Fun read, lots of useful advice, and brought back many memories!
One thing I always stress is "give the players want they want". The key of course is to do this without them realizing it, and maybe even thinking the opposite--you're an evil GM out to get them. :)
For me, in this preparatory time-crunch scenario, the character creation bit is crucial. Listen to all the players, (stretch the process out if you have to). Pick up on every little tidbit of info your players share, as they ponder their characters and their places in the world. Use your GM-fu skills of psychology and perception, during this time. Start formulating ideas for every character's arc. Come up with potential (they don't all have to be used) scenes for every character. Mold the world around them. The game becomes easier for you. The campaign may be unfinished and your plot may be shaky or even non-existent, BUT, six hours later everyone had a great time! Go to Comment