Edge of Darkness - Powered by vBulletin Edge of Darkness - Powered by vBulletin

Metagaming and you

  1. #1
    Youngblood's Avatar

    Metagaming. It’s a conversation that we all need to have from time to time. Metagaming is any Out of Character discussion or planning with another player about In Character actions. Many of us have engaged in some type of metagaming at one point or another, but what we need to talk about is the difference between harmless metagaming and improper metagaming. Say you want to have a meeting with the Hierarch or the Prince. Normally you would just post a phone call or text in the communication forum and go from there, but because of scene limits they may not be able to have a scene for entirely OOC reasons. Harmless metagaming would be reaching out to the player in a private message or on discord and finding out if they have a scene slot available, or if they could hold a slot open for a meeting once one becomes available. This is technically metagaming because it involves an OOC discussion of IC actions, but it’s harmless metagaming because it does not involve defining or discussing in character actions or motivations. It only involves scheduling, which only comes up because of OOC scene limits.

    Now let’s say that during that message determining availability you discuss the intent of the scene, even something as simple as saying you want to meet with the Prince to discuss a banishment. That’s when you starting crossing over from harmless metagaming to improper metagaming. To avoid this, the easy solution is to have that discussion about the intent of the meeting in character during the phone call or text conversation. It is perfectly fine to define what an intended meeting is about in character, but it is not okay to have that discussion out of character. This also means we want to encourage more scenes starting from a communication thread, instead of the players just going straight to the “show up at their office" thread. Now as we said, this kind of thing has been done by many people. We are not doing this to single out any one person, but we’ve noticed that this type of metagaming, the improper and potentially harmful kind, has started to become more and more prolific and thus more and more likely to damage the game. This post and the subsequent conversations on the matter are to place everyone on notice that we are strongly discouraging all improper metagaming and that we’ll start taking action if it doesn’t stop. Metagaming may seem innocuous. You think you’re just crafting stories and that it’s okay to discuss some direction for your scenes, or even to plan out your actions with other players. But metagaming has several unintended consequences:

    1. It causes players not involved in the discussion to feel as if acts and discussions are being taken out of their hands. For example, if several players in a scene agree they are voting a certain way, before any in character discussion has even taken place, then for those left out it can feel as if they never had a choice at all, which is never fun. No one likes feeling like there are people planning against them, especially when it turns out it’s true

    2. It can result in players purposely or accidentally reacting to information that their character should not know, because they gained insight through the OOC discussion. This doesn’t have to be as blatant as a character saying something that happened in a scene they weren’t in. This can be as simple as a player telling others out of character that their character would approve of a certain action, and then other players start doing that very thing without any in character discussion to support it

    3. It can result in less interesting stories for roleplay, because the stories aren’t being created organically, they’re being manufactured by players. The essence of roleplay, such as with the World of Darkness, is to create stories together. But that requires that we each honestly react and interact with the actions of others, not ‘plan out the best story’.

    Our job as staff is not to act like nuns, smacking your hands with rulers to stop any fun. Our job is to help the fun and creativity flow by preventing behavior that ruins the fun and creativity of others unreasonably. Metagaming, while it may seem simple, can have a damaging and lasting effect on a community and on roleplaying and we want to heavily discourage such behavior.

    Please let us know if anyone needs any clarification. Thank you.

    The staff: Matrixchild Selena Steven Kelreth YumYumCrow Youngblood

  2. Likes [ ], Forn Clakes, liked this post
  3. #2
    Krakenbox's Avatar

    I really appreciate this clarification. One question I would ask is in the past I've often employed methods of engagement that have bled from my degrees (namely education and literature). I don't wish to repeat any mistakes moving forward?

    Goal-Setting for Scenes/Character Focus:

    When I have a player reach out to me to set aside a Scene in my (often full) queue, I often ask for them to have a Goal in mind.

    I make it clear this by no means means they will get the outcome they want, this will not influence my PC, and to keep it vague.

    • "I want to have a scene about mental health that circles around my Medic concept"
    versus the Obvious No-No
    • "I need a scene where your Changeling uses X Contract on mine to move a narrative forward. Then our PCs will trust each other/be friends."

    I ask this because in my mind, my own personal engagement comes from creating a story, and I will heavily bias towards streaming character interactions unless the PC is forced to BASED OFF A PLAYER'S WRITING/READING level comprehension. That sucks and doesn't foster a good game space, so this is my attempt to make time for every player and make Scenes accessible.

