I was caught metagaming by James Ward!

Okay, so I went to Gary Con this past weekend.  My trip there was somewhat eventful: I had a tire go flat on my way there, which meant that I missed the morning round of events on Saturday.  However, I was back by Noon to the Lodge at Geneva Ridge, and decided to take a look around.

  • I saw a number of old Tekumel hands almost immediately, including Mark Eggert and Bill Hoyer.  Since I had brought the Jakallan Underworld with me (as I have for previous UCons), we immediately started talking about running some Empire of the Petal Throne during the weekend.
  • I also spent some time talking to Jon Hershberger of Black Blade Publishing about a modest idea I had for making more Old School games and products available at game conventions here in Wisconsin.  I also picked up a copy of OSRIC for $26 (!!!) – a complete steal at that price in hardcover.
  • I ran into Jeff Rients and showed him some of the dungeon maps my players had drawn of Xylarthen’s Tower – he was very pleased to see just how much fun they obviously had had.

I was invited into a game of Moldvay D&D with one of the fine crew from Kenzer and Company, running The Isle of Dread, which I had played a LONG time ago, but could not remember to save my life.  It was a relatively quick adventure, since we never really pulled together as a group and figured out how to cover for one another.  I had a 4th level magic-user, properly done up on notebook filler paper, and the rest of the party was mystified why I spent a great deal of time avoiding combat.

We ended up in a nearly endless combat with zombies, with some of the party trying to attack the ones that our cleric had turned – I tried telling them that was a bad idea, but….  In the end, we lost half the party, went back above ground to the nearby village, and were unable to finish the adventure.  You might think I didn’t have much fun, but it was fascinating to see how another referee ran the game, and how other players I had never gamed with actually played.  I had a great time.

Somewhere in there, I got into a grand discussion of maps and mapping with Ramsey Dow of Sickly Purple Death Ray. His maps are totally amazing – and look for an interesting series of adventures he is working on and should be releasing soon.  Ramsey got me into the 6pm game of Metamorphosis: Alpha with James Ward – was I going to miss a chance to game with James Ward?  Heck, no!  The rest of the party was a really good group, including (among others) Jon Pickens.  Our characters were very simple to generate, and aside from weapons and goodies, we had “luck points” that could be used to modify rolls.

We were a bunch of expendable soldiers sent from the Starship Worden to figure out why Outpost Alpha, above one of the planets of Alpha Centauri, wasn’t responding.  In our scout ship, we went to the base and discovered that the atmospheric integrity of the dome has been compromised by a weird black alien flying saucer.  The AI in charge of the station had been compromised, since it did not believe there was a flying saucer.  Nevertheless, we went into the station, and immediately got into trouble with the AI (named “Alpha” and don’t you dare call her “Computer”) for minor damage to the station.  Eventually we discovered the weird alien fungus and strange alien darkness that was taking over the station.  After strangely getting ourselves put in charge of the station, we tried fixing things using lots of alcohol and attempting to get the fungicide in storage.  However, our plans went awry, and before we could set off the self-destruct on the station, Alpha decided to do us in to prevent that from happening.  End of our merry adventure – there was a lot of laughing as we bumbled through it.  (I hesitate to say it, but there was an almost Paranoia-esque quality to our mission.)

As the referee, Jim stayed firmly in control of the flow of the game, and did not hesitate to guide the emerging narrative to suit his whim.  That might sound like he was arbitrary, but in sheer point of fact, he knew exactly what he was doing by keeping player initiative on a very short leash.  This resulted in players having to think on their feet, and having to pay very close attention to what was going on.  For quite awhile, nobody used luck points, and as we slowly got ourselves deeper and deeper in trouble, I ended up blurting out “but you could use a Luck Point to make it work!” just before another player made a crucial roll.


I found myself being sternly rebuked by our referee, who informed me that BAD THINGS would happen if I was caught metagaming again.  I did admit me my fault, and meekly allowed that I would refrain from doing it again.  The rest of the party was highly amused.

The rest of the adventure was very cool, but it did mean that we had to postpone Empire of the Petal Throne until Sunday, which we did.  More on that in another post.

5 thoughts on “I was caught metagaming by James Ward!

  1. Luck points are metagame resources. They don't really model anything about the character and clearly tap into the player's knowledge of things outside the gameworld.

  2. Gotta agree with FASERIP on that one. Sounds like Drawmij was reprimanding you for helping someone be a more effective player.

  3. Sorry I missed you on Sunday afternoon, Victor—Jon and I returned from our quest for dinner later than planned, since just about every non-fast-food restaurant in Lake Geneva was closed on Sundays….


  4. Uh, how else are you supposed to use your luck points?

    Or was it a problem that you said it out of character?

  5. I don't have much patience for A) demands that players always "be in character" or B) threats to do BAD THINGS to characters because of out-of-game actions by the player.

    Rules lawyering and arguing about loopholes which might allow a PC to do unreasonable things is one thing. So is making snarky remarks to NPCs and then claiming "my character didn't say that, *I* did." But one player suggesting to another to use a Luck Point? Really?

    Can players ask each other which dice to roll for long sword damage? Or is that forbidden metagaming?

    As for "rebuking" a player and threatening that BAD THINGS would happen (presumably in-game) over some out-of-game action, that's pretty junior high.

    "You're being a jerk so your fighter is hit by a 7d6 lightning bolt." Fun.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding what happened or how it happened. Or maybe I just don't approach the game the same way at all.

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