Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ware the Metagamers

I was reading through one of my forgotten realms books, I can't for the life of me remember which one, and Ed Greenwood had written, something like..."I know it seems impossible, but I've heard that adventurers have been known to read!"  He was giving DM's the advice of "change it up" - vary the contents of the adventure, the HD of the creatures, change your traps up, give monsters them a new special ability from time to time without warning... all of these things bring back the feeling of not knowing what is going to happen.  That feeling is much more common when you are new to the game, not a player of 20-30 years.

It made me think about my personal pet peeve against obvious use of metagaming.  My pet peeve is one of the reasons I always hated "Detect Good" "Detect Evil"... I wanted my games to be a little more shades of grey and a little less black and white.  You use wits and role playing to determine who the villain is, not Detect Good/Evil on the entire village!  I banished the "combat machine" ability from my new Swords and Wizardry game because I don't want to tell my players, "yeah, you can't use that ability on Lizard Men, they happen to be 2 HD creatures..."  It takes you right out of the role play environment and into a board game.

Don't get me wrong, some amount of Metagaming is going to happen, it is human nature and might even be good for the game itself.  However, I really don't like setting the game up from the start for an overabundance of it.

So I started thinking about a couple of the creature statistics in this addition of the game, Dragons for example.  In S&W whitebox, dragons are given fixed HP and fixed damage breath weapon.  Well, any seasoned player of a few adventures, or an avid reader, is going to know exactly how many HP a given dragon will have just by how many it dealt when it used its breath weapon.  I can tell you that I will be giving dragons a much more variable HD range, and actually roll the dice to generate HP.  I'll also give them a breath weapon dice pool and roll those too.  We are playing over skype so I'm mostly using an online dice roller anyway, so rolling 10d6 takes just about as long as 1d6.  In fact, maybe soon I should post a custom stat block for dragons up here.  I like adding in things like tail slap attacks, wing attacks, etc...  

While I'm at it, there will be the random firebreathing Bugbear, the random troll that can handle sunlight, but has allergies, etc... The beauty of Swords and Wizardry, is it should allow for more adaptation without "breaking" anything.

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