5E Oops, Players Accidentally See Solution to Exploration Challenge

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
if all RPG decisions include metagame considerations, as you state, which presumably also includes the design portion, somehow the referee is responsible for this?

Unless the referee takes the extraordinary steps to re-write the rules, create ‘metagameless’ scenario, ( which is impossible in your formulation as all decisions have metagame considerations), and replace natural language with a Wittengstein approved logical vessel....then the referee is ‘at fault’.

For folks advocating this position, do you pay your DM’s and offer health and retirement benefits, as this is more of a workload than full time employment.

Blinded is a condition in 5e. If PC1 creates an effect that blinds PC2, politeness dictates PC2 acknowledges this turn of events in the shared narrative. So the DM is responsible for allowing the Blinded condition?

I don’t expect Blinded PCs to play with their eyes closed, but as anyone who has ever ran a battle in magic darkness or against Invisible foes, PCs even with disadvantage, still hit more often, target the correct square, more often than if you did require the players to play with their eyes closed.

Inherent in Ovin’s position, is the idea that the point of the game is to make the optimal choice.
I disagree with this. Just like playing chess with your 5 year old niece is probably not about making the optimal move, but more about fun....I think D&D falls more into a category like playing chess with a child.
If "metagaming" is a problem, it's because of the DM.

There a huge area for slop if we don't stick to a common definition of metagamin, hence why I use quotation marks to indicate a specific use, ie where use of non-character knowledge is deemed a problem.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
For folks advocating this position, do you pay your DM’s and offer health and retirement benefits, as this is more of a workload than full time employment.
It's really not though. It's as simple as not demanding the players refrain from "metagaming" when the DM is creating the conditions for "metagaming" to occur (e.g. presenting trolls to players who are fully aware of their weaknesses). As a player, I screen DMs out who have this sort of anti-"metagaming" policy.

As a DM, this is my policy on "metagaming" from my Tables Rules & Expectations document which I provide to all players:

"'Metagame,' but Verify. We will never question the reason for another player's choices for his or her character as long as it achieves the goals of play. Use your player skill and knowledge to succeed, but be aware that assumptions can be risky so it's skillful play to verify your assumptions through action before making choices based on them. Monsters and lore may be frequently modified from what you may expect."

In other words, I don't care if you "metagame." But if you do it and it turns out badly for you due to bad assumptions, that's on you, pal. I find that to be a far more effective policy to curb the practice than trying to demand players think a certain way. I don't have to do anything and my players don't have to pay me or offer benefits.

I had a player in a one-shot the other day say "I know the answer, but I don't want to 'metagame.'" I told him that was his choice, that I didn't care, since the role of the DM is adjudicate the actions his character takes, not to worry about what decision-making process he undertook as a player to decide on what to do. That's none of my business as DM. Whatever he chose was fine with me as long as it was fun for everyone and helped create an exciting, memorable story.

Blinded is a condition in 5e. If PC1 creates an effect that blinds PC2, politeness dictates PC2 acknowledges this turn of events in the shared narrative. So the DM is responsible for allowing the Blinded condition?

I don’t expect Blinded PCs to play with their eyes closed, but as anyone who has ever ran a battle in magic darkness or against Invisible foes, PCs even with disadvantage, still hit more often, target the correct square, more often than if you did require the players to play with their eyes closed.
They hit less often than characters who aren't blinded on average. That's sufficient for me as player and DM. Also, the game's rules require a monster to be hidden before the player is required to guess which square to target. If you want, as a player I could just describe my character bumbling around blindly, targeting the right spot through dumb luck.

Inherent in Ovin’s position, is the idea that the point of the game is to make the optimal choice.
If you mean tactically optimal, I'm pretty certain that's not true and that @Ovinomancer has stated as much, even just a few posts above yours.
 

Todd Roybark

Explorer
Henry V D&D style: “If these players do not metagame well, ‘tis a black mark on the DM that lead them”

Except DMs are not sovereigns, and players have a large, to equal, to larger role in determining the “gameplay specifics” of a game.

Again, social decorum trumps game rules.

If a loved one planed a surprise party for you, and you found out about it, would you feign surprise? If your grandma made cookies that were too salty for your taste, but kept offering more to you....do you just eat it or tell ‘Nana off?

The troll example does not resonate with me. Firstly, I have only been asked to *role*play ignorance of troll’s vulnerability when players new to the hobby are involved. Which strikes me as fair, I doubt a grandmaster ranked chess player plays to the full extent of their ability or knowledge when playing against a child just learning the game.

