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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Openness of player characters

    Out of curiosity do you or the players in your group share exactly what character they play? What the stats are, what class, race etc?

    How open are your groups? Do you say I'm a level X character class, or do you describe your character? I find it more fun if I don't know exactly what characters my group is playing.

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    Phhase's Avatar

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    We don't always tell each other what we might be doing NEXT, but in general, we have always told everyone where we're starting when we start out (mostly). Basically, if it's not a particularly IC secret, it's usually not a particularly OC secret either, sometimes not even then. Now, if someone were to suddenly start taking warlock levels or do something else in a clandestine manner, that's another matter.

    Oh, and as master of arbitration, our groups usually tell the DMs everything about them. Although that might not be as nonstandard, they kind of need that.
    Last edited by Phhase; 2021-11-29 at 09:46 AM.
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Fully open with the other players. Unless it's a one-shot the players should know what kind of character the other players have even if the characters don't. I describe my character in RP terms and talk about mechanics OOC. There's no conflict IMO.

    Like this "you see a short figure in metal armor and a red hat, he has a multiple weapons and a robot besides him, he's a 6th level artificer gnome"

    When I GM I encourage players to describe what their character looks like and if they are bad at it I'll help them. In my experience it is extremely risky to have PCs with secret allegiances or motives that do not align with the interest of the party, if the players decide to not allow PVP then that kind of secrecy is also not allowed (unless the player states it openly).
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Out of curiosity do you or the players in your group share exactly what character they play? What the stats are, what class, race etc?
    Depending on the group, it varies. In our Wednesday group it's very much "I am a barbarian" or "I am a bard" but our Strahd group doesn't do that.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    I have never seen reason to hide my character's build from my fellow players, I don't think it really serves any function or enhanche the way we play. The only things I would keep secret are the sort of things I may come up with the DM to act as a twist in the story, but otherwise, at least OOC, I'll be clear on what my character can do and what they are like. If I don't say something outright, it's because I don't think it's relevant, but if asked I am unlikely to not tell what my character's stats are or how many spells they can cast or whatever.

    Now, in character, I'm unlikely to say "I'm a 4th level barbarian", because that takes me out of the game. I may say "I am Rahl, of the Red Fangs" or stuff like that, but, again, if a fellow player asks "so, you're playing a Barbarian?" I will say "yeah".

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Like all OOC information, knowledge of stats / race / class / etc that the player possesses but the character does not taints the role-playing. So, while I wouldn't say that I hide such information, I certainly don't make a habit of broadcasting it, either. No spoilers. Explain what the character perceives.

    That said, I'm big on running characters who suss out such information the Clan way: by directly asking. It's hard to work with a group when nobody knows anybody else's capabilities.

    One of my characters described themselves as "a sorcerer of some skill". Later, fighting an enemy caster, as we hid, I explained, "I am a sorcerer of some skill. He is a sorcerer of much greater skill."

    Class wise, my character wasn't a Sorcerer at all. More like a Cerebremancer. And afaik, our opponent wasn't a Sorcerer, either. But it matched our understanding of events.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-11-29 at 10:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Everybody knows broad strokes archetypes, and in D&D most likely race and class, but nobody knows the exact stats of anybody else. It's partially because nobody in my groups have really cared about 'how good are you at It' beyond 'I'm higher than you'.
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    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    ElfWarriorGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    I must admit that I like the idea of keeping the exact mechanical details of a character to one's self. It allows for those neat moments of genuine surprise or coolness when someone pulls out a trick that others didn't know about. The surprise value would necessarily be short-lived but it would certainly be an interesting roleplaying aid.

    As it is, me and my regular group spend far too much time talking about D&D and character builds for this to ever be practicable!
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Everybody knows broad strokes archetypes, and in D&D most likely race and class, but nobody knows the exact stats of anybody else.
    This has been my general experience too-- no one's hiding anything, but people also aren't usually interested in other peoples' precise builds beyond "can you do [thing that the archetype suggests]?"
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    As a GM I don't even hide the stats of the threats the players are facing. Players can share whatever they want with each other, as far as I'm concerned, and attitudes of "I'm not gonna tell you even though you asked me politely" haven't really ever showed up. And if they did, it'd likely be prefaced with letting everyone know there are some secrets in play for that character and everyone agreed the game might be better if they aren't known.

