The Meta-game

84 posts / 0 new
Last post
I've seen an interesting trend on some other threads around here discussing the meta-game.  I'd rather this particular thread doesn't turn into a war like the other one has but I wanted to get some views on the topic none-the-less.


I'm not terribly invested in this topic and I doubt its quite as much of a hot button as the other thread but I'll go ahead and kick it off with the following:


I would posit that meta-gaming does exist.  Not that it is easily identifiable, or that it can be 'proven', a little on that.  To prove something is deductive, which can only be done within the context of artificial languages such as logic or mathematics.  So I would prefer we all avoid using statements like 'prove they are metagaming' as they are standards that cannot be met.


To infer something, is to take a few facts and draw a conclusion from it, otherwise known as a hypothesis.  Theories are a broader inference drawn from a collection of facts and tested hypotheses.  So, just to get things straight, we will be talking theoretically here.


So, I will posit that the metagame does exist.  It is not easily identifiable, and that it is very difficult to adjudicate.  I would describe metagaming as any event wherein a player uses knowledge that would be unavailable to the character to make a game impacting decision.


An example of the preceding would be a player using his knowledge of illusion spells to make decisions about how his level 1 fighter who has never encountered magic before would attempt to counter the effect.  I will make no judgement as to whether this is good or bad behavior.


Thoughts?                 
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
I do believe meta-gaming exists. A good example of it from the SAGA CR was that a party of PCs was faced with a gully, and a bridge raised on the other side. They couldn't get across there, but one player reasoned that there must be a level on the other side to lower the bridge, becuase the GM wouldn't make an unsolveable problem. That's metagaming, to me.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
Show
Star Wars Minis has a home here http://www.bloomilk.com/ and Star Wars Saga Edition RPG has a home here http://thesagacontinues.createaforum.com/index.php
Show
141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
I've seen an interesting trend on some other threads around here discussing the meta-game.  I'd rather this particular thread doesn't turn into a war like the other one has but I wanted to get some views on the topic none-the-less.


I'm not terribly invested in this topic and I doubt its quite as much of a hot button as the other thread but I'll go ahead and kick it off with the following:


I would posit that meta-gaming does exist.  Not that it is easily identifiable, or that it can be 'proven', a little on that.  To prove something is deductive, which can only be done within the context of artificial languages such as logic or mathematics.  So I would prefer we all avoid using statements like 'prove they are metagaming' as they are standards that cannot be met.


To infer something, is to take a few facts and draw a conclusion from it, otherwise known as a hypothesis.  Theories are a broader inference drawn from a collection of facts and tested hypotheses.  So, just to get things straight, we will be talking theoretically here.


So, I will posit that the metagame does exist.  It is not easily identifiable, and that it is very difficult to adjudicate.  I would describe metagaming as any event wherein a player uses knowledge that would be unavailable to the character to make a game impacting decision.


An example of the preceding would be a player using his knowledge of illusion spells to make decisions about how his level 1 fighter who has never encountered magic before would attempt to counter the effect.  I will make no judgement as to whether this is good or bad behavior.


Thoughts?                 



My very first encounters with meta gaming came straight from the DMG of 3.5. In it, it discussed the concept and that it should be discouraged. Over time, I have only found that I agree more and more with it. Though, I certainly and wholeheartedly agree that you can not eliminate it altogether from the game.

I do my best to encourage roleplaying and getting in the mind of the character you have created. After all, that is what we're there to do. Roleplay.  Become someone else. Think in a new light not our own. And get sweet loot and powers from doing that.

You can never truly prove someone is metagaming, but if you can get them to at least speak freely about why their character would do something, then you are roleplaying and are probably making progress towards even deeper roleplaying.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I do believe meta-gaming exists. A good example of it from the SAGA CR was that a party of PCs was faced with a gully, and a bridge raised on the other side. They couldn't get across there, but one player reasoned that there must be a level on the other side to lower the bridge, becuase the GM wouldn't make an unsolveable problem. That's metagaming, to me.



I assume you meant Lever to lower the bridge? I dont see that as metagaming - that is simply logical reasoning of the player that his character will make use of - however if you are going with the idea that acts of logical reasoning require a DC check to see if the PC reaches the conclusion that there must be a leaver to lower the bridge then yes it would be Metagaming - and it would also be Rules overkill on the part of the D&D Game and a radical departure from older editions of the game.

For me metagaming would be the Player knowing that there is going to be hundreds of trillions of gold pieces worth of diamonds to be found in an impact crater and thus concluding that his refugee Farmer/first level warrior should go to the Great Crater and sieze control of its wealth unmined.
The Citadel Megadungeon: http://yellowdingosappendix.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/the-citadel-mega-dungeon-now-with-room.html
I do believe meta-gaming exists. A good example of it from the SAGA CR was that a party of PCs was faced with a gully, and a bridge raised on the other side. They couldn't get across there, but one player reasoned that there must be a level on the other side to lower the bridge, becuase the GM wouldn't make an unsolveable problem. That's metagaming, to me.



