“Acid,” Robijeign announced, eyeing wisps of smoke rising from the tip of his blade.
His three companions, still mounted, exchanged glances.
“Ankhegs, perhaps?” Imevere wondered.
She lowered her hood to improve her view of the scene. Where fields met woodline, something had recently erupted through the earth. A depression of churned earth and smoking, dimpled rocks interrupted what had once been wide and rutted farm trail. The old trail continued on the other side of the crater.
“Acid. Erupted earth. Missing farm animals,” said Bettelfegne, the priest. “I agree. Ankhegs sound likely.”
Beside Imevere, the farmer who had led them to the site remained silent.
How many GMs would prohibit the above conversation unless the party had already encountered ankhegs?
Many, I suspect.
If you lurk in enough online threads about tabletop RPG, you can count on seeing that behavior described as an unforgivable sin almost once a week. The thread usually unfolds like so:
- Question: “My players all know to use fire on a troll, even though their characters have never met one. What should I do?”
- Exhortation Response: “That’s called meta-gaming, and it’s really frustrating because it disrupts everyone’s immersion in the game. You need to tell them not to do that. Tell them that if they role-play as though they don’t know anything, everyone will have more fun.”
- Hellfire Response: “Teach them a lesson: make it grow stronger from fire. To defeat it, they need cold. Watch ’em all die. That’ll teach them not to meta-game.”
I’ve written before about why I’m not terribly bothered by meta-gaming. But I’d like to suggest a better way to respond to the habit than Exhortation and Hellfire have offered.
Before I do that, though, I should probably explain how following the advice of Exhortation or Hellfire will damage your campaigns.