I’m going to cheat here because I actually already wrote about this session back in January. Part of living with a teacher’s brain is constantly deconstructing experiences to seek out evidence and points of growth — both in yourself and in others. As such, while I’ve had the pleasure of many a grand times with gaming this year, particularly after I joined up with a local community dedicated to sharing the fun of the TRPG hobby (Gamers & GameMasters Philippines), the “best” sessions for me are those in which I can detect individual evolution. With that criteria, two major events come to mind:
1. My Last GMed Game of 2015 (click this for the full write-up)
Traditionally, I’m a ponderous person whose great claim to player action is what has been called the “seven session set up” in which I lay down the seeds for an amazingly air-tight gambit in the first seven sessions of a game… and cascade from there. It’s an operation that requires lots of time and forethought, and it belies my preferences on both sides of the GM screen. So the idea of running an unplanned game complete with character and world creation all in just 4 hours? Unthinkable! Doing so as a public game during a Gamers & GameMasters event? More so unthinkable! But what amazed me was that I didn’t just manage it once (albeit at 5 hours), but twice when I ran the same set up with different people, a different world, and a different quest entirely at the January G&GMs event “New Beginnings”! Now, when I doubt my abilities or mistakenly think myself hedged in by habit and shyness, I have two tangible moments that I can draw upon to tell myself that, “Yeah, I can do this! I can grow and run games for people I’ve never played with before!”
2. The APEC Week Esteren game
So in November last year, dignitaries from the world over including Barrack Obama crowded into our already crowded city to have a giant conference that, since the country wanted to hide its hideous traffic issues, also resulted in a surprise week off for most people and, thus, an impromptu Shadows of Esteren mini-campaign (3 sessions) hosted and run by my good friend, Mahar. Now this is a massive turning point because, admittedly, our first Shadows of Esteren campaign ran into some issues given that we didn’t really communicate expectations and that Mahar had yet to entwine his dramaturge profession (that guy who researches a text’s context to align the actors and directors with the ideas of the author and the period of the piece) with his tabletop techniques, but I had been witnessing his steady growth in adopting both and creating his own style from it, so knew this one wouldn’t be a problem. What I wasn’t expecting was just how much he’d break free from the idea of “steady growth” to let himself soar as the GM of these sessions! There’s been non-stop growth from Mahar as a GM since that point, but I’ll always remember that week as the pivotal point of his apotheosis and my best Esteren experience to date.