Wonder What It Does.
First published: November, 1988. Posted Online: June 09, 2005.
In FRPG-comix-land, it's the joke that writes itself. Party of inexperienced adventurers encounter a strange, inexplicable creature. Something they've never seen before.
Buuuut... the players have read the Guinness Book of Monstrous Statistics (Wikipedia version) and now know everything there is to know about your so-called "monster", as if they had just come from defending their Ph.D. disseration on the very beast.
And the metagaming irony is loosed! Here's a fine example from Commissioned. We'll post more takes on this classic here as we find them:
"Purple Worm" Closet Gamers for June 9, 2004
A metagaming reversal as players force themselves to play their characters as ignorant of one of the hugest and hungriest critters ever.
More as they turn up... (-CA 2005.07.31)
Anyway, our strip imagines actual brainpower being applied to "solve" a creature for which no stats are writ. In nature, the "solution" is usually remarkably obvious.
Technically, random encounters are all supposed to be surprises. It's something computer RPGs always try to emulate, but inevitably fail, because someone is out there selling a guidebook and/or posting the cheat codes.
Paper-and-pencil RPGs survive because they still have the highest amount of player imagination input, and many humans still crave that.
Yeah, some of us crave it. We eat it like meat. And while you become soft, staring with glassier and glassier eyes at the shinier and shinier interactive DTV, WE await in the shadows the ancient master FRPG ninja-Fremen and you will never feel our blow until it is too late.
Maybe we'd better get more sleep before attending MoCCA this weekend...