting out all these new, better, ideas for stories.
Focus On What Is At Hand
However, just like when those ideas hit me in writing the trick here is to focus on what is at hand. My players, and their characters, both deserve and need my attention to wrap up this generation. I know about what is going to happen. I know about what they are going to find, what it points to, and where it is. What I need to do is weave a story around that for them to explore and come to the end of their time as PCs. The rest of the stuff can wait. I'll have plenty of time to focus on it completely in the next few months.
But I Have Ideas Now
The problem with that is that I am having ideas now. So how do you deal with that? Simply put, I write them down. If the idea seems truly neat or has a lot of potential it gets written down. I don't explore it though, I just write it down and set it off to the side. If the idea truly has merit it will bear fruit when I come back to it. If not, then it can be discarded.
Plotting Now To Plot Later
Effectively this is the plan for now. I'm trying to get as much of the broad strokes of the planning in place now so that I can focus elsewhere later. If I have the broad strokes in place I can fill in details. Once all the core pieces are in place though I can also look more to the future and figure things out. I can get some of the big pegs down and wait to flesh out those details until after the PCs have decided how they will impact the future this time.
Hopefully it'll play out well for everyone.