Saturday, 3 August 2013

Let's talk Meta-Gaming

So, how many people have told you that they don't like "meta-gaming" either, but meta-game anyway? For me, almost everyone I've ever sat across the table from and almost everyone whose joined my RPoL game.

In my current game, the players – all 2nd level – have come across the image of a Beholder. Some of them "think" it's a Beholder and some of them "think" this eye can do that, while this other eye does this, etc.

None of my players have given a character background that includes formal training; in other words, none of them have graduated from a "University" or an "Academy" of this, that or the other thing.

One player is certain that he would know what it is because he's a dwarf; actually, a dwarven barbarian raised by a clan of human barbarians after he had been orphaned. So, given that he would only have been taken in by this human tribe if he had been very young – since humans regard 30 year olds as adults, regardless of what dwarves think – upon what is he relying? Perhaps some racial memory? Not in my game.

Next thing I know he'll be an "expert" on mining, or engineering . . . because he's a "dwarf." Sorry, being a dwarf is – in his case – nothing more than an "accident of birth." He was raised by human barbarians who are – according to the Rules you all like so much – illiterate. Yep, people who can't even read or write taught him all about mining and engineering. Oh, wait a minute, I'm forgetting the "racial memory" thing.

More to the point, I don't hold with the assumption that dwarves automatically know anything about aberrations. Beholders may be found in the occasional dungeon, but it doesn't mean that they live there, or are a part of the everyday world.

Another character is an Elf Archivist – Heroes of Horror, chapter 5 – except that he wields arcane magic rather than divine. He was trained by a mentor, rather than at a magical school. He knows what Beholders are because his mentor taught him everything and his mentor knew everything. Obviously his mentor is far greater than Mordenkanien or Rary.

Incidentally, all of this knowledge flowing from my players comes without any Knowledge check rolls. Nope, no succeeding or failing rolls, they just know these things. Apparently Skill Points are absolutely unnecessary for RPoL games, even if you do need these "things" in an actual table top game.

I have come to the realization that having experienced Gamers play "new" characters is a complete and utter waste of time. They just can't do it. They simply cannot leave their "real world" knowledge of the game out of their game play. I shudder to think what kind of game I would have if I were using a module that they had already played before. As it is, a couple of them have confessed to me that they took the time to go over the module in order to "prepare" themselves for it.

No, playing in a game without meta-gaming is completely beyond their abilities. They just can't do it. It's causing me to rapidly lose interest in my own game. Like many, they pay "lip service" to the "rule" that its' the DM's game, but that's it, just lip service. They will debate every point.

I had advertised the game stating: "No meta-gamers need apply." I even explained what meta-gaming is. Yet, here they are. I said: "The DM is always right." Yet, here we are. Perhaps I should have written all of that in . . . Arabic?

It would be nice to find a group – somewhere – that could separate themselves from their real world knowledge of the game and begin fresh. But, I suppose that's just a dream. The thing that really gets me is that the guys and gals in Hollywood do it all the time, in every movie they make. This gets me because I've met a great many Gamers that say they could be actors, if given the chance.

No they can't. They can't even "act" in a table top game, why are they so foolish as to think they can do it in Hollywood? Do they really think they're going to be able to argue any point with the Hollywood DM, err, I mean the Director? Oh, wait a minute, a Hollywood Director and a DM are one and the same things, aren't they? Yes . . . they are.

No dear Gamers, I am afraid that you are delusional . . . you could never be a Hollywood actor or actress. You can't even do it at the Gaming Table, even if that "table" is on RPoL.


  1. I think it's very hard for some gamers to simply get out of their own way and just enjoy the experience and to play along with the DM.

    DM: "You see an image of a ocular, spherical creature with a large central eye and leetle eye stalks on top."

    PC: "Okay, Joey Bag of Iron Spikes thinks he knows what that is and what that is, people, is weird and scary. Let's not tangle with the love child of Cthulhu and Pac Man, okay?"

    1. Sad, but true. In this case, there isn't even a Beholder on the other side of the door, but they're still scared to open it! LOL

      It's just a puzzle, the eye stalks have images on them, symbolizing what "power" they represent and the order is which they belong. On the other side of the door are floor tiles depicting the images, these tiles are out of sequence and need to be placed in the correct order so that a secret door will open.

      But meta-gaming has them "frozen in place." ROFL

    2. That sounds like a great puzzle! I hope the PCs are able to get into it. Secret doors are great the way they slowly grind open to reveal who-knows-what.

  2. Well, I joined the game and thought the party took me to a trapped door. Not one of them choose to tell me this door was never touched . In the game I know one of the characters were poisoned by a trap. So I went on my characters knowledge from the time he joined the group. So when I did not see any evidence of the door being trapped, I spoke to the character who was poisoned. Come to find out they never touched the door.

