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Player vs. GM Rules on Roleplay


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#1 Nimsim

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 08:22 PM

I'm posting this after making a comment on the reckless dice podcast about the happenings in an adventure they're running. There are some minor spoilers for the adventure.

 

BEGIN SPOILERS

 

 

Basically, a player was playing a wood elf PC in The Gathering Storm, and decided that an ambiguous character they met was a beastman and shot at him. Although this character is a beastman, the adventure takes care to make him out to be not outwardly a beastman and mentions that PCs may think he's a human. The player had read the adventure before and thus knew about the NPC being a beastman, which leads to the question of whether he was sort of meta-gaming the situation. However, the context does make it a possibility that the NPC is a beastman. This is further complicated by the fact that this "metagaming" wasn't actually meant to give the player an advantage, but rather just to roleplay his character hating beastmen.

 

 

END SPOILERS

 

For those who didn't read, a player in the adventure arguably used out of game knowledge about the adventure/game world in a somewhat ambiguous situation. My gut instinct upon hearing this would be to have the player roll a Lore check to see if their character has that knowledge. However, I'm then left with whether it would be okay to forbid the player to have his PC act on the knowledge if he fails the roll. Essentially, is it okay for a GM to forbid a PC to do something if s/he thinks the player is not roleplaying his character correctly?

 

I can see arguments for both sides. On the one hand, it's a player's right to play their character however they want, and the fun of a roleplaying game is that you get to attempt wacky things you come up with. On the other hand, if a GM is basing a story on a PC's established knowledge and behavior, is it wrong for a player to not roleplay his established PC? Is the established character in the narrative as important to play as the numbers on his character sheet, and if so is it cheating to not play that character?

 

Another related issue to this is players not playing to the numbers on their sheet (brilliant player plays a PC with 2 Intelligence and has them come up with lots of great ideas). I think this issue has already been hashed out plenty of times, however, and I'd like to see what people think about players acting against what their character should know/is established to act like.

 


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#2 James Sparrow

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 12:43 AM

As a general rule, I think you're correct that it's the player's right to play their character as they want - it is, after all, the only part of the game they have total control of. However, even this is subject to whatever social contract the group operates under, which at the every least includes the rule that nobody is allowed to act like a selfish arse.

 

More specifically, if the player had read the adventure, he probably should not have been playing, simple as that. Either that, of the GM should, as you suggest, require relevant rolls. In the group I was with, if a player could not honestly say she wasn't using out-of-character knowledge she'd usually roll a die and go with what it said.

 

Playing characters who are not as smart as you can be frustrating, so unless a character's foolishness/stupidity/ignorance is a defining characteristic that you'll actually get a kick out of playing, then it's probably best not to create characters of less than average so as not to limit your own enjoyment.

 

Cheers

 

Sparrow


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#3 Carcosa

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 02:05 AM

With such a limited pool of created "official" adventures, I think it is a tad unfair to ban someone from playing them just because they may have read or played the adventure. The 4 "chaos" expansions ALL have material suitable for players and DM's and isn't it unfair to ban players from those adventures because they wanted the character stuff out of them? Same goes for Hero's call and Black Fire Pass.

I think it would -behove- the player to make mention of their foreknowledge to a ref, and I also think the ref has every right to step in if they feel meta gaming is going on. If this elf has always been mighty suspicious of people who may be beastmen, then a shoot first approach may be entirely in character (however, as a bastard ref, I would be looking for them to shoot the local witch hunters kid at some point......... :D )

 

If you have ever played Pendragon and know the Virtue system they employ it is entirely fair to dictate character choices based on the characters personality as opposed to the players personality or knowledge.


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#4 thejondifool

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 03:42 AM

It's never fun to dictate players actions. Give players choices instead. And even better consequences. 

 

Most adventures have weak spots where the story can break down, the goal of the GM is to be prepared for those situations.

 

Recently I stepped down as a GM and played as a Pc in an adventure i have been semi exposed too 20 years ago, it first dawned to me during the session that the plot was driven by the pc's acting in public. The problem was that 3 of the pc's had criminal traits and tried as hard as possible to avoid doing anything in the open that draws attention. It does fast getting awkward when the city watch is looking for the group because of a tavern brawl, that the group downplayed to a degree where it soaked the insults , didn't fight back and left without drawing attention to them. But the story required that they where remembered from being there. 