I assume you meant Lever to lower the bridge? I dont see that as metagaming - that is simply logical reasoning of the player that his character will make use of - however if you are going with the idea that acts of logical reasoning require a DC check to see if the PC reaches the conclusion that there must be a leaver to lower the bridge then yes it would be Metagaming - and it would also be Rules overkill on the part of the D&D Game and a radical departure from older editions of the game.

For me metagaming would be the Player knowing that there is going to be hundreds of trillions of gold pieces worth of diamonds to be found in an impact crater and thus concluding that his refugee Farmer/first level warrior should go to the Great Crater and sieze control of its wealth unmined.



In my game, I'd ask what the intelligence score of the character is. If it's below ten, he probably can't reason that well. Thus, bam. Meta gaming. Try again, player. :P xD lmfao

That said, an important part of the metagaming post by Corran, is that the player based his decision on what the DM would or would not do. Not through his own reasoning that it makes sense for a lever to be on the other side. He knows the lever is there because he knows the DM wouldn't make it impassable. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I do believe meta-gaming exists. A good example of it from the SAGA CR was that a party of PCs was faced with a gully, and a bridge raised on the other side. They couldn't get across there, but one player reasoned that there must be a level on the other side to lower the bridge, becuase the GM wouldn't make an unsolveable problem. That's metagaming, to me.



I assume you meant Lever to lower the bridge? I dont see that as metagaming - that is simply logical reasoning of the player that his character will make use of - however if you are going with the idea that acts of logical reasoning require a DC check to see if the PC reaches the conclusion that there must be a leaver to lower the bridge then yes it would be Metagaming - and it would also be Rules overkill on the part of the D&D Game and a radical departure from older editions of the game.

For me metagaming would be the Player knowing that there is going to be hundreds of trillions of gold pieces worth of diamonds to be found in an impact crater and thus concluding that his refugee Farmer/first level warrior should go to the Great Crater and sieze control of its wealth unmined.



Lol, I don't know that either of these are metagaming.  Thats why this is so hard (impossible?) to pin down, buts its nice we all agree, in theory anyway.  A refreshing change from the other thread, lol.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
It exists to the extent that some people believe in it, I think. It's like Santa Claus. And as with Santa Claus, I stopped believing in metagaming a long time ago. Now I view it as a word that means, "I don't like the way you game."
It exists to the extent that some people believe in it, I think. It's like Santa Claus. And as with Santa Claus, I stopped believing in metagaming a long time ago. Now I view it as a word that means, "I don't like the way you game."



Is it that you stopped believing that it exists or do you just think people who most often point it out are using it for self-interested reasons?  Which I would tend to agree with if you did.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
I do believe meta-gaming exists. A good example of it from the SAGA CR was that a party of PCs was faced with a gully, and a bridge raised on the other side. They couldn't get across there, but one player reasoned that there must be a level on the other side to lower the bridge, becuase the GM wouldn't make an unsolveable problem. That's metagaming, to me.



Only because of the way it was phrased.  If the bridge goes up, and is intended to function as a bridge, there has to be SOME way to lower it.  That's just common sense.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Is it that you stopped believing that it exists or do you just think people who most often point it out are using it for self-interested reasons?  Which I would tend to agree with if you did.



Little bit of both. I guess it would be more clear if I said, "I stopped believing it exists as a thing I should care about and try to control." But you got that self-interested thing right in my opinion.
It exists to the extent that some people believe in it, I think. It's like Santa Claus. And as with Santa Claus, I stopped believing in metagaming a long time ago. Now I view it as a word that means, "I don't like the way you game."



That's a line of thinking I don't understand.

Meta in the sense of what we're discussing is when the player is aware that he is playing a game and he is using that knowledge and the knowledge he has of outside game forces (usually his knowledge of the DM) to manipulate the game (for good or ill).

The ideal we reach for when playing the game is that the self awareness is removed or so lessened that for a time, the player can forget he is actually playing a game as much as possible. It's impossible to do it totally and possibly kind of dangerous to be able to do that entirely, but the more everyone can buy into the illusion of the game, the greater the experience. Escapism is the primary concern here, IMO.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Is it that you stopped believing that it exists or do you just think people who most often point it out are using it for self-interested reasons?  Which I would tend to agree with if you did.



Little bit of both. I guess it would be more clear if I said, "I stopped believing it exists as a thing I should care about and try to control." But you got that self-interested thing right in my opinion.



