GM confidence: 3.25/5. When I started, I probably would have given it a “4.5” but when it was over, I’d definitely give it a “2”—so I took the average. 😛 This is not how I wanted to end the run. More on that, below.
Finally, at the end of the run, I managed to work in a “proper” tactical combat. I was happy with how it went, overall. It was difficult, but not too much so. No PCs were injured, though much of that is owed to the enemy’s use of non-lethal munitions, to sometimes-hilarious results. I also finally got to use the Fantastic Dungeon Grappling “Control Points,” which worked out nicely. It did go a little longer than I originally intended, but at the time, I considered that to be to my benefit. So, I skipped the additional action scene I had planned in Buffalo so we could move on to the session’s climax.
…And the Downs
I had planned to work in a “visit” by the Project Genesis “Entity,” but I had problems working out the particulars. I had a great idea at the last minute before the game, of the Devil’s Tower dream, which also let me work in a little Close Encounters joke. I just thought I would throw that scene out there, and the PCs would go on to complete their Cheyenne Mountain objective and look into this new thing later. It was mere seconds after I pulled the trigger on that event that I realized what a disastrously horrible, ruinous mistake I had just made.
For the noob GMs out there, remember this: the PCs will almost always obey a command from an in-game “authority” as if it came from the GM himself. In fact, they may drop what they’re doing right now entirely to do so. In this case, I had actually not considered at all that they might decide to do a 180°, go back the way they came, and straight on to Devil’s Tower.
I locked up. I had a bunch of “dynamic” stuff planned for Casper (moved from Denver, due to the previous change of plans). I could have relocated (again) along the new route, but it wouldn’t make in-game sense there, and I had just corrected myself away from that “make stuff happen” GM mindset that leads to railroading the PCs, so I couldn’t justify the move. If I had known this would happen, I might not have skipped the additional Buffalo scene, and it wouldn’t have felt quite so empty. I spent the rest of the session on the back foot, vamping to fill the time and trying to figure out how to work in the X-Com introduction under completely new circumstances. And cursing a lot.
It was such a stupid mistake, and I should have known better. Thankfully, the players aren’t usually aware when this happens unless I tell them. They seem to have enjoyed the ending anyway, regardless of the fact that it was so much less than I had intended. Not how I wanted to end the run.