How do you Handle Meta Gamers? - Page 2 - Myth-Weavers

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How do you Handle Meta Gamers?

Originally Posted by TheFred View Post
So you always read synopses before you watch films and don't mind knowing about the twist ending? Everyone knowing what is going to happen isn't necessarily a bad thing but it's also not something that everyone wants all the time.
Actually yes. I do read them, and often the tvtropes page. A good story that is worthy of analysis and such isn't 'ruined' by you knowing a single plot point.

Seriously, is Empire Strikes Back 'ruined' for you people, because you know the 'big twist', that by now is cultural knowledge?

This last exchange between TheFred and Cyber_Goddess illustrates most of the points begin made in this thread. You will have some gamers who approach RPGs like TheFred is talking about movies. They want the GM to build the world, populate it with people and adventures and mysteries, and they see their job as exploring the world, meeting the people, and solving the adventures and mysteries. You will also have some gamers who approach RPGs like Cyber_Goddess is talking about movies. They want to create the NPCs, help build the world, and create dramatic situations and relationships for their characters to explore (not solve!) and don't mind if the co-authorship of the game means that traditional mysteries don't work. And, of course, you can play any hybrid combination of those two, as many people do.

But if you have the former type of player and you want to run the latter type of game, you are going to have a difficult time. I've never been able to get it to work.

In my limited experiences, the former types of players tend to see the game system as their opponent. These people will tend to insist that the GM create adventures "fairly" and "according to the rules" (difficulty class, challenge rating, PL, whatever) so they can feel like they "won" when they defeat the adventure "legally." And for some of these "legally" becomes their RPG ethic. If the rules say they can do it, then they should. This usually gets called "power gaming" and "metagaming." These players also tend toward games that privilege system mastery and time spent in character creation.

The latter types of players tend to get bored really quickly with combat and mysteries that aren't dramatically related to their characters. They often want rules that empower the players to "edit" the story as they go and reward characters for making their own lives more complicated, difficult, and dramatic.

For example, the one 5e game I ran at our game shop had a big combat as a set piece near the beginning of the adventure, and two of my players spent the whole combat talking about how interesting it would be if they lost the fight and got captured. They talked through scenes where the characters fell in love during their imprisonment and then had to deal with dumping a fiance back home once they escaped, etc. The other two players got really mad because they felt like these two were going to "throw the fight" and that the party couldn't "win" if two of the players weren't giving it their all. "Who wants to play a game where you lose the first fight!?!" one of them said, "That's not heroic! My character would never be captured! He'd die first!" Then the other two players started talking about how cool it would be if one of them did died in prison and then made a new character that was the dead guys daughter, and how she could be raised by the surviving one and they go on adventures together. I finally got everyone on the same page again for just a few hours, but we've all never played together again. It just didn't work.

So, lots of talking with your players/GM about what kind of game you want to play ("rules" and "system" are the least important part of that discussion) is key, and if you all want to play together no matter what . . . lots and lots and lots of compromise. And, as I said above, if you've done all that, and you still have players who are trying to bully their way out of compromise or are holding the game hostage to their way of playing . . . it's probably not going to work.

So last night I was going to simply chime in with a link to an Angry DM article about Meta-gaming (which I'd link now, but sadly work filters are horrible), which is worth the read (even if you disagree with the guy, he often makes points worth thinking about). But I figured I should actually put my two cents into this.

Meta-gaming is not a real problem. In fact, it's kind of unavoidable in the grander scheme. I don't care how good of an actor you are, once you've played through a troll encounter and figure out you can stop their regen with fire or acid, you won't forget that. Even if your next character shouldn't know that about trolls, you as a player do, and frankly, who cares if you know that?

In fact, meta-gaming a chance for GMs to be a little sneaky from time to time. Instead of the usual troll encounter, you throw a War Troll instead (I think that's what they're called), which are only weak against acid, but not fire. This makes things interesting if the players don't know any better (and their characters wouldn't know either), so they throw fireballs to no effect. Mind you, depending on the group, that might be a shitty thing to do, so know your audience before you pull a stunt like that.

Power gaming, however, can be an issue. What the OP describes however I would put under the whole 'roll-play vs role-play' issue, instead of system mastery and cheesing their way to victory. But these are only issues depending on the group.

My live group is almost entirely made up of Roll-Players. They show up every week (or however we can schedule it these days) to kill things on graph paper and get more loot and experience. There's little concern about story outside of the murder. While this is a little disappointing for me as a GM, who wants to tell a decently compelling story of awesome characters and their adventures, I have grown to accept this as the norm for this particular group and be okay with it. In this case, Roll-Playing is okay, and it's relatively expected out of the group. It's what I would describe as a 'non-issue'. But this isn't for everyone, and I've actually had to kick a player from the group because of it.

