Out-of-character/metagame knowledge

payn

Legend
Thats a tough spot to be in. The encounter and escape is a classic literary event. However, I think when you script it in an RPG, it loses some trust factor from the players. When I am creating an adventure this is something I avoid if at all possible. Any conflict should be faced on its own value. If the baddie gets away, they better be able to do it through ability and good set up and not fiat. The better approach is to write for both instances of bad guy escape and death. The story continues based on how the dice roll. YMMV.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The examples from my play that @pemerton cites are from my 5e game. They are not from material that was published.

One involved a hag escaping from a battle essentially because she “was supposed” to get away so we could face her again later. The second involved my use of my Ranger’s Folk Hero background feature to avoid a conflict and the GM essentially bypassing it to ensure a conflict happened.

I would say that the 5e system and general approach were very much a part of the reason why these things happened. Part of that is the requirement of prepared material. You say “published” but I’d say “prepared” is more fitting. In both cases, the GM was essentially trying to preserve what he’d prepared.

Sure. But it didn't happen because of 5e. It happened because the DM wanted to run you through a story.

That's not true of all sessions.


And although you are correct that this can happen in games besides 5e, there are also games where it would not happen. Where the mechanics and processes are designed to avoid such things, where they are sufficiently player facing so that the results of play are clear. Where the principles of play are clearly stated and would actively discourage this kind of decision. Such games actively discourage that kind of thing, and make it clear as day to the players that the GM went against the principles of play.

Yeah. That was my point. This isn't about metagaming at all, nor are the examples really about metagaming.

It's more like, "A lot of people think metagaming is terrible. Let's talk about these examples, and then segue into an unrelated conversation regarding framing."

Again, there's nothing wrong with discussing framing, or the other issues. It's just ... well, it has nothing to do with "metagaming."


ETA- and I'd add that the whole issue of how much emphasis to place on "scripting" the events in D&D was already tired in the 70s.
 

Arilyn

Hero
Many games aren't sure exactly what they are beyond the ubiquitous"What is a Roleplaying Game? "section. Many designers don't go beyond this because they don't think they need to. This leads to games like 5e that are pretty fuzzy around the edges as it attempts to accommodate a variety of styles.

You can't argue with success but it does mean that it can be a frustrating game, that has become by default, the gateway game for a large percentage of hobbyists. A game with clear principles of play does usually avoid these problems brought up in the OP

Does this matter? For many players, probably not, to be honest. Fun is had and players leave their sessions hopefully looking forward to more adventure. For game designers and/or hobbyists wishing to do a deeper dive it's an important aspect of the game. Good game designers do ask these questions in order to make sure the rules support and encourage the type of play desired.

Even 5e can do this. Handiwork games brought out the excellent Beowulf supplement which proves it can be done. Like Pendragon, the heroes are questing because they are heroes and changes to the system make the game feel like Anglo Saxon legends. It's also a one player, one GM game, which works really well.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Well thanks for sharing, I've had similar experiences. Personally, I find the Background features too vague and too niche to begin with. My Halfling was a Noble, and there was an adventure where we had to get into a wealthy noble's house.

"Say", I said. "I can simply request lodging from the Duke with Position of Privilege, and we'll get in no problem!" Thus I prepared to introduce myself as Cade, the Ninth Duke of Emberhill. The DM started flipping through his notes and was like "what does your ability do again?"

I repeated it verbatim and he was like "uh, that seems like a stretch. I guess you can roll Persuasion, but you'll be at disadvantage, the Duke hasn't heard of a Halfling noble before."

As a Battlemaster, I got similar results any time I tried to use "Know Your Enemy", so I finally just acknowledged it was a 'ribbon' ability and not meant to do much.
 

But that has nothing to do with 5e, or particular RPGs in general.

It's a feature (bug) of running published adventures.

For that matter, unwritten norms that exist in D&D (such as "don't split the party apart") aren't rules for a reason- because not all table play that way. Some tables are perfectly happy splitting the party apart! That was, in fact, somewhat common in the 70s and 80s.

The reason it has developed into more of a norm is just because of the desire to keep most of the table engage most of the time; it has nothing to do with meta-gaming.

