Had a Savage Worlds session on my birthday this week. Due to the game night corresponding with my birthday we threw a Barbecue beforehand with all manner of friends and family. As a result I had ten people indicate that they were planning on playing. I was nervous about running the game again. I like running the game, but I start to feel overwhelmed when I know the situation is going to be different, and GMing for ten is certainly different than five.
Anyway, we had the "Barbecue" and a good time was had by all in attendance (I think)—then it was game time; at game time I had ten players in the house. Of those that indicated that they planned to be there: P was not feeling well so was unable to make it. My sister's husband wasn't feeling so great and didn't come. My sister came for the "Barbecue" but decided to not stay for the game. Two other players were there but decided they didn't want to play and spent the night serenading us from the adjoining room with the dulcet tones of Guitar Hero World Tour. Two other Players were there that I had not expected to be there, but they didn't stay to play. One more player was there, but had a "date"—I told him girls come before games.
I'm rambling, but I found it somewhat amusing that at game time I had ten players in the house, that did not match the list of ten players that RSVPed and when I did get the game going there were six players in the house and but four actually at the table. Of the four at the table only two had played with us before.
I've never thought of myself as someone that can think quickly on the spot. I adapt to situations quickly, but that skill is not as useful behind the GM screen. Mostly this is due to the fact that players always do something to throw you off the carefully laid railroad tracks that you planned for them. I deal with this different than most GMs. Most of the advice articles/podcasts that talk about GMing will tell you to play it in such a manner that the players don't know that they've thrown you off course. Again, I don't think fast enough for that—I can adjust eventually, but the players know it, and I am most certain that they can literally (and by literally I humorously mean figuratively) see the wheels spinning in my head as I try to come up with what I need to do next.
We did in fact complete all three encounters that I had planned for the evening. Encounter One Ended Backwards. Encounter Two Was not nearly as deadly as I had hoped, and had to be changed ever so slightly for encounter three to work, and could have had a problematic ending. I was saved by a poor dice roll by a player. Encounter Three turned out rather well, and not anywhere close to how I thought it would go.
One of the new players had a great character. He wrote one little detail into his character that happens to correspond with his own way of thinking. If people are taking too long to decide what to do, he's going to just go ahead and do something. It kept things moving along and was quite brilliant.
I know that I need to be more descriptive as GM. I think if I had the rules a little more internally ingrained that it would be easier; as it currently is—every game thus far has required me to know how to resolve a new type of situation. Because I know there are rules for said situations, it slows me down a bit as I try to find it in the book. However, if the rules were a little more ingrained in me—it would be easier to just use or throw mechanics out on the fly. It's the whole Rules/Ruling argument. I like Ruling as long as those making the ruling have an understanding of the rules. More than once during the evening things slowed down a little as I scrambled to find the details of a rule, and more than once during the evening, once I understood the mechanic I threw it out based on the situation.
It was a good session, the action moved along at a good pace, and the planned encounters all took place. I think the character knowledge of those they were fighting was just right.
To catch players up that didn't make it. Crossing the Rockies the group was overtaken by a convoy. They had a shootout and got away. Later they stopped to put chains on the tires of the bus, and encountered a pack of Zombie Wolves. While dealing with the zombie wolves the convoy passed them up and took a pot shot at them. They caught up to the convoy later at a mountain motel and had another shootout.
Comments that I heard after the game.
One person mentioned that they, "wish 'Seasoned GM' would stop trying to commandeer creative control, i.e. describe the action after poor or well rolled dice" —I didn't notice this myself, but the comment was made.
Another comment was, "The only thing that would have made the session better was if P had been able to come."