I think the problem with trying to control and adjudicate it has to do with the fact that the DM has virtually no way of recognizing a violation so all enforcement becomes arbitray and hence unequal.  I also prefer not to arbitrate it, it is to muddy a concept to have proper justice.
...and in the ancient voice of a million squirrels the begotten chittered "You have set upon yourselves a great and noble task, dare you step further, what say you! What say you!"
It comes up for my group a lot because we take turns DMing, and often discuss our campaign ideas before the game starts. I've often run into situations in the current campaign where I know something out of character but not in character. This gets problematic if whatever I know is relevant to what the party is trying to do. Our usual solution is to have me roll a knowledge check to see how much of what I know can be passed on to the character. That's not entirely satisfactory, but neither is having me be silent or letting me completely spill the beans. We try to avoid giving away too much to future players like that, but when it happens we have to deal with it somehow.
It comes up for my group a lot because we take turns DMing, and often discuss our campaign ideas before the game starts. I've often run into situations in the current campaign where I know something out of character but not in character. This gets problematic if whatever I know is relevant to what the party is trying to do. Our usual solution is to have me roll a knowledge check to see how much of what I know can be passed on to the character. That's not entirely satisfactory, but neither is having me be silent or letting me completely spill the beans. We try to avoid giving away too much to future players like that, but when it happens we have to deal with it somehow.



Out of curiosity, why is it so hard to just remain silent when you know your character doesn't know it?

Of the few times I've played on the player side, I never had an issue with separating my knowledge from my character's. I'm just curious as to why it seems to be a difficult concept for some.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Out of curiosity, why is it so hard to just remain silent when you know your character doesn't know it?



It's difficult if the info is something that I, and my character, might have known or thought up if I hadn't been told beforehand. Sometimes I do just stay quiet, but I'm the Bard of the group and kind of expected to help solve certain types of problems. 
Out of curiosity, why is it so hard to just remain silent when you know your character doesn't know it?



It's difficult if the info is something that I, and my character, might have known or thought up if I hadn't been told beforehand. Sometimes I do just stay quiet, but I'm the Bard of the group and kind of expected to help solve certain types of problems. 



Ah, okay. I think I see. You know the character could have thought it up on his own, or even you could have, but because you knew beforehand, it didn't really feel like you got the chance to do that, and is thus meta gaming, or even perhaps cheating on some level?

That makes sense. It would be a hard predicament to be in. And I would lean more towards viewing that as meta gaming. But, as a bard, wouldn't you be able to come up with more than just that solution? If you come up with multiple solutions, would it not make sense that the personality of the bard might lean towards a different solution other than the obvious best one? Just a suggestion.

At any rate, you've answered my question. Thanks. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
If you come up with multiple solutions, would it not make sense that the personality of the bard might lean towards a different solution other than the obvious best one?



Yeah, it just depends on the situation. I have recommended things that I didn't think were optimal out of character, at times. Far as that goes, my bard believes several things to be true about the D&D world that I know are not correct. I designed him this way.

The other way in which this comes up is if I know the history or details of something because of reading D&D-based books. In that case my bard, who reads a lot, might know as well, and the DM just has me make a check for history or religion or whatever. 
If you know something as a player and can fathom an in-game reason for knowing it that makes the game interesting, use it, I say.
If you know something as a player and can fathom an in-game reason for knowing it that makes the game interesting, use it, I say.



In most cases, I agree. The DM expects me to bring my out of character knowledge of mathematics to bear on some of the puzzles she gives us, for instance. However, if what I know is the equivalent of reading the DM's notes, using it freely might not be fair play.
If you come up with multiple solutions, would it not make sense that the personality of the bard might lean towards a different solution other than the obvious best one?



Yeah, it just depends on the situation. I have recommended things that I didn't think were optimal out of character, at times. Far as that goes, my bard believes several things to be true about the D&D world that I know are not correct. I designed him this way.

The other way in which this comes up is if I know the history or details of something because of reading D&D-based books. In that case my bard, who reads a lot, might know as well, and the DM just has me make a check for history or religion or whatever. 



As far as the books go, I generally allow what's written in them (fluff material and setting information, mainly) to be used by the PCs, provided the character has the proper numbers to actually have the knowledge. Or perhaps written into his past.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
If it relates to anything I researched in making the character, she lets me just say he knows it.
However, if what I know is the equivalent of reading the DM's notes, using it freely might not be fair play.



As long as you make the game interesting, read all my notes if you like and use it. There's no real way to really gain a significant advantage like that in location-in-motion play. It's too mutable.

As long as you make the game interesting, read all my notes if you like and use it. There's no real way to really gain a significant advantage like that in location-in-motion play. It's too mutable.



