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Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: Brendan on January 12, 2006, 08:19:11 AM

Title: Tearing down the DM's screen
Post by: Brendan on January 12, 2006, 08:19:11 AM
I'm running a Dogs game at last, after a few false starts.  I'm Storytelling for the moment and I bought the book first, but I've got as much to learn about actual play as my players do.  One problem I'm having is convincing myself to put down my DM screen--in effect, not literally, since we're playing over AIM.

Last week, we made characters, ran initiation conflicts and started a town, Whitevein (which I'll post with an AP report when we've finished).  The Dogs rode into town and won one conflict, then our time was up.  In the few days since, I put up a wiki on my site and typed up everybody's character sheets so we don't have to have twelve paper copies at our disparate locations.  I also wrote up the little description of the town I'd given them in play.

Here's where I'm sticking:  I kind of want to post the stats and traits for my six named NPCs on the wiki.  I can see the dice the players get, so it's only fair that they should be able to see the dice my guys get, right?  I'm trying to justify this by saying that I'm throwing all the neat stuff at them up front, not making them play hunt-the-info, not hiding behind my GM screen.

On the other hand, if the players look at those sheets, they're going to see the six names and forget that anybody else is important.  "We knock on the door."  "Brother Mullah answers.  He's--" "Mullah?  I don't see him on the wiki, must not matter.  Next house."  But the whole point of Dogs' NPC creation system is that I can make up new ones quickly if the players decide that the extras are more interesting than the marquee names.  If I post six names and that's it, that's a subtle but strong suggestion that they're what's important in the town.  It's halfway to removing the players' ability to decide what matters.

The simple real-world version of this is:  when you're playing around a table, do you keep your NPC sheet in plain view?  Why or why not?

Title: Re: Tearing down the DM's screen
Post by: coffeestain on January 12, 2006, 08:24:47 AM

Remember that you don't have to (and possibly shouldn't) assign an NPC to a set of stats before that NPC hits conflict.

Around the table, I don't do anything to hide the sheet, but I don't give it to the players.  If they make an effort to look at it or ask for it, it doesn't matter to me because they're just a lot of random dice.  It's not important who the dice belong to or what they represent until it's necessary to resolve a conflict.

I guess what I'm getting at is, you don't really determine who the important people are.  Your players do.

So show them your sheet and let them know why it's mostly blank.  I think that's removing even more of the DM's screen than what you're suggesting.


Title: Re: Tearing down the DM's screen
Post by: Vaxalon on January 12, 2006, 08:25:33 AM
I don't keep them secret, per se, but the Players seem to have no interest in looking at them.

I'd say put them on a separate page of the wiki, and if they want to look, let them look.  If they want to abrogate the decision to you about what is important, that's their get-out.

Title: Re: Tearing down the DM's screen
Post by: lumpley on January 12, 2006, 08:56:27 AM
Hey Brendan.

Don't assign stats to any NPCs before you need them for conflict resolution. All you've really got is a list of names.

Since you're going to say all those names out loud soon enough anyway, don't reveal them up-front.

You can reveal the proto-NPC stat blocks if you want, but I wouldn't bother.


Title: Re: Tearing down the DM's screen
Post by: Brendan on January 12, 2006, 12:07:17 PM
I clearly need to hit the book again.  Thanks, guys.

Title: Re: Tearing down the DM's screen
Post by: Andrew Morris on January 12, 2006, 12:33:14 PM
For what it's worth, in my table-top DitV sessions, I leave all my notes out in the open and tell players that they're free to look at them if they want, but it'll probably just reduce their own fun. So far, no one's wanted to take a peek. It might be different online, but I think the principle still remains -- there's nothing the player can find out that will ruin the game. Even if they read through the whole "something's wrong" progression, that still leaves the meat of the game -- the moral judgin' and fixin' things.