Rules: Metagame Concept

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The Metagame Concept is an idea for collaboration between two or more people to generate content for RPG adventures. This page will be used to describe the concept and thoughts and notes about how to implement.

When designing an adventure, instead of deciding content by fiat, a DM would engage in a "meta game" with others to determine the shape of an adventure and what actions prominent NPC's in the world take. For example, a collaborator could assume the role of one of the main villains in the campaign world. The collaborator would create the villain, the villain's lair and would receive a certain amount of in-game resources which would be used to accomplish the villain's goals.

With more than one collaborator, additional competition be introduced between participants with some type of victory points or control or influence of in-game territory as part of the consequence.

The original concept evolved during planning of a Neverwinter Nights game server with multiple DM's collaborating on content.

Metagame Concepts, Examples, Notes and Descriptions

Original Concept Notes from Sept 2000:

The concept is for content creators (DM's) to create and play NPC's that are in conflict with one another to gain control of territories, operating within the resources and limitations of those NPC's, with specific goals and thereby generate adventure content by playing a "meta game".

Territories in the game world are defined and assigned a "Meta Point" point value. Collaborators use Meta Points representing resources and influence to gain control of these territories, which increase their pool of Meta Points. Controlled or influenced territories must be contiguous under normal circumstances. Other Collaborators may compete for these territories to deny the other Collaborator or to increase their own pool of Meta Points. Stalemates between collaborators are the status quo, intervention by player characters is necessary to break the stalemate. Collaborators would use their influence and create adventure content to attract players to their side of the conflict to resolve the Collaborator stalemate. Collaborators would create 'avatars' which represent heroes, leaders, villains, etc., in the campaign. Meta Points must also be expended for upkeep of existing territories and other assets. Points would be expended in rounds among collaborators until all MP are expended or the Collaborator passes. At the end of each round, all left over MP are lost (the cannot be carried over from round to round (subject to change?).

Meta Points Defined

1 MP = 1 Encounter Challenge Rating (CR = Party Level)
1 MP = 500gp
1 MP = 1 Level of Henchmen

Collaborators can expend MP in various methods to take control of neutral territories and expend MP to neutralize the control and influence of other collaborators. Neutralization should require the actions of player characters in adventures.


Collaborator A (CA) spends 4 MP to take control of a 'territory'. In order for a group of players to defeat Collaborator A's influence in this territory, they must defeat 4 challenges with an Encounter Level (EL) equal to that of the party (See DMG pg 101). OR, they must defeat a single challenge with an EL 4 levels higher.


Let us say that CA has moved ogres from an Underdark cavern that he controls into a nearby 4 MP territory as his challenge for control of that territory. A group of four players who average 4th level enter the area. They will have to kill 2 ogres each in 4 separate encounters to "clear" the area and neutralize CA's influence in that territory.

Non-Combat Encounters:

Alternately, adventures could include non-fighting options, such as challenging role-playing or puzzles. These options should try to use the resources of the players equal to a combat encounter. Perhaps only the rogue has sufficient bluff to win past a sentry, or a fighter must win an arm wrestling contest to gain the confidence of an informant, etc. These situations would be difficult to assign a value to, but there should be at least one significant challenge per MP value of the territory.


Collaborator B has goblins in control of a territory, and considers the territory to be of strategic value and wants to make the challenge more difficult to overcome by having the goblins build and fortify a small wooden fort. Using game resources, it is determined that the fort would cost 2,000gp in materials and labor to build the fort. Collaborator B could expend 4 Meta Points to now have a goblin fort instead of camps. This expenditure in "infrastructure" could also possibly increase the MP value of the territory.

For another example, Collaborator A's ogres are invading a 4 MP territory and Collaborator B posts a 2,000gp (4 MP) reward on the local mercenary's guild job postings for brave adventurers to clean the place out. Collaborator A would gain control of the territory and the additional MP until a group of players take the mercenary contract and eliminate the ogres. The territory would then revert to neutral.


Meta Points could be spent on Henchmen. For example, 6 MP could be spent to "buy" a 6th Level NPC. Henchmen can be used to beef up defenses in an area, act as personal bodyguards for the Collaborators Avatar, lieutenants, or help extend control to territories away from the Collaborators current area of influence. Henchmen will require upkeep of meta points equal to half their level and they can control a territory with an upkeep value equal to their level. Example 1: A Collaborator takes over a 6 MP territory with a 6th Level NPC. The territory generates 6 MP and has upkeep of 3 and the NPC also has an upkeep of 3 for zero total MP yield. The NPC has the capability of also controlling an additional 6 MP territory, which would be 12 MP generated with 9 upkeep would yield an additional 3 MP for the Collaborator's pool.