 

My take is if the PC do stay in character the GM has to change the plot to let them stay there. It's fine to expose a group of hiding players if they fail at hiding. But its just bad use of a plot to expose them anyway, after they have used hours in game time to avoid and succeeded in all actions they made. The its better to change the plot and run a short event where players are drawing attention, without being involved in actions that has to fail for the plot to succeed.

 

Spoiler/

My take on the beastmen situation, if the PC doesn't know the NPc he shot is a beastman , maybe he isn't, or at least he is looking perfectly human suddenly. I would roll for it, and change the plot on the fly. Looking at the dead body he could look perfectly human and now the Elf player is a murder, maybe going to face a trial in town when the mother raise charges. 

The point is that i would let the player meet consequences for killing a NPC out of suspicion, without clear knowledge.

 

But a player that knows the plot and his PC with Hate for beastmen  and a plot with a beastman trying to pretend to be human, i think GM do have work to do, and if caught unprepared i would have called a time out. taken an talk with the player, and then come up with a twist to the plot, with the aim of letting the player choice between actions and consequences.

 

To learn a player that he really shouldn't spoil a plot , i wouldn't hesitate to let the beastman horde run down to Strormdorf as a result of the players not solving this part of the adventure, if the NPC was killed before the plot advance.

 

Spoiler of/


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#5 Carcosa

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 04:47 AM

Ergh, I hate this crappy quote system, as even basic [quote][.quote] format seems not to work, and the forum does not like cut and paste solutions.............

BLARGH!!!

 

To Answer thejondifool.............

No, it is never good to dictate character actions, it is equally bad for the ref to have to be FORCED to do it either. If a character is a "virtuous knight" and the player makes that character into as shag-hound, then they are simply not playing the character. Give a PC Harry Potter for a moment, and he will not be a hero for long........

Sometimes playing the character is more important than the gaming/rules considerations, isn't it?

 

I agree wholeheartedly that if the players do something "odd" then the onus falls onto the Ref to, well, be a Ref and adapt to the situation. The watch may not be looking for them, but the local Thieves guild may if the toons are criminals, especially if they used their criminal contacts to avoid the watch in the first place.  


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#6 x13phantom

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 12:10 PM

GM's have to be careful about he descriptions they give so the players don't make the wrong conclusion.

 

Players should be careful too, just because their character would do something doesn't mean they should.

 

I have been fortunate with my players for the most part they play their characters well and try not to act on out of game knowledge. 


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#7 Emirikol

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 05:46 PM

As a GM, I've been faced with METAGMING annoyances. (I'm truncating a longer post because I don't want to rant):

 

1.  Metagaming is ALWAYS inappropriate.  It breaks the "don't be a jerk" rule.

 

2.  I ALWAYS call for a "knowledge" type roll when a player should or shouldn't know something.  It takes just a second, and players like to be able to roll for things.

 

3.  My personal favorite, and one I bring up often, is when a player (usually with the min-maxed Trollslayer..Fel 2..) decides to open his mouth in a conversation.  I throw the book at PC weaknesses.  Insanity, shame, party tension, ridicule, etc. 

 

In the case presented, I probably would have swapped out the situation in pure annoyance:  player makes a jerk metagaming spoiler comment like that, party opens fire on the figure, and I'd have it turn out to be the local farmer's daughter and grant the PC a free permanent insanity.   ..but I'm a bit of a rat bastard gm.  I pull that kind of crap all the time even if the player is acting normally ;)

 

 

I like all of the suggestions above.


Edited by Emirikol, 13 July 2014 - 05:47 PM.

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#8 Carcosa

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 11:24 PM

Just to counterpoint Emrikol slightly here.

Meta gaming knowledge is actually fine to a degree, it provides a counterpoint to what any given CHARACTER may do as opposed to what a PLAYER may do. I have often put my characters through things that as a player know they may not survive, but cannot see my character doing anything other. Is it harsh to the character to do it? Sure, and will I get annoyed if the toon I spent months or a year (or more) working on may die? Sure. Do I care a little less if they die as a character rather than a "Mary/Marty Sue"? You betcha I do.