For that matter, the rise of the norm against PvP likely mirrors the rise in people choosing to play their characters longer. When D&D had more meat-grindery features, it was less of a taboo because people were less attached to a single character that they might be playing for six months ... or six years. On the other hand, games that are single-shots, or rarely played as "campaigns" (or are explicitly about the PvP, like Paranoia) do not have the same norms regarding PvP. All that said, there are still table that don't use that norm.

Putting all of this in terms of "metagaming," if you're actually looking at "framing," seem ... weird. IMO.

Putting aside any value judgement on metagaming (I personally don’t care at all about it except for when it’s hostile to functional play…and the overwhelming type/amount of it isn’t hostile to play), I don’t understand your metagaming/framing dichotomy here. I’m assuming you’re talking about GM scene-framing or scenario-framing? There is absolutely going to be significant (possibly total) bleed in GM metagaming/framing such that their entanglement is not reconcilable; you’re metagaming to achieve the desired framing.

And I don’t understand how what is being depicted isn’t metagaming (again, putting aside any value judgment on any given episode).

I’m going to throw out a few examples here:

1) Player 1 and 2 (of 4) wants to split the party. Both of their characters have dramatic needs that involve going to this place rather than that. 3 and 4 are concerned that the party-splitting will negatively impact the collective payload (it will) and therefore put 3 and 4 at risk for the Adventure x they’re interested in. The GM is entirely neutral on the subject.

Ultimately, 1 and 2 eschew their dramatic needs and go along with 3 and 4 on Adventure x because concerns of a “hostile work (game) environment” + they’d spent too much table time disagreeing already. They’re subverting character interests/actions for concerns about the gamestate or the state of the play at the table because of the collision of divergent interests.

Whether play within Adventure x becomes a bit hostile and passive-aggressive isn’t relevant to the question of “was that decision-point navigated via metagaming?” Now if it did become hostile, that we be metagaming upon metagaming!

And you could make a case that both of them could be binned into “dysfunctional” (in order for play to survive contact with the enemy - divergent interests - one side must succumb to social pressure and table time issues in order to play at all). But functional or dysfunctional, it’s still players subverting their in character interests/premise in order to either play at all or to avoid a dysfunctional play experience (whether that is hostility or merely a crappy spread of 25 % play and 75 % no-play haggling).

2) The players have a plan to totally foil the GM’s master villain plans and send play careening into the PCs favor or end the conflict before it started.

Enter Scry > Teleport > Fireball by the villain.

Now it could be a thing that the GM has actually prepped this NPC with all the (a) non-systematized (let’s say it’s AD&D 2e so we don’t have stuff for this but we bolt on the kind of robust villain portfolio that is in a My Life With Master game in terms of dramatic needs and moves and means) stuff that players could uncover and act upon. Now let’s say the GM rolled for (got lucky!) the (b) NPCs available spells/items and (c) prepped the NPC’s standard spell and (d) henchman loadout.

Now that looks like a scenario that will be informed by very limited metagaming by the GM. The players can make moves to uncover the encoded nature of the villain (will they escalate to nukes…why wouldn’t they…what for), and all the intersecting means at their disposal (and how to Rock/Paper/Scissors it should it come to that).

Now imagine either none of (a) - (d) or a thing or only very partially (perhaps the GM has prepped a few henchman, a mild and mostly opaque motivator for mustachio twirling, and given the NPC level 17 Wizard).

One of these scenarios looks much closer to the GM pulling out the old Scry > Teleport > Fireball + Henchmen tantamount to flipping the table over in protest as they’re “losing” (control).

Noe they will surely fall back upon “BUT WORLD BUILDING AND FANTASY VILLAIN REALISM” in an attempt to legitimize and obfuscate the Calvinball play. But it’s the same thing.

Yes it’s “framing” (as in we’re in this scene now and play has taken this dramatic - anticlimactic really - turn), but it’s underwritten by metagaming. The GM isn’t acting upon encoded NPC stuff and playing with integrity. They’re going outside of that process entirely and vetoing a player gambit with an active block.





Why aren’t both of these underwritten by metagaming?

Again, I’ve long decried the GM move above (further, Ive got a problem with the nexus of free play + “but worldbuilding” fall back that even keeps that on the table..often players have no way of knowing the difference between the two…a combination of poor GMing, Table time stress, and system issues) while simultaneously not caring a wit about the overwhelming majority of METAGAMING FOUL laments.
 

