Sharing Information

Fauchard1520

Explorer
Have you ever seen a player refuse to share plot-relevant information? Like, their PC is the only one who witnessed the thing, the next phase of the campaign assumes that the party acts on that information, but the PC chooses to sit on the info? Is it a mistake on a GM's part to give that kind of insight to a single player rather than the whole group, or is it good form for a player to share knowledge?

Comic for illustrative purposes.
 

Anoth

Adventurer
Have you ever seen a player refuse to share plot-relevant information? Like, their PC is the only one who witnessed the thing, the next phase of the campaign assumes that the party acts on that information, but the PC chooses to sit on the info? Is it a mistake on a GM's part to give that kind of insight to a single player rather than the whole group, or is it good form for a player to share knowledge?

Comic for illustrative purposes.
It’s called having a jackass player. It can be hard to deal with.
 

Zaukrie

Adventurer
Both?

There have been times when I communicated information that the PC only would know, and it fit his character's overall plans not to fully share the information. But that was unusual, in that in that game every character had secrets from each other to see how that kind of game worked for us. It was both fun, and sometimes not.

Mostly my players have shared all the info they had. And, while I feel that one of the biggest issues with fiction is how stupid the characters are for not sharing stuff they should, there are probably times when it makes sense in the fiction not to.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
Yes. A few years back we had a player do this in our PF game. Any info his character alone acquired he simply sat on. He didn't forget about it. Or fail to realize its importance. Or write it down & lose the note.... Nope, he just refused to share it with the rest of the group. Did the same to plot important items as well.
Made the AP pretty hard to play.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It’s called having a jackass player. It can be hard to deal with.
Well, we should probably consider why the player is being a jackass...

Information is power. It is status. So long as you have information, you have something other people want, and that makes you important. And, of course, as soon as you let information out... your possession of it isn't special, and your status is reduced.

Now, there will be some (hopefully small) number of players who apply this to get spotlight and attention above that which they really deserve at the table. These may be actual jackasses.

But, for others, it may behoove the GM to consider the player, the character, the adventures, and the table dynamic, and see... is the player otherwise getting the short end of the stick, in terms of spotlight and attention (whether through insufficient forethought on the GM's part, or player error)? Is the information you hand out always leading to someone else getting spotlight time?

If it is always, "Yeah, I'm the social character. I go, get the information. That tells us where the BBEG is, and the fighter and wizard get all the glory choppign and frying them," or something of similar dynamic, then, yes, you might well expect the player to sit on the info... because releasing it isn't really a win for them, in terms of the drama.

How awesome is the moment when the information is gathered? Is it as awesome as fighting the BBEG? Why not?
 

Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
Hell Yay!

I was in a campaign were the players WANTED more mystery, more suspense, more espionage.

So as a player, getting information the others did not have was a BIG THING.

Now add to this the fact the players were expecting a mole (from an NPC) made information a very valuable commodity. Now having at least one of the players (my PC) being that mole made such secrets best not shared with the rest of the PCs. There may have been more plants in the group, for different factions.

So for sub-plots within the bigger plot, of course.

But if it is vital for the DM to move the game forward I would have made sure such events happen infront of more than just the one PC.
 

Razjah

Explorer
I have seen it happen a lot. If the group is cool with secrets, then go about the secret keeping (detailed notes help). But it should be part of your group's social contract and it's worth taking a moment to discuss. The GM taking aside a player can then be a really dramatic and memorable moment.

I vastly prefer games where the PCs keep secrets and the players all know what's up. I like that when all the players know the rogue is a traitor, naive knight can lean into that and trust the rogue to make a better story or dramatic moment. I think this leads to more fun where a player isn't being surprised, but the character is definitely screwed by some secret or another (Dungeon World bonds are one example).
 

Tun Kai Poh

Explorer
I have seen it happen a lot. If the group is cool with secrets, then go about the secret keeping (detailed notes help). But it should be part of your group's social contract and it's worth taking a moment to discuss. The GM taking aside a player can then be a really dramatic and memorable moment.
Amen. Consensual PVP and intrigue can work really well. Everyone just has to be on the same page ahead of time.
 

