D&D 5E player knowlege vs character knowlege (spoiler)

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
This is clinging on technicality. You may have not explicitly told to player what to think, but when you start to talk about their wish not being in accordance of genre expectation and thus will be adjudicated differently than they intended then you implicitly have. And in practice this really does not differ from what I do. In all my years of playing RPGs I don't remember ever having to really pull a rank as GM or GM doing that to me. It doesn't ever go that far, because the sort of discussion you suggest is enough for the player to get the hint.
Well, for starters, we've not been talking about telling a player what to think, but instead what a player is allowed to assert their character thinks. If we talking about controlling player thought, that's far beyond the realm of the game and into politics, so I'll pass while saying "nope!"

If that was a typo, then what you're saying here is that by pointing out that an action will fail, I'm de facto controlling what a character thinks. That's interesting, if wholly wrong. It's interesting in that is explains a good bit of your thinking, and further reinforces my previous observation that you see any restriction or constrain as condoning all restrictions and constraints, up to those that you don't personally like. So, if there's a restriction on how I will adjudicate an action (which is a GM side restriction, by the way), you see this as forcing player's to have their characters think things so a general restriction on such is equivalent. This fails logically in a few ways. First is the extrapolation from a specific thing to a general thing -- providing ad argumentum that the specific thing is indeed a restriction on character thoughts imposed by the GM. So, even if we accept that, your argument logically fails because you can't draw a line between this instance and a general authorization or agreement to your position.

But, it isn't a similar incident. The adjudication is in the same vein as any other automatical failure the GM adjudicates due to the fictional framing. If my adjudication that F-14s don't exist in my D&D game so a wish for them will fail is controlling player thought, so is my adjudication that you can't magic missile the darkness. These are both because the agreed to rules prohibit these actions -- in the latter because darkness isn't a valid target and besides you can't see it to target it. The former because of the agreed setting rules. Neither is a restriction on PC thought -- the PC is free to wish for an F-14 all they want, as they are free to believe they can magic missile the darkness. By not restriction PC thought, I'm allowing for cases where the PC can think whatever they want at any time, and then controlling the game via my authority to adjudicate.

This last is really the key part you keep missing -- my game is not without constraints, but those constraints exist within the authorities provided by the rules of the game. Those state that the player determines what the PC thinks and tries and that the GM adjudicates the outcomes. So, I don't worry about "metagaming" because the rules say I don't have the authority to. I worry about adjudication and setting, because those things the rules tell me to worry about. I can avoid any problems with "metagaming" with the authorities I have over adjudication and setting, and so do that without worry about the player's authorities. This doesn't mean that anything goes -- a position you seem to enjoy taking that unless the GM controls improper PC thoughts (improper being decided by the GM) then the game will spiral into craziness, like the GM suddenly being powerless to stop rampaging players with textbooks. This despite zero evidence to support it and much evidence to refute it. What's really amusing is that you then claim the defense that you don't even need to use the authorities you've claimed because nothing happens in your game to require it while insisting that such things must happen in games that don't assume this same unused authority.

I, very recently, thought as you did -- that anti-"metagaming" rules where necessary to preserve the game and achieve the kind of play I wanted. I haven't really changed my mind about the kind of play I want, but I have realized that my anti-"metagaming" rules were a detriment to it, not a salve. The real impediment to my games was how I was running them -- the problem was me. I fixed that, and, in the process, realized that anti-"metagaming" rules were unnecessary and actually harmful to my games, so they went as well. This was super easy because the rules don't require them -- they're all just table rules.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I wouldn't be bothered with my players reading the module I'm running. They can even look at the stat blocks of my monsters if they want. But I would caution them that this could ruin their fun and any surprise, plus it would be unwise to make assumptions based on that knowledge, due to my habit of making changes.

This sort of thing is only a problem if you make it into one in my opinion.
Yeah, this problem requires that you 1) slavishly stick to the written material and 2) care about it because you don't realize there's still a lot of uncertainty and fun to be had even if the players know everything.

Don't do either one and the problem solves itself.
 

I once ran a short adventure twice with the same player, but an otherwise different group of players. This one player already knew what was going to happen; which is the equivalent of having already read the module. And yet we had a ton of fun, because this player chose to use his metagame knowledge to explore other parts of the adventure, and leave the parts he knew to the other players. I also made some minor changes to keep things fresh. It worked out fine.
 

I once ran a short adventure twice with the same player, but an otherwise different group of players. This one player already knew what was going to happen; which is the equivalent of having already read the module. And yet we had a ton of fun, because this player chose to use his metagame knowledge to explore other parts of the adventure, and leave the parts he knew to the other players. I also made some minor changes to keep things fresh. It worked out fine.
Yeah, that is a good use of metagaming. Using that same knowledge to to solve the problems they already knew would be a bad use metagaming.
 