I'm aware of this, lol. But we're using a play style where there is a significant amount of preparation done by the DM that the players shouldn't know about beforehand. I'd prefer it if this thread didn't turn into a discussion of why some people do or do not enjoy that type of game.
I'd prefer it if this thread didn't turn into a discussion of why some people do or do not enjoy that type of game.



Wasn't my intent.
Yeah, I know. It's just the direction every other thread seems to go. At any rate, it may be that most or all negative effects of metagaming are nullified by the way you run your games, which would explain why it works for you not to worry about it.
At any rate, it may be that most or all negative effects of metagaming are nullified by the way you run your games, which would explain why it works for you not to worry about it.



That's a good point. Something for me to think about: Did I arrive at the style in reaction to not wanting to worry about metagaming anymore or is it just a beneficial side effect?

Could I see some more examples of when metagaming affects the game negatively? And maybe some that can impact the game positively?
An example of metagaming being (probably) beneficial...

When I see the DM dangling several plot hooks that appear to lead in one direction, then my character will either latch onto one of them or find some other reason to go in that direction - even if it's somewhat out-of-character for him. 

This doesn't tend to come up in the games I'm in with Iserith as DM, because he doesn't dangle many plot hooks.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
Well, a positive one is easy. I didn't think of this; it was on some DMing blog post I read, but when you use an Action Point, it's pretty much guaranteed to be a meta-game decision. You know out of character that you have an action point, and you know when a milestone will be achieved. You make a cost/benefit analysis on spending it. None of this is likely to be in-character, and the reasoning for making it work IC would be tortured. It's assumed to be an abstraction of in-game details that we don't track, perhaps, but don't ask what those details are.

(Okay, to play devil's advocate, I tend to make up rules for action point use that match the personality and combat style of the character, and then follow them. But there I'm kind of using IC reasoning to make OOC decisions, which is reverse meta-gaming I guess. So...sub-gaming? I got in trouble for that sort of thing in a Minimus campaign where my character was based on Dr. House and I started reasoning like House out of character.)

I'm not immediately thinking of another negative example, but I can give two examples of another player criticising me for thinking IC instead of OOC. In one case, I was the DM, and some creature had ongoing fire damage. I decided that it didn't attack or anything on its turn, because it was preoccupied with being on fire, and trying to stop drop and roll. A player thought this was stupid, because the rules allow you to take normal actions when you've got ongoing damage. With the experience I have now, I would have house-ruled a +2 to the saving throw for stopping, dropping and rolling. In any case, I didn't back down, because I thought I was portraying the monster accurately.

In the other instance, the wizard had put a cloud of daggers on the board, and the half-orc fighter charged through it to get to an enemy, not caring about the damage. This was reasonable for that particular half-orc and consistent with how he had been portrayed. My human ranger, however, took extra movement to go around the daggers, even though it meant not getting to the enemy that turn and even though the amount of damage was negligible and I had plenty of hitpoints. Why? Because, I reasoned, my ranger doesn't know the damage number, he just knows it's a freaking cloud of daggers and he doesn't want to get cut. Again, I was criticised for this decision. In both cases, I think the way the other player thought I should have reasoned would have constituted meta-gaming. It wouldn't have been terribly wrong or game-breaking to go that way, but I think the choices I made were better roleplaying.
When I see the DM dangling several plot hooks that appear to lead in one direction, then my character will either latch onto one of them or find some other reason to go in that direction - even if it's somewhat out-of-character for him.



I would definitely not meta-game in this fashion. On the other hand, my group tends to know beforehand what type of adventure we're going to be participating in and pick characters who will want to participate. 
The most obvious 'good metagaming' example I can give is the new PC.  "Here's a guy you've never seen before, you barely know him, but you're inclined to let him come along, trust him, and treat him as an equal, because otherwise his player will spend 3 hours twiddling his thumbs."
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
The most obvious 'good metagaming' example I can give is the new PC.  "Here's a guy you've never seen before, you barely know him, but you're inclined to let him come along, trust him, and treat him as an equal, because otherwise his player will spend 3 hours twiddling his thumbs."



Eh...I would instead work to make that an in-game roleplaying situation. "You meet a man/woman in the dungeon..." and from there I would describe them, let the player introduce the character to the group, and from there they have to work out in-game reasons or make character decisions about how they treat the new character. It's entirely possible that the new guy may not be accepted by the old characters and that presents an interesting situation for the players. Much better than the meta game solution you presented, IMO.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
The most obvious 'good metagaming' example I can give is the new PC.  "Here's a guy you've never seen before, you barely know him, but you're inclined to let him come along, trust him, and treat him as an equal, because otherwise his player will spend 3 hours twiddling his thumbs."



