Skip to main content

Knowing vs. Not Knowing

In fiction particularly in cinema, you can get away with not telling your audience what's going on, at least for a while. Withholding information builds suspense. In some genres—horror, in particular—it's essentially required.

In gaming, however, I am of the opinion that it is always better for the players to know more than for them to know less. I will repeat that sentence with emphasis added because I think there are two aspects of it that need to be emphasized:
It is always better for the players to know more than to know less.
In a tabletop RPG, the players hold a position unique to any other medium in being both audience and author, viewer and performer. Because of this, it is very important for the players to have enough information about the setting and the narrative to be able to perform meaningfully within it.

Note, however, that I say it is better for the players to know more. They don't need to know everything, or at least, they don't need that knowledge all at once. This is one of the major reasons I like the GUMSHOE system, I think. The rules there privilege gaining knowledge, so they enable the players to know ever more as the game progresses.

Even in the horror genre—which many GUMSHOE system games are—knowing more is still better. The key is to make the things the players learn through play horrible. Gaining that knowledge reinforces the themes of the game and allows the players to perform better within the narrative.

What do you think? Are there times when you feel it is better to keep information from the players? Or is it simply a question of pacing, the speed at which you let players gain information? I'd love to hear your views in the comments.

Popular posts from this blog

Voting Is Live For The 2016 Ennie Awards

The 2016 Ennie Awards are now open for voting. Go to http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/2016/ to vote for the great gaming products in two dozen categories.

While you’re there, I hope you’ll consider voting for It’s Element-ary! for Best Family Game. I’m up against some very worthy competition, and I’m honored just to be nominated. But who knows what could happen, right?

Dungeon Crate, May 2016

For my birthday last month, my friends got me a subscription to DungeonCrate.  This service is the RPG-focused entry in the current "crate" craze, where you pay a subscription fee and a box of themed stuff is sent to your home monthly, quarterly, or whatever. Well, my first crate arrived today, and I thought I'd go through it here on the blog.





Let's Make a Character: Atomic Robo

I forgot to post this last Friday, but I had my third episode of Let's Make a Character. I made an Action Scientist (light on the Action) for the Atomic Robo RPG (powered by Fate Core). Check it out!