It feels somewhat ironc writing this at the moment, since we have had a two week break from the game due to real life getting in the way, but recently I have been really hyped up to get to playing Dungeons & Dragons again which is a refreshing change. I mean, I've always enjoyed the sessions we have had, but now I am once more excitedly planning and looking forward to the next time we play as well as seeing how they tackle the challenges I set before them.
I am, however, at the moment somewhat unsure what exactly that challenge will be but I have some ideas that I can refine and more importantly I feel like the time has come to start giving the players some more interesting magic items to play around with as well as encounter in their fights. It's actually been really fun so far seeing them interract with the magical things in the world that they have already encountered since they are first-time players and as such have no real expectation of what's in front of them making the reactions they have really unexpected. The best example of this so far was their encounter with an alchemical jug, where one of the players (or their character) assumed it was filled with some sort of invisible liquid instead of being merely magical in nature and consequently (unfortunately for them) ended up destroying the item during their experimentation.
This feeling of not knowing what will happen is what makes me really excited to have them encounter something like that in a combat situation, since they will have to think even more on their feet and prepare a response to such a strange circumstance in a hurry, and the coolest part of course is that once combat is over—should they prevail—they will have the opportunity to confuse their own enemies with such magical items in the future.
The other thing that I find myself really looking forward to again is the whole collaborative storytelling aspect of the game, especially since the players' actions can sometimes throw rather big curveballs to me as a DM which makes the whole thing that much more interesting along with giving me ideas on how to implement things in the future. I think the best recent-ish example of this was a player simply deciding that they picked up a glowing stone while they were out adventuring, and gave it to the dwarf in the party since they are experts on stones and stonework. This all lead to a somewhat interesting dream-like adventure at a later date that I don't think the players expected, but that interaction between the two players was the catalyst for it all which I find really cool. That does remind me, I need to try and encourage such creativity from the players more somehow, since as mentioned they are first-timers and I quite often get the feeling that they are somewhat unsure of what exactly they actually can do and it all feels a tad bit safe, though the two above examples are definite counterpoints to that feeling. Still, giving the players even more opportunities for those interactions is definitely something I want to enable, so need to keep that in mind more in the future, maybe a note or the like somewhere?
Having written this, now I just hope all the more that we actually do get the opportunity to play in the not too distant future and that we have the chance to put real life aside for a bit, and I think next time is actually looking rather likely so fingers crossed!