5E Oops, Players Accidentally See Solution to Exploration Challenge

Greenfield

Adventurer
I played in a game where we were searching for a lost adventurere/person of interest. The overland map we were given had the start city, a line marking the road through the mountains on the way to the next city, and at an intermediate point there was a rock formation marked.

We didn't need to see any other layers of that map to know where we'd end up finding the person we were hunting. There was only the one marked location on the map, other than the start and end points.

On the other hand I once wrote an adventure for a tournament at a convention. It included a drawing of the destination, a stronghold, as viewed from a slight rise at the entrance to the valley. There was a broad hedge-maze in between, clearly visible. If the players asked (but only if they asked) if they could try to map that maze, the DM was supposed to hand them that drawing, which had the maze pattern clearly drawn.

BTW, there were three dirty tricks inherent in this. First, the drawing really did show the layout of the maze, but it was designed so that there was no valid route from the one side to the other.

Second, it was equally clear that travelers could simply walk around the maze.

Third, since it was a hdege maze, there was no reason that PCs armed with swords, axes and magic couldn't simply carve a straight through any time they wanted.

The adventure having a Viking flavor I thought the "carve a hole" approach would seem obvious, but you'd be amazed (no pun intended) how much time some people spent trying to "solve" that maze.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Second, it was equally clear that travelers could simply walk around the maze.

Third, since it was a hdege maze, there was no reason that PCs armed with swords, axes and magic couldn't simply carve a straight through any time they wanted.

The adventure having a Viking flavor I thought the "carve a hole" approach would seem obvious, but you'd be amazed (no pun intended) how much time some people spent trying to "solve" that maze.
Some of that might just be people misreading the DM's expectations and suspending their own disbelief in order to engage in the game. In other words, the players assume that navigating the maze is part of the adventure as written and don't want to break the social contract of D&D by bypassing it.
 

pemerton

Legend
Let me try this on you then:

Is it better play to make real choices based on information provided and PC motivations or is it better play to choose known options against PC motivations but in line with a previous fixed pattern or even due to a random die roll?

You are arguing a position that has you advocating not for choice in play according to PC motivations but instead adherence to a standard play pattern or random roll. I strongly disagree with this premise.
on this particular topic I agree with @Mistwell - if it's the case that the players have an established exploration procedure for their PCs, and if it's the case that the non-secret parts of the map give enough information to generate a more-or-less unique outcome by application of that procedure, then the procedure can be applied and the outcome narrated without it mattering that the players have seen the secret map.

<snip>

Whether or not that is good roleplaying, or a good table experience, seems to be something pretty particular to a given table. But I think it's obviously possible for it to take place.
I haven't advocated for any particular approach to play. I've said - contra some other posters in this thread - that @Mistwell is right in saying that it is possible to approach the decision about what path to take without having regard to the "metagame" knowledge if it's the case that a certain sort of decision procedure was being used and can still be applied.

Part of the difference from the troll case is that such decision procedures are fairly common for decisions about which square/hex to enter, whereas they are relatively uncommon for decisions about which attack mode to use if one's standard attack mode (ie weapon) is not working.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I haven't advocated for any particular approach to play. I've said - contra some other posters in this thread - that @Mistwell is right in saying that it is possible to approach the decision about what path to take without having regard to the "metagame" knowledge if it's the case that a certain sort of decision procedure was being used and can still be applied.
So, then, you don't support this kind of play, you merely say that it can happen. That's not a terribly useful observation, is it? Lots can happen, and no-one claimed that it's not a possible approach in that sense. The argument was that it's an unnecessary approach to solve a problem that doesn't have to exist.

If your argument is just that you can play that way, there's nothing to discuss and I'm left wondering if you really thought such a trivially obvious statement needed to be said.

