…and even if they can, they’ll just ignore them.

Have you ever watched a movie while it’s being made, especially one laden with special effects?

It looks nothing like the finished product, even though you’re watching the raw material. Actors and actresses look badass as they go through their choreographed routines, but the scene is betrayed by the wire-fu cables, chroma-key screen, and the fact that their punches and kicks are inches from hitting anything. (The picture links to its originating article.)

Have you ever watched a ‘magician’ practice his or her tricks? Once you know how it works, there’s no illusion at all, just some distraction, a few clever tricks, and quick hands. But when you’re sitting in the auditorium, even if you know it’s nothing more than sleight of hand, it’s magic.

The same effect is at work in your campaign. Your players will rarely be able to see the wires and borrowed raw materials. Because it’s more fun to play along, they’ll fill in the gaps and ignore the gaping plot holes (sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously). So don’t worry too much about making everything ‘perfect’.

In years of gaming, I’ve found that if you can make it fun, the players will usually play along. But:

  • Some plot holes are too big to cover, or the plot is so convoluted that the hole isn’t apparent until the party is halfway through it. These things happen, especially in gaming, and a good gaming group will help you cover the plot holes, or politely ignore them and go to where the ‘fun stuff’ is.
  • Some players do thrive on finding every little flaw in a game. To them, the game is “find the plot hole” or “ruin everyone else’s fun”. My advice is to kick players like this out of your group, if they aren’t willing to change. You do not have a responsibility to please every gamer.
  • Some groups develop an adversarial relationship with the GM. I’ve never had one of these develop, but I’ve played in a game where one did, and I left once the game bogged down into a series of arguments. I’ve heard of such games being fun, but haven’t experienced it personally.

Have your players ever helped you cover a plot hole? Or do you have a more antagonistic table, where they’ll use virtual crowbars on every seam, prying for hidden cracks? Do you feel you worry too much about plot holes, NPC motivations, and other structural issues? Sound off in the comments and let us know!