It has been a while since I asked the players for feedback on how I was doing as the GM, and because we had a number cancellations including some just as it was about time to leave (things like this happen, and if all of the cancellations had come through a couple of hours before time to leave, I would have just canceled the session all together instead of doing this), I decided to use the normal session time to request feedback and take notes on what I could do better, and we would continue the game next week.
The first thing that we discussed was the distribution of bennies during the game. I am still having a problem with this. We discussed a number of ways to try to improve on it ranging from a pot that the players can reach into and give a benny to another player when they feel like they have earned it, to giving one of the players the bennies and let them distribute them as they feel they have been earned, to even just giving everyone an extra benny that they can’t use themselves, but must give to another player. One thing that they did mention that surprised them is that when one of the players offered to do something for a benny, I took them up on the offer and handed over the benny. So that leaves me with four things to try going forward.
- Recommend that the players offer to do something for a benny, and then we can negotiate that to an extent (This is my first choice).
- Put a “pot of bennies” on the table and let any player reach into the pot and give a benny to another player for something that they thought was benny worthy. Since this is a horror game (Deadlands Noir) I am thinking either somewhere between 5 and 10 leaning towards the lower number. Though I am willing to increase it if that doesn’t seem right (This is probably my second favorite option).
- One of the players volunteered to distribute the bennies for me. I would be okay with this, but I don’t want the other player’s to feel like there is a hint of favoritism in this process, so this is probably the last option that I would take.
- Give everyone an extra benny that must be given to another player to be used. This is only slightly better than the previous option.
At this point I am going to offer up the first two options for the next session first and see if there is any interest in them. If not then I will try these last two options.
The next thing that came up was clues. This one is a tricky one. I try to have plenty of clues to get the players from start to finish with no set place to receive them. I think my other problem is that I try to give them clues for most places that they look which can sometimes lead them to chase clues that are not relevant to what they are working on, but are really just foreshadowing future events. It is something that I will need to continue to work on, but I don’t have any concrete ideas on how to do that.
The other issue is when they go off and search for clues in places that I really did not expect. When they do this, I don’t like not giving them some information, but if I do give them information, while it would be something that might be important in the future, it might not be relevant now and is just as likely to make them wander off in a random direction.
I guess my big takeaway from this is to be careful with my foreshadowing, and don’t make it seem so important while also adding more on topic clues to minimize the chasing of dead ends.
This was a concern that I had. Unfortunately none of the players that I am concerned about it for where there. Most of the game has been focused around two characters, and I want to tie the others in more. Unfortunately while I have background information on them (some more than others), I don’t seem to have much in the way of good hooks. We talked about that some as well and I was given some ideas on how to loop them in more, so that is something that I will work on more as well.
Now the positives
One thing that I was told that they said I improved on is not dragging out the fights by using all of the GMs bennies on the bad guys. Which I was glad to here. I have been trying not to only spend a wild card’s bennies to soak, and to only use the GM’s pool to selectively un-shake or re-roll. As it is, I find that often are battles take longer than I would like in real-time, and I am not sure how much of that is how hard it is to hurt the opposition or what, but it is something that I want to work on.
I am getting better with clues as we go along there is just more work needed. They feel somewhat less like they have to find the right spot to get the clue to move forward.
Anyway, I am still working on being a better GM and I will continue to ask for feedback and try to improve without removing my enjoyment. Because if we all are not having fun, then why are we doing this. If you want to see the first discussion we had on this you can find it here.