Eh...I would instead work to make that an in-game roleplaying situation. "You meet a man/woman in the dungeon..." and from there I would describe them, let the player introduce the character to the group, and from there they have to work out in-game reasons or make character decisions about how they treat the new character. It's entirely possible that the new guy may not be accepted by the old characters and that presents an interesting situation for the players. Much better than the meta game solution you presented, IMO.



A matter of perspective and personal preference.  I would definitely rather just get the new character involved quickly, because we're all here to play the game.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
The most obvious 'good metagaming' example I can give is the new PC.  "Here's a guy you've never seen before, you barely know him, but you're inclined to let him come along, trust him, and treat him as an equal, because otherwise his player will spend 3 hours twiddling his thumbs."



Haha, yeah. Good example. In this case, because I don't like to play out scenes to which we already know the outcome (new PC joins party), we start with a premise that the PCs already know this person and answer questions as to how. Then off we go.
Eh...I would instead work to make that an in-game roleplaying situation. "You meet a man/woman in the dungeon..." and from there I would describe them, let the player introduce the character to the group, and from there they have to work out in-game reasons or make character decisions about how they treat the new character. It's entirely possible that the new guy may not be accepted by the old characters and that presents an interesting situation for the players. Much better than the meta game solution you presented, IMO.


While I always encourage my players to take time to roleplay their characters and act out their thoughts in the game, I have a hard time encouraging them to act that way when doing so would cause the new PC to be completely scorned or snubbed.

Usually, we try to find a compromise, because while staying in character is good... Spending four hours grilling the new guy because you continue the dungeon crawl gets old very, very fast.

On a few occasions, I've thrown up my hands and declared that the party has taken the time to thoroughly question the new character and that now we are going to continue the adventure and we will be skipping all the sharing of information that everyone already knows. It's a solution I hate having to resort to, but there are occasions when it's the only thing keeping the game from taking three times longer than it should.
Gunmage, a homebrew arcane striker. (Heroic Tier playtest ready.) GDocs link. (More up to date.)
The most obvious 'good metagaming' example I can give is the new PC.  "Here's a guy you've never seen before, you barely know him, but you're inclined to let him come along, trust him, and treat him as an equal, because otherwise his player will spend 3 hours twiddling his thumbs."



Eh...I would instead work to make that an in-game roleplaying situation. "You meet a man/woman in the dungeon..." and from there I would describe them, let the player introduce the character to the group, and from there they have to work out in-game reasons or make character decisions about how they treat the new character. It's entirely possible that the new guy may not be accepted by the old characters and that presents an interesting situation for the players. Much better than the meta game solution you presented, IMO.



A matter of perspective and personal preference.  I would definitely rather just get the new character involved quickly, because we're all here to play the game.



I never said stop playing the game or slow the game down. But then again, I approach the game from the aspect of "every part of the session is the adventure. From being in the shop in the middle of town to the gritty dim dungeon room in the middle of mount doom". Thus, everything is important.

Eh...I would instead work to make that an in-game roleplaying situation. "You meet a man/woman in the dungeon..." and from there I would describe them, let the player introduce the character to the group, and from there they have to work out in-game reasons or make character decisions about how they treat the new character. It's entirely possible that the new guy may not be accepted by the old characters and that presents an interesting situation for the players. Much better than the meta game solution you presented, IMO.


While I always encourage my players to take time to roleplay their characters and act out their thoughts in the game, I have a hard time encouraging them to act that way when doing so would cause the new PC to be completely scorned or snubbed.

Usually, we try to find a compromise, because while staying in character is good... Spending four hours grilling the new guy because you continue the dungeon crawl gets old very, very fast.

On a few occasions, I've thrown up my hands and declared that the party has taken the time to thoroughly question the new character and that now we are going to continue the adventure and we will be skipping all the sharing of information that everyone already knows. It's a solution I hate having to resort to, but there are occasions when it's the only thing keeping the game from taking three times longer than it should.



The idea isn't to make the new character completely scorned or snubbed (though that's a possibility), but to let each character react naturally to the new comer.

As for getting on with the adventure, in my scenario, the players would still press forward with whatever it was they were doing, and they are allowed to make determinations about the new guy based on his actions, decisions, open speeches, etc. while trying to accomplish the goal. They don't all stop and stand around for a few hours in the middle of the dungeon to talk while the orcs are patrolling or random ass monster roams around. The character developments and decisions are made as the adventure progresses.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
An example of metagaming being (probably) beneficial...

When I see the DM dangling several plot hooks that appear to lead in one direction, then my character will either latch onto one of them or find some other reason to go in that direction - even if it's somewhat out-of-character for him. 

This doesn't tend to come up in the games I'm in with Iserith as DM, because he doesn't dangle many plot hooks.



