I have this weird idea, and I think it’s okay to be weird, which is about the only reason why I can have thoughts like this and not tear my hair out when I befuddle or contradict myself. I’m moving towards this concept of “full disclosure” when running a roleplaying game. It started out with this weird idea I had about giving the players more control over the types of villains they faced (creating individual nemeses for player characters, created by the players themselves) and polling players for interests in encounters and challenges.

I don’t believe in this old feeling of “surprise” roleplaying, where the Dungeon Master keeps all his notes and numbers hidden behind a screen and away from prying players’ eyes. It’s my thought that the Dungeon Master works with the players to create, manage, and referee a series of challenges for the imaginary characters controlled by the players throughout a narrative that isn’t the work of any one player, but rather the whole group.

I think it’s worth being free and open with the players about the number of encounters that there are in an adventure, and maybe giving them the “table of contents” view. I think there’s plenty of room for surprises in the midst of combat, when the dice decide to behave one way or another, that surprising the players by having encounters they were in no way prepared for completely mowing them down isn’t just unexpected, but also ridiculously unfun. I speak from personal experience — the dice are a surprise enough.