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D&D General Player Knowledge Thought Experiment

There have been a couple of threads recently (and probably many more?) discussing player knowledge vs. character knowledge, and many of them revolve around under what circumstances it's ok to use player knowledge. I.e., trolls and fire. There seems to be one contingent that feels it's totally up to the player, and another contingent that feels that before that knowledge may be used it first must be determined whether or not the character has the same knowledge, e.g. by asking the DM, who may ask for a skill check.

For those of you in that latter group, how would you rule if the situation were reversed? That is, the DM has told the player that their character "would know" about the information in question, or perhaps has asked for a roll or even that a successful roll has already been made, or even has just given information that the player didn't previously have, and the player responds, "No thanks; I'd rather play this that my character doesn't know."

Are you ok with that?

(Note: I'm not trying to set a gotcha; I'm genuinely curious and hope for a variety of answers.)
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I very much mostly don't care why PCs do what they do, so if the players want to play their characters as not knowing about trolls and fire, that's fine. On the other hand, if I gauged the encounter's difficulty based on expecting them to fight the trolls with fire ... well, the players had better not complain if/when PCs die as a result.
 


Lakesidefantasy

Adventurer
If a Player has fun by exercising their personal knowledge of the game, then I try to accommodate them.

If a Player has fun by immersing themselves within their Character, then I try to accommodate them.

If a Player has fun by taking part in a good story, then I try to accommodate them.

If a Player has fun by outright cheating, I try to accommodate them.

If any of these accommodations reduce other Player's fun, then as referee I will have to make a compromise, and I will usually lean more towards no metagaming.
 



Mort

Legend
I would definitely allow the player to RP however they like - including that their character doesn't know something. And as long as that adds to his fun AND doesn't subtract from the fun of the group that's fine.

BUT - If the player insists on RPing an incompetent boob and it's clearly affecting the rest of the group; say the player is constantly doing things out of "ignorance" that endanger/hinder the group? And it's clear the player is having his fun at the expense of the group? Then that will, likely, trigger an above game talk re: your fun does not come at the expense of the fun of the group.
 
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There's absolutely nothing wrong with a player deciding their character doesn't know something. Even if they're told it in game, they could simply choose to not believe it. If this causes friction within the group, that's a player issue they need to resolve.
 

jgsugden

Legend
...For those of you in that latter group, how would you rule if the situation were reversed? That is, the DM has told the player that their character "would know" about the information in question, or perhaps has asked for a roll or even that a successful roll has already been made, or even has just given information that the player didn't previously have, and the player responds, "No thanks; I'd rather play this that my character doesn't know."...
It would depend upon the player and the situation, but it might go something like this:

DM: "Do you mean you're pretending to not know, or you just don't think you'd know?"
Player: "Don't know at all."
DM: "Any reason why?"
Player: "Not a character reason. It'll just be more fun if I don't know."
DM: "Well, obviously, I hate fun, so no."
Player: "That tracks. Can I remove these rusty salted spikes from my abdomen yet?"
DM: "No."
Player. "Cool. Cool. Ack. ...."

Real answer: I roll the dice and say, "You [do / do not] know." If the player said, "It'd be more fun if I [didn't / did]", I'd ask why and if they had a good reason, I'd likely ask them to give me a good reason why they [didn't / did] know. Then, I'd likely ignore the dice and go for the fun answer most of the time.

However.

I would not do that all the time. I would not do that if the roll was very significant for the campaign. I would not do it if the 'fun' reason essentially boiled down to 'I just want to win the situation and I lost on a die roll'.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Sure. The player is the ultimate arbiter of his character. If someone wants to play to have to discover fire hurts trolls, or a naive character who does not know something else, go for it.

The caveat there is everyone around the table should strive to net add enjoyment to the table. If the table is frustrated by a puzzle and the wizard investigates some runes and makes a roll, for which the DM has a hint to the puzzle, turning it down may just cause more frustration from the other players.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
A lot of knowledge is common, including trolls and fire. On the other hand my preference is that they ask if there's a question.

For me it's about the PC interacting with the world, not the player. That goes for more than just meta game knowledge. Skills and the tradeoffs people made when building their PC should matter.

But I don't force the issue often, but there are times when I'll remind them their PC doesn't know that. It doesn't come up often because we discuss this during our session 0.
 

Mort

Legend
But I don't force the issue often, but there are times when I'll remind them their PC doesn't know that. It doesn't come up often because we discuss this during our session 0.

But would you pause and question the fact that the player just said their PC doesn't know something? A voluntary character knowledge gap by the player.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There have been a couple of threads recently (and probably many more?) discussing player knowledge vs. character knowledge, and many of them revolve around under what circumstances it's ok to use player knowledge. I.e., trolls and fire. There seems to be one contingent that feels it's totally up to the player, and another contingent that feels that before that knowledge may be used it first must be determined whether or not the character has the same knowledge, e.g. by asking the DM, who may ask for a skill check.

For those of you in that latter group, how would you rule if the situation were reversed? That is, the DM has told the player that their character "would know" about the information in question, or perhaps has asked for a roll or even that a successful roll has already been made, or even has just given information that the player didn't previously have, and the player responds, "No thanks; I'd rather play this that my character doesn't know."

Are you ok with that?
I'm OK with that all day long*. I've seen it done, on rare occasions.

That said, if I had no prior idea this was coming I'd be quietly curious as to what the player had in mind. Sometimes the player has something gonzo or highly sub-optimal in mind for an action, perhaps in hopes of providing entertainment, which would make sense without the knowledge but wouldn't work with it. Other times it could be that the player is trying to, with a new character, establish a pattern of forgetfulness and-or roleplay a flaw.

* - my only exception would be if I-as-DM knew the knowledge had come from the run of play (e.g. it was something the character or party had learned during prior RP-ed adventuring and would have no good reason to forget) and the PC didn't previously have either a history or flaw of forgetfulness; in which case I'd probably enforce that the information was in fact known to the PC.
 

[...] and the player responds, "No thanks; I'd rather play this that my character doesn't know."
No problem! You can always play dumber than necessary. Likewise, I don't mind if you give away all your cash or magic items. And you can also save the dragon and kill the princess.

The players never need to follow my plot-hooks. They are free to develop their own plot hooks and follow those. The only time I will get upset as the DM is if they ignore my plot-hooks, and then just sit around and do nothing at all. Then I will address the players out-of-character and ask them what they're doing.
 

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