    To me, hiding stats is a bit alien unless it's done for a specific purpose. When it comes to PCs, it just helps teamwork and general coherency. For NPCs, I find it's more interesting to watch the players try to figure out ways around a threat rather than to watch them try to figure out what the threat is.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Mostly just the broad strokes, and the rest we discover as we play.

    No one in my group really wants to sit around and talk about the PCs mechanics, when we could be actually playing instead.
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Catullus64 View Post
    I must admit that I like the idea of keeping the exact mechanical details of a character to one's self. It allows for those neat moments of genuine surprise or coolness when someone pulls out a trick that others didn't know about. The surprise value would necessarily be short-lived but it would certainly be an interesting roleplaying aid.

    As it is, me and my regular group spend far too much time talking about D&D and character builds for this to ever be practicable!
    I've actually pulled it on the GM once, despite them reading the sheet. When you're double checking 4+ characters for maths and thematics it can be very easy to forget just what skills people invested a single point into.

    I couldn't do it particularly well, but it's useful to have somebody with a Trained-only skill, whether that's Knowledge (History) or Lockpicking.

    Plus none of us cared about builds that much beyond 'do the numbers add up'. At the end of the day the most boring characters ended up being the ones with nothing outside of their role (even if it never came out in game, like my reformed occultist with the Cooking skill).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Silly Name View Post
    I have never seen reason to hide my character's build from my fellow players, I don't think it really serves any function or enhanche the way we play. The only things I would keep secret are the sort of things I may come up with the DM to act as a twist in the story, but otherwise, at least OOC, I'll be clear on what my character can do and what they are like. If I don't say something outright, it's because I don't think it's relevant, but if asked I am unlikely to not tell what my character's stats are or how many spells they can cast or whatever.

    Now, in character, I'm unlikely to say "I'm a 4th level barbarian", because that takes me out of the game. I may say "I am Rahl, of the Red Fangs" or stuff like that, but, again, if a fellow player asks "so, you're playing a Barbarian?" I will say "yeah".
    This is how I feel as well. Player to player, I see no reason to keep the basic info "secret" but character to character is different. I will also hold back some things if they are part of the character's background that the info is a secret.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    One game I played in I had the pleasure of being a villain PC in an online game. I was an evil changeling rogue/warlock mix who had all sorts of stealth and illusion abilities that I was using to trick the rest of the party into believing the inn we were in was being haunted by some sort of undead that lived in the lake.

    I had a decoy character sheet up for the other players to see that had me pegged as a jolly old chaotic good gnome artificer which matched my character's outward appearance and behavior, and since none of my class abilities came up, I never had to use the prepared contingencies to cover up that I wasn't really an artificer.

    Since it was online, it was no problem to send the dm private messages saying what I was doing rather than conspicuously handing notes across the table. It was honestly super fun, because the DM and I hadn't colluded on this ahead of time. The other players figured something was unusual ooc, but they never once suspected that it was me, another player, pulling the strings.

    Of course, this is a very special situation, and normally I would never advocate for such a thing unless it was the core concept of the scenario like this was.

    But there are more cases where you wouldn't want to just straight up hand someone your whole character sheet to read top to bottom, since it would give away a lot of stuff you might want to reveal through roleplay. Examples of this are stuff like the Haunted One backstory, the fact that you're actually undead or a changeling or something, that you worship a...controversial god, etc.

    There's a difference between your party knowing your general capabilities and knowing everything about them. I tend to discourage people from passing their whole ass finished character sheet around the table, since if someone were suddenly apprehensive about doing so when they weren't earlier they obviously have a Surprise Twist Character.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-11-29 at 02:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Everyone's sheets are pretty wide open thanks to DND Beyond.
    As the DM I check everyone's sheets, especially at character creation (I once caught a 20 point buy character when it was 27 point buy...his numbers were all bad).
    Shared information also makes it easier for people to remind each other of spells, items, etc. that someone may have forgotten about. "You're an orc, you're not dead yet." "Don't you have a cantrip for that?" "Hey, are you still carrying the javelin of lightning?"
    Last edited by J-H; 2021-11-29 at 02:09 PM.

