Tribal Knowledge: You’ve Got to Know How to Ask

This article is about a very thorny subject in gaming: what does it take to get information out of someone who doesn’t want to give it to you? I’ll be attempting to address this point within both LARPing and tabletop gaming, as the visceral immediacy of LARPing intensifies the issue. There are interlinked issues of information control, the grimdarkness of the setting, the players’ and DM/NPCs’ conceptions of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” mind-control magic, and whether any threat suffices to get the PCs to back down.

Also, a caveat to the whole discussion: nothing that I’m going to discuss here is necessary or helpful if the DM and the players can easily come to consensus on the issues. Rules exist to guide the flow of play when the sides of a conflict can’t agree, or when uncertainty in the outcome is desirable. This is doubly true when applied to rules governing social encounters (or, in the case of interrogation, anti-social).