The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

Bringing the Cut Away to D&D

There have been a number of games over the years – the one that I always remember best being WEG’s Star Wars – that have promoted the idea of occasionally narrating to players about events that they would otherwise be oblivious to, also referred to as “cut aways”. In the past, particularly when playing those games, I have been very adverse to this idea; it always seemed to me that this went against what RPGs should be about (both because it was cutting away from the PCs and because by their by their very nature cut aways don’t give any control to players)

But having shunned cut aways for two decades, today I am reconsidering them. In a number of recent campaigns I have had events going on behind the scenes that were just too intricate for the players to ever fully discover or figure out on their own. During those campaigns I seriously considered having a James Bond like event where a villain explains all – but such scenes weren’t very appropriate to the subject matter and aren’t really my style anyways.

As much as anything I want the players to grasp the gravity events long before the characters could. I know that there is always the possibility for players to then apply the knowledge that their characters shouldn’t have; but I think the trick to avoiding big problems in that regard is to carefully pick what to reveal to the players. The information revealed in cut aways should alter their mood and understanding without giving them reason to alter their course of action; a tall order perhaps, but it is something I intend to try.

Have an opinion about this article? I love comments. Please feel welcome to leave your thoughts.


November 10, 2010 - Posted by | Dungeons and Dragons, RPGs | ,

1 Comment »

  1. I’ve got mixed feelings as well, but are something to either use or not use depending on your style of gaming, as it’s odd to just randomly do cutaways. Ideally if you do use them the more you can shroud the characters as well as what and where is happening the better in my opinion. The other good option is to use intermediaries to explain the plot further.
    I think the shroud of whats going on is a good feature to fantasy setting personally.. as opposed to something more modern or futuristic where you can check twitter and see “Oh crap guys, XXX is attackin the castle!~”

    Comment by Grey | November 10, 2010 | Reply

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