I was talking with Nicholas Hopkins in one of those #rpgaday threads about “your best session.” Turns out my run of Sagas of the Icelanders at NewMexicon last year was MadJay Brown’s, and that’s flattering, but you know what? I’d kind of forgotten all about that session.
Instead, I still think about how I could not pull together my session of Tenra Bansho Zero to my satisfaction. This, despite more than one participant telling me they had a good time.
My inner critic is at least 10x louder than my loudest player.
There’s probably a word for it, and it’s probably rooted in some unholy cocktail of narcissism, insecurity and magical thinking.
I mean seriously: of all the things one might choose to fixate on, to constantly strive to improve, I chose elaborate make-believe? OTOH I’m not totally persuaded that another fixation would be any healthier or more rewarding. Maybe financially rewarding, if I really hunkered down on career stuff or investing or whatever.
The upsides seem pretty apparent: improving my batting average. I don’t want anyone at my table to walk away dissatisfied. I even know that in many cases, that’s not even within my powers to decide. Maybe the game system or the genre won’t click, maybe there will be some personal chemistry problem, I mean who knows. There are so many variables. But I still have this feeling that if I shine brightly enough, I can brute-force everyone past those other problems.
But the downsides, oh the downsides. I run at least one very good event at every convention I go to, and my other events are typically better-than-average. Those disappear into my rear-view mirror pretty fast, like within a week. But I remember every beat of my middling-blah reverse Burning Empires thing I ran (3 years ago?), a middling-blah Burning Wheel long-con thing from 2 years ago as well as my disappointing Werewolves of Aquitaine game from Dreamation this year, my flubbed Tenra Bansho Zero thing at NewMexicon, the sad trad pandas at my Night Witches table in Tucson that I just couldn’t pull along by force of will. Those are all alive and well for me.
I’m honestly curious about this: how common is this? And how do you decide what skills to work, what areas to prioritize? I’ve got thoughts about that but right this minute I’m skeptical of my own motives.
Or have you settled on a good-enough plateau? How did you decide to settle?