Sure. But it didn't happen because of 5e. It happened because the DM wanted to run you through a story.

That's not true of all sessions.

Other games would not allow this to happen, so while it is not unique to 5e, I'd say that yes, this happened because 5e (a) does nothing to prevent it from happening, and (b) the prep heavy structure of play actively promotes it. The GM from the examples has also GMed other systems that work to avoid these kinds of things, and when running such a game, he didn't do it.

So, that's just an anecdotal example I know, but in this case, it seems more about the game than the GM.

Yeah. That was my point. This isn't about metagaming at all, nor are the examples really about metagaming.

It's more like, "A lot of people think metagaming is terrible. Let's talk about these examples, and then segue into an unrelated conversation regarding framing."

Again, there's nothing wrong with discussing framing, or the other issues. It's just ... well, it has nothing to do with "metagaming."


ETA- and I'd add that the whole issue of how much emphasis to place on "scripting" the events in D&D was already tired in the 70s.

I think the point that @pemerton was making and why he cited these examples from my play was because in both cases, ultimately the GM did what he did to ensure the game elements he had prepared were preserved, and that the players largely had to accept them as "part of the game" or "that's what the adventure says happens". Seems to be more about the game than about the fictional world.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Other games would not allow this to happen, so while it is not unique to 5e, I'd say that yes, this happened because 5e (a) does nothing to prevent it from happening, and (b) the prep heavy structure of play actively promotes it. The GM from the examples has also GMed other systems that work to avoid these kinds of things, and when running such a game, he didn't do it.

So, that's just an anecdotal example I know, but in this case, it seems more about the game than the GM.

Again, though, this is why the thread is unproductive, except for those who are already talking about the thing that they wanted to talk about.

Look, 5e can be run in a variety of ways- both from the RAW, as well as because there is a "tradition" or "culture" in D&D. One way that it can be run is, for lack of a better way of putting it, the "Strong Simbalist" approach. In other words, having the DM strongly script the narratives (whether through illusionism or meta-gaming buy in or other techniques) so that the players experience something resembling a narrative arc.

This is in contrast to another, old school (call it the "Strong Pulsipher" approach) where there is no thumb on the scale, and players can do what they want- and story or narrative is accidental and emergent.

That's pretty well-trod ground, and not really about "metagaming," or profoundly interesting regarding framing in non-5e games. Which is, AFAICT, the real topic to be discussed.


I think the point that @pemerton was making and why he cited these examples from my play was because in both cases, ultimately the GM did what he did to ensure the game elements he had prepared were preserved, and that the players largely had to accept them as "part of the game" or "that's what the adventure says happens". Seems to be more about the game than about the fictional world.

No, not really. Look, if you're playing BiTD (for example) and the players are decide that the characters don't want to do scores, don't want to be in that city, and think heists are lame, you're going to run into problems. But because of the narrow(er) focus, we often overlook the necessary buy-in and metagaming that has already occured.

Or maybe it's just not productive to use the term "metagaming" for that discussion, because regardless of how many times someone might say, "I view it neutrally," it's no more neutral than "railroading" or other terms with significant baggage - especially when it seems to be deployed as it is here.

Jus' sayin'. I'll bow out, have fun.
 

There is a whole lot of daylight between accepting the premise of play before play begins (picking up Risk instead of Bingo because Risk) and intraplay shenanigans that is either unrelated or potentially contra (but not clearly - to be sussed out) to that initial buy-in.

And there is enough stuff in that intraplay bin that the question remains interesting.

An easy examples of this would be Blades (because it was brought up):

* Players consistently observing the many and varied Player Best Practices is fundamentally part of that initial buy-in to premise.

* Players deciding that they can/should/shouldn’t/will subvert/pursue a dramatic need in this moment of play and prioritize this Score or an alternative Score because of (a) a pressing Setting/Faction Clock is about to go boom or (b) they’re At War and they are disincentevized from not resolving that situation or (c) someone’s Contact or a Crew Friend or an important Faction Ally needs immediate help or (d) there is an uncommonly lucrative opportunity on the table (but with a catch) or (e) a Crew member is becoming too much of a problem to ignore the impending confrontation that has been lurking.

