|Got me a campaign. Hope the Bennies hold out...|
To keep the learning to a minimum I decided to use a published setting, Pinnacle's 50 Fathoms. The players enthusiastically jumped into the pirate genre and are now running around on Torath-Ka, an island something like a Lost World with bloodthirsty natives, violent apes and dinosaurs. They're currently looking for their lost captain (using a map delivered by an NPC which is also a treasure map) they've been beat up a bit but gave back better.
As I said, this is a learning experience and I have learned quite a bit so far, not only about the system but GMing as well (hard to believe I've been playing/DMing since '81) and a few things have crystallized for me. In SW you don't worry about NPCs and cannon-fodder as much as other games so it gave me a chance to deal with other aspects of the system. It's also refreshing that I can throw more red shirts at the PCs and not worry about the bookkeeping (I'm taking this part slow). I may also get into the mass combat rules down the line - they look fast and furious like the rest of the game.
Now that some of the GMing duties has been eased up, I can let the players sandbox more. In the past, and as I've said in a previous post, I've always worried about railroading the players - I don't want to lead them by the nose but I need SOME kind of structure. I find with SW I can loosen up the story to the point where it feels more like a give-and-take between the GM and the players. I still do a Beat Chart (as I talked about in a previous post) but find I can loosen it up and move stuff around to accommodate the players actions and still keep track of things. I now refer to the Beat Chart as a Story Framework to reflect those changes and to remind me to keep it loosey-goosey.
In addition, I'm actually starting to use Encounter Charts (in the past I get so wrapped up in the story I forget them). AND, the players really like things like Bennies which lets them influence the story to an extent.
In fact, (Bold Statement time), I think I've found my RPG Soul Mate. For me it fits like a glove. I cringe a bit saying that, with my love for D&D, but Savage Worlds feels natural to me. I won't say I'll not play or DM D&D ever again but for now Savage Worlds is it. Time will tell.