Part of the difference from the troll case is that such decision procedures are fairly common for decisions about which square/hex to enter, whereas they are relatively uncommon for decisions about which attack mode to use if one's standard attack mode (ie weapon) is not working.
Well, I addressed this point in my response to you prior to the one you quote above. If you'd like to discuss it further, you should read and respond to my previous response rather than just reiterate your original claim.
 

pemerton

Legend
So, then, you don't support this kind of play, you merely say that it can happen. That's not a terribly useful observation, is it? Lots can happen, and no-one claimed that it's not a possible approach in that sense. The argument was that it's an unnecessary approach to solve a problem that doesn't have to exist.
At least one poster, maybe more (I've not gone back upthread to check) told @Mistwell that it was impossible to play the situation without regard to the secret information once the secret information had been revealed to the players. I am disagreeing with them, and agreeing with Mistwell, that it is possible under certain conditions that - at least in my experience - aren't that uncommon in this style of D&D play.

Under those conditions your contention - or at least implication - upthread that the movement case and the troll case are relevantly similar doesn't hold. I've never encounted D&D play in which players use decision procedures that produce an answer to what do I try against the troll given my weapon isn't working without being affected by actual knowledge of troll vulnerability. Whereas I agree with Mistwell that it is not uncommon for there to be decision procedures which do produce an answer of where do we go next without being affected by actual knowledge of an optimal path.

If your experience is different well, I guess that's that. We're all playing in different communities and have experienced different things as typical and atypical.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
At least one poster, maybe more (I've not gone back upthread to check) told @Mistwell that it was impossible to play the situation without regard to the secret information once the secret information had been revealed to the players. I am disagreeing with them, and agreeing with Mistwell, that it is possible under certain conditions that - at least in my experience - aren't that uncommon in this style of D&D play.

Under those conditions your contention - or at least implication - upthread that the movement case and the troll case are relevantly similar doesn't hold. I've never encounted D&D play in which players use decision procedures that produce an answer to what do I try against the troll given my weapon isn't working without being affected by actual knowledge of troll vulnerability. Whereas I agree with Mistwell that it is not uncommon for there to be decision procedures which do produce an answer of where do we go next without being affected by actual knowledge of an optimal path.

If your experience is different well, I guess that's that. We're all playing in different communities and have experienced different things as typical and atypical.
That's a shift of the goal posts. Your claim was that people said you can't play using a random choice mechanic or a standard procedure -- this was never said. What was said was that you cannot make a decision once you know something as if you did not know it. This is trivially obvious.

Example: let's say you have to pick between two boxes. You do not know their contents. How you go about choosing a box, ie the actual decision making process, is up to you. Say that you usually, absent better information, will pick the left hand box. Or you'd roll a die. All valid, absent information.

But now, let's say that you do know that the lefthand box has something unpleasant in it -- something you'd avoid otherwise -- and the right hand box has a reward you'd normally chose. At this point, you cannot make a choice absent this knowledge -- it's impossible. Whatever you choose will be affected by having this knowledge. If you choose to use your usual, ie pick the leftmost box absent better information, then you've already made a choice due to the information -- you've chosen to ignore the better information that says the left hand box is a poor choice.

This is what was being broached -- once knowledge exists, it cannot be ignored. You CAN chose to do the rote left-hand choice by pretending you don't know better when you do, but you're making that choice against your knowledge, not absent it. Your shift to arguing that someone said you cannot use a rote procedure or random choice is a strawman of the actual point. Probably why there was so much confusion around your claim -- it's subbed in a trivial refutation for a simplistic (and incorrect) version of the argument actually made. You cannot make a decision as if you did not have knowledge you do have, it's tautologically impossible.

As for the relevance between the troll case and the choice of path case, I've made that argument upthread. You've yet to engage it, so it's rather pointless to continue to discuss it if you cannot at least to the minimum of addressing the counterargument already made.
 

pemerton

Legend
Your claim was that people said you can't play using a random choice mechanic or a standard procedure
No it wasn't:

on this particular topic I agree with @Mistwell - if it's the case that the players have an established exploration procedure for their PCs, and if it's the case that the non-secret parts of the map give enough information to generate a more-or-less unique outcome by application of that procedure, then the procedure can be applied and the outcome narrated without it mattering that the players have seen the secret map.

