I just ran my first Call of Cthulhu game and one of my only one-shot games ever (the out-of-print 5th Ed version). I think that it had a weak ending, some good parts in the middle, and an excellent ending (fratricide and self-immolation were involved). I just wanted to jot down some reflections on it before I go to bed and try to sleep.
Ushina was right and I need to have much more lead-in. Maybe next time just assume all of the players will be good and into it and then deal with any deviants. I wrote this game hurriedly (boring story) and assuming that I might have any kind of problem players imaginable. Given the excellent group I actually did have, I could have done a lot more with it. There should have been significantly more time for the PCs to just interact and learn about each other and develop their roles before fur started flying. I think this would have led to better RP (though I have no complaints there) and maybe a little less inter-party conflict, though in what was essentially a survival horror game, that was fine too.
Combat is something I could have balanced better. It didn’t function quite the way I wanted, but again I’ve never run CoC before, so that’s understandable.
Running initiative without any rolls worked pretty well for a one-shot. Basically, I ran initiative starting with whoever declared they were doing something first, or with whoever was closer and move involved in what was going on. This led to a lot combats where some PCs weren’t even involved, and I liked that. Not everyone will have a “combat action” because most people, when they hear gunfire, freeze and maybe throw themselves on the ground. They don’t start maneuvering on a mental grid-map for cover. It also made combat a lot faster, and made it easier to keep the pace quick and have things happen without having to let up on the ferocity at times or the sense of impending doom.
I think for future games I’ll just institute a rule that everyone rolls dice out in the open. It is the right and privilege for the GM to fudge rolls, not the players…but again mostly this wasn’t a problem.
I’d also like to run a game where I roll all the dice and you don’t see your character sheet at all. You know what you’re good at, what you’re practiced in, what you have degrees in and whatnot, but you don’t know when things fail necessarily. Again, I’d need good players who are into that kind of game. When I demo Deleria at another GRPA (Gamescape Role-Players Anonymous at our local game store) event, since its a card-based system, I’ll have the only deck at the table and I’ll deal cards when players initiate challenges. That’ll work well and, I hope, lend a cool feel to the game. Also, no “lucky” rolls.