gamemastering anxiety

After spending a few days in a really bad place emotionally — wracked by anxiety & despair — it really helps to have a D&D game that goes well. (Said anxiety/depression being (mostly) unrelated to the game.) I could over-analyze it and beat up on myself for not getting exactly the right combination of foes for the party: I’d intended to go back and rework some things to be more of a tailored experience for the specific strengths and weaknesses of the player characters. But on the other hand: I think I played what I did have with some flair; the main bad guy got off one of his fairly nasty spells; and maybe most importantly, people seemed to be having fun. I even consiously let a couple of players enjoy their side conversation, since they weren’t being too disruptive to the rest of the action, and the point is to have a good time, right?

That’s the essential tension that I get into with running a game: I really want to do it Just Right, and I don’t seem able to make the time or even really have the skills to meet my inner standards, and sometimes I fall into a horrible funk about it. (Knowing that C & JK have a lot of experience & high standards can add to the anxiety.) But that means that even if everybody enjoys it, then I’m not really having a good time. It’s a bit like the hostess of the dinner party who’s spent all day fussing and prepping and then can’t actually enjoy the damn party.

This particular chapter of this game has one section left, which amounts to maybe a couple of weeks of play at most. And then one of the players is going to have to bow out for a while for personal reasons. So it gives me a chance to evaulate whether I’m really having a good time running the game, or if I’d rather just play for a while and let someone else take over…someone who won’t get as high-strung about it. Maybe a real break (and not just missing a few weeks because of schedules & illnesses) will let me rediscover what I enjoy about running D&D games, get excited about my setting again, etc.