    Now just to let you know I have read the game thread and knew what actually happened outside of the game. I figured I would play ignorant as I'm sure Zipheron was not with them while they were at the cemetery. Otherwise, he could of just went to the cemetary and saved the party the trip back to the inn.



  3. True. FYI Zipheron is the "all powerful" Magician that will be assigning the group their adventures -- just like the old modules. He followed them to the Cemetery when they first went, just in case they needed rescue. Of course,that would have meant that they were of no use to him and the game would have ended.

    But, they survived! Woo-hoo!

    As an Ur-Flan Sorcerer, he's there to provide information, the occasional item (he already gave them a Wand of Knock, which they will need to pass that door you're examining) and healing. (Gestalt Sorcerer and Druid, the combination most associate with the Ur-Flan).

    He'll rescue them, if he has to, but the game will become very dull, very quickly if that happens.

    Until your arrival, they were trying it without a Rogue.

  4. Well, I got that this is a test Zipheron has for the party. He may or may not be the mastermind behind all of this. However, I believe he is preparing us for things to come. While he (Zipheron) could handle this situation alone, it seems he may need allies in the future that need to be ready for things to come.



  5. I have a late question/statement.
    In modern day, most people know of Medusa as the snake woman that turns people in to stone and thats just from a movie.
    In the fantasy world, they live with those monsters day in and day out. I don't need a skill for everything I do. From scaling a fish to cutting my chicken in to bite size pieces to fit in my mouth or have a knowledge skill to know how to walk.
    So without a skill they can't know that the flying red reptile over head is a dragon? Someone in the village says look a dragon. And you say, sorry I don't have the skill points to learn what that is.

    1. That's not an apt comparison.

      Beholders dwell underground and the vast majority of people do not. Why would they know what a Beholder is? In my game we have a character who is a dwarf. The problem is, this dwarf was raised by humans and raised on the surface. Why would he know what a Beholder is, just because he was accidentally born a dwarf? He wasn't raised by dwarfs or taught any of the things a dwarf would know.

      I do not allow "racial memory" in my game.

      so, this particular dwarf would know nothing of Beholders. Where does that leave a Ranger who was raised in a forest and taught by Elves, thus proving that he had NEVER been underground. Why would he know about underground creatures? If the Elves taught him anything bout underground dangers, then they taught him about Drow, not Beholders or Illithids.

      Play "true" to the character.

      Dragons attack villages -- and even cities -- all the time. Nearly everyone has heard of them and heard them described, so sure, they'd know what a dragon was.

  6. So following up, there is no Radio, TV, or Internet. Stories is all people have, they made a whole class just for telling tales. The characters I assume know the names of all the creatures they encounter. Thus the basic level of familiarity. "That's a Beholder. I hear it has magic powers that shot out of its eyes." And thats "my" idea 0 knowledge.

    1. So then, you contend that the populace, at large, would recognize the basic description of the 2,347 monsters in the Monster Manuals? (Or are there even more?)

      I disagree.

  7. No TV, radio, or internet... most are illiterate. Its an oral history of the heroes of the land.

    And no not 2347, WoC are capitalist and they make money from selling books. If your world has every monster from every book fine. Then you are getting in to the survivability of the PC races issues.

  8. There's no way you haven't heard of the word "hyperbole." And no, no one says "hyperbole" when they use one.

    I have no intention of using every monster in the Monster Manual -- there are a great many of them that I don't like. My point is simply this: NO ONE has even HEARD of -- much less seen a picture of -- EVERY monster in the world. So, I am preparing my players for this: I WILL NOT accept "Oh! I've heard of those!" or "Oh! I've seen a picture of one of those!" every time "we" meet a new monster. That's ridiculous.

    So I'm starting them NOW, with the Beholder -- because they are only 2nd level. So, as father's are always telling their sons (like you tell yours); "No. You haven't been 'every where' and you haven't seen 'everything.' There's a whole lot you don't know yet."

    There's a whole lot that a 2nd level character doesn't know yet, even though his player does.

    That's all I'm saying.

    In the book "1066: The Year of Conquest" there is an excellent example of how the world really was, how small villages and villagers "behaved." I'm going to post it in its own thread on my game page. That will give everyone an idea of the medieval fantasy world that I like to game in and run. Look for it.

    Hmm. Perhaps I'll post it here as well.

  9. Maybe we are just passing by the same thing. I don't think the players should play like they know all the abilities of a monster. I surely don't. But there's noway you can get them to forget what they know. But in the end, how many monsters are their out there that are going to matter in the long run.
    To avoid lots of Meta-gamng a GM can spice things up and it is often suggested that they do. And most can by playing the creatures IQ, the use of alarms and traps in their lair go a long way.
    I have had blue dragons melt their copper pieces down and inlaid to floor with it to give them a AOE from his shocking grasp/breath weapon. Or they have made the entrance a wet clay slog so when they go to run out or steal they slow or sink.