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View Full Version : Character Creation, Metagaming, & You: Where's the Line?



Amphetryon
2010-10-29, 04:52 PM
There are, as of this posting, a couple of different threads currently active that brought me to this line of thought. People have varying ideas about what constitutes metagaming, and how much out-of-character knowledge can be applied to character creation before they start to feel it's interfering with the roleplaying aspect. I'd like to discuss what the parameters are for metagaming, and how much is 'too much.' There are not any wrong answers here, provided your response is on-topic and has a basis you feel you can support. Please do not misconstrue what follows as an attempt at a reducto ad absurdium logic exercise, as that is not the intent.

Before going any further, I'll acknowledge here that this topic seems primed for folks to start calling out 'Stormwind Fallacy' in one form or another. Be that as it may, I'd prefer that this discussion be kept separate from the Stormwind issue. As intended, this isn't about whether roleplaying and 'rollplaying' are conjoined or separate entities, but about the point at which their simultaneous existence in the game starts to interfere with the fun of the game for you, if such a point exists.

So that we have a common point of reference for the discussion, I'll set the scene in which our new characters are created. We have five players, including the DM: you, Pat, Kelly, Robin, and JJ, who DMs. JJ says all WotC books are available, the characters should start at 3rd level on 28 point buy without any LA, and will be exploring the 'wilds of Gitpanea.' This is the first point of concern. Is foreknowledge of the number of other players, the books other players are using, the character level and general creation method, and the basic scenario in which your character will start too much for a fun roleplay experience and creation process for you? If yes, can you explain how it might be handled more to your liking? If no, please continue.

The group takes the 'wilds' idea and runs with it. Pat almost immediately announces the creation of a male Half-Orc Barbarian, Krunk, who runs around with Power Attack and a mercurial greatsword. At almost the same time, Kelly creates Tucci, a female Gnome Druid who has a thing for bats and explosions. Robin, meanwhile, proudly shows off Olivier, a male changeling Savage Bard with a penchant for Enchantment spells and an eye toward buffing the party in combat. This is the second point of concern. Does it bother you, or unduly influence your creative process, to know ahead of time the race/class/role of the other characters in the campaign? If yes, how do you suggest managing the process so that it's not a problem for you? If no, please continue.

Because of the others' choices, you've chosen a throwing-focused Wild Halfling Ranger/Scout, which adequately fills a couple of gaps in your party's needs. Wait, that should be the third point of concern, there, and the fourth. Is creating a character to round out a party's roles and skill-set going too far into metagaming for you? What about the choice to start off as a multiclass character, rather than having class choices evolve through roleplaying? If either of these is the point at which you think "too much," how would you remedy the situation(s)? If neither of these counts as metagaming for you, please continue.

With a Ranger/Scout build and access to all the WotC books, your thoughts turn to the Swift Hunter feat, which is popular enough to have sprouted its own handbook. At 3rd level, regardless of which of your classes has two levels and which has but one, you're not able to take the feat yet. Here we come to the fifth point of concern. Would asking JJ about Swift Hunter, or planning ahead for the next feat you're likely to take, spoil immersion or the 'roleplay' experience for you? What about your perusal of the Swift Hunter Handbook, either before the game starts, before you reach the appropriate level, or even after? If any of these issues with the Swift Hunter feat are what cross the line into metagaming for you, how would you suggest rectifying the issue or otherwise dealing with it?

As you're a Ranger (and didn't trade out the ability), you get a Favored Enemy. Choosing a Favored Enemy becomes the seventh point of concern. Would it cross the line to metagaming for you if you asked JJ what enemies might figure prominently enough in the campaign to make suitable Favored Enemy choices? Would you rather choose without any foreknowledge of what types of enemies JJ has in store for the party? If, once the game starts, you see more - or less! - of the particular Favored Enemy you chose than you would think likely for the setting, would that be enough to damage immersion for you and take you into metagame territory?

Finally, if none of these points of concern have officially gone 'too far' for you, where, precisely, would you place the point at which making or playing a character has crossed over into a metagame exercise, and more importantly, what do you suggest as a remedy, short of avoiding the issue entirely?

Marnath
2010-10-29, 05:00 PM
I can justify all of those things, either as something a person in that region would know as common knowledge, or as a remarkable coincidence. It goes too far when a character uses knowledge they'd have no way of aquiring. For example, a mage with no spellcraft ranks or knowledge arcana who could tell you the precise order of spells needed to breach a prismatic wall, or a 8 int fighter knowing what every monsters name is, along with strengths and weaknesses.

Aidan305
2010-10-29, 05:08 PM
The only things there that I would constitute metagaming to a degree is the last one. I feel that the choice of something like that should be influenced by character background, not player knowledge.

That said, personally I tend to get slightly unhappy about planning a character's progression in advance. I feel that a character should develop as things happen to her, not in accordance with some pre-made plan.

Coidzor
2010-10-29, 05:08 PM
What kind of person is like "OMG SWIFTHUNTERHANDBOOK RUINED MY ENJOYMENT OF THE GAME" just from reading it that would read it in the first place? :smallconfused:

This strains my willing suspension of disbelief!

As does the first. "Oh noes! I know what books I have access to with which to build my new character! :smalleek: META-GAMING!" If knowing what books one can draw upon to build a character irks someone, why are they playing a roleplaying game when they're going to have to draw upon at least one book to build a character?

Kylarra
2010-10-29, 05:10 PM
I'll throw an 8th cause of concern, an over concern with metagaming and actively anti-metagaming.

Grynning
2010-10-29, 05:10 PM
I don't see any issues with the metagame in character creation. If you don't plan out the party composition as a group, the DM can have a lot of problems working everyone into the same party and story. It's much more believable for a bunch of wilderness heroes to band up than for a bunch of misfits with wildly different backgrounds to all of a sudden end up in the wilderness on an adventure together. Also, if you don't plan out at least a little, party members could be redundant and step on each others' toes, or the party could lack a vital role and be unable to complete some of the encounters the DM would like to play out.

To put it another way, a writer doesn't create each one of the characters in their story in a vacuum with no forethought into how they'll interact with the other characters. Since D&D (and other RPG's) is cooperative storytelling AND a combat game that also depends on player cooperation, planning and metagaming is almost required.

kyoryu
2010-10-29, 05:14 PM
I can justify all of those things, either as something a person in that region would know as common knowledge, or as a remarkable coincidence. It goes too far when a character uses knowledge they'd have no way of aquiring. For example, a mage with no spellcraft ranks or knowledge arcana who could tell you the precise order of spells needed to breach a prismatic wall, or a 8 int fighter knowing what every monsters name is, along with strengths and weaknesses.

True, but just about anything can be justified.

Working with the other players to build a well-rounded party doesn't really bother me, it's part of having 'built' characters. Nor does starting multiclass.

Knowing the world that you're in doesn't bug me in the least, as your character should fit into that world. Even if there's optimization (Gitpanaea has lots of XYZ critters, so I'm going to make sure I'm effective against XYZ), that's a *completely* reasonable IC thing to do - if there's lots of those critters, the people of the world would develop defenses and tactics around them.

Building characters (as opposed to random generation) almost always has some level of metagaming attached to it. I don't think I've ever seen a scenario where it doesn't. Arguably, that's the entire reason to *build* characters instead of randomly generate them.

Some of the other things (planning the build levels in advance, etc.) start pinging a bit higher on my metagame-o-meter, as you start getting to the point where the player is driving character development, rather than the experiences of the character driving character development. Where you want to fit on that spectrum is entirely a personal choice, and I don't necessarily think is "wrong" or "right". Most people are probably somewhere in the middle, even hardcore RPers. True powergamers are the only ones that are probably naturally inclined to just have player-driven development, as a pre-planned build doesn't really allow for things to develop organically.

I'm *personally* in favor of letting the character's experiences drive their advancement, but as I said, I think it's just more of a play style thing than anything.

soulchicken
2010-10-29, 05:17 PM
I have to agree with Marnath.

Even if you have a lvl 1 character thats only 17 years old, he's still been in said environment for 17 years. Think about how much you knew about your world when you were 17 years old. If you aren't, then how much do you know at whatever age you are.

Keep in mind that you didn't grow up in the 'wilds' and you haven't really had the oportunity to know one particular group of beings that you would get bonuses to. With that being said, think about hunters who have kids that they teach everything they know to. I bet a hunter's kid at the age of 17 would have definate bonuses to tracking, killing, skinning and dealing with deer or whatever he hunts.

Filling out a party could be taken as metagaming, but this is a social game. How else are you going to make your characters? Have everyone sit in a room by themselves and create their characters? Have 4 uber charger barbarians? 4 dungeon crawling rogues? 4 melee'ers with no healing/range support? That might be fun for awhile, but when you are sleeping a few days in a row to get your hps up for a next encounter would get old fast. Or worse, trying to get out of a dungeon with 2 dead comrades and only have 1/4 hps left and no way to get your hps back.

Amphetryon
2010-10-29, 05:18 PM
What kind of person is like "OMG SWIFTHUNTERHANDBOOK RUINED MY ENJOYMENT OF THE GAME" just from reading it that would read it in the first place? :smallconfused:

This strains my willing suspension of disbelief!

As does the first. "Oh noes! I know what books I have access to with which to build my new character! :smalleek: META-GAMING!" If knowing what books one can draw upon to build a character irks someone, why are they playing a roleplaying game when they're going to have to draw upon at least one book to build a character?
It's possible that your choice to create a Swift Hunter build, having read the Swift Hunter Handbook either beforehand or as you progress the character, causes a metagaming concern to arise with one of your party members.

Coidzor
2010-10-29, 05:20 PM
It's possible that your choice to create a Swift Hunter build, having read the Swift Hunter Handbook either beforehand or as you progress the character, causes a metagaming concern to arise with one of your party members.

So they're free to dictate my build choices for me then? And that's not a metagaming concern?

...Actually isn't caring about metagaming a form of metagaming in and of itself anyway?

Squally!
2010-10-29, 05:24 PM
i almost dont like knowing what other people are playing, but you have to be able to handle that well as a DM, and luckily, the DM's i play with can do it well,and make it seem like it isnt tailored for us.

i dont ever pre-build a level 20 version of my character, theres no set path for each one, but they will follow logical paths.

it is logical for a ranger/scout to take swift hunter, as he advances in levels he learns to better use things that he knows blah blah.

as far as things like picking favored enemies, i wont ask "what we will be fighting a lot of?" but i will ask "in your world, do x exist?" i understand it is reasonable to take favored enemies for local creatures, but what is local to your character? just because you are in x location, does not mean youve always been there.
Characters need to fit thier backstories.

having said all that, i do optimize, everyone in my group does, its just how we play. That doesnt meant i wont play something sub optimal because its not the best, but i will ask for advice on how to make it the best it can be. Id assume any character would try to be the best they can be at what they do as they progress, rather then just being mediocre and getting by.

