D&D General My Metagame Rule


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I also don't buy the argument that characters would automatically know the complete details of every creature in D&D because that would be necessary to survival. Yeah, they'd know that some dragons breathe fire. But would they really know the exact details of an aboleth or a green slaad, right down to the spell list?
It's more an average character would have heard a lot about creatures of the world. This would go even more for the typical to be an adventurer, as they would seek out such information. And then again such information would be part of most class training.

And it leads to the kind of meta gaming that makes me want to just switch to a board game, like when players want to spend 20 minutes before combat gaming out the entire encounter, right down to how to counter each of the special abilities or spells that might be used.
I'm fine with this....but would wish the players luck. Not only am I changing things about creatures, but again each foe is often unique. Just knowing a foes races does not equal knowing everything about them.

Even more so, as I'm using hundreds of monsters that they know nothing about.

I admit however, as someone who has played for years, it can be really challenging to intentionally be ignorant, and avoid using meta knowledge.
I enjoy the challenge. It's why my game style is so extreme.

I once heard an argument that a first level character would know about trolls and fire because it's part of the in game world mythology in their stories that would be told to children. Just like in our world where everyone "knows" that you can kill a witch with a bucket of water.
I agree.

Taken to its logical conclusion, and as there's no mention as to how this player knowledge is acquired, this would suggest you're fine with players reading the adventure before or as they play through it, or reading up on monsters at the table.

I'll go out on a limb and guess that's not the case...which forces the question: where does the boundary lie?
I don't care. Does not work in my game. After all this is the big reason many gamers hate my house rule:

Jerk player reading open adventure book-"My character walks over to corner wall where the secret door is an opens it"
DM- "As soon as you touch the wall you trigger the trap..."
Jerk player -"Wait! What! Page 11 of the the Official Adventure has no trap! I demand this game be an OFFICIAL By-the-book game, because I THOUGHT we were all playing the game game here! "
DM-"Yea, don't care...so you trigger the trap..."

Of course nearly EVERY thing in my game world is trapped...so it's not like this is a "new" thing. Clever players always check for traps, or take steps to deal with them always.

And it's not like I don't change a lot of the details of any published adventure....

Also, how do you reconcile this rule with in-game situations where the party is split up; in character neither group could possibly know what the others are doing yet at the table the players know this because you've played each group through? Do characters in group A suddenly realize the two in group B have fallen down a pit in the castle basement and can't get out, even though group A is hiding in the woods outside and isn't expecting group B back for hours?
Much like the above, this is not much of a problem. As an Old School gamer, if I needed to keep things separate, I will have the other players leave the room.
 

gnarlygninja

Explorer
I think this might be a slightly overblown concern. I don’t know the details of an aboleth or a green slaad down to the spell list, and I’m primarily a DM. I don’t think most players are going to have that information memorized, when half the time they can’t even remember their own spells. So unless a player is looking the monster up mid-fight (which is a problem for completely different reasons IMO), I don’t think there’s any need to worry about this. Especially if you make any custom changes to monster stats.
In my experience most arguments about this specific kind of metagaming are overblown, from both sides. But again in my experience, people who will memorize monster books or look them up mid fight (which is the most common ime) are far more common than the DM who won't let players use fire against trolls. And they still don't remember their own spells!
But I seem to be in the weird position of having known way more bad players than bad DMs so my mileage varies a lot from the average.
 

But you can still get beer and mead with no problem. :)
Have you tried to find a place that delivers mead? Screw 30 minutes or less, I can't even find a place that carries it, no less delivers!
It tastes fine; it’s basically just sausage. It’s just knowing what it’s made of that makes it hard to eat. Much like with sausage.
I built my world view on the fact that haggis tastes terrible, you can't change it now with "alternative facts"!

Oh wait, I meant blood pudding... yeah, I haven't had a good tasting blood pudding. Tolerable, but not good.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
In my experience most arguments about this specific kind of metagaming are overblown, from both sides. But again in my experience, people who will memorize monster books or look them up mid fight (which is the most common ime) are far more common than the DM who won't let players use fire against trolls. And they still don't remember their own spells!
But I seem to be in the weird position of having known way more bad players than bad DMs so my mileage varies a lot from the average.
The fire against trolls thing gets brought up not because that specific scenario is common, but because it illustrates the problem of trying to police “metagaming” very clearly. It doesn’t have to be fire and trolls, it could be anything where the player knows something, the DM doesn’t think their character would know it, and so the DM disallows the player to take some action that they think that knowledge would motivate them to take. It’s requiring the player to act out not knowing something, which just isn’t fun for a lot of players.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I built my world view on the fact that haggis tastes terrible, you can't change it now with "alternative facts"!

Oh wait, I meant blood pudding... yeah, I haven't had a good tasting blood pudding. Tolerable, but not good.
Oh! I’ve never had blood pudding at all, so can’t comment there.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
The fire against trolls thing gets brought up not because that specific scenario is common, but because it illustrates the problem of trying to police “metagaming” very clearly. It doesn’t have to be fire and trolls, it could be anything where the player knows something, the DM doesn’t think their character would know it, and so the DM disallows the player to take some action that they think that knowledge would motivate them to take. It’s requiring the player to act out not knowing something, which just isn’t fun for a lot of players.

The other problematic aspect to that is that it requires the DM to guess the motivation/reasoning of the player, instead of just looking at what is happening in-fiction. If the DM and player are not aligned on the issue, it then creates an incentive for the player to actually be deceptive about what they are thinking. It's just a downward spiral.
 
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Clint_L

Hero
We agree up front that players will try to act within the parameters of their character, and if it is ever an issue I just ask, "how would your character know that?" Either they have a good answer, a vaguely plausible answer (lore check!), or no answer, and they try something else.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
We agree up front that players will try to act within the parameters of their character, and if it is ever an issue I just ask, "how would your character know that?" Either they have a good answer, a vaguely plausible answer (lore check!), or no answer, and they try something else.
My problem with this is that it assumes the knowledge in question is prerequisite for taking whatever action is being deemed metagaming. Maybe my character doesn’t know, but is motivated to take the action for some other reason.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
We agree up front that players will try to act within the parameters of their character, and if it is ever an issue I just ask, "how would your character know that?" Either they have a good answer, a vaguely plausible answer (lore check!), or no answer, and they try something else.
I do something similar except that question doesn't effectively occur until a player declares they are attempting to recall lore about something. In order to adjudicate that action, I need to have some kind of understanding about how they might have been exposed to this information, which the player offers as part of the action declaration. I can then decide if the attempt to recall the lore succeeds, fails, or has an uncertain outcome (and thus call for an ability check).

What I won't do is set a limit on what action declarations can be made simply because I erroneously believe that an action necessarily requires particular knowledge to make it possible to attempt. You don't need to know that trolls are vulnerable to fire to decide to hit them with a fire bolt. You just better hope that This Troll Right Here is the same kind of troll you're thinking of. Because if it's not, you just acted on a bad assumption and consequences follow. What's a good way to verify what the character is thinking? Declare an action to recall lore (or make deductions based on clues)!
 

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