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A player asked me the other night: "In the World of Darkness are Vampires able to enter without being invited in?". The answer to the question is, yes, and even if they weren't the area was a public one. update: it's worth saying this was definitely an out of character question, and I was running prelude material, so the characters don't know jack diddly about anything nastier than serial killers and cultists.

Here's my conundrum, in Hunter, after encountering a supernatural, the hunters reveal what they learned and possibly gain practical experience.

True using this information would be metagaming and poor, and I'm not preventing my player from reading VtR, but it feels to me a bit like telling them things that might allow more metagaming.

Should I answer these kinds of questions? or is it better to suggest to the players that for them it's better to remain in the dark, so that their knowledge is closer to the levels of the characters they're playing?

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Tie it into Role-Playing

Since the answer is yes (out of game), you as the storyteller, should enable that player to gain that knowledge in game. There are many methods he can come about this. Perhaps using his computer skills on a Hunter database. Or perhaps there is a Hunter meeting/gathering and he can use his perception skills to come across a conversation about that information in the back of the room.

Throw the Question Back onto the Player

You are a storyteller, not a customer service hotline. When the player asks, "Can vampires do XYZ," ask the player, "You are a Hunter, and part of a network, how would you find out this information? Do you think other Hunters may know? How do you think they found out?"

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It depends heavily on how likely people are to know this information. While the players may know the game involves vampires, would their characters be surprised to learn they are real?

So if vampires are unknown by most of society, then no, don't say a thing. If the party meet NPCs who are more versed in the ways of vampires, they can ask the NPCs these questions.

If it is well known that vampires roam this world, then it's likely general knowledge what their limitations are.

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True using this information would be metagaming and poor, and I'm not preventing my player from reading VtR, but it feels to me a bit like telling them things that might allow more metagaming.

Key Points:

  • If you trust your players, then trust your players
    • there is little point trusting your players not to meta and allowing them to read the books, but then going out of your way to make it harder for them to get information they have accesses to in the books you are happy for them to read.
  • Your players have plenty of opportunity to encounter the rules.
  • You might want to, if say you intend to use a published adventure, warn the players off reading it, in advance.

  • If you are going to change the rules to stop metagaming (or for other reasons):

    • keep a list written down.
    • make sure the players are all aware that you are playing Xenoterracide Edition. Which is not quiet the same as in the books
      • I find that this is generally a good idea anyway, so that any disputes over interpretation (or you making up some fluff/rules on the spot to cover a gap in your knowledge) is justerfied simply by saying "This isn't a cannon game. This is my variation on that setting."
  • Some players will like the shakeup, or the particular houseruling others won't.

Lets use a metaphor from the business world.

In this metaphor:

  • Sales Staff == Players
  • Accounting Staff == GMs
  • Bank Balances == Rule Books

A Story

Lets say there was a folder, which contained some marginally private data -- Banking Balances. The balances weren't secret to employees of the company, but it was generally intended only for members of the Accounting department.

The company didn't really want to keep the data secure, but it didn't want to broadly distribute it to everyone, so the folder was password protected. But the password was kept in a text file, in commonly assessable space. Everyone knew the password was there.

Plus sometimes work got done a bit better in general if Sales people made them selves familiar with the Bank Accounts.

  • Some of the Sales staff got familar because they had done plent of queries for customers of balances etc (Ie the Players had played this game before)
  • Some went out of their way to become familar and used the password the read the Bank Balances (Ie Players went and got the book and read it themselves)
  • Some had moved into Sales from Accounts and still remember all the important details of the Bank Balances.
  • You are asking if a Sales person is a bit curious about something on the Bank Balance, should a Accounts Staff answer them?
    • Basically yes. The company honestly doesn't care if Sale Staff know.
    • Why waste company time, by not responding, and still allowing the Sales Staff member to go look it up?
    • The company trusts all of its staff not use this information improperly (Ie not to metagame)

Of course, oneday a new Accounts Manager Arrived. He saw all this and thought it was basically stupid. In particular he found that some of the crucial Bank Balances kept being leaked to compeditors (Ie people were metagaming) So he decided to really shake things up.

He moved all the Long Term Investments from Fixed Term Accounts, to Volatile Shares. He has the Accounting Department keep a second set of records secret from Sales (Ie a Private list of House Rules). The old accounts were still around, and periodically Sales Staff would look at them.

Eventually the Sales Staff notice that things don't quiet line up. The way things are going in the company is not reflected in the Bank Balances they are used to using. They confront the Accounts Manager and he says "Yes, I moved things into the Volatile Shares."

The Sales Staff were at first a bit shocked, and some were worried "The company is long used to our Fix Term deposits. They are reliable. Volatile Shares are Untested."

The Account Manager said "Look Volatile Shares are pretty cool. Plus there was a Leak -- someone was miss using their access to the Bank Balances Folder. This fixed the Leak. When I was hired to be Accounts Manager, everyone in the company including Sales Staff saw the contract and so should have known that it was within my rights to change how we invest our long term savings"

  • Some really liked the Volatile Shares, others missed the traditional Fixed Term Bonds
  • Some Staff left, they felt there trust had been broken
    • If everyone had read the contract though they wouldn't have felt this way
  • Some new Staff joined, because they heard the company was a dynamic place with innovations all the time. They were excited to never know what was next.

I hope this allegory is illuminating.

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