Otherwise known as my Rant Thread, to be used when I'm in need of getting stuff off my chest.
When a games session that you've refereed goes well, it leaves you with a warm, fuzzy glow of accomplishment and a sense that you've enriched the lives of a few friends for a few hours with your efforts. Efforts is the operative word because it is hard work, both creatively when you are preparing material for the forthcoming session, and in terms of handling the players. Non-linear adventures, where the players have free reign to determine how they will interact with the scenario rather than being railroaded along a specific path, are the hardest to deal with but also the most rewarding.
A good games session is one where the referee and the players work together. The referee has made an effort to create the framework of an interesting story, and now he/she and the players collaborate to put flesh on the bones. The players accept that you, as a referee, have a limited time to prepare, may not have thought everything out in detail, and that the premise of the storyline might be open to challenge but let's not worry about that too much. Any game is at best a low-res simulation of reality and to expect perfection is to expect the impossible.
Last night wasn't one of those sessions. There was a confrontational air about it, the premise of the adventure was questioned, unnecessary levels of detail were demanded about things I was actually just making up on the fly, people weren't accepting my judgement calls and the players took an approach to the adventure that I was disappointed in - I had originally envisaged this scenario as one involving careful investigation, undercover work and luring the enemy into exposing themselves, but the party seemed to just want to kick in the door of anyone that they suspected and beat then up, thus losing opportunities to determine the identities and locations of the ringleaders lurking in the shadows.
This last criticism is the least of it. It's their right to approach the scenario like that if they want. It is a non-linear adventure and it's not for me to railroad them into doing things in a specific way. If it weren't for the generally confrontational, cynical atmosphere, I could have just shrugged and accepted it. As it was it fanned the flames of my annoyance, and as I got more annoyed I started making mistakes and the whole thing ended with a bad feeling. Though I did receive some comments about 'that was a good session' from somebody at the end of it. Maybe they were just trying to cheer me up, or maybe their perception of things was very different from mine.
Well, in a day or so I'll have forgotten all about it, I expect, but right now I'm feeling snarled up inside and getting that 'I'm going to find a new bunch of players' feeling. I'm sure we all get it from time to time.
So, my question to Gamegrene-ers out there is - what do you do to unwind when the thing you do to unwind leaves you feeling wound up instead?