Example: Collaborator A's Avatar is a Lich and he has amassed territory worth a total of 12 MP. After upkeep the Lich has 6 MP available in it's pool and purchases a 6th Level Cleric Necromancer as a Henchman and has zero pool left. The next round the Lich sends his Necromancer to a neutral 4 MP territory several steps away that is a holy shrine and spends 4 of his 6 MP pool to take over the territory. He uses his remaining 2 MP for a 1,000gp fortification. In terms of game play, the Henchman Necromancer moves in to the site of a holy shrine with four Encounter Level 4 worth of undead and builds or takes over a lair (a small tower, an existing cave, the monastery formerly guarding the shrine, whatever). The Lich has expended all of his MP and his round ends. In the third round the Lich has 16 MP of territory and after upkeep generates 5 MP for his pool. The Lich could continue to expand his own territory or have his Henchman expand to other adjacent territories. The Lich's Necromancer Henchman can utilize any of his existing capabilities from spells and abilities as per regular game system (D&D) rules to summon or control additional undead, or otherwise do any of the things a 6th NPC could do.


All defined territories will have a Meta Point (MP) value. Territories will always have an even value, minimum of 2 MP. Territories controlled by a Collaborator have an upkeep of one half its MP value. A Collaborator's territories must be contiguous unless a Henchman is utilized.

Seizing Territory:

IN order to attempt control of a "neutral" territory, you must spend MP points equal to the value of that territory. The form of this control is left to the imagination of the Collaborator, but should be in alignment with the nature of the Collaborator's Avatar. An Avatar of a local human Baron may use his military, pay bribes, make alliances, or political influence. An Avatar Lich may use his undead minions, threats of retribution, bribes, etc. A druid or cleric high priest Avatar may use their religious influence to convert the population or militant orders to enforce religious laws, provide blessings or curses, threats of excommunication, etc. Anything should be possible as long as it makes sense in context with the nature of the Avatar.

Holding a Territory:

Once gained territory does not require any special effort to maintain, unless you are unable or unwilling to pay the upkeep.

Challenging a Territory:

There are different outcomes when you challenge for control of a territory depending on when the challenge takes place. - Challenging for control of a territory that has just been seized this round. Both of your forces are balanced, neither Collaborator controls the territory or collects MP's for the territory, but both must continue to pay upkeep as long as the territory is in contention. Player characters adventuring in the territory would be required to break this stalemate for one side or the other.
- Challenging for a Controlled Territory. A Collaborator is firmly in control of a territory and you spend Meta Points equal to the value of the territory in order to contest it. Now control of this territory is in a Stalemate position until control of the territory is resolved.


This is where the players come in to the meta game scenario.

Example: A Collaborator's Avatar is a "Shadowmaster" Wizard named Eclipse. Eclipse spends 6 points for a 6th Level Henchman Wizard named Gardack and sends him to infiltrate ("seize") the Iron Tower mages guild. This henchman represents an influence in the mages guild as an envoy of the powerful Wizard Eclipse. He may be misleading and misinforming the Iron Tower mages, or maybe courting their favor, or secretly sowing dissention among the mages, or some other gambit. During the same turn another Collaborator's Avatar, from a nearby town, Duke Eldrick spends 6 MP to challenge Eclipse's control. The Challenge is represented by a generic envoy who is lobbying against the influence, perhaps spending gold for bribes, investigating crimes, etc.. The two Collaborators confer and determine that the Stalemate can be broken either by the death or the removal of either the Henchman or the envoy. An adventure is put together where the target can be either representative and then they set about soliciting PC's to get the job done. An announcement like "Iron Tower Mages wavering over involvement in Shadowmaster threat". The adventure could be Gardack hiring a rogue or assassin to do away with his rival, or the envoy hiring a party to investigate a crime or murder in the tower and discovering that Gardack is the perpetrator. Since the MP value is 6, the adventure should include overcoming 6 encounters of EL 6 (these could be combat or non-combat type encounters). Lets say that the Collaborator controlling Eclipse successfully induces a rogue to assassinate the envoy, then Eclipse remains firmly embedded in the Iron Tower and will collect 6 MP for the territory, a news title might be "Iron Tower Mages declare themselves neutral in ongoing Shadow war", or if the other Collaborator is successful (perhaps unmasking Gardack as an agent of Eclipse), then Eclipse's influence is neutralized and he no longer collects MP for that territory.

Example 2: A Collaborator's Avatar Duke Eldrick already has firm control over the town of Corik, but another Collaborator Avatar Ibram head of the Tempus Knights militant order wants control of that a 4 MP territory. After paying the price to contest control, perhaps physical armies are present and this conflict is represented as a border skirmish between the two forces (involving only a small portion of their individual might), or perhaps it is an all out war between Eldrick and Ibram and their allies. In order to resolve the stalemate, players must enter the scene and help turn the tide of the conflict, perhaps joining in an assault, or clearing enemy sentries before a crucial offensive, successfully gaining military intelligence (spying). The players would have to defeat a combination of four EL 4 encounters in order to be successful.