A discussion of metagame concepts in game design
Page 1 of 96 123456789101151 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 958
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Eastern Kentucky
    Posts
    1,104

    A discussion of metagame concepts in game design

    While I have a strong opinion on metagame design elements, I by no means intend to imply that those who enjoy such concepts are doing it wrong or should convert to my way of thinking. This is about a preference. It would be just as silly to try to convert everyone who prefers chocolate ice cream to vanilla. Vanilla is better in my opinion but philosophically "a matter of taste cannot be disputed"

    So a short definition: Metagaming.
    Metagaming is when a player makes a decision that the character the player is playing could never conceive of or know about.


    Here are some examples of metagame rules in 5e.

    1. The player chooses the number of hit dice to apply towards healing during a short rest. There seems to be no analog for the character. There also seems to be a resource being consumed but what is that resource? Potential healing?

    2. Action surge. Why is this limited (besides game balance) early on to once between short rests? Can a fighter really only once in the course of a battle choose an exact moment to make an extra effort and then not again? This again seems like the player is choosing something the fighter would know nothing about.

    3. Second Wind. A player decides to give his character a surge of energy. The character just gets it apparently unexpectedly. It happens in the fast and furious furer of combat so it's not even something the character could think about much.

    4. Inspiration. Since this part of the game is pretty optional (and my guess is anyone close to my thinking ignores it anyway), it's not that big a deal.


    I realize I'm picking on the fighter but the fighter is pretty egregious in these areas. I'm sure may of the other classes have at least some issues like this though perhaps not to the same degree.

    So how do you guys with my own sentiments (or at least some sympathy for my sentiments) handle these things. What house rules have you developed? Is the game salvageable for someone like us?

    I've been thinking about Pathfinder 2e as another possibility. Do you think it will do better in that particular area? Worse? I'm going to check out the pdf.

    What about you old schoolers? There is a lot to like in some of the old school games but I find them not systematic enough for me. Heck 5e probably isn't as much as I'd like. Everything is a special class rule. I do think feats as a mechanic might be better ala Pf2e. But I am also thinking they'll make some pretty awful feats as well.

    Thoughts?
    XP pemerton gave XP for this post

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Intrawebs
    Posts
    38,423
    Interesting choice of game to illustrate your point... D&D is pretty light on the metagamey elements.

    Feng Shui is a game I’ve always felt used those concepts in a really effective and positive way. Modiphius’ 2d20 system which powers Conan and Star Trek has some heavy metagame elements (as a more modern example).

    Metagaming is a slightly outdated term for player narrative control, which is much more popular in modern games. There are entire games built around the concept these days.

    For me, it depends on the game. Are you asking about metagaming in D&D or metagaming in general? In some games it works really well (I go back to Feng Shui); in others it wouldn’t be a natural fit.
    XP Nytmare, MonkeyWrench, Wiseblood, steenan gave XP for this post

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    5,820
    I've never had an issue with either Action Surge or Second Wind. They don't seem like something that the character would be unable to understand. Action Surge, in particular, makes sense to me as a sort of short-term endurance type of phenomenon. Second Wind, while being harder to explain, still makes sense to me; catching your breath is something that can reasonably help with short-term fatigue, but which you can't benefit from repeatedly due to diminishing returns.

    Inspiration, as written, can seem pretty metagame-y. When I ran my last game, I awarded Inspiration whenever the character was in a situation where I thought they would be inspired, based on (among other things) their background traits. But I also made them spend it immediately, on whatever action they were inspired to accomplish.

    Hit Dice are harder to solve. I would recommend tossing them out entirely, and letting characters recover 10% of their maximum HP during an eight-hour short rest.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
    While I have a strong opinion on metagame design elements, I by no means intend to imply that those who enjoy such concepts are doing it wrong or should convert to my way of thinking. This is about a preference. It would be just as silly to try to convert everyone who prefers chocolate ice cream to vanilla. Vanilla is better in my opinion but philosophically "a matter of taste cannot be disputed"

    So a short definition: Metagaming.
    Metagaming is when a player makes a decision that the character the player is playing could never conceive of or know about.


    Here are some examples of metagame rules in 5e.

    1. The player chooses the number of hit dice to apply towards healing during a short rest. There seems to be no analog for the character. There also seems to be a resource being consumed but what is that resource? Potential healing?

    2. Action surge. Why is this limited (besides game balance) early on to once between short rests? Can a fighter really only once in the course of a battle choose an exact moment to make an extra effort and then not again? This again seems like the player is choosing something the fighter would know nothing about.

    3. Second Wind. A player decides to give his character a surge of energy. The character just gets it apparently unexpectedly. It happens in the fast and furious furer of combat so it's not even something the character could think about much.

    4. Inspiration. Since this part of the game is pretty optional (and my guess is anyone close to my thinking ignores it anyway), it's not that big a deal.


    I realize I'm picking on the fighter but the fighter is pretty egregious in these areas. I'm sure may of the other classes have at least some issues like this though perhaps not to the same degree.

    So how do you guys with my own sentiments (or at least some sympathy for my sentiments) handle these things. What house rules have you developed? Is the game salvageable for someone like us?

    I've been thinking about Pathfinder 2e as another possibility. Do you think it will do better in that particular area? Worse? I'm going to check out the pdf.

    What about you old schoolers? There is a lot to like in some of the old school games but I find them not systematic enough for me. Heck 5e probably isn't as much as I'd like. Everything is a special class rule. I do think feats as a mechanic might be better ala Pf2e. But I am also thinking they'll make some pretty awful feats as well.

