This was originally what I was going to have as the first post of 2017 but the TPK on Sunday kind of changed that. Still, it's worth noting and having the conversation. It's also worth putting goals down so I can look back at them and remember what they are. Also, having it stated publically kind of puts an extra onus onto me to fulfill them. With that said, shall we?
2016 Wasn't All Bad
If I look at 2016, specifically at my performance as a GM, I have to say I'm rather pleased. My L5R game is going along well, and while there are difficulties and hurdles that come up here and there they all stem from difficulties encompassing everything I want to do in the game with all the stuff my players are also throwing into the fire. Definitely the problem to have with a game. I've lamented a couple of times I could run a 4 hour + session per player in that game and I mean it. It's an awesome problem to have.
Beyond that, I feel I've improved as a GM in not only diversifying my NPCs but in playing them out. I've gotten better at putting harder consequences into play. I've also gotten better, as Sunday's TPK shows, of sticking to the NPC the way they're meant to be played even if that means that an errant PC decision leads to player death or a game ending TPK.
That said, in improving those things I've lost ground in some others, and there are more things I want to have under wraps by the end of 2k17.
One of my players lamented to me that in the middle of a big fight they lost track of the narrative of what was going on in the sea of dice rolls. He didn't know how effective his blows were. He didn't know if what he was doing was work. He knew he was successfully hitting and doing damage, but he didn't know if that damage was being soaked or mitigated in some way.
Now, in the moment I had stopped giving out descriptions in an attempt to speed things up. We were already over time, and the fight was slow going. However, in doing that I also robbed an awesome, dynamic, and climactic moment of some of its oomph. By not giving feedback I also stimied the creativity of the player who may have tried something else if his blows weren't doing the damage he wanted from them.
This is something I hope to mitigate. It doesn't have to be a lot, but a simple "He catches your sword arm at the wrist, robbing your blow of power" or "he ducks behind cover and your shots ping harmlessly off the wall" can add a lot to a scene and let people know what is going on.
Preparation and Pre-Planning
When it comes to GMing I'm very much a seat of my pants type of person. With L5R I know the system and the ranks so well that I can, on the fly, make approximate threats to a group of PC of about any level and just run with it. However, in doing some prep for things like my D&D one shots, learning the 7th Sea system, and even my Star Wars game I saw a realm of possibility my games have been lacking.
Better planning and prep means better set piece moments. Faster rulings when the PC wants to do something fun but awesome, and making opponents that have multiple phases to the fight giving both a sense of progression and escalation even inside the small conflict.
This is my big one for 2017, and I'm starting with the D&D game that replaced my 7th Sea game. I'm not just thinking about where the PCs are, I am slowly but surely mapping out the whole world and placing the capital cities for other countries. I'm giving those countries a system of government, a ruler's alignment, and thinking of various things they could be up to. At the same time, I'm filling in the gaps around the PCs with some NPC groups, cities, and smaller scale issues low level PCs can get involved in.
It's been a lot of fun, and it's a level of preparation I want to bring to my other games. Not just tracking NPCs as they're made and thrown into the game, but having some idea of who the movers and shakers are before the PCs even think they want to go to that city/planet/system.
We'll see how it goes.
What about you? Have any goals for 2017? Feel free to share them!