So... I want to run events that players talk about. I enjoy hearing people say things about events I've run and thinking 'I was part of that.' I'm often not sure exactly what I've done, but I know I've had ideas and made things, and talked to people and made decisions that have made the event what it was, and it's amazing to share that with people. The key thing here is that people talk about what they've done. That's the thing that people find amazing.
Actually, one of our key moments was entirely show. We showed the players an Alien queen. We call her Lizzie, and she's fairly tall. I was walking along keeping level with the players. Up ahead was Lizzie surrounded by her alien minions. The players went behind a building, and never appeared out the other side. As soon as they saw her they ran. That's my story though. It's not the story the players tell of that event.
Showing and telling players things is awesome and lets you build an immersive world around them.The key things for me are what you let the players do.
We've been discussing ways to phys rep scouting. It's something that tends to have huge compromises made to make it work. For a true scouting mission you'd need a large number of monsters sat around doing whatever monsters do in order that the players could sneak up and guess at numbers. It's not a resource most people have access to. We still want to send people on scouting missions and let them do something that is dangerous, feels like scouting and uses those skills, and where the results of what they do impacts on the main game world (or feels like it does).
We could send in scouts to deliver a message. It does away with a need to phys rep such a resource intensive thing, and gives us much more control over the accuracy of the delivered message. However, it changes a nice moment of glory for a player into a briefed npc bringing something in. It also removes someones chance to be out in the woods afraid to move or breath as an enemy patrol passes by their hiding place after they've just heard the big bad discussing troop movements. It stops some really intensive moments of fear, and removes hard skills from the game. In this case if you can find a way to run an encounter you can upgrade a tell to a do.
If this does eat almost all the crew at a huge game for one players awesome moment it may not be worth it. It's worth noting that you may have things that a large number of players will never get the chance to do, and that the same players end up doing time and again, and this isn't always a bad thing. Special moments make happy players. Smaller groups are more easily frightened.