So at a table long long ago and in a land far far away. Actually it was like twenty years ago and in Hastings England. I was part of a New gaming club that had been created. We met weekly above a local pub, (in their function room) and all manner of gamers came to play. Board gamers, Magic players, Role Players and so on. I was running a new Advanced Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Several of my players from different groups I had previously ran for showed up, and formed as a new player mob. There were five of them in total. We were about to get underway rolling up characters when a sixth long time player showed up. He asked politely If I minded him joining, which I of course said I did not mind in the least. He then pulled me aside and told me that he was moving in five months so couldn’t play long term. Hearing this I saw an opportunity to try something I had always wanted to do. What if one of the characters was a plant and secretly working against the group from the inside? More importantly what if the players never knew, and thought that this was just another player? Metagaming would be removed for the most part, and how fun would it be when the main group of players found out that the very person they were out to stop had one of his best agents infiltrating them.
Well me and player number six rolled up his character sheet, and then made a copy that was slightly altered. Player six had rolled a Lawful Evil cleric of a particularly nasty religion, but on his “other” sheet it said he was a Neutral Good cleric of another more pleasant deity.
With the other players completely unaware of the rouse we were playing, we commenced the first play session the following week, and began the campaign.
The party of adventurers, had been beseeched by a local lord to remove a curse that had befallen his family. Many years ago one of his ancestors destroyed a powerful Necromancer, but not before the Necromancer had chance to enact a terrible dying curse. The curse would cause each and every member of his slayers bloodline (upon death) to rise as a member of the living dead. Each relative for the past two hundred years has risen from the grave as a terrible specter that haunts the remaining living family members. The lord had made it his life’s work to rid his family of the curse, but now in his latter years he was unable to complete the task himself. He knew of a powerful holy artifact that can undo the curse. It was a holy blessing bowl, that if filled with holy water and poured upon the remains of the Necromancer, would remove the curse forever. He wanted the players to seek out the artifact and then use it to rid his bloodline of the curse.
The party adventured for several weeks, working their way towards finding the artifact, unraveling clues to its whereabouts etc, and all the time unaware that one player is in fact a descendant of the Necromancer, and as part of his lineage has sworn to ensure that the curse does not get broken and that the lords family will forever suffer.
Several situations arose that our evil cleric player skilfully twists to his advantage, and the long and the short of it is he sends the entire party off on a red herring. Now due to the fact that the players do not know that this is going on, he is able to do so fairly easily and no Metagaming comes into play as the rest of the players are blissfully unaware of his actions. A few carefully slipped notes here and there, and discussions away from the table allow him to maneuver and manipulate the situations to his advantage, all the while enjoying the trust of the players and the other characters.
Eventually the players get back on track, and finally we get to a climactic battle where our hero’s are attempting to save the life of a man who is known to be one of only three people that knows the true location of the artifact. He is being held captive by some particularly nasty individuals, and the party is infiltrating their stronghold, and planning a daring rescue. In the final battle just before the party are able to save the man, our evil cleric character kills the man they have fought so hard to rescue. At this point we are only a week away from the player of the evil character from moving away so it is time to let the proverbial cat out of the bag. The look of shock and surprise on the rest of the players faces was priceless, and they absolutely loved the fact that they had no idea for twelve weeks of play what we were up to. The party ultimately killed the evil cleric, and set out to find on of the other two people who knew the artifacts whereabouts, and the campaign went on. This campaign, and in particular the opening three months was talked about for years to come.
There are two points I want to make by telling you this story.
1. You can play an evil character amongst a good group if you play smart and understand that being evil does not mean you have to act evil all the time. In this situation the evil cleric, healed, battled undead and did everything a goodly cleric would do for his party. All of his evil actions were hidden from the rest of his party. The fact that the other players did not know about it made it real, and allowed him the luxury of acting without unfair suspicion. Only the acts that he did in character that were witnessed by the other characters were under scrutiny at any time, and as the players themselves did not know, the role playing is what mattered with no fear of the Metagame being a problem.
2. Sometimes, no matter how good your players are at not Metagaming, it’s better for them not to know certain things, as not only does it avoid temptation to act on player knowledge, but it also allows them to enjoy the real surprise and shock when certain things become known………