Entering its third season the Dungeons and Dragons game I’ve been running for some of my colleagues at the CBC is still going strong with over ten players who regularly make it out to our sessions despite the hectic schedules typified by the industry. Thankfully we’ve been able to keep up the story’s momentum regardless of conflicting schedules that have arisen, and do have to say the decision to embrace Island theory continues to be a good one that is still paying off dividends as we move into another year of play. Over the last season I’ve been wrestling with playing everything out in the open, as my inclination tends to be that everyone sitting around the table not only constitutes the interests of their respective characters, but is also the audience to the stories that the other players are weaving; maintaining that a lack of perceived “secrecy” doesn’t tarnish an individual’s enjoyment. Studies after all have illustrated that spoilers certainly don’t, but have taken some criticism to heart, and looked at the ways to see if I had some avenues for creating this type of experience during play.
To this end I’ve taken advantage of the players’ shifting availabilities to run plots when the principles aren’t present, leaving them to be discovered by their characters when overlap occurs between them and the characters that were present for these events, or when they happen along locations impacted by the story that has taken place there and any residual fallout that might still be lingering as a result. In addition to this I’ve also seized upon the various messages that inevitably get relayed between characters and the respective organizations they belong to, as a means for developing some secrecy, so that other characters and their players can enjoy the surprise that comes with the discovery of these story elements, and have already seen players completely keep the contents of said messages close to their chest, or elaborate upon the contents with a tone not necessarily implied therein. Plus there’s something to be said for having a tangible artefact to interact with; adding another dimension to the “realness” of the suspension of disbelief being cultivated.
However this has seen limited use so far, and will need to see in a year’s time if it has born the same fruits that the Agile compatible Island Theory has to date.