Out-of-character knowledge and exploration

I have a long-standing disagreement with one of the players in our group, and I’m just starting to make sense of it.  We have very different opinions on how to deal with information that either some or none of the characters have a reason to know.  One incident that highlights our differing opinions involved a two hour conversation in a separate room in order to keep details of someone’s character background secret form the rest of the group.  We had to postpone certain scenes until it was over, and predictably, everyone else was quite bored while this was going on.  To this person, the less than desirable effects on the rest of the group were regrettable, but acceptable in order to preserve alignment between in and out of character knowledge.  I have never found knowing things out of character to be a serious hindrance to my enjoyment of the game, and I’ve never found “surprising” twists and turns to be critical for me.

It occurred to me recently that one reason for our differing opinions is our differing goals.  He prefers to explore the parts of the game outside of his characters, while I prefer to explore the inner life of my characters.  So for me, knowing what’s coming up can help me set up situations that explore my character’s motivations and psychological state in interesting ways.  For him, knowing what’s coming up ruins his exploration.

On an even more general level, the core of this realization relates to the One True Way.  Just as there is no One True Way, there is no One True Goal or One True Technique.  Instead, there are lots of equally valid goals, and for each goal, lots of techniques for getting there.

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2 Responses to Out-of-character knowledge and exploration

  1. Tommi says:

    This rpg.net thread might be useful for perspectives from both sides of the divide.

  2. karl says:

    Funny you should mention it: that’s what got me thinking about it.

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