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    I strongly prefer open OOC discussion of characters, while IC not referring to class/level and specific mechanics as such. In practice, the two blur together quite heavily and I just don't care.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    In an environment with PvP on the table, absolutely not. In that case you only reveal what is mechanically visible to the other players.

    In the groups I regularly play with character creation is done at the table in session zero. In which case we are fully aware of each otherís starting abilities. We also develop collaborative backstories that help explain why this group has come together so we donít have secret backstories. Not that weíd object in principle, it just isnít how we roll.

    In the few campaigns Iíve been involved off table character creation the characters have done an IC introduction, kind if like a job interview in which the main abilities and backstory elements are delivered. Minor elements of backstories and minor abilities arenít fleshed out so they can come up as surprises in the campaign. I haven't had the experience of a character with a big bad black secret that suddenly creates a major impact in the campaign, and I would feel cheated if that did happen.

    Iíve had the experience many years ago where a Rogue character was secretly evil and stealing from other players, keeping treasure for himself and so forth. When he was discovered an ax was put through his head, and my cleric decided not to waste a resurrection spell on him and no one was prepared to take the body to a temple. The rogue player was very upset, but when challenged he couldnít come up with a reason why any of the characters would have a good IC reason to resurrect him.

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    All of my games, the sheets are at least available for everyone to see. We rarely look at them unless like, someone is having power troubles and we're passing along information from their sheet for them.

    Now, there are sometimes deceptions present on the sheet, depending on the game. I had an exalted game where I was playing a Lunar in a mixed Exalt party, and IC the party didn't know I was a Lunar. OoC, of course, they did know, because they heard me tell the Storyteller what charms I was activating and they got to witness my ventures as a weasel sneaking around camp.

    What they didn't know was that I was always in a stolen human form, and that my character had essentially been in deep cover/been in denial about who she really was for 2 years. She hated herself and was trying to become someone different, because she had been weak and the person who hurt her (whose shape she claimed after exalting) had been strong. It took them about 3 months IC to find out I was a Lunar, and then another 4 months before they found out who she really was, and it was an incredibly emotionally loaded scene because it also came with a dump of my character's full backstory.
    I follow a general rule: better to ask and be told no than not to ask at all.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    They do, though I discourage it during the game. Before or after or on your own time is your business. But during the game I find that discussing PCs in terms of their mechanical elements severely impedes roleplaying. I encourage people to introduce their characters in a flavorful and descriptive manner, rather than their mechanical parts.
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    I prefer fully open. If you want the fun of a secret backstory that doesn't hurt the party to be revealed and played out as the campaign progresses that's fine. I find it rude to refuse to give your character's name, race, and class. To me it's an inherent adversarial attitude that I don't stand for between players. If I can't trust you I don't want to play with you, and being smug and secretive is immediate mistrust. Play your character with the other players, not against them and not in spite of them. I do not accept the excuse it's metagame information. It's not about in game or out of game knowledge. It's about getting to know you and understand what the party can do. It doesn't matter if we're complete strangers meeting at the tavern. Go with the metaphorical glowing PC on the foreheads of everyone's character and choose to play together.
    Last edited by Pex; 2021-11-29 at 10:38 PM.
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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Nice to read how different people/groups are dealing with it.

    What I normally do is that me group knows what base class I play. But if we get to PrC levels I don't tell them explicitly what PrC I play. Some people I play with are very open with it. Some not so, there is a group I play in where one player won't reveal the class or race he is playing. I suspect he plays a Drow Cleric. Not sure though.

    In character, does you character know what a druid, warlock, hexblade, swashbuckler is etc? Normally we start at level 1. So my character is pretty green. Chances are my PC has never met most classes or even know that they exist.

