Potion of Restoration

Potion of Restoration

As a player and GM there will be times when you feel the vigor has gone out of a game or campaign.  The action may feel a little flat, the in character RP becomes half-hearted or the story lacks buy-in.

This is quite normal, though can be disheartening for the GM.  What your party needs is a metaphorical potion of restoration to refresh and reinvigorate themselves - there's no harm in the GM taking a quaff too!

Identifying the cause of a flat session can be tricky.  It might be a one-off due to human factors (mood, fatigue, out-of game worries). There is little a GM can do about these other than create a space where such worries can be set aside. Bring Cake can be a good approach if you feel players need a little friendly boost to their mood.

Aside from human factors, there could be game factors at play which you can control.  A quick checklist to consider:

  1. Is there too much out-of-character chat during the session?  This can break the mood of a game session.
  2. Having the TV on in the background or players being distracted by phones or their own laptops can be another distraction. A no devices policy (except for the GM) can help.
  3. Too much dice rolling and system intrusion. If a session becomes more about the game mechanics than the story, it can leave players feeling flat.  Don't be afraid to simplify or omit some rolls and table consultations in favor of a smoother game experience. Falling back on a modified 2D10 percentage roll is a quick and easy way to speed up some skill or encounter checks.
  4. Have you brought the whole team to the table? Are any of your players missing out on the action?  With diverse skill sets can come periods where one set of skills (and therefore a player) take a back seat.  Sometimes it's just the way it goes, but as GM keeping everyone engaged and relevant is a juggling skill that takes some practice.  You won't always get it right all of the time but it's something to fix next session.
  5. Is it time for a change?  Do you need to spice up a longer story arc with something completely different?
  6. Have your players got complacent?  Is the mission challenging? Upping the threat level generally ups the suspense!

These are common pitfalls and easy to correct.  Don't underestimate the value of asking your players what they want from their sessions/adventure.  If you felt you were off your game as GM, let them know; players are generally understanding.  Above all, stay positive and approach each session afresh! I'll be offering additional practical tips in the next couple of emails.
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