I have something of a code as a GM.
Even if I don’t have something ready, even if I’m not in the mood, if I’m scheduled to run, I run anyway, or at least I try. Some of my best sessions (at least, judging from the reactions of my players) have been when I was winging everything—and let’s face it, it’s getting harder and harder to actually plan ahead, between my players’ unpredictability and the huge bite grad school has taken out of my time. And goodness knows I’ve had games when I’ve sat down about ready to kill something and come out of it with nine kinds of gamebuzz. Granted, there have been a couple days when I’ve just said, “Screw it, let’s figure out [insert thing that if it isn't currently relevant is going to be in a couple sessions],” or days when someone just drove me so crazy that I had to stop in mid-session, but they’re few, and far between, and I tend to spend the rest of the evening kicking myself for them (mostly the unprepared ones rather than the someone’s being trouble ones).
Any combat I start, I finish. (All right, there was that time with the little side plot where I gave the group an acceptable out before the conflict could actually end, but nobody was enjoying that particular fight, so I don’t think it counts.) In game, there’s very little that tends to annoy me more than characters in limbo; I can deal with having to go several sessions to finish a battle, but I’m not so fond of a game going on indefinite hiatus while still in initiative.
I show up on time. That’s pretty much a given. Even if the trolley schedule is in the process of making me late, I can call ahead and let one or more of my players know to tell the others I’m still on my way.
Of course, the problem with standards is that I start getting frustrated when I’m being GM’d for and whoever’s GMing doesn’t adhere to as strict a set of standards as I do. As the thought goes, they’re not that strict, right? Okay, maybe running live, with the game going faster, makes things tougher, and there are some systems that seem to necessitate rather than encourage hours of planning, but still. Or I’ll mutter under my breath about someone else’s fight having been unresolved for months, even as I shove myself through a battle I’m not sure I wanted even when I planned it towards someone else’s promised hiatus game.
But nothing of that is near is important as the worry that drives me. If I drop the code, I’ll get lazy. Rather like how I worry that if I drop the exacting blog schedule, I’ll start skipping things more and more, until it’s a bunch of holes with posts in them rather than a string of posts with holes in it. Codes make identity. Identity is… important somehow. The rest I leave alone; if I don’t inquire into it, it won’t take away from my planning/posting time. Right now, that’ll do.