OK, I don't have time to answer this as I want to. My background is in psychology, and I fell into role playing games when I turned 10 in 1976. So by the time I was in college, understanding where the term Roleplaying game really came from, I understood the critical nature of immersion, how it is the most important ingredient for game success.
And to be clear, the definition of immersion is to "Immerse oneself into the identity and Role of the part one is playing. To respond, as much as possible, as the person one is playing, not as oneself."
And before getting into the smaller details, I will dive right into the fact that the very system/game one chooses has a huge amount to do with the amount of Immersion.
Metagaming is the opposite of immersion. You use both terms, but I need to make that absolute definition from the beginning. This also means rules that encourage metagaming decrease the immersion in a game and therefore, decrease the main ingredient of a roleplaying game. The mechanics are called "Dissociated Mechanics", a term coined by Justin Alexander. This is very worth reading, because it gets into many of the larger picture issues with players being able to use in-game logic to see the world around them, as opposed to the rules forcing dissociation from in-game logic.
Once the players assume that rules are going to determine the content of an encounter or treasure (based on EL, or whatever) instead of what the environment or history of the area dictate, verisimilitude is lost.
Vreeg's Rules of Setting design are also heavily immersion related. My current campaign is 26 or so years old (started in '83). Building verisimilitude is a huge part of this.
Vreeg's first Rule of Setting Design
Make sure the ruleset you are using
matches the setting and game you want
to play, because the setting and game
WILL eventually match the system.
Corollary to Vreeg's First Rule
The proportion of rules given to a
certain dimension of an RPG partially
dictate what kind of game the rules
will create. If 80% of the rulebook
is written about thieves and the
underworld, the game that is meant
for is thieving. If 80% of the
mechanics are based on combat, the
game will revolve around combat.
- Multiply this by 10 if the reward
system is based in the same area as
the preponderance of rules.
Character growth is
the greatest reinforcer. The
synthesis of pride in achievement
with improvement in the character
provides over 50% of the
reinforcement in playing the game.
Rules that involve these factors are
the most powerful in the game.
Vreeg’s Second Rule of Setting Design
Consistency is the
Handmaiden of Immersion and
Verisimilitude. Keep good notes, and
spend a little time after every
creation to ‘connect the dots’. If
you create a foodstuff or drink, make
sure you note whether the bars or inns
the players frequent stock it. Is it made
locally, or is it imported? If so,
where from? If locally made, is it
Vreeg's Third Rule of Setting Design
The World In Motion is critical
for Immersion, so create 'event
chains' that happen at all levels of
design. The players need to feel like
things will happen with or without
them; they need to feel like they can
affect the outcome, but event-chains
need velocity, not just speed.
Vreeg's Fourth Rule of Setting Design
Create motivated events and
NPCs, this will invariably create
motivated PCs. Things are not just
happening, they happen because they
matter to people (NPCs). There is no
need to overact, just make sure that the
settings and event-chains are
motivated and that the PCs feel
Vreeg's Fifth Rule of Setting Design
The Illusion of Preparedness is critical
for immersion; allowing the players to see
where things are improvised or changed
reminds them to think outside the setting,
removing them forcibly from immersion.
Whenever the players can see the hand of the GM - even when the GM needs to change things in their favor -
it removes them from the immersed position.
(Cole, of the RPGsite, gets credit for the term).
Remember that part of immersion is the lack of feeling walls around and rails under the characters. This means that the players should not feel that there are things that their character cannot do solely because of the rules or the GM's mindset. The job of the GM is to enable roleplay, not to inhibit it.
This also means the GM must be as immersed as the players, or more.
Another big-picture thing that may irk some folk who sell stuff is that published settings can hurt immersion. They don't destroy it; but when the players have a lot of knowledge about a setting that their character would not have, this increases the opportunity to use it, consciously or unconsciously. Similarly, if your setting has its own bestiary that the characters learn as they go along, or at least a lot of homebrew tweaks, the players get used to working with the in-house data and not trusting the published sources.
If you have done all of this larger-scope stuff, the smaller scope stuff becomes easier. As a GM with miles on the tires, I find that playing up the level of knowledge my NPCs might have and do not have helps keep the players in the same mindset. Players key heavily off the way the GM plays their NPCs. They won't do the funny voices or the mannerisms if the GM does not, and if the GM is particularly careful about what their NPCs know and don't know, especially verbally, the players emulate this.
1. How do I discourage players using the knowledge that they have a low roll to influence character decisions?
Be up front and honest with them about not Meta gaming. It is meta-gaming using the knowledge of a low roll to influence your in-character actions/reactions/thoughts/etc. I usually say just what you said, something along the lines of, "You think she seems to be telling the truth." If my player then goes on to think she is lying, I do one of two things:
- Either gently remind them, "Your character thinks she is telling the truth and would not remain suspicious."
- Or, allow them to roll insight again, but on a different bit of information hoping for a higher roll so it's definitive that the NPC is truthful (or not).
The first option is always better, and usually in the long run makes for more engaging role playing when players can accept the cards their characters have been given. One major tip, when they roll low and you tell them they believe the NPC, try not to act devious or suspicious, your tone and demeanor can influence player thoughts tremendously.
2. Should I, and if so how, tell my players if somebody is actually telling the truth even if they have a very low roll to avoid them thinking they are being lied to and their characters are too stupid to figure it out?
This is a bit tougher... first I refer you back to the first part of my answer to the first question. Players acting on the knowledge of low or high rolls in a way that is discordant with the information you give them is Meta gaming. So, if the 2 options above don't work, then you have to ask yourself one question.
"How will having this player remain suspicious of the information affect the narrative?"
This situation is good for on the fly story development!
- The player remains suspicious, doesn't heed the warnings of the NPC and their actions either result in an extremely challenging fight, or worse may even lead to the death of the NPC. This could cause the player to be more careful in the future or become deeply regretful of his stubbornness.
- The player remains suspicious but the NPC pleads with them, "I can tell you don't believe me, and if I were you I might not believe someone like me either... but please good sir knight, proceed with caution!" This could also lead to the outcomes in the previous example if the Player still ignores the warning. Or they may uncover, incrementally, that the NPC was truthful, after which they might go back, apologize and make a new friend.
If the story really is better served with the character believing 100% that the NPC is not lying and there is no in game way to work around the suspicious nature of the player... as a last resort (and I personally would not do this), just tell them out of character that the NPC is being truthful. I can't think of a reason that you would need to have the character believing that the NPC was honest given the ad-libbed scenarios above, but if you find it imperative, it's your call to make.
...and nothing says the player won't suspect you of lying just because you are the DM. ;) Some players will always be suspicious no matter what as they will always believe the DM is "out to get them".
(And to quote another answer here after reading the stuff posted as I was typing this novel length answer... do be up front with your players that anything you say as a DM to the player will always be the truth. Lies might come from NPCs, but never the DM. And always make sure you are consistent in upholding these promises to your players.)
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.