You know, I never thought about that as metagaming. I dislike plot hooks (as you know) because of pretty much this reason - in many games, we don't take the hook, we don't game tonight. The real decision to take the hook could very easily be by the player, if the hook is not compelling enough for the character. Huh. (Fix: Start with action derived from the emergent fiction, fill in the gaps between last session and this with shared storytelling.)

Well, a positive one is easy. I didn't think of this; it was on some DMing blog post I read, but when you use an Action Point, it's pretty much guaranteed to be a meta-game decision. You know out of character that you have an action point, and you know when a milestone will be achieved. You make a cost/benefit analysis on spending it. None of this is likely to be in-character, and the reasoning for making it work IC would be tortured. It's assumed to be an abstraction of in-game details that we don't track, perhaps, but don't ask what those details are.



Yes, it's no wonder why a lot of people don't like action points. If you don't like "metagaming" or "plot coupons," then action points are a no-no. It's a dissociative mechanic - though as you do it's very easy to create fiction to make it more palatable to those who don't like dissociative mechanics.

I'm not immediately thinking of another negative example, but I can give two examples of another player criticising me for thinking IC instead of OOC. In one case, I was the DM, and some creature had ongoing fire damage. I decided that it didn't attack or anything on its turn, because it was preoccupied with being on fire, and trying to stop drop and roll. A player thought this was stupid, because the rules allow you to take normal actions when you've got ongoing damage. With the experience I have now, I would have house-ruled a +2 to the saving throw for stopping, dropping and rolling. In any case, I didn't back down, because I thought I was portraying the monster accurately.



You made the right call in my opinion. That makes the scene cooler. Narratively, it could be rolling around on the ground while it does its attacks and movement and whatnot since you can just create a layer of fiction over the actions being taken, but why would a player complain about giving them a de facto stun effect? Lame. That's like the kid in class who reminded the teacher she forgot to give everybody homework. Nobody liked that kid.

In the other instance, the wizard had put a cloud of daggers on the board, and the half-orc fighter charged through it to get to an enemy, not caring about the damage. This was reasonable for that particular half-orc and consistent with how he had been portrayed. My human ranger, however, took extra movement to go around the daggers, even though it meant not getting to the enemy that turn and even though the amount of damage was negligible and I had plenty of hitpoints. Why? Because, I reasoned, my ranger doesn't know the damage number, he just knows it's a freaking cloud of daggers and he doesn't want to get cut. Again, I was criticised for this decision. In both cases, I think the way the other player thought I should have reasoned would have constituted meta-gaming. It wouldn't have been terribly wrong or game-breaking to go that way, but I think the choices I made were better roleplaying.



You made a fine call here, too. I could see it the other way. As a player, I consider my hit points to be currency I spend to do cool stuff. If I have to provoke, walk through fire, jump off an inadvisable height, or eat some poisoned fruit - gimme my damage and let me get to what I want to do.
As a player, I consider my hit points to be currency I spend to do cool stuff. If I have to provoke, walk through fire, jump off an inadvisable height, or eat some poisoned fruit - gimme my damage and let me get to what I want to do.



The character I'm currently playing might call it that way, but it would be based on a sort of stoic analysis of the need, which is different from the half-orc's indifference to pain and belief in his own invincibility. Not that there was anything wrong with playing a half-orc that way. Although his belief that he was too big and intimidating to have to pay full price for anything nearly got us banned from some inns and shops. 

But in general, if someone wants to make only tactical decisions on the battlefield, I think that's perfectly fine to do; they just should have a character who thinks like this for whatever reason. 
I never said stop playing the game or slow the game down. But then again, I approach the game from the aspect of "every part of the session is the adventure. From being in the shop in the middle of town to the gritty dim dungeon room in the middle of mount doom". Thus, everything is important.


As do I. My campaigns spend far more time on everyone roleplaying and enjoying acting out their characters' actions, but at the end of the day, everyone is usually much happier when we've accomplished something more than getting the new character caught up on the story thus far.

Now, I feel I should give some context here:
First, I love my group of players dearly, but they all tend to require 1. Very careful attention due to not handling strong criticism well, 2. Will spent six hours roleplaying their characters sitting around a table eating sandwiches (Now, the dialog during these scenes are often the highlight of entire sessions, but the slowness can kill any sense of urgency in a campaign, which leads into...) 3. When presented with a situation with several obvious solutions (including inquiries to NPCs giving them highlights on the pros/cons to each option), they... spent two or three weeks, out of game, unable to choose one. The game completely stalled, because I offered them a choice with no 'best' option, even though "Take another option, that you come up with yourselves" was still on the table and they all would've worked out in the end anyway, however... 4. I received several complaints about how the party was acccomplishing nothing at all each week. When it was a case of the players being unable to make a choice...

