Plotting and Scheming in an RPG

Pile of DiceI’ve been running various role playing game on and off since around 1992. Not quite as long as some other people I know, but more frequently than others.

During that time, I mostly ran games using the Palladium system (they make RIFTs, Nightbane, and Phase World) with a few forays into the Call of Cthulhu system and, recently, the White Wolf Storyteller system. I’ve played in games using a few other systems. My experience is pretty well-rounded, I think, and I know what I like as a player and as a GM.

What I like is a rich world that my characters (or my players) can really dig into. When I have a character in a world that’s poorly defined, I’m hard-pressed to know what’s possible. (The exception being if the character doesn’t know anything about the world, either… in which case, it’s just all out fun.) Without a solid frame of reference, I can’t help the GM move the story along and I have difficulty answering the big question of “Why bother?” for the character(s) that are supposed to be caught up in it.

That’s why, even as a player, I like to get my hands on at least the core source book for the setting and read all the “flavor” stuff I can.

But how about you?

I accept the fact that I may be a little bit of an odd duck when it comes to this. I know I’ve maybe overloaded my players with background info (which barely got looked at) before.

Thing is, I’m about to kick off a new game. It’s going to be set in a world completely of my own creation… and I want the players to feel free to help add to that world.

But I don’t want to spoil the fun of discovery.

Here’s the opinion-seeking question: When it comes to role playing games, is it better to have the players know only the bare minimum about the world they’re exploring (only slightly more than their characters, perhaps), or is it better to let them know all sorts of things (including stuff that their characters would have no way of knowing)?

As a creator, I’m kind of torn on the subject.

About Kier

I've been on the web since about 1994. I have a background in a lot of things, including a five year stint as a journalist and over a decade of helping people get their message out to the world.

I write on a number of subjects--everything from relationships to personal development to politics and every day life. I hope you get something worthwhile out of it.

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