In-Person Game and Nerves

I have had a break from the in-player game now for two weeks after taking the advice of several readers when we had a bad night.  The advice I received was to maybe take a break from the whole thing and to change things up.  We have done this and I have spoken directly to the people who were most upset and I think we are all OK to move forward.  If a player does not want to play though, this is OK too.  If they aren’t having fun then that is fine.  But this post is about me!  All about me and how I am feeling.  I need to get my insecurities off my chest and writing is a great way to do this!  So here we go…

The Man’s Promise in their grasp…

We are now a week out from the next in person game (it was Tuesday’s but I changed it up) but is now going to be Thursdays and I am looking at the path to next week and I have to say that I am nervous.  Very nervous about the longevity of the pirate game.  It seemed to have it all, players writing novels about their history, a lush prop boat made of cardboard, costume dress up, silly pirate accents, talk about hooks, wooden legs and undead parrots.  But has it done it’s dash now?  I love this Adventure Path (AP) possibly slightly more than I love the Reign of Winter AP which was love at first sight.  Is this my fault?  Or is it the way the module is set up?  Or am I being a Drama King?

It was strange actually because the L.U.G.Con games I ran I was very nervous for as well.  My wife told me I was being silly and just to run the games the way that I always do.  I suppose the long and the short of that is it always makes me nervous dealing with players I am not used to or have not played with before.  I find this a little unusual as I can deliver a presentation in front of a hundred people and not fell an ounce of nerves but to do a game with complete strangers always sets the nerves on edge.  But that is not the case here.  These are players I have an extensive gaming history with so it should not be the case.

I am probably most nervous to see if they all come back.  It is OK for them to leave if they want but if they do I will feel that it is largely on my head for them doing so.  It means that I would have failed to make this an enjoyable game for the players at my table and I have not had that occur in real life before.  I have had players leave my table online before but most tell me that it is because of scheduling issues.  You can never be entirely sure if this is the case but if it isn’t and they just don’t like my style, that is OK.  Nearly all of my online players are new to me and so it is O.K. if they don’t find my style pleasing  to their way of role playing.  I am not hurt in any way by this.

The fantastic outfits from the players (especially the Tengu!)

It could also be the adventure, as this particular AP has a really gruelling first module where the players are down trodden, belittled and dragged through agony for an extended period of time.  They make friends but they are beaten down.  A lot.  So is it the module that has caused us to reach this point?  Is it the fact that I have to be so hard on the players (it is done so the end is so much sweeter) that we got to the point where the players moods were reflecting their character’s treatment?  I am pushing to complete this module as they are oh so close to reaching their first tangible reward at the end of the module which will taste incredibly sweet because of this treatment.  The remaining modules take them on a fantastic journey of effort followed by fantastic reward based on that effort.

I am worried that this game will go under, and I figure that my nerves are based on this.  As you have probably ascertained on previous posts to this blog I have spent a LOT of time preparing this game.  From the boat to the background and researching the realism of the pirate’s life.  I have sunk a lot of man hours in here and a not inconsiderable amount of money to the project too.  But these can not be the drivers if it looks like the game must pass quietly into that silent night.  I have been considering my alternatives if the game does not last as to what I would try next with my group.

My dear hope would be that I could get back into Earthdawn.  Pathfinder is great and I am enjoying it because it is built very well but I am running it largely on the basis that the game is very familiar to most gamers.  It is essentially D&D in a different skin and most gamers can relate to that.  Earthdawn is a system and style unto itself and would require a large learning period for the players which I don’t think they would want to invest in.  One of the players in my in-person group used to play Earthdawn with me and I have discussed this with him.  I think the consensus between us would be that it would be unlikely to get off the ground.

More awesome player outfits!

Second choice would likely be a home grown campaign set in the Land of Kaidan (Pathfinder 3rd party material) by Rite Publishing.  I love this setting and would actually like to set my imagination free and come up with my own campaign.  Ironically, to do this I would probably run the three set modules set in Kaidan and then expand my campaign from the end of that material.  Largely because the modules really give the heart and soul of Kaidan over to the players and help them to understand the setting from the ground up.

If it were not to be one of those two games then I am unsure of where I would go.  I run Classic Traveller once a fortnight and I know one player has said to me they would love me to play that.  But I also have a lot of d20 Star Wars books that I would like to blow the dust off of as well.  And then there is FATE Core or Savage Worlds.  I also have the rules to Lords of Gossamer and Shadow that I could have a run of, but I am more keen to leave that on the back burner until I have been a player in it.  I love the ideas and feel of the game but I am not 100% certain I have the setting bedded down as a workable concept as a GM yet.

My GMing gear!

I have options should the AP fail to take off.  The nervousness will likely subside and we will all likely come back refreshed, finish off the module and have a great time doing it.  I have a tendency to think about things six moves down the track and I think that is what is happening here.  I am sure as I put on the pirate cap and eye patch and do a little bit of design to help the characters out at the start (because between disease and Stirges the party is facing a TPK) that we will have a blast.

So, I have shared my insecurity in games.  I get nervous about my games when they have new players and even more nervous when I might lose a long term player.  What is it that causes you to get nervous in your game?  Or what advice would you give me for getting over my nerves?  Have you lost long term players over arguments and a bad night at the table?  Let me know what happened but make sure to keep names out of it but share with me your experiences in the comments!  Until next time, keep rolling.


  1. There’s d20 Star Wars too? So a lotta Star Wars systems.

    FATE seems pretty perfect for that sort of heroic science fantasy, really.


  2. I think everything will be okay mark don’t think for a moment that we as players aren”t a little nervous about the game also but I think that we will just sit down start playing and any drama will melt away as we are all friends and we all want to get to our just rewards for a very challenging adventure paths. I can’t speak for everyone But my character daranis is really cool and i want to see him grow into a real force of evil that makes darth vader look like a scout master! so in short roll on Thursday ! 🙂


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