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57

Explicitly define "What's at stake?" Well, it sounds like part of your problem is that you two don't necessarily see eye to eye on the meaning of that roll. In my experience, the best way to approach this is to actually explicitly define the "stakes" of the check before the roll. That means you spell out the consequences of success and failure, then give ...


51

Define the Consequeces of Success and Failure Up Front This answer addresses a very similar question. I think everything I said there applies equally here. In short: if you explicitly define the consequences of success and failure, players are less likely to misunderstand the information and run off doing some nonsense. Let It Ride In your case, there's ...


41

Just to add to something others have been saying: If there is any secret information in the game, then Pass notes to every player, constantly! Occasionally scribble random gibberish like "Look at this paper and smile knowingly." and pass it to a random player. Make sure everyone gets used to it as "one of your GM quirks". Mix this up with meaningful ...


27

I thought about making up an excuse to talk to all players in the bathroom during stuff like the assassination example above so everyone will be suspicious of each other but it sounds like too much hurdle. Unfortunately, that's your answer. Metagaming in this case isn't going to be deliberate, but it's going to be hard to avoid. If you constantly ...


24

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rulebook (1981, Gygax & Arneson), pg B60 Your character doesn't know that A player should not allow his or her character to act on information that character has no way of knowing (for example, attacking an NPC because the NPC killed a previous character run by the player, even though the NPC and current character ...


21

Alignment Usually Isn't Hard To Determine Alignment often isn't that hard to figure out anyway. Spells that can detect it are readily available, some classes (like Paladins) can detect evil as much as they want, and in certain cases you can discern it from their actions (a Cleric casting a Good spell can't be evil, because a Good type spell can't be cast by ...


18

It sounds like your players and you have different expectations of the expectations of the game. Use the Same Page Tool to come to a consensus. Functionally, neither you nor your players are behaving wrong for the game that you or they are playing. Unfortunately, you are not playing the same game. This problem is not an "in character" problem, it's an ...


17

Fast-forward When it becomes obvious that the players are going to spend a lot of time, and do everything they can think of, before it becomes they finally accept that there’s nothing there, and they’re not under any time-pressure that makes it important to keep track of how much time they spend trying, just skip that step. You try everything you can ...


15

I've run games with strict information compartmentalization like this, it really aids the immersion. Here's what you can try to do in order to not give away too much. Take other people aside too, not just for "super secrets" but for experiences they have outside the rest of the group. So if someone gets sent to the library to research, take them aside, ...


15

To reiterate my answer here, you should conspire with your players against the characters. There are too many ways of passing information through inaction or mechanics use to adequately conceal important aspects of the environment. Instead, focus on an honest player relationship (assuming that everyone is comfortable with this sort of game, of course), ...


15

In addition to the excellent suggestions already given (I'm rather partial to "Let It Ride" myself), here are two more: Roll the checks yourself in secret. Without the knowledge that they rolled poorly, the potential for players to metagame in this way is essentially eliminated. They may continue searching for longer than seems appropriate to you, but it ...


14

Talk to them So, at the risk of being obvious, consider talking to them directly about the type of game you want to play and also ask what type of game they want to play. You don't have to tell them how you feel they should play, and probably shouldn't. But you absolutely can and should say things like, "I like to present challenges with multiple ...


13

Be unpredictable The reason that the player can do this is that the rules are well-known. In order to avoid this problem, introduce some mystery. When the player rolls a skill check where the quality of the result shouldn't be known by the character, you should also roll (in secret of course). If your roll is in the high half of the die range, then treat ...


13

Younger players frequently tend either toward following the lead of other players at the table, towards combat, or both. If they have all spent less than 7 months playing, then they still have little experience in playing as a whole. That said, you should always ensure that the players have a fair idea of what to expect from your games if you aren't going ...


11

In D&D 4e, "fumbling" a skill check on a natural 1 is a house rule only. By the rules as written, a natural 1 on a skill check is not even an automatic failure, much less a fumble — it's just 1 less than a roll of 2. The critical hits and automatic misses introduced in D&D 4e are only in the context of combat, and nowhere else. (This is why ...