<snip>

Whether or not that is good roleplaying, or a good table experience, seems to be something pretty particular to a given table. But I think it's obviously possible for it to take place.
I've bolded the key bit ie the assertion that you can make decisions about where to go that aren't "tainted" by the "metagame" knowledge.

The second para of that quote also makes it clear that I'm not advocating for this possibility, merely noting it as possible.

As for the claim that once knowledge is obtained it can't be ignored or set aside in a decision-making process, this isn't true in general and so I don't see any real reason for it to be true in the RPG case. (I imagine that the main example @Mistwell has in mind is the same as mine - eg judicial or administrative decision-making which is based on stipulated considerations. If the decision-maker learns something that is outside those considerations s/he can put it to one side and proceed based on the information that is relevant. This happens all the time, and is robust enough provided that the decision procedure is relatively determinate given the relevant considerations relied upon by the decision-maker.)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
At least one poster, maybe more (I've not gone back upthread to check) told @Mistwell that it was impossible to play the situation without regard to the secret information once the secret information had been revealed to the players. I am disagreeing with them, and agreeing with Mistwell, that it is possible under certain conditions that - at least in my experience - aren't that uncommon in this style of D&D play.
So that poster was me (though a few folks did agree with me), and I just want to clarify: my claim is that it is not possible, once you have information, to act without that information informing your decision. You can choose to act contrary to what that information would suggest is a good course of action. You can choose to follow a procedure you had been following prior to obtaining that information. You can devise a system whereby your course of action is determined randomly. But the decision to do any of those things is necessarily informed by the information you are attempting to avoid acting on.

Under those conditions your contention - or at least implication - upthread that the movement case and the troll case are relevantly similar doesn't hold. I've never encounted D&D play in which players use decision procedures that produce an answer to what do I try against the troll given my weapon isn't working without being affected by actual knowledge of troll vulnerability. Whereas I agree with Mistwell that it is not uncommon for there to be decision procedures which do produce an answer of where do we go next without being affected by actual knowledge of an optimal path.
I’d say they are similar. In the troll case, unless you are a player who is not aware of D&D trolls’ vulnerability to fire, you cannot make a decision about what to do when faced with a troll that is not informed in some way by your knowledge of trolls’ vulnerability to fire. You can choose to use something other than fire. You can choose to follow the same tactics against the troll that you have used against other monsters that don’t seem meaningfully harmed by your normal attacks. You can choose to decide what method of attack to use based on the result of a die roll. But any of those decisions are necessarily informed by your knowledge of trolls’ vulnerability to fire. Likewise, with the safe path scenario, you can choose not to follow the safe pat. You can choose to use whatever navigation procedures you had been using prior to seeing the path. You can choose where to move based on the result of a random dice roll. But all of those decisions are informed by your knowledge of the path.


It has been said that my argument is overly academic, but my point is that since any method you may employ for deciding what action to take is informed by player knowledge, rules against “metagaming” don’t really prevent players from acting on knowledge the player has that the character doesn’t. What they do is prevent the player from taking actions that their knowledge would suggest is optimal, if their character doesn’t have that knowledge, at least without some form of justification that the player would not be expected to provide if they didn’t have that knowledge.
 

pemerton

Legend
my claim is that it is not possible, once you have information, to act without that information informing your decision.
I don't agree with this claim. It depends on the nature of the decision procedure.

If your claim were true, just to give one example, a judge could never decide a matter putting to one side information that ought not to have been presented but nevertheless was, and hence had to be excluded. Yet judges do this all the time. Perhaps in some cases they are deluding themselves, but I don't think they are in all cases. Because they have relatively robust decision procedures that rely on certain relevant considerations and which can be applied in disregard of irrelevant considerations even if those happen to be known.

