the Wikipedia Limit
So I’m running this game, and it’s set in the 1875 frontier, which is not an area or time period I know very much about.
I have this knee-jerk reflex to research the hell out of it. Gee, I wonder where that came from? I’m having to actively remind myself this is a game, not a novel somebody’s paying me for, and so while research is okay, obsessive amounts of it are not. Thus I have instituted the Wikipedia Limit: I am allowed to read as many Wikipedia articles as I like in the course of doing game prep, but if figuring something out would require more in-depth reading, then I say “screw it” and just make something up.
There are exceptions to this rule. The major one is for Native American matters — religion especially — because Wikipedia’s coverage of those isn’t good. I’m also allowed to google phrases like “famous [fill in type] people” to get a list of names I will then look up on Wikipedia. But if I discover, as happened just a few minutes ago, that a person I want to include in the next session was arrested in 1875, but Wikipedia doesn’t say when in 1875, then I am allowed to decree it happened after this session’s events were over. Which I would never permit myself to do for the Onyx Court.
Thank god for Wikipedia, because it’s actually a really great resource for this kind of thing, offering me (in most cases) plenty of information for my purposes. But it’s funny, how hard it is to hold myself to that limit.