10

1. How do I discourage players using the knowledge that they have a low roll to influence character decisions? Be up front and honest with them about not Meta gaming. It is meta-gaming using the knowledge of a low roll to influence your in-character actions/reactions/thoughts/etc. I usually say just what you said, something along the lines of, "You think ...


10

I would say that any kind of information gathering roll (perception, traps, weather forecasting, interaction with NPC), any of them, should be rolled behind the Narrator/DM/Master's screen. You can allow the player to roll theirselves, but they should never see the results. The rationale behind hidden rolls is that players can not metagame around ...


8

The game was called FRUP. It was never released (one of the casualties of the collapse of Guardians of Order), but the story of it — and the preview of the game from 1995 — are available at WhatIsFRUP.com.


7

Here's a range of options, suited to different playstyles. Also you can mix-and-match. "You Don't Know": If the player fails a roll, the GM says they don't know. This is probably the simplest approach. What about "botching?" Shouldn't you make it more than just "You don't know." Enh, maybe they still don't know. Even in games that feature special ...


7

The typical way to do this is to roll for the player where only you can see the result (such as behind a screen or your hand). Any time you are rolling for hidden information, you're justified in making the roll yourself. Looking for secret doors? You roll, and tell what they do or don't find. Racking their brains to remember something useful about trolls? ...


7

I will address your concerns one by one. Would this give too much information to the players? That depends. Since this is your world, you decide what "too much" means. There is nothing wrong with having personal flares and unique elements in your story. As long as it is internally consistent. I'm afraid that that knowledge could start influencing ...


7

My technique here consists of two sentences spoken to players. When it's a boolean (yes/no) roll situation I roll some dice and say: "Well, you find nothing... and nothing finds you." When it's a "we-keep-searching-indefinitely" situation I just ask: "How long will you continue to search if you find nothing?" (Sometimes I amend this to "if nothing ...


6

I've run exactly this scenario to extremely good effect (a Star Wars game in which one of the characters was an Imperial double agent). It's possible to surprise the players without cheating, but you've correctly identified a major problem which you must avoid. There are three parts to the solution: If meeting with a player privately, you must meet with ...


6

So, you have player A who is the spy, B and C who are loyals. Call in A for normal information exchange/private time. Call in B and have the Prince tell him that he's heard a rumor that someone may be betraying the cause. He knows that based on the rumor that it is likely either the PCs, or some other little cluster (if it exists). However, have the Prince ...


6

There have been several answers that have bits I agree with and I've +1'd and commented accordingly. However I did have a spark I wanted to share and shall do so below. Competency/Circumstance Bonuses The intimate knowledge of this NPC is quite valuable especially since it's true. The believers should get a bonus (+2 or +3 sounds sufficient) to all ...


6

As I see it, the main questions are for the long term. As such, my main suggestion is that some rolls you'll roll hidden from the players. Rolls such as this one, or stealth check or the like should always leave the players somewhat guessing in the dark, trying to figure out if they succeeded or not. This usually makes them follow what you told them in this ...


6

That's not necessarily metagaming. If a group of adventurers are walking through a dungeon, they may expect traps. That's a totally reasonable thing for adventurers the expect. If they come to a room that seems like it probably should be trapped, then they're likely going to want to search more thoroughly. If they search as thoroughly as they can (for ...


6

If you as the DM really get bored you can always generate a distraction or otherwise trigger a time-based event that would have been initially benign. Regardless of if they're paranoid for good reason (low enough rolls even barely) or for red herring soup, if you as the DM need to progress, external forces can intervene. Party says "we'll take twenty to ...


5

Just as a specific note-passing technique: index cards. They're a good size, nice and sturdy, fit a fair bit of information, and are reasonably inexpensive.


5

There is actually a system that already deals with something like this (though not quite on the scale you propose). In White Wolf's Exalted games, many of the magical effects that players can deploy reveal to those paying attention which kind of supernatural being they are (though visually all beings are human). Since there is a setting-defined inquisition ...



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