Messing with Players, part 1
OK, truth is, I don’t really know if this is the first part of an ongoing series or the only part, but let’s skip that question and get right to it:
As a GM and story-crafter, sometimes it’s fun to hide the truth in plain sight.
Case in point: in the Wild West game I was running yesterday (in DF2, naturally), the characters met a wise old Indian (as settlers called them then), who dispensed sage and though-provoking advice. He said he was named by his tribe for his technique of helping them dig burrows and hide underneath a bed of sticks and leaves when the Cavalry came by – his tribe called him “Anathana”, or “clever mole”.
And he turned out later to be an imposter – from the future just like them, only there to nudge the characters along a path of character growth. He was indeed a “clever mole”! When the players saw that he had been foreshadowed, the reveal was exquisite and memorable.
Then there was another occasion in a game I ran 20 years ago – and the fact that I still recall it well can attest to how memorable that one was. An NPC ally that was ‘helping’ the PCs was named ‘Enoli Ve’. If it’s not immediately obvious, spell it backwards (without the space).
And just last year I had a PC looking for a high-ranking demon – he knew it was one of a handful of suspects, but couldn’t figure out which one. One of his suspects was a Mr. Lyle. A Mr. Bartholomew Everett Lyle – or as he liked to be called, B.E. Lyle.
Sure I called this post “messing with players” but that’s not really the goal here. The point of this is not to make the players feel dumb. It’s to accomplish two things: to give clever and alert players the opportunity to get ahead of the curve, and if they don’t, the fact that the information was in front of the players all along certainly makes for a memorable reveal – and each of my players who have experienced this haven’t been embarrassed or upset with me. No, it’s more of a “Wow. It was there all the time” factor.
It can be a challenge to put the information in front of the players without it being so obvious it is immediately discovered – but that’s the point, isn’t it?