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....Why I Hate Metaplots....

Eric's Rant #1! Collect them all!

I really hate the metaplots that are creeping into many role-playing games these days. I really, really, really hate them on a deep philosophical level. Granted, my biggest grief comes with White Wolf's metaplot, but I don't like any of them, really.

What's a metaplot? If you don't know by now, consider yourself lucky. I really can't give a good definition of "metaplot," (gee, it's not in my dictionary) but I'll try.

Okay, first of all, the prefix "meta-" is often used, in a clinical sense, with the name of a scholarly discipline to designate a new but related discipline designed to deal critically with the original discipline. For example, "metaphysics" is a discipline that deals with regular physics, metamathematics is the critical study of mathematics itself, metapsychology deals with the critical study of psychology, and so on. "Meta-" has also gained a secondary, non-scholarly meaning. This second definition of "meta-" is used to indicate that something is more important or affects another thing. It's this second meaning that gets used in "metaplot." ("Plot," incidentally, is "the plan or main story of a dramatic work," according to Merriam-Webster.)

So... A metaplot is a plot that is more important than other plots. A metaplot is a grand, over-reaching plot that affects and controls all other plots. A metaplot is the master of all subservient plots.

Now you know what a metaplot is. Why don't I like them? Well, let me first tell you what White Wolf's being doing with their metaplot.... (Oh, and I'm only going to focus on the Vampire metaplot. Sure, it intersects with the Werewolf, Mage, Changeling, Hunter and Wraith metaplots, but let's just focus on one thing, shall we?)

Simply put, White Wolf is bringing about Gehenna, the fabled last days of Vampires in which the world ends and all that jazz. (Of course, they probably will never actually bring about the end of the world - after all, it's not fun to play a game set after everything is dead.....) How are they doing this? Metaplot!

Here is a small list, in no particular order, of the things that have happened in the White Wolf "canon" between Second Edition and the Revised Edition. Please, do your best not to laugh too much, but remember.... According to White Wolf, all of this has happened in the game world!

Where to begin....

  • The Assamites have had the Curse that the Tremere placed upon them broken. What broke the curse? Well, see, there was this really old Assamite, maybe the second or third Assamite ever made. He was in torpor all of this time. He woke up, discovered the curse, and reflexively broke it, for all Assamites everywhere, by sheer willpower.

  • A 15th Generation Kindred has given birth to a perfectly normal baby.
  • The Kuei-Jin have invaded the West Coast and have almost taken California over. The Sabbat have taken over most of the important cities on the East Coast (although the Camarilla has taken some of them, like New York City, back already).
  • The Gangrel Justicar, Xavier, gained a piece of knowledge that indicated to him that the Antediluvians really existed. As a result of this knowledge, Xavier pulled the Gangrel out of the Camarilla (as best he could).
  • The Sabbat Regent, Galbriath, was killed by the Black Hand when they learned that she had been dead for some time and an impostor was holding the position. (See, Galbriath was supposedly not a Lasombra, but only the four Seraphs of the Hand knew it.... The impostor didn't, which is why the Seraphs knew she was an impostor and killed her....)
  • New York City may or may not have been destroyed by Tremere himself (possessed by Saulot, of course), launching a missile strike from the heart of Russia. Tremere/Saulot launched these missiles to kill of Tzimisce himself, who was in Torpor under NYC. The missiles, incidentally, where Obfuscated by a very powerful Nosferatu. (I say this may or may not have happened, because this took place in an adventure where the PCs were supposed to prevent this from happening.... If your PCs were good, Manhattan didn't get bombed. If they were bad.... Bye-bye Big Apple!)
  • Speaking of missiles.... The Technocracy nuked Pakistan. All of it. In order to kill Ravnos himself, who was in the middle of a war with three very powerful Kuei-jin. It seems that the fighting between Ravnos in Pakistan/India spilled a lot of blood, which woke up powerful Ravnos. Those powerful Ravnos fought, spilling their blood. The powerful Ravnos blood woke up Ravnos himself.... Three Kuei-jin learned of Ravnos' awakening, and fought him, trying to kill him. The blotted out the sun, caused all sorts of madness and badness in Pakistan.... The Technocracy tried killing the Vampires with sunlight, but failed (because the Kuei-jin blotted out the sun!). So - they nuked the place instead. The nukes killed the Kuei-jin, but not Ravnos.... However, once the Kuei-jin died, they couldn't blot out the sun anymore, so sunlight killed Ravnos.... And, furthermore, as Ravnos died, he cursed his entire bloodline, causing them to fight and fight and fight against each other until there were only a mere fraction of the Ravnos left in the world....
  • A portion of the Assamites are joining the Camarilla for protection against the other Assamites....
  • All the Malkavians in the world have learned Dementation, as the Sabbat Malkavians "infected" them with it....
  • Anarchs now know Thamaturgy (having been taught by a Tremere who photocopied and distributed his notes).
  • A mysterious red star has appeared in the sky that only supernatural beings can see.

I'm certain there are more things, I think that's enough for now, right? I haven't even talked about the other game's metaplots (which impact all of this stuff), but I figured this was enough.

See, the problem is, no matter what your players do, this stuff will happen. You have no way of preventing or affecting any of this! (Except for the bombing NYC stuff, I guess). No matter what your GM wants to do, according to White Wolf, all of this stuff must happen, will happen and has happened! You have no choice! A number of the rules in Third Edition incorporate these changes (such as the new version of certain Disciplines, such as Quietus). As more and more Third Edition supplements come out, it's getting harder and harder to separate the metaplot from the rules....

Now, I don't know about you, but I like choices. I like being able to have my game affect the world, instead of having the world affect my game.... I want to have my players, my characters, my game affect the world around it, instead of the world around the game affecting my players.... I could go on and on, finding ways to state this, but it all boils down to one thing: I want to have active players, not reactive players.

So, what's a person to do? Well, what I've decided to do is simple.

I like 99% of the reworked rules, so we're using them. We're just ignoring every single bit of metaplot we can! Heh! It's a simple plan, really....

And there isn't really any more to say on that topic, is there?

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