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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Jay R's Avatar

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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Giving players information that their characters couldn't have puts them in an unfair situation. They can't honestly use the information, and it takes away the opportunity to try to figure it out.

    Ideally, you can describe it in terms of what they know. Consider the same situation, described two different ways.

    Scenario 1.
    DM: After killing the orcs, you examine what they had. You see what appears to be an incomplete crossbow. The stock doesn't have the bow part, and there is no way to attach one if you had it.
    Player 1: That's useless. I ignore it.
    Player 2: My fighter Tarkington like bizarre weapons. He keeps it.
    [Later that evening, after making camp]
    Player 2: Tarkington examines the incomplete crossbow. He picks it up, looks at it, shoulders it, points it at a tree, and pulls the trigger.
    DM: You hear a loud sound like thunder, the item strikes your shoulder harder than any crossbow ever kicked, and a big hole appears in the tree.

    Scenario 2:
    DM: After killing the orcs, you examine what they had. You see a Winchester 30-06 rifle. But none of you know what that is, so you ignore it.
    Players: <doesn't matter what they say or do. Any interesting action has been prevented.>

    Scenario 1 is more fun. Scenario 2 is more frustrating.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    I'm inclined to say to get the correct answer to the question:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ulukaï View Post
    does any of your characters could have seen something like that or even know it?'
    you needed to use the word microscope.

    Otherwise, I agree with those who say its a matter of style and taste.
    Use of the term "microscope" is a more functional option and would suit a game where the solving of problems or mysteries is higher focus.
    Saying a "strange alchemical tool" and describing in more detail if the characters look at it more closely is the more atmospheric or story focused option.
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  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Question, did it look like this:

    https://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/...ages/hooke.jpg

    this:

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....L._SL1500_.jpg

    or like this:

    http://jiam.utk.edu/images/microscopy/Zeiss-Libra.jpg

    ?

    Description will actually add a lot more to your world. If it looks like the first one, it is likely the creation of a clever wizard or alchemist from your world. If it looks like the second, it's likely an artefact from the future. If it looks like the third, your PCs have probably just gone through a time portal or similar.
    Last edited by Kami2awa; 2018-02-02 at 04:30 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    I'm definitely on the side of just plain naming objects and things that the way that players will quickly understand, regardless of whether their characters would - and let them, you know, role-play the situation.

    I use dramatic irony in games all the time. My player group are all mature enough and happy to play along with the idea that their character don't know the things that they do. One of my players is 13. Two others are in their 30s. Two others are in the 40s. We have both ends of the gender spectrum, a range of philosophies and religions, and all that. Dramatic irony - it's a frame of mind.

    I know some people don't like it, but I find it's just simpler to rely on good roleplaying and a fair love of storytelling - if it'd be cool or fun to get into trouble by having a character misunderstand a situation that's clear to the player, then great! Everyone is playing with their eyes open and no-one feels like they're being tricked.
    Last edited by Altair_the_Vexed; 2018-02-02 at 09:50 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    It is overly convoluted. It adds complexity without clarity. Its effects are not clearly understood. It is intended to solve a problem that is not well defined.
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  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulukaï View Post
    Hello playgrounders,

    I have a question concerning descriptions, immersion, player/character knowledge and whatever. I'd just like to have some opinions about the following:

    Situation:
    - The Players enter a room and the DM descripes what they see. Eventually:
    - 'Ok, on the table ther's standing a microscope. It's a rather new invention, does any of your characters could have seen something like that or even know it?'
    - The collective answer: 'No, that's unlikely.'
    - Ok, moving on...

    After the session:
    The players collectively are unsatisfied with the DMs description of said microscope. Their characters don't know such apparati and so the DM should have just described what they see, without using the word microscope.

    What do you think? Please state your opinions, I#m willing to be enlightend. Thank you very much!


    Quote Originally Posted by Ulukaï View Post
    Ok, as I said, I am just starting and at this point I don't think I have the capacities to go into such deliberations . I will keep it in mind and will try to watch these things further.

    At least two people here could deem my handling as the correct approach and that is enough for me. I just wanted to know if there are people who can see it my way or if I am the only one not seeing the impact of my choice of words. I think it is a matter of expectations and playing style (obviously), so, to each his own, I guess. For me, immersion is not the holy grail and surely does not come from those descriptions.