Secondly, metagame knowledge is not universal. Last night, as a player, I played with a group that is new to the hobby. Essential kit adventure was used, and I was unfamiliar with it.
We go to a windmill, a monster description is read....which clearly describes a manticore ( but does not name it).

I admit to making an involuntary exclamation, “Damn a Manticore!”, cause I’m 1st level, just made my character 10 minutes ago, and this is my first time as a player in a decade.

While I wanted to advocate retreat, spill the beans on the monster stats and keep the fighter between my character and tail spikes, my role as the experienced player, meant I did none of that, my wishes in this circumstance are less important than allowing new players to experience their first battle organically.

If a DM, your friend presumably, is asking a group of experienced players to *role*play ignorance while *roll*playing against trolls, that would indicate to me either:

1) This is due to a plot point.
2) The referee wants a less jaded game

Sometimes the correct answer, the socially responsible answer is to eat grandma’s salty cookies despite the inconvenience of not torching the troll on round one.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The troll example does not resonate with me. Firstly, I have only been asked to *role*play ignorance of troll’s vulnerability when players new to the hobby are involved. Which strikes me as fair, I doubt a grandmaster ranked chess player plays to the full extent of their ability or knowledge when playing against a child just learning the game.
As DM, I wouldn't ask you to do that. You could do that if you chose to. Or not. It's no difference to me.

Secondly, metagame knowledge is not universal. Last night, as a player, I played with a group that is new to the hobby. Essential kit adventure was used, and I was unfamiliar with it.
We go to a windmill, a monster description is read....which clearly describes a manticore ( but does not name it).

I admit to making an involuntary exclamation, “Damn a Manticore!”, cause I’m 1st level, just made my character 10 minutes ago, and this is my first time as a player in a decade.

While I wanted to advocate retreat, spill the beans on the monster stats and keep the fighter between my character and tail spikes, my role as the experienced player, meant I did none of that, my wishes in this circumstance are less important than allowing new players to experience their first battle organically.

If a DM, your friend presumably, is asking a group of experienced players to *role*play ignorance while *roll*playing against trolls, that would indicate to me either:

1) This is due to a plot point.
2) The referee wants a less jaded game

Sometimes the correct answer, the socially responsible answer is to eat grandma’s salty cookies despite the inconvenience of not torching the troll on round one.
People should be held to the agreements they make in my view. What I'm saying is that as DM I'd never ask you to act in any particular way with regard to your knowledge of trolls or manticores. It was my choice to include iconic D&D monsters in a game with experienced players, not yours. It's your choice, however, to act as you wish in the face of that.
 

Teemu

Explorer
I have the module on Roll20.

The DM can just flip the dotted line horizontally and/or vertically, re-position it to make a new unknown path, and shuffle and re-position the numbers.

Done.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Henry V D&D style: “If these players do not metagame well, ‘tis a black mark on the DM that lead them”
Not all all. More if the DM rages against tge players about metagaming, it's really their probkem.
Except DMs are not sovereigns, and players have a large, to equal, to larger role in determining the “gameplay specifics” of a game.
100%. Now, try to realign your understanding of the points made.
Again, social decorum trumps game rules.
No idea what you're saying, here, as no game rules are in question.
If a loved one planed a surprise party for you, and you found out about it, would you feign surprise? If your grandma made cookies that were too salty for your taste, but kept offering more to you....do you just eat it or tell ‘Nana off?
Up to you. I'd not eat any more cookies, personally, but I also have the wherewithal to not be a jerk while I do it.
The troll example does not resonate with me. Firstly, I have only been asked to *role*play ignorance of troll’s vulnerability when players new to the hobby are involved. Which strikes me as fair, I doubt a grandmaster ranked chess player plays to the full extent of their ability or knowledge when playing against a child just learning the game.

Secondly, metagame knowledge is not universal. Last night, as a player, I played with a group that is new to the hobby. Essential kit adventure was used, and I was unfamiliar with it.
We go to a windmill, a monster description is read....which clearly describes a manticore ( but does not name it).

I admit to making an involuntary exclamation, “Damn a Manticore!”, cause I’m 1st level, just made my character 10 minutes ago, and this is my first time as a player in a decade.

While I wanted to advocate retreat, spill the beans on the monster stats and keep the fighter between my character and tail spikes, my role as the experienced player, meant I did none of that, my wishes in this circumstance are less important than allowing new players to experience their first battle organically.
So, you used metagame knowledge to make a decision for your character and that wasn't a problem. Cool.

