August 01, 2002
WISH 6: Secrets
This week's WISH is something of a follow-up to last week's.

Sometimes the plot of a game requires a GM to keep secrets. Is it better for the GM and other players to keep most out-of-character knowledge secret, or to assume that players are capable of keeping in-character and out-of-character knowledge separate? Where and how do you draw the line as a GM and/or player between what secrets should be kept and which ones are OK to reveal?

Okay, so I'm sort of doing these in reverse, since I haven't done the communication one yet, but right now, I need something mild I can work on and this one is actually easier.

I'm big on secrets. As a GM and as a player. In fact, in recent years, I've had to back off because I found I've been gaming with people who are far more open about in-character knowledge than I am.

I think my fondness for keeping the secrets secret is due to two things... The first is that I'm somehow always the character who ends up with a weird big secret during the game, or becomes the betrayer. I think I started a reputation when I first showed up at RPI. The second Champions character I had here at RPI was amnesiac. I thought it would be fun, which leads into the second reason -- I like learning things about my character during play. It means I always have something to do. So there I was, trying to learn about her during play and discover her secrets, and well, next thing I knew I found out she had at one point been allied with the enemy! Hells, at one point she thought she'd been sleeping with the enemy, but turned out that one wasn't true. Although there was a great conversation that had the bewildered line, "Uh... last I knew I was het?"

So anyway, I don't like hearing about secrets during the course of the game, unless I know them, because for me, part of the fun of the game, is unraveling those very secrets.

And I don't like secrets being told because as a GM, or even as a player, part of the fun is watching *others* work to uncover them. Or even the risk of them bumping into them by accident. I spent two sessions of WEF working hard to make sure Brennan didn't figure out that Benedict was NOT Adrienne's father -- Oberon was.

There are those pieces of OOC information that are okay to reveal. In Rite of Passage, because I'm running it at ACUS and because I want to run it in a single room, there's a lot of OOC stuff revealed during the ACUS sessions. But we continue over email between cons, and the things done there remain secret unless talked about between the players. And I think that's actually worked well. If there is something I really don't want anyone knowing, I take them in the other room.

In terms of me, as a GM, talking to my players... it happens. I've learned over the years that I cannot talk to Kevin (my husband) about games other than ones he plays in -- he admits flat out that it doesn't interest him. So we talk about what he's playing in, which if I'm playing that means I'm usually running it these days. Our conversation usually centers around what if's with his character, or IC conversations, or whatever. But right now, we've been talking about the new game I'm setting up, and he's been helping me work through some of my history.

It goes the same, if not moreso, for Josh. We walk, we chat, and he has always known more about what's going on in the games than others. But I STILL don't spill the big secrets if I can at all help it. After all, I want him to be trying to get at them too during the game!

Posted by Deb Atwood at August 01, 2002 11:00 PM | TrackBack
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