    I will keep lookout for further posts here, but consider my question as sufficiantly answered . Thanks to all!
    The reason I bolded those two sections is that together, they indicate your “willingness to be enlightened” is less than genuine.

    To be frank, to me it looks like what you want is justification for your approach. And hey, yay, you found it!

    Here is the thing. YOUR players did not like your approach. These are the people you are playing with. When the rest of the table is unhappy with something you did, then that is YOUR mistake.

    What good does finding some strangers on the internet who say “I’d do it the same way”? They are not your players. What is the plan? Go back to your table and say “Some people on the internet said they would do things the same way, so I’m going to disregard your complaints”? I garantee that will not make your players any less frustrated if you stick to your approach.

    You have two basic options:
    1) Realize that as the DM, you need to be aware of the preferences of your players, and adjust your style so that you don’t annoy the entire table.

    Or

    2) Realize that you and your players are not compatible, and find a group of players that matches your style.

    People are already trying to help you with option 1), so you could stop arguing with them and try to listen and learn.

    If you want to go with option 2, then maybe you can start asking players here if they are interested in an online game.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Just chiming in because I remember the situation (or one very much like this, played with someone with the same name as the OP who is also not an English native speaker, so I'll just assume that we're talking about the session I remember).

    I thought your way of handling this was fine. That gadget was just a background feature to show how sciency and advanced that guy was. Mind you, I would have found it equally fine if you had just said "A strange metal and glass apparatus stands on the table". It was, frankly, just a minor thing and the focus of the adventure was elsewhere. Yes, elaborate storytelling can be fun, and I like it when I read about "great lumbering grey beasts with giant tusks" and think "hey, those guys are using elephants" (there are some funny examples of this in the Wheel of Time), but in the context of RPG sessions, clarity is usually more important, for me at least. This is definitely, a taste thing.
    Also, there is conservation of detail to consider: If you spent minutes to describe this one gadget, which then does not have the slightest influence on the adventure, I would consider that wasted time, unless done really well so that it is really immersive.

    Also: Hi Ulukai, keep up the great work! :D

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Giving players information that their characters couldn't have puts them in an unfair situation. They can't honestly use the information, and it takes away the opportunity to try to figure it out.

    Ideally, you can describe it in terms of what they know. Consider the same situation, described two different ways.

    Scenario 1.
    DM: After killing the orcs, you examine what they had. You see what appears to be an incomplete crossbow. The stock doesn't have the bow part, and there is no way to attach one if you had it.
    Player 1: That's useless. I ignore it.
    Player 2: My fighter Tarkington like bizarre weapons. He keeps it.
    [Later that evening, after making camp]
    Player 2: Tarkington examines the incomplete crossbow. He picks it up, looks at it, shoulders it, points it at a tree, and pulls the trigger.
    DM: You hear a loud sound like thunder, the item strikes your shoulder harder than any crossbow ever kicked, and a big hole appears in the tree.

    Scenario 2:
    DM: After killing the orcs, you examine what they had. You see a Winchester 30-06 rifle. But none of you know what that is, so you ignore it.
    Players: <doesn't matter what they say or do. Any interesting action has been prevented.>

    Scenario 1 is more fun. Scenario 2 is more frustrating.

    That's very close to my take on the matter.

    See also, the "let's cut away now to the villains... the players now know that they're walking into a trap, but the characters have no idea" thing that some people think is so great, and that would make me pull my hair out. Luckily I've never had that happen, but if it did, I'd tell the GM "This is not a movie. It will never be a movie. Stop trying to impose the genre conventions of the movies onto the RPG, and stop trying to make the RPG 'just like the movies'."

    Don't deliberately give the players information they CANNOT use, it's just frustrating. I guess I understand that some people don't mind or even like playing the game like they're creating a work of fiction, but for others (me) it's just a quick way to ruin the campaign.


