Wondrous Item lotto siege-hecked advice #26: Item encourages metagaming


RPG Superstar™ 2011 General Discussion

Contributor

(Last year I compiled a list of things that would instantly disqualify your item. I'm posting them one by one as we approach Round 1 of this year's contest.)

26. Item encourages metagaming.

This is a broad category, and it's a doozy. Examples are items that analyze a trap and tell the players its DC ("I have a 75% chance of making that save!") or expected damage ("have the barbarian set it off, she can take that much and the cleric can heal her afterward"), or let players use player knowledge of monsters that their PCs wouldn't know ("this wolf has way too many hit points, it must be a barghest in wolf form").

Don't create an item that encourages the players to metagame, or rewards them for doing so. The short definition of "metagaming" in an RPG context is, "actions made by a PC that rely on player knowledge rather than character knowledge." You can read up on other examples of metagaming on Wikipedia here.

Don't make items that encourage this.

This category is another example of creating an "arms race" between the GM and players. Which is bad.

Related to this are items that make playing the game easier, but aren't necessarily things that people in the world would need. Items like magical moneychangers that transform all your coppers into silvers and your silvers into gold, so the player just has to write one number in the Money area on the character sheet.

Items like auto-mapping devices that record all dungeon rooms the PC passes through, so the player can justify knowing exactly how far it is from here to there and the best way to get there because he's looking at the overhead map on the tabletop.

Items like magic walkie-talkies so a PC can justify knowing the table talk of other players/PCs even if the character is far away from the other characters.

While some of these devices are useful to PCs (the map and walkie-talkie items definitely are), they're really there to make life easier for the players by dealing with things they can't hand-wave away (things like why your character never has to use the bathroom); players don't have to announce potty breaks for their characters, but they do have to write down "25 gp, 130 sp, 210 cp" on a character sheet, so while you'll probably never see a wondrous item that removes the need to visit a lavatory, you may see a moneychanger item because the moneychanger fixes a "problem" the player actually has to deal with.

When your item has the PC thinking like a player rather than a character, you're opening the door to metagaming.

Liberty's Edge

What about an item that says "This act will kill you."

It doesn't actually predict anything, that's just all it ever says.

... I'mma leave now.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka Epic Meepo

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
...you'll probably never see a wondrous item that removes the need to visit a lavatory...

Well, not without violating the principles of Auto-Reject Advice #19...

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Eric Morton wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
...you'll probably never see a wondrous item that removes the need to visit a lavatory...
Well, not without violating the principles of Auto-Reject Advice #19...

Actually, that's reinventing an item that already exists in game: the bag of devouring.

Take one, nail it open to a frame, place that underneath an outhouse. Voila! Your army never has to deal with digging a latrine again, and can even use it to dispose of corpses in case there are worries about enemy necromancers mucking with the battlefield.

Of course it may also involve vomit if the extradimensional entity that provides the bags as lures starts to wonder why one of its mouths tastes like crap.

Yes, Yog-Sothoth is the Key and the Gate and now evidently the Privy as well....


Agreed, no arms-race items.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Items like magical moneychangers that transform all your coppers into silvers and your silvers into gold, so the player just has to write one number in the Money area on the character sheet.

Oh, I would have killed for such an item back in EverQuest, when you were constantly being encumbered by all that copper!

The best version of such an item? Includes a 'moneychanger's surcharge' as the wizard who created it takes 10% off the top. 10 copper don't get replaced with 1 sp. *Eleven* copper get replaced with 1 sp. He keeps the change, and, after making dozens of these items, likes to sit in his treasure room and watch money appear and disappear, the piles growing ever-so-slightly larger...

And then, one day, the Moneychanger's Purses all stop working, because his vault got robbed, and there's no coin in there to 'make change' with! It's a magic item! It's a convenience! It's a plot device! It's an adventure seed! It slices, it dices, it even does windows!

