I continue with my thought about role-playing games, this time about metagaming and the players.
Metagaming is more or less part of every role-playing games, whether you want it or not. You can’t ask your players (or only to really good players or to the ones who easily put themselves into their character and into the story) to forget their own personality and their relations with the other players.
Some games also promote metagaming, for instance if you have bennies or cards that give advantage, so you can help an other player. These bennies and cards are clearly metagaming tools, because we can’t justify with roleplay that a character have given a benny to another. He or she should help, by doing something during his/her turn, the other character in question.
Often, some players, because RPGs are about fun and friendship, want to play a cheap trick to another, even if there are no reasons to do it in the game by only taking into account the relations between their characters.
As a game master, you also do metagaming. You know the players (or you will know them after some sessions), and you try to create a story good enough for everyone, the one who loves fight and strategy, the one who love diplomacy… It is not only a story for the characters because you need to entertain yourself and all your players.
For me, both way of playings are good, with a lot of metagaming or with the less possible. However, I prefer when the players help each others with their characters, by doing actions to win the fight or succeed the challenge.
My thought are now based upon a French article which define three types of players : the gamer, the storyteller and the actor.
The gamer loves when there are fights, to win them and to push his character at his maximum.
The storyteller loves to create a good story with everyone around the table even if it kills his character.
The actor wants a complex simulation, to feel what feels his character and to know all the rules of this world.
To remind you about my previous article, I wrote that low-level rules allow you to be close to your character while high-level create a distance.
And there are light and complex systems for both types of rules, traditionally divided between simulationist (time consuming) and narrativist (ofter easy to learn) systems.
If I take Savage Worlds, it is a really good system for gamers who want to confront monsters and take up challenges. Of course, you also can create a good story and a detailed world with this system, but it favors the gamers.
It is also a system who promotes metagaming with the bennies.
I agree with this distinction of three player types defined in this French article. Metagaming is often liked by gamers, while storytellers and actors are less interested in it.
A gamer wants to create a story by doing things, killing monsters, exploring new lands. As a game master, you need to be a gamer yourself and to improvise quickly with such players. I have a lot of gamers at my tables and I like this way of playing.
A storyteller wants the game master to create a deep story, a detailed world, to make extensive explanations of each new situation. As a gamemaster, you need to be a good teller and to prepare your game, because it can quite hard to improvise detailed enemies or cities.
An actor wants also a detailed world but with detailed rules, not only the speech of the game master. As a gamemaster, I think it is the more challenging type of player but you can live really good sessions if everything work fine.
Of course, each player is a little bit the three types of players, but tend to be more one type.
Personally, as a GM, I like to be free to improvise quickly and efficiently, so I prefer quite light systems with rules to have a frame but without being paralyzed by them.
I think I unconsciously promote the gaming style with my players, because I like action and heroic or hard decisions. For me, the roleplay is more about what you do than what you say or wrote on your character sheet, even if it is useful to know what to do. So I like deep characters only if the actions follow the background.
If you have something to say about it, don’t hesitate to leave a reply, and tell me what kind of player you are 😉