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To make a long story short, a campaign I was playing in [as play-per-mail] has come to a standstill. The cause of this is the following:

My character dove into the river, to retrieve something that was lost, and spent some time in the water. When he emerged, I was told to "maybe take it easy from here on, because my character was close to fainting." When I asked how this had happened, the reply was that it was winter [something I was told a couple of sessions ago--when it was still played around a table--but had long since forgotten] and that the water was almost at a freezing temperature.

I feel like the GM should've at least reminded me of these facts before I dove into the water, as I might've forgotten this, but it is something that would be totally obvious to my character. Was this my responsibility to check?

How should we proceed after this? [As the state of my character is kind-of important at the moment of emerging from the water.]

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3 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I can only tell you how we handle such things in our PnP Group.

In our group, the rule of thumb is: If you forget a critical fact and suffer for it, it sucks to be you, but we will not roll back. This has, however, only happened once to date, because the GM always had the decency to give hints in his explanations.

In your example: Don't say "You are entering the water, what do you want to do?", but say "you are entering the water. Immediately, you feel your legs go numb from the cold.". Remind the player of the things he might have forgotten during the descriptions.

Now, since you are not the GM in this case, I know this doesn't really help you. I would definitly have a word with my GM if this was to happen in my group, tell him how I feel about it. Especially if it's something really simple like the aforementioned description that the water is cold, it's really not too hard and in fact adds to the atmosphere, in my opinion.

This changes if the players forget a vital clue in a crime story or something like that. In that case, I (as the GM at that time) left the players in the dark about it (As they were taking notes, but just forgot to note this special thing down, so it's really not my fault when they forget something). But as I saw that there was no chance that they would remember on their own, I nudged them back towards the person they got the information from. At that point, one of the players remembered the clue, and I did not need to use an NPC to point it out again. This only works if the clue was given during the same evening or a few days before, not if you are only playing every few months.

Which brings me to the last point: In my opinion, if you are playing once every few months, the GM should go easier on the players memory (Especially if they lost their notes). For me, it's always the better choice to have some NPC give them the clues again instead of letting them in the dark and completely killing the flow of the game. Nothing is worse than players who are frustrated with their GM.

This answer focussed a lot on the GM side, because I think that these things should ultimately be decided by the GM. But it doesn't hurt to talk to the group as the GM, and it especially doesn't hurt to talk to the GM as a player. The GM will most likely not know that you are frustrated with his methods, unless you tell him. And if he's a good GM, he will take it as constructive criticism and not as a personal attack on him (Almost happened to me once).

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Thanks for your opinion on the matter; I'll discuss it with the GM. ^^ –  pepijn Mar 10 '12 at 15:29
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in Face to Face play, my general policy is to prompt gently to see if they want a roll to get a reminder... if they don't want the roll, miss the hint, or fail the roll, tough.

In a PBM/PBEM, tho', your ability to review puts far more burden upon you as a player. So, in the case you mentioned, yes, you should have.

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As a GM, I have two policies about this.

  1. The "Good Character" policy. If characters have common sense, high levels of intelligence or prudence, tend to act rationally, and are typically played as risk averse, I will let their players know of anything that is going on.
  2. The "Daredevil" policy. I use this for characters who are out of line-if a player treats their character as the epitome of reckless, a menace to those around him and himself, and basically never considers actions, I require him to ask me in order to receive feedback.

That said, I like to narrate scenes before people do things; which leads to a small degree of frustration on both sides as the players don't get any (perceived) useful information, and I get interrupted, so if they forget something too major I forgot it (in which case I let them slide, though trying it again won't work) or they just didn't care (which puts them under the Daredevil category automatically).

As far as your situation, you probably should have been told, but with PBEM and (probably) having records, I'm not so sure where blame lies.

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The important information was given while the game was still played tabletop. I do like your different policies for different character types a lot. ^^ –  pepijn Mar 12 '12 at 10:00
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