On the Shoulders of Dwarves
A Mysterious World (episode 84)
## On the nature of Mysteries
The “Known Unknowns” (00:50)
The nature of mystery explained by United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld concept of the “[known unknowns](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_are_known_knowns)”. The known Unknowns are what creates a sense of Mystery. For example the monsters in the dungeons. We know there are monsters & traps but their nature is unknown to us.
## In world building:
**Open spaces** (02:10)
Creating a sense of mystery gives the GM room to add things later, keep something up her sleeve or to postpone important decisions. Because it gives players something to explore, a known unknown.
**Slow reveal** - In order to create a sense of mystery - take something unknown and shine a light on it.
For running mystery plots, see also [Episode 37 - mystery plots](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/mystery-plots-episode-37-368b71569c7f92/)
**What will be our obstacles?** (04:40)
What lies behind the next door, how to open this portal, what will sprint this trap.
**Separate [Ontology](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology) from [Epistemology](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology)** (05:39)
**Present sensory information** - not “facts”, so everything is filtered through perception (06:40)
**Perception** - Show that no one has absolute knowledge, including NPCs. Everyone can be wrong (08:23)
**The speed of slow** - Keep in-world information moving at the speed of slow (09:50)
**Magical information** - Keep magical information and communication vague (11:30) (unlike what the [Sending](https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Sending#content) spell does)
Eran forgetting how the “[Augury](https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Augury#content)” spell is called ;-) (13:50)
**Allow different, mutually conflicting, possibilities** (14:10) - Allow for different interpretations, different causes, because if there’s more than one answer, it’s possible that none of the current explanations are true
**Absolute truths** (17:03) - In fiction we can have absolute truths, so It is very tempting to have one single absolute truth. Because in the confines of a game we can have such a thing. And in reality most people will agree that you cannot have such a thing. Differentiate between what is true in the game world and what you’re presenting to the players.
## Some useful mechanic ideas
**Variable modifiers** - Consider adding variables to obfuscate the actual mechanical modifiers (17:40)
**Rolls don’t provide answers** - they provide clues (20:34)
Again, you might want to check out [our episode on Mystery Plots (37)](https://dwarves.podiant.co/e/mystery-plots-episode-37-368b71569c7f92/)
**Obfuscate the mechanics** - Use alternate descriptions, additional details, unique monsters or adding templates (22:00)
## Summary (24:40)
Remember, the GM is the conduit through which the player understand how their characters perceive the world around them. You can tell them what they perceive not what is true.
## Taking the load off (25:20)
**Eran** - Asked what sort of cool scenes you see in movies and TV shows but not in games.
**Uri** - Ran a test play for a new adventure “a short standard classical adventure”.
Looking for a new adventure? Try Uri’s [Escaping Thalamus’s Lab](https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/294848/Escaping-Thalamuss-Lab?affiliate_id=29668)!
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Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under \[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International\](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/)
Brought to you by Eran Aviram of On the Shoulders of Dwarves