I'm thinking of a number...

Started by JB, November 08, 2008, 06:25:09 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


So I've been lurking here a while, but this is my first post.

I'd like to share something I've observed in regards to procedures of play in traditional games (GM, dice, etc...)
Most of these games describe mechanics which have players rolling against a target number.  But after that, things become less clear.  Is the target number determined according to the text, or assigned by the GM using the text as a guideline or estimate? And more importantly, is the target number disclosed to the players or is it kept secret?

I'm currently calling the latter procedure "I'm thinking of a number..." and my feeling is that the main reason for doing this is to facilitate illusionism. (The Disclosure procedure can also engender illusionism, but it's not as effective.)

So, lets go to the examples.

How it works - The GM calls for a roll.  The player rolls without ever knowing what results equate to success or failure.  The GM then 'narrates what happens based on the result'. 

Disjunct perceptions - From my experience on 'both sides of the screen', if the text gives examples of fixed, absolute target numbers, the players assumption is that they're rolling against such, and that  the die result determines a binary success/failure.  However, for the GM, the die result may just provide an indication of the degree of pre-established success or failure to describe in the narration.

Frex, the PC tries to climb a wall.  Climbing the wall isn't 'in the script' so the GM calls for a roll.  Maybe he actually thinks, "Climbing that wall isn't happening, but roll anyway so you feel like you tried and we can get back to the plot." More likely, he just has the player roll for it without ever having a hard, fixed, target number in mind. "An 18? Well, despite your adept climbing skills, the walls are just too sheer to gain purchase."   

(Are all GMs using this procedure using illusionism? No. But once you're aware of the process, you suspect, and there's not much way to 'call their bluff'.)

What it does - Simply, hidden target numbers disempower the players active use of Fate the same way hidden dice rolls disempower their passive resistance to fate mechanics. (eg, did you 'get hit' because of the luck of the dice or GM fiat?)  I personally find it a little discouraging to play in games using this procedure - my first impression is that the GM is moving the target after the shot's been fired, and my second thought is 'Why bother rolling at all then? Just tell us what happens."  As a secondary effect, it places the entire impetus on the GM to describe every event and puts the player in the position of doing nothing except rolling a die and asking, "Did I succeed?"

Two points:

First, some games may explicitly state whether target numbers are to be disclosed or hidden from protagonist players. (examples, anyone?)  However, in my readings, the majority of texts only imply using one procedure over another. frex, in 'Serenity RPG', the authors intended procedure may be gleaned by a close reading  of the 'example of play passage', but it's never stated or even implied elsewhere in the the text. (For the curious, Serenity implies ITOA#. This isn't surprising, considering the mostly unabashed illusionist-sim play the text promotes.)

Second, because so many texts are ambiguous on this point (perhaps because the author never considered there was another method - I always assumed disclosure was intended until I played in games with hidden numbers), the end-user usually uses the procedure they are most familiar with (even if the text in question is unambiguous on this point!) which may result in unintentional drift.

A note in regards to using ITOA# procedure.  It tends to break down during extended task resolution, ie, combat.  If the GM is 'moving the target', this will become apparent after several rolls (What? Four successes hit it last round, but now thats not good enough!?) - as such, in order to maintain the illusion elsewhere, the GM must actually set fixed target numbers and cede control to Fate in these cases, which results in combat tasks being the only open actions in the game.

My current thought is that this may help explain why combat is the 'weak link' in a lot of dominantly illusionst-sim games, and may also explain why many players favor combat over other options in regards to challenges and conflicts.

Two more things:

#1 -  Procedures affect play. This is a subset of 'System Matters', but subtly different from the pure 'Mechanics' of the game.
   Also, Procedures can be used to supersede Mechanics, and Procedure will be inferred, perhaps incorrectly, if not explicitly stated in the text. 

   The layering of the same 'resolution mechanic' w/ different procedures can produce wildly different results - eg,
      Illusionist, FatE Task resolution
      No illusion used, FitM Conflict resolution

#2 - I'm sure there are other 'common drifts' and examples of Procedure affecting play.  Post 'em if you got 'em.


Christoph Boeckle

Hi Jim! Welcome aboard!

What you describe so well is indeed a technique I've perceived as a huge pain in the ass in my gaming history. Even though I've indulged in it quite a bit: I had my phase were I was having players just roll a damn die and then improvising on the number. Pointless. "Roll dice and listen to the GM's story."

