View Full Version : [DMs] Problem with secrets.

2010-09-06, 10:08 AM
I've found that quite often in games, situations arise where I have to tell one of my players a particular piece of information secretly. Of course, notes are great for just this.

But then, what when you have more information than a note can hold? When you need to have a short one-on-one with someone, possibly with their own combat, or certainly rolling.

Now, usually, I have no problem with this, but my current group has quite a tendency to be secretive and require a large amount of these.

Long story short, I'm worries that the players are going to end up almost taking it in turns, but if I do conduct my one-player sections in the open there are going to be serious metagame issues (with one of my players in particular...)

I should mention that the group very much want their own events, having all entered the game with backstories that required these, but I feel there might be a better way to deal with it.

Fellow DMs, how would you deal with this, if it doesn't come up in your games, that is.

big teej
2010-09-06, 10:20 AM
I'm afraid I don't have to much experience with this, but I do have two instances that I believe maaaaaay be of help.

1. my dwarf rogue sneaky sneaky sneaky
it was session one with a new party, and the session was designed to introduce all of our group members and make us into a cohesive group. however, given the amount of inherent metagame in some of our players and certain actions. the majority of my dwarf's actions that game were done via text/note. such as killing a guy in a tent (party leader wanted to use non lethal force)... attempting to buy tools in order to rig dice, etc etc etc.
that worked fairly well, the DM would handle whatever was going on with the group, and then respond to my text, since I wasn't in the spotlight, I was more than willing to just sit tight in between explaining my actions.

2. our group was running a module (I refuse to name it on the forums for fear of spoilers) and our druid has wandered off on his own looking for -plot point- so what the DM does, is he'll work with me and the other players for a bit, then take our druid player into another room and work with him for 15-20 minutes or so ..... (okay it might be more like 5 - 10, I really have no sense of time) and that seems to work okay, but I wouldn't try to sustain something like that for more than a session. the next session (I believe, I could be waaaaay off the mark) involves us finding our druid (or damn tree person as my dwarf calls him). but I digress...

I personally am in favor of option 1, because I have unlimited texting, and with certain people, the amount of characters I can use per text is more than sufficient to convey my actions.

hope that was helpful

2010-09-06, 10:25 AM
If you have laptops and wireless portions can also be conducted via im.

2010-09-06, 10:41 AM
In my current group I just use notes.

But I used to prepare scripts (half a page of handwritten text) and give it to player/players when need arises.

Also before session I roll and make a deal with a player (when I know I will target a player with a dominate or something) whom he/she will attack. When the moment comes I say the safety word and then I say that he/she accidentally missed and that a party member was hit when it comes to rolls. People usually realize what is going on on round 3 or so. It is highly unlikely to have that many bad rolls... That is the moment when game becomes hilarious and paranoia kicks in...

Kurald Galain
2010-09-06, 10:43 AM
But then, what when you have more information than a note can hold?
I tend to use honor code. Most of my players can handle the notion that they know something that their character doesn't.

I've occasionally done solo sessions, but the reason for these wasn't secretiveness.

2010-09-06, 12:11 PM
I tend to use honor code. Most of my players can handle the notion that they know something that their character doesn't.

This is what our group does too.

2010-09-06, 12:18 PM

2010-09-06, 12:21 PM
Well if you're doing a series of secretive solo sessions, then I'd just meet with them outside of the normal game schedule in one on one sessions and handle them, then have your normal gaming time be about when all the group is together.

2010-09-06, 12:21 PM
Honor code can make for a lot of hilarity when done right, but it requires a mature group who can deal with it. I've had some great sessions where we knew one of us was in league with the enemy for some reason, but didn't know IC. "You're doing what? Man, we're screwed. I go to sleep...."

As for the solo stuff, I think it takes away from the fun for those not in on it. My first real AD&D campaign I played at my place, and the GM and our other player would play like half an hour or so solo on their way home. I feel like I missed half the campaign that way. Of course, if everyone has something like that going on, it might be fine.

At any rate you should look for ways to tie their solo stuff together eventually, to make things more managable for you and more fun for everyone.

2010-09-06, 01:05 PM
I've always used one on one sessions, especially when introducing a character; I can schedule the introduction for a different day than the actual meeting. :smallwink:

Our group is special in that we have a lot of trouble remaining on task, sometimes straight up forgetting to actually play. If I pull someone away for an individual thing, they'll occupy themselves. They'll either talk about rules, argue about Warhammer/Final Fantasy/some other game, talk about someone to generate drama, or play Wii.

2010-09-06, 01:06 PM
I chat with players outside or in the kitchen. We usually summarize though instead of going into depth.

Another GM runs individual sessions followed by one big public session.

Laptops/aim seems like another good option, but only if everyone owns a laptop.

2010-09-06, 05:21 PM
Thanks for the help everyolne. I'm going to experiment and see how the group handles some honour code stuff and see how that goes. Failing that, I can always just go with the classic boot everyone else technique.



2010-09-06, 05:47 PM
It depends on the character of the secrets involved I think. Most people I've played with (apart from kids at work) have been pretty good at separating player knowledge and character knowledge. But when it comes to long term secret stuff that may affect certain aspects of the campaign for a long time, I feel it is just often more enjoyable not to know IRL - you feel excited that there is some mystery. It has the added bonus of making it easier to determine appropriate courses of action for the character, but that's just gravy, really.

2010-09-06, 06:25 PM
If you have to do a one on one during a game, it's better to declare a break and then take one person aside. That way instead of sitting around the table building dice towers and feeling cheated, your players marvel at your ability to multi-task. The downside is that you don't get a break.

2010-09-06, 06:41 PM
I try to preplan for these.
In many cases, I will schedule a special session with a player for their side adventure if it is very likely to happen, and I will run it. Many times, before they actually get to the point of it while in the main adventure.

The idea is that they take it in character to know what they know as a switch. So 'event happens, you can now add what you got from the side adventure'.

This has worked well for me in the past.

2010-09-06, 06:54 PM
Texting works well, especially if both you and the player in question have enough of a social life that breaking off to answer a text message at random times doesn't seem suspicious. Even if it does, they should be mature enough not to meta-game their suspicions, and if they do they still won't know the content of the texts. If they're peering over your shoulders, you should probably ban that person from the group for poor sportsmanship.