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Techniques in roleplaying games that allows players to communicate something to each other without having this communicated between their characters.

Roleplaying Games, and especially Live Action Roleplaying Games, typically strive for players to engage in enactment of their characters. Even if players do strive for this, an obstacle may be that they need to communicate about rules or how they wish their gameplay to progress. This can be difficult to do through diegetically through characters. Meta-Techniques are various ways in which the game design can help with this communication without forcing players to make their characters break the diegetic consistency.

Note: Meta-Techniques have been discuss in several texts about Live Action Roleplaying Games, see for example Stark[1], Linssen et al.[2], and Wrigstad[3]. An alternative name for the concept, suggested by Wrigstad, is telegraphing.


Meta-Techniques are found in Live Action Roleplaying Games. In the Mind's Eye Theatre rules vampires can show their use of supernatural abilities through arm postures, e.g. holding their arms crossed over their chest to signify that they are obfuscated. In Nordic LARPs, the use of the Black box[4] technique allows the interjection of scenes temporally or spatially separated from the main game. Ars Armandi[1] and "boffer" combat[5][6] are examples how actions that are not feasible to perform during gameplay can be replaced by others that share characteristics with them (in this case regarding sex and violence respectively). Feather Play[7] is a technique that allows a discrete way of indicating to other players that one wishes to initiate a sexual encounter without interrupting gameplay. The Liquor on the Table[8] is another that is used to show that players should bring conflict to a breaking point in a scene.

Using the pattern

Meta-Techniques are primarily of interest for games with Live Action Roleplaying or at least games based on Unmediated Social Interaction. Adding Meta-Techniques is primarily a choice of which more specific technique to use. Meta-Postures allow information to be conveyed without causing breaks in Scenes, and Substitute Actions can avoid breaking Diegetic Consistency. Prompting Techniques add extra meaning to actions to indicate to other players wishes that Scenes should end or new ones should begin. Contextualization are Meta-Techniques that insert Scenes to convey information; this can maintain Diegetic Consistency since players can change Characters, the Scenes can take place before or after the current time frame, etc., to match the needs of the narration with how it should be enacted.

Diegetic Aspects

Some Meta-Techniques break Diegetic Consistency, so this is one aspect that needs to be taken into consideration when choosing which specific technique to use when designing games to have this pattern.

Narrative Aspects

Meta-Techniques is a Narration Pattern.


Meta-Techniques provide Communication Channels in games, and in Live Action Roleplaying modify how Diegetic Communication can occur. They are sometimes ways to convey weak Extra-Game Information in that they convey information about how players want to play.


Can Instantiate

Communication Channels, Extra-Game Information

Can Modulate

Live Action Roleplaying, Scenes, Unmediated Social Interaction

with Live Action Roleplaying

Diegetic Communication

Can Be Instantiated By

Contextualization, Meta-Postures, Prompting Techniques, Substitute Actions

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stark, L. 2012. Leaving Mundania - Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-playing Games, p. 220. Chicago Review Press.
  2. Linssen, J, Theune, M., and de Groot, T. 2013. What Is at Play? Meta-techniques in Serious Games and Their Effects on Social Believability and Learning. SBG2013 proceedings.
  3. Wrigstad, T. 2008. Nuts and Bolts of Jeepform. Playground Worlds.
  4. entry for Black box on the Nordic LARP wiki.
  5. entry for Boffer on the Nordic LARP wiki.
  6. Wikipedia entry for foam, or boffer, weapons.
  7. entry for the technique Feather Play on the Nordic LARP wiki.
  8. entry for the technique The liquor on the Table on the Nordic LARP wiki.