That's where a game like In a Wicked Age for example is very satisfying: players only roll for their characters when they are opposed by other characters. Otherwise they just succeed! First time I read that, I was immediately reminded of all those times we had rolls for climbing cliffs and jumping over holes and how that was so beside the point! I'm using IaWA as an example, but there have been a number of games before that do exactly or largely the same (Sorcerer and Dust Devils have rules for conflicts that don't involve other important characters, but I haven't used them often in either games).

The fact that we don't roll for any silly action any more takes away the "interface" which the GM could use to take narrative control for just about anything before. Even when there are rolls, those games are often quite clear about how the results have to be treated and often the texts even indicate who will be narrating.

Also, regarding your point of "extended task resolution", I follow you entirely. I've played lots of Call of Cthulhu in the past, where a character was deemed good at something if she had 80% in the skill. So, taking the rules literally, and say that I'm playing a pilot, how great are the chances that I can take off, find the other airport and land safely? Just about one in two! Roll till you fail! Bingo. (Of course, GMs would say that you only roll when it's a difficult task, but is a difficult task the same for somebody with 20% as for my pilot? If not, the seemingly linear skill grading is actually quite a steep curve!)
I think it's Burning Wheel that clearly introduced the "Let it ride" rule: one roll holds! Amen to that.

What I've observed through the years in online discussions and chance-meetings in conventions is that all this underlies a fundamental distrust in the roleplaying medium. A lot of GMs (and designers for that matter!) are convinced that if they don't take the reins, the story (or the mood, or whatever) will suck big time, because players are by nature disruptive. So it's a necessity to be illusionist. However, a lot of GMs are simultaneously convinced that a fundamental aspect of the role-playing media is that everyone is audience and creator at the same time: so suddenly, they go into pointless sequences of "RP", where a PC indulges in small talk with an unimportant NPC. That is then often considered to be the best part of the session by the two involved...

How can such a big dissonance lead to anything constructive? We can do better!



Thanks for the welcome. Glad to be here.

You're dead on with your description and examples as well, although we might be describing similar but slightly different things.  (So maybe I didn't describe it that well after all. Thanks for the compliment though...)

But yeah, the 'roll to failure/success' is another example of this sort of mechanics being subverted by procedure.  And as your examples illustrate, all that needs to be done to resolve the dissonance is to realize that something is being implied that should be made explicit. 

I've seen 'roll until failure' used in play quite often, but I don't think I've ever read a passage in a primary game text that actually outlines this. Can you imagine reading,  "Part IV, Task Resolution: The player rolls a dice.  If the result is not pleasing to the GM, the player continues to roll until a satisfactory result is obtained." ???  I don't know that I'd want to play that hypothetical game as written, but at least it's not unclear on the issue. Nor are Burning Wheel or Wicked Age as you describe them.

To further define what I'm talking about with "I'm Thinking of a Number..." play is how the 'target numbers' are all kept secret from the players.   Here's an example of 'ITOA#' in play:

Player: "I attack the orc."
GM: "Ok, roll a d20 and tell me the result."
Player: "Uh, a 12..."
GM: "Hmm. Miss."

This doesn't have to be Illusionism.  Maybe the GM has 'Players must roll a 14 or higher to score a hit on an orc.' right there in his notes or on page 12 of the 'Monster Book'.  But if so, keeping that 'secret' from the other players doesn't really contribute anything to the game.  Compare with this example of 'GM Disclosure'.

Player: "I attack the orc."
GM: "Ok, roll a d20. You'll need to get a 14 or better to score a hit."
Player: " 12... Hmm. Miss."

When I GM, I usually use the second procedure, and I was really surprised at how much it seemed to shock some players. 

Player: "You're just going to tell us the orcs AC?!?"
GM: "Yeah, why not? We're not playing 'Battleship'. You'll work it out in after a couple rolls anyway, and I've got enough to do on this side of the screen without doing basic math for all of you."

You can even take it another step, by using disclosure to specifically empower players.

The easiest thing to do is let the players narrate what happens.  I like doing this, as I find it involves players more in 'the action', it's less work for me, and they often do a better job of describing results than I would, if for no other reason than they aren't trying describe the outcomes of six different actions in one go.  I think it also helps raise the ratio of description to 'gamespeak' if you're into that sort of thing.  I still hear, "15. Hit. 6 damage." but I'm also likely to hear, "I swing wildly but manage to score a hit on the orc for 2 damage. It's 'only a flesh wound'." 