 

I would rather my character died as a heroic fool or an evil villain than some kind of personal wish fulfilment.


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#9 valvorik

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 08:32 AM

Yes i like both above posts.  It's okay to "play into things" using metagame knowledge.  E.G., my players all know skaven exist but can roleplay, "must be a mutant" when appropriate and have fun even "playing the ignorance" knowing they're wrong.

 

Mostly of course, trying to get advantage or assume you know things, bad.  In the "shot that figure because reading adventure I knew it was beastman" thing, I would make the PC role a check to have identified target as a beastman and if they did not then either automatically or randomly make it something else. 

 

In terms of the Int 2 character with cunning plan.  I frequently make Players roll Int and Fel checks to see how well something worked.  For example, the Player with clever theory of what is going on trying to persuade authorities - roll your intelligence, because you Player may have deduced that but your PC - even if by some idiot savant luck they did figure it out - will be no more believed than how well they explain it.  The first time I did this the Player said, "really?" and I said "yup, your intelligence is not the issue, your PC's is".  It was accepted without argument.  Now I apply that in how the rest of world reacts etc., I don't stop any PC having a clever plan and trying it etc. as that is part of the fun of RPG's.



#10 k7e9

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 08:28 AM

I'm posting this after making a comment on the reckless dice podcast about the happenings in an adventure they're running. There are some minor spoilers for the adventure.

 

BEGIN SPOILERS

 

 

Basically, a player was playing a wood elf PC in The Gathering Storm, and decided that an ambiguous character they met was a beastman and shot at him. Although this character is a beastman, the adventure takes care to make him out to be not outwardly a beastman and mentions that PCs may think he's a human. The player had read the adventure before and thus knew about the NPC being a beastman, which leads to the question of whether he was sort of meta-gaming the situation. However, the context does make it a possibility that the NPC is a beastman. This is further complicated by the fact that this "metagaming" wasn't actually meant to give the player an advantage, but rather just to roleplay his character hating beastmen.

 

 

END SPOILERS

 

The repy might contain some further SPOILERS:

As a matter of fact, my players almost killed the beastman in that part of the adventure, and they had no meta knowledge what so ever about the adventure.

I went much further to try to "disguise" the beastman when I described him, basically describing him as an Amber Wizard and let everyone roll observation to even notice the clawlike fingernails (which all failed).

Still, my group strongly suspected him and almost killed him on the spot. But as they were less fanatically hating beastmen (and most players were quite new to the Warhammer world) they let him live so they could listen to him.

None of my players were in the least surprised when it turned out to be a beastman.

 

When I prepared the adventure, my first impression was "everyone will kill this dude instantly". I feel like the way the adventure is set up so you'd expect that to be a beastman. And as a Wood Elf have little care or love for humans and a lot of hatred for beastmen I'd almost be more surprised if he had not taken the shot.


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#11 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 06:10 PM

Chiming in without having listened to the podcast in question...

 

The player should have recused themselves. The moment I realize I'm playing an adventure that I've read or played before, I stop the GM and let them know. It's then the GM's call whether to proceed as written, change details behind the scenes, run a different adventure entirely, or ask me to play a certain way or even ask me to bow out for a few sessions.

 

If the GM knew before hand that the player had read the module, and yet proceeded to run it by the book anyway and didn't already have a meta-knowledge policy in place, then they've got no right to complain. In that case, the GM created that situation and they own all responsibility for it.

 

If instead the player concealed their foreknowledge prior to that scene, or (even worse) specifically built a beastman-hating PC because they knew there were beastmen in the upcoming adventure, then it's all on the player. Personally, I wouldn't invite them back to play again after that. It's not 1980; Gamers are everywhere. There's no reason to tolerate cheaters when all but the smallest communities have other players waiting to be discovered.


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#12 Nimsim

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:13 PM

Chiming in without having listened to the podcast in question...

 

The player should have recused themselves. The moment I realize I'm playing an adventure that I've read or played before, I stop the GM and let them know. It's then the GM's call whether to proceed as written, change details behind the scenes, run a different adventure entirely, or ask me to play a certain way or even ask me to bow out for a few sessions.

