Sometimes, it’s fun to be oblivious.
When I end up playing a game, I try very hard to achieve a certain level of knowledge in the campaign setting as to make the GM’s job easier. It’s difficult to convey the nuances of an entire campaign to people who haven’t read the book, so for my part, I feel that it is the duty of a good player to take some time and actually do some preliminary research in order to acquaint themselves with the things that should be “obvious” to everyone who actually inhabits the setting.
But sometimes, one has to draw a line between knowing the setting, and knowing too much.
And that’s what we’ll be talking about today. There’s a certain joy in being ignorant, but being too ignorant can be a hassle as well. So, without further ado, let’s get into the meat of this discussion by discussing why a player should make certain that they are still somewhat ignorant of some facets of the game.
The simple answer would be, “It’s all about the Mystery.” Almost every game I have ever played with uses the elements of the unknown to drive the plot forward. Who killed the king? What is causing this magical crisis? Who took my stuff?! These questions are all mysteries in their own right, and almost every story becomes interesting by how these questions are answered, and how they lead to further questions.
I find myself agreeing with J.J. Abrams on the topic of Spoilers, and I find that reading too deeply into things that you shouldn’t know of as a player sours your fun. When you read too deeply into restricted information, you hurt your own enjoyment.
So what do you do? What kind of knowledge is good, and what isn’t? Here’s a short list of items that are generally safe and can contribute positively to your enjoyment and ability to participate in a game:
- Current Events
- Significant Personalities of the Era
- Cultural Notes and Taboos
- Character / Racial / Cultural Stereotypes
If you’ll notice, a lot of this come from the setting chapters and character creation chapters of many RPG books. Now, onto things that could potentially end up spoiling you… these are pretty obvious, but let’s list them down anyway:
- NPC Stats and backstories
- Monster Stats
- Campaign Secrets
I told you these would be obvious. Most of these fall under the GM section of most books, often under text that asks players to not read beyond a certain point lest they spoil their fun. Still it’s a good exercise for most players to avoid reading these sections by way of habit, just so they won’t end up spoiling their own fun