|"Yay, we finished the first session and still like each other!"|
First of all, before anything else, take notes on how the game session ended so you can pick up from where you left off at the start of the next session. Where the characters are, which NPCs are involved in the scene, and any other details that will be relevant to reference when you run the game again. Unless you have the world's best memory, jotting down a few notes will help you maintain continuity between sessions and helps to avoid disagreements, especially if you had to end in the middle of an encounter.
Not everything has to remain exactly the same between sessions, however. Learn from the first session to address areas that might need some work. If you're trying to go for a political plot, but your players are itching for a fight, it's time to revisit your game notes and adjust accordingly. Pay close attention to the things your players latched onto in the first session. If a player wants to learn more about a particular piece of lore, find a way to make that happen. Giving the players a path to achieve their goals will help keep them invested in the game. Be careful not to give them everything all at once, though. Don't overwhelm your players. Moderation is good for longevity.
Likewise, make sure your players are happy with the characters they want to play. If something need to be fixed on a character sheet, it's better to do that early on than it is after several sessions have passed. Let the players shift points around if they want so they can play the character they want to play. There's few things players hate more than feeling as though they're locked into a character that doesn't feel like it measures up to what they imagined.
Also, some quick tips regarding rules:
- Are there certain rules bogging the session down as they're referenced again and again? Bookmark the ones you need to consult most often so you can skip straight to them instead of having to remember if they're on page 353 or 535.
- Do your players ask for the book every few minutes to figure out how the magic system works? Print out a copy of the Mage Quickstart for them, specifically the rules bits so they can have their own quick reference.
- Are there any rules that seem needlessly complicated to you? Change 'em, or ditch 'em completely. House rules are common fixes at any game table to tailor things more to your group's play style. Just make sure you stay consistent with them.
- And always remember the Golden Rule: The rules are what you want them to be. No more, no less. They're a guideline to telling an awesome story with your players, but if they get in the way, change them or ignore them. You're the Storyteller. What you say, not some rulebook, is what matters.
|Listen to Barbossa, folks, he knows what's what.|
Now that we have the basics of game prep hammered out, it's time to step it up a notch and get into the details of Mage: The Ascension with the next entry. If you have specific questions about any elements of Mage's sprawling setting or rules system, drop them in the comments below or over at my chronicle thread on the Shadownessence forum!