In the LARPs that I have played the term meta-gaming is used to describe someone taking information that they learned out of game and using it in game as part of their character’s knowledge. All of the LARPs I have been to are honour based games. They trust you to calculate your own hit points, the trust you to only use the skills that you have purchased and they trust you to be honest about your character knowledge. Meta-gaming breaks that trust.
The biggest problem I personally have with meta-gaming is that it robs players of role-playing opportunities. Just asking a question in game instead of out of game can lead to some very interesting scenarios. Most games will allow role-playing between games. My friends and I often have in-game conversations over MSN, Facebook and Skype as well as the Epoch in-game forums. It can lead to much hilarity and gives us a bit of a LARP fix between games.
Before my first event, my fellow club members had filled my head with interesting stories about other characters. For example: there was a mage that tended to fling spells just after announcing she was bored. Because I have heard this story, my reaction to the announcement of boredom may be to want to run away, however, my character’s knowledge does not include that story so I would not know to run and I need to act accordingly.
At Epoch, when you die you do not remember the last 15 minutes before death. This is one of the things that can be very hard to deal with. Do you assume that the last person you were with killed you and go after them aggressively? Do you think maybe a monster came along? Random assassin? While
it’s good that your character is trying to solve the mystery of their death, sometimes we can interpret information differently than we normally would if the we, the player, didn’t really know who killed our character. It’s very important to tread carefully when interpreting the clues. When in doubt, you can always turn to a trusted friend of your character and feed them the facts. If they come up with the same answer you did, then it’s safe to say that the facts led you to that conclusion. Fun role-playing can be had from getting it wrong a few times.
In most cases, a player ends up meta-gaming accidentally. Don’t freak out and start accusing someone of cheating. It’s not always easy to separate the information that you have learned from a person and the information that you have learned from that person’s character. I find when I’m not sure, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Your character can always forget things, but they can’t get random information from thin air.