I suffer from social anxiety but I want to focus on GM Anxiety.
What is GM Anxiety?
- Fear of disappointing the players/friends/family
- Fear of never being fully prepared (which I know is never truly achievable)
- Fear of having all eyes on you (being the center of attention)
- Fear of being a complete failure
Obviously, every GM wants to make sure their players are having a great time and don't want to disappoint them. There is the fear of making mistakes while GMing that can cause the players to be upset or disappointed in you. And then there is the fear of not being as good as another GM and now with things like Critical Role and other successful Twitch RPG shows the pressure seems to be on GMs even more (it feels like that anyways). With someone who already struggles with social anxiety this puts so much weight on their shoulders that often it just becomes too much and the game they had scheduled for next week has now been postponed because, to quote Jan Brady, "Something suddenly came up."
Now, if something didn't come up and the game is actually happening then the GM made their save vs fear of running a game. But now all eyes is on the GM. And I know personally that this is one of the greatest challenges to deal with when you suffer from social anxiety. And just because it something you like/love and enjoy it doesn't make it any easier. There are still people that depend on you to run this game without completely screwing it up and having them throw their dice at you while yelling, "you are the worst GM ever! I am never going to play with you ever again!" (this is only a fraction of what runs through my head as the GM)
The main thing I want to focus on is never fully being prepared and how One-Page Adventures comes into play. I love reading game modules and campaign books. I have a lot of them on PDF and I often read through them and say to myself, "I am so going to run this module!" And then I sit down and go into preparation mode by taking down notes, writing out stuff and so on. But I also have this NEED to know EVERYTHING before I can run the module. Even those classic 32 page modules. I must know it all before I can run it. And of course that never happens. And the thought of running something like I6 Ravenloft fills me up with so much anxiety that it crushes me. Looking at dungeon maps, "Oh there are 83 locations. How am I supposed to know all of this before we play!?" And I know I'm not going to know it all. No one really does. But it is that NEED to know it all that drives me away from running modules.
Which is why I came up with the idea of my One-Page Adventures. I often get asked (or complaints) about why there are no maps included with my OPAs. But this is because it makes GMing so much easier for me this way. If I just have a page with the main goal of the adventure, stat blocks and some features that can be found throughout the adventure then this gets rid of a lot of the anxiety I have when it comes to being the GM. I can make up the "map" on the fly much easier than looking at a map and referring back and forth to the map and the text. Now room 23 can be whatever I feel like room 23 will be at the time of the adventurers entering the room. I could make it feel more natural or if I'm just stuck I can look at the list of features and use one I haven't used yet. Another benefit of not having a map is that if the adventurers are in a room with three doors I only need to know what's behind the door that they choose and if they never go back to see what's beyond those doors that's fine because nothing important that they would have needed would be there. I can control the flow of the game without the map and module. If I know that the adventurers need to find Barael's Blade in order for them to slay the Spider Priest I can allow them to find that when I feel it is necessary for the story.
I've thought about taking some of the classic modules that I have and put them in my OPA format for my own personal use. What's the main goal of the module? Are there any key (or cool) items that are needed? Take note of any key stat blocks and cool features already in the module. Would running I6 Ravenloft in this format take away from running it how it was originally written? Isn't the goal of I6 Ravenloft to kill Strahd? Would my players even notice that I didn't run it by the book (that is if they never read or played it before)? They probably wouldn't even care as long as they got to do what was advertised, "storm the castle and kill the vampire."
Would you be interested in a classic module in my One-Page Adventure format?