Our difference is that I wouldn't care if you made a call to use your prior knowledge of trolls or manticores, and I certainly would atl you to. It's trivial to design fun encounters that don't really on not knowing the gimmicks.
If a DM, your friend presumably, is asking a group of experienced players to *role*play ignorance while *roll*playing against trolls, that would indicate to me either:

1) This is due to a plot point.
2) The referee wants a less jaded game

Sometimes the correct answer, the socially responsible answer is to eat grandma’s salty cookies despite the inconvenience of not torching the troll on round one.
Exactly, this is DM requested and caused. Doesn't have to be.
 
I mean, I know, because there's an idea that pretending you don't know about trolls and fire is a way to grab back that first time feeling when you first met a troll in game and didn't know anything about it. But, that's just chasing the past, and makes for a poor gaming experience.
That's not what avoiding metagaming is about, for me. It's about enjoyment of dramatic irony.

I've played and enjoyed strongly gamist rpgs, Paul Mackintosh's Dream Game campaign being the main example, that were primarily about hidden knowledge. In such a game the GM was, rightly, very careful about not letting the players have more knowledge than the PCs.

I've also played and enjoyed games that weren't primarily about hidden knowledge, and in such games have sometimes played characters who lacked important information I possessed, or were deeply irrational, or both. In this second type of game the GM would be right to assume I will 'act ignorant' based on my past behaviour and the implied social contract. In fact, I'd be a bit insulted if they didn't.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
That's not what avoiding metagaming is about, for me. It's about enjoyment of dramatic irony.

I've played and enjoyed strongly gamist rpgs, Paul Mackintosh's Dream Game campaign being the main example, that were primarily about hidden knowledge. In such a game the GM was, rightly, very careful about not letting the players have more knowledge than the PCs.

I've also played and enjoyed games that weren't primarily about hidden knowledge, and in such games have sometimes played characters who lacked important information I possessed, or were deeply irrational, or both. In this second type of game the GM would be right to assume I will 'act ignorant' based on my past behaviour and the implied social contract. In fact, I'd be a bit insulted if they didn't.
With you, here. I love good dramatic irony, but if a player chooses to not go that route, I, as DM, am not bothered. If "metagaming" is a problem, it's because the DM has made it so.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
If "metagaming" is a problem, it's because the DM has made it so.
Suppose I decide to run a game of KIDS ON BIKES. All players are playing young kids in a rural town in the 1950s, say. As a group, we have decided that this is fun and we're going to do it.

Bu a problem arises. One player keeps making decisions based on the fact that, as a 50 year chemist living in 2020 (good lord that sounds so wrong to be a description of today) they know way, way more than their character would.

It seems hard to make this the GM's fault, I suppose you could say:
  • It is their fault for choosing this genre and they should only run games where being a 50 year old chemist does not give you knowledge your character would not have
  • They should not play the sorts of adventures the game was designed for and instead run it only with adventures that do not depend on the players acting as kids.
  • They should ensure that every time a decision has to be made, there are rules set up that define how that decision would be made which depend only on character statistics and involve no decision making by players
These options don't seem that attractive to me. I think for most people, once the group decides to play a certain genre, it becomes the players responsibility to make decisions for their character that fit that genre and do not depend on out-of-character knowledge.

Role-playing is no longer a "GM is god and therefore has all power and all responsibility" game. Nearly everyone believes that players and GM have a joint responsibility to keep the game fun, to keep it in-genre and to make the game fun for all. I guess if you believe the GM has complete control (and therefore complete responsibility) that you could keep holding a position that any problems with anything are the GM's fault, but honestly, I don't think that's mainstream any more.

I'm curious for the case, for those who think it is the GM's fault that the player is using non-kid knowledge to play their kid's actions. Why should they have done differently? How should the run the game so it doesn't happen. Basically, if it's their fault, how do we fix it?
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'm curious for the case, for those who think it is the GM's fault that the player is using non-kid knowledge to play their kid's actions. Why should they have done differently? How should the run the game so it doesn't happen. Basically, if it's their fault, how do we fix it?
I touched on this upthread already. What I do as DM is adjudicate their actions and don't give a thought to how they decided upon which action to take. And then, if I think it will help achieve the goals of play, I present challenges where the player's knowledge isn't going to have a major impact on the outcome or, alternatively, set it up where using such knowledge can be risky or costly. Simply knowing that I sometimes change up monsters and lore is sufficient to get players to have their characters take action to verify their assumptions by recalling lore or making deductions. Or at the very least they realize after the fact that acting on a bad assumption was on them, not me, and that I warned them of the risk. None of this requires me telling the players that "metagaming" is bad and they shouldn't do it. Or that it's cheating, as some assert.

