View Full Version : Hiding the Math

02-08-2010, 07:15 PM
Has anyone ever considered trying to hide the math of their game?

I am wondering if their is any value on keeping character sheets as a gm but not letting the players see them. Allow them to design characters through discussion and not through point expenditure.

Anyone tried this?


Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
02-08-2010, 08:37 PM
Depending on my mood, i may keep track of insanity points, etc, in WFRP.

02-08-2010, 09:41 PM
I heard of this, back in high school; it was an interesting idea, but we never actually tried it. Would think there'd have to be a lot more trust than usual between player and GM for that to work. And it wouldn't work at all, for some play styles.

A better question is what is lost by showing the math, that a discussion of style wouldn't fix.

02-08-2010, 10:12 PM
I tried it once having gotten the idea from a Dragon Magazine way back when and found it wasn't worth the trouble. Players typically got a damned good idea about their characters regardless and with me having to do every calculation, it slowed things down too much and broke the gameflow.

02-09-2010, 09:26 AM
I hid the math with a supers campaign. Amnesia with "guess your powers and skills" was my premise for the hidden nature of the system. It worked out really well. Players didn't have to mull over the numbers and just acted. Eventually I allowed some math to leak into the game.

It turned into a very memorable game. The campaign ended with the destruction of Earth due to the carelessness of one PC (a member of the Ruling Galactic Family).

02-16-2010, 09:25 AM
I've never see it as worth the work. Personally I want to do a hands on thing. Crunch is part of the game experience.

02-18-2010, 09:10 AM
This can work. I have done it for horror rpgs before, where I didn't want the players to know exactly how many hit points they have. I didn't usually take it to the level of the player not knowing their stats. I just kept things like their current HP total from them. It can be problematic though, especially if you aren't being clear about things like how wounded a character is. Some players will go for this sort of thing, others really don't like it. If you do it, I would recommend making certain your entire group is okay with it first. If so, give it a try. If one or two people have an issue, it is probably best not to do it.

04-29-2010, 12:23 PM
I've done this before with different levels of success. Certain systems lends themselves well to this. Others don't. Crunching numbers is a way of being involved for a lot of players and only about 25% of mine can really handle hiding the math so i don't do it any more. I wrote a document on doing precisely this for my own system, tried it, and i failed. I tried 2 approaches - one story based and one use based (wherein each character had certain uses of three different kinds where they could say "i succeed no matter what"). The later worked better.

04-30-2010, 12:45 AM
My problem with math hiding is I don't want to do the work. I certainly do not recommend it for the beginning GM. The beginning GM has enough problems to deal with without doing all the character sheets as well.

05-24-2010, 08:51 PM
I did this once with a completely homebrew (fantasy) system. Character creation was done via interview with the GM (me), where we talked in a relatively unstructured way about what type of character they wanted to play. At game start players were given an idea how good their characters thought they were relative to their home town, and were left to their own devices to figure out how close to reality that was.

It was possibly my best campaign of all time (to date). With no numbers to look at the story really developed faster than normal. What's funny is that if given the prospect of playing in such a manner I would have refused and wished the group well until the next game. My GMing style doesn't always mesh with my play style.