There is a lot of thought that must go into skillfully offloading things into DTAs if possible (and you have the redources) and juggling/prioritizing all the various and sundry interests/threats on your personal and your Crew’s menu. The bulk of that stuff will be entirely in character. But some of it will absolutely be, in part, metagame-driven. There are too many moving parts and consequential widgets to not have their be substantial bleed between the two. Skillfully threading that needle is a huge part of what makes that game do it’s thing.
 

Again, though, this is why the thread is unproductive, except for those who are already talking about the thing that they wanted to talk about.

Look, 5e can be run in a variety of ways- both from the RAW, as well as because there is a "tradition" or "culture" in D&D. One way that it can be run is, for lack of a better way of putting it, the "Strong Simbalist" approach. In other words, having the DM strongly script the narratives (whether through illusionism or meta-gaming buy in or other techniques) so that the players experience something resembling a narrative arc.

This is in contrast to another, old school (call it the "Strong Pulsipher" approach) where there is no thumb on the scale, and players can do what they want- and story or narrative is accidental and emergent.

That's pretty well-trod ground, and not really about "metagaming," or profoundly interesting regarding framing in non-5e games. Which is, AFAICT, the real topic to be discussed.

My apologies for not really worrying about what you consider unproductive or well-trod ground. I realize there are plenty of things that we discus on here that date back to the earliest days of the hobby. That they are still being discussed means they're still relevant.

Can D&D 5e be played differently than it's presented? Sure. Was that the case in the examples from my game that were being discussed? No, it wasn't. It was literally a case of the GM preserving his prepared material. The witch escaped so we could encounter her again later. The duke's men found us in the farmhouse because the GM had prepared a conflict with the soldiers.


No, not really. Look, if you're playing BiTD (for example) and the players are decide that the characters don't want to do scores, don't want to be in that city, and think heists are lame, you're going to run into problems. But because of the narrow(er) focus, we often overlook the necessary buy-in and metagaming that has already occured.

Or maybe it's just not productive to use the term "metagaming" for that discussion, because regardless of how many times someone might say, "I view it neutrally," it's no more neutral than "railroading" or other terms with significant baggage - especially when it seems to be deployed as it is here.

Jus' sayin'. I'll bow out, have fun.

No, I think metagaming suits in the sense that this is not initial buy in, but actual playing of the game. It's not acceptance that we're living in a fantasy world where there are tieflings and raging barbarians and okay here we go.... it's acceptance that this half-elf mage's dropped notes are meant to prompt an adventure of some kind. It's about how much some games rely on this in order to function. Some games rely on it more than others.
 


Some RPGers are hostile to out-of-character/metagame knowledge.
Getting rid of this particular sort of metagame knowledge requires fairly radical departure from these typical approaches to framing.
It would also be worthwhile asking whether anyone here takes the above positions. From this thread, it doesn't seem like anyone does. Posters are ok with some types of metagaming and perhaps not ok with others, depending on context, system, play culture. Thus it might be more helpful to look at specific types of metagaming and when and why they might be problems.

Per my earlier example, I would guess that trad players are generally ok with the out of character knowledge that they are playing a published adventure, but still prefer for their characters to have plausible hooks into the story in order to "suspend disbelief." And definitely would not be ok with anyone at the table besides the gm reading the adventure book itself.
 

pemerton

Legend
Thats a tough spot to be in. The encounter and escape is a classic literary event. However, I think when you script it in an RPG, it loses some trust factor from the players. When I am creating an adventure this is something I avoid if at all possible. Any conflict should be faced on its own value. If the baddie gets away, they better be able to do it through ability and good set up and not fiat. The better approach is to write for both instances of bad guy escape and death. The story continues based on how the dice roll. YMMV.
There are (at least) two aspects to this.

One is purely mechanical - does the resolution system of the game create an opportunity for the escape to happen? In Classic Traveller, the answer is "yes" - if the character moves out of the last range band for "very long" range then they have escaped the encounter. In Prince Valiant, the answer can also be "yes" - the last time I did this it was opposed Riding vs Riding to see if the PC could ride down the fleeing NPC (the player's roll beat mine, and so the answer was "yes").

