Tell Show Do is a classification system. I’m going to start by looking at ‘Tell’ encounters, then I’m going to go and eat some pizza.
I had been to an event and had found it a bit frustrating. I knew what was going on. The plot was accessible, but it hadn’t felt like as good an event as I had anticipated. After several hours of discussion regarding the event and what had happened I concluded that I had been told what was going on, but I hadn’t had to do anything to get there.
Tell encounters have value.
They can range from a ref or lammie telling you what you see or feel (‘You’re scared of him’, ‘it’s cold in here’ or ‘you’re in a small town’) to an npc talking to you about something they’ve seen.
Personally I typically find the first group annoying. It distracts from the game and if you can’t phys rep it you shouldn’t do it. If you want the players to be scared of someone, make them look scary (disconcerting grins, malevolent looming presence, disconcerting innocence). If you want the players to feel cold then put them somewhere bare, lit by a pale blue light, possibly with some mist. If you want the players to think they’re in a village put them in a village. If you haven’t got one, rewrite your plot or build one.
Sometimes these are used by other players. For example they’ll have a skill that enables them to mentally influence another player. Again, this results in them stopping the game to tell you what they can do. It’s jarring and uncomfortable. Especially when I then have to find the most inoffensive gentle person terrifying for the duration of the encounter. I will do my best to move away from these situations as I don’t like the effect they have on my game.
However, there are places for tell encounters.
For example, at a large fest LRP a tell encounter can used when one player tells the rest of their group what’s happening in the game, being careful not to destroy things that people have been working hard for. This should always be based on the work of players and not an NPC coming in to solve everything. If you need that village encounter but can’t phys rep it you can have it happen off scene and send a villager to tell the players that it’s happened ic (although here you need to be careful that the players don’t decide to go to the village to fix it).
I consider Tell encounters to be the lowest value. I acknowledge that they have a place, but they should be carefully used. This may be because I have a short attention span and don’t listen well. Other people are fine with them. It’s important to identify tell situations and make sure that they’re used appropriately and not in a distracting way. They can be the only option.
A good ‘tell’ encounter would be the scene in serenity when they are told what happened on Miranda. They have done a lot to get there and are rewarded by information delivered in an ic and contiguous way.
(Via Mandala’s Minion)