Other meta-gamey items I've seen;

1) A special bookbinding press that can be used to remove spells from a spellbook, and insert new pages, allowing a wizard to shuffle his spellbook around and replace old spells / add new spells without having to buy a whole new book and scribe them all over to make a new 'travelling book.'

2) A siphon/pump contraption that can pull the enchantment out of one item and transfer it into another item of appropriate form and quality, so that you can take that +1 keen shocking glaive-guisarme-voulge your sadistic GM gave you as treasure and transfer the enchantment to a masterwork spiked chain (since you blew half your feats specializing in that bad-boy, and you'll *never* randomly find a magic one as treasure!). Just watch out for that 5% chance of losing some of the magic in the transfer...

Utilitarian, useful, practical (for an adventuring wizard or fighter-type, anyway, if completely useless to the rank and file resident of the gaming world), but more concerned with fiddly mechanical factoids of adventuring life than anything that feels 'magical.'

Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Set wrote:
2) A siphon/pump contraption that can pull the enchantment out of one item and transfer it into another item of appropriate form and quality, so that you can take that +1 keen shocking glaive-guisarme-voulge your sadistic GM gave you as treasure and transfer the enchantment to a masterwork spiked chain (since you blew half your feats specializing in that bad-boy, and you'll *never* randomly find a magic one as treasure!). Just watch out for that 5% chance of losing some of the magic in the transfer...

Yeah. Imagine some sort of magical anvil, let's call it an arcane anvil, that you could use to transfer enchantments. That would be an obvious auto-reject. A person who would design such a thing should never advance in RPG Superstar.

Oh, wait a minute ...

Dark Archive Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Wondrous Item lotto siege-hecked advice #26
lotto siege-hecked?

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
chopswil wrote:

Wondrous Item lotto siege-hecked advice #26

lotto siege-hecked?

Heh. I think Sean decided to go with some words that might be a little less angst-inducing. Might. :)

Liberty's Edge

chopswil wrote:

Wondrous Item lotto siege-hecked advice #26

lotto siege-hecked?

So many people were upset at auto-reject, the name had to change.

That's how they got the second stimulus bill through, called it a jobs bills.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

gbonehead wrote:
Set wrote:
2) A siphon/pump contraption that can pull the enchantment out of one item and transfer it into another item of appropriate form and quality, so that you can take that +1 keen shocking glaive-guisarme-voulge your sadistic GM gave you as treasure and transfer the enchantment to a masterwork spiked chain (since you blew half your feats specializing in that bad-boy, and you'll *never* randomly find a magic one as treasure!). Just watch out for that 5% chance of losing some of the magic in the transfer...

Yeah. Imagine some sort of magical anvil, let's call it an arcane anvil, that you could use to transfer enchantments. That would be an obvious auto-reject. A person who would design such a thing should never advance in RPG Superstar.

Oh, wait a minute ...

Actually, Wolf did vote to auto-reject her item. He called it grade A cheese that would never see the light of day in his campaign, or something to that effect.

I think in the end he relented to Erik and Clark being for the item and don't think it got an official "golden ticket," but Christine was very close to getting bounced out of the contest for that exact reason.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Jason Nelson wrote:
gbonehead wrote:

Yeah. Imagine some sort of magical anvil, let's call it an arcane anvil, that you could use to transfer enchantments. That would be an obvious auto-reject. A person who would design such a thing should never advance in RPG Superstar.

Oh, wait a minute ...

Actually, Wolf did vote to auto-reject her item. He called it grade A cheese that would never see the light of day in his campaign, or something to that effect.

I think in the end he relented to Erik and Clark being for the item and don't think it got an official "golden ticket," but Christine was very close to getting bounced out of the contest for that exact reason.

Right!

But that just supports my point - that in several cases, what at first glance is an auto-reject instead is the work of the overall winner. It's a fine line.

And personally, I liked the arcane anvil, though I would have made it a bit more involved to use than merely spending an hour. In fact, to a large extent that's how I handle magic in my campaign - except that the "anvil" is off-stage and is an unexplained agent of the crown.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Tetujin

Last Year's Item Review Thread wrote:


BRACER OF THE FICKLE MISTRESS

This one got three straight rejects after my comment that it was a bit too metagame. I'll give you a bit more than we discussed, though. You really have to be careful with metagame elements. They work well in limited places, such as Luck domain and such. But in our view it is not the best design to really open up tinkering with rolls, particularly in such a broad way as your item does. That's what held you back. I did like some of the things you did. I like the discussion that you cant have two of these. :)

As you mentioned the "Metagame" Auto-Reject condition is a broad one, but I figured it was worth mentioning that in addition to the examples you gave, it appears items that alter the way rolls are made (Rerolls, taking 10 when you normally wouldn't be able to, etc) also fall into this category, even when they don't provide information about your chance of success.

I figured this was particularly important since it looks like last year quite a few people were auto-rejected for this reason (myself included).

Also: Apologies to the author of the Bracers mentioned above if you're offended, but I'm not singling your item out as a negative example. It was just the first item in the thread where this was brought up. Let me know and I'll change it.


Casey Smith wrote:
As you mentioned the "Metagame" Auto-Reject condition is a broad one, but I figured it was worth mentioning that in addition to the examples you gave, it appears items that alter the way rolls are made (Rerolls, taking 10 when you normally wouldn't be able to, etc) also fall into this category, even when they don't provide information about your chance of success.

Wait, wait, wait...

so a (theorhetical) 'sword of accuracy' would be autorejected if it had an ability that allowed you to reroll a missed attack with it? or auto-confirm a crit?

I thought there were wondrous items that had effects like that in the book o3o;

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

A (theoretical) sword of accuracy would be auto-rejected because it's a weapon, not a wondrous item.

Shadow Lodge

Demonskunk wrote:


Wait, wait, wait...
so a (theorhetical) 'sword of accuracy' would be autorejected if it had an ability that allowed you to reroll a missed attack with it? or auto-confirm a crit?

I thought there were wondrous items that had effects like that in the book o3o;

Even if it was a 'bracelet of accuracy'. Yes, there are items in the core book that break any number of the auto-reject rules. What they are trying to tell you is that they want something more creative than what is in the core book.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I dont think that is what is necessarily meant by metagaming.

Wondrous items are perfect opportunities to break the game rules in very limited ways.

Metagaming talk about things Sean mentioned: knowing hit points, like a floating hp display; knowing AC; knowing things in game mechanics terms.

Bracers that confirm crits would hardly be metagaming. Heck, look at the bless weapon spell (frankly, one of my favorite and most broken combo effects from d20 is to oil of bless weapon up my falchion).


Demonskunk wrote:
Casey Smith wrote:
As you mentioned the "Metagame" Auto-Reject condition is a broad one, but I figured it was worth mentioning that in addition to the examples you gave, it appears items that alter the way rolls are made (Rerolls, taking 10 when you normally wouldn't be able to, etc) also fall into this category, even when they don't provide information about your chance of success.

Wait, wait, wait...

so a (theorhetical) 'sword of accuracy' would be autorejected if it had an ability that allowed you to reroll a missed attack with it? or auto-confirm a crit?

I thought there were wondrous items that had effects like that in the book o3o;

Here's SKR's comment on that particular reroll item:

"My issue with this is that it's basically duplicating the Luck domain's good fortune ability. Items shouldn't steal class abilities because they make players of that class feel robbed. Frex, you shouldn't create an item that lets you sneak attack if you're not a rogue."


So, going over the auto reject notes I was considering this particular bit and how it pertains to "test" items. That is items that require a character to make a roll of some sort like a skill check or saving throw to gain a benefit or else sufer a detrimental condition. Would it be grounds for an auto rejection? Or would it depend?

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