RolemasterBlog

Villager
I have had this happen once and the characters being completely stymied in which way to go resorted to employing outside spell casters to try and learn something about how to progress. I then used that to get hints and suggestions to the party.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If you absolutely need information to get into the player's hands to make your plot work, leaving it up to chance or to a player to disseminate is folly in my view. Another good reason to avoid plot-based games like this if you can.
 
Both?

There have been times when I communicated information that the PC only would know, and it fit his character's overall plans not to fully share the information. But that was unusual, in that in that game every character had secrets from each other to see how that kind of game worked for us. It was both fun, and sometimes not.

Mostly my players have shared all the info they had. And, while I feel that one of the biggest issues with fiction is how stupid the characters are for not sharing stuff they should, there are probably times when it makes sense in the fiction not to.
Agreed. It really depends on the players and the campaign. I've run a political game where the party had split loyalties (plus one guy out for himself), and secret information and backstabbing was common. This was an experienced group that could handle that kind of play. The only thing that went bad was the one time the backstabbing wasn't metaphorical (I had zero method of introducing a new PC, because there wasn't supposed to be ANY chance of death...), and I had the bring the campaign to a conclusion.

In most campaigns, my players will share relevant plot information with each other willingly. We seldom, if ever, have hidden information away from the group. Those who do not know something will not act on that information until they're informed. If plot point information hasn't been shared, and is suddenly relevant, people usually point it out to the player (who then shares the information).
 

pemerton

Legend
I've played games in which PCs keep secrets and so do players. And games like @Razjah describes where the PCs keep secrets but the players are in the know. And games, like my current Traveller game, where there are no real secrets because the play doesn't focus on individual characters very much.

Another permutation of this, less often discussed, is players (one or more) keeping secrets from the GM. I always find this amusing when it eventually comes to light!
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Have you ever seen a player refuse to share plot-relevant information? Like, their PC is the only one who witnessed the thing, the next phase of the campaign assumes that the party acts on that information, but the PC chooses to sit on the info?
Yes, Yes,
Is it a mistake on a GM's part to give that kind of insight to a single player rather than the whole group, or is it good form for a player to share knowledge?
Yes, it's a GM's mistake. Yes, it's good form for a player to share knowledge... as long as the character isn't clearly written as one who wouldn't.

I don't hide information from the players, but will remind when their Character doesn't know but acts upon that known unknown.
 

Ulfgeir

Explorer
Depends on why they are doing it.

Sometimes it is the player being a jerk, but it can also be that their character has motives of their own, for how they deal with that information. The latter part will often lead to more drama and more interesting stories.

Example: in the Dresden File campaign I played in. my character became romantically involved with what was planned as the campaigns Big Bad. She learned through a soulgaze (and subsequent talk) that her girlfriend was an 700 year old witch who took over other bodies (and gained memories from said person). She obviously did not mention that to the other characters, as she didn't want anything bad to happen to her girlfriend (yes, my character might have subtly been enthralled). I even helped her acquire a new body when her family started hunting her for leaving them. All the players were aware of these and other things, but their characters were not.

So if it is vital for the campaign that the players act on said information, have more than one person witness it, or have an npc that they trust come to them for help, and bring it up that way.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I've had players not realize information was important, so they didn't give it to other players. I've rarely had one keep it secret on purpose. But something that is "obviously" important with the omniscience of the DM isn't always to the players.

It's natural (and not a DM mistake) that sometimes characters will be doing different things and one or a subset of characters is privy to something. Or even that only the high-Insight cleric notices that an NPC gets anxious when a different NPC is mentioned in a group conversation, but doesn't remember to mention it to the others when they later have a chance to speak privately.

Now, I try to go for three clues for anything important, so that doesn't stop things. But I'm failable, and the idea behind the three clues is that the players may not realize what they have with it just coming up once - so they may still not notice if for some characters it only comes up once.

shrug We work with it.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Well, we should probably consider why the player is being a jackass...

I.....
Nope. Nope. Nope. If player isn't sharing info, I just tell the rest of group that Umbran let slip the information. Or give the information to the other members. If Umbran gets tick off and leaves the group good.
Repeat after me gamers.
Life is too short to play with jerks.
Life is too short to have jerks ruin our fun.
I will not play with jerks.
 

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