In the troll case, unless you are a player who is not aware of D&D trolls’ vulnerability to fire, you cannot make a decision about what to do when faced with a troll that is not informed in some way by your knowledge of trolls’ vulnerability to fire.
I don't agree with this either. Suppose a player has a standard decision procedure for dealing with weapon-resistant monsters then s/he could apply that. It's just that, in my experience - yours of course may be different - few or no players have such standard decision procedures. Rather, they intuit and guess - and that can't be done in disregard of the knowledge of the answer.

with the safe path scenario, you can choose not to follow the safe pat. You can choose to use whatever navigation procedures you had been using prior to seeing the path. You can choose where to move based on the result of a random dice roll. But all of those decisions are informed by your knowledge of the path.
Continuing with the standard procedure need not be, and in my experience typically is not, informed by the other knowledge. If it's the standard procedure then one just follows it on its own terms.

rules against “metagaming” don’t really prevent players from acting on knowledge the player has that the character doesn’t. What they do is prevent the player from taking actions that their knowledge would suggest is optimal
The second sentence is true. The first I disagree with. Some decision procedures can be applied without having regard to the secret/"metagame" knowledge, and the decision to use them can likewise be made without having regard to that knowledge.

The clearest example I know of in RPG play is blind declaration initiative systems. At the moment of taking the action the player applies a very simple decision procedure - do whatever it is I wrote down in the blind declaration phase - which can be done without regard to the new "metagame" knowledge of others' declarations.

The sort of procedure that @Mistwell has suggested is not the same as bind declaration initiative but it has some resemblance. Again, in my experience at least, players don't have relevantly similar procedures for deciding how to attack creatures that are immune to their normal attack forms.

EDIT: Speaking purely for myself, I would find a troll encounter where I'm expected to pretend to guess a viable attack mode very tedious. Whereas handling this sort of situation in the way Mistwell has suggested, while probably not my first choice, wouldn't bother me. We as players just keep doing our thing, and engage whatever situations that leads the GM to present to us.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I don't agree with this claim. It depends on the nature of the decision procedure.

If your claim were true, just to give one example, a judge could never decide a matter putting to one side information that ought not to have been presented but nevertheless was, and hence had to be excluded.
I don’t believe they can, and the fact that they are expected to is a major flaw of the justice system. One of many.

I don't agree with this either. Suppose a player has a standard decision procedure for dealing with weapon-resistant monsters then s/he could apply that. It's just that, in my experience - yours of course may be different - few or no players have such standard decision procedures. Rather, they intuit and guess - and that can't be done in disregard of the knowledge of the answer.
The decision to apply this operating procedure - indeed, the impetus to even devise such an operating procedure - is influenced by the knowledge of the creature’s weaknesses/resistances.

Continuing with the standard procedure need not be, and in my experience typically is not, informed by the other knowledge. If it's the standard procedure then one just follows it on its own terms.
Thats the execution, not the decision.

The second sentence is true. The first I disagree with. Some decision procedures can be applied without having regard to the secret/"metagame" knowledge, and the decision to use them can likewise be made without having regard to that knowledge.

The clearest example I know of in RPG play is blind declaration initiative systems. At the moment of taking the action the player applies a very simple decision procedure - do whatever it is I wrote down in the blind declaration phase - which can be done without regard to the new "metagame" knowledge of others' declarations.
No, in a blind declaration system you make the decision before you have that knowledge, and declare it so that you can be held to executing it after additional information is revealed. That’s why it’s called blind declaration. A big part of the point of such systems is to remove the influence of that information on the decision-making process.

EDIT: Speaking purely for myself, I would find a troll encounter where I'm expected to pretend to guess a viable attack mode very tedious. Whereas handling this sort of situation in the way Mistwell has suggested, while probably not my first choice, wouldn't bother me. We as players just keep doing our thing, and engage whatever situations that leads the GM to present to us.
That’s fine, that’s personal taste. I’m not trying to admonish anyone for preferring to rule that players not take actions if they have information that suggests those actions are advantageous and the character does not. I’m just saying, such a rule doesn’t stop that information from influencing the player’s decision-making process, it just restricts what decisions they are allowed to make.
 