 

If the GM knew before hand that the player had read the module, and yet proceeded to run it by the book anyway and didn't already have a meta-knowledge policy in place, then they've got no right to complain. In that case, the GM created that situation and they own all responsibility for it.

 

If instead the player concealed their foreknowledge prior to that scene, or (even worse) specifically built a beastman-hating PC because they knew there were beastmen in the upcoming adventure, then it's all on the player. Personally, I wouldn't invite them back to play again after that. It's not 1980; Gamers are everywhere. There's no reason to tolerate cheaters when all but the smallest communities have other players waiting to be discovered.

 

To be fair, I think everyone in the podcast knew what was up. It was on The Reckless Dice, which is basically THE WFRP3E podcast. It was one of the hosts of the show playing, and he typically GMs, so it was already known that he'd read the adventure. Also, the GM and players try to run things in order to show off the adventures, so they didn't want to not do the adventure or heavily modify too much.



#13 Carcosa

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:43 PM

Again, this comes down to how much "work" people are willing to put in.

If a Ref, with full knowledge that a player has played a scenario before decides to run it "raw", then they should simply STFU about it, it is THIER choice to do it.

 

By the same token, the player has the responsibility to tell the ref beforehand, or when they recognize plot elements that they have played it before to tell the ref then.

 

All this comes down to, in my eyes at least is what Emrikol said before about rule one, Don't be a Jerk.

The players must place their faith in the Ref to tell the story, weather they make it themselves or run Pre-gen modules and for the ref not to be a Jerk.

The Ref must place their faith in the players to act as their characters, weather they are ignorant, or have metagame knowledge and not be Jerks.

 

It's the -responsibility- of both the players and the Ref to tell a good story worth spending your few spare hours a week on crafting and populating. If either side shirks that responsibility, or worse, tries to shift that blame, then stuff 'em I say. I would rather play no game than sit for 4-8 hours hearing a player ***** about the ref, or the ref ***** about the players, I have better things to do.



#14 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 08:58 AM

 

If instead the player concealed their foreknowledge prior to that scene, or (even worse) specifically built a beastman-hating PC because they knew there were beastmen in the upcoming adventure, then it's all on the player.

 

To be fair, I think everyone in the podcast knew what was up. It was on The Reckless Dice, which is basically THE WFRP3E podcast. It was one of the hosts of the show playing, and he typically GMs, so it was already known that he'd read the adventure. Also, the GM and players try to run things in order to show off the adventures, so they didn't want to not do the adventure or heavily modify too much.

 

The player knew the adventure, and specifically knew it had a subplot about a beastman only kind of looked like a beastman. With that in mind, he built a PC that hated beastmen and could thereby justify recognizing and shooting them on sight. That seems pretty crass to me. That's basically one player deciding in advance for all the others how the adventure is going to turn out, without any other player's (or the GM's) feedback. It's like somebody forget he was supposed to be one of several players this week, and _not_ the one and only GM. Again, I haven't listened to the podcast in question, so I may be misreading the situation, but from what folks have described this situation sounds rather lame.

 

Some folks have suggested the notion of making a PC make some sort of Folklore or Education check if they want to use knowledge that the player has but the character wouldn't necessarily have. That sounds to me like the "Feel For The Moment" action. A successful roll of that action lets you poll the GM for OOC meta-knowledge to specifically figure out how to best interact with an NPC or social situation. "I don't know how to proceed here, but my character does." That's very different from "I do know what to do here, but my character might not," but it's not really any different than "I wouldn't know what to do here if I didn't read the adventure" since reading the module is akin to reading the GM's mind.  So my inclination would be to make it a very difficult Intelligence check, specifically much harder than the difficulty on Feel For The Moment, unless the player had spent XP on that card. Even then I'd consider adding a black die to the card because Feel For The Moment is normally intended for more social situations and "should I shoot him on sight" is arguably pushing the envelope for "social".

