We strike a bum note
Well, it just had to happen- in fact a friend warned me that it would: sooner or later a session would fall flat, leaving most if not all of us dissatisfied and frustrated. And that's what happened Sunday last, by unanimous consensus. Striving for a note of levity as we broke up to go our separate ways on Sunday evening, I suggested that the session could be titled 'Poor Marching Ordure'. If anyone was amused they didn't show it. I guess the painful experience was just too fresh.
To tell the truth I guess I'm relieved to have got that particular moment out of the way. I mean to say, it being essentially inevitable, then the sooner we- as a group- suffered and recovered from a bad session, the better, it would seem to me. All the same, I do really rather wish that it hadn't happened Sunday past, at the climax of the Morten murder case, and during my first ever session GM'ing a party through the legendary sewers of the Empire in the Warhammer Old World.
I'm not going to bother here conducting a detailed post-mortem of all the mistakes I made. Sufficeth to say that they fell under the following categories:
1. Poor time management: having made sure that I was ready to run when my players arrived, I then forced the prompt players to wait yet another 2 hours or so for the laggards before we got rolling. I will not be repeating this mistake in future.
2. Unreflective snap judgements: when rules issues came up I didn't pause for thought in order to give a reasoned judgement; instead, I just gave snap judgements, enough of which were sufficiently poor that they could only be sustained by the worst of all possible devices: the "let's just get on with things" consensus I and the other players formed against the questioning voice.
3. Unwillingness to exploit a ready and willing suspension of disbelief and thence to do a bit of railroading about which nobody would've complained.
The upshot of all this was as follows:
1. I enabled the emergence of a degree of frustration which gave rise to a classic 'bicker-field'.
2. I forced when I shouldn't've (thus exacerbating the bicker-field) while not forcing when I could've (thus deepening the frustration, which then fed back into the bicker)
3. The players didn't get the climactic confrontation with the vile ratmen that had been so well set up by the previous 2 sessions.
Ah well. What can I say?
Well, I can say that there remain certain things that I would always have done the same. But that's neither here nor there. In the end, I had my players in the palm of my hands, and I fluffed it. It is a testament to their merits as roleplayers that they'll all be back next week to pursue the vile ratmen from pretty much exactly the point from where they had set out.
And, well, I guess I can also add that- all this tale of grief aside- the session did have its moments. I mean: Grundi did get to fire his blunderbuss with spectacular effect; and it was entertaining to see Berthold fall full length into the liquid shit of the sewer!
In the Sewers of Middenheim
- #1 Fury, fear, and flying fur
- #2 Reports, retorts, and last resorts
- Index:- My little Old World: Ashes of Middenheim