Suppose as the adventure is about to kick-off the DM invites some discussion about what each character has been up to lately and after hearing each monologue embeds a bit of his own story telling into each monologue to weave in hints of what's to come and to create a bit of unity/meaning. For example:
P1: I attended a rare sword exhibition.
DM: You noticed occasional prolonged glances from a hooded figure. As you left the show, you discover a hastily written note that somehow made its way into your pocket.
P2: I lost myself for days in an occult library.
DM: While burned out from your intensive studies, you drift asleep. As you awaken, you notice something written on the margins of the tome you had opened the night before.
P3: Totally uneventful until an uncouth-looking stranger tried to superstitiously slip me a piece of paper, which I, with great alacrity, intercepted and tore up into pieces. I then alerted authorities to his presence.
I can sympathize with player 3 because he's listened to what's been said before him, so he clearly knows what's coming. In a way it spices up things, where he/she might otherwise have to passively accept the foreshadowing elements that might at this point lost some mystique. However, it's also clearly a witty jab at the DM, forcing some kind of response. What comes to mind for me:
- Everybody have a laugh and move on to the actual adventure
- Brute force it: After you watch the town guard chase the man down, you were astonished to find in your pocket a note. His earlier note was just a distraction; a game of "thief chess" where he was up a move.
- Strict preparation game plan: Well, you never read the note to learn the secret meeting location to meet your teammates. Roll D100 to see if there is any chance you can reassemble the paper your ripped into shreds.
Each table may have its own comfort level for the above solutions. But for the purposes of this question, I would like to hone the craft of fighting wit with wit in such situations. In other words, form a response but not necessarily make it so punitive for the player in terms of the plot. However, it's hard to know exactly how players will try to trip up the DM, so it's not something that can be prepared ahead of time. Maybe a basic framework would help.
If my aim is to allow such DM/player interactions and form a witty response that accomplishes "yes, I'm aware you want something different" and still weave that player into the story in a way that does not give any material advantages or disadvantages to the other players, what kind of framework should I have in mind as I get placed on the spot in such situations?