 

Ultimately, the high success rate of all rolls in WFRP3e may actually make "Int checks to use OOC knowledge" a bad idea in general. If the difficulty is zero purple, even Int 2 will succeed 75% of the time.  Even at 2 purple, a player who specifically wanted to abuse this concept wouldn't have to spend many resources to get to a high success rate (4 int and a fortune). If you establish that the prerequisite to using OOC metaknowledge is an above-average Int, that does nothing to discourage undesirable meta-gaming. It actually encourages those who were contemplating the behavior you wanted to avoid, but sending them the message that it'll be tolerated as long as they drop a few XP to justify it.

 

Tangential to this: The game already seems to really over-reward high Int. It applies to a ton of skills, including everything needed for solving a mystery plot. Then there's a couple talents that let you roll Int instead of other attributes. I've got a high-Int Mystic in my campaign, and it's been really hard to balance. If I give them too much info for big Int check it short-circuits adventures and/or leaves little spotlight for the other players, but if I give them too little info they're left feeling like they wasted all that XP on Int and Int-Fortune.  I can't imagine that specifically adding Int checks for metaknowledge would make this subset of the game any less of a minefield.


Edited by r_b_bergstrom, 17 July 2014 - 09:00 AM.


#15 k7e9

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 10:30 AM

The player knew the adventure, and specifically knew it had a subplot about a beastman only kind of looked like a beastman. With that in mind, he built a PC that hated beastmen and could thereby justify recognizing and shooting them on sight. That seems pretty crass to me. That's basically one player deciding in advance for all the others how the adventure is going to turn out, without any other player's (or the GM's) feedback. It's like somebody forget he was supposed to be one of several players this week, and _not_ the one and only GM. Again, I haven't listened to the podcast in question, so I may be misreading the situation, but from what folks have described this situation sounds rather lame..

 

 

Again, some spoilers below.

 

To be fair, I do not think the wood elf was created specifically to recognize and shoot the beastman on sight.

 

Firstly, all the characters were randomly generated (which was recorded for the podcast as well), so none of the players chose their race. Also, from listening to the podcast, and having GMed the adventure myself, I must say that even without any meta-knowledge of the plot it's real simple to deduce that it's a beastman in a hooded cloak. 

 

I feel the authors of the adventure assume that the players would/should not understand it's a beastman while the plot screams it. It's like when you watch a movie where it's obvious that someone is the bad guy, but the characters in the movie does not understand it. Problem is, players probably will understand (mine did).

 

Furthermore, it's far better from for the PCs not to kill the beastman outright, as the PCs get quite a bit of help and information from the beastman. In the adventure there's virtually no advantage for the PCs to kill the beastman early.

 

Lastly, it's a rather minor NPC with a minor role in the adventure. To me it just feels pointless to use meta knowledge just to be able to kill off a minor NPC that would have helped you.


Edited by k7e9, 17 July 2014 - 10:32 AM.


#16 Nimsim

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 10:47 AM

I'd like to add that I didn't intend this to be a thing about calling the player a jerk. It seemed more like an honest outcome that ended up derailing the adventure a bit. The adventure itself is to blame somewhat for not recognizing this possibility, as well. I also don't think that derailing the adventure was all that bad (although I wish it had played closer to the book, because I like to listen to these adventures to get ideas for running it myself) and some of the best moments come from having an adventure take an unexpected turn. I'm more interested in the game dynamic of how meta-knowledge works, and also what people think about GMs telling a player their action makes no sense for their character and how to handle that. I don't think it's productive to say that a player is a bad person if that situation ever arises; the situation can happen by accident plenty of times. Also, I'd hate for this thread to turn into people calling the player a jerk, because he's contributed A LOT to this community and it's obvious that he wasn't trying to derail anything.

I think a lot of people have RPTSD from playing with socially awkward or worse people. I think that comes more from nerd culture, which is beyond the scope of this topic in terms of its effects and how to address it.

Also, I think there's also a good opportunity to jack up party tension and award corruption points for that kind if thing too.
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#17 k7e9

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 12:19 PM

I'm more interested in the game dynamic of how meta-knowledge works.

 

Ok, a quite long and possibly confusing post on that topic follows. :)

 

Actually, some of my players and me have toyed with the idea of re-playing adventures just to see how it turns out. Not directly after the adventure, and probably with a different set of characters and a different GM. Just to explore another way of roleplaying that we think might even leave more room to roleplay your character, rather than playing the adventure.

