Ask The Readers: Can games built around a huge twist work?

Over the last few years I have had quite a few ideas for campaigns that develop around a pretty strong twist early in the campaign. Think of twists like in the Matrix. The PCs are built around the premise that they live in the modern world and suddenly they realize that this was just an illusion. Or you start a campaign as a pretty realistic near-future space travel story and suddenly aliens arrive at humanity’s doorstep. These kind of twists usually only work when the players are not aware what’s going to happen.

The problems of keeping the players in the dark about the true nature of the game you’re going to run are numerous. Some of your players might not enjoying the turn of events or actually feel cheated. The characters they might have created don’t work very well after the twist has been revealed. What works fine in books, movies etc. might ruin your RPG campaign.

While I thought about basing a campaign on a such a twist, I never actually did so. The fear that the campaign may go downhill after the huge reveal is just too big. I still find the idea very compelling though. If things worked out as planned, the players might be in for the ride of their lives, but I fear it’s more likely that they hate the whole idea.

Have you ever tried to run a game that involved a huge twist that totally changed the nature of the game? How did it turn out? Please share your thoughts below.