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Old 06-16-2015, 10:06 AM   #11
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
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   #12
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
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, 10:44 AM   #13
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

Originally Posted by JMD View Post
…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.)
I know what you mean. I recently had to GM a single werewolf. It had Unliving, a Vulnerabilty to silver, and Regeneration. It's GURPS, so I could easily have used common sense when determining the actual injury caused by my player's various attacks. But, I'm more than a bit of a simulationist GM, and I know my way around a spreadsheet, so I made a spreadsheet that tracked everything.

Originally Posted by JMD View Post
What's your policy on keeping the statistics of monsters secret? What are the pros and cons in your opinion?
I like to make my combat rolls in the open. I enjoy the look of abject hopelessness on my player's faces when I roll for a monster's attack, throw a 15, and say "that hits". :)

Also, I think allowing them to see the rolls and their consequences allows them to develop a realistic assessment of their foe's abilities over the course of the encounter, much as they would in "real life".

Last edited by Captain Joy; 06-16-2015 at 10:45 AM. Reason: Readability
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:08 AM   #14
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

I've long reached the point in GURPS where I can imagine a creature and spontaneously ballpark what rolls should make it succeed at what action, closely enough for table play. That's ridiculously faster than adding seven barbarian levels, and more versatile.

That said, I'll inform my players after a few rolls that "They have just 7 ST", and "it's Block is, like, 15!", as they should start to guess. I'll also give rolls to know or guess these things, as appropriate - I'm especially generous about revealing resistances and hinting at vulnerabilities, because using an unusual for of attack is pretty much always way more fun than killing everything with raw damage.
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:33 AM   #15
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

I'm not one to 'hide' much. But I also don't go out of my way to ell them, or even reveal everything if they ask.

If they ask specific questions their characters should know the answers to (ie stats for common foes) I'll give it to them. If it's something they could know based on specialized skills (stats for uncommon or rare foes) they get a roll. If it's something they couldn't know, they get a "Nope" (which is damned rare).

As for plots and such, they generally know the early overarching plot line going in, for example in my currently running Kingmaker campaign:

They knew their mission would be to survey an area for future settlement and clear trade routes going through it. They also knew they'd have to deal with the bandits in the area and negotiate with indigenous residents (how so ever they chose). They also know that as they finish this mission they'll encounter some serious mission creep in the "And now you're to build a city, and then a 'kingdom', and stuff".

They don't know all the other stuff going on in the background or the final chapters. And they know me well enough to know that even if they went and read the Pathfinder Adventure Path I'm stealing the plot line from, they still wouldn't get those answers, because they've changed.

They also know that there are things that will happen or mysteries uncovered or plots or such that will never get answered. Mostly because I never bothered to have an answer, just an occurrence, a side plot, or a one-shot event to spice things up or have fun, and think some mysteries are best when unsolved.

As time goes on I'll give hints and clues ingame to show them where the plots are going, or if it looks like they aren't noticing, flat out tell them. This way we stay 'on the same page', I'm not expecting them to go one way when they decide to the other, and they aren't expecting one type of campaign that goes a different direction.
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:52 AM   #16
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

My policy is that enemy DR is secret unless you know the enemy type, but you start to get a feel of the DR after a while in the fight.

When encountering monsters the player can roll against appropriate hidden lore to know things about the monster, then they get 1 random piece of information for success and one more for each 3 success by. Those include things like DR,HP,Attributes,Defenses,attacks and so on. I have a table for it.

Also when they hit they get feedback on resistance and defenses and so on.
Thing like "It feels that the enemy armor stopped most of your damage/almost all of the damage/about half your damage/a small part of the damage". and whatever. The same thing with things like defense "The enemy dodges your attack with ease" "The enemy just barely gets his weapon in time to parry position" and so on.

Normally it does not take many hits to get a feel for the damage or many defenses to get the feel for the defense level and so on.

But, yes in the end I do the math, I do not find that it really takes any more time than keeping tally of the hitpoints as I use a spreadsheet for the tracking anyway.
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:57 AM   #17
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

Originally Posted by weby View Post
But, yes in the end I do the math, I do not find that it really takes any more time than keeping tally of the hitpoints as I use a spreadsheet for the tracking anyway.
I've always just used a pad of graph paper, and noted the number of points of injury, the location, and the functionality of each combatant. I do now have a tablet with spreadsheet functionality, but I've never really become familiar with spreadsheets to the point of using them for simple record keeping.
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Old 06-16-2015, 03:03 PM   #18
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

For human opponents, I usually let players know the DR, since characters can see the armor, unless there is some magical or other hidden protection the characters would have no way of knowing about.

For previously unencountered creatures or human(oid)s with secret protection, I keep DR secret at first. Once the PCs get in a couple of hits that actually penetrate, and can see the results, I often let them know the DR number so they can help with the number crunching.

For something obvious like zombies, I would be open with letting players know they have IT: Unliving. For less well known creatures, or a vampire that they don't know is a vampire for example, I'd probably keep that to myself, and do the math for injury tolerance in my head.

I don't announce opponents' stats, but I roll in the open, so if a fight goes on for a little while, players start to get an idea of the opponents' skill and defense levels.
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Old 06-16-2015, 03:19 PM   #19
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

I did find a useful spreadsheet online for tracking damage and fatigue.

I downloaded it and modified it a bit, so that it reminds me when a character is down to 1/3 hit points, in addition to when they go to 0.

I also added a couple of columns for speed, move, dodge and parry, and skill level and damage for NPCs' primary weapons. It helps me keep track of combats with large numbers of mook-level opponents.

For smaller fights, I get by with a pencil and notepad.
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:16 PM   #20
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Default Re: GM Secrecy and Metagaming

For the first couple decades of our playing D&D, my players intentionally avoided the monster manuals in favor of being surprised by monsters. Each of them either didn't like spoilers, felt like it was cheating, or both. It was actually a lot of fun. When I moved away, one guy took up the mantle of DM and reluctantly looked in the monster manuals.

These days we play a lot of GURPS and not much has changed. We don't talk in terms of stats other than the PCs' stats. As the GM, I use the types of non-GURPS specific descriptors that you might find in a novel when describing the world. This includes monster traits as well as wounds. The players can usually guess certain traits based on the descriptions. But they tend to focus on how traits relate to the story rather than numbers. Sometimes, I don't even describe the PC's injury in terms of HP during action (unless of course they ask).

I do make exceptions for times when the players specifically ask about GURPS stats. To get an accurate answer, the PCs may need relevant skills. But they very rarely ask.

When it comes to making calculations, I have the benefit of Mathematical Talent. So I make just about all the calculations and it doesn't slow down game play. The players tend to like this and generally don't bother looking under the hood as that would slow down the game and take away from the action.
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combat, damage resistance

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