Regardless, as many have stated before, this is a issue with expectations and un-clear communication. In live groups, many online highly recommend having a 'Session Zero', in which you go through what the campaign will be about, what players want out of it, and so on and so forth. PbP games have a slightly harder time with it, but it still happens with the game ads and what not. Just gotta be clear about what you expect out of the game.

TL:DR version - be an adult and TALK TO THEM! You'd be surprised how many problems get solved that way. And if that doesn't work, then move on without 'em.

Originally Posted by Arden View Post

Simple question for Fellow DMs who read these threads.

How do you Handle Meta Gamers or power gamers in your settings?

Meta Gamer: Gamer that uses Outside character knowledge to bend the story to their favor
That's outright impossible.
If I think you're using knowledge the PC wouldn't have, Int+Skill rolls exist for a reason.
If you're using information that other PCs have but have not decided to share, or haven't been able to, you should really keep in mind that information in my games is often erroneous and/or restricted. No, I don't change whether the information is erroneous or not! But most meta-gamers fail to consider it, IME.
In short, you can very well act on erroneous knowledge, or there might be people very interested in the way you obtained a secret of their clan/classified information of their agency.
Combining the two is most fun, and is called "an NPC running a disinformation campaign to root out traitors". That's when the players act on information they shouldn't have, and doing so marks them as enemy moles.
Given that many NPCs in my settings do exactly that, players quickly lose the habit of metagaming, and learn to double-check and triple-check...and not from the most obvious sources, because they might have been fed the same lie.
Have fun with the results.

and constantly complains out of character that situations are not fair or have not been balanced properly.
"Fair doesn't exist, and balanced encounters are something I don't do. Read my pre-game spiel again: you were warned about this."
Failing that, the Referee has a boot.

Power Gamer: A Player that makes a unique character idea BUT prefers to use that idea Solely for the over powered MinMax Stats rather than bothering to portray their character appropriately though RP.
Depends of the idea. Often, not portraying the unique traits properly has unique in-setting consequences.
But most systems I run are immune to that to begin with: Traveller, Feng Shui 2, Barbarians of Lemuria, 43AD, and the like.
Those that aren't, come with the in-setting consequences: Sengoku and Legends of the Wulin come to mind.

How I am currently dealing with this:
I am working on a Karma based idea on where the more Players power or Meta game the harder the CR's of the Encounters and increased skill DCs as a way of saying that "Reality" in the game is developing bad Karma on the characters. I'm still unsure how to implement this appropriately for my next game however. Hence why I am requesting thoughts on the matter.
Seems counter-productive to me, in the sense that it creates more work for the GM.
Also, I can't adjust a CR that I never bothered calculating in the first place.

Originally Posted by Cyber_Goddess View Post
Actually yes. I do read them, and often the tvtropes page. A good story that is worthy of analysis and such isn't 'ruined' by you knowing a single plot point.

Seriously, is Empire Strikes Back 'ruined' for you people, because you know the 'big twist', that by now is cultural knowledge?
I enjoyed it a lot more the first time I watched it, when I didn't know the twist. Typically I find that this is the case for stories - I'd rather read it as the author intended, than start with some TVTropes page or something. I guess you never watch murder mysteries, then?

But really, yes, this just illustrates my point - that metagaming doesn't necessarily spoil a game and that, really, it just depends on what kind of game you want. There are games for which too much knowledge pretty much defeats the point of them, and there are plenty for which it hardly matters at all.
Originally Posted by Yamazaki View Post
My live group is almost entirely made up of Roll-Players.
You mean, people who play tabletop games?

I think Yamazaki hit on my main advice with the troll-who-is-weak-to-acid-not-fire example. If you are concerned about metagaming, you can always keep knowledge away from the players themselves. Change up damage resistances, immunities, and weaknesses. Give a monster a few class levels that aren't expected. Take an obscure monster from ten years ago that they might not even know. Illusions are generally spells specifically meant into tricking people into not knowing what's real and not.

The players can't metagame if the players themselves aren't sure what's going on.

Originally Posted by TheFred View Post
So you always read synopses before you watch films and don't mind knowing about the twist ending? Everyone knowing what is going to happen isn't necessarily a bad thing but it's also not something that everyone wants all the time.
Unless I have a VERY good reason such as significant franchise familiarity to expect things to be within a certain range for the thing I am going to go watch, and I want to watch something within that range, yes. Yes I do.

