Ever have a day when you ran around like a headless chicken and felt at the end like you hadn’t gotten anything done? That was my today. My wife was out all day, so I was taking kids to soccer and swimming, mowing the lawn and handling indoor chores, but nothing got finished so it feels like a wash. I folded a pile of laundry but there’s still a pile left. I washed a pile of dishes but there’s still a pile on the counter. I mowed part of the lawn, but there’s still the back yard to do. And so it goes…

Tonight was game night, and that too felt like a bit of a wash. There’s a fine line between forcing actions upon your players and giving them freedom to do what they want. Force them into situations where they never have any choices and the game gets dull. Give them too much freedom and they’re liable to putz around, and the game gets dull. Tonight I kept giving them their freedom, hoping that would take a specific course of action but they never took the bait. I was so sure they woulod take the bait that I didn’t even make contingency plans, which is a cardinal sin of running a game. Never assume, when giving players an open world, that they will walk a path of your choosing. Sometimes this comes down to a question of adjustment, where you think you know your players well enough to know what they will do, but they surprise you. Sometimes those surprises lead to stellar games, sometimes they lead to meh. Still, in gaming as in writing, it’s always the creator’s fault when the consumer (reader, player, etc.) has an experience you didn’t intend. I know how to do better next time, I just need to apply what I know.

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