Secrets and why not to keep them

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The most frequent questions the Pala de Nata Narrators hear from new players is: “What do you mean, my secrets are open?”, followed closely by: “You mean everything is on my character tag? Even my Secret Name?”

Every time we answer: “Yes.”

Most games of political intrigue involve players playing their cards close to their chest, planning for eventualities, while staying ahead of other Player characters and the Narrators. Most games like those quickly devolve into arguments over “meta-gaming” and sore feelings that tear gaming groups apart. In many cases, what the players making the accusations miss, is that the other players had seen through their cunning plans. On the other hand, there are always one or two cases of people overhearing things they shouldn’t and it affecting their actions in a game.

“If you would keep your secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend.” – Benjamin Franklin

If you really aren’t interested in involving others in your plots, don’t share them. Not even with your friends. We don’t differentiate between knowledge that is in character versus out of character. The Ven, after all, were nobles with vast spy and gossip networks. In a game where someone can spend a point of Style to state that they know something, secrecy – and the source of those secrets – becomes a moot point

In Blood & Tears, John Wick explains the reasoning behind wearing your character sheet as a tag: Mutually Assured Destruction. You reveal your character as an act of good faith, with the intention that the other Player will act with Good Form and not ruin your fun; likewise, you strive to treat their information in the same, courteous manner. It sets the tone for game: “I know how to destroy you, but we are here to have fun.”

This also leads to other players noticing things about your character that you have in common – or matters on which you differ. This allows players to pull one another into existing plots and turn a matter which was once a quiet story, not necessarily going anywhere fast, into a major conspiracy, involving drama, intrigue and a touch of swordplay.

We play LARPs to dress up and pretend to be someone else, with other people. Pala de Nata gives you the tools to do exactly that. The other players want to involve you in their plots and help you with yours. When you sit on a secret and don’t involve others, in the terms of the game, that secret is meaningless. On the other hand, when you involve others, they can work with you to make something of it, something worth telling a story about.

 

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