It was for a bunch of new friends and one old friend who I'd never GMed for before. I love GMing, I've run a couple of games, but being human I'm often doubting my abilities.
I'd been building this session up and talking about it a bit - mentioning it, saying it was fun, trying to organise a time for it to occur, etc. I was worried it wouldn't live up to the expectations. In fact, right beforehand, I was super nervous that nobody would enjoy it because there wouldn't be enough direction, it would stall, and I'd make a bad impression.
Strangely enough, when you're GMing, it's really easy to read a room and know whether your players are having a good time or not. It stalls when people aren't quite sure what to do, aren't attached to their characters, aren't attached to the story, too busy redditing or playing LoL to pay attention, whatever.
But sometimes, it works well and everyone is like a well-oiled machine. You can see people having fun, making quips, and getting into the story. This was one of those times - even though the characters were pre-made.
Here's what I learned:
- The story really doesn't have to be complicated. It was a simple storyline, which made it easier because the players didn't have to keep track of much.
- You can have tension/horror (cannibalism) and humour (everybody's dead, dave) in the same story and it can still work.
- In past games, when players got distracted on their laptops, I should have both been firmer with them and made a better effort to entertain them.
- I'm better at improvising than I thought (and, being arrogant, I thought I was pretty good before).
- Corollary: I come up with lots of ideas (space manatees!) DURING sessions. As such, re-running games with a fresh set of players is something I should do more often.
- Given there were two NPCs I really should have spent 10 minutes making each of them a full character sheet.
- It's important to accelerate things so that way the game can be finished before it's time for everyone to go home.
- Players will often help with this.
After that experience I'm seriously considering running a new campaign of my own, perhaps a short one (say, 6 sessions) with some clear goals. Based on what I've learned, I'm also considering streamlining and re-running an old campaign (or at least reusing its premise).