Everyone knows what will happen


i fucking hate writing ...
Staff member
I don't know about this. It seems wrong some how. More genre specific, or something? But it does build tension.

There's a tension inherent in adventures. The players are making choices for their characters, the GM adjudicates, something happens, and the cycle repeats. This is a core RPG mechanic. An example of this mechanic and the tension it creates is The Obvious Thing.

This is a situation in which everyone knows what's going to happen. And everyone knows that everyone knows what is going to happen. Imagine a skeleton sitting on a throne with a jewel in its hand. The players want the jewel. The players also know, they just know, that if they take the jewel the skeleton will animate. And the DM knows that the players know this. They just know. It's obvious to everyone. And the players know that the DM knows that they know. And thus a kind of gleeful gaming results. The players are pushing their luck. They are trying their characters fate, trying to do the thing and succeed in the act that is OBVIOUSLY has a telegraphed consequence to it. And thus ensues the wacky party plan, from which flows much fun. The tension in these situations is palpable. And yet it comes with a kind of glee for everyone at the table, players and DM alike.

A related point is character information. Imagine a powerful evil wizard in a room. If you defeat him you find a key on his body to a treasure room. Now consider instead what happens if the party knows the wizard has the key. It hanging right there, on his belt. Now the party has a reason to defeat the wizard. They want the treasure. They need the key. Plans are made. Perhaps it starts with talking to the wizard. The tension created is different here. There is potential energy. In both situations the treasure room is the reward, but in the first it's merely that, an after defeat reward. The treasure might as well have been placed on the wizard. In the second though the party has heightened anticipation. The mere fact of making some information more readily apparent to the group can heighten the tension of the game.
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