The other is about expectations/practices around how dramatic events are established - are twists and setbacks going to be scripted in advance (which is what @hawkeyefan and @James Gasik have experienced)? Or do we rely on the resolution system to throw them up? At least since the DL modules, a mainstream approach to D&D adventure prep has assumed the first answer. As @hawkeyefan has noted, there are RPGs that deliberately set out to ensure that the second answer can be provided reliably and effectively. I think he has in mind Apocalypse World, Blades in the Dark and games that those have influenced; RPGs I think of in the same general ballpark are AW and its offshoots, Burning Wheel, HeroWars/Quest, and my PbtA-ish approach to Classic Traveller.
 

payn

Legend
There are (at least) two aspects to this.

One is purely mechanical - does the resolution system of the game create an opportunity for the escape to happen? In Classic Traveller, the answer is "yes" - if the character moves out of the last range band for "very long" range then they have escaped the encounter. In Prince Valiant, the answer can also be "yes" - the last time I did this it was opposed Riding vs Riding to see if the PC could ride down the fleeing NPC (the player's roll beat mine, and so the answer was "yes").

The other is about expectations/practices around how dramatic events are established - are twists and setbacks going to be scripted in advance (which is what @hawkeyefan and @James Gasik have experienced)? Or do we rely on the resolution system to throw them up? At least since the DL modules, a mainstream approach to D&D adventure prep has assumed the first answer. As @hawkeyefan has noted, there are RPGs that deliberately set out to ensure that the second answer can be provided reliably and effectively. I think he has in mind Apocalypse World, Blades in the Dark and games that those have influenced; RPGs I think of in the same general ballpark are AW and its offshoots, Burning Wheel, HeroWars/Quest, and my PbtA-ish approach to Classic Traveller.
I was thinking in terms of the character escaping the encounter no matter what because its predetermined for the story that they do. I know many mechanical systems can determine this. I recall a Pathfinder adventure I ran had three witches trying to steal an item form the party. They had very little in the way of challenging the party, but loaded in get away abilities. After the 3rd or fourth encounter the PCs were just done with it. So, there is something to be said about escaping characters and diminishing returns.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
When I DM, there are things I want to happen. So I try to set up events so that is the likely outcome. But sometimes things don't go according to plan. What a DM I admired once told me is that if that happens, you need to step back and look at the big picture.

If the players walk in and ROFLstomp the BBEG inside of two combat rounds and prevent him from escaping, you have two options. You can either appeal to the players to accept a "Comic Book Death", ie, "no one could survive that!" and then trot out the villain later to continue the campaign.

Or you can ask yourself what the consequences will be. Did the BBEG have allies? Was he the minion of a greater power? Are there rivals of his who will now look towards your players and realize they are more of a threat than previously thought, and up their timetables?

The DM literally has a whole world to draw on for challenges and new enemies. If your Ranger insists on shooting anyone who has a "villain speech" to end their monologuing, fine, they might miss out on an important clue.

And certainly, no one will ever show him quarter or mercy.
 

pemerton

Legend
I think the point that @pemerton was making and why he cited these examples from my play was because in both cases, ultimately the GM did what he did to ensure the game elements he had prepared were preserved, and that the players largely had to accept them as "part of the game" or "that's what the adventure says happens".
Right.

In the context of this thread, I'm not saying anything about whether or not the GM is metagaming. Or doing a good or bad job. I'm talking about players making decisions for out-of-character reasons. And in these examples of escape (your hag example, and @James Gasik's dragon example) the players' action declarations in response to the escape are shaped by the players' understanding that "this is what the adventure says happens". (I think the decision-making structure of your Folk Hero example doesn't so obviously involve OOC decision-making; but maybe I've missed something?)

@Manbearcat's example around not splitting the party is another example. Instead of basing action declarations on "what would my character do?", the players factor in metagame understandings and expectations about the necessity for party play, PC synergies, etc. In fact, in another recent thread on PvP I suggested that that sort of metagaming is typically necessary if PvP is to be reconciled with party play:

PvP in various forms - PCs fighting, PCs binding one another to oaths (so as to resolve clashes of agenda), PCs pursuing different or even opposing agendas, etc - has been a fairly common part of my RPGing for decades.

I don't agree that it can only work in short arcs. But in the context of a game which is based around party play - as is the case for many RPGs - then the players have to come up with various sorts of self-limiting devices to make sure the conflict doesn't make the party completely fall apart. As someone mentioned upthread, super-hero comics provide a bit of a template for this.