Ah, man, not I need a long rest to prepare a different spell.
At least a wizard can just prep Mordenkainen's Lamentable Belabourment, instead.
Bards, though, can't even cast Aspersions anymore? What're they supposed to do, just cast Vicious Mockery every round?
Third, since it was a hdege maze, there was no reason that PCs armed with swords, axes and magic couldn't simply carve a straight through any time they wanted.
Other than all the times some RBDM ruled the unassuming hedge maze was a permanent 20th level Wall of Thorns, or a blood-and-level-draining vampire rose bush swarm or something?
 

Hriston

Adventurer
Two thoughts in response:

(1) Is it skilled play to circumvent the dungeon? How then does one get treasure, or XP? This doesn't seem quite analogous to getting the map and the key to (say) Tomb of Horrors.

(2) To push what seems to me the disanalogy to fire vs troll: if I know that only fire will beat the troll, but as a player do something else, I am (i) willingly risking my PC's death, and (ii) not getting any closer to being able to make a genuine guess at using fire. The whole thing is contrived.

But if, as per @Mistwell's initial post in this thread, I just have my PC continue through the dunes as I would have in any event, using some standard procedure or even just rolling a die, (i) I'm not taking any particular risk with my PC (for all I know there are healing potions or loot as much as random hit point loss in those encounters, and there's probably a reasonable chance the party has surplus healing available in any event), and (ii) the play experience isn't particularly contrived - the GM tells me what I find and I respond to that narration in a completely sincere way. It's true that, having seen the map, I know I'm going to encounter something - but that doesn't stop me being genuine in my response to whatever the something is. Which is quite unlike the troll case.

I think the general point is that choosing where to go is analogous to choosing what attack mode to use against the troll only in a narrow range of cases (eg the fiery death corridor in ToH). I don't know the recent Saltmarsh module but I don't get any overall impression that 5e modules are much like that.
Given that this is essentially a chase scene and that the stated goal is to catch Captain Whiskers, getting across the beach with as little loss of resources as possible seems to be in order. But that’s why I said more information about what the keyed locations represent would be needed to make it truly analogous to “solving” a troll encounter with fire. It’s unclear, for example, that one of the keyed locations doesn’t represent the location of Captain Whiskers himself.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Given that this is essentially a chase scene and that the stated goal is to catch Captain Whiskers, getting across the beach with as little loss of resources as possible seems to be in order. But that’s why I said more information about what the keyed locations represent would be needed to make it truly analogous to “solving” a troll encounter with fire. It’s unclear, for example, that one of the keyed locations doesn’t represent the location of Captain Whiskers himself.
Presumably, the goal is at the end of the marked safe path. An assumption, to be sure, but reasonable given the published adventure.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
No it wasn't:

I've bolded the key bit ie the assertion that you can make decisions about where to go that aren't "tainted" by the "metagame" knowledge.

The second para of that quote also makes it clear that I'm not advocating for this possibility, merely noting it as possible.
Well, the single sentence you snipped above was part of a broader context (or paragraph) that made it clear that I did understand your bolded line as part of your current argument, but that you had previously (or your argument was) less nuanced. Hence the reference to moving the goalposts, which was the lead sentence (often construed as a topic sentence) for the paragraph you strip-mined above.

And, yes, I fully understood your second para above, which is why I mentioned that it's refuting a strawman of the argument actually made, nicely summarized by the original poster of that argument above.

As for the claim that once knowledge is obtained it can't be ignored or set aside in a decision-making process, this isn't true in general and so I don't see any real reason for it to be true in the RPG case. (I imagine that the main example @Mistwell has in mind is the same as mine - eg judicial or administrative decision-making which is based on stipulated considerations. If the decision-maker learns something that is outside those considerations s/he can put it to one side and proceed based on the information that is relevant. This happens all the time, and is robust enough provided that the decision procedure is relatively determinate given the relevant considerations relied upon by the decision-maker.)
Again, you create a series of strawmen, here. Firstly, yes, it's possible to select a method that selects options absent information, but the choice to use that method is not independent of knowledge. IE, if my goal is to select the best reward, which I know it in that box, I could choose to roll a die and that method will make a selection absent the knowledge I have, but I would not be selecting that method absent the knowledge I have. I would, in fact, only select such a method, one that does not align with my goal, only if I actually had a different goal in mind when I made the selection. In which case we're not discussing a situation where my goal is actually to select the best box for me, so knowledge of which box is best is still informing my decision of method because I'm trying to achieve a different goal in spite of that knowledge.

