[RPG] How to explain to a new player that metagaming is encouraged in this group


I am part of a social board games group that meets most weekends to play short (max one session) games that usually involve role playing of some kind.

Recently someone invited a friend from another, more "serious" gaming group. Since then, all of our games have become so stilted. In particular, this person is heavily against "metagaming", and frequently stops the game to point out examples, makes us replay moves that shouldn't have been allowed, etc.

For example, player A prematurely attacks a monster that he wouldn't be able to defeat alone, making a joke that "Jim won't bear the thought of not getting xp from this kill, so he'll save me". Players deliberately play pranks on other people's characters when the player goes to the bathroom, even though technically their character is there and would stop it if the player were there. Real-life relationships are exploited even when not mirrored by the characters: "better give Sally your share of the loot or you'll be sleeping on the couch tonight!" And so on. We usually come up with flimsy excuses in-game for these actions, but they are transparently made for out-of-game reasons.

Since the new player joined, all of that has stopped. We are all a bit intimidated because they are a more "serious" gamer than most of us, and they gave such firm reasons for why metagaming was the worst thing that could happen in role-playing. Well, we tried it, and it completely ruined our dynamic. Other players don't want to come any more when the new player is coming. Is there anything we can do, or is disinviting this player the only option?

Best Answer

There are so many ways to enjoy roleplaying games that we sometimes — often, actually — forget that fact and just assume that how we play is the way.

Unsurprisingly, this results in unpleasant things when different ways to play collide and nobody notices that hey, maybe these are different and don't mix well!

What you (personally or as a group) need to do is talk to the guy outside of a game and apologise. Tell him that you're a beer & pretzels* kind of RPG group, and that you're really not enjoying the games anymore. Reassure him that you don't think there's anything wrong with more serious roleplaying that avoids metagaming. It's just not what the group wants when they get together, and you're sorry that you'd all invited him in without realising that there was going to be such a drastic conflict of play preferences.

And then sit down and ask “so what do we want to do about this?”

The result of that discussion will hopefully give you all a way forward. It might involve firmly but apologetically saying that you're not interested in the “serious” roleplaying thing anymore. It might involve the new guy experiencing a lightbulb moment where he understands the disconnect and decides he's OK playing a different way. It might involve a few of you unexpectedly speaking up and saying they actually like this way of playing, and maybe what happens is your group turns into two different, possibly overlapping groups that play different campaigns on different nights.

The only thing it shouldn't involve is continuing with the status quo, where you all just avoid firm honesty and end up continuing to play this game that most people are not enjoying. It shouldn't involve that since that ends in slow, dramatic collapse of the group and possibly being unable to even get the original members back together afterwards.

* Most serious RPGers have heard the term “beer & pretzels” roleplaying, so this will probably communicate the basic incompatibility problem fairly loudly right up-front. The rest is all details.