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    Re: Openness of player characters

    I prefer fully open. If you want the fun of a secret backstory that doesn't hurt the party to be revealed and played out as the campaign progresses that's fine. I find it rude to refuse to give your character's name, race, and class. To me it's an inherent adversarial attitude that I don't stand for between players. If I can't trust you I don't want to play with you, and being smug and secretive is immediate mistrust. Play your character with the other players, not against them and not in spite of them. I do not accept the excuse it's metagame information. It's not about in game or out of game knowledge. It's about getting to know you and understand what the party can do. It doesn't matter if we're complete strangers meeting at the tavern. Go with the metaphorical glowing PC on the foreheads of everyone's character and choose to play together.
    I don't agree with this. Why would it be rude? Why would it be bad for roleplaying?

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    What I normally do is that me group knows what base class I play. But if we get to PrC levels I don't tell them explicitly what PrC I play. Some people I play with are very open with it. Some not so, there is a group I play in where one player won't reveal the class or race he is playing. I suspect he plays a Drow Cleric. Not sure though.
    Has the player never described how their character looks? I find it pretty odd that someone would be so secretive as to refuse to explicitely state the outward appearance of their PC.
    On PrCs: that sort of stuff heavily depends on how narratively impactful the PrC (or equivalent "upgrade") is. The sort of stuff that's deeply ingrained in the game's fiction, like joining a knightly order or studying at a specific wizard school? Pretty hard to not be clear on what's going at the table, and requires voluntarly obscuring information.

    Even for purely mechanical choices, I'm likely to discuss them with my party beforehand, mostly to get a second opinion. Our group always discusses what feats to take, what stats to improve, etc. It's a fun moment where the more mechanically adept players also help those with less system mastery with their choices.

    In character, does you character know what a druid, warlock, hexblade, swashbuckler is etc? Normally we start at level 1. So my character is pretty green. Chances are my PC has never met most classes or even know that they exist.
    Heavily depends on the character - for one, all casters could be a variation of "mage", while another may be expert enough in magic to be able to tell druids from clerics and warlocks from sorcerers, etc. A lot of classes, however, don't map neatly to the game fiction and I treat as purely mechanical terms for packages of abilities - "swashbukcler" is not an useful information in the game world if I want to describe what a person does, I'm more likely to call them "an agile fighter", nor am I going to always call a Fighter "fighter": they may be a soldier, a knight, a brute, etc.

    I don't agree with this. Why would it be rude? Why would it be bad for roleplaying?
    Most roleplaying games are predicated on the assumption that the player characters are working together towards a common goal. If the characters have no reason to trust each other and work together, it strains credibility for them to venture into dangerous locations together. I'm not going into a dungeon filled with deadly monster along with a guy who refuses to tell me what he's capable of doing.
    Last edited by Silly Name; 2021-11-30 at 04:15 AM.

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Generally, my group is very open about their characters.
    In my group/campaigns, each player has always known what each other PC's race and class are/were. There's always free discussion when they level about abilities, feats and using skill points, so there's a general knowledge about what other PC's can do and possibly their strengths and weakness. Everyone quickly forgets what other PC's have for Ability Scores, actual skills (ranks/proficiencies, etc), Spells, or whatever...
    When I'm a player myself, I like to keep some details about my character quiet (maybe not a secret, but I won't advertise it) either as part of my background, or just be a little surprising occasionally. A few of my players are like that too.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    Fully open with the other players. Unless it's a one-shot the players should know what kind of character the other players have even if the characters don't. I describe my character in RP terms and talk about mechanics OOC. There's no conflict IMO.

