Not this week but next week I'm going on a work trip. It's going to mean no posts to the blog. It's also going to mean that I won't be here to GM my 7th Sea game. It will mean next time 7th Sea meets it will have been more than a month between sessions. That's a long break, and it means that first session back is going to have issues. Fortunately, some of those can be dealt with, provided you know what is going to come up going in.
The first challenge is with a month or more between sessions people may not remember what is going on. If you ended on a cliff hanger, you're never going to get the feel and emotion of that scene back. If you ended in the middle of an investigation, prepare to have to explain who everyone is and why they're important to what is going on all over again. It's been more than a month, and that is a long time for people to not be thinking about a game.
The second challenge is getting people back into the game. You need to get them back into their characters, back into the world, and back into the plots. Everything is starting from a standstill though, and that means you have no momentum to build off of. You have to get things going from scratch.
The third, and perhaps biggest, challenge is that both of these things can happen to you too.
What You Need To Do
What you need to do is start off again like it's the first session for the game. Have things set up to re-introduce the players to the world, their characters, and for the focus to be on fun more than mechanics. You want to have something that moves fast to be the session's entertainment, and you want it to pop. Ideally you want to tie it in to whatever was doing before hand, but those ties can be loose now.
How Does Prep Help
First off, if you know you're going to miss a session do your prep like normal. Don't put it off for the missed session. Also, take more detailed notes in the last session you have if possible. You want to be able to reference what happened and what is going on.
With your prep, try to find a way for things to not be so dire or necessary to move the plot but get people back involved. Work out something for every person in the game. You need to, more than in most sessions, make sure you're engaging every player. Keep the focus on fun, keep the game moving.
In short, take the three challenges, and address them.
Early Prep Is Key
I said it already, but I want to repeat it. Don't wait until after the missed session to start your prep. You can use the extra time later to refine, but you want to start preparing soon. You want to do it while the last session is still fresh in mind.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that it's going to be easier to make those ties when the game is fresh in your mind. The second is that it can be easy to not have time after coming back from a trip or many of the things you see coming up that will cost you a game. If you put things off, you may find yourself very close to session - if not in it - with no idea what to do and more than a month since your last session...and that? that's how games die early.
So get your prep in early. Even if it's just a little bit.