Marnath
2010-10-29, 05:26 PM
Keep in mind that you didn't grow up in the 'wilds' and you haven't really had the oportunity to know one particular group of beings that you would get bonuses to. With that being said, think about hunters who have kids that they teach everything they know to. I bet a hunter's kid at the age of 17 would have definate bonuses to tracking, killing, skinning and dealing with deer or whatever he hunts.


Even more telling, is that in most of those societies at 17 years old, you've been a full blown adult for a while already. "Childhood" is a modern indulgence due to not having to scrape by on a subsistence living.

aetherialDawn
2010-10-29, 05:27 PM
As far as I am concerned, the last area of concern is one I have difficulty with. Tailoring your character to a campaign is fine, as is tailoring the campaign to the characters - both occur for the purpose of fun. However, if my choice of, for example, favored enemy, is being artificially changed during the campaign, then I will feel that it is harming the game. If I choose Dragons, and we fight a lot of dragons, then I will want to see the impact; it can't just exist in a vacuum.

As for metagaming at character creation, I'm a big proponent of it. Pick what you want, and tailor your character to match. If you want to help the group (I usually do) then adapt your character in that direction - after all, if you have nothing to contribute, why are you there?

I would like to note that one of my major solutions when I feel metagaming might cause problems is to simply build a highly adaptable character, and adjust them to whatever role they consistently fill. After all, that's what they're getting practice in.

Reluctance
2010-10-29, 05:32 PM
Let's turn this on its head. I'm in a party with a crusader, a bard, and a barbarian. It's definitely metagaming to shelve my druid in favor of a character closer to the party's power level. Is this a bad thing?

Metagaming can be a good thing, when it enhances the narrative flow or encourages interparty cohesion. It's bad when it breaks fun - usually by trivializing encounters or shattering suspension of disbelief - but shouldn't be seen as an inherent evil all on its own.

Grynning
2010-10-29, 05:40 PM
Let's turn this on its head. I'm in a party with a crusader, a bard, and a barbarian. It's definitely metagaming to shelve my druid in favor of a character closer to the party's power level. Is this a bad thing?

Metagaming can be a good thing, when it enhances the narrative flow or encourages interparty cohesion. It's bad when it breaks fun - usually by trivializing encounters or shattering suspension of disbelief - but shouldn't be seen as an inherent evil all on its own.

Nothing says you can't play a druid in that party. That's basically a tier 3 party, and even though you're a tier 1 class, you can make choices in how you play that will let you be a good party member without overshadowing them. Use your summons to help position and flank enemies for the Crusader and Barb. Use Wildshape to scout and for mobility, but not to turn into bears and wreck everything in melee. Use your spells to buff and debuff when the bard can't.

That's the GOOD kind of metagaming. The bad kind would indeed be either going "lol I'm Duridzilla and I know I can wreck any encounter designed for these chumps" or one of them saying "you can't play a druid because it's too powerful."

Pisha
2010-10-29, 06:16 PM
In general, the rule of thumb I've always played by is that for character creation, anything goes - metagaming doesn't take effect until the game is underway.

And the reason for that is simple - you're playing to have fun, and most people have more fun playing a game that makes sense. That works.

So yes, talk to the other players. Talk to the GM. Work together to make a balanced party - one that could have plausibly chosen to work together because their strengths and weaknesses complement each other. (Or make an unbalanced party, if that's your preference, but come up with a workable in-game reason why you're adventuring together despite the imbalance.) Talk to the GM about the game location, so you don't make a Pirate Queen-type archetype if the main plot takes place in a landlocked desert. Talk to the GM about the game style, so you don't create a talky-talky courtly diplomat type for a "kick in the door and kill the monster" style game - or vice versa. (Or - again - so that if you choose to do that anyway, you're forewarned and can come up with a reason for why you're there!)

Metagaming, properly speaking, is using knowledge that your character doesn't have. But character creation is the time when you're still figuring out what knowledge (and skills, etc.) your character DOES have - so why not take advantage of that time to make the most of it? Otherwise you risk bored players (because they wound up making characters with nothing to contribute) or situations that REEEEALLY strain the suspension of disbelief.

Raimun
2010-10-29, 06:28 PM
Almost everything is cool, as long as the character isn't "Dire Quasi Fiendish Half-elf/Half-aasimar/Half-orc Class A 1/Class B 2/Class C 1/Class D 1/Class E 3/Class F 2", stitched together from over ten different books, like a frickin' Geekenstein monster.

molten_dragon
2010-10-29, 06:29 PM
None of that bothers me.

The mechanical parts of creating a character are, largely, an exercise in metagaming. Pretty much all of it is about rules, not storytelling. The rules can be guided by storytelling, but ultimately, the goal is to make a playable character.

Jolly
2010-10-29, 06:43 PM
When I DM'ed I actually forced that sort of "meta-gaming" a term which I think is being very misapplied here.

If the party has wildly different characters (CE assassin and a Paladin, Cleric of Pelor and a necromancer etc) that causes a lot of conflict for no reason. Wildly different levels of optimization (esp. when there's a tier disparity to start with) makes the weaker characters feel useless. Etc etc

The thing is, the OP seems to have the attitude that creating a character is a purely artistic thing, and that doing so with even the slightest concern for being able to actually, you know, enjoy playing it in the group you're in is "meta-gaming." I feel that is diametrically opposed to the facts. Creating a character (for use in a game, not just as an intellectual exercise) is not an expression of your artistic vision. It is preparation for a series of games. If you create a character that prevents the other people from enjoying the games, you are not a RP purist striking out against meta-gaming. You're a jerk, being selfish in order to feel good about yourself.

I note that no one in this thread seems to fall into that latter category, so no offense intended here.

Keld Denar
2010-10-29, 06:45 PM
Almost everything is cool, as long as the character isn't "Dire Quasi Fiendish Half-elf/Half-aasimar/Half-orc Class A 1/Class B 2/Class C 1/Class D 1/Class E 3/Class F 2", stitched together from over ten different books, like a frickin' Geekenstein monster.

See, this doesn't actually bother me. Some things work together. The example I always use is the Sorcadin. Paladin2/Sorcerer4/Spellsword1/AbjurantChampion5/SacredExorcist8. Its a paladin of Bahamut who uses his innate draconic heritage to fight for justice and honor against vile fiends or undead who threaten to enslave or consume mankind for their own benefit. Bam. 2 base classes and 3 PrCs, yet it flows together in a cohesive mechanical body. Slap it on a human, strongheart halfling, or gold dwarf chassis and you've got a tenacious gish with strong defenses and versatile offenses who kicks righteous booty in the name of the Platinum Father.

It works because I make it work.

kyoryu
2010-10-29, 06:45 PM
If you create a character that prevents the other people from enjoying the games, you are not a RP purist striking out against meta-gaming. You're a jerk, being selfish in order to feel good about yourself.

I note that no one in this thread seems to fall into that latter category, so no offense intended here.

Absolutely. Regardless of what someone thinks about using metagaming for additional character advancement or in-character actions, the purpose of character creation needs to be to build a party that can play together. There's no point in being a self jerk about this.

I mean, I'm a selfish jerk about just about everything else, but not character creation ;)

Thrice Dead Cat
2010-10-29, 06:58 PM
See, this doesn't actually bother me. Some things work together. The example I always use is the Sorcadin. Paladin2/Sorcerer4/Spellsword1/AbjurantChampion5/SacredExorcist8. Its a paladin of Bahamut who uses his innate draconic heritage to fight for justice and honor against vile fiends or undead who threaten to enslave or consume mankind for their own benefit. Bam. 2 base classes and 3 PrCs, yet it flows together in a cohesive mechanical body. Slap it on a human, strongheart halfling, or gold dwarf chassis and you've got a tenacious gish with strong defenses and versatile offenses who kicks righteous booty in the name of the Platinum Father.

It works because I make it work.

This-to-the-yes-power. Classes, feats, and abilities in general are metagame concepts (OH NOES!), so even if the sheet says Wizard 3/Master Specialist 2/Malconvoker 5/Paragnostic Apostle 1, the character is simply "Summoner." No actual metagaming has been done.

Amphetryon
2010-10-29, 06:59 PM
The thing is, the OP seems to have the attitude that creating a character is a purely artistic thing, and that doing so with even the slightest concern for being able to actually, you know, enjoy playing it in the group you're in is "meta-gaming."This is an attitude I've seen in a few recent threads. I make no claim about my belief in it. :smallsmile:

TheThan
2010-10-29, 07:12 PM
warning, long winded post ahead


Is foreknowledge of the number of other players, the books other players are using, the character level and general creation method, and the basic scenario in which your character will start too much for a fun roleplay experience and creation process for you?

No. The Dm must define the parameters of the game. Its his responsibility to provide his players with the game world, therefor he must decide what sort of character options are available for use, just as it is his responsibility to set a optimization level (banning certain things). Without this obligation and responsibility you can end up with a character made for a forgotten realms game, using forgotten realms chargen rules in an Ebberon or Dark Sun campaign. You will also have characters of widely different levels of optimization. Which can potentially lead to ďcharacter envyĒ, or one person dominating all encounters the party comes across.



Does it bother you, or unduly influence your creative process, to know ahead of time the race/class/role of the other characters in the campaign? If yes, how do you suggest managing the process so that it's not a problem for you?

No. I like to know what the party is capable of before we sit down to play, so that I can talor a character to fill in any needed positions, if the party is lacking a trap finder, most of the time Iím happy to fill that spot.
Knowing ahead of time certainly influences my decisions on what I choose to play, but I do not feel this is always a bad thing.


Is creating a character to round out a party's roles and skill-set going too far into metagaming for you? What about the choice to start off as a multiclass character, rather than having class choices evolve through roleplaying? If either of these is the point at which you think "too much," how would you remedy the situation(s)?

No, the party is a team and while itís clichť to have a well-rounded group of heroes, each character does bring unique and useful abilities to the table. At least in theory. As for multi-class characters go, it really depends on what sort of character I am playing and how strongly Iím attached to that character. If itís a character I dreamed up in ten minutes, I probably wonít bother with the extra hassle that is multi-classing. If itís a character Iíve been working on for several days, I might take the time to make him a multi-class character should it be appropriate for him to have more than one class.



Would asking JJ about Swift Hunter, or planning ahead for the next feat you're likely to take, spoil immersion or the 'roleplay' experience for you? What about your perusal of the Swift Hunter Handbook, either before the game starts, before you reach the appropriate level, or even after? If any of these issues with the Swift Hunter feat are what cross the line into metagaming for you, how would you suggest rectifying the issue or otherwise dealing with it?