    PLUS, it's a good way to cause strife between "I'm here to win" and "I'm here to RP my character" players, because IME the former likely consider the knowledge "in play now" and expect decisions to be made with it in mind for the greatest chance of winning, and the latter likely consider the knowledge "verboten" and won't use it (even though if like me they're frustrated that they have to zombie-walk their character into a trap and will probably just be going through the motions).
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-13 at 09:48 AM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    PLUS, it's a good way to cause strife between "I'm here to win" and "I'm here to RP my character" players, because IME the former likely consider the knowledge "in play now" and expect decisions to be made with it in mind for the greatest chance of winning, and the latter likely consider the knowledge "verboten" and won't use it (even though if like me they're frustrated that they have to zombie-walk their character into a trap and will probably just be going through the motions).
    I'm usually "here" to do both, and I agree with you, don't give info to the me that my character doesn't have. That makes it harder to RP my character. Who is also trying to "win", whatever the win conditions are in universe for that character.

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I'm usually "here" to do both, and I agree with you, don't give info to the me that my character doesn't have. That makes it harder to RP my character. Who is also trying to "win", whatever the win conditions are in universe for that character.
    I'm drawing something of a distinction between viewing the character as a playing piece and being motivated to "win the game", full stop; and seeing one's character's goal as winning within the context of being a "person" in that "reality" who would want to succeed at their goals, defeat their foes, etc.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    I don't think there is a distinct in there, unless you want to create one intentionally. It's the exact same issue I have with people who insist player/character separation is must be a thing though, so it's ground we've already been over.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-02-13 at 11:55 AM.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I don't think there is a distinct in there, unless you want to create one intentionally. It's the exact same issue I have with people who insist player/character separation is must be a thing though, so it's ground we've already been over.
    It's a distinction being made because it exists across the broader spectrum of gaming approaches, even if it doesn't exist for you.

    This is not a dismissal or criticism of your approach, but most gamers are perfectly fine with the idea that they know things their character does not, and their characters know things that they do not.

    (For example, they don't know how to fight with a sword and shield, their character doesn't know what a cell phone is or how to use one.)
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    It's a distinction being made because it exists across the broader spectrum of gaming approaches, even if it doesn't exist for you.

    This is not a dismissal or criticism of your approach, but most gamers are perfectly fine with the idea that they know things their character does not, and their characters know things that they do not.

    (For example, they don't know how to fight with a sword and shield, their character doesn't know what a cell phone is or how to use one.)
    Personally, I can't see how one can seriously make the claim that player knowledge == character knowledge from either direction (or that that's the ideal even).

    There are things the character knows that the player can't know (and not just skills). Being somewhere and actually perceiving it directly is very different from having it described to you. Words are a lossy medium--the players see, hear, feel, etc many things that the players can't. They know things by muscle memory--what a loose rock feels like as you're climbing. The rhythms of a particular religious service they grew up going to. The smell of cooking not!mutton. Etc.

    There are things the player knows that the character can't know. The existence of a wide list of skills, feats, classes, spells, etc (assuming a D&D context, adjust as appropriate). The results of a rolled check. The exact probability of certain things happening. The effect of spells that are imperceptible (like mind control--the character may not know he's being controlled, but the player sure does).

    This is inevitable.
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  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Personally, I can't see how one can seriously make the claim that player knowledge == character knowledge from either direction (or that that's the ideal even).
    You just assume it gets translated both ways in some form or another.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    It's a distinction being made because it exists across the broader spectrum of gaming approaches, even if it doesn't exist for you.

    This is not a dismissal or criticism of your approach, but most gamers are perfectly fine with the idea that they know things their character does not, and their characters know things that they do not.
    Fair enough.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-02-13 at 01:27 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Much work for very little gain, if you ask me. The game uses language as a medium so you should try to be as precise as possible to get the information across to your players.
    I'm kinda in this camp. If the microscope was just a nice little doodad, no harm in glossing over it. Save the weird reveal things (such as the gun in an example mentioned earlier) for the important stuff. Players are creative people, they'll invent three new names, another use for it and a way to kill people with it in under five minutes. For flavor items, I see no reason to just let the players act out how they interact with it knowing what it really is.

    If they will metagame THAT, you probably need new players.
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    This is not a dismissal or criticism of your approach, but most gamers are perfectly fine with the idea that they know things their character does not, and their characters know things that they do not.

    (For example, they don't know how to fight with a sword and shield, their character doesn't know what a cell phone is or how to use one.)
    Yup. And these two examples are no problem, because my character doesn't need to know what a cell phone is. And (at the table) I don't need to know how to fight with a sword and shield.