    I am checking in if this approach is not wanted by the staff, and I can stop immediately. I know many of the players on this site have engaged in this approach and gave me feedback that they enjoyed it (even if our PCs had negative outcomes from the encounter).

    Feel free to probe with examples if what I have outlined needs more clarification before Yes or No.

    Managing Player Anxiety in Conflict Scenes:

    The other scenario I was curious about is that a lot of players on this website have mentioned/have opened up about struggling with a mental illness. Anxiety disorders aside, anyone can relate to the stress we all feel when our PC is getting their butts handed to them in a Scene. This can sometimes just be excitement, but I have heard the list of shaking hands, panic attacks, freezing and leaving the Thread for a few days, etc.

    I noticed some players don't really know how to come out of a character "loss" and feel this reflects on their own value as a player on this website. They actively fear "my way or the highway" with more powerful characters and will be ostracized in a manner just for playing into their own PC goals.

    While it's true character actions have consequences, I have always engaged in a but of humanity on my part of sorting Story from Reality, and thanking players for having the bravery to introduce conflict for the sake of creating something for other characters to work off of.

    I think most would agree no one enjoys their character actions being analyzed OOC as stupid or nasty with the language of the player themselves being the drag. I have had players sometimes message me, confused why their character is drawing aggro, or the nervous "lol...wow X sure is screwing up...".

    I treat this as NORMAL cry for help of, "I feel dumb right now can someone please remind me you don't hate me OOC".

    Would one explaining Setting from source books and also talking about character writing by posing examples also be frowned upon?


    "No, Winston the Vampire blowing up at your PC for forgetting they had a Boon owed doesn't mean you as a player shat the bed. They are a bitter Nosferatu that has shown time and time again that they think the Court doesn't respect them and that is probably the source of the overreaction. Play to the Scene how your character would respond."

    Now, what if the player is freezing? "Oh gosh! But I don't know what they would do..."

    "There's always the option of throwing an Empathy roll and see what happens." - Not knowing what's on the player's sheet, mind you.

    Would this prompt on rules count as meta-gaming? Or should the response always be "check with the ST"?

  4. Likes liked this post
  5. #3
    Domino's Avatar

    Mister Meadows, Interpreter
    Striking Looks

    Is it appropriate to approach people OOC and ask them "I'm looking to make a coterie/motley/cabal and want to know if you are interested in that with me as a fellow player" or should all inquiries like that be handled in character?

  6. Likes liked this post
  7. #4
    MrGrieves's Avatar

    I am also coming from Domino's pov here -
    How are characters supposed to link up if we, as players, aren't on the same schedule? And if w'ere not guilty of using OOC knowledge in any of our scenes, what's the harm in having friendly pow wows OOC?
    Not to get all defensive, but this post kinda came up right after an admin appearance on the Discord channel. I don't necessarily think discussion between players about things going on, or how to meet and cooperate IC is metagaming, especially if we're leaving out results that affect other PCs without their consent. And I'm coming from the position of someone who has participated in/run many, many games. Though I agree with most of the OP, as its a good thing to highlight once in awhile to remind everybody that we're on an online forum, I don't think I've seen any outright metagaming when I've been online. Read wrong, this discourages any discussion of events or relationships outside of IC, which is a bit extreme IMO.
    Just my two cents, not trying to make anybody angry.

  8. #5
    Youngblood's Avatar

    I think that as long as it is a situation where they are acting as a third person "sanity check" and giving general advice on what a player could do to get past an idea freeze, that is within the harmless domain. It should be noted that there is a difference between saying that they could try to do an empathy roll and saying "Oh well Mister Bitter Nosferatu's weakness is hugs so you could cut right through the drama by giving him some lovin'". The latter is using OOC information to drive an IC action, the former is giving some general ideas on how to play World of Darkness.

    Overall, there is a problem with most roleplaying games where players of all levels may be tunnel visioned and might blur the lines between OOC and IC as described. If it appears as if a person approaching a situation where they might be unintentionally holding you "emotionally hostage" out of empathizing with the OOC anxiety issues or the other mental health issues, you should absolutely refer those situations to the storytellers for discussion on their questions. Your in character actions should never be influenced by out of character feelings.

    No, that is an in character question and discussion that should be occurring.
    Where is the fun, risk or development when you as a player already know the answer before your character even asks the question?

    A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, "Does the answer to my question give me ideas and options for my character or does it decide what my character will do?"