This also reduces 'PC whiff', as players can attribute failures to their opposition's competence or plain luck (good or bad) rather than a bad roll indicating character incompetence. "A 13... The orc gets his shield up just in time to avoid being decapitated!" 

Another thing to do is give the players the option to consider and change their action after you declare the difficulty or target number.  This works especially well if you make a point to be clear about stakes and consequences.

Player: "I want to leap across the chasm and attack the orcs on the other side."
GM: "Ok. You'll need to roll a 15. If you make it, you can attack the orcs this round. If you don't, you'll take a d6 worth of falling damage and need to take a turn to climb back up."
Player: "Ah. I don't feel like gambling on the odds I'll make the jump just to attack earlier.  I'll just run down to the bridge here and be in position to attack the orcs next turn."

You do have to be careful not to railroad the players with 'walls of impossibly high difficulty numbers', but like most exercises in power, GMing is largely about restraint.
Ok, I'm having fun giving examples of 'when play goes well', but back to the point.  Burning Wheel circumvents 'roll to failure' play by placing the explicit "Let it ride" rule in the text.  Now it's clear that if you use 'roll to failure' in your Burning Wheel play that you're changing the game. 

Likewise, all it takes to establish the 'standard procedure' about whether the GM should disclose target numbers to the other players is a single sentence of clarification.  Some games already do this, but many of them just assume the reader will use the same procedure as the author without ever outlining what that procedure is.

Ok, off to my game.  Cheers.

Filip Luszczyk


You describe one of the major reasons of my dislike for traditional games.

As I see it, many games of that sort are essentially incomplete. They offer rules for what I see as "non-resolution" that in itself only masks the fact that the actual resolution occurs elsewhere and give the players a sense of mechanical input where there isn't any. The IIEE procedure includes a gaping hole in place of the Effect part. Consequently, someone (i.e. the GM), needs to construct, consciously or not, his or her own procedure for establishing the Effect. The game simply cannot be played as written, though it is rarely apparent (I guess most people supplement the lacking rules the very moment they read and try to understand them*). Depending on how the GM decides to do it, a disconnect between the resolution procedure (as used by the players) and the way the Effect is actually determined (as handled by the GM) is likely to occur. Unless the GM introduces serious changes to the resolution procedure and makes it all explicit to the group (which pretty much amounts to creating a new game), the players are going to engage a completely different game than the one that is being played in reality. More experienced players might realize that the mechanics actually do nothing and either struggle with the GM (which is generally futile, and most often destructive, depending on social dynamics of a given group) or, paradoxically, cease playing the game and switch to participating in an elaborate storytelling exercise that the GM provides them with.

There are exceptions, of course. For example, D&D 3.0/3.5 provides clear and tight (generally), if quite detailed, procedures that list the difficulties and effects of the majority of tasks the players might attempt. Most of the time, the DM only needs to apply the procedures from the book, along with pre-assigned target numbers. Unless the DM exercises his godly powers to arbitrarily ignore or change those rules, everyone is usually at the same page as far as the resolution goes.

* This reminds me my first attempt at running a game based on a pre-existing text and the hard time I had explaining the resolution procedure to the player. None of us had played with anyone else before, and I was the only one with any previous exposure to textual explanations of role-playing game procedures. For him, who didn't internalize the "GM is always right" principle, the rules made no sense whatsoever. Myself, on the other hand, I was already coming to the game with a more or less clear picture of how it all works, based on my personal interpretation of a text. I had the text with me, lying there on the table, that was assuring me that it all indeed works. Of course, it didn't, and I've spent the following few years struggling to find a way to make fundamentally broken procedures, of that and many other similar games, work - still under the illusion that my interpretation of the procedures was correct and the source of my problems was different. It took me quite some time to realize there was no correct interpretation of those rules in the first place.

Callan S.

Quote from: Filip Luszczyk on November 09, 2008, 04:55:05 PMThere are exceptions, of course. For example, D&D 3.0/3.5 provides clear and tight (generally), if quite detailed, procedures that list the difficulties and effects of the majority of tasks the players might attempt. Most of the time, the DM only needs to apply the procedures from the book, along with pre-assigned target numbers. Unless the DM exercises his godly powers to arbitrarily ignore or change those rules, everyone is usually at the same page as far as the resolution goes.
I don't even think they work there, except in a 'world on the brink' way. Those target numbers give players an idea of what numbers should be used - but this doesn't stop the GM using godly power/fiat every time. Basically all this sets up is a MAD situation (Mutually Assured Destruction). If the GM uses his godly fiat too much, the players leave and the game is destroyed. If the players are too picky about the numbers chosen, they will end up destroying the game over being picky. Just about every freaking number ends up risking the games collapse (that or you stick perfectly to the perscribed set of numbers and hey, why not play a board game in that case?)

