Where collaborative world building overrides secrecy at the game table?

Where collaborative world building overrides secrecy at the game table?

Where collaborative world building overrides secrecy at the game table?

It has been said that secrecy is quintessential to a good role-playing experience. That is, the GM is not telling you everything there is to know, and uncertainty creates paranoia that drives the players minds into exiting situations and role playing.

But with collaborative world building like DW, players feel that they know what there is to be known, anything beyond that has not been created.

What do you think?

9 thoughts on “Where collaborative world building overrides secrecy at the game table?”

  1. It has been said that secrecy is quintessential to a good role-playing experience

    Yuck, by who? I definitely do not agree with that in the least. I want to make informed decisions, not have to guess at what the GM is thinking.

    But with collaborative world building like DW

    Can you tell me what page in the book the collaborative world building rules are on?

  2. Aaron Griffin First Session chapter tells about collaborative world building.

    Secrecy at the table, unless we are in an alternate reality, that is a basic principle of good storytelling at role-playing, specially in suspense horror themed games. “Keep the players guessing”

  3. Working with the players doesn’t mean that you can’t have secrets, especially when it comes to the plot. You should still give the players some input, and a lot of characters, even in suspense stories, have particular areas of knowledge and expertise–player input on some fields of knowledge doesn’t mean input into all fields of knowledge.

  4. “Collaborate with” doesn’t mean “share all secrets with”. The instructions are to ask questions and use the answers, and to make sure the broad tone of the game is something the players are interested in – that’s not the same as sharing all secrets. It also says,

    “You don’t need pre-approval for everything but making sure everyone is excited about the broad strokes of the world is a great start.”

    So you could ask your player, “what’s the major religion of this kingdom? What kind of beliefs and practices do they hold, and are they tolerant of other religions?” But you could also decide, without telling them, that that church is being infiltrated by a cult that’s corrupting their beliefs. Use the players’ answers, and add your own information.

    Also, the next chapter, about Fronts, starts with this sentence:

    “Fronts are secret tomes of GM knowledge.”

    So if you want something that explicitly says “yes the GM has secrets from the players”, there you go.

  5. Also, Secrecy may be a powerful tool, especially for certain kinds of games, but it’s definitely not a necessity (and not every game is a mystery or suspense horror). Otherwise there wouldn’t be any GM-less games, which there are plenty of, like Fiasco. In fact, Noirlandia is a murder-mystery game without a GM or hidden knowledge – the solution to the mystery is “discovered” by players creating clues as they play, then piecing the clues together.

    Fate is also a narrative game that, even though it has a GM, strongly encourages them to play with everything on the table in the open (at least, everything important to the scene, not necessarily the whole plot), even aspects that the characters are not aware of. That way players can take advantage of narrative aspects and even set up dramatic irony.

  6. Reading my previous comments, they may be a bit too aggressive and I apologize for that, I just don’t like it when people limit themselves and others by taking general rules to the extreme and treating them like unbreakable rules. And I feel like I’ve seen DW misrepresented as a much more extremely collaborative game than it (necessarily) is. (And even Fellowship, which is far more extreme in that direction, lets the GM have secrets about cultures besides the ones the players are in charge of, or about individuals in those cultures)

    (I promise I’m done commenting for now)

  7. It’s more up to your GM style. Of your players like sitting in a writers room and creating story and then acting it out DW can do that (a lot of RPGs can do that). Of your players are more interested in finding out through character discovery then you can do that.

    As a Dungeon World GM my favorite move is spout lore because I think that many of my players ideas for lore make the game more interesting to me.

  8. Key thing to remember is just cause something is a rule doesn’t mean it needs to be 100% adhered to. Games are about having fun, so if a rule will take away fun from either the GM or the Players, it’s perfectly valid to just ignore; be it for a specific case or in general. Remember just cause you have the Title GM, you’re still playing the game too, and you should be having just as much fun as the others are.

    “Ask questions, use the answers.” Doesn’t mean have the players make every detail about the world. It means incorporate details they give you to give the illusion you had everything planned from the very beginning.

    If the plot your players are adventuring through requires that there is a blue dragon, and that blue dragon is needed to breath blue fire, then it’s ok to hardline and say “No.”

    If they want to contribute that “Blue dragons mostly eat fish, so it likely has it’s lair near a large lake or river. That’ll be the best place to start working” Then go with it. The dragon’s lair being in a cliff side, or an old temple, or the forest doesn’t actually matter outside what picture you’re imagining in your head.

    So often I’ve seen GMs I’m playing with lose interest in DW cause they think they have to give the car and the driver’s seat over to the players, and they’re just there to make sure the wheels have air in them. This is not the case. As the GM, you’re the person in the driver’s seat, the players are just reading the map and telling you about all the stuff you’re driving by.

    Example of play would be me asking the players what the weather looks like when they wake up that morning. If it was raining the night before, they might say it’s bright and sunny, or the might say it’s going to rain again later in the day. Whatever the answer is doesn’t mechanically change anything that’s happening that session; narratively though, it can matter a lot.

    Maybe the dwarf I was planning to have them meet on the road, they instead find in a cave while they’re running for shelter from the rain. Doesn’t mechanically change that they meet the dwarf and he shares some information with them. Though because the players are in this cave because the players decided it was going to rain, this makes them feel like they are actually part of the adventure.

Comments are closed.