As I mentioned on Wednesday today is the first session back to my L5R game. Now a first session back is very much like a first session for a game. There are certain things you will greatly benefit from. I'm hoping to get these things done tonight, and this is a bit on how I plan to do it. Maybe it'll help you in your own games.
Get Their Attention Early
This is one of my biggest weaknesses as a GM but I'm hoping that this session will be one of my better starts. Time away is basically like stabbing a game in the heart. Yes, you can do it safely with properly managed expectations but every week that goes by where the game doesn't come back is a week further for the players until eventually it is like the game was never happening before. You need to grab them quickly with the setting and the feel of that setting. Remind them of the world they were in and how it works.
The more distractions you have starting off the worse this session in particular will be and that is tragic. Bad enough the game had a long hiatus, but now returning to it is almost disappointing in a way...
A Bit of Combat Is Good
Along with being re-introduced to the world the players will likely be re-introduced to the mechanics of their character. Just like with the first session a combat, preferably small but big enough to get everyone involved, can be good. This lets the players use their character mechanics which in turn can help them find the role the character plays and thus the character themselves. This fight shouldn't be a big dramatic one. You don't want to be endangering lives - though with combat lives are always endanger - just get the ball rolling again.
Time To Find The Character
Along with the mechanics players may need a bit of time to find who they are again. A few easy choices, some time to interact, and time to play with the other players are all good for this. Essentially set some time aside for just some RP. Let the characters catch up with each other. Let the players catch up with the other characters.
Try To End With A Hook
You want to get things moving quickly with a return session. A lot of this session is devoted to getting back into the game, and that can slow down plot development, but you do need to get things moving. In general, I'd recommend trying to get to a good point where there is a key decision or something big is about to happen so that the game ends on a cliffhanger or a "to be continued" feel. You want to re-hook the players on the game and have everyone showing up for the next session eager to keep going with the game now that it is continued.
Remember That Momentum Is Important
Momentum is important to revitalizing a game. The faster you get things going the quicker things will go back to "normal". Try to get things off to a good start. Make your own job easier.
Hopefully I'll be able to do that with this game. I'll let you know how it goes.