• Justin Handlin

Metagaming: The good, bad, and ugly!

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Join us Live 9/13/20 at 7pm Est

Crit Academy is joined by Gabe and Jeff from the roleplaying game podcast Inter-party Conflict. We discuss the good, bad, and ugly of metagaming in the world of Dungeons and Dragons and other roleplaying games.

Let’s talk about Blank!

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Segment: Main Topic: Metagaming - The good, bad, and ugly!

Wikipedia Definition Any approach to a game that transcends or operates outside of the prescribed rules of the game, uses external factors to affect the game or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game.

Metagaming might also refer to a game that functions to create or modify the rules of a sub-game. Thus, we might play a metagame selecting which rules will apply during the play of the game itself. Why is Metagaming considered good or even expected in certain environments?

  • Competitive environment where it is known what is popular among the players and even in some cases what possible opponents use and then building a strategy around that. Video games, tabletop games, and even sports this occurs.

Wikipedia Metagaming with RPGS Describes a player's use of real-life knowledge concerning the state of the game to determine their character's actions, when said character has no relevant knowledge or awareness under the circumstances. This can refer to plot information in the game such as secrets or events occurring away from the character, as well as facets of the game's mechanics such as abstract statistics or the precise limits of abilities…… Outside of role-playing, metagaming simply refers to players using knowledge or understanding of external factors (such as community trends or coincidental events) to gain an advantage in competition. -Why is Metagaming considered negative in TTRPGs?

  • Some feel it violates the spirit of the game.

Metagaming can take many forms. Usually, it will be blatant and obvious, but other times it can be subtle. It would take place in the heat of combat or in the middle of negotiating with a village council.

When Metagaming is good

  • When a new player at a table asks what role needs to be filled.

  • When a player chooses a noble background so commoners will defer to them when roleplaying.

  • When a player building a ranger selects Forest for their favored terrain when they know they are going to be playing in a campaign set in the jungles of Chult.

  • When you roll a 19 against an enemy and miss and therefore decide to run away.

  • When two players choose abilities that combo together such as selecting the spells Flesh to Stone and Stone Shape.

  • When players choose optimum choices for their class, race, multiclassing ahead of time.

  • When a DM chooses not to put certain content in their game they know their players do not want.

When Metagaming is bad

  • The player reads an adventure ahead of time to get them an advantage.

  • The player reads the stats of the monster they are fighting in the monster manual

  • When a player has their character act on knowledge they cannot possibly know such as they are in a different room when it happens and there is no way to communicate or observe this information.

When metagaming is ugly

  • When it is used as an excuse to criticize other players and bring them down.

  • When groups are broken up or players are lost over it.

Is metagaming unavoidable?

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Winner: Maximummax110

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Unearthed Tips and Tricks!

Character Concept:

Stranger in a Strange Land

Imagine this: You're driving home from work one day, thinking about your last session of Dungeons & Dragons. It starts raining, the road becomes slick, and as you round a turn you begin to lose control of the car- there's a bright flash, and then everything goes dark. You wake up lying in the dirt, with people bustling all around you. But as your eyes adjust, you realize these people aren't human- not all of them, anyway. You see people with grey skin and tusks, people with pointy ears, men and women with scales and horns- and someone off in the distance begins screaming that a dragon is attacking the village.

Somehow, you've been transported into the world of Dungeons & Dragons! How will you adapt? What skills do you have that might be useful? Do you want to find your way back home or are you happier living in a world of adventure and peril?

Simply put: Make yourself as a D&D character. Pick a class that either fits the abilities you have or the abilities you wish you had. In-game, your character is not from that world, so perhaps give yourself the Far Traveler background from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Roleplay yourself as unfamiliar with many of the customs and behaviors of the fantasy world, but at the same time, you have a license to use much of your metagame knowledge- you may know certain monsters' weaknesses, you may even know the secrets of certain dungeons and adventures- but you should work with your DM to determine where your character's metagame knowledge begins and ends. But you should expect NPCs to treat you like a madman if you run around talking about Hit Points and Armor Class and Bonus Actions!

Monster Variant:

The MetaGolem

Base creature: Iron Golem

Variant feature: Sapping Breath (Recharge 5-6)

The golem exhales debilitating breath in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 19 Constitution saving throw, taking 5d8 poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Additionally, on a failed save, the creature loses 1d6 hit dice, regaining them after a long rest. A creature with no remaining hit dice suffers no ill effects beyond the poison damage.


Wanted! The Rhino!

Information is a precious commodity. It always has a price.”

Artis Felnier (M, Human, commoner) a tavern swain, tells the characters of an old acquaintance, a traveling minstrel, with an interesting story to tell. The minstrel saw a bald, black scaled goliath cleaning up a shop to the north, in the small cliffside town of Mauhur. Pointing to a wanted poster. When she arrived here, she recognized him. The minstrel was sure that the black scaled goliath she saw was the wanted destroyer, Rhino (M, Goliath, black-half dragon veteran); according to the wanted poster, whoever delivers him alive to authorities here in town can collect a reward of 5,000 gp, or adamantine armor (DMG).

Passing information along to adventurers is Artis’ core job, and requests a bit of the spoils or compensation should the heroes be successful. He asks for half the value, but with a successful DC 13 Persuasion/Deception check, he can be haggled down to 10%.

Magic Item:

The Monster Manual

Legendary Wondrous Item, Requires Attunement

Bound in dragon flesh and scrawled in a lost language, legends say this ancient text was one of three books created by the beings that crafted the planes themselves. Within its pages contain all of the information necessary to build and control the very beasts that roam the multiverse, if only you are able to understand its words.

The text inside the Monster Manual is foreign to anyone who finds it, and even magic spells like Comprehend Languages are unable to translate it. However, once a creature is attuned to it, they become able to understand small passages, gaining various abilities from the text. An attuned creature gains the following benefits:

1. You gain proficiency in Arcana, History, Nature, and Religion as long as you remain attuned, and any checks made to gain information about monsters are made at advantage.

2. You may spend a Bonus Action to instantly determine whether any creature you can see currently has resistance, immunity, or vulnerability to any damage types or conditions.

3. Once per round, when a creature you can see uses a Legendary Action or Legendary Resistance, you may spend your Reaction to negate it. The Legendary Action or Resistance is still spent but no effect occurs.

4. As an action, you may cast Dominate Monster (DC 18) as per the spell. Once this ability has been used, it cannot be used again until the following dawn.

Dungeon Master Tip:

Pass Out Fake Notes

Imagine you're sitting at the gaming table, and a player fails a Wisdom save. The DM doesn't say what happens as a result- instead, they hand the player a secret note. Immediately, you're going to be suspicious of anything and everything that the player does (even if you're trying not to metagame).

As a Dungeon Master, you can use this to your advantage in a fun, harmless way. Periodically, pass a note to a player- maybe after a failed save, after a successful Perception check, or just out of the blue. (Make it clear players are not to share the contents of these notes with the others, either by telling the group beforehand or just write "Keep this a secret" on the note.) But on the note that you passed out, instead of some sort of secret knowledge, simply tell the player "Act suspicious". Or "You don't see anything out of the ordinary." Or "You're doing a great job!"

The intention is to get the rest of the players on edge, thinking that something is wrong, which can lead to reckless behavior and unnecessary metagaming. A bit of mind games never hurt anyone, right?

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Arcane Teachings: A Berry Good Meal

One of the most powerful healing combinations in the game can be done as early as level 1. Choosing a life domain cleric to gain the Disciple of Life feature allows you to add 2 + the healing spell’s level to the number of hit points it restores. Goodberry, a 1st-level spell, allows you to create 10 berries that can be eaten as an action to restore 1 hit point. Combining this with the bonus from cleric disciple of life features means they now restore 3 hit points each. Taking the total recovered from 10 to 40 hit points, at level 1!

A few ways to gain access to this is via the feat magic initiate that allows you to gain a 1st level spell of your choice from any list and doesn’t require the use of a spell slot to cast. With the human variant, this is how you can gain access to this powerful healing at lvl 1. Likewise, multiclassing into either ranger, druid, or lore bard will also allow access to this combination.

If you have any feedback, unearthed tips and tricks, or topics you would like us to discuss, please send them to us. You can email them to us at critacademy@gmail.com or find us on Twitter and Facebook @critacademy.

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