Episodes like our Session of Deadlands: Reloaded last night, remind me that I am not terribly great at improvisation. I don't look forward to the sessions that rely a little too much on what the party might decide to do with information that you (as game master) have given them in a previous session.
Every time I tried to prepare myself for this session, I didn't know what to prepare. Once the session started, I realized that it should have been a pretty easy choice. For some reason though, some of the obvious things just weren't standing out in my mind's eye. I think because, I was mentally staring at the Big Picture, instead of the most immediately available information. I was using my mental telescope, instead of my mental microscope.
This led to a session that was very unfocused—because I was lacking mental clarity. The posse used information that they had at hand to make a decision on where to go next. I rolled for an encounter and sent a Giant Salt Water Crocodile after them, which they defeated handily. (The previous session's monster—a giant squid—took an very appropriate number of combat rounds to dispatch; I thought the Crocodile, being so much tougher would be very difficult for them to resolve. . . it sadly was not)
I realized, after they got headed in this direction that there were two things I should have done for the session prep.. Two things that I can do for every session of this game and be successful. One: Look at the direction they most likely will travel, and taking into account method of travel, devise a number of encounters (and check if there are any Plot Point related Adventures geographically on the way). Two: figure out what their contacts will want them to do. (i.e. Mr. White or the Explorer's Society, etc.)
I felt I was really off my game—I even forgot about shaken status, momentarily, when calculating damage from a monster. Next session should be better. I always worry that people aren't having fun, and try to keep the game the focus of the evening, but I was having focus problems myself, so I didn't succeed in keeping the game the focus of the evening. I don't think I've had a game with that much Out of Character Chatter, since the time I had Nine people show up for a session.