Usually I end up writing things like this to vent about some game design issue I'm facing, or a difficulty that has come as a result of dealing with a difficult personality type. Not today though. Today, I just want to take in a breath of fresh air. Today, I am very happy with how things are turning out in the world of running a serial-style game. Today, the town of Banner Rest has been settled by its first group of players, and its creators are resting a bit easier.
I had meant to post right after Dexcon with a big post about all I had experienced there. I have run games before, many times. I have run other people's game. I have run one-shot games. I have run my own serial-style Vampire chronicles, multi-episode games about life aboard a space station. Never had I run a game with such a scale that I was so personally invested in before. Nerves started creeping up on me in ways they hadn't in years.
After some last minute adjustments the night before, I woke up the morning of our Dexcon mod after having only gotten about two hours of meaningful sleep. My fingertips were numb. My heart was racing uncontrollably despite the fact that I was laying in bed. I had to think about my breathing. I realized I was having a panic attack, which only made it worse. Sharing a room with a bunch of friends that take pride in ribbing each other (ceaselessly, mind you) didn't help matters, as I let joke after joke about why I was still laying in bed roll over me. I feigned more sleep and heard a few comments about me not getting up.
Eventually though, the panic turned into focus. So much preparation had gone into all of this. I asked someone for a coffee. I lurched out of bed. Within moments, I snapped into commander mode. I call it "get shit done mode." It's when little old Nick, normally quite the passive, easy going fellow, suddenly turns into the boss. "Captain Nick," someone once called me at one of my jobs, is practically a different person. And, although it usually ends with a literal headache, Captain Nick and "get shit done mode" are capable of quite a lot of good. Maybe it's the pressure of a situations turning some coal into diamonds, but when placed in that sort of situation, there's a sudden clarity to everything that makes me fast and efficient. It's in those times that I think I become the leader that my staff needs from me to form into a cohesive team.
And let me not forget that whole part of it: the team. Leaders can't lead well without amazing troops to follow. That's why I'm lucky. Because I have great troops. Talented people. People that recognize "get shit done mode" for what it is and start getting shit done themselves too.
Anyway, that all brings me to the point that, despite my late night and early morning concerns, the module we ran at Dexcon was an amazing success. The downsides? We fell short on the number of players we wanted for the mod, but that was understandable. As a new game that nobody seemed to recognize much beyond, "they were that game from Kickstarter," and "I think they are Fantasy... or Steampunk... or... uh...I'm not sure," that was up against both an awesome Chronos game and the awesome Dresden LARP in the same timeslot, the number of players we attracted was quite admirable and certainly more than we needed to run the story we wanted to run. The upside? The first foray into the Sacred Grounds world was a success. The story was fun, the action was there, and players picked up on the rules rather quickly. I was even amazed at how much trade was going on at a one-shot preview game with the players knowing full well that the items wouldn't carry over. I only got to get in the game a few moments but I saw what I saw and said to myself, "this... this is exactly what we wanted."
Fast forward a month, and there we were at our first game in the campaign that would become the first in a continuing story in a world and game that took three years of dedicated work to build. Things went smoothly. My players had fun. My staff had fun. Nobody was overworked. We sold a few people that were on the fence that the way we were doing things was going to be a little different. We met a new people that I hope to in a few months, call good friend.
I can't say I've had a panic attack like I did the morning before the Dexcon mod since. In many ways--and I can't speak for my staff--I feel vindicated that so many decisions we made that people got down on us for turned out to be right ones. I am happy to have such good players and staff. I am excited for what the future holds for the game and those of us running it. So much has been going right ever since.
Here's to hoping that we keep growing and aren't just a flash in the pan, right?
But I don't want to think too much about the future yet. I just want to take a moment and do what many game organizers do not get a chance to do (or simply do not let themselves). I want to take a breath, and enjoy this moment, just for a second before "get shit done mode" kicks back in.
Just a moment, please.