Now, stuck in a situation where no one wanted to make a choice (Which surprised the Hell out of me; What player DOESN'T like having a say in things?) and people getting fed up because no choice was being made, I meta-gamed the Hell out of it, basically telling the two more rational players the problem and just flat out telling them to take a 'two out of three' approach and initiate... well, two out of three choices at the same time. It worked out spectacularly, creating a memorable scene and... Frankly, I'm torn, because I felt bad for forcing things along, but there wasn't any other option.

But in the end, sometimes you just have to skip over things to avoid speed bumps. Speed bumps kill campaigns. At least in my experience. Though that may be an issue with the players, as a couple of my campaigns have died because the one player who played a character that had any actual motivation disappeared and the campaign died because of it...

The idea isn't to make the new character completely scorned or snubbed (though that's a possibility), but to let each character react naturally to the new comer.

As for getting on with the adventure, in my scenario, the players would still press forward with whatever it was they were doing, and they are allowed to make determinations about the new guy based on his actions, decisions, open speeches, etc. while trying to accomplish the goal. They don't all stop and stand around for a few hours in the middle of the dungeon to talk while the orcs are patrolling or random ass monster roams around. The character developments and decisions are made as the adventure progresses.


I've yet to be in a campaign - as player or DM - where gameplay didn't grind to a halt when a new PC showed up. With the exception of when their joining was at least partially glossed over. Again, that may be an issue with the players, but I've been in all sorts of groups and it's a recurring problem with most of them.

My latest campaign hasn't had quite the same problem of "New guy joins, party spends 1/2~3/4 of the current session exchanging life stories." Mostly by glossing over them joining, usually at the players' volition.
>Campaign starts, first session everyone has their whole meet-and-greet, get a little familiar with each other and then run off to complete their quest. (Though they at least talked while walking.)
>Ranger joins, as his player missed the first session. He joins by way of literally leaping into combat while the other PCs are already engaged. As I recall, party just shrugged, said "Thanks for the help" and continued the quest.
And similar...

Given, my group was painfully inexperienced in certain ways...
>Guy playing the party Bard: Single handedly made me despise bards, as all he does is trash talk and think he's a rock star. This wouldn't be so much of a problem, except that it leaked into out-of-character, where he whined about his character should be the party leader because his class role was Leader.
I 'politely' informed him that his character doesn't even have any connection to the plot, where as the other PCs were at least tangently connected. I told him that having Leader on his class doesn't make him a Lieutenant among Privates. And there's also the fact that one of the PCs happened to be a royal guard specifically sent on this quest.
He later wisened up a bit and apologized for being a jerk, but he occassionally causes problem still. Including once complaining about how I don't put enough detail in descriptions... And then, when I start putting more detail into things, not paying attention to the details. Keep in mind that he's a guy that takes ten minutes to take his turn, because he refuses to just take my suggestion of handling all the mechanical business... And THEN roleplaying. He also tends to get the rules horribly, horribly wrong, which is yet another reason he's not in charge.

>Guy playing the party Ranger: Two-handedly made me despise two-weapon rangers, as he has a horrible tendency to ignore what's going on until it's his turn, at which point he'll use Twin Strike. Every time. I have, on several occasions, considered outright banning the power.
I've also brought up his tendency to disappear for fifteen minutes at a time, only to show up, Twin Strike, and vanish again. Again, he's gotten somewhat better, but is among the most frustrating player.
He also expressed confusion over why he was getting bloodied so often... When his character was optimised for strength and had surprisingly low defenses. It was a painful conversation, having to tell him the blatantly obvious: If you stat your character as a glass cannon and go into melee, your glass jaw is going to get busted. But he was new to D&D, so I just sighed and offered to let him restat his character. Multiple times, because he said no the first couple, but kept complaining about getting hit.

>Girl playing the party Sorcerer: Decided to, without warning, method act her character. Who was drinking. Heavily. Before meeting a princess.
She also ignored me when I told her that she's had enough: If you can't remember how many shots you've had, you've had too many.
Next couple weeks, she acted indignant towards everyone before finally whining that we were being mean to her for nothing... As it turned out, she got blackout drunk and then proceeded to derail the game, in character and out. Now, some random craziness is practically mandatory in the campaign, but she started acting like a witch with a capital B and made the bard's player incredibly uncomfortable.
Yeah, that wasn't a pleasant experience for anyone...

Know how a lot of these situations got solved? Meta-gaming.
The bard's player? After informing him that he doesn't get to boss people around just because his class is geared towards support, he eased up on the idiocy in character and out. I also explained that it's perfectly acceptable to reflavor your powers... He had been justifying his character's jerkass tendencies with "But that's what the power says!"... despite how he set up his character as an overall nice guy who probably wouldn't say that crap. This was a recurring problem for MONTHS, which I don't fully understand to this day: I am very accepting of reflavoing classes and powers, I explained this, but he kept defaulting automatically to the power description that clashed with his character's personality.