I used to care about "metagaming." I used to think it was the players that did it and it was some kind of RPG sin. That was the prevailing thought a long time ago and was even in some of the rules books at the time. But then I realized that it was actually my fault as DM for essentially setting the players up to "metagame," then chastising them for doing it. Not anymore. My games are better for it.

I get that people who have long-held beliefs about "metagaming" might not want to hear that they are the ones who are actually causing it to be a problem. But it's true and a shift in thinking about it can produce amazing results in my experience.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
I asked, for the KIDS ON BIKES example, what the GM should, do about a player who continually uses non-kid player knowledge to decide their character actions. I think Iserith is suggesting my second option is the one to employ:
  • The GM should not play the sorts of adventures the game was designed for and instead run it only with adventures that do not depend on the players acting as kids.
I present challenges where the player's knowledge isn't going to have a major impact on the outcome or, alternatively, set it up where using such knowledge can be risky or costly.
For me, this is a step too far. The fun of playing KIDS ON BIKES is that you play, well, kids. You act like kids, you do stupid things that kids would do, and so on. If the GM is then required to set up challenges that an adult would approach exactly the same way as a kid would, it seems that is going directly against what the game is designed to do.

For me, the cost of making the GM sole responsible for meta gaming (removing all challenges where kids behave like kids and not adults) is too high. I think that if you have established that the genre requires players to act like kids, it is the players fault if they do not, in fact, act like kids.

I'm not saying it's a bad way to run for everyone, but I do think you need to acknowledge that it has very high costs and will dramatically restrict the sorts of games you can run. It might be a great choice for an old-school GM-vs-players style game (I ran such a campaign recently and we had a ton of fun doing so!) but I think that's a rarity nowadays. Now, we tend to believe that the players and GM have a shared responsibility to establish and maintain the genre and I think that's much more the default style.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I asked, for the KIDS ON BIKES example, what the GM should, do about a player who continually uses non-kid player knowledge to decide their character actions. I think Iserith is suggesting my second option is the one to employ:
  • The GM should not play the sorts of adventures the game was designed for and instead run it only with adventures that do not depend on the players acting as kids.
Nope.

For me, this is a step too far. The fun of playing KIDS ON BIKES is that you play, well, kids. You act like kids, you do stupid things that kids would do, and so on. If the GM is then required to set up challenges that an adult would approach exactly the same way as a kid would, it seems that is going directly against what the game is designed to do.

For me, the cost of making the GM sole responsible for meta gaming (removing all challenges where kids behave like kids and not adults) is too high. I think that if you have established that the genre requires players to act like kids, it is the players fault if they do not, in fact, act like kids.

I'm not saying it's a bad way to run for everyone, but I do think you need to acknowledge that it has very high costs and will dramatically restrict the sorts of games you can run. It might be a great choice for an old-school GM-vs-players style game (I ran such a campaign recently and we had a ton of fun doing so!) but I think that's a rarity nowadays. Now, we tend to believe that the players and GM have a shared responsibility to establish and maintain the genre and I think that's much more the default style.
You will note I said nothing about the DM being required to do anything. In fact, my position is that you basically have to do nothing other than stop caring about it and focusing on your actual rules-prescribed role as DM, which is to adjudicate actions. You can if you want set up challenges that short circuits "metagaming." But you don't have to.

It's as simple as that.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
Nope.

You will note I said nothing about the DM being required to do anything. In fact, my position is that you basically have to do nothing other than stop caring about it and focusing on your actual rules-prescribed role as DM, which is to adjudicate actions. You can if you want set up challenges that short circuits "metagaming." But you don't have to.

It's as simple as that.
I guess I figured the premise of tis discussion is that meta gaming is causing a problem. So your suggestion is just to ignore the problem? I mean, obviously if it's not a problem then you don't do anything. My question is what do you do if it IS a problem? Say that some players are upset that they are playing in-genre and are annoyed that the other player isn't as it is breaking their sense of playing kids, which is what they signed up to do.