I think you can play under MAD, but ugh...

Personally in my own designs I aim for a hard floor and hard ceiling in terms of numbers. The GM can pick a number between a minimum and maximum. The GM could always choose the maxium, but in this case that is legitimate play - the maximum is put there to indicate what still is valid play. All the players storming out over that just indicates bad sports. However, this goes against the usual simulationism by habit - "Surely target numbers must be able to spiral into infinity in order to fully simulate the game worlds qualities!" Nah, not at all.

Simon C

This sounds like a subset of what I like to call "Chicken Entrails" resolution.  That is, you roll the dice, and the GM scrutinises them, before pronouncing success or failure.  There might be a functional resolution system happening, but from the perspective of the players, it's identical to GM fiat.  "I'm thinking of a number" as you put it, is one very important facet of this kind of play, but any situation where the GM is privy to the means of resolution and the players are not is subject to the same problems.  The first time I played Sorceror was like this, though unintentionally - I was the only one at the table who really understood the resolution process, so in play, resolution was everone rolling their dice, then me pronouncing the result.  I could almost feel Ron's outrage from across the sea.

Filip Luszczyk


Indeed, the fact that the GM has the rulebook-supported right to stomp the otherwise fine default rules with his godly powers is obviously the main weakness of the design. Though in this case the weakness lies in a section of the rules that is entirely different from the resolution procedure itself.

As for your comment about playing a board game, I'm afraid I don't see it. A well-designed set of rules is a well designed set of rules. If it has to effectively function like a board game, so be it.

Callan S.

Hi Filip,

Yeah, I was a little glib with the board game reference. What I mean is all the board games I know of don't grant a certain amount (a budget) of currency that can be applied to the physical mechanics of play as a representative of imagined space.

However, with roleplay design it seems simulationism by habit occurs and it's not a certain amount, it's an unlimited amount. The difficulty class has no ceiling - 'because sometimes the worlds like that' etc, etc, ie no reason at all.

I don't agree that this problem only starts at the GM's golden rule. You could remove that entirely and still most traditional games leave the difficulty number of a skill roll entirely in the GM's hands. GM fiat is built into resolution itself (and ON TOP of that, you also have the golden rule. A double dip of fiat, really)

Filip Luszczyk

That's funny how I generally see fiat-based difficulties (as well as the choice of the statistic to be tested in a given situation, which tends to effectively contribute to the overall difficulty of a check) as simply an extension of the Golden Rule, whether formulated explicitely, as in WW's stuff, or assumed as an element of "good GM-ing skills".

Either way, I point at D&D 3.0/3.5 as an example of a game with resolution that is generally functional and works most of the time. Which doesn't mean it's completely free of unconstrained GM's fiat. Though I can't think of many instances from our games when the DM was forced to exercise his fiat due to a lack of a specific rule in the book and the need to construct one on the spot (whether particular DMs actually exercised their godly powers or not in situations when they didn't have to is an entirely different matter).

I generally favor mechanics that ascertain there are no such issues in the first place - i.e. even if some part of the resolution process (or any other aspect of the system, for that matter) is left to the GM's fiat, there is some factor that effectively balances his or her choice. Bliss Stage comes to mind, for example. The GM can pretty much regulate the difficulty of the missions however he likes (through the ratio of mission goals to Interludes). However, since losing pilots is the only way for the group to eventually resolve Hopes and close the game, it's not simply a matter of regulating the probability of immediate success or failure, but rather of balancing the chances for immediate success versus the overall progress of the campaign.


Simon, I'm perfectly happy to accept "I'm thinking of a number..." as a subset of "Chicken Entrails".  As you say, the key definition is "[A] situation where the GM is privy to the means of resolution and the players are not."

All of the games I'm observing in play use some kind of Fate mechanic with a target number and a randomizer for resolution. (This works for games that use a dice+mods, sum and compare to target number mechanic, and for dice pool compared to number of successes type games as well. "Ok, make a 'firearms' check.  Hmm... three successes out of six dice... Ok, you hit.")

I'm sure it could be used to supersede other resolution mechanics as well, but I'm not familiar enough with any games that use other systems to give any examples, particularly of how those games are actually played.