The ranger's player? Well, after he finally accepted that he doesn't need 20 strength to be effective, he adjusted his abilities scores and started occasionally throwing out encounter powers. He's happier, I'm happier, there's less reason for me ban that friggin' at-will.

The sorcerer's player... That didn't work out so well. It would have, honestly, but she bowed out of the game before the situation could be completely resolved. (She got a new job and started taking community college courses.)


And I realize this has turned into quite the rant. I'm very sorry about that. I really shouldn't be posting at 5:30 in the morning.
Gunmage, a homebrew arcane striker. (Heroic Tier playtest ready.) GDocs link. (More up to date.)

Back to the subject of meta-gaming, a term I don’t generally use, but I can agree on the definition as using OOC information to make in-character decisions. If it smells like a player is using OOC knowledge, I simply ask them to explain their action/knowledge and turn it into a RP opportunity. Sometimes, the response is the player realizes the action doesn’t make sense within the fiction and they move to plan B.


On introducing new character, I like to discuss with the player beforehand possible reasons this character is joining the party and then have a narrative reason for it to happen. Takes about 5 minutes of game time. My favorite is to introduce a new character in the middle of combat and start with an “enemy of my enemy” relationship.

But in the end, sometimes you just have to skip over things to avoid speed bumps. Speed bumps kill campaigns. At least in my experience. Though that may be an issue with the players, as a couple of my campaigns have died because the one player who played a character that had any actual motivation disappeared and the campaign died because of it...



You are 100% correct. I see no reason to play out every little thing in the session and where metagaming thinking will help drive the action, it's a good thing. I love interacting in-character. But I'm not about to do it haggling with merchants all session or the like. That's not adventuring to me, and not what I signed up for.

If you're running a sandbox game, it's particularly important to keep these things in mind, I think. If not, your sandbox become a quicksandbox. I've been tinkering with a post on that here and there since my first sandbox experiment was an unmitigated disaster. Here's one of the lessons I learned:

Don't put every little thing on camera. Discuss, roll if you have to, and go.
Have you ever spent a session wandering around town and shopping till you find yourself wondering why you didn't just go the mall with your wife instead that night? In a sandbox game, we tell ourselves that we want player choice to matter. And it should. So when a player says, "I need to go get some potions" or the like, we might feel the need to play that scene out. Pretty soon you're talking to merchants and haggling over prices as half the table slips into a boredom-induced coma.

So, instead, let choice matter in the sense that their choice has an effect, but don't give it "screen time." Consider this approach: When the player wants to do something that isn't terribly exciting, figure out what the goal of that action is by asking some questions to flesh it out. "Why do you want potions? What contacts do you have that sells that sort of thing? How fast can you get your hands on it?" If it's reasonable in context, it works - great job, Mr. Player. If the outcome could go either way and failure is potentially interesting, then ask for a roll, e.g. Streetwise to track down the potion vendor. On a success, they get what they want. On a failure, they get what they want, at a premium or with a complication that creates action. Then move on. A one or two minute back and forth on the nature of the potion selling business is all you need to wring out what little flavor can be found there. Playing out the whole interaction comes with a huge risk of falling flat because there's nothing really at stake in the scene and it's likely the majority of your players aren't going to be engaged. Players that aren't engaged will often act out, leading to burned down taverns and the inevitable town guard patrol showing up...

Bad metagaming to me comes more from the way the material is presented than anything else. Here's an example to illustrate:

BAD - "I'm +12 versus AC and missed with a roll of 10, you're plus +6 so you'll miss even if you roll up to a 16."

OK - " Skull (the ranger) failed to strike the hobgoblin leader, it will be difficult for Theolas (the druid) to strike him."

It makes sense that the characters would have seen each other in combat enough that you have a good idea who is more accurate than others, in the same way you know in the general sense which of your friends are good to call up when you're moving. I know if my friend that is twice my size says something is heavy, it will be very heavy for me. Similarly, if the accurate ranger misses, odds are good the druid in humanoid form wielding a club isn't likely to hit. But the way it is phrased is where the issue lies.

Either way, the ranger's player knows that since he missed, other characters are likely to miss without a good roll. Players usually watch the die rolls of each other, they know if the accurate characters roll 10+ and miss, the defense is high. Simply having that knowledge is in a sense metagaming, but it would approach impossible to keep the knowledge of the game mechanics away from the players. Sharing knowledge of the foes in combat is fine, its just a question if the sharing is hard math metagming by players, or characters sharing experiences.