As I mentioned, my A Team of Pulp Losers (needs better title) campaign finished last week. It reinforced a lot of my practices and thoughts about GMing – the importance of flexibility; that robust preparation is unnecessary; that players are your allies, not your opponents – but the major one was “give the players what they want.”
This is especially easy if one is running an improvisational style campaign. I’ve mentioned before about my one-pagers, and most of the sessions were run from a page of notes, so improvising and changing the game or story on the fly posed no real problem for me.
This doesn’t mean that one must be an improvisational GM to be able to respond to your players’ interests and desires. If you are a high-prep GM, you probably are not comfortable shifting gears during a session. If you are, all the better, but if not, make notes of player reactions and comments for use in shaping the further campaign to better reflect their interests.
For GMs that are very sensitive to their players’ reactions, they can use their perceptions of what worked for the players and what players desire to help shape future games. There is also nothing wrong with asking for player feedback. It’s easy for players to tell you what they enjoyed, but most probably won’t tell you what they didn’t like in order to spare your feelings. Just ask if there were any moments that dragged, or what part of the session was their least favourite – not necessarily bad, just least good. You can also ask the players to recap the previous adventure at the beginning of each session. Note what areas they skip over – they aren’t going to recall the parts of the session that felt slow or disinteresting.
It’s honestly not that hard to adjust even pre-made adventures to add in some encounters or items tailored for your crew. You’re probably doing that already to make sure every character has a spotlight moment, so this is just a little addition to that.
It’s more work, certainly, but it will pay huge dividends and make you feel like a pretty epic GM.