    But I dislike having knowledge that my player needs but doesn't have, because it prevents a good faith attempt to learn it.

    When the party enters the room, and I already know that the floor in the far left corner is a trap door, then I am prevented from fairly deciding whether to spend time looking for trap doors. I can:
    a. deliberately walk on the trap door, knowing I'm setting off a trap, or
    b.deliberately avoid that section, knowing I avoided the trap, or
    c. deliberately search for raps, because I know that there is a trap, or
    d. guess that my character wouldn't think to look for a trap, and not search.

    But I can't try to figure out what the best action might be, if I already know what it is. That's been stolen from me.

  16. - Top - End - #46
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Yup. And these two examples are no problem, because my character doesn't need to know what a cell phone is. And (at the table) I don't need to know how to fight with a sword and shield.

    But I dislike having knowledge that my player needs but doesn't have, because it prevents a good faith attempt to learn it.

    When the party enters the room, and I already know that the floor in the far left corner is a trap door, then I am prevented from fairly deciding whether to spend time looking for trap doors. I can:
    a. deliberately walk on the trap door, knowing I'm setting off a trap, or
    b.deliberately avoid that section, knowing I avoided the trap, or
    c. deliberately search for traps, because I know that there is a trap, or
    d. guess that my character wouldn't think to look for a trap, and not search.

    But I can't try to figure out what the best action might be, if I already know what it is. That's been stolen from me.
    I completely agree on that subset of the issue -- but there are two different discussions going on at present in this thread.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    I dislike having knowledge that my player needs but doesn't have, because it prevents a good faith attempt to learn it. I can't try to figure out what the best action might be, if I already know what it is. That's been stolen from me.
    My sentiments exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    I'm kinda in this camp. If the microscope was just a nice little doodad, no harm in glossing over it. Save the weird reveal things (such as the gun in an example mentioned earlier) for the important stuff. Players are creative people, they'll invent three new names, another use for it and a way to kill people with it in under five minutes. For flavor items, I see no reason to just let the players act out how they interact with it knowing what it really is.

    If they will metagame THAT, you probably need new players.
    One exception I'd like to point out is, I prefer to "break in" a new party to this style of play on something less important first, rather than having the one and only way to get the one and only clue to the one and only McGuffin involve the one and only time the party uses this new technique. Of course, there's a lot of "one and only" that a good GM would probably replace using the "Rule of Three"...

  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    While I'm generally of the "Call it what it is" school, I will concede that fun can be had if you don't.

    In one Palladium Fantasy convention game, I was playing a water warlock. We walked into... a modern bathroom. A large one, like you might find at a stadium or school, done over in porcelain and tile, shining and clean. The GM described it to us, and my character came to the only reasonable conclusion: that this was a Shrine to Water. Those sparkling tablets in the shrines? Those were communion wafers. I proceeded to eat one, because it was an obvious thing to do when one has the soul of a water elemental and comes upon a shrine to water.
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Honestly, I don't agree with the "if I know there's a trap there I don't have agency" thing. That would imply that in a murder mystery, if I figure out whodunnit early, then I've ruined the game/book/plot. I know, but my character doesn't. Or doesn't care (depending on the character).

    Yes, I'm smart enough to realize that X is probably trapped. Because I know it's a game and I know that there's lots of traps like that. My character may or may not be. The INT 20 paranoiac? Absolutely. The INT 8 meat-wall? Nope. Or in the second case, he may not care even if he does know.

    The issue comes in where everything is high stakes. If tripping that trap will likely cause a character death (or a TPK) or a failed mission, then sure. My desire to "win" (more "not lose") will insist that I avoid the trap and "metagame". But if the consequences are more mild, I have no issue. I prefer the "constant drip of small choices" (where each choice changes things but none are failure = end of everything scale) style to "one check to rule them all". Many small fights, each changing the future slightly, instead of one big do-or-die fight. Many small skill checks, each of which is recoverable (even if at a cost).
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Honestly, I don't agree with the "if I know there's a trap there I don't have agency" thing. That would imply that in a murder mystery, if I figure out whodunnit early, then I've ruined the game/book/plot. I know, but my character doesn't. Or doesn't care (depending on the character).

