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Old 06-16-2015, 07:42 AM   #1
JMD
 
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Default GM Secrecy and Metagaming

One of the big things I noticed upon switching from DnD to GURPS about 7 years ago was the lack of any sort of monster compendium. An interesting byproduct of this is that my players, all of which own the DnD monster manual, no longer knew what sort of being they were facing. They went from a world where they knew the powers, stats, ac, and damage of every monster (or least the general idea from seeing its entry) to having no clue as to what they were facing.

This is mostly fine. The mystery is pretty great and keeps them on their toes. However, the players no longer knowing the monster forces all the math onto the GM. "I hit for 14 impaling, armor divisor 2, 4 burning follow up." The GM, if he didn't reveal the monsters DR, is now stuck mathing that out, nullifying the autocalculation feature of many GURPS aids and sheets (such as the GURPS Calculator, have you checked it out? It's insanely amazing.)

What's your policy on keeping the statistics of monsters secret? What are the pros and cons in your opinion?
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Old 06-16-2015, 07:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

Only keep stats secret for boss-type monsters. Anything that can be encountered on a fairly regular basis in the wild should be well known, and the stats can be read in the Beginner's Guide to Adventuring.
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Old 06-16-2015, 08:21 AM   #3
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

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What's your policy on keeping the statistics of monsters secret? What are the pros and cons in your opinion?
I don't use many "monsters", as most of the opposition is people, whose armour and equipment varies wildly. I can usually keep track of the damage calculations in my head without any particular difficulty. I will tell the players if they don't seem to be hurting an opponent.
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Old 06-16-2015, 08:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

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I don't use many "monsters", as most of the opposition is people, whose armour and equipment varies wildly. I can usually keep track of the damage calculations in my head without any particular difficulty. I will tell the players if they don't seem to be hurting an opponent.
I think most of us use people as the primary opposition.

I do like to give the characters a chance to figure out exactly what they're up against. After the first few shots I'll give a skill range, let them know if they guy is particularly skilled, and so on. Equipment DOES have published stats. I do like to do this dependent on per and IQ based rolls though.
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Old 06-16-2015, 09:18 AM   #5
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

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I think most of us use people as the primary opposition.
"Monsters" can be "people" too. Both in GURPS (including in GURPS DF), and in recent editions of D&D. It doesn't matter if the players can look up the stats of a basic Ogre in the D&D 3.0 or 3.5 Monster Manual, because this Ogre isn't a basic Ogre, it's an Ogre with 7 levels of Barbarian and 3 levels of Druid on top of that, and so many of its abilities are enhanced far beyond that of a basic Ogre.
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Old 06-16-2015, 09:16 AM   #6
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

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I don't use many "monsters", as most of the opposition is people, whose armour and equipment varies wildly. I can usually keep track of the damage calculations in my head without any particular difficulty. I will tell the players if they don't seem to be hurting an opponent.
I don't see how simple mental arithmetic can be a problem for a GM, either.

I think I'm vaguely aware of a few cases where GURPS expects you to divide two-digit figures by a non-integer figure (granted, 1.5 is the least bad non-integer figure there is to divide by, after 0.5 and 0.33 and 0.25, but still...), which strikes me as quite error-prone in addition to being mental-labour-intensive, but if that started being relevant for me, I'd just use a spreadsheet to create a lookup table for the results.

Or if (and that's quite likely to be the case) it's the same 3 or 4 usual suspects that keep rearing their complexicated heads, then I'd just use a pocket calculator the first few times and then be able to remember the results after that.
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Old 06-16-2015, 10:06 AM   #7
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

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I don't see how simple mental arithmetic can be a problem for a GM, either.
He didn't say "It's a problem" he said "It slows down play." And it does: If you attack for 10 damage with a holy sword that has an armor divisor of 2 vs an unliving zombie with a DR of 6 and an x2 vulnerability to holiness, then you need to take 10 damage, subtract (6/2) 3 DR and then multiply the result by 1.5 and then again by 2, for a total of 21 damage.

It's not IMPOSSIBLE, but it does take a few more moments than it might otherwise.

In my experience, though, you get pretty good at it. You're also the one who determines the monsters and the treasures, so if you don't like this sort of thing, don't include it. Or get some pretty standard set-ups that you're quite familiar with.

Also, you don't HAVE to hide the monsters from the players. I prefer it in horror games, but for a game like DF, I wouldn't bother to hide most traits from my players.
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Old 06-16-2015, 10:17 AM   #8
johndallman
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

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I don't see how simple mental arithmetic can be a problem...
Oh, it can. One of the best GMs I know for story and characterisation has to count on their fingers to add up some combinations of 3d6. They don't run GURPS and don't like to play it, calling it "too number-crunchy". They're happy with a fairly simple standard of D&D, or oWoD.
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Old 06-16-2015, 09:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
I don't see how simple mental arithmetic can be a problem for a GM, either.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Oh, it can. One of the best GMs I know for story and characterisation has to count on their fingers to add up some combinations of 3d6. They don't run GURPS and don't like to play it, calling it "too number-crunchy". They're happy with a fairly simple standard of D&D, or oWoD.
My BS includes a minor in mathematics, meaning I've gone through diff-eq, stats, etc. but I have what GURPS would classify as incompetence with basic arithmetic. After middle school, the math portions of my brain were filled with other things, and calculators worked better than my faulty rote memory. Thankfully, my fellow gamers can add better than me, so I sometimes just start saying the dice numbers and bonuses. :)
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Old 06-17-2015, 07:36 AM   #10
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

I put what G&AInc calls a "spreadsheet" on a whiteboard visible to everyone. Each PC has a line, and there's an empty line between every PC. Each row includes Move, Speed, Perception, Observation, preferred defense, and some notes.

(In my game, Perception allows someone to see -- for instance -- the two young men hanging out on the stoop of the building across the street, the young, scantily-clad woman under the street light eyeing them, the bum with the paper bag lying in the mouth of the alley halfway down the block, and the car moving slowly down the block toward the area with the street light. In addition to surveillance, Observation allows them to note that the thugs seem to be armed and guarding the entrance to the building, the two people in the car are looking at the thugs and not at the woman, and that the woman has her hand inside a large, heavy handbag, and the bum seems to be talking into his paper bag while watching the whole situation -- including the actions of the PCs.)

Once the encounter starts, I'll note where in the turn-order the opposition acts. Some will be faster, and others slower. I roll dice openly, so the players mostly know, by the end of the first round, the speed and general capabilities of what they face.

However, that first round is pretty fraught, because they're never sure what the villains/monsters can or will do. Also, if the thing can do special things on follow-ups (poison, rakes with back claws, that sort of thing), they won't know that until it gets tried -- on them.
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