The Classic Traveller campaign that my group has been playing over the past few years is less party-based than typical FRPG play, but it still depends on the PCs being crew and passengers on the same starship(s). This means that some PCs make loans to others to help pay their fares that would be implausible from a purely in-character perspective. The decision-making has a heavy metagame component, of the players knowing that this is necessary to keep the various characters within the "locus" of play - Classic Traveller doesn't really have the mechanical resources to produce satisfactory play with one PC being at one end of the galaxy and the rest at the other end of it.
 

pemerton

Legend
It would also be worthwhile asking whether anyone here takes the above positions.
Well, I take the position that getting rid of the metagaming described in the OP requires departing from the traditional approaches to "adventure hooks" that the OP describes!

And definitely would not be ok with anyone at the table besides the gm reading the adventure book itself.
This seems to be more closely related to cheating - that is, getting unfair access to information that is meant to be hidden from the game participants - than it does to metagaming. Or in the context of a module like Dead Gods or Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, where the players' decisions make no difference to what happens next, rather than "cheating" the concern might be about some form of "spoilers".
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, players hate recurring villains. As cool as they are from a GM's perspective, players just go, "wonderful. There's this guy with evil intent, tons of resources, and now he's going to strike when we least expect it. And we'll have to take it, because we don't (or can't) bring the fight to him."

I was playing a VtM game a thousand years ago, when my character was attacked by a vampiric contract killer. His Clan was known for being methodical and fanatical about taking out their targets. When I managed to defend myself, he tried to run away.

I used an ability I had that let me attack him, even though I could no longer see him, and basically turned him into smoldering ash. The Storyteller threw a fit, and ended the game right there, asking me if it was really necessary to "power game" his NPC and end his story right there.

"If your story is to threaten me with Destruction, and then have my enemy run away to try again, when I might not get so lucky to defend myself, then maybe I should just hand you my character sheet."

What we both, at that time, failed to see, was he was trying to tell an interesting story, and I thought he was trying to kill my character unfairly. Trust is an important issue here- if you can't trust the person running the game, you probably shouldn't be playing in it.

But by the same token, trust, once lost, will never be regained, so you need to be very clear with your players what you are up.

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share another story. My friend Garrett invited me to his house to play D&D with his group. We used to play a lot back in the day, but he now lived an hour away. I was having fun, but then during the third session, we were in town, and we split apart to investigate various things. One by one, he pulled groups into another room for like an hour at a time. The players would come back and not talk about what happened, but they were grinning like fools.

Then it was our turn. Mysterious armed men appeared in our path and tried to take us out. I dropped a Fog Cloud and ran like hell, using Invisibility (I was a Trickery Cleric). Then I, along with our party Wizard, cobbled together some disguises, and ran for the one place we believed was safe- the tower of our Wizard ally. We were 4th level, by the way.

As we evaded the armed men, a Wizard tried to hit my ally with Enervation, a spell that had a 25% chance to instantly kill him! But that didn't happen, and we escaped.

The other players looked OUTRAGED. This whole escapade took two hours. Garrett admitted that his whole plan was to kill all the PC's, then begin an adventure in the afterlife. Rather than just tell us this, he went through this whole scenario, which I "ruined" by refusing to die.

Now he said he'd have to completely change his campaign. I looked at the Wizard player (who was my ride) and said "I have a better solution. We won't be coming back next weekend." And we left.

If the DM had trusted us, his players, it wouldn't have gone down like that, but instead, he decided to try and railroad us, then act like it was somehow "our fault" that he failed.
 

Haiku Elvis

Adventurer
Right.

In the context of this thread, I'm not saying anything about whether or not the GM is metagaming. Or doing a good or bad job. I'm talking about players making decisions for out-of-character reasons. And in these examples of escape (your hag example, and @James Gasik's dragon example) the players' action declarations in response to the escape are shaped by the players' understanding that "this is what the adventure says happens". (I think the decision-making structure of your Folk Hero example doesn't so obviously involve OOC decision-making; but maybe I've missed something?)

