That is, we tend to use gamespeak or metagame terms far too often during our favorite roleplaying game. Want to stop? Or at least cut back?
Here’s a start – another Leonine 12 to the rescue!
12. Stop talking party roles. Congratulations, we now know, without a shadow of a doubt, what the paladin and ranger generally do as part of the party in a fight. Stop reminding us! Can we still create a pretty balanced party without mentioning the ‘need’ for every role? Can we trust ourselves to make the right adjustments to cover any perceived weaknesses? You know, like every single edition of D&D before this? Wow, nothing really has changed on this front, has it?
11. Stop calling it some other game. No, it’s not World of Warcraft. No, it’s not a miniatures war game. No, it’s not hopscotch or canasta either. But if you really must go there, I’m pretty sure all of D&D was ‘borrowed’ from some (awesome, admittedly) combination of Tolkien, mythology and our history of warfare. D&D existed long before any cool video games about it did. Use of smarter visual aids doesn’t automatically make D&D a miniatures war game either, sorry. Now that monster tokens are all the rage, what shall we call D&D now? Pokemon? Chutes and Ladders? Trivial Pursuit? Tell me!
10. Describe your actions instead of reading off a skill and rolling a die. Put down your damn dice! What does it look, sound or feel like first? What are you actually thinking or doing to earn that skill check?
9. Roleplay your social skill checks. Once again, put your damn dice down and actually attempt to use a voice that isn’t yours and mannerisms that aren’t yours to actually lie like a rug, say something threatening or imposing, or talk some sense into folks or make peace through Bluff, Intimidate or Diplomacy. You know, actually roleplay your character!
8. Stop giving gamey play-by-play. No one needs to hear you announce your action type and give us a public running remaining inventory for every single action you make during your turn, especially obvious and annoying ones like “for my move, I’ll move here.” Are you serious? This isn’t a ball game, Johnny Most. For the love of Gygax, spare us. I trust you, ok? D&D 4e’s been out long enough. It’s really ok. Freaking stop!
7. Stop calling them short and extended rests. Catch your breath, tend to your wounds, check your armor and weapons, grab a snack or pound back your waterskin or wineskin, but do not stop for a “short rest,” whatever the hell that is. And get some sleep for the night – absolutely do not “extended rest” – once again, whatever the hell that is.
6. Don’t go ‘Bag of Numbers’ on us. Describe your combat actions. Don’t just rattle off a list of numbers and gamespeak conditions and actions like you’re reading from some horrible combination of a calculator and tech repair manual. Your ‘powers’ (dry heave…), feats, and magic items have names and flavor text for a reason! Use them or at least be inspired by them to describe your actions and attacks. Acknowledge their existence and magic, at the very least. Give them some props. Maybe even enjoy their RP flavor! Wow!
5. Roleplay during combat. Don’t leave all theatrics and roleplaying to the DM. What, he or she doesn’t have enough to do? A bit of friendly banter or encouragement during a fight is good for the D&D soul and party morale. So too is getting into character and describing your killing blows and monster death scenes - at the very least, this is better than nothing when it comes to roleplaying your ‘powers’ (hurl…).
4. Abort Tactical Metagame Mission Conference Discussion Delta Niner. Now that I have the tacticians’ attention… stop launching into lengthy gamey tactical analysis and prolonged discussion of every single player’s turn! If you want someone to help you flank, then, brace yourself: say it in character in a non-gamey way! You can do it, I have faith in you. After all, you’re playing D&D, an RPG, and I know those roleplaying skills are buried inside your board game or war game mentality somewhere.
3. Stop calling them powers. This isn’t sci-fi, SyFy or science fiction! You’re actually not technically a superhero or wear uniforms or yellow spandex - leave that to other RPGs and the (extremely cool) Marvel universe. They’re called arcane spells, divine prayers, martial exploits or maneuvers, etc. You cast, speak, or perform them. Say “I use a power” (yawns-ville!) one more time, and I swear I’ll have Wolverine cut you.
2. Stop saying “I Spend an Action Point!” Honestly, what the hell is that? Who spends a what where? Quite possibly the gamey-ist sounding phrase in the game. Flex a tiny RP muscle in your brain and describe what you’re doing more cinematically. Even saying “I go into an inspired blur of heroic action” sounds ten times better than some bizarro trip to your online D&D combat shopping cart.
1. Stop Sleeping in the Damn Dungeon. Seriously? Who does this? It’s almost always beyond stupid. Ask yourself the age-old D&D roleplay question: But what would your character do? I’m pretty damn sure he or she wouldn’t want to get some shut-eye right next to a stack of twelve eviscerated and beheaded orc bodies, a shining pool of blood nearby and disgruntled reinforcements just upstairs. Take your ‘extended rest’ (vomit…) in your dungeons and shove it! Or else expect a gauntlet of hungry, curious or even concerned monsters to eat you. Slowly. And with tabasco sauce.
Got some more tips for us all to Stop Sounding So Damn Metagamey? For my minor action (sigh…), I suggest you leave yours in the comments right here, right now. Or sleep – do NOT freaking extended rest - on it and come back later. Remember to tell your friends!