I coined "ITOA#" as the whole thing reminds me of the way one of my grade school teachers used to 'choose' students for, say 'milk monitor' or whatever, eg, "I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 100.  Whoever picks the number that's closest 'wins'." The whole point of the game is that it looks impartial, and it may well be, but it depends entirely on the 'honesty' of persons 'thinking of a number'.


Philip, when you played D&D, did the GM ever reveal the 'roll over' number, or was it played like what Simon describes so well as 'Chicken Entrails', eg, "you roll the dice, and the GM scrutinises them, before pronouncing success or failure"?

The D&D system played with GM Disclosure is actually pretty functional.  It does what it's supposed to.  Whether you like what it does (traditional game, task resolution, etc...) is another matter.

However, D&D, or any other game played via 'I'm thinking of a number...' may be functional, but it's not using the same system/mechanics.

But it's such a subtle difference in procedure that the majority of players are largely unaware of it, and if they are, they aren't aware of how much impact it has on the game.


So, how are people playing stuff? I don't mean this as an 'opinion poll' but a request to look at our games to see how they work in practice.  Is there any reason NOT to play with Disclosure in a game with a 'target number vs randomizer mechanic' besides making it easier to exercise Illusion?  I can't think of any personally, but I've had players ask me to 'keep the difficulty secret' on certain rolls when I'm GMing, so now I just make it clear in the social contract that if they ask, "What's the difficulty?" I will answer honestly.

There may be games where it's required that the GM is privy to the means of resolution and the players are not.  The best example I can think of is Amber, where the 'hidden number' thing is pretty much required for play as written.  But Amber doesn't use any randomizers, and it's been criticized as using 'GM Fiat as System' by some.

Callan S.

I think there's some practical merit to keeping a target number a mystery, either to engage a certain sense of wonder about the world that makes you think about the world rather than the books numbers, or to heighten step on up in gamist play (or both).

But yeah, it's bloody easy to slip into illusionism (yes, I use the word slip...as in, not a well thought out concious choice - guilty actual play acounts flit through my mind...).

One method to still make that transparent is to write down the target number before the roll, then show it after the roll. So you get mystery and transparency.

But in terms of your player wanting to keep the difficulty secret, you can't prove that you should be transparent. Honesty is a choice - it can't really be proven to be the thing you should be doing. At a certain level, it comes down to 'I'm gunna be transparent and I don't give a damn' :) That's why I so value informed consent, because you can be like that, but since people know in advance you will be like that they can decline to come, of course. I don't think there's any way to prove one should be honest - it just comes down to just damn the torpedoes and doing it! :)

Filip Luszczyk

QuotePhilip, when you played D&D, did the GM ever reveal the 'roll over' number, or was it played like what Simon describes so well as 'Chicken Entrails', eg, "you roll the dice, and the GM scrutinises them, before pronouncing success or failure"?

Which DM? :) Some of them made all target numbers open, some only those that weren't designated as "hidden checks" by the book, some didn't reaveal the number and didn't seem to cheat, some cheated blatantly and I played with a few who discarded the dice and the rest of the rules and still called it "D&D". Myself, I generally kept them open when DM-ing.

My general experience was that the more the DM "cheated" on target numbers or ignored the rules, the more the game sucked.

The Dragon Master

Just thought I'd pipe in here as the ITOA# method of task resolution has been used by most of my GMs (and myself on occasion though I'll get to that).

Let's start with Amber. At CopperCon this year I was involved in a handful of Amber games, and as has been said ITOA# is the way the game is supposed to be played. The problem is that it does feel an awful lot like GM Fiat. In one instance my character is trying to keep a suspected spy contained till her identity (and her right to be there) can be verified. I'm playing a character whose whole thing is that he is the strongest of the childeren of Oberon (the then king). And two of the others come up to free the suspected spy. Well, it comes down to something amounting to a brawl (using the Strength stat) and my character get's knocked unconcious. After the game it is revealed that both of them had through a randomized character selection ended up with Oberon and Dwarkin respectively (who are both stronger than my character), but till that reveal it felt like the whole thing came down to the GM was bored with that scene and was steamrolling past it.

The thing with Amber is that if played out as it's supposed to (starting from character creation where you bid against one another to see who get's the highest attributes) the feel that it's GM fiat is diminished. I played a one shot of Amber last week in which we started from the attribute auction. When a conflict came about (so long as it was between me and one of the other players at least) it felt... fair. I'd had an opportunity to have a higher score in the attributes that mattered to me, and if they beat me it was due to me not having been willing to out bid them for rank. Though in other conflicts it still felt like winning or loosing based on what the GM wanted to have happen. I'm not sure whether it is possible with that system to feel otherwise, but then a big part of the setting is conflict between the siblings (i.e, player characters).