@Manbearcat's example around not splitting the party is another example. Instead of basing action declarations on "what would my character do?", the players factor in metagame understandings and expectations about the necessity for party play, PC synergies, etc. In fact, in another recent thread on PvP I suggested that that sort of metagaming is typically necessary if PvP is to be reconciled with party play:



The Classic Traveller campaign that my group has been playing over the past few years is less party-based than typical FRPG play, but it still depends on the PCs being crew and passengers on the same starship(s). This means that some PCs make loans to others to help pay their fares that would be implausible from a purely in-character perspective. The decision-making has a heavy metagame component, of the players knowing that this is necessary to keep the various characters within the "locus" of play - Classic Traveller doesn't really have the mechanical resources to produce satisfactory play with one PC being at one end of the galaxy and the rest at the other end of it.
I would put things like this (party splitting, avoiding PvP knowing other players don't like it etc) as remembering you are playing a game (with other people) rather than metagaming.

To my mind metagaming makes me think of using outside knowledge the character wouldn't know to get an in game advantage.

Of course if you made your character act a certain way they may not normally do to avoid player disagreement and conflict because you know you'll need one of them to give you a lift home after the next session is that meta-meta gaming?
 
Last edited:

pemerton

Legend
I would put things like this (party splitting, avoiding PvP knowing other players don't like it etc) as remembering you are playing a game (with other people) rather than metagaming.

To my mind metagaming makes me think of using outside knowledge the character wouldn't know to get an in game advantage.
I don't associate "metagaming" with "getting an advantage". But anyway, in the OP I tried to make it clear what I had in mind by also referring to OOC knowledge as a basis for decision-making.

Of course if you made you character act a certain way they may not normally do to avoid player disagreement and conflict because you know you'll need one of them to give you a lift home after the next session is that meta-meta gaming?
It's certainly OOC, but I'm not sure it's metagaming as the outside knowledge is about broader social dynamics!

Whereas in the OP examples, or the examples of not-splitting the party, the outside knowledge is still knowledge about the demands of the game play.
 

payn

Legend
Yeah, players hate recurring villains. As cool as they are from a GM's perspective, players just go, "wonderful. There's this guy with evil intent, tons of resources, and now he's going to strike when we least expect it. And we'll have to take it, because we don't (or can't) bring the fight to him."

I was playing a VtM game a thousand years ago, when my character was attacked by a vampiric contract killer. His Clan was known for being methodical and fanatical about taking out their targets. When I managed to defend myself, he tried to run away.

I used an ability I had that let me attack him, even though I could no longer see him, and basically turned him into smoldering ash. The Storyteller threw a fit, and ended the game right there, asking me if it was really necessary to "power game" his NPC and end his story right there.

"If your story is to threaten me with Destruction, and then have my enemy run away to try again, when I might not get so lucky to defend myself, then maybe I should just hand you my character sheet."

What we both, at that time, failed to see, was he was trying to tell an interesting story, and I thought he was trying to kill my character unfairly. Trust is an important issue here- if you can't trust the person running the game, you probably shouldn't be playing in it.

But by the same token, trust, once lost, will never be regained, so you need to be very clear with your players what you are up.

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share another story. My friend Garrett invited me to his house to play D&D with his group. We used to play a lot back in the day, but he now lived an hour away. I was having fun, but then during the third session, we were in town, and we split apart to investigate various things. One by one, he pulled groups into another room for like an hour at a time. The players would come back and not talk about what happened, but they were grinning like fools.

Then it was our turn. Mysterious armed men appeared in our path and tried to take us out. I dropped a Fog Cloud and ran like hell, using Invisibility (I was a Trickery Cleric). Then I, along with our party Wizard, cobbled together some disguises, and ran for the one place we believed was safe- the tower of our Wizard ally. We were 4th level, by the way.

As we evaded the armed men, a Wizard tried to hit my ally with Enervation, a spell that had a 25% chance to instantly kill him! But that didn't happen, and we escaped.

The other players looked OUTRAGED. This whole escapade took two hours. Garrett admitted that his whole plan was to kill all the PC's, then begin an adventure in the afterlife. Rather than just tell us this, he went through this whole scenario, which I "ruined" by refusing to die.

Now he said he'd have to completely change his campaign. I looked at the Wizard player (who was my ride) and said "I have a better solution. We won't be coming back next weekend." And we left.

If the DM had trusted us, his players, it wouldn't have gone down like that, but instead, he decided to try and railroad us, then act like it was somehow "our fault" that he failed.
Right, if you are going to follow a literary trope, its best not to find a mechanical way to jack in the box it on your players.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top