One problem I’ve always encountered in roleplaying games is the “knowledge check” dilemma. At most tables I’ve played at, if a player has a knowledge skill, they activate it by rolling the skill. If they succeed, the GM tells them aloud what they know about a particular topic. Then, the player does one of two things. They either repeat the same thing that the GM just said…which now seems redundant. Or they simply turn to the rest of the group and say, “I share this with the party.”
Either way, this results in the spotlight being moved away from the character with knowledge skills. Furthermore, this makes knowledge-based characters extremely boring to play. If you’re a wise, knowledgeable character, your speciality is to have GM to tell you stuff while you passively listen.
In most of my games, I’ve tried to combat this with the sidebar. I pull the player aside, tell them what their character knows, then let them go back to the table and relate it to the group. This has worked brilliantly in the past. Often, when the player retells the information, they will put their own spin on it, making the information slightly colored or biased – which it should be. Also, it enhances roleplay, since the players can talk about the new information in character.
However, with a big group, this has proved detrimental. Constantly pulling players aside with a big group pauses the action, and with a group as large as ours, it often caused more distractions.
So, what to do? I ended up robbing an idea from myself.
Cards with Information
For really big, earth-shattering revelations, I can even dress up the information cards with a picture or something like that. This really calls attention to the information and gives the player something visual to latch onto.