A lot of GMing advice focuses on how to make the session happen. How do you get the players involved? How do you keep the players involved? How do you direct the story in this direction or that direction? It's good advice. I mean, if you can't get a session going, what kind of game do you have anyhow? Today though, I want to talk about something else. Today I want to talk about what you do when the session takes on a life of it's own.
Getting Out Of The Way
This is one of the hardest things to learn as a GM, but sometimes you need to get out of the way of the game. This is tricky because the natural thought is that as the game MASTER you should be directing it. But when the players are going off in a scene, and they're pushing things forward, sometimes it is best to let them have the reigns and click over into a more passive and reactionary role.
I say passive/reactionary because you still need to guide the world. You still need to play the NPCs. Let that happen, but just let the players have the control they're looking for.
PCs In Control
When does this happen? The PCs don't gain power or abilities over the game, but they become the key thing driving the scene and drawing it out. This is often a moment of internal drama within the group, or where the group is divided on an issue while talking to one or more NPCs. It can be more peaceful, but regardless it's almost always a moment of strong role play that is taking on a life of it's own.
To be clear: this is a good thing, and something you want to nurture. Provided that everyone is involved. If not, try to get those not involved into the scene. If you're going to let things play out here it needs to be something entertaining to everyone, after all.
Why You Let It Happen
The reason to let this happen is because of what is going on. Group wide, strong RP is actually fairly rare with nothing going on. However, when it happens is when you get real character growth between the different PCs in the group. It can also leed to dramatic moments of tenshion between the characters. Disagreements can turn fiery. Sides can be chosen. Some PVP can happen. Some PVP can then be resolved and the group can go on.
You can force this in smaller doses as the GM, sure. However, when it happens all on its own? That's natural, and it's amazing, and it's something you should let happen whenever you can. Enjoy the show. Take the ride. That's all you need to do.