Do you still suggest the GM just ignore it? If not, is the answer to do as you suggest and stop running challenges that require kids to act like kids? I'm genuinely having a hard time working out how to make this the GM's fault.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I guess I figured the premise of tis discussion is that meta gaming is causing a problem. So your suggestion is just to ignore the problem? I mean, obviously if it's not a problem then you don't do anything. My question is what do you do if it IS a problem? Say that some players are upset that they are playing in-genre and are annoyed that the other player isn't as it is breaking their sense of playing kids, which is what they signed up to do.

Do you still suggest the GM just ignore it? If not, is the answer to do as you suggest and stop running challenges that require kids to act like kids? I'm genuinely having a hard time working out how to make this the GM's fault.
That it's a problem is because the DM (or other players) have decided it's a problem. This is truly a manufactured issue that many of us came to accept because that's how we learned to play. But it simply doesn't hold up to serious scrutiny. It can be hard to let go of it though, especially if we grew up on some DM's "no metagaming" policy, but once you can let it go, I haven't found a single person who wants to go back to it.

To answer what I think is your central question, if someone has agreed to abide by certain genre conventions and is not holding to their agreement, that is a different issue. I can, for example, stick to the genre conventions by way of description while still "metagaming," especially as many actions do not need to have specific knowledge as a prerequisite to taking them. My character doesn't have to know how troll regeneration works to lob a fire bolt at it. As a player, I do know. So here I'm "metagaming," right? But I'm also sticking to genre. So what is your obligation here as DM? I'm clearly "metagaming," yet it's not unreasonable for my character to cast fire bolt at monsters. I would say the obligation is the same as the rules say: Adjudicate the action, then move on.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
Each group probably has a different sensibility here, but most groups I've played with recently would certainly hold a player to account if they were regularly bringing character-inappropriate information to the table. I remember a fantasy game a few years ago where a player continually tried to do anachronistic things (like inventing gunpowder). There was no in-fiction reason for why his character would know anything about black powder (or chemistry in general). He was new to gaming. One of the other players chatted with him and explained that a typical D&D-style roleplaying game wasn't like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The idea was to pretend that you are your character, solving problems with your character's knowledge and skills. They had a great conversation about how the lines there can be quite fuzzy. Ultimately, though, the new player got it and began playing his character in a fashion that was more compatible with group expectations. The DM wasn't involved. She could easily have handled things by saying that the laws of chemistry don't work the same way in this world, but the conversation seemed more direct and efficient.

I'm not saying that it can't be fun to play Connecticut Yankee style. I've done that too. (I've even done it in a time travel scenario where it made sense on all levels.) In a typical D&D game, I'd say that style feels more true to old-school, Gygaxian play. That's generally how my group played AD&D back in the early '80s. The DM used all of his real-world knowledge to devise devious traps and tricks. The players were expected to use all their knowledge to outsmart them. Metagaming was celebrated.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Each group probably has a different sensibility here, but most groups I've played with recently would certainly hold a player to account if they were regularly bringing character-inappropriate information to the table. I remember a fantasy game a few years ago where a player continually tried to do anachronistic things (like inventing gunpowder). There was no in-fiction reason for why his character would know anything about black powder (or chemistry in general). He was new to gaming. One of the other players chatted with him and explained that a typical D&D-style roleplaying game wasn't like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The idea was to pretend that you are your character, solving problems with your character's knowledge and skills. They had a great conversation about how the lines there can be quite fuzzy. Ultimately, though, the new player got it and began playing his character in a fashion that was more compatible with group expectations. The DM wasn't involved. She could easily have handled things by saying that the laws of chemistry don't work the same way in this world, but the conversation seemed more direct and efficient.

I'm not saying that it can't be fun to play Connecticut Yankee style. I've done that too. (I've even done it in a time travel scenario where it made sense on all levels.) In a typical D&D game, I'd say that style feels more true to old-school, Gygaxian play. That's generally how my group played AD&D back in the early '80s. The DM used all of his real-world knowledge to devise devious traps and tricks. The players were expected to use all their knowledge to outsmart them. Metagaming was celebrated.
Taking D&D as a whole, I would not say that gun powder or even laser pistols are out of the realm of possibility. Certainly those appeared in some form or another in various official adventures as I recall. They just might not be a thing in a particular DM's setting. To that end, if the DM just narrates the results of actions like trying to make gun powder as failure, then there's really no issue here in my view. The player is tasked with establishing what his or her character thinks, does, and says. The DM determines the result, sometimes relying on the dice. There's nothing in D&D 5e that requires players to pass their actions through some kind of filter related to character knowledge. That's something people have added, then labeled not doing that a sin, often without examining their own culpability.
 

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