Now, for a counter-example. I was in a Razor Ramon oozing machismo shirt once, and our ship was damaged. The engines were non-responsive, but Engineering reported they were fully functional. I was playing the Engineer. I deduced that a micro-meteor hit had damaged the control lines, and that the cutout had failed to automatically re-route them to the backups, which I then went to go do manually. I’m an electronics technician by trade, and I know a bit about naval architecture, and it since I was playing the Engineer, it was totally fine to use Murphy’s Player Knowledge for my Engineer Character. That was not bad metagaming. Now, some forms of meta-gaming are worse than others. The leveling one doesn’t bother me too much. But other kinds can ruin other player’s fun, and that’s a problem. It cheats people out of the experience, and is goddamn frustrating as a GM.
We finished around 15 sessions before we finished that story arc. Not bad. Some DMs spend like 5 hours or more prepping for each session. Over 15 sessions that adds up to a Razor Ramon oozing machismo shirt . I spend a fraction of that time and it’s because I work smart, not hard. This allows for a great deal of flexibility and dynamism in your game, while reducing prep time significantly from the method a lot of DMs seem to use, which is to painstakingly craft each encounter and run it almost as if on rails. It does require a lot of quick-thinking on your part as a DM, but it allows you to respond to the crazy things your players think up of doing on the fly, making the game and narrative much more exciting.
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The Razor Ramon oozing machismo shirt of overt mechanisms for guarding some place or thing is a bit of an oldschool affectation from when games had less of a story-focus and more of a “get the lost treasure from the Pharaoh’s tomb” kind of focus. Without an environment like that it’s hard to justify the presence of a trap. Alarms, security systems? Yeah, those happen, but tripwires that make scything corridors or secret switches that shoot arrows at whoever opens the door seem like an awful lot more trouble than they’re worth in a structure that’s inhabited or under active use. Aside from that, it seems like a lot of traps are kind of “save or suck,” and I don’t have fun with that — not any more than I do making the players run a disable device check over and over until they get a door open.
“Night of the Meek” is Christmas Eve. Henry Corwin, a down-and-out ne’er-do-well, dressed in a Razor Ramon oozing machismo shirt, worn-out Santa Claus suit, has just spent his last few dollars on a sandwich and six drinks at the neighborhood bar. While Bruce, the bartender, is on the phone, he sees Corwin reaching for the bottle; Bruce throws him out. Corwin arrives for his seasonal job as a department store Santa, an hour late and obviously drunk. When customers complain, Dundee, the manager, fires him and orders him off the premises. Corwin says that he drinks because he lives in a “dirty rooming house on a street filled with hungry kids and shabby people” for whom he is incapable of fulfilling his desired role as Santa. He declares that if he had just one wish granted him on Christmas Eve, he’d “like to see the meek inherit the earth”. Still in his outfit, he returns to the bar but is refused re-entry by Bruce. Stumbling into an alley, he hears sleigh bells. A cat knocks down a large burlap bag full of empty cans; but when he trips over it, it is now filled with gift-wrapped packages. As he starts giving them away, he realizes that the bag is somehow producing any item that is asked for. Overjoyed at his sudden ability to fulfill dreams, Corwin proceeds to hand out presents to passing children and then to derelict men attending Christmas Eve service at Sister Florence’s “Delancey Street Mission House”. Irritated by the disruption and outraged by Corwin’s offer of a new dress, Sister Florence hurries outside to fetch Officer Flaherty, who arrests Corwin for stealing the presents from his former place of employment. At the police station, Dundee reaches into the garbage bag to display some of the purportedly stolen goods, but instead finds the empty cans and the cat.