Latest session didn’t end so well. We were running a relatively generic adventure and while there was no specific problems, we also didn’t manage to invest much effort and energy in the session.
People acted mechanically, just, you know “do this, do that, next stage”. Bucyrus acted as the GM, and while the problem was recognized, there was no way to tell what’s wrong and how to fix that. One hour into session we gave up and decided to simply drink our asses to stupor.
And it’s fine. Nothing wrong with that.
See, modern world is very much about meeting expectations. It should go at least like this and anything below is considered a disaster. While in many cases it’s true, it’s also true that sometimes a dish won’t be any good, even when you follow a recipe to the letter. Such things happen and it applies to pretty much every imaginable aspect of the reality, including role playing games.
Bucyrus recalls some documentary concerning erectile dysfunctions and whole branch of business dealing with its treatment. Creators of this documentary made a very important observation – problems “down there” just happen. Plenty of things influence that, including a diet, a state of mind, a weather, a lifestyle and so on and so forth. Unless it happens all the time, there’s nothing to worry about, really.
And yet, there’s a powerful branch of medicine that deals only with that problem and it makes billions of dollars each month.
What’s the trick? Very simple, really. All those people were convinced that there’s something wrong with them and informed that they NEED to make something about it.
Now let’s get back to the RPGs, shall we?
Plenty of people, especially newcomers approach the game with high expectations. The session is supposed to be this well, bah, it’s supposed to rival Tolkien, Lewis, Martin, your president and other people famous of their storytelling. The players are supposed to have so much fun that they will crave for more and more. They need to recognize this moment as one of most important experiences of their lives and thank their GM for allowing them to feel the spark of divine enlightenment.
This is wrong. This is so, so wrong.
See, there’s no workaround. No matter how good you are, no matter how well prepared, no matter what, there will be times when your skill will fail you and you won’t be able to do much about it. The part of becoming a better GM/player is to accept that shit will happen, period.
What to do about it? Rule of thumb: don’t panic. Don’t make a drama about it. And most importantly, if it rarely happens, don’t approach it like it’s some mystery that needs solution. Yep, screw those self-help advices that force you to break that experience to tiniest bits and spend time thinking what went wrong. Skip it. Don’t think much about it and don’t torment your players asking for a feedback right there, right then, when they still have a sour taste in their mouths.
Just let it go. And it will go away.
Next time will be better!