Day 12 - Message
A relatively easy one for a change...
The GM passing secret messages over to one of the players is something that happens in a lot of folks' game sessions and is something that just can't be avoided at times. I know that I've used it in the past with my games, but to be honest, I've never been fond of the habit of doing so.
For one thing, the moment that the GM passes the message, be it a piece of paper, a parchment-like gimmick, or an index card, the other players at the table know something's up or something secret, whether good or bad, is going on. Secondly, passing the secret message to the player is a hassle in that it halts play while I write the message out (though sometimes I have one prepared, but that depends on the scenario) and hand it to the player. Pausing the game this way takes the flow out of it, and allows the other players to momentarily be distracted by other things at the table or whatever. On-line gaming has changed this, of course, as it's so easy to privately e-mail a player with a "secret" message that is truly secret, as the other player don't even know it's happening... Then again, as most of the readers of this blog know, I'm not into on-line gaming so it's a moot point for me.
Why do GMs use messages, secret or otherwise, at the game table? I can't speak for others, but for me: I love enigmatic messages, you know those anonymous or otherwise not so notes that plead for help, or a half of a map, or a warning. If the GM does their job right with the enigmatic message, appealing to one of the player's or their character's interests, this motivates the player (and hence the adventuring party) to resolve the enigma or find out what's going on. I also use secret messages to create a feeling of unease at the game table. When it comes down to it, the message itself is indicative of something going on of course, but it also serves the purpose here of shaking up the table, so to speak. Additionally, I use secret messages as a means of getting players to expand on their words or actions, and also to trigger specific actions, if for example, the player is under the influence of a drug or a magical influence. The other players know what's going on naturally, but this gives the player a chance to roleplay the situation further. So it's all good.
And that's what I have to say today.
And there you have this twelfth post for this #RPGaDay for August, 2020. Comments, thoughts, questions, etc. are all welcome, of course. :)