Exactly. Player knowledge = character knowledge."Metagaming," as generally defined as using out of PC knowledge to direct PC actions (scare quotes because this is a specific definition inside the broader actual definition of metagaming), really can only exist in a situation that has a fixed fictional framing where parts of that framing are meant to be hidden from the players and discovered in play. The focus on the players here rather than the PCs is important, here. The reason for this is because if the players actually do not know these facts, then they cannot engage in "metagaming" because their reference frame is the same as their PCs.
These options work for this example, but see below...So, "metagaming" exists when the player/PC hidden fact knowledge diverges, for any reason. Here's the controversial statement: this is mostly going to be the GM's fault, except in cases of outright cheating where a player has knowledge but conceals it from the other players for personal gain. So, outside of bad faith play (lying by omission), "metagaming" is usually a GM caused issue. It's caused by the GM establishing a fact pattern that is known by the players but expected to be not known by the PCs. You don't have to do this. You could, with a bit of effort, establish fact patterns that are unknown to both players and PCs or, alternatively, you can establish fact patterns that aren't dependent on player's knowing them. To turn back to the troll, you could reskin the troll or change it's abilities to be a surprise to both players and PCs as an example of the first, or you could just not expect the troll to be a serious single challenge to experienced players and establish that PCs do know about trolls in the latter. If you're canny, you can do the last by putting the troll in a place where fire is dangerous or difficult to use, such as a explosive gas filled chamber or underwater. This establishes a fact pattern where the players knowing about trolls is irrelevant to the anticipated challenge of the situation.
It's also difficult to pre-establish or foreshadow anything when you're playing in, at the extreme, Schroedinger's Setting. Pros and cons.And, if you really want to drive this home, play a game where metagaming cannot exist because there's not a hidden established fact pattern. PbtA games are good for this, in that the only established fact pattern that matters is the one established in play. It's hard to metagame if there are no hidden facts for which the player/PC diverge in knowledge.
Yep. Do the scouting by note, or physically separate the players. Happens all the time and is, in most situations, easy to do.This leaves the split party table talk example. This is a situation where the divergence in knowledge is created at the table, in play. Here's a place where you can get out of your own way pretty easily.
The issue is that no matter what the surviving players do with their PCs, there's no way of ever knowing whether they'd have done the same thing absent the knowledge of what happened to their companions; which means the whole process becomes tainted.The example is given where two PCs have moved ahead and are captured/killed outside of the rest of the party's knowledge. The "metagaming" occurs if the rest of the players act on this as if they know what happened. What's the actual issue, here, though? Is it that the party will mount an operation with foreknowledge of the foe and thus trivialize the encounter?
It has nothing to do with sticking to the fiction. Sure the foes can (and likely will) react in some way, but unless that reaction directly affects the remaining PCs in some way (including what they can observe) it doesn't change anything.This is the same as above -- change something and it's not an actual problem. The monsters know about the party as much as the party knows about the monsters, so, while their prepping, the monster fast reaction force descends on them before their ready. Or they move, or they leave a trap. There are hordes (heh) of ways to frustrate this kind of play by just not rigidly sticking to your fiction.
Or better yet, I can make sure the knowledge divergence doesn't occur in the first place, by using notes or separating players or whatever other means come to hand.I get the desire to have a fixed fictional world the players engage fairly, but it's impossible to do so in the given situation because the knowledge divergence has occurred, so you can either demand that players act against their play goals and risk PCs in ways they don't want to or you can change with the situation a bit.
Doesn't solve the troll example above; and here sometimes I will shake it up...in one memorable instance, much to my players' dismay: I used the explosive-gas atmosphere idea with some trolls and despite several hints and clues (to the point where even a couple of the players said in-character we'd better not use fire here) sure enough someone forgot, and cast Flaming Sphere to burn the bodies after the battle was done.
One death and about 150000 g.p. worth of magic items later.......