Ongoing Games 101
This is short introduction into how I have put together the ongoing games I have been involved with (It is different in some respects to one off sessions but there are still some aspects which apply to both)
The first thing I remind myself is that I am providing entertainment for a large group of people! Focus on the players, their characters and their story.
Session planning is essential; planning as much as possible with your STs because is is an important part of being on the same page - also writing all of that down so that you have a record of what has happened. Rhys and I would regularly meet for 7th Sea and go over what the sessions were about - I have attached one of our planning notes for you to have a look at. Also listen to what your other STs are saying as they might have a different perspective on the game (something that you haven't seen)
Detail your world: Ultimately while as ST you may say we can play in what ever space we like, it is not easy, nor consistent or available for other STs to constantly make stuff up on the fly. If players are to 'engage with the world' there needs to be a world for them to engage with. If you do make stuff up on the fly - which will happen and we all do it - then write it up for future reference.
Knowing what motivates your players and importantly their PCs: Map out the relationships if you can, keep track on who is looking at what things within the world and also else is motivating them to action. Go through an exercise of listing each PC and naming an ally, a threat and plot that they are involved with maybe.
Have an idea about the the play styles of the people in your game. Enjoyment is gained by different people in different ways and it is good to at least understand the broader motivations for your players. There are some really interesting articles on this which I will try to to link to here.
Ensure that there is more than one source of information about a particular thing. plot, or whatever. This is essential for making sure that everyone is engaged in the session.
During the session it is also good to check up with players who are not talking to others to find out why (is it an IC or OOC reason for disengagement). Just a quick question 'Is everything going OK? you might be able to give them an in
Writing as much as possible about where your key NPCs are, what they are doing and why? Real people, real motivations. You cant just drop someone without a consistent reason and expect PCs to trust information or to run off and do something.
Reasons for characters to get together and how it happens! Hand waving you all just happen to be here is only going to cut it once. Important reasons for people to care about turning up!
Work at the pace of the players (most of the time) - Work with your Players - Don't Block Them! Blocking is a common tactic that basically just says NO you cant without giving alternatives. Ways around it are to redirect and create alternatives - 'That may not work but over here you find....' Allowing people to find answers is a great incentive for players.
Know your end point! All of Caligo's games are running on defined time frames so it is easy to know when your end point is! Work back from that with session planning.
Recruit new players where possible! Yep I really like what Richard has done :)
Importantly Flexibility - it is inevitable that someone will do something that is different to what you expect, they will head off down a particular path and it is your job to make that as enjoyable for them as possible. Lots of Planning will help with that!
This will most likely be an ongoing thing which will hopefully be helpful to newer STs