    Thoughts?
    As a dissenting voice to your perspective, let me stick you your guidelines.

    If i wanted to replace the thinks you mentioned, i would put in place of short rest long rest delays a roll for exhaustion.

    This would mean that the in character analog was over-doing it, pushing too hard at risk of hindrance to follow.

    How big the chance was, if it got more difficult as they go along etc can dial up or whatever based on your preference.

    But basically "extra effort" options can be defined for pretty much each class and even for some races if you want.

    Apply this widely as a mechanic and design around it and you can get away from a lot of the meta-game choices you key on.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    I've never had an issue with either Action Surge or Second Wind. They don't seem like something that the character would be unable to understand. Action Surge, in particular, makes sense to me as a sort of short-term endurance type of phenomenon. Second Wind, while being harder to explain, still makes sense to me; catching your breath is something that can reasonably help with short-term fatigue, but which you can't benefit from repeatedly due to diminishing returns.

    Inspiration, as written, can seem pretty metagame-y. When I ran my last game, I awarded Inspiration whenever the character was in a situation where I thought they would be inspired, based on (among other things) their background traits. But I also made them spend it immediately, on whatever action they were inspired to accomplish.

    Hit Dice are harder to solve. I would recommend tossing them out entirely, and letting characters recover 10% of their maximum HP during an eight-hour short rest.
    Agree HD are muckier.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Chester County, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,776
    Turning a metagame thing into a non metagame require a good deal of effort. Saying, "once an enounter" is easier then saying, "you can do x when a occurs. Would you accept a more complex but less metagamey mechanic?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA, Earth
    Posts
    2,285
    Quote Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
    So a short definition: Metagaming.

    Metagaming is when a player makes a decision that the character the player is playing could never conceive of or know about.
    Are you at all able to divorce the idea of it being the character somehow making the decision instead of it just being fate, chance, or coincidence?

    In your experience, what's the best system with the least metagaming you've played with?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Mahomet, Illinois
    Posts
    5,051
    Quote Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
    3. Second Wind. A player decides to give his character a surge of energy. The character just gets it apparently unexpectedly. It happens in the fast and furious furer of combat so it's not even something the character could think about much.
    These can be explained away, but I don't think that is really going to answer the question in a satisfactory way for you.

    For example: second wind - When I played American football, or wrestled, or boxed - there is a moment in the contest, fairly early on where you have an adrenaline wash. The initial surge of adrenaline leaves your body, and for a moment, you feel like all of the energy has been sapped from your body. If you don't panic, and keep playing, you get your footing and you're energy levels come back. I even warn my football players (I coach now) about this phenomena and to just take some deep breaths and keep going.

    So that explains second wind for me, and why you can only do it once. However, the idea that the player chooses when this is going to happen is part of the metagaming issue you are concerned with - so, merely explaining it is not really satisfactory.

    Am I right? Because I think you can come up with in-game for most of these.
    XP KahlessNestor gave XP for this post

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    32,852
    My thoughts?

    Life is too short to make perfect the enemy of good.
    XP heretic888, Nytmare, KahlessNestor, jasper, Aldarc gave XP for this post

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Eastern Kentucky
    Posts
    1,104
    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    Interesting choice of game to illustrate your point... D&D is pretty light on the metagamey elements.

    Feng Shui is a game I’ve always felt used those concepts in a really effective and positive way. Modiphius’ 2d20 system which powers Conan and Star Trek has some heavy metagame elements (as a more modern example).

    Metagaming is a slightly outdated term for player narrative control, which is much more popular in modern games. There are entire games built around the concept these days.

    For me, it depends on the game. Are you asking about metagaming in D&D or metagaming in general? In some games it works really well (I go back to Feng Shui); in others it wouldn’t be a natural fit.
    Sorry. My term already perhaps indicates my prejudice. Player narrative control is fine as a term. As long as we all know about it. I suppose I was thinking of D&Desq style games though for me any RPG I was invested in at the campaign level would qualify. I'm a lot more flexible when it's a game that I'm just doing a one off or one where it's obviously not about scratching the rpg itch for me.
    Last edited by Emerikol; Saturday, 30th June, 2018 at 05:13 AM.

Quick Reply Quick Reply

Similar Threads

  1. Game Design 111: Concepts
    By Challenger RPG in forum Publishers, Promotions, Press Releases, DMs Guild, & Kickstarter Announcements
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Monday, 3rd June, 2013, 04:45 AM
  2. Class Design Concepts
    By Wizards of the Coast in forum *General Roleplaying Games Discussion
    Replies: 32
    Last Post: Thursday, 18th April, 2013, 02:53 AM
  3. Class Design Concepts
    By Wizards of the Coast in forum *General Roleplaying Games Discussion
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: Saturday, 29th December, 2012, 02:38 AM
  4. The Character-Player dichotomy, to metagame or not to metagame?
    By Sunseeker in forum *Pathfinder, Starfinder, Older D&D Editions (4E, 3.x, 2E, 1E, OD&D), D&D Variants, OSR
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: Thursday, 13th December, 2012, 11:57 AM
  5. Class Design Concepts
    By Wizards of the Coast in forum *Pathfinder, Starfinder, Older D&D Editions (4E, 3.x, 2E, 1E, OD&D), D&D Variants, OSR
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Monday, 3rd December, 2012, 07:41 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •