Mercenary Mondays: The Joys of Vegas

Note: Mercenary Mondays is an ongoing series of posts about the Schlock Mercenary Roleplaying Game and it’s behind the scenes development!

Phew.  What a weekend.

So I went to Las Vegas over the weekend. I went for two reasons. First, I’ve never been to Vegas and I wanted to see. Secondly, It was the weekend of the Las Vegas Kotei for Legend of the Five Rings.

What? That makes no sense? Indeed! Basically, Kotei is a L5R tournament for the card game, but the winners get to impact the storyline of the game overall. Great times. Great times. Did well, 7th place, top of Clan out of 8 Crane players. Was fun.

But it sparked some interesting thoughts about RPGs and RPG designs in general. One of the big aspects of any CCG is the prevalence of “meta”. Meta is a term used to designate a card you slot into your deck simply to handle a problem that exposes itself. Things that cancel your opponents actions or cards, things that shore us weaknesses your deck has, meta is where you dedicate a slot or resource to handling a potential problem that might not even come up.

In roleplaying, one of the biggest things I remember as meta is the idea of “bane” weapons in D&D. Bane weapons deal extra damage against specific foes, but against any foes of a different species/race, they’re effectively non-magical. And there is a serious damper when a player gets an item at seems useful, but never really comes into play.

Same with skills, abilities, weapons, what have you. Players want to use their tools and toys in the game. So do you par that sort of thing outta the game? Do you add it in? What is the appropriate handling of such a situation? There is a lot of complication that goes into fitting a jig-sawed ruleset together.

It’s the GM’s responsibility to ensure that players have fun, and a GM should make sure that a player gets a full chance to use all their abilities, gadgets, toys, and more. So should the GM stop the player from taking “meta” they want? Or should it be encouraged? How should the game’s ruleset handle it?