Yeah, that is a good use of metagaming. Using that same knowledge to to solve the problems they already knew would be a bad use metagaming.

This player could have used his knowledge to hunt down every clue with ease and avoid every pitfall that he knew of, and still find surprises. For example, he could not have known that the party would try to reason with the villain and make her an ally. Things just played out completely different. Metagaming doesn't need to be a problem. I don't make a big deal out of it. Fun is the end goal here.
 

This player could have used his knowledge to hunt down every clue with ease and avoid every pitfall that he knew of, and still find surprises. For example, he could not have known that the party would try to reason with the villain and make her an ally. Things just played out completely different. Metagaming doesn't need to be a problem. I don't make a big deal out of it. Fun is the end goal here.
I don't make a big deal about it. Some people are simply incapable of accepting that any use of it could ever be bad. But it seems that in your original example that player intentionally chose not to take advantage of their meta-knowledge, implying that they personally felt that such an use would be either unfair or unfun. As a player I would have done the same.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I once ran a short adventure twice with the same player, but an otherwise different group of players. This one player already knew what was going to happen; which is the equivalent of having already read the module. And yet we had a ton of fun, because this player chose to use his metagame knowledge to explore other parts of the adventure, and leave the parts he knew to the other players. I also made some minor changes to keep things fresh. It worked out fine.
I once played in a short adventure as the only player replaying it in an otherwise different group of players. The DM was reluctant to allow me to play the module a second time, but needed one more player, and allowed it on the condition that the first time I tried to use my knowledge from the previous time I had played, I was out of the game (as if it was a forgone conclusion that I would do so eventually.)

At one point, I saw an opportunity to pursue a different path than I had when I had played previously, and wanting to explore that avenue, suggested it in-character. The DM immediately halted the scene, declaring “That’s it! You’re out! I told you you weren’t allowed to use your knowledge of the module to influence anything!”

It was as if he had been waiting for me to do anything that might possibly be construed as metagaming so he could spring that on me, and it was humiliating to have the game come to halt just so I could be admonished for having the audacity to suggest a course of action to the group when I had previous experience with the module. And at the time I still held onto that anti-metagaming identity, so far from feeling like I was being unjustly punished, my reaction was shame for having metagamed so egregiously without even realizing it.

Years later, when encountering DMs who advocated for not worrying about metagaming, the memory of this experience definitely helped me to consider their perspective more favorably.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't make a big deal about it. Some people are simply incapable of accepting that any use of it could ever be bad. But it seems that in your original example that player intentionally chose not to take advantage of their meta-knowledge, implying that they personally felt that such an use would be either unfair or unfun. As a player I would have done the same.
It's unnecessary, not bad. I find almost no use for it.
 

I once played in a short adventure as the only player replaying it in an otherwise different group of players. The DM was reluctant to allow me to play the module a second time, but needed one more player, and allowed it on the condition that the first time I tried to use my knowledge from the previous time I had played, I was out of the game (as if it was a forgone conclusion that I would do so eventually.)

At one point, I saw an opportunity to pursue a different path than I had when I had played previously, and wanting to explore that avenue, suggested it in-character. The DM immediately halted the scene, declaring “That’s it! You’re out! I told you you weren’t allowed to use your knowledge of the module to influence anything!”

It was as if he had been waiting for me to do anything that might possibly be construed as metagaming so he could spring that on me, and it was humiliating to have the game come to halt just so I could be admonished for having the audacity to suggest a course of action to the group when I had previous experience with the module. And at the time I still held onto that anti-metagaming identity, so far from feeling like I was being unjustly punished, my reaction was shame for having metagamed so egregiously without even realizing it.

Years later, when encountering DMs who advocated for not worrying about metagaming, the memory of this experience definitely helped me to consider their perspective more favorably.
Certainly help to explain your attitude! If I had similar experiences perhaps I would feel the same way. But I don't, and that GM's behaviour seems pretty damn extreme and hostile to me. If you think that's the sort of thing I'm advocating for, then I unequivocally clarify that it isn't.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Certainly help to explain your attitude! If I had similar experiences perhaps I would feel the same way. But I don't, and that GM's behaviour seems pretty damn extreme and hostile to me.
It was really weird because he was normally a really cool, friendly DM, and a likable guy all around. I don’t know if he just had a bug up his ass that particular day, or he was really strongly opposed to me playing that module a second time and decided to handle it in play instead of just giving me a hard no to begin with, but that was the only time I had a negative experience like that in a game he ran.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top