For no reason at all, a list of some of my favorite kinds of moments at an rpg session:
- That floor-dropping-away feeling when someone makes a hugely consequential decision that changes the course of play in an exciting and unexpected direction. A tiny bit of “can I keep up with this?” fear mixed in with “holy shit no way!” appreciation for sheer audacity.
- When everyone is riffing and each addition is greater than the sum. You’re all on the same wavelength or at least compatible ones. When you all see the same pattern you’re trying to complete and nobody ever said “this is the pattern.”
- The table being totally cool when I own up to screwing something up, rewind, and start over. It’s so reassuring. I always feel even more confident after that.
- Feeling sincere investment from other players about the fiction, the situation, or their characters’ arc or well-being. Hearing the first hints of distancing, protective snark and having it shut down by the prevailing vibe.
- That moment when I step back and take stock of how the game has evolved (my giant r-map is a great way to document this) and being able to point at each pivotal moment and how it came about. There’s just something so satisfying about seeing the pieces fit together and how none of it was because anyone planned it. Seeing the inherent collaborative emergence of this thing, a completely different creative and consumptive experience than anything else I do.
- Watching the shift in a player who steps up and asks, “this is what I’m trying to do, how do I get there?” followed by a little collaborative talk and then the shift back into the flow of the game. I have no idea why I like that! Maybe it’s seeing such a clear display of play mastery. I always appreciate seeing skill in action.
- When the quietest player makes a huge contribution. When the loudest player helped make that happen.