"This information is juuust right."
By Andy Collins
"Game transparency" is the amount of purely game information that's shared between the DM and players. Even DMs who understand the value of game transparency can struggle with the right balance of information-sharing and secrecy. When is the right time to tell the players what's happening? A little opacity can maintain the illusion of believability; after all, it's not like the characters are omniscient entities. What's more, limiting information keeps the game playable. Not only is there no good reason for characters to have detailed information about monster statistics, such details can distract players from more important concerns.
The Dungeon Master's Guide spends a couple of pages describing ways to dispense information to the players, from clues crucial to advancing the story to in-game effects. This article focuses on the latter category: factual information about what's happening on the tabletop from a gameplay perspective.
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About the Author
Andy Collins is a co-designer of 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Today he serves as Manager of RPG Development and Editing at Wizards of the Coast, LLC. Despite striving for transparency in his role as DM, he remains entirely opaque in real life.