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In Betrayal At House On The Hill, the explorers will eventually reveal one too many Omens, causing some (random) explorer to become the Traitor and try to do something terrible to the remaining players (who are then called Heroes). There are 50 different scenarios that might happen, and each scenario has special rules for the Traitor, and different special rules for the Heroes. (Among other things, these rules say how each side can win.) The rules for each side are not to be revealed to the other side; instead, each side has a small paragraph in their rules about "What the other team knows".

During play, those special rules come up repeatedly: how the Traitor is permitted to move the Zombies, the deterministic rules on how the Banshee moves, special attacks, special defenses, special items required, etc.

How much of the special rules is each side required to reveal when using them? For example, several scenarios require that the Heroes perform a ritual/exorcism/silly dance with particular items and/or in particular locations, using a skill check. How much should the Heroes reveal while doing this? Should a Hero say "I'm searching for voodoo supplies here in the bedroom, which requires me to roll at least a 4 on Sanity" or simply "I'm making a skill check" (or even say nothing and just roll the dice)? When Heroes have a special way of defeating monsters, do they have to describe the action ("I'm throwing a torch at the monster"), or simply roll an attack ("I'm attacking you with Speed.")?

In play, I've usually described only things that would be obvious: "Roll a Sanity check. Okay, you failed (I don't mention the target number); the Zombie won't act for the rest of the game" or "I throw a torch, it's a Speed attack." In the first case, the reason the Zombie shut down is only known to the Zombie itself, and it isn't communicating anymore. In the second case, it's obvious to the monster that I'm throwing a torch at it. Am I doing it right?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

For a more concrete and official answer, this is from the Wizards of the Coast errata page for the game:

How much do you have to reveal about what you are doing to the other side? You should announce the purpose of any action you are taking to the other side -- for instance, "I am making an exorcism roll now," or "This roll is to see whether the house blows up." You don't need to reveal what number you need to roll.

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There is no real rules-based example of just how much or how little you have to reveal, so really it comes down to common sense, fairness and keeping to the theme of the game.

Basically you don't want to give away exactly what you are trying to do, but you also don't want the opposing side to feel that you are purposefully withholding information that brings theme and connectedness to the scenario (and thus fun to the game).

The way my group plays it is that you don't reveal anything about what is happening unless it specifically alters or affects what the other side is doing, or contradicts something you know about them or something they say. If it falls outside of that range and they can see you do it, give them a very basic description of it, otherwise if they can't see you they have no idea what you did.

In the example of performing a ritual in a room or searching for something, if they can directly see your character tell them you are casting a spell or rummaging around for something, but no more than that. If they can't see your character, then they don't need to know anything more than that you have rolled a dice and/or placed a token on a card/drawn a card/whatever other action you need to perform.

Obviously if you successfully performed the ritual and it did something like reducing the Traitor's statistics, you would need to tell them that.

Using scenario 10, Family Gathering as another example (since you mentioned it) the Traitor's Tome gives them enough information to know that their zombies can be trapped, but not how. It is up to the Heroes to tell the Traitor what is required of them when a zombie has the potential to be trapped, and it is also acceptable to tell them why a zombie is trapped.

As a last point, it is also up to you and your fellow players just how plain or colourful your descriptions are. In some groups "I succeeded at my ritual, so you lose 2 Knowledge" works, while in others "you feel your mind begin to slip away as my chanting rises to a crescendo, lose 2 Knowledge". They both say the exact same thing, but one is quick and to the point, the other is thematic and dramatic. You just need to make sure that if you take the dramatic route that you don't give away more information than is necessary in your attempt at adding colour.

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