As for the judicial or adminstrative process, sure, expect your example of additional knowledge is knowledge outside of that process. If you gain knowledge that actually directly impacts your process, ie germane to the facts of the case, then that must be considered if only to choose, with that knowledge in mind, how to proceed. You might choose to continue to use the same process despite the adverse effect of the knowledge, but you cannot do so absent that knowledge any longer -- your choice's fulcrum is that knowledge.

And, finally, your example of an administrative process is not playing a game. It's goal is a repeatable, consistent set of decisions, which it selects for continuously with knowledge of the case. In a game, your goal is set by the player. Proposing that you should use an inflexible choice making process to achieve that goal rather than the status of the fiction is ridiculous. Possible, sure, but no one's saying that you can't be ridiculous, just that it's ridiculous and against the goals of an RPG, which is to advocate for your character, or the story, both of which are impacted by knowledge the player has, inextricably so.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't agree with this claim. It depends on the nature of the decision procedure.

If your claim were true, just to give one example, a judge could never decide a matter putting to one side information that ought not to have been presented but nevertheless was, and hence had to be excluded. Yet judges do this all the time. Perhaps in some cases they are deluding themselves, but I don't think they are in all cases. Because they have relatively robust decision procedures that rely on certain relevant considerations and which can be applied in disregard of irrelevant considerations even if those happen to be known.
When information so determined becomes to great, or too inextricable, cases are dismissed or mistrials are declared. Further, the judge is operating under a relatively codified set of instructions they do not have the luxury of ignoring. This isn't the case for leisure activities like RPGs that have no such decision requirements. If you're postulating that RPGs have codified decision-making processes for choosing player action declarations, I'd like to see it. Otherwise, it's the player making such choices, and they do so with their knowledge, and so their choice of decision making process is informed by that knowledge, just like the judge's choice to exclude or include information in their decision process is informed by actually having that knowledge.

I don't agree with this either. Suppose a player has a standard decision procedure for dealing with weapon-resistant monsters then s/he could apply that. It's just that, in my experience - yours of course may be different - few or no players have such standard decision procedures. Rather, they intuit and guess - and that can't be done in disregard of the knowledge of the answer.

Continuing with the standard procedure need not be, and in my experience typically is not, informed by the other knowledge. If it's the standard procedure then one just follows it on its own terms.
Really? Let's use a simple procedure for choosing which passage to take in a dungeon. "Always go left." Let's say you're at a T-junction, low on health, and the left hand passage has a scrawled sign saying "dragon," it smells of dragon, you see deep claw marks in the floor as if from a dragon, you hear dragon-ish sounds and roars, and you see flashes of light as if from huge exhalations of flame. Meanwhile, the right passage has a sign saying "exit", you smell fresh air, see light akin to daylight, and feel a clean wind from that passage.

It seems that choosing to use the standard operating procedure must be informed by other knowledge, here. Using it as if you have no other knowledge is impossible -- you're choosing to do so in spite of that other knowledge, not in absence of it. That you can use it like this has never, ever, been the point of anyone.


The second sentence is true. The first I disagree with. Some decision procedures can be applied without having regard to the secret/"metagame" knowledge, and the decision to use them can likewise be made without having regard to that knowledge.

The clearest example I know of in RPG play is blind declaration initiative systems. At the moment of taking the action the player applies a very simple decision procedure - do whatever it is I wrote down in the blind declaration phase - which can be done without regard to the new "metagame" knowledge of others' declarations.
As noted by @Charlaquin, you're making a declaration absent knowledge, here, not with knowledge. Being held to a decision you made absent knowledge after knowledge has been revealed is a different argument altogether -- you did not decide with knowledge.

