Ever run an awesome game where the entire group is having fun with a great finale and it is the perfect time to end the session, but then one or more of your players says “This is great! We should keep going!”?
Do not, I repeat, do not answer that question until you have answered these three questions first:
Do I have enough material to continue?
If your session was 31 flavors of awesome because you had done excellent prep work of some sort and you now have nothing ready to use you should not continue the session. If you were improvising and find yourself tapped out at the moment do not continue the game.
Do I have the stamina to continue?
I do not know about the rest of you, but when I GM I put a lot more energy into the game than when I am a player. Maybe it is because I stand when I GM, or because I am putting more effort into portraying several different characters instead of just focusing on how I play my PC. I do not have an answer as to why, but I am always considerably more tired after a night of GMing an RPG as opposed to a night of playing an RPG.
The point? If you are feeling even slightly tired you should probably not continue the game.
Do I want to risk this great session becoming a bad one?
The first two questions are just meant to get you to be honest with yourself. If you asked this question first you might automatically respond with “This session was so amazing it cannot possibly go bad now!”
Oh yes it can. The best laid plans of mice and men my friends. Great sessions can turn to crap sessions with only a few bad decisions, and the first bad decision was usually to keep going when the session had reached a good stopping point.
So do yourself a favor and keep these three questions in mind when you end a great session and someone says “Let’s keep going!” If you are up to that challenge and can continue great, but if not just politely say no and keep your players salivating for more in the next session. That will give you time to not only ensure that you are ready to GM, but it also gives you time to analyze what worked and how to make the next session just as fun if not better.
Have you ever had a great session go bad because you decided to “keep going” when you should have just ended the session? Have some tips on how to keep a great session going without risking it going bad? Then share your experiences in the comments section below with us gnomes and our readers, and let us know how you feel on the matter.
Good advice. I always prefer a short awesome session, to a long mediocre one.
We game on Friday evenings, so after a day at work, dealing with my wife and boy and then getting to gaming I can be really tired as both a player and GM. I’d rather use my remaining energy in a good solid chunk than letting it drift off at the end of a long night.
It helps that I find that short intense sessions work really well for Shadowrun.
This has happened to me a few times, but luckily I have a solution, for my group at least. My players LOVE to roleplay, but it takes them a tiny fraction of the time to roleplay a non-combat encounter as it does to complete a combat encounter. If we’re done with what I have planned (and I’m too pooped to make up anything else on the spot), and they’re still looking for more, I just crack open my notebook of random encounters and throw a beastie at ’em.
Usually the amount of time they take to complete a combat encounter is an issue for us (they’re crazy meticulous), but in this case, it works in my favor.
I’ve learned to trust my gut instincts. If I get any feeling at all that it is time to wrap things up for the night, I will not hesitate to call it. Every time I have allowed the players to push past the instinct to halt, it either ends in disaster or on a flat note. That can be a huge letdown after an otherwise great game session.
@shadowacid – I know what you mean. A full workday and family life drains a person, so I want to game on game night and just have a good time.
@brakeforguars – Having a solution to wind down the evening with is a great idea.
@BryanB – I agree completely. If your gut says to let it end go with it. There is no reason to push it.