No it doesnít but I feel that most preplanned builds lack a certain organic feel to them. I guess its like looking at a picture of house Vs looking at the plans for that house. I like seeing a character grow both as an individual and mechanically. I donít believe that building a character as you level means you must make sub par choices, but I like it because there are reasons why a character took a certain spell, feat or ability outside of itís power. There could be a very interesting reason why the sorcerer learned darkvision over knock.



Would it cross the line to metagaming for you if you asked JJ what enemies might figure prominently enough in the campaign to make suitable Favored Enemy choices? Would you rather choose without any foreknowledge of what types of enemies JJ has in store for the party? If, once the game starts, you see more - or less! - of the particular Favored Enemy you chose than you would think likely for the setting, would that be enough to damage immersion for you and take you into metagame territory?

This does not break any in character immersion, as its very, very easy to justify favored enemy. It does however have very interesting consequences outside of the roleplaying aspects of a campaign.
Favored enemy is a special ability that forces metagaming to some degree. Both players on either side of the screen end up metagaming the ability. If the player chooses a favored enemy that the Dm is not going to use, then heíll have a class ability thatís never used. But if the dm tells him that the party will be fighting a lot of goblinoids, and the ranger takes favored enemy: goblinoid (which I totally expect anyone to do), then he is indeed meta-gaming a little. This is an issue Iíve had with favored enemy for some time, it forces the dm to cater to a single player, or at least throw him a bone on occasion to make him feel like heís getting something useful out of his otherwise useless class ability. I would much rather replace favored enemy with something that doesnít Force metagaming.

Godskook
2010-10-29, 07:39 PM
See, you're confusing meta-gaming with immersion, optimization, and teamwork.

1.Teamwork:

See, you're a party, and supposed to be one. Without proper fore-knowledge of your team's desires, you wind up with undesirable pairings in your group, such as a elf who hates humans in a party with a human despite his backstory clearly stating this would never happen. (Has happened to me!) Not knowing this leads to less fun for the group, as frustration over conflicting expectations leads to unanticipated in-fighting(same group, too!).

2.Immersion:

In order to properly build a character, complete with a realistic backstory, you need to know large amounts of things about the setting. Honestly, most of us don't do enough research, or vice-versa, have DMs who are willing to retcon minor inconsistencies between PC backstories and the original world setting.

3.Optimization:

Just like I don't need to make a "tactics" roll to decide how my character moves in combat, there are no rules about how well I optimize my character. Character building is part of what makes D&D a *game*, instead of just a *roleplay*.

Hell, we even know that ivory tower design is an intentional part of 3.5's design, meaning that optimization efforts were intended, not only to be part of the game, but to pay-off as well.

Tyndmyr
2010-10-29, 08:13 PM
I'll throw an 8th cause of concern, an over concern with metagaming and actively anti-metagaming.

This bothers me more in practice than the others combined. Willfully playing a char as exceptionally stupid due to say, 8s in int/will, including wrecking party plans....or betraying the party because its what your char would do.

Jolly
2010-10-29, 08:55 PM
This is an attitude I've seen in a few recent threads. I make no claim about my belief in it. :smallsmile:

Right, sorry I should have worded that better. :smallredface:

Merk
2010-10-29, 08:58 PM
I enjoy making builds first and playing characters second. So really nothing in the OP is "too metagame" for me.

WinWin
2010-10-29, 10:42 PM
I'll try and address a few points in order.

1. Playing the Astronaut in King Arthurs court might make for a great one off game, but it could be bad for a campaign. An urbane factotum might have a good reason for travelling though the wilds, but the character might have been suited for a more cosmopolitan adventure.

2. Knowing roles is essential. The skeleton of an adventure is easy to devise, but fleshing it out requires some knowledge of what the PC's are capable of. No one likes playing an impotant character. Players often give this some thought as well. A traditional fighter/cleic/rogue/wizard combination is not essential for a game, but D&D is a cooperative game. Thinking of how your character contributes to the group is not neccesarily disruptive.

3 & 4. I hate turning up to a game and being told "we need a cleric" or the like. If it is so important, then run a DMPC. I often find that a player attempting to fill as many roles as possible with a character will often fail at the majority. D&D classes are specialised, some of those specialisations have a broader scope than others though.

5. Planning ahead has it's pro's and cons. Most game I have run or played in did not have a traditional magic shop. Sure, PC's could search out specific items, but I tried to make it a mini-quest at the least. As for planned progression...For some characters this is essential. Feats are not equal. There are trap choices. Some have hefty prerequisites that require planning and investment.

6 or 7. Nothing I hate more than a useless class feature. I made a ranger once, that had Aberrations as an enemy. It featured slightly in the characters backstory. The DM specifically asked me what my favoured enemy choice was and decided that 'aberrations was ok, it will come in handy.' The campaign went to level 8. Guess what my ranger never encountered? Other characters in that game had a chance to shine and their build choices were catered to...even the other ranger. It was a little frustrating, but I'm not cut up over it. Other players may not be as forgiving as I am though.

WarKitty
2010-10-29, 11:06 PM
Some of the other things (planning the build levels in advance, etc.) start pinging a bit higher on my metagame-o-meter, as you start getting to the point where the player is driving character development, rather than the experiences of the character driving character development. Where you want to fit on that spectrum is entirely a personal choice, and I don't necessarily think is "wrong" or "right". Most people are probably somewhere in the middle, even hardcore RPers. True powergamers are the only ones that are probably naturally inclined to just have player-driven development, as a pre-planned build doesn't really allow for things to develop organically.

I'm *personally* in favor of letting the character's experiences drive their advancement, but as I said, I think it's just more of a play style thing than anything.



6 or 7. Nothing I hate more than a useless class feature. I made a ranger once, that had Aberrations as an enemy. It featured slightly in the characters backstory. The DM specifically asked me what my favoured enemy choice was and decided that 'aberrations was ok, it will come in handy.' The campaign went to level 8. Guess what my ranger never encountered? Other characters in that game had a chance to shine and their build choices were catered to...even the other ranger. It was a little frustrating, but I'm not cut up over it. Other players may not be as forgiving as I am though.

This. If you want to play anything but the base class up to 20, you *have* to plan levels in advance. Otherwise you end up without prereqs for anything. I always tell DM's that don't want a build planned out in advance that they'd better have cheap retraining available.

GoodbyeSoberDay
2010-10-29, 11:27 PM
I'll echo the sentiment that metagaming can be quite a good thing. Parties group up and stick together, adventurers risk their necks for little promised reward, and people prevent their characters from doing stupid game/party-wrecking things, all due to metagaming. It is the lack of certain kinds of metagaming that often ruins the fun.

VirOath
2010-10-30, 12:16 AM
The last point is really the only point that matters here, as reading the handbook doesn't mean "Oh, I'm going to copy this build down to the letter" but instead is often read as "Oh, here are some cool tricks, strategies and paths that my character can pick up and loosely follow". Many handbooks are written in that manner to assist in chargen overall as a tool, so they avoid "Build it like this" and put forward "This is awesome, this is good, this is average/sub-par/there are better choices around, and this is a trap and hurts your character at what you are trying to do" because every campaign and character is going to be made to a different situation, different tastes, and even different optimization levels.

So this brings us to the Favored Enemy point on 'meta-gaming' which is simple. Favored Enemy is never a point of meta-gaming, and rarely is planning in advance. Why? Because the character should have an idea as to what it is going to do, what they are going to specialize in as they adventure. Conan was clearly focused in being a God Of Hitting Things With A Big Stick and would have trained up in that fashion. So is planning the Shock-Brute Dragoon feat combo in advance meta-gaming? No. It's meshing the desires of the player with the character as both often plan ahead to the same point, if just in different manners. Players think "These are the feats for the combo." While the character thinks "I need to learn how to hit harder, yet more often, even practice my balance so I can get my full body weight behind the swing, maybe even while in the air."

Anyways, to the point. If the DM tells you there will be a lot of orcs in the campaign, it would only make sense to pick up Orcs as a Favored Enemy. Why is this not metagaming? Because about each path is taken by someone, it would only make sense for a character that hates Orcs, has been hunting them down, tracking them, and learning how to deal the most punishment to them to be hired up, included in the group, or be in the area of high orc activity.

On the flip side, if the player learns that a rarely naturally occurring enemy like Undead are going to play a major role in the campaign, then wanting to take it as a favored enemy still isn't Meta-gaming. It's making a character that has chosen to be an Undead hunter, making money by ideally dealing with necromantic cults that rise up from time to time. This follows the same logic as above, if the undead start to rise up in massive waves, an Undead Hunter is more likely to survive.

This does become Meta-Gaming if Undead didn't exist before that point in the storyline, at all, so there would be no way for him to have ever encountered it. But it then brings to question what is the cause of the Zombie Appoc? Why has it started, what is the source? A Wizard Did It doesn't cut it now, as if it was something that could have been discovered, then Wizards would be doing it for a long time now, there is an entire school with the name and several gods dedicated to death and undead. At this point, without a very good reason, it's the DM meta-gaming and placing down rulings strictly for the point of screwing their players, as a Ranger without Favored Enemy is worse off than a Fighter.

And even in the above, when the Ranger finally gets another Favored Enemy, you can bet it's going to be undead. Or even retraining for Favored Enemy: Undead.

Character planning doesn't stop or diminish natural character growth in a campaign, doesn't make it any less organic. It does make it focused, specialized in a natural way that someone would be when they wanted to be good at something. Character desire drives character improvement, it's the player that is to provide that desire AND the reasoning for it. Heck, if my character had a desire and reason to, you could expect him to just drop everything planned and start picking up levels in cleric, getting the casting powers, then going into a dual progression PrC to advance his Cleric Power as well as being good at what he was, what he knows, when he was planning as a straight up rogue.

Classes are a concept outside of the character's thoughts. They aren't titles, those are made up by what they do. Classes, feats and skills only provide the means to that, and if you are going to limit a player in what they can take because you are Anti-Meta-Gaming, then you are Meta-Gaming yourself and being a jerk at it.

Weasel of Doom
2010-10-30, 01:17 AM
First of all I don't think metagaming is always bad, metagaming a reason your rogue won't stab the party in the back and run off into the distance in the interests of other players' enjoyment is good IMO.

Even so I don't think any of these are really metagaming as they all deal with out of game concepts. I think metagaming is where the character acts on player knowledge but in none of those cases is that what's happening. Rather the player is acting on playerr knowledge

Planning a build in advance for example; the character doesn't choose the power attack feat, he just knows he can swing his sword harder at the cost of accuracy.

