Schrodinger's Gun is a trope that refers to the GM fudging and altering details of the setting that are off camera. It's related to Ret Con, and includes such dastardly tricks as defining who the real bad guy is after the game gets going, or introducing details that could be a clue or a red herring depending on your later mood. It's a time honored tradition amongst GMs, but, on the other side of the coin, it reeks of railroading.
The trope takes it's name from Schrodinger's Cat and Chandler's Law. If the players are insisting on an answer about whether or not the cat is dead (or whatever detail, interrupt them by having a guy with a gun walk into the room.
It may also have something to do with Chekov's Gun, which relates to the principle of not introducing spurious plot elements but states that a gun hung on the wall of a stage set in the first act should be used to shoot something by the end of the third or written out as an uncessary prop. Introducing Schrodinger would merely imply that the cat can be foreshadowed at the start of the campaign but the GM only works out if it is dead or alive (depending on his requirements) before it (re)appears in the story arc - which it should do unless it's a deliberate Red Herring, a subversion or an intentional loose end or sequel hook.
This is sort of useful for both GMs and writers of series fiction, especially if they are trying to invoke You can't fight Fate - because the exact details of their destiny are not decided in advance.
Game and Story Use
- The Amber DRPG has some great advice on this, which can be paraphrased as: Don't be afraid to use this method when it will make your game better. Just the same, don't abuse or overuse it. If you're only using it to screw with the players, you're doing something wrong. Instead, use it when the player's theories on what's really going on sound more awesome than your plans for what's really going on.
- Sometimes the players will come up with guesses or ideas that are even better than what you had originally planned. If so, don't be afraid to do some quick re-working of your plot to incorporate the new assumptions.
- Oh, and let the players think they were smart enough to guess what you had planned; don't let them know you actually stole the idea from them!
- This can also represent the machinations of a BBEG with an in game intelligence score far higher than anyone at the table - the GM is "allowed" to cheat because the in game villain was smart enough to have forseen and planned for the appropriate contingency.
- Also, this trope allows pretty much any NPC encountered early in the campaign to turn out to be plot significant later on.