    Discussion about things that are going on is perfectly fine because what happened has already happened. What you shouldn't be discussing in private messages, discord or otherwise is what is going to happen. As we stated in the original post, you can ask a player to coordinate if they have scene space, but you wouldn't want to make that leap to ask "Do you want to form a coterie/motley/cabal and if so do you have scene space?" Those are in character alliances, and part of the the development between the characters is the potential to be declined. If the player tells you, "No I don't want to form a coterie with you", then you don't end up making the scene right? An IC interaction then does not occur because of OOC information. That's metagaming.

    This post came up after a significant amount of discussion between all of the staff as we have all noticed a steady increase in the detail of the conversation crossing over into potential metagaming. As we stated before, there are no specific individuals we're calling out, just that it is becoming more and more prolific and with the influx of newer players to the site it was time for us all to level set.

    Great questions, please keep asking if you're unclear!

  9. Likes Selena, MrGrieves, liked this post
  10. #6
    MrGrieves's Avatar

    Right on. Thanks for the response!

  11. #7
    Youngblood's Avatar

    Hi everyone,

    I'm not sure how I can say this any differently. I tried formal and educating with a practice of assuming positive intent and it still continues, so I am going to try blunt and direct.

    It is extremely challenging for me or the storytellers to have to read everything and then go back through and try to read many historical scenes to give players the benefit of the doubt before then reaching out to confirm whether or not they can supply a source for information that it doesn't seem they should have. It is exhausting to research whereas it is lazy for any player to metagame. The storytellers shouldn't have to take time to do this and it takes away from them being able to tell stories.

    Most of all, I'm astonished that for how many players I see reading all of the threads and posts as they occur that not more of you point out to your fellow players that "Hey, you don't have that info" or "Hey, you can't really respond to my inner narration". You're not being a jerk by mentioning it in a PM or pointing it out politely. People get confused or mix things up. Shit happens but doing some friendly policing among yourselves strengthens the venue because it makes everyone better roleplayers.

    Let me be clear, my 'give a fucks' are at absolutely zero tolerance for this right now and let me also be clear that when I say to stop doing the above things, it doesn't mean to try to be more careful to not be caught by doing direct communications with the same level of metagaming you've been scolded about. There isn't a win condition to this game, and you should be having fun playing it together. If you're not having fun or feel like you need to coordinate OOC to gain an advantage, then leave the site please because all you're doing is dragging down the enjoyment a game that other people cherish. And frankly, if I feel that is occurring then I will show you the door myself because I have to protect the people who want to play this game without cheating.

    This is my absolute last warning on the subject. I've played games like these for all my long life and crafted wonderful and organic stories that I still share to this day with new people I meet when we get to talking. Some with great victories and many with fantastic downfalls. For those of you who may be newer or just don't realize the negative impacts of metagaming- You are robbing yourselves and others by scripting and coordinating actions OOC. Please consider the long term consequences to site health by metagaming and knock it off.

  12. Likes [ ], deltadream, Abyssalstar liked this post
  13. #8
    Krakenbox's Avatar

    For players struggling to keep information they read from enjoying other threads, I'd strongly reccomend keeping some form of notes for your PC.

    We're human and can make mistakes in timelines, but when it seriously impacts a character in an arch, we need to be vigilant with our ability to keep to a single character perspective.

    It's a challenge when posts are far more interesting with inner thoughts and body language, and it naturally impacts the flow of a scene as people respond to it. Rather than the response be a flurry of dice and bare bones posting (I think everyone would find that boring) I personally keep folders of all my character scenes. Hell, if you are super nerdy you can even keep a PC diary.

    For the BIG ONES I've noticed some players use the tool of linking to a post their PC was directly involved in. It does help with ST context. Another thing to keep in mind that despite us wishing it, characters don't need to have perfect memories either. There's even a dice mechanic for information recall (See Minisheet Page). Rather than pulling out hair that something was mistaken OOC, I try and just play to the flow of the scene (example: in a heated IC arguement I forgot my vampire had been paid a Boon to take it off the table. When it was pointed out IC I had fun with it that my PC had a lapse in judgement because of his frustration rather than getting embarrassed).

    I use dice if it's PVP to even the playing field to what is realistic to the character. There are Merits like Eidetic Memory for a reason! Data mining a scene from months ago to precise phrasing to go "nu-uh!" is impressive. If we keep in mind that we are writing characters to have fun in a collaborative setting, things get a lot less stressful.

  14. Likes Youngblood liked this post
+ Reply to Thread

Similar Threads

  1. MtA Metagaming
    OOC MtA
    • 1
    • POSTS
    • Oct 5th, 2018
  2. Metagaming
    Important Stuff
    • 13
    • POSTS
    • Mar 31st, 2012