Same with the ranger's favoured enemy. I don't see that as metagaming (or if it is it's a different sort of metagaming which is built into the fact that d&d isn't real life and we know that) because I don't see choosing favoured enemy as a character choice. It's a player choice, all the ranger knows is that he's better at hunting dragons than dinosaurs. I would frown on the ranger's player choosing favoured enemy without any in-game explanation though but coming up with that explanation can come after the choice.

Actual metagaming would be where the player recognises a troll from the dm's description when his character wouldn't and the character chooses to use fireball because of this. This is incongrous to me in terms of the game world and the story we're trying to create. Since this cooperative story is why I'm playing, that sort of metagaming is my line.

VirOath
2010-10-30, 01:45 AM
Actual metagaming would be where the player recognises a troll from the dm's description when his character wouldn't and the character chooses to use fireball because of this. This is incongrous to me in terms of the game world and the story we're trying to create. Since this cooperative story is why I'm playing, that sort of metagaming is my line.

This isn't striking meta-gaming even. Fireball is a staple blaster spell for starters (And trolls are just as susceptible to Batman as anything), and a wizard would already have to have it prepared. Even at higher levels, if it was the only level of spells he had that could hurt it then it's still not meta-gaming. It's a character of study, they are supposed to be able to recognize what something is from those studies, it's why they get access to all of the knowledge skills.

On the other hand, if the 3 int, 3 wis Barb switches from his Greataxe Of Doom to a small longsword found in party treasure without any prompting, because the longsword had Flaming on it and the player recognized it as a troll from the description and had never faced one before even in his character background, then that is Meta-Gaming

Amphetryon
2010-10-30, 08:10 AM
Let's turn this on its head. I'm in a party with a crusader, a bard, and a barbarian. It's definitely metagaming to shelve my druid in favor of a character closer to the party's power level. Is this a bad thing?

Metagaming can be a good thing, when it enhances the narrative flow or encourages interparty cohesion. It's bad when it breaks fun - usually by trivializing encounters or shattering suspension of disbelief - but shouldn't be seen as an inherent evil all on its own.
Sorry, I missed this one before. Note that the example party has Tier 4, Tier 3, and Tier 1 characters together, but that the Tier 1 (Druid) character's stated playstyle reads as closer to Tier 2, since Tucci favors blasting spells and specific critters (that aren't typically combat gawds). That's somewhat deliberate on my part, letting the party play at roughly a Tier 3 level, while representing a spread of Tiers.

That said, is consideration of relative power levels within the group a negative, metagame aspect of the process for anyone reading this thread, and if so, how do you suggest addressing it?

dsmiles
2010-10-30, 08:39 AM
So that we have a common point of reference for the discussion, I'll set the scene in which our new characters are created. We have five players, including the DM: you, Pat, Kelly, Robin, and JJ, who DMs. JJ says all WotC books are available, the characters should start at 3rd level on 28 point buy without any LA, and will be exploring the 'wilds of Gitpanea.' This is the first point of concern. Is foreknowledge of the number of other players, the books other players are using, the character level and general creation method, and the basic scenario in which your character will start too much for a fun roleplay experience and creation process for you? If yes, can you explain how it might be handled more to your liking? If no, please continue.

The group takes the 'wilds' idea and runs with it. Pat almost immediately announces the creation of a male Half-Orc Barbarian, Krunk, who runs around with Power Attack and a mercurial greatsword. At almost the same time, Kelly creates Tucci, a female Gnome Druid who has a thing for bats and explosions. Robin, meanwhile, proudly shows off Olivier, a male changeling Savage Bard with a penchant for Enchantment spells and an eye toward buffing the party in combat. This is the second point of concern. Does it bother you, or unduly influence your creative process, to know ahead of time the race/class/role of the other characters in the campaign? If yes, how do you suggest managing the process so that it's not a problem for you? If no, please continue.

Because of the others' choices, you've chosen a throwing-focused Wild Halfling Ranger/Scout, which adequately fills a couple of gaps in your party's needs. Wait, that should be the third point of concern, there, and the fourth. Is creating a character to round out a party's roles and skill-set going too far into metagaming for you? What about the choice to start off as a multiclass character, rather than having class choices evolve through roleplaying? If either of these is the point at which you think "too much," how would you remedy the situation(s)? If neither of these counts as metagaming for you, please continue.
Ok, starting here. Nope. Filling in a gap in the party is a natural response for me, If I know what the other characters are prior to me writing my character backstory. If they want me to change it after I have my backstory written down, tough. I've already got my character, and non-perfect-role-fufilling groups can work. Multiclass characters at character creation don't bother me either, if I gave sufficient reason for it in my backstory. The way other people choose their characters doesn't bother me, unless they come in frothing at the mouth screaming, "MOAR POWER!!!" That bothers me, a little as a fellow player, and a lot as a DM.

With a Ranger/Scout build and access to all the WotC books, your thoughts turn to the Swift Hunter feat, which is popular enough to have sprouted its own handbook. At 3rd level, regardless of which of your classes has two levels and which has but one, you're not able to take the feat yet. Here we come to the fifth point of concern. Would asking JJ about Swift Hunter, or planning ahead for the next feat you're likely to take, spoil immersion or the 'roleplay' experience for you? What about your perusal of the Swift Hunter Handbook, either before the game starts, before you reach the appropriate level, or even after? If any of these issues with the Swift Hunter feat are what cross the line into metagaming for you, how would you suggest rectifying the issue or otherwise dealing with it?
Not particularly knowing what Swift Hunter does, I'm not sure about that one. However, I usually have a vague idea of what feats and skill ranks I want, and at what levels I want them. Not a specific, chiseled in stone, plan, but a vague idea of what type of character development I want to have. And yes, it all ties in to my backstory and future goals. So 'feats for flavor' is perfectly acceptable for me.

As you're a Ranger (and didn't trade out the ability), you get a Favored Enemy. Choosing a Favored Enemy becomes the seventh point of concern. Would it cross the line to metagaming for you if you asked JJ what enemies might figure prominently enough in the campaign to make suitable Favored Enemy choices? Would you rather choose without any foreknowledge of what types of enemies JJ has in store for the party? If, once the game starts, you see more - or less! - of the particular Favored Enemy you chose than you would think likely for the setting, would that be enough to damage immersion for you and take you into metagame territory?
Here's my point of contention. No. I wouldn't ask the DM what we were likely to see, I would take whatever fit the backstory. If I saw more of that type of creature, "Yay, me!" I chose wisely, when I wrote my backstory. If I see less, I consider whatever happened in my backstory, that made me make the choice I did, an isolated incident. Crap happens. My immersion is still intact, because the choice fits my character's story.

Finally, if none of these points of concern have officially gone 'too far' for you, where, precisely, would you place the point at which making or playing a character has crossed over into a metagame exercise, and more importantly, what do you suggest as a remedy, short of avoiding the issue entirely?
Honestly, for me, metagamaing starts when somebody chooses a race/class/feat/whatever solely because it is the most powerful option, and not because it fits their character roleplaying development. If the most powerful race/class/feat/whatever happens to fit their roleplaying development, I have absolutely no problem with that choice. But if their roleplaying development is simply, "whatever it takes to make me the most powerful character in the world, show me to the XP and phat lewts," I have issues with that. That, IMHO, is what takes somebody over the thin line from powergaming/optimizing to Munchkin Land. I don't want it in my games when I DM, and I don't like playing alongside a Munchkin when I'm playing. Go back to the Lollipop Guild from whence ye came, Munchkin. I've up and left games because there were Munchkins about, and will continue to do so.

Amphetryon
2010-10-30, 08:47 AM
<snip>

Not particularly knowing what Swift Hunter does, I'm not sure about that one. However, I usually have a vague idea of what feats and skill ranks I want, and at what levels I want them. Not a specific, chiseled in stone, plan, but a vague idea of what type of character development I want to have. And yes, it all ties in to my backstory and future goals. So 'feats for flavor' is perfectly acceptable for me.

<snip>
Relevant info:


Those of you who still wonder what swift hunter is, I'll enlighten you. Swift Hunter is a feat from the supplement complete scoundrel (Yes, it's that good that it got its own handbook). Its requirements are a total of +1d6/+1 skirmish and one favored enemy. It stacks ranger and scout levels for the amount of skirmish you get and your favored enemies. You can also apply skirmish damage to your favored enemies, even if they are normally immune to it.

dsmiles
2010-10-30, 08:52 AM
Relevant info:

That seems an optimal feat. I like to stack my class levels with multiclass characters. Not only does it increase power level, but it makes sense to take this to meld the classes together into a more cohesive character. I don't know what kind of cheese you can pull off with this, but I try not to break games, so my cheese would be minimal, anyway.

WarKitty
2010-10-30, 08:52 AM
Here's my point of contention. No. I wouldn't ask the DM what we were likely to see, I would take whatever fit the backstory. If I saw more of that type of creature, "Yay, me!" I chose wisely, when I wrote my backstory. If I see less, I consider whatever happened in my backstory, that made me make the choice I did, an isolated incident. Crap happens. My immersion is still intact, because the choice fits my character's story.

What about asking your DM what kinds of enemies are common in the world in general?

dsmiles
2010-10-30, 08:57 AM
What about asking your DM what kinds of enemies are common in the world in general?

A little different, as long as I asked it before deciding on what monsters razed my village, or killed my mentor, or ate my parents, or whatever trope I used. Not knowing before hand, I usually pick undead, orcs or reptilians for my first favored enemy. I'm not very creative when it comes to rangers. :smallredface:

EDIT: The favored class of a DSMiles is rogue.

mostlyharmful
2010-10-30, 09:47 AM
This bothers me more in practice than the others combined. Willfully playing a char as exceptionally stupid due to say, 8s in int/will, including wrecking party plans....or betraying the party because its what your char would do.

I'm in this group, if a team of adventurers gets into life and death fights regularly it's only believable that they'd put some time into researching what they'll probably be fighting, good ways to fight it, decent equipment, recruits that can help them, etc.... to do otherwise is to Meta-Game and it sucks quite a bit to have a Wizard character in game that refuses to up their spell selection or do divinations because they don't want to "Meta-Game".. had that happen a few times. Often in quite high level Op-fu games.

oxybe
2010-10-30, 10:03 AM
my responses are in bold



So that we have a common point of reference for the discussion, I'll set the scene in which our new characters are created. We have five players, including the DM: you, Pat, Kelly, Robin, and JJ, who DMs. JJ says all WotC books are available, the characters should start at 3rd level on 28 point buy without any LA, and will be exploring the 'wilds of Gitpanea.' This is the first point of concern. Is foreknowledge of the number of other players, the books other players are using, the character level and general creation method, and the basic scenario in which your character will start too much for a fun roleplay experience and creation process for you? If yes, can you explain how it might be handled more to your liking? If no, please continue.

no. it's actually ideal for me. this basic information at least gives me an idea of what character concepts mesh with the world i'll be playing in. creating a a homebody wizard who dislikes leaving the amenities of the city wouldn't work well.

The group takes the 'wilds' idea and runs with it. Pat almost immediately announces the creation of a male Half-Orc Barbarian, Krunk, who runs around with Power Attack and a mercurial greatsword. At almost the same time, Kelly creates Tucci, a female Gnome Druid who has a thing for bats and explosions. Robin, meanwhile, proudly shows off Olivier, a male changeling Savage Bard with a penchant for Enchantment spells and an eye toward buffing the party in combat. This is the second point of concern. Does it bother you, or unduly influence your creative process, to know ahead of time the race/class/role of the other characters in the campaign? If yes, how do you suggest managing the process so that it's not a problem for you? If no, please continue.

again, this for me is ideal. i don't know about other people, but creating a party who meshes well is very important for me. D&D is a group game and knowing what everyone else is playing allows me to fill in any blanks i find is missing. the "create characters in the void then transplant them into a setting" tends to create groups of PCs that really don't mesh well, in my experience. creating PCs as a group means they'll be working well from the start, rather then having it seem forced.

Because of the others' choices, you've chosen a throwing-focused Wild Halfling Ranger/Scout, which adequately fills a couple of gaps in your party's needs. Wait, that should be the third point of concern, there, and the fourth. Is creating a character to round out a party's roles and skill-set going too far into metagaming for you? What about the choice to start off as a multiclass character, rather than having class choices evolve through roleplaying? If either of these is the point at which you think "too much," how would you remedy the situation(s)? If neither of these counts as metagaming for you, please continue.

well, my point of concern here is that i would probably never play a ranger/scout, but i'll put that aside for now :smallwink:. as i said before, D&D is a group game. specifically one where your group sees a huge, fanged claw-beast and are expected to run towards it and kill it, then seek out it's deranged master in his trap-filled dungeon and kill him.

this means you generally want to have a group of people who can adapt to several different situations if needed, rather then have to treat every problem like it's a nail, since all your group brought to the table is a bag of hammers.

i rarely create characters who are one-trick ponies so making one who can fill out the party needs is par for the course.

With a Ranger/Scout build and access to all the WotC books, your thoughts turn to the Swift Hunter feat, which is popular enough to have sprouted its own handbook. At 3rd level, regardless of which of your classes has two levels and which has but one, you're not able to take the feat yet. Here we come to the fifth point of concern. Would asking JJ about Swift Hunter, or planning ahead for the next feat you're likely to take, spoil immersion or the 'roleplay' experience for you? What about your perusal of the Swift Hunter Handbook, either before the game starts, before you reach the appropriate level, or even after? If any of these issues with the Swift Hunter feat are what cross the line into metagaming for you, how would you suggest rectifying the issue or otherwise dealing with it?

i generally have some idea of what my character should be like a few levels in advance, regardless of system. i generally create characters with an idea in mind and build my levels towards that vision. the "organic" characters that are a veritable mish-mash of classes, feats & skills taken without consideration actually seem less organic and cohesive in my view. most people actually do focus in one or two subjects and regardless of current job will continue.

i myself am an IT guy but i've held such jobs as "project manager" (which was a fancy term for groundskeeper/security at a festival i helped setup). that didn't mean i suddenly took a level of "groundskeeper". it means for a short while i was a groundskeeper. i wasn't stellar at it, but no one complained. all the while i kept studying my chosen field. really, few people in my experience will alter their tastes solely on what they are currently doing. the guy sitting at my right (i'm at my job, tech support) is a journalist going through university. that doesn't mean he took a level in "tech geek" he's just doing a job.

for me organic character growth is based around leveling your character in a way that is sensible for the character, not just solely based on what he's doing at the time. sometimes this means planning a few levels in advance, sometimes not..

As you're a Ranger (and didn't trade out the ability), you get a Favored Enemy. Choosing a Favored Enemy becomes the seventh point of concern. Would it cross the line to metagaming for you if you asked JJ what enemies might figure prominently enough in the campaign to make suitable Favored Enemy choices? Would you rather choose without any foreknowledge of what types of enemies JJ has in store for the party? If, once the game starts, you see more - or less! - of the particular Favored Enemy you chose than you would think likely for the setting, would that be enough to damage immersion for you and take you into metagame territory?

it wouldn't cross the line. this goes back to one of the first points: making a character that works well in a group.

Finally, if none of these points of concern have officially gone 'too far' for you, where, precisely, would you place the point at which making or playing a character has crossed over into a metagame exercise, and more importantly, what do you suggest as a remedy, short of avoiding the issue entirely?

metagaming is bringing outside information the character wouldn't know inside the game, oftentimes relying far more on player skill then actual character skill to solve a task, or at least lead to the conclusion.

a few example of what i consider metagaming is the low int/wis combo fighter who's player solves a rather complex puzzle quickly since he's seen it before somewhere, or the low cha barbarian relying on his player's silver tongue to get him through conversations with NPCs. these are instances where the player's skill is relied on far more then the actual character, or the player brings in outside information or skill to solve problems.

a troll, like an orc or a goblin, is a typical enough fantasy monster that i would expect most people know about, and i would expect most trained fantasy adventurers to come across a "troll < fire" hint at some point in their career. i've met few GMs that would say otherwise when it comes to most lower-level giants and humanoids/monsterous humanoids. same when it comes to stuff like "undead < divine".

if you come across a more exotic creature, like an outsider or a weird fey, this is where you start encountering things that aren't quite common knowledge and we start calling people out on metagaming. it's very hard to draw a hard line on what is acceptable and what isn't. oftentimes it's very situational.

character creation however, is a generally wholly metagame exercise. it's usually done outside the game using a what little information you have. you create a character who would work in a group and probably has goals somewhat similar to those of the rest of the group to give them a reason to stay together.

metagaming in itself isn't a bad thing, but it does require moderation. the exact amount, however, will vary from group to group.

RndmNumGen
2010-10-30, 10:54 AM
If my character would know about it, then it is valid to use in character creation. While my character might not know who everyone in the group would be ahead of time, in most(not all) campaigns they meet up somewhere where the group would pick there members. It's much easier and a lot more fun to simply make a character that works with the party, then to make ten different characters and telling the leader of the group to pick one.

Godskook
2010-10-30, 11:05 AM
That seems an optimal feat. I like to stack my class levels with multiclass characters. Not only does it increase power level, but it makes sense to take this to meld the classes together into a more cohesive character. I don't know what kind of cheese you can pull off with this, but I try not to break games, so my cheese would be minimal, anyway.

There is no 'cheese' available with swift hunter(well, not that I know of, other than stuff you'd already be able to do as a straight-classed scout or ranger), but there is a meta-gaming aspect to his optimization, in that the best favored enemy choices aren't 'theme' monsters, but rather the 'crit-immune' ones, such as undead, elementals, etc(usually, swift hunters burn their first choice on FE: Arcanist). However, unlike most forms of optimization, these favored enemy choices are likely to come without any realistic IC justification(But Bill, your PC hasn't even met an elemental...) and from a versimilitude perspective, are typically just going to feel out of place.

Yora
2010-10-30, 11:15 AM
In my games, I require all the players to wait with character creation until I have explained the premise of the campaign, and the basic outline of the world it will take place in. Then the players have to figure out among themselves what kind of group they want to play and who is taking each role.
And with all these things considered, they may begin to plan their characters.

When there's something I really don't like, it's having a party of completely random characters that have no connections whatsoever, and don't have any shared motivations and goals. Then you end up with a paladin, a chaotic neutral half-orc barbarian with Int 4, a chaotic evil halfling rogue who steals from the other characters, and a lawful evil cleric of undeath who constantly wants to turn the rest of the party into undead minions.
And any kind of plausible roleplaying is just impossible with such groups.

WarKitty
2010-10-30, 11:30 AM
There is no 'cheese' available with swift hunter(well, not that I know of, other than stuff you'd already be able to do as a straight-classed scout or ranger), but there is a meta-gaming aspect to his optimization, in that the best favored enemy choices aren't 'theme' monsters, but rather the 'crit-immune' ones, such as undead, elementals, etc(usually, swift hunters burn their first choice on FE: Arcanist). However, unlike most forms of optimization, these favored enemy choices are likely to come without any realistic IC justification(But Bill, your PC hasn't even met an elemental...) and from a versimilitude perspective, are typically just going to feel out of place.

I like having a "deferred feature" rule in place for things like this. Basically, when you level up, you may defer any benefits you would get from leveling up (other than hit die and a few basic things like that). So you would defer your favored enemy choice, and then take it when it makes IC sense to do so.

Thiyr
2010-10-30, 11:40 AM
In order of points of concern:
1) Not metagaming. To build before you know books available, point buy, etc, is doable, but only in the loosest sense. Otherwise you're not making your character, somebody else is. Biggest point for me, though. At this stage,the game hasn't started yet. This is pre-game prep-work. One of my favorite parts of d&d, yes, but not part of the game proper, and therefore I see it as impossible to metagame at this stage. In fact, I'll call this last point reference 1, as that'll be easier than typing it out or copy-pasting each time

2) Reference 1. In addition, knowing what other people are making can lead to fun combos with their characters. Linked backstories, yay!

3/4) Reference 1. Also, if your character would know the party already, it makes sense. Also, who's to say the choices you've made aren't the same as what you'd do if you started at level 1? If it makes sense, it makes sense, and some concepts almost require multiclassing out of the door to make sense.

5) Ref 1. Also, you're making sure that a feat will work the way you want it to, while giving your DM a heads up as to what you're trying to do, as well as giving yourself a reason to act in a certain manner.

6) There was no 6th point of concern.

7) Ref 1. If it's based on setting, asking how common enemy X is, or what not, then it makes sense. That's learning about setting, which is what makes sure the character actually is part of that instead of making a gun-toting anti-robot character in the middle of traditional medieval Europe (to go to an absurd extreme). Only in really extreme cases where you're trying to get info your dm would want to keep away from you would really go beyond in my mind, and even then that wouldn't really work, so there's no issue.

Edit: working under the personal definition of metagaming as taking actions in regards to the fact that you are a player of a character in a game, and not the character yourself. I feel there is no character before the game starts, and so there cannot be metagaming until said game starts.

Earthwalker
2010-10-30, 12:43 PM
I have said a few times that DnD requires too much Meta-gaming for my liking. None of the issues raised by the OP would bother me too much.

In a system where Meta-gaming is required to play its odd that it sometimes upsets me. Some things that happen completely pull me out of the game. Other things that are meta gaming don't even phase me. Not sure I can explain why.

Amphetryon
2010-10-31, 06:19 AM
I have said a few times that DnD requires too much Meta-gaming for my liking. None of the issues raised by the OP would bother me too much.

In a system where Meta-gaming is required to play its odd that it sometimes upsets me. Some things that happen completely pull me out of the game. Other things that are meta gaming don't even phase me. Not sure I can explain why.

Could you give an example of an RPG that, to your mind, doesn't require metagaming, or requires it to a significantly lesser extent?

jmbrown
2010-10-31, 06:52 AM
The points raised in OPs post are all fine with me because D&D is a collabrative game requiring player participation across the board.

What I'm not okay with is extreme min-maxing. I don't mind optimization, but beginning a campaign above level 1 is where 3.X falls apart especially when it comes to point buy (which I'm against in general) and additional ability score points. Two scenarios that irk me:

1) A player who witholds points in a certain ability score so he can maximize the points he has. For example, instead of spending the points necessary to raise to intelligence 16, he'll leave it at 15 and just wait for the additional point at level 4 to increase it. Had he started at level 1, he would have choosen intelligence 16 but the fact we're playing at a higher level means he can afford to save those extra points.

2) Purchasing items at higher levels. While they added in a little fix saying you can't spend more than half your gold on a single item, there are still "money saving items" like blessed book which can save thousands for a starting caster at high level.

Unfortunately, neither of these two points are easy to resolve. With my friends, who know how I run things, I can say "Make a level 1 character" and a few days later I can say "Alright, take them up to level 10." In an online game I can't do that without fear of losing people because not everyone agrees with it.

The only way to fix point #2 is by going through the ridiculous process of deciding wealth per level and what the character would reasonably find/purchase at each level including the sale of obsolete items. This is unnecessarily clunky and I've never actually made anyone do it.

These two things are what I hate the most about 3e's character creation and they don't appear in any other version of D&D. Most of the time I can ignore them but that are some moments where a player has this weird, intricate plan to totally cheese his character during creation and it makes me want to rip my hair out. I have no problem with character cheese after creation, improving yourself through your own hard work, but character creation feels like more of a mini-game than the simple step that I want it to be.

Earthwalker
2010-10-31, 09:24 AM
Could you give an example of an RPG that, to your mind, doesn't require metagaming, or requires it to a significantly lesser extent?

Well I would go with something like Runequest I guess.

Of course everything I said is just an interpretation, I think reading these boards themselves makes me see it more in DnD.

I mean I have played Shadowrun and even it seems to have less meta-gaming built in but again that might just be an interpretation of mine.

kyoryu
2010-10-31, 01:07 PM
Well I would go with something like Runequest I guess.

Of course everything I said is just an interpretation, I think reading these boards themselves makes me see it more in DnD.


Arguably, usage-based advancement requires even more pervasive metagaming, as your tactics will change not according to what is effective, but to ensure you advance in the skills you want.

If anything, I'd argue 1e D&D is a system that has minimal metagaming in terms of character building/advancement.

Skjaldbakka
2010-10-31, 02:21 PM
1) A player who witholds points in a certain ability score so he can maximize the points he has. For example, instead of spending the points necessary to raise to intelligence 16, he'll leave it at 15 and just wait for the additional point at level 4 to increase it. Had he started at level 1, he would have choosen intelligence 16 but the fact we're playing at a higher level means he can afford to save those extra points.

I have no problem with this. Note, there is no reason the same player would have chosen intelligence 16 if the game started at level 1 instead of level 4. Most games can be expected to make it to 4th level, after all.

ffone
2010-10-31, 02:35 PM
Some people will approach an ability like Evasion and say 'omg that's impossible, must be banned.'

Others will say 'from the existence of Evasion, we can infer that a Fireball is not a perfect flawless gapless sphere (which the spell description never said!), and has, like, tendrils of flame you can jump between if skilled, or whatever.'

"Metagaming" is often the same way. There are several ways to explain a party that's designed to go to together:

- They actually met up shortly before the campaign started, or have already adventured together (you're not at 1st level, I see). Parties who work well together are more likely to stay together - we should expect that if we come across a random adventuring party, they get along better than average.

- It's already 'metagaming' that the PCs just happen to have the same level and pointbuy (and probably nonopposed alignmet) - far larger coincidence than all having nature-themed abilities, given the region they are probably in.
This party sounds a lot less tropy than the average one in some ways - which is often painfully perfectly 'diverse' and only get along b/c they are PCs.

- Do they really have 'too much' synergy? I'm sure someone could make arguments as to why other builds would have more synergy.

- What's your alternative? Force players to roleplay a dozen pre-games where they roll up characters who meet, decide they don't like each other, and go their separate ways? Then they roll up another batch to meet in Ye Olde Taven the next night?

Stories often contain 'unlikely' events at their vary beginning - like, say, a natural disaster movie - I consider this far more dramatically acceptable than such tropes at the end (deus ex machine, etc.) You can think of the fiction's point of view as looking across the history of the game world, choosing one of the more interesting points to start looking at, and from there everything hopefully obeys 'realistic', non-trope laws of probability. The simple that that you're LX adventurers and not commoners is this same 'metagame' - it just doesn't feel like it to you b/c you're so used to predicating on 'we're all LX adventurers with Y point buy'.

The favored enemy thing is a bit much, but the sol'n is simple, just don't tell the player. Anyway, if he's going Swift Hunter, he should always choose crit-immune favored enemies (so the feat gives an add'l benefit of being able to Skirmish-damage them.)

I'm sympathetic to the question when it's a homebrew world, though. Lots of DMs have certain enemies they like and dislike, and for all practical purposes their campaign world simply doesn't contain broad swaths of it. Many are undead-obsessed, for example, and it's reasonable for the player to at least ask 'what's the general distribution of monsters in this world'. (The *character* is not necessarily consciously choosing based on this....rather, such a character is more likely to arise in the first place.)


There is no 'cheese' available with swift hunter(well, not that I know of, other than stuff you'd already be able to do as a straight-classed scout or ranger), but there is a meta-gaming aspect to his optimization, in that the best favored enemy choices aren't 'theme' monsters, but rather the 'crit-immune' ones, such as undead, elementals, etc(usually, swift hunters burn their first choice on FE: Arcanist). However, unlike most forms of optimization, these favored enemy choices are likely to come without any realistic IC justification(But Bill, your PC hasn't even met an elemental...) and from a versimilitude perspective, are typically just going to feel out of place.

IC justification: the swift hunter has observed herself having a hard time damaging certain types of creatures, and so in her downtime she thinks long and hard about it and how one would damage such foes (or however you justify learning FEs and extra damage die to begin with). Even if they've not seen an Elemental, maybe something about their fights with Constructs give them an insight which, when they finally do fight an Elemental, will 'click' in their mind at the beginning of the fight. (And until that point, having it on their char sheet is a Schrodinger's Cat anyway).



Arguably, usage-based advancement requires even more pervasive metagaming, as your tactics will change not according to what is effective, but to ensure you advance in the skills you want.

If anything, I'd argue 1e D&D is a system that has minimal metagaming in terms of character building/advancement.

+1. Usage-based advancement is basically asking your characters to metagame (and sympathetically so). And it makes them much antsier about exactly wht pops up in the campaign.

prufock
2010-10-31, 02:53 PM
Is foreknowledge of the number of other players, the books other players are using, the character level and general creation method, and the basic scenario in which your character will start too much for a fun roleplay experience and creation process for you?
No. For one, you can't create a character at all without knowing the books, level, and creation method. The scenario is something that would be known the the character IN GAME.


Does it bother you, or unduly influence your creative process, to know ahead of time the race/class/role of the other characters in the campaign?
No. In the X years prior to the campaign's beginning, it's reasonable that you would know who the other members of the party are, and to have sought out or teamed up with certain types.


Is creating a character to round out a party's roles and skill-set going too far into metagaming for you? What about the choice to start off as a multiclass character, rather than having class choices evolve through roleplaying?
No. Again, a party would reasonably seek out others with certain skill sets. Multiclassing makes no difference to me, as a class is just a grouping of abilities. And there's no reason to think that character development has to start at the beginning of the game. My characters generally have a history prior to the campaign.


Would asking JJ about Swift Hunter, or planning ahead for the next feat you're likely to take, spoil immersion or the 'roleplay' experience for you? What about your perusal of the Swift Hunter Handbook, either before the game starts, before you reach the appropriate level, or even after?
No. If Swift Hunter is an option, there is no reason the character would not pursue it. If it is not, then focusing on other areas is reasonable. Reading the various handbooks are simply guides to building an effective character.


Would it cross the line to metagaming for you if you asked JJ what enemies might figure prominently enough in the campaign to make suitable Favored Enemy choices? Would you rather choose without any foreknowledge of what types of enemies JJ has in store for the party? If, once the game starts, you see more - or less! - of the particular Favored Enemy you chose than you would think likely for the setting, would that be enough to damage immersion for you and take you into metagame territory?
No (with caveat), no, and maybe (it depends). The character should have enough information on the game world to know what kind of enemies are common, and to have trained against them specifically. The caveat of the first is that it is DM's option (as with most things). The DM can choose to tell you about the game world, but it may be that the DM plans to introduce a "brand new threat" to the setting, like undead where there previously had never been any. It makes no sense for a ranger to choose favoured enemies without information on the game world. If there had been no undead, how would favoured enemy (undead) be rationalized? And finally, if the DM had a good reason for leaving me in the dark on a particular enemy type, no problem. However, if he said "demons are common" and I never encounter a demon, then I'd feel a bit cheated.


Finally, if none of these points of concern have officially gone 'too far' for you, where, precisely, would you place the point at which making or playing a character has crossed over into a metagame exercise, and more importantly, what do you suggest as a remedy, short of avoiding the issue entirely?
Building a character to overshadow other players or building a character for a specific purpose that is not in the DM's purview.

This is all under DM supervision. He gives as much or as little information as desired to suit his purpose.

Amphetryon
2010-10-31, 03:09 PM
This party sounds a lot less tropy than the average one in some waysMinor point of order: TVtropes points out that it's functionally impossible to have a trope-less story. I'd link the relevant page there, but I'm not feeling evil. :)

In this case, the 'savages exploring the wilds' is a fairly clear trope-intro.

Optimator
2010-10-31, 03:39 PM
Building a well-rounded party with roles filled runs VERY deep in D&D history. It's just part of the game, really.

Amphetryon
2010-10-31, 05:34 PM
6) There was no 6th point of concern.Cookie for the reference...

Earthwalker
2010-11-01, 05:32 AM
Arguably, usage-based advancement requires even more pervasive metagaming, as your tactics will change not according to what is effective, but to ensure you advance in the skills you want.

If anything, I'd argue 1e D&D is a system that has minimal metagaming in terms of character building/advancement.

I can see what you are saying, we honestly didnít play it that way. The skills that went up became the ones you wanted. Your character would change as time when on with good improvement rolls for some skills and poor for others changed the direction of your character.

Of course it was possible in runequest to also train skills as well as advance from experiance. So if you wanted to be better with a sword then an axe you could always train in the sword skill.

It was more an issue with required meta-gaming, not meta-gaming potential. The system for rune quest is much lighter and as such you donít need to act in a certain way in combat. You just swung away and hoped they didnít crit you and kill you.

Psyx
2010-11-01, 06:51 AM
This is the first point of concern

Not a concern. Hopefully -as we're third level- we'd make sure we already had 'party bonds' in place and already know each other IC, for ease of working together despite perhaps mildly disparate moralities and goals. Spending 75% of the game bickering about morality isn't much fun when it happens every week.

Although I've came up with plenty of character concepts without even knowing what rules we're using [ie GM said in pub 'I'm running a fantasy game set in a Germanic-themed setting, what do you fancy playing?'] - let alone what splatbooks - there is no harm in actually knowing what blag is on or off-table.


This is the second point of concern

We're third level and already have a 'team', so no. Typically a few players will come to a table with existing concepts in ignorance as others. A few more will 'fill the gaps'. As this is a 3rd level 'existing' party, this is in no way a problem.

Even in thrown-together party, party balance is kind of important to the entire story-arc, so a bit of meta-gaming here saves a lot of bother later on, and the GM is normally the first person who wants to ensure that the party is balanced. Though I have played in parties where things were horribly off-kilter because we all generated character in a vacuum as a deliberate story-point.

The only other point that players will raise is if they are playing something that might not fit in with the group well (paladins... mindflayers... kobolds...), for the sake of party cohesion and everyone's enjoyment.


Wait, that should be the third point of concern, there, and the fourth.

Depends on how established the 'team' is. A group of adventurers who have worked together may have actively recruited to cover all bases.
We tend to cover basic bases (tank, healing, sneaky/find traps) and as long as there is someone raising a hand for each niche then everything else is seldom discussed.

We certainly don't compare skill-lists to make sure two people don't have 'appraise' or similar, because it's not only a bit silly, it also takes away a degree of independence and breeds a gestalt 'perfect' party, which can be dull. Sometimes it's fun to have a bizarre party.

So: Party roles being allocated and people often talk vaguely about their characters to prevent horrible overlaps spoiling someone's niche and enjoyment ['gnome illusionist']: No problem.

Specific and detailed skill-niches worked out: No. It's a bit too meta-gamey.
Not many people are adventurers and a party have been lucky to recruit any wizard at all sometimes, let alone one who covers 'X' schools and 'X' skills.


Here we come to the fifth point of concern.

I would never dream of asking players their planned feats etc.

D&D is a poor system that rewards pre-planning of XP, which is one reason that I dislike it. I'd be more concerned if a WoD player painstakingly made plans ahead of getting XP, but in D&D it's unfortunately the norm. So people HAVE to play ahead. But that's their business, not mine.



Choosing a Favored Enemy becomes the seventh point of concern

I would not ask the GM. I would make a choice based on character background. I would then run it past the GM. If he wants to point out that there are no 'X' anywhere in the campaign and that I should choose something else, then he's welcome to... or not, depending on his generosity. When discussing a character with a GM, they can raise points and hints if they like, for plot and campaign reasons... or not.

kyoryu
2010-11-01, 12:58 PM
I can see what you are saying, we honestly didnít play it that way. The skills that went up became the ones you wanted. Your character would change as time when on with good improvement rolls for some skills and poor for others changed the direction of your character.

Of course it was possible in runequest to also train skills as well as advance from experiance. So if you wanted to be better with a sword then an axe you could always train in the sword skill.

It was more an issue with required meta-gaming, not meta-gaming potential. The system for rune quest is much lighter and as such you donít need to act in a certain way in combat. You just swung away and hoped they didnít crit you and kill you.

My beef with usage-based advancement is, in all fairness, primarily due to MMOs, where usage-based advancement is pretty much the debil IMHO.

I've got no problem with RuneQuest at all - heck, I used to work with Steve Perrin.

DarkEternal
2010-11-01, 01:58 PM
Everyone should have the right to create a character that they want, regardless of the fact if they know those classes are overpowered and how to make them so.

My "thorn in the eye" is sometimes there are players that know a lot about DnD, and especially weaknesses and such stuff about certain monstrosities that they posess. For instance, our mage made took energy admixture feat and converted most of his damage stuff into sonic damage, because the player knows that is the energy type the least amount of creatures posess as something to resist. This sort of irked me, but again I suppose I can overlook it. I could reason it that he studied a lot and came to that conclusion, but really, I would, more or less think that his knowledge would span only to monstrosities made by arcane means, not those that are natural.

Amphetryon
2010-11-01, 02:16 PM
<snip>

My "thorn in the eye" is sometimes there are players that know a lot about DnD, and especially weaknesses and such stuff about certain monstrosities that they posess. For instance, our mage made took energy admixture feat and converted most of his damage stuff into sonic damage, because the player knows that is the energy type the least amount of creatures posess as something to resist. This sort of irked me, but again I suppose I can overlook it. I could reason it that he studied a lot and came to that conclusion, but really, I would, more or less think that his knowledge would span only to monstrosities made by arcane means, not those that are natural.
Is your conclusion about which monstrosities he would know based on what was on his character sheet, what he said in-game, what he said out of game, or something else?

Is taking 'off-focus' Knowledges a metagaming concern for you?

DarkEternal
2010-11-01, 02:48 PM
Basically, it's about knowing all. I agree that him, being an intelligent and powerful wizard should know a lot, but not about everything in the game. And yes, this was not something observed through the nature of the campaigns we ran, but more through the apparent knowledge outside of the game.

Zeful
2010-11-01, 03:40 PM
Basically, it's about knowing all. I agree that him, being an intelligent and powerful wizard should know a lot, but not about everything in the game. And yes, this was not something observed through the nature of the campaigns we ran, but more through the apparent knowledge outside of the game.

If he didn't have the kowledge skills to support this (just to note, knowing that Sonic is the least resisted element requires knowing the resistances of most of the creatures in the game, requiring several hundred checks across all knowledge skills at the absolute minimum, if not several thousand.) then simply change little things within the campaign to punish that assumption (make more monsters sonic resitant/immune) which the DMG suggests doing.

Boci
2010-11-01, 03:51 PM
If he didn't have the kowledge skills to support this (just to note, knowing that Sonic is the least resisted element requires knowing the resistances of most of the creatures in the game, requiring several hundred checks across all knowledge skills at the absolute minimum, if not several thousand.) then simply change little things within the campaign to punish that assumption (make more monsters sonic resitant/immune) which the DMG suggests doing.

I laways assume its common knowledge that sonic is the least resisted energy type. Why else would you have wizards developing loads of spells and some casting techniques that allow you to sonic damage when they are weaker than those that use the standard elements?
Besdies which would you prefer: a character using sionic energy because they believe it is the best, or a character who makes up an in game reason to do so?

Zeful
2010-11-01, 04:03 PM
I always assume its common knowledge that sonic is the least resisted energy type.I don't.

Why else would you have wizards developing loads of spells and some casting techniques that allow you to sonic damage when they are weaker than those that use the standard elements?Because things like Trolls are more common to the average farmer than things totally immune to Fire and such? Fire magic is stronger, having it's own elemental plane? The orginial Wizards Sorcerers are the decendants/predecesors of Micheal Bay and love explosions? I can keep going...

Besdies which would you prefer: a character using sionic energy because they believe it is the best, or a character who makes up an in game reason to do so?Not the issue. A player is using knowledge that is pretty much impossible for his character to know through in-game means. The DMG suggests that the DM subvert expectations based on outside knowledge as much as possible until the players stop using that knowledge.

And how is "believing it is the best" not an in-game reason?

Amphetryon
2010-11-01, 04:15 PM
If he didn't have the kowledge skills to support this (just to note, knowing that Sonic is the least resisted element requires knowing the resistances of most of the creatures in the game, requiring several hundred checks across all knowledge skills at the absolute minimum, if not several thousand.) then simply change little things within the campaign to punish that assumption (make more monsters sonic resitant/immune) which the DMG suggests doing.

Some will certainly ascribe to this point of view.

Others will just as certainly say that, in a world where the majority of Wizards have the highest INT of any base class/archetype by default, where a master/apprentice relationship is often the presumed fluff for how Wizards pass along their craft, and where magical means of communication are plentiful and relatively easy, it would only take a couple of Wizards to make an empirical observation in the field and tell a few fellow Wizards, who tell a few fellow Wizards, who tell a few fellow Wizards... etc.

Lastly, some might argue that the DM re-actively changing the immunities of known creatures in the campaign world to 'punish the assumption' of the player or Wizard is, of itself, metagaming at a level that crosses their particular line for 'too much' to damage verisimilitude and fun.

Zeful
2010-11-01, 05:04 PM
Some will certainly ascribe to this point of view.

Others will just as certainly say that, in a world where the majority of Wizards have the highest INT of any base class/archetype by default, where a master/apprentice relationship is often the presumed fluff for how Wizards pass along their craft, and where magical means of communication are plentiful and relatively easy, it would only take a couple of Wizards to make an empirical observation in the field and tell a few fellow Wizards, who tell a few fellow Wizards, who tell a few fellow Wizards... etc.It would require much more than one wizard telling his students. For it to be common knowledge enough that a level 1 wizard will know this it would require almost all spellcasters working together deliberately cataloging all creatures in existence, which I find to be impossible, at best.


Lastly, some might argue that the DM re-actively changing the immunities of known creatures in the campaign world to 'punish the assumption' of the player or Wizard is, of itself, metagaming at a level that crosses their particular line for 'too much' to damage verisimilitude and fun.
Only if you are deliberately counting down monster HP to the players, if all you do is nod, scribble something down behind your screen and then describe what happened, players probably won't notice a 5 or 10 point resistance to an element. If they can, then there's probably not much you can do for verismillitude anyway.

Boci
2010-11-01, 05:05 PM
I don't.
Because things like Trolls are more common to the average farmer than things totally immune to Fire and such?

That makes no sense. The average farmer does not influence frequency or power of spells.


Fire magic is stronger, having it's own elemental plane? The orginial Wizards Sorcerers are the decendants/predecesors of Micheal Bay and love explosions? I can keep going...

Then why have so many sonic spells been researched when they do less damage than fire spells?


Not the issue. A player is using knowledge that is pretty much impossible for his character to know through in-game means. The DMG suggests that the DM subvert expectations based on outside knowledge as much as possible until the players stop using that knowledge.

"When my character was little they saw the destructive power of (insert creature that uses sonic energy) and have been trying to emulate it ever since."

"I am of the storm, thunder and lightning"

I can go on.


And how is "believing it is the best" not an in-game reason?

A reason you will accept.

Anyway, most players will notice that things resitant to sonic is rare, either by knowledge checks or possible examining the monsters corpse. Whose to say loads of wizards didn't just pool their expirience of adventuring and extrapolated based on that.

Amphetryon
2010-11-01, 05:13 PM
For it to be common knowledge enough that a level 1 wizard will know this it would require almost all spellcasters working together deliberately cataloging all creatures in existence, which I find to be impossible, at best.
Potentially. It could also, potentially, require your particular Wizard's Master to have been one of those who found out that Sonic was useful, in his experience, and to have passed along that knowledge. Some groups find that appropriate background material. Some don't.

Boci
2010-11-01, 05:17 PM
Potentially. It could also, potentially, require your particular Wizard's Master to have been one of those who found out that Sonic was useful, in his experience, and to have passed along that knowledge. Some groups find that appropriate background material. Some don't.

Pretty much. As a player I think sonic is the least resisted energy even though I haven't checked every single monster in every book. So maybe my character is just doing the same as me.

Mike_G
2010-11-01, 07:30 PM
It really only bother me when the very experienced player of the low Int, Half-Ogre Barbarian with no Knowledge ranks in anything shouts out the weaknesses and abilities of the enemy that the character has never encountered before.

Burzak The Dim doesn't know that only an Adamantine or silver weapon can bypass the resistance of the enemy in question. Maybe he can work out that bashing skeletons with blunt weapons makes more sense than stabbing them with a rapier, but "Stay back 60 feet to avoid it's Gaze attack!!" is something I'd punish unless the character had ranks in knowledge, or it was his Favored enemy, or they'd met the thing before.

So I just home brewed a dungeon worth of monsters so he couldn't do that. Or not saying things like "You see a Vrock" but describing it. Although that doesn't help for the iconic stuff.

Boci
2010-11-01, 07:57 PM
It really only bother me when the very experienced player of the low Int, Half-Ogre Barbarian with no Knowledge ranks in anything shouts out the weaknesses and abilities of the enemy that the character has never encountered before.

Burzak The Dim doesn't know that only an Adamantine or silver weapon can bypass the resistance of the enemy in question. Maybe he can work out that bashing skeletons with blunt weapons makes more sense than stabbing them with a rapier, but "Stay back 60 feet to avoid it's Gaze attack!!" is something I'd punish unless the character had ranks in knowledge, or it was his Favored enemy, or they'd met the thing before.

So I just home brewed a dungeon worth of monsters so he couldn't do that. Or not saying things like "You see a Vrock" but describing it. Although that doesn't help for the iconic stuff.

Reflavouring is pretty useful. Vrock could become retilian, or a demoninc bird that cuts you with its wings.

Coidzor
2010-11-01, 08:57 PM
Or because sonic is the most esoteric energy type, less things would resist it out of course and it would do double duty for destroying objects handily.

Really, if a wizard wants to gimp himself by focusing feats on blasting... if you're the kind of DM who views players as attempting to win against them, well, you've already half-won.

JonestheSpy
2010-11-01, 09:23 PM
I'll just throw in that in my experience, party creation is more fun when the players don't know what characters the other folks are creating. In my games the players get the background of the campaign world and where they are in it, and decide on their own what sounds like a fun character to play in that setting.

Seeing how those characters fit and learn to work together is part of th fun of the campaign. Just my personal preference, of course.


Edit:



I've got no problem with RuneQuest at all - heck, I used to work with Steve Perrin.

You used to work with Steve Perrin? Can I...can I become a lay member of your cult? Please?

Boci
2010-11-01, 09:29 PM
I'll just throw in that in my experience, party creation is more fun when the players don't know what characters the other folks are creating. In my games the players get the background of the campaign world and where they are in it, and decide on their own what sounds like a fun character to play in that setting.

Seeing how those characters fit and learn to work together is part of th fun of the campaign. Just my personal preference, of course.

That generally works well (maybe a few questions such as what power level are we aiming for and any particular alighments focus), but other times you want to work with the players. It all depends on your character concept. You could be a brother and sister who complement eachother's fighting styles, a military unit of a disbanded nation, child hood friends or a some random people who met up in taverns and have grown to trusting eachother (or not).

ffone
2010-11-01, 09:44 PM
If he didn't have the kowledge skills to support this (just to note, knowing that Sonic is the least resisted element requires knowing the resistances of most of the creatures in the game, requiring several hundred checks across all knowledge skills at the absolute minimum, if not several thousand.) then simply change little things within the campaign to punish that assumption (make more monsters sonic resitant/immune) which the DMG suggests doing.

Actually the large number of monsters makes this general knowledge more plausible in-character, at least under the RAW of how knowledge works:

-Assuming the char took 1 rank in each K skill which corresponds to monster Types (as he surely will if the DM is hammering him on this, and which is natural for wizards anyway since they have the class skills and good Int mod).

- The PC is entitled to some sort of K check(s) for whether the PC knows of the monster and its elemental resistances.

- Because there are so many monsters, the char will get a 'statistical sample' of elemental resistances, albeit those of a fraction of (lower HD = easier K DCs) monsters.

- This will probably be sufficient to conclude IC that sonic is the least resisted energy type.

This can be roleplayed as the PC having gotten the 'organizational memory' factoid from his mentors, who got it from their mentors and colleagues and so on, that sonic is the least resisted energy type. There are likely many wizards who knows this fact, and yet can't name a single specific monster's energy resistances.

There's also the 'game theory' reasoning: the wizard knows wizard spells, and he knows sonic is the rarest energy type of said spells. Therefore, among enemies who 'choose' their resistances (NPCs who craft/buy magic items, or cast spells to resist energy), sonic will probably be the least popular type. So it makes sense to use these spells...

There's also the Darwinian answer: no wizard consciously chooses sonic b/c he knows or thinks it's the least resisted. They just tend to choose it b/c they get influenced by their peers' choices, and since peers who make good choices tend to survive longer and be around to influence more peers...

I would allow it for these reasons. A lot of things people call 'metagaming' are very reasonable in-character, b/c characters are trying even harder than we are to survive. (They may not be able to 'see' the DnD math and rolls and numerically optimize their Power Attack and such, but energy types are a qualitative, very in-character-visible case).

Another reason to allow it, as if you don't, players will just concoct backstories about their PC having had a musical childhood and always being interested in sound, but without the talent to be a bard...you'll know it's an 'excuse' to justify the player's crunchy choices, but to many people that's half the point of roleplaying (when done well).

As a DM, you have the whole world. A player just has their PC. I try to let them actually have that.

There are cases where the players are metagaming too much even for me, and I might hammer it. Often I try to ask if I could've prevented it with better DMing: if the players assume every damsel in distress I NPC is really a succubus, maybe that's metagaming...but it also means I'm probably beign too trope-y as a DM and my world lacks enough versmilitude to incentive actual in-character thinking.

I tend to be much more sympathetic to optimizing/metagaming in character build / leveling than individual actions. Two reasons:

1. The former is so direly important to most players. If there is one place in DnD to pull a punch on 'realism' (which only means 'what you think is realism' anyway), this is it.

2. It doesn't incentive irrational behavior or trope-logic reasoning. The party's makeup may be unusually synergistic, but from that point on, the fact doesn't cause anyone to act out of character or encourage metagaming (as long as the PCs have had the time and level of trust to tell each other about their life stories, careers, and skillsets.)

JonestheSpy
2010-11-01, 10:13 PM
That generally works well (maybe a few questions such as what power level are we aiming for and any particular alighments focus), but other times you want to work with the players. It all depends on your character concept. You could be a brother and sister who complement eachother's fighting styles, a military unit of a disbanded nation, child hood friends or a some random people who met up in taverns and have grown to trusting eachother (or not).

That's all certainly true. In my current campaign two players were 'twins' of a sort, homebrewed constructs with identical abilities though different stats (they're animated suits of clothing, actually), created to be bodyguards for an important npc.. It's ben fun watching them diverge from their original mission and each other as the game goes on.

LordBlades
2010-11-02, 02:30 AM
1) It doesn't bother me to know the general scenario my char will be starting in. On the contrary, I think it allows me to create a char that's more strongly connected with the ongoing story by background, rather than somebody who just happened to be there.

2 and 3) I like knowing what the other players want to play for two reasons: First of all, this way I don't risk brining something like a DMM Persist melee cleric when somebody else wants to have fun with a sword&board fighter and secondly, having a balanced group with all bases covered also helps the DM, since he can spend more time thinking about the plot, and less thinking how to babysit the party through whatever glaring weakenss they might have.

5 and 7) I like my chars to be effective so I usually discuss them with the DM in advance. I don't want to find out later that I've taken abilities that he didn't plan to include in the campaign (such as Favored enemy: undead in a campaign that doesn't include any undead) or that he's not cool with thing x that I was aiming toward. However, I do try to give background reasons for the most signiffcant choices. If Gogu the orc barbarian that grew up in the forest has Pierce Magical Protection, there will be an in-char reason for it.

Jolly
2010-11-02, 02:58 PM
Everyone should have the right to create a character that they want, regardless of the fact if they know those classes are overpowered and how to make them so.

Why? When I play Scrabble, should I have the right to spell words anyway I want? When I play Settlers of Cataan, can I build cities with any resources I want?


My "thorn in the eye" is sometimes there are players that know a lot about DnD, and especially weaknesses and such stuff about certain monstrosities that they posess. For instance, our mage made took energy admixture feat and converted most of his damage stuff into sonic damage, because the player knows that is the energy type the least amount of creatures posess as something to resist. This sort of irked me, but again I suppose I can overlook it. I could reason it that he studied a lot and came to that conclusion, but really, I would, more or less think that his knowledge would span only to monstrosities made by arcane means, not those that are natural.

The DnD world has all these abilities and spells and monsters, that are standardized. Every character of similar class advances at the same rate, and has the same feats open, and faces the same kind of enemies. And yet people cry "meta-gaming" if you act like the types of feats available or enemies that you'll face etc are openly spoken of. If you're in a thieves guild, you know what sneak attack is, and you probably know what things are immune to it and way to circumvent that.

I swear, people sometimes make their characters act in the most unrealistic fashions trying to avoid meta-gaming...