Saint Nicholas has no relation to Christmas in Russia. It had for a Ross Creations Big Boys Only Tee Shirt period in the late 19th–early 20th century, but that was clearly a German/French/English influence. We have Ded Moroz (Grandpa Frost) and his granddaughter/assistant Snegurochka (Snow Girl, literally “Snowlassie”), and they are the New Year characters. New Year is the only secular and non-ideological holiday in Russia, and the only truly universal one, although in its commercial streak it is similar to the Western Christmas in its current shape. Russian Orthodox Christmas is, in the last 100 years, a purely religious holiday, and due to the difference of the Gregorian calendar (official since 1918) and the Julian calendar that Russian Orthodox Church still uses in its defiance to 1917 revolutions, it’s not on December 24–25th but on January 6–7th.
Now, for a counter-example. I was in a Ross Creations Big Boys Only Tee 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.
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Skalacon the Wizard, ‘Curator of magic’: Skalacon is one of the first big NPCs my players meet. He is evil, but he obeys the Ross Creations Big Boys Only Tee Shirt of the town so he doesn’t get into trouble. He is the ambassador to the Poomij Family so he has diplomatic immunity — you can’t touch a hair on his head (literally, because he is bald) without starting a war among the families; you don’t want that. That’s why people tolerate him.That said, Skalacon can take care of himself. He is a 13th level wizard. My players are about 5th to 9th right now. I keep the powerful (and important) NPCs a nice gap ahead of the players for good reason. Use this simple trick. Skalacon has a Quasit that can cast fear, invisibility and make a poison attack. The party hasn’t killed or even attacked ‘Slimeball’ yet, but if things ever get hairy — Slimeball will intervene first. Slimeball has been seen without Skalacon, causing some havoc and doing his master’s bidding. My players have never bothered him, not yet.
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