I'm writing this earlier than I expected to, and so instead of a recap of last night's Shadowrun game it has some of my thoughts going into the Shadowrun game. Well, "going into" as defined by tonight I'll be running this thing and right now I'm waiting for work to start as I showed up early and figured I'd take care of my blog instead of something more productive.
Now, the challenge for this session is going to be the beginning. Due to time constraints, last session ended in the middle of a firefight. The group is trying to fit a job into the 36-40 hour window they have before meeting a Johnson for another job and has ended up stirring the hornet's nest because with the clock ticking they couldn't be as thorough as they would normally like to be with a job like this.
On the downside this means that I have to try and recapture the feeling of tension and challenge right off the bat. Ending in the middle of a combat tends to rob a lot of htat feeling, replacing it with either despair (no way we can win this, damn GM is trying to kill us all!) or a sort of action movie manic glee caused (sometimes) by the PCs now having a much better and more detailed plan as they've had a week or two to ponder their exact situation and decide if they want to change up how they do things.
Now, that second part isn't the player's fault either. In fact, I think it is an awesome thing when players think about the game outside of it (shows they care) but it can be problematic mid fight. Even if the player doesn't realize it, their mood may change and a person who was all "GUNG HO CHARGE" is now "let's retreat and take cover!" which changes the dynamic. But that is minor. What can get major is when the PCs take steps to drastically change how they're going to be deployed. This isn't a problem because the PCs are thinking, but because odds are that you - or at least I - as the GM are also thinking over the 2 weeks on how to keep things going, managable, and challenging but winnable.
For my part I've decided to go with the best solution I've ever found for this: I took heavy notes. I have notes on where the NPCs are, even the ones not on the map yet. I have notes on how they are armed, their mental state, their skill level, and all that jazz. I also have similar notes for the PCs location and position - their char sheets have their wounds and ammo counts - which means starting the fight out it should be as close to what it was as I can make it.
This also puts the ball int he PCs pocket. if they change plans and it is to their advantage, then awesome and good for them. If it puts it to their detriment...well, sometimes you just have to pull the trigger.