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Larpcast 7: Metagaming

We talk about metagaming, with a focus on the good kinds that can actually enhance the game. All this while Mickey is sick and Bill is trapped in some crappy hotel room far from home. Enjoy!

Extra notes:

1) Wil Wheaton played Wesley Crusher

2) Despite what Bill says, if we get enough money I am totally buying a boat.

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  • Jon Bird

    2 in 2 days it must be my birthday!

    May 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm
  • larpcast

    Thanks! Glad you like them so much!

    May 5, 2011 at 11:16 am
  • Valerie H.

    Hey guys! Really enjoyed this discussion. For me it’s easy to come up with reasons why metagaming is bad so it was nice to see how it can be used for good.

    My favorite example of metagaming used for good was during a NERO event. A barbarian character, who doesn’t like celestial magic, helped a new celestial casting PC with their incants. There is no reason IG that this barbarian PC would help another to cast celestial magic, but he did it to help out a new player.

    Again, great job. Looking forward to catching up on all the stuff I’ve missed.


    PS: I love the “adventurer” voice Bill. :)

    May 5, 2011 at 11:59 am
  • Bill


    That’s a great example of good metagaming. A player with less interest in the fun had by a new player could have done just the opposite, and killed a young adventurer simply for asking for help with celestial magic. And then you’ve got a sad new player who doesn’t know why he was just killed, deciding that LARP isn’t fun.

    May 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm
  • Tom B.

    I had an experience like Valerie’s, where I taught my undead squire how to cast necromancy better. It was WAY more awkward.

    May 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm
  • Mark

    PVP - I’ve done my fair share of pvp and some of it greatly exaggerated, but a lot of times there is a reason you were killed you might not just be aware of it. I would much rather a character come up to me OOG and say hey dude why did you kill me and me give a vague reason than for that person think that I am just being mean or hate them OOG. I think PVP adds an element of fear to the game when NPCs aren’t always around. I do agree you shouldn’t PVP just to PVP (or if you do only rob them not kill them) and you shouldn’t PVP vs lowbies unless there was some grievous offense. You don’t want them to get frustrated at the game.

    @ Bill…whisper whisper whisper X Y Z whisper whisper ADVENTURE whisper whisper me + you

    May 5, 2011 at 2:54 pm
  • Mark A

    Great Podcast guys, I loved the focus on positive metagaming.

    I have a non-judgmental question that came to mind during your talk (nero specific). I’d like to get your thoughts on the nero rule that you can’t scry (via formal or other) on PCs, and taking that knowledge IG. That’s an out of game rule, similar to “new player deaths” and the like. I was challenged by that in an interaction we had one time Mickey, and I didn’t know how to react. To give a bit more background (from my perspective), your character was making a ruling on a situation, stating that the person of interest must be an adventurer because no information could be obtained through scrying formals.

    Somewhat related to that same rule, as a plot-person, how would you handle a situation when a PC was (inadvertently) scrying on either a PC or something involving a PC? One situation years ago, players were scrying on an upcoming encounter, trying to get specifics, but a PC was involved (on the other end). Do you just tell them the formal doesn’t start, that they don’t get any information, details unrelated to the PC? As referenced in the first paragraph, saying “you don’t get anything” is information in and of itself and what the rule is intended to prevent.

    With a rule like that, how do you react as a player and as a marshal?


    May 5, 2011 at 4:26 pm
  • larpcast

    Hmmm, sort of off the cuff, but here are my thoughts.

    First, generally speaking, it’s a much more consistently observable phenomenon so it’s a bit more fair game I think. But, honestly, I probably shouldn’t have done that. On the other hand, the way various bits of info came to me and the way it (The dreamvision) was described to me *really* pointed towards a PC. But still, probably a bad call on my part. Or, rather, not the most ideal one.

    That aside, I would say that if you’re playing an NPC and it’s brought to you, you just react however that NPC would to the information. The more difficult quandary is the one you mention about marshaling divinatory magic. It’s extremely case specific, but there you need to find a way to provide information on the topic without inferring other PCs. The thing about the NERO divinations though is that they really cvan be as general or offkilter as you need them to be so you just need to essentially provide the info you *Can* without telling them there’s info you *can’t*.

    It’s hard to describe, exactly, without a good example but I think you get the gist. The other thing you can do is simply broaden the topic on them and give them some *other* useful piece of info. “How are the bad guys so good at predicting our strategy?” Instead of telling them about the PC double agent, maybe you just give them some other useful bit of info about the enemy’s plans or something. The PCs will be kind of confused, but they’re getting something at least.

    And yeah, if worst comes to worst, it fails. But I probably wouldn’t require them to burn the sticks on it.


    May 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm
  • Mark A

    Good thoughts!

    RE our interaction, I think I rolled with it as that NPC, and agree that’s the best thing to do. While it is an observable phenomenon, I was drawing the connection to the “new player deaths” rule for that reason; someone could say “the spirit of the youngest adventurers are impervious!” Where do you draw that line seeing that it’s an OOG rule?

    RE the second situation, as a marshal I tried to dance around it, giving peripheral details, etc. The PCs cast a second and contemplated a third, focusing on specific details more related to the encounter the PC was directly involved in.

    And agreed regarding the components… I would just say that the formal fails to begin. When I did that though, PCs started trying to figure out why the formal didn’t start (thinking the components were good, that the scroll had expired, etc.).


    May 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm
  • larpcast

    I think the line is what Bill said, about intent and benefit. The divination rule was there to protect PCs from unfair situations. I think, at the time, I had this feeling that it was basically being abused to screw me over by another PC who had gotten the plot committee to somehow allow him to either screw me in an offboard encounter or screw me in an encounter they ran on board that violated what seemed appropriate to me (how did he know where to be at the right time, etc). I don’t really want to turn this into a rehash of all that stuff, but that’s the sort of stuff I was thinking; that the protective rule was being turned into a weapon, similar to the way we describe people going to OOG parties and telling other people about their shady deeds in order to prevent them from investigating IG.

    Yeah, I once told a PC ahead of time that his formal wasn’t going to work (for a different reason, but functionally the same thing). I did it to spare him components and time so he wouldn’t go through the rigamarole for nothing. He accused me of being, basically, unwilling to let PCs meaningfully affect my plotline. It’s the kind of thing you just have to suck up sometimes and work to address the apparent breakdown in trust.


    May 5, 2011 at 5:12 pm
  • Jyn

    One thing to note about how the new player deaths rule is different from, in this case, the murky issue about how IG is the “no scrying on PCs” thing.

    The new player deaths playtest (not sure about the 9th ed version) is really, really explicit about the fact that acting like newbies are invulnerable is gaming the system, and pretty much cheating. So clearly the “sacrifice the newb, she’s invincible” tactic is counter to the intent.

    The Dreamvision/High Horoscope rule and the illegal skills and powers errata don’t have any such caveat. So while saying “it failed, so that suggests it might be a PC” might not be terribly sporting, depending on the circumstance, it’s certainly not a conclusion that’s counter to what it says right there in the rule.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm
  • Tom B.

    The IG-ness of those OOG rules can vary from place to place.

    When I played in NC it was pretty well established that the difficulty of divination regarding adventurers was simply another part of having a “gifted spirit” or “adventuresome fate”. Those terms also accounted for why adventurers gained power far more quickly than others and why their spirits tended to be more resilient than the average person’s, for example.

    I was able to get characters to see some of these things as tendencies rather than hard and fast rules, in an in-game sense, and I think the setting was better for it. The playerbase’s inexperience with the rules may have played a role, however.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:49 am