Further, this has spared me MANY painful viewing experience's over the years that I would have hated. And more so had I been blindsided by them, as your suggested approach of going in blind would lead too.

It has, also, on occasion, prevented me from quitting a franchise on a couple of occasions were twists I didn't ask about happened that did in fact both blind side me, cause a massive shift in the tone and angle of things that took the series far away form what I come to it in the first place for for awhile, and as a result, left a foul taste in my mouth. Asking for further information from people who had finished these works related to the plot twist and having it clarified that by the end of the installment they bounced back is the only reason I don't look poorly on those franchises now, cause I came in expecting and intending to invest X dollars and X time to get Y result, and when it appeared I got result ZAZ instead, it was not desired.

As for that Karma system. Look. I realize it's incredibly popular to declare that powerful characters are horrible characters and substantially less powerful and capable characters are intrinsically superior. Being a popular sentiment does not make it correct. (I dare anyone who would like to argue the point to look at Dream and Death Of The Endless for refutation. Also if you haven't read The Sandman yet, seriously, be good to yourself and go read it.)

The Karma system makes more work for you, to enforce and expectation a lot of people do not share.

Look, I ran for 2 years and a bit of change with a party some ages back. I came in, game had been running for awhile. They were like, 3rd level and some change. 3.5 D&D.

They had gotten levels for either surviving, or for the DMPC breserking out and winning there fights for them. Surviving usually meant Running Away At Top Speed And Calling The Objective A Lost Cause, for context.

Party was very badly, from a mechanical standpoint, set up.

Seeing this, I made the obvious conclusion, that because there numbers are crap, they can basically only succeed on stupidly high rolls at anything of importance any of the time. And watching for a bit with a support character, this proved true. I had rolled a sorcerer and loaded him up with debuff spells to kind of help make fights easier for people to do stuff.

Well about 2 sessions in as I'm formulating this line of thought, suddenly most opponents become constructs cause that's what the Evil Enemy OrganizationTM was using. And there immune to magic, meaning I flat can't do anything any of the time in a fight.

Well, suspicions now confirmed, I try a different tactic, because by this point the party, despite clearly WANTING to succeed, are of the mind that they should just either run form fights or throw the DMPC at them, cause it's the only way. I have to persuade them this is not the case, which was good cause they wanted this not to be the case.

So, I pick up some buff spells. I show the Wizard-Gish the Warblade and some better spells for Gishing. I show the Rogue a few feats too pick from and work out a way to use one of my spells indirectly to give her flanking, and show her swordsage with Shadow Hand.

I show the ranger Hanks energy bow when she has money for it.

And I pile buff spells onto the whole party during combat. This works wonderfully for a few sessions. We even complete a mission with better than given success criteria (We were just suppose to get blue prints. We killed a fairly high ranked NPC enemy, saved a couple of now stanch allies, Sabotaged there new state of the art warship prototype, and got the blue prints to several of the construct units they were favoring so we could hunt for weaknesses AND the ship we'd just sabotaged.) It was by no means EASY, it was quite touch and go and tense on our end at multiple points, it wasn't the 100% screaming success we'd wanted (We'd hoped to actually capture the ship with a gambit we tried that fell through to drug the whole crew at once and take control of the bridge and take it back to our base and disarm them, and to capture a bunch of the constructs to be used/worked on as well. It didn't work, this was what came out of it by the time all was said and done.).

Then the DM started upping the Anti, suddenly, the enemy's were everywhere, could divination out ANYTHING, Always had a never ending supply of Anti-Magicfields that could not be avoided if you got within a mile of anything helpful unless it was a planed NPC getting you near it, so on and so forth. Wasn't all at once but the jump in it after winning became noticeable and it never, stopped, escalating.

By 10th level the bad guys had won everything except killing the party off, and only failed in that because of NPC intervention on the party's behalf, because of course being clubbed down with Deus Ex Machina was fun. (Kinda wasn't.)

The DM would later justify this too me when I brought this up as needing to challenge the players and the bad guys needing wins if they were going to be a threat.

And I had to explain to him that the GOOD GUYS need wins, or at least a reasonable chance of winning, on there own, with out a DMPC or a NPC bailing them out or backing them being the deciding factor. That what he'd done was push the numbers higher as we had tried to compensate for the enemy's' constantly being able to counter freaking EVERYTHING, thus forcing higher and higher op to get ANYTHING done. And we wanted to get things done. We didn't like constantly meeting and enjoying the NPC's whom were there victims just to be unable to help or save them ever and always have to run away at the end and loose them just to not die.

That story reminds me of the path that Karma system seems like it would end up taking you down.

And, again, there's a LOT of high power characters in both old school and modern fiction that people want to play as.

People want to be able to be Conan, Achilles, Ajax, Odysseus, Red Sonja, Legolas, Lancelot, Hulk, Dr. Strange, Beowulf, Hercules, Wonder Woman, the list goes on and on and on. They want to be able to be like them in the games, cause there cool. And part of why there cool is that they do have notable successes. Lot's of them. And there generally very capable at the things there suppose to be good at.

If I say I'm playing a big strong barbarian warrior, and I can't really accomplish any real feats or goals with my size and strength that matter (BSing IC during down time does NOT count.), then I'm not RPing a big strong barbarian warrior. I'm being asked to RP a compulsive liar who may be so deluded as to warrant being called mentally ill.

That can be fun, but it's rather far off the mark for what I was going for, now isn't it?

And just because my Barbarian is big and strong and thus highly dangerous to face in a fight, especially a direct one, doesn't mean he can't give interesting RP. He could still be the big comedy relief guy with a thick accent and fun one liners during the fight and who does slightly klutzy things out of combat. Roll damage for that friendly bear hug!

Or perhaps she's party mom, mediating disputes with a calm even keel because rage is dangerous, so she reserves it for those that would threaten her or those under her protection.

Or perhaps he's half crazed with his anger and he's determined to have his revenge on the dragon that burned down his tribes village and killed his family and companion's, and is coming to find the party as a sort of surrogate for that.

Or perhaps she's a devoted adrenaline junkie with a rebellious streak, but one person or place that she will literally die fighting for before she permits any harm to come to them/it.

Or any combo there of.

I can try to role play those with lousy stats and poor feat and skill and class feature choices. I probably will just fail and may very well die if no one in the party or NPC/DMPC roster is carrying me thought, and there's the fact that I'm not the big strong barbarian warrior again.

Conversely with very good, powerful stats and feat/skill/gear selections, you get the character RP experience and all the narrative weight it has, I get a character I am going to enjoy playing those out with cause I'm getting the Big Strong Barbarian, and that means I can actually not constantly be distracted by claiming to be something I objectively in game am not, so I can give the rest more focus and investment.

It doesn't happen all that often, but I agree with Sephirothsword117, except in his example it was the GM who metagamed, with predictably bad results. The players were just optimizing to the level he'd set, especially if the game had fixed Challenge Levels.
(Situations like the above are part of the reason I dislike such games, but that's for another topic. I just felt like mentioning it).

But then I think nobody objects to players who actually play out their characters. The OP seemed to object to people who take only the powers without accepting that they come with drawbacks. And yes, there might be drawbacks, just like NPCs that keep losing to the same tactic would come up with something to turn the tables.
But said NPCs likely wouldn't have perfect information about the party's strengths and weaknesses.

I find meta-gaming I have to talk through with some players. I'm not afraid to respond with "you don't know that" or "why did you choose that?" when someone is using out of character knowledge. It sounds easier to do around a table. I admit I haven't GM'd PbP.

But along with others above, there is no such thing as no meta-gaming. RPGs come with their own assumptions, like the trolls killed by fire and/or acid. It's what a troll is. Otherwise you'd have to describe a troll by appearance every time and not just name it a troll. There's a lot of these things we bring into the game because we've gamed before.

Something I think is related to meta-gaming but hasn't been brought up yet is the guy who wants to be everywhere. He's first through every door, even if the party is breaking down two doors at the same time. Like the meta-gamer who isn't separating his knowledge from character knowledge, everywhere-man isn't separating his time from the character's time. It calls for the same sorts of interventions "They were doing this while you were searching the other room. Let them have a turn."

But I still don't have a good sense of what a power-gamer is. There's a good chance I am one. I want my character to be as powerful as the rules will allow, because I don't want to be second string to someone else in the party who does it when I don't. I appreciate rules that say for example "you may not have more than X in this ability", because then I can buy that ability to X and move on to something else. I want to have points left over to spend on other skills, to be flexible and rounded instead of monolithic. Maybe you could set more hard caps on abilities, above what's written in the rules? If people aren't allowed to wring another +1 out of the rules, they'll have to spread their abilities around more.

Another issue is less crunch heavy systems. If you're playing something like FATE or the ultimate fluff only system freeform you REALLY need everyone on the same page where things are going to go.

A lot of my games are mostly roleplay with little dice rolling. So keeping my players on the same page as me so I don't make them mad with a twist or they accidentally ruin the plot is...well it's just easier to use open communication I find than hope they don't do the wrong thing that renders the game unwinnable.


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