    Yes, I'm smart enough to realize that X is probably trapped. Because I know it's a game and I know that there's lots of traps like that. My character may or may not be. The INT 20 paranoiac? Absolutely. The INT 8 meat-wall? Nope. Or in the second case, he may not care even if he does know.
    This is the type of circumlocutions that seem entirely unnecessary to me. If I can figure it out, my character can figure it out. If I can't figure it out, my character can't figure it out. If my Int 20 character can pass an Int check that gives me, the player, a hint that helps me figure it out, great. If my Int 8 character fails and gets bad information that causes me to make a mistake in figuring it out, also great.

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    This is the type of circumlocutions that seem entirely unnecessary to me. If I can figure it out, my character can figure it out. If I can't figure it out, my character can't figure it out. If my Int 20 character can pass an Int check that gives me, the player, a hint that helps me figure it out, great. If my Int 8 character fails and gets bad information that causes me to make a mistake in figuring it out, also great.
    That's not necessarily true. In part because words are lossy--there's lots of things the character can see that can't be described well in words. In addition, being removed from things (and having lots of experience that the character doesn't have) can make it easier to deduce the presence of a trap (to continue that example). A level 1 character wouldn't know that's a trap (he's never seen something like that before), when the experienced player is dead sure it is.
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  22. - Top - End - #52
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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    A level 1 character wouldn't know that's a trap (he's never seen something like that before), when the experienced player is dead sure it is.
    Why? That's an assumption on your part. You're intentionally separating player/character knowledge here. There's no particular reason to except you want to. Which is fine and dandy, but it's certainly not required.

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    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Why? That's an assumption on your part. You're intentionally separating player/character knowledge here. There's no particular reason to except you want to. Which is fine and dandy, but it's certainly not required.
    No, it's experience and logic. A farmboy who's never seen a complex mechanical device isn't likely to recognize that that combination of gears, gizmos, etc. will spray poison gas. The player, who has seen hundreds of such traps, on the other hand...

    I deal with kids continually as a teacher. Things that are obvious to any experienced adults are complete mysteries to them because they lack salient experiences. "Obvious" things aren't so obvious, most of the time.
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  24. - Top - End - #54
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Sep 2015

    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    No, it's experience and logic. A farmboy who's never seen a complex mechanical device isn't likely to recognize that that combination of gears, gizmos, etc. will spray poison gas. The player, who has seen hundreds of such traps, on the other hand...
    Now you're making two assumptions. First, that an experienced player will decide to play a farmboy character that has never seen such things. If they do, that's on the player.

    And second, that an experienced player has actually seen the inner workings of traps and knows how they work. Experienced players might have intuition that tells them to be careful in a dungeon, that pit traps and spike traps and swinging blade traps are a thing. But that's not the same thing. That's what ability scores and skills are for.

    Creating artificial player/character separation is something players choose to do, because the character is nothing but a construct in the players mind. If a player chooses to do so, they need to decide how they're going to handle that separation themselves, since it's not a natural or automatic thing. If there is a problem, the player has caused it. Similarly, if a DM chooses to provide information to the player that the character isn't supposed to have and then expects the player not to act on it or declares it a problem if they do, the DM has caused the problem.

  25. - Top - End - #55
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: But my Character doesn't know that...

    Funny thing - this argument really sounds like why I built Quertus, my signature character for whom this account is named.

    See, I believe in both roleplaying and player skills. As my player skills grew, I moved from playing "wide-eyed farm boy" archtypes to, um, "trained adventurer" archtypes, I suppose. My character's expected starting skill level leveled as I leveled my player skills.

    Then, I noticed some players just didn't get it, even after playing the game much longer than I had. And new players got to have that sense of wonder that, if I continued on my current path, I realized, my characters never would have again. This also meant that, in certain vectors, my characters would become / were becoming rather "same-y"*. This was something I clearly needed to fix.

    Thus, Quertus was conceptualized. He represents a particular type of intentional separation of, not just player/character knowledge, but player/character skill.

    So, I certainly can see how the game can be played both ways, as I have played it both ways. Personally, I went down one particular path, of enjoying the diversity possible when you separate player and character, and I've never looked back.

    * Yes, I know, "I play wizards". Most of my characters are same-y in that vector. But that's the "mechanics" layer, not the personality and mindset layer.

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