Another example of ITOA# from my gaming history would trace back to a Rifts game I was involved in some months back.  The GM of this game had a house rule that rather than use the skill percents given in the book, your actual skill would be determined by the first roll you make with that skill. Roll a 2 and you have a 2, role a 79 and you have a 79, which always felt a little clunky in actual play (particularly as the skills are supposed to be determined by the classes you take). In addition to this the GM never would let you know what the target number was, much less whether you'd suceeded. He always said "in real life you don't know whether you suceeded or not, so why should you in the game". He also had a quirk of not using the system if he could get away from it, though he still required the rolls. So a normal skill roll would work out like this:
GM "roll survival"
Player " I don't have survival"
GM "Oh, then roll stealth"
Player "Again, don't have stealth. Neither skill is included in my OCC, or RCC"
GM "Okay, add survival to your skill list and roll percentile"
Player "83"
GM "Okay, now write 83 next to the skill" after a moment of considering the number rolled "you fail"
Player "so what was the target?"
GM "you wouldn't know in real life what it was, so why should your character know?"
Granted, there was a lot more disfunction going on in that game than just the style of task resolution, but in that case ITOA# was being used to facilitate Illusionism.

I ran about 12 sessions of Shadowrun starting at the begining of January this year, and found myself using ITOA# quite a bit. The issue there was that I really didn't know what the target number should be. I had only played a few sessions of Shadowrun before being volunteered to run that campaign and was still learning the resolution system, combat, magic, etc. More than half the times when I'd need to have the players roll against a target number, I didn't know what number was needed, much less where I needed to look to find it. So, rather than bog down play digging through the books and scouring the GM Screen trying to find the right number I'd make one up and have them roll. I always tried to predict the type of roll before it came up, and spent the time up till it was time to roll looking for the right table to have them roll off, but usually would end up rolling of a "close enough" table. The vision table for hearing for example. Given time I probably would eventually have known where to look well enough (or known the tables well enough) that I would have been able to move towards a more disclosure oriented playstyle, but the campaign ended due to lack of player interest (apparently they didn't want to play a game that focused on their characters as the source of the story/plot/complications. Though that may be due to a difference in CA (or even just in expectations about what the game is about).
"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony


All posters here seem to be strongly against hidden target numbers or any other kind of mechanics that strenghtens GM's control.
I agree only partially.
I like to have difficulties defined by hard rules - but I prefer when they reflect what I'm trying to do. Some activities should be trivial, some should be hard. I definitely wouldn't enjoy a game that would give me a success in every non-opposed activity: I would lose fun either by not trying difficult things or by having them succeed every time, breaking my suspension of disbelief and feel of risk.
Similarily, I prefer hidden target numbers (and the best of both worlds are hidden target numbers that the GM may show after the play, ensuring he was acting fair). I typically play from the actor's stance, so being given information that's unavailable to my character (but definitely might affect his choices) is at least a bit uncomfortable. If I don't trust the GM, I don't play with him. If I trust him, there is no need to avoid any risk of manipulation on his part.

It's very similar most of the time when I GM. I prefer having objective rules specifying resolution and difficulties, to assure I'm not biased, but don't give my players information that is not available to characters.

The Dragon Master

Steenan: Personally, I prefer Author stance. When I play a character,  I have a goal in mind for his story and like to choose the direction he's going to go in. Sometimes that means having him throw himself against odds he can't possibly beat (and doesn't), and sometimes that means having him walk away from a challenge he could easily overcome without ever trying. But to be able to create those situations (which are the more enjoyable parts of the hoby for me) I need to know what the difficulty is. Of course, this type of play also requires a level of transparency that most people I play with aren't comfortable with*.

Could the stance in question be the difference? What about others here, how much do you think the stance you take effects your preferences regarding ITOA# and Disclosure?

*Usually this leads to accusations of "metagaming"** along with confused stares when I don't use the OOC knowledge to "beat" their characters. The group is still learning that I use the meta-knowledge for a different reason (and to a different purpose) than the players who were kicked out of the group for "metagaming" used it.

**For my group the term is used to refer to any use of out of character knowledge. This has gained a bad reputation within my group due to a few former players who would use that knowledge to take over the game (I could provide examples from in-play but that wouldn't much serve the purposes of this thread).
"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony