Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Meta Gaming your Players

What I'm about to write, I have not read elsewhere. As a Games designer for computer games as much as for PnP Roleplay, this is something that I borrowed from threads and posts, took a good hard look at it and said.. why not? and morphed it into what I do as Gamesmaster.

Character Progression doesn't always have to come from play.

Meta Gaming

Wikipedia says : Metagaming is any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.
In simple terms, it is the use of out-of-game information or resources to affect one's in-game decisions.

I'm not talking about that.

Meta Gaming in Video game terminology is about the game outside the game. The points you earn after each parkour run, that buys you speed boosts or the tower defence weapon upgrades or the Berzerk Ball world upgrades. Its the Game outside the game, that improves in inner game.

Its about the 'improvement to the game' that you earn by 'playing more often'.

So in that context, I give you: the Meta Gaming Rules I use, to make my roleplaying experience more enjoyable for players

Roleplay Points

In my older Posts I've mentioned Roleplay Points, Points I award players per session for several reasons:
  • Roleplaying, and not Meta Gaming!
  • Being there for that session
  • Making a good quote, pertinent to the situation, which causes much hilarity or groaning
  • Using Voices, drawing character models or 'adding' to the experience
  • Being a good player
I also ask the players to nominate one player each week to get the 'player of the week' Bonus +2 roleplay points

Roleplay Points, are currently used to buy two things: Quests and Hero Points.

Quests allow players to nominate something their character wants to achieve in the next few sessions. They declare a quest, assign 5 roleplay points to it, and during any roleplay session, they may refer to the quest, to assign more roleplay points to it (it must be roleplayed to give it these points)
When the quest is completed, the characters gain a massive boost to their character sheets. Background Points, Karma Points (for both see below) and a chunk of Experience Points.

The Chunk of XP is typically at least half a levels worth for many game systems (often as much as a full levels worth of XP, if it was a 6 session quest for example) above and beyond the normal XP

In this, I no longer need to dole out XP as game rewards, XP is for doing what you should be doing.

Karma Points 

This is where we get real meta. When a Player Dies or retires their character, we add up the number of roleplay sessions we had with that character (approx 3/4 of number of weeks since we began for average) multiplied by their Levels gained (i.e. minus starting level if you didn't start at 1st) and if they chose (retired) we double it.

Karma allows that player to 'buy' a better character for the next session.

But when they have Karma.. Then, now things get interesting... Firstly, they probably buy some Background Points

Background Points

When I get a new player, they start as a Human, with a boring dead end job, who becomes a somebody. They decide one day to stop being who they were, and be something more than that, and join the adventurers/gang/group. This is all justly evened out using Background Points. Humans 0Bkgpts, Average parents 0Bkgpts, Average Job 0Bkgpts.

But after earning a few Karma, and buying some background points... they can choose a more interesting race, a more interesting beginning profession and maybe some contacts in some high places(or low places) a dash more starting cash.

Is your world primarily human? with some dwarves and elves? 0Bkgpts for them, but what if the player wants a half-Orc? are they rare? add a Bkgpt cost to them, are they slightly imbalanced? more Bkgpts, maybe you'd even allow a construct, with a soul of a dragon.. IF they spent the Bkgpts for it.

The GM can now 'balance' his world by making the harder to find races use up some of these points, so plays can see the benefits, match up with the costs.
Character Progression by Whimsycatcher on Deviant Art

We also use background points for flashback events, remembering the past and discovering your heritage, which are roleplayed events (more in my blog)

Back to Karma

But Karma has more going on, While Karma can buy into some nice Background points for that one character.. the best way is to earn enough to buy Karma bonuses. +1 to Strength for every single character you ever play in my game/campaign with friends who GM my world, or at Cons that I participate in.

Longer Term Gaming

Some of this I developed when I ran a games club, and wanted to entice players to come back time & time again.. but its also a great way to reward players who realise that their character is getting old, or just plain dead. So, While I may have balked at Meta Gaming in its negatives, I'm glad to have looked past to see the positives.


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