The sort of procedure that @Mistwell has suggested is not the same as bind declaration initiative but it has some resemblance. Again, in my experience at least, players don't have relevantly similar procedures for deciding how to attack creatures that are immune to their normal attack forms.
It lacks resemblance because, in a blind declaration situation you're making a choice absent knowledge that will be shortly revealed. In @Mistwell's argument, you're choosing a resolution mechanic to arbitrarily decide what action declarations the players make because of the knowledge you have. This is night and day for the topic at hand. Again, the point isn't that you can't choose an arbitrary decision mechanic, but that the choice of mechanic is inextricably tied to what knowledge you do have.

I think there's a bit of ends justifying means here, at least in the sense that you're arguing that you can achieve the same outcome regardless of knowledge if you select the same resolution mechanic. IE, if, without knowledge, I'd roll a die to decide and, having knowledge, I choose to still roll a die to decide so the outcomes are the same. But this isn't the argument being made -- the point of RPGs is that players get to decide their action declarations with respect to their goals in the game. If you have knowledge that directly impacts the decision, you cannot then decide without reference to that knowledge -- however you choose it's due to your knowledge. This is fundamental human nature and unavoidable.

Now, specifically, the point isn't that you always use an arbitrary decision mechanic -- @Mistwell never advanced this idea. Instead, the issue isn't whether you use knowledge to make choices, but what you should do if the knowledge you have is considered improperly obtained. My argument is that, absent bad-faith play where you're engaged in lying by omission or commission, the DM's position as primary author of the fiction means that such 'improper' determinations are entirely in their hands. As such, forcing players to use arbitrary decision mechanics in the face of have knowledge otherwise is a choice forced by the DM, and entirely avoidable. That such arbitrary decision mechanics exist is trivially associated to my point. That arbitrary decision mechanics can be used absent or with knowledge is trivially associated to my point. The point I've made is that choosing to use such measures solely to correct for a choice the DM has made about the nature of the fiction is entirely upon the DM. The point I've also made is that such a choice of arbitrary decision mechanic just to suit the DM is made entirely dependently upon the presence of knowledge judged by the DM to be "improper." It cannot be made otherwise and still be germane to the topic.

EDIT: Speaking purely for myself, I would find a troll encounter where I'm expected to pretend to guess a viable attack mode very tedious. Whereas handling this sort of situation in the way Mistwell has suggested, while probably not my first choice, wouldn't bother me. We as players just keep doing our thing, and engage whatever situations that leads the GM to present to us.
I find this statement interesting. I've previously understood you to not like to play heavily GM directed games because you enjoy having a say in the resulting fiction. Yet, here, you claim that you would not be bothered by the GM directing you into an arbitrary decision mechanic just to support the GM's preferred version of the fiction. I find it hard to reconcile these two statements, and I wonder which one I've misinterpreted.
 

pemerton

Legend
Given that this is essentially a chase scene and that the stated goal is to catch Captain Whiskers, getting across the beach with as little loss of resources as possible seems to be in order. But that’s why I said more information about what the keyed locations represent would be needed to make it truly analogous to “solving” a troll encounter with fire. It’s unclear, for example, that one of the keyed locations doesn’t represent the location of Captain Whiskers himself.
My experience of how chase scenes are presented in WotC-era D&D modules (admittedly not 5e ones) is that the chase won't result in the PCs not getting there, but it might - as I think you're pointing to - result in using up resources. On the other hand it might also result in earning XP. So overall it probably depends on how resource-drained the PCs may be likely to end up. That would depend heavily on the details of the scenario and the context at the particular table.

Also agreed about relevance of info.

such a rule doesn’t stop that information from influencing the player’s decision-making process, it just restricts what decisions they are allowed to make.
I think that this is, for practical purposes, contradictory. The restriction that is imposed is precisely one of adopting a decision procedure which precludes the "metagame" knowledge from influencing the decision. The fact that the procedure is adopted - or at least its adoption is emphasised - so as to achieve the restriction doesn't mean that the excluded information is itself affecting the outcome that the procedure generates.
 

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