    Like this "you see a short figure in metal armor and a red hat, he has a multiple weapons and a robot besides him, he's a 6th level artificer gnome"

    When I GM I encourage players to describe what their character looks like and if they are bad at it I'll help them. In my experience it is extremely risky to have PCs with secret allegiances or motives that do not align with the interest of the party, if the players decide to not allow PVP then that kind of secrecy is also not allowed (unless the player states it openly).
    Describing what they look like is common. Not sure why you should state class and level. Everyone is the same level and class is a bit weird to state.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarmor View Post
    Generally, my group is very open about their characters.
    In my group/campaigns, each player has always known what each other PC's race and class are/were. There's always free discussion when they level about abilities, feats and using skill points, so there's a general knowledge about what other PC's can do and possibly their strengths and weakness. Everyone quickly forgets what other PC's have for Ability Scores, actual skills (ranks/proficiencies, etc), Spells, or whatever...
    When I'm a player myself, I like to keep some details about my character quiet (maybe not a secret, but I won't advertise it) either as part of my background, or just be a little surprising occasionally. A few of my players are like that too.

    We level between sessions and everyone does it in private. There is no discussion. I did once ask the party if i should chose feat A or B. the answer was, which ever fits your character best.
    Last edited by Mordante; 2021-11-30 at 09:15 AM.

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    Imp

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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Describing what they look like is common. Not sure why you should state class and level. Everyone is the same level and class is a bit weird to state.
    I don't think it's weird to state class, it tells everyone roughly what you can do. I usually tell (future) subclass too if anyone asks, if someone says "I don't want to tell you" that immediately raises red flags. I've had enough of players being openly hostile/collaborative while literally surrounded by actual deadly enemies*. I insist on cooperating and playing as a team. Both in and out of character. I do not want to have to wonder who's side are you on, that stuff is only acceptable in a one-shot where it's explicitly said to be acceptable.

    *as a side note I think the DM should increase the difficulty when such a party dynamic arises, that should be an "evolve or die" moment.
    Last edited by Mastikator; 2021-11-30 at 09:40 AM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Mar 2020

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Depends on what type of game it is. On the live-action side, we've done games where players don't even know how many other players there are or who they are. In murder mystery games or any other "spot the impostor" type of game, character information is only available to players of said characters, plus a game master if there is such a thing. On tabletop and play-by-post, character information typically has at least two layers: public and private. Public is out there for all to see, private is shared between players at their discretion. Public information typically includes callsigns, physical description and visible equipment, everything else varies. On tabletop, there is also often a third layer of information: game master's, for character details they track and decide (such as alignment, standing with gods, properties of unidentified items etc.). It is possible to hold a roleplaying game where only the game master sees the character sheets, though I don't recall doing that.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

    Join Date
    Jun 2015

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Out of curiosity do you or the players in your group share exactly what character they play? What the stats are, what class, race etc?

    How open are your groups? Do you say I'm a level X character class, or do you describe your character? I find it more fun if I don't know exactly what characters my group is playing.
    I prefer if everyone knows. As much as we are roleplaying unique characters, weíre also playing a game, and the classes etc are part of the gameís apparatus. I think we get the best results if everyone knows what everyone is in game terms as that can help with decision-making on a game level, which hopefully feeds into decision-making on a rp level.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Reathin's Avatar

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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    We're very open, and we don't mind discussing plans for next actions out of character. True, it might detract from the "purity" of the experience, not be as realistic, but it lets them be comfortable coming up with ludicrous (and often interesting) takes and strategies that ultimate make for better memories. I would only insist on a more closed game if I were running, say, a mystery one-off or something.

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    Spamalot in the Playground
     
    Psyren's Avatar

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    Oct 2010
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    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    We usually know OOC, class levels at least if not every detail. IC might vary, this or that character might claim to be a bard or sorcerer when they're actually a rogue with a bunch of wands for instance, or might claim to be a wizard when they're mechanically an artificer or tome warlock. This can be due to the character being a bit mistrusting or shy, or they might even genuinely believe they are X (or even are considered to be X by the world), when in game terms they would actually be Y.

    The GM of course is required to know everything about all of us, and also has perpetual access to our sheets at all times.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Plague Doctor by Crimmy
    Ext. Sig (Handbooks/Creations)

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    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2020

    Default Re: Openness of player characters

    Forgot two variants from my previous post: games where I as a game master didn't know private character information until end of the game, and games where I as a game master didn't even seen the character sheets. (If you wonder how this works, it's possible to set up random character generation so that each player has a valid character, without the game master seeing who has what kind of character.)

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