 

Let me (try to) explain. Our thought is that when players already experienced the adventure once,the adventure itself might become more of a backdrop or scene for the characters to act in. Our theory is that the focus shift from the normal roleplaying elements which often concentrates on investigating (in one way or another) what is going on and how to solve it. Most adventures have that basic stucture on an extreme high level approach, at least in story driven RPGs as Call of Cthulhu or WFRP.

 

So when the focus shifts from investigating and solving, excitement might come from the interplay between characters, both between PCs and NPCs and become another RPG-experience altoghether. The adventure should still happen, and the player characters should still participate in the adventure.

 

Furthermore we think that players might try new things. If you're playing an adventure with a chaos cult who abducts and sacrifices people, would it not be fun to let your character get captured by the cult (and possibly be sacrificed)? Often, players do not want anything bad to happen to their character and as such migh miss out on exciting roleplaying moments. We think that it's at least partly because you want your character to survive and experience the whole adventure. But if re-playing an adventure we believe that players are more inclined to let bad things happen to their character.

 

If I was to re-play an adventure, or play an adventure which I have previously read through, I would probably use meta knowledge to deliberatly put my character in a interesting/exciting situations, both bad and good. And I think many might.

 

I think this is because we believe that (many) roleplaying-gamers play RPGs to experience different things. Explore other worlds, experience situations and emotions which do not arise on a normal day. As meta knowledge of the story removes the satisfaction gained from solving a mystery at least partially, you might explore other things. Similar to when you read a book a second time, or watch a movie again or when re-play a favorite computer/console RPG. You might find things you did not pay attention to before because you were so focused on the main story.

 

Also as a GM I've often felt the following when reading/preparing and adventure: "In this situation it would be perfect if character X did Y, it could lead to event Z" (where Z= fun/exciting/emotional event for the group). Most often, character X won't do Y and the group will never experience Z. But if I as a GM ask the player of  X to do Y when the situation comes Z might happen, and that's one use of meta knowledge.

 

It might work similarly if you're a player who knows the plot. You might feel that in this part of the adventure it would be fantastic if I did Y so Z could happen. And is that such a bad thing?

 

It all depends on your gaming group but I at least do not feel that meta knowledge is not a bad thing in itself. Having  meta knowledge and using it might even be a very good thing for the story. I believe that the important thing is that the gaming group has a consensus regarding meta knowledge and how/if to use it.


Edited by k7e9, 17 July 2014 - 12:20 PM.

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#18 Ralzar

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 01:13 AM

Great post k7e9. I have had similar thoughts myself. I have started shying away from investigative adventurers because they tend to shift focus away from roleplaying. The only ones that seem to work are the ones who have clues all over the place, like "Winds Of Change" in the magic supplement where the adventure is set in a small location packed with characters that are more and less linked to the plot and there are lots of optional stuff for the GM to throw in to keep the adventure rolling.

 

Also, as you mentioned, I find the players flex their roleplaying muscles more when we play one-off adventures with disposable characters. They tend to play more exaggerated characters that take more risks and then wind up in more interesting situations. I have found that some of them have actually loosened up a bit with their regular "permanent" characters after having a few one-offs. So it can also work as a way to train players to concentrate more on the role playing and less on the "roll playing".


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#19 Emirikol

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 11:02 AM

Many groups are oftentimes faced with situations where players know what's up..but their characters wouldn't or wouldn't be apt to react in certain ways.

 

That's when a player essentially recuses his meta-gaming self by:

a) not ruining it for the other players by blurting out his knowledge

b) saying what would be appropriate in that situation, "my character, in this situation would do the following..." 

 

jh


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#20 Robin Graves

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 05:00 PM

and this is why our GM doesn't use published adventures.

 

Another piece of metagaming: this is from D&D:

A rogue is checking a room for traps. he rolls poorly and fails, so the GM tells him: "you find no traps". Now just because he hasn't found any doesn't mean that there aren't any. All his character knows is that he hasn't found any traps. But the player knows he botched his roll and not to trust the GM's answer. So the character calls out to the party: "Hang on guys, let me make one more look at the room to make sure there aren't any traps!"






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