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  1. - Top - End - #121
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    ElfPirate

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    For me, the key distinction is between the player deciding that they want to roleplay a character who is ignorant of certain aspect of the world (that the player is not ignorant about) and the DM telling the player that they must roleplay that.
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  2. - Top - End - #122
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    Daemon

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    I think the level and intensity of the PC/player overlap is in a state of fluctuation most of the time. Every time something changes or a dice is rolled the whole relationship warps to fit the new state the game is in. Sometimes this means that players need to willingly play down knowledge they have or play up to knowledge the PC has. It's mostly a self regulated concept and trying to establish any sort of hard parameters isn't going to remove it and cause a lot of extra work with no noticable impact.

    There are more efficient ways of making sure the game runs well for all involved then trying to constantly judge players actions to determine if they have breached some arbitrary knowledge separation.
    Oh absolutely. I don't particularly care about player metagaming. And a lot of it is normal and expected--I fully expect players to balance things like "would this be fun for everyone else" with "what would the character do/know", among other things. DM metagaming is worse IMO--DMs darn well better not use their OOC knowledge of the players' plans against them. That's a breach of game trust.

    I do care about getting common definitions for words like this. And I also do care about people (at least in games that I'm in) treating their characters and the world as if it really existed and they were just connected to it. Because without that, I find very little purpose in playing the game. Board games bore me, in the main. And if all you have is a mental puppet acting by arbitrary rules, you've got a board game. Without the board.
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  3. - Top - End - #123
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Just absolutely useless, because every character is different from ourselves. It's a definition that sets everything to metagaming, and thus mashed the concept meaningless.
    Using it as something like the actual meaning of the word metagaming before it was corrupted by RPG games, and busting the player-character separation myth in the process, works toward preventing the continued harm of the twisted RPG-use of the word.

    That's hardly useless, and definitely it's superior to the alternative.

  4. - Top - End - #124
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Oh absolutely. I don't particularly care about player metagaming. And a lot of it is normal and expected--I fully expect players to balance things like "would this be fun for everyone else" with "what would the character do/know", among other things. DM metagaming is worse IMO--DMs darn well better not use their OOC knowledge of the players' plans against them. That's a breach of game trust.

    I do care about getting common definitions for words like this. And I also do care about people (at least in games that I'm in) treating their characters and the world as if it really existed and they were just connected to it. Because without that, I find very little purpose in playing the game. Board games bore me, in the main. And if all you have is a mental puppet acting by arbitrary rules, you've got a board game. Without the board.
    I think the definition could be fixed by just adding the word belief to it somewhere or least it would fix the game's description of what it is.

    The DM metagame is a precarious one. You want to make sure the game is built towards the players and the characters enough to make it engaging and rewarding at the same time not built where it's feel like it is purposely designed and laid out just for them. I think it is a major factor of what makes a good game that goes undiscussed.
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  5. - Top - End - #125
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Oh absolutely. I don't particularly care about player metagaming. And a lot of it is normal and expected--I fully expect players to balance things like "would this be fun for everyone else" with "what would the character do/know", among other things. DM metagaming is worse IMO--DMs darn well better not use their OOC knowledge of the players' plans against them. That's a breach of game trust.

    I do care about getting common definitions for words like this. And I also do care about people (at least in games that I'm in) treating their characters and the world as if it really existed and they were just connected to it. Because without that, I find very little purpose in playing the game. Board games bore me, in the main. And if all you have is a mental puppet acting by arbitrary rules, you've got a board game. Without the board.
    (bolded emphasis mine)

    This is a spot where I only agree in theory, but I think there are several margin cases where it is okay and potentially even encouraged. Here are the two examples I can think of:

    1) The DM watches the party progress, and gets to know their common tactics. Then they begin introducing encounters that either (a) feature super powerful creatures that play exactly into those tactics, so the party can feel very powerful or (b) disallow some or all of those tactics (like in an anti-magic field, or devising a situation where a martial character cannot utilize their signature magic weapon, or simply sending creatures out that will maul a martial-heavy class with auras or other defensive abilities) in order to keep encounters fresh or to give players an added challenge.
    -- I think this type of DM metagaming is definitely encouraged. Even if your campaign is full of a certain kind of creature or environment, an episode that features a different challenge in some way can be the most fun.

    2) The DM watches the party plot against the BBEG (or any >20 INT villain) in the run-up to their final assault. Since the BBEG can use divination or because they are just expert strategists, they can anticipate some of the tactics the players use against them. Personally, I read an INT of greater than 20 to mean "can anticipate others' actions to the point of being nearly clairvoyant". For instance, from just a glance or a short interaction, that creature might be able to guess at the ability scores of the PCs. If its minions have had multiple encounters with the PCs, it knows their common tactics and knows exactly how to counteract them. Even when faced with a plot to undermine them, they are adaptable and intelligent enough to devise a new plan on a moment's notice. All this is enacted by the DM, basically, playing this character as nearly omnipotent -- they have been sitting at the table with the players, listening to them plan the whole time. Think Joker in The Dark Knight, or Baron Zemo in Civil War: The BBEG can nearly perfectly predict the hero's actions, to the point that they can manipulate the results of those actions.
    -- This is definitely more controversial of a take, but it is reserved for only inhumanly intelligent beings. It is meant to keep the party guessing, so that even their best laid plans face some obstacles.

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by cookieface View Post
    (bolded emphasis mine)

    This is a spot where I only agree in theory, but I think there are several margin cases where it is okay and potentially even encouraged. Here are the two examples I can think of:

    1) The DM watches the party progress, and gets to know their common tactics. Then they begin introducing encounters that either (a) feature super powerful creatures that play exactly into those tactics, so the party can feel very powerful or (b) disallow some or all of those tactics (like in an anti-magic field, or devising a situation where a martial character cannot utilize their signature magic weapon, or simply sending creatures out that will maul a martial-heavy class with auras or other defensive abilities) in order to keep encounters fresh or to give players an added challenge.
    -- I think this type of DM metagaming is definitely encouraged. Even if your campaign is full of a certain kind of creature or environment, an episode that features a different challenge in some way can be the most fun.

    2) The DM watches the party plot against the BBEG (or any >20 INT villain) in the run-up to their final assault. Since the BBEG can use divination or because they are just expert strategists, they can anticipate some of the tactics the players use against them. Personally, I read an INT of greater than 20 to mean "can anticipate others' actions to the point of being nearly clairvoyant". For instance, from just a glance or a short interaction, that creature might be able to guess at the ability scores of the PCs. If its minions have had multiple encounters with the PCs, it knows their common tactics and knows exactly how to counteract them. Even when faced with a plot to undermine them, they are adaptable and intelligent enough to devise a new plan on a moment's notice. All this is enacted by the DM, basically, playing this character as nearly omnipotent -- they have been sitting at the table with the players, listening to them plan the whole time. Think Joker in The Dark Knight, or Baron Zemo in Civil War: The BBEG can nearly perfectly predict the hero's actions, to the point that they can manipulate the results of those actions.
    -- This is definitely more controversial of a take, but it is reserved for only inhumanly intelligent beings. It is meant to keep the party guessing, so that even their best laid plans face some obstacles.
    I would find the first reasonably ok--that's adventure design. As long as it felt organic rather than "I'm gonna get you" or "I see you are really good at finding traps. So no more traps."

    I would find the second intolerable and not want to discuss any plans around the DM from then on. Which is horrible. The players have to trust the DM (and vice versa). As soon as it looks like one side is using the meta layer against the other, you risk a feeling of antagonism. It feels like the DM is abusing your trust, not like the enemies are that smart.

    And INT>20 absolutely does not mean that they can know things they haven't observed. And scrying in 5e is both costly enough and doesn't give enough information for that to be plausible.
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  7. - Top - End - #127
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I would find the first reasonably ok--that's adventure design. As long as it felt organic rather than "I'm gonna get you" or "I see you are really good at finding traps. So no more traps."

    I would find the second intolerable and not want to discuss any plans around the DM from then on. Which is horrible. The players have to trust the DM (and vice versa). As soon as it looks like one side is using the meta layer against the other, you risk a feeling of antagonism. It feels like the DM is abusing your trust, not like the enemies are that smart.

    And INT>20 absolutely does not mean that they can know things they haven't observed. And scrying in 5e is both costly enough and doesn't give enough information for that to be plausible.
    I might not have explained well enough, then.

    What I mean is that the mechanics a DM can use to play a >20 INT creature is to listen to the players' plans, and have the creature in-game "anticipate" them with a high degree of accuracy. Not that the creature would know exactly what the plans are, just that any plan taken to defeat it would fall apart rapidly because the creature would have already planned for how to counteract any enemy using similar tactics against them.

    It's hard to give an example here, but the MCU Civil War Baron Zemo example is the best I can do: He has a grand plan that requires the protagonists of the story to take specific actions in response to the events he sets in motion. He either gets lucky, hyper-intelligent, or "reading the script" ... as in, he either guessed, or he knew enough about the protagonists to predict their actions with high precision, or he simply omnipotently knew what they would do.

    The result is the same in each scenario, but the way that the DM (OOC "reading the script") gets there is different from how the BBEG (IC predicts their actions) gets to the same place.

    If my party with a bunch of <16 INT PCs in it can somehow outwit a 22 INT Pit Fiend, then that suspends disbelief. I'd rather that Pit Fiend be able to "anticipate" aspects of our plot than the DM just play along as though it has no reason to suspect the standard plot tropes, and act accordingly.
    Last edited by cookieface; 2021-03-03 at 05:37 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #128
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    Daemon

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by cookieface View Post
    I might not have explained well enough, then.

    What I mean is that the mechanics a DM can use to play a >20 INT creature is to listen to the players' plans, and have the creature in-game "anticipate" them with a high degree of accuracy. Not that the creature would know exactly what the plans are, just that any plan taken to defeat it would fall apart rapidly because the creature would have already planned for how to counteract any enemy using similar tactics against them.

    It's hard to give an example here, but the MCU Civil War Baron Zemo example is the best I can do: He has a grand plan that requires the protagonists of the story to take specific actions in response to the events he sets in motion. He either gets lucky, hyper-intelligent, or "reading the script" ... as in, he either guessed, or he knew enough about the protagonists to predict their actions with high precision, or he simply omnipotently knew what they would do.

    The result is the same in each scenario, but the way that the DM (OOC "reading the script") gets there is different from how the BBEG (IC predicts their actions) gets to the same place.

    If my party with a bunch of <16 INT PCs in it can somehow outwit a 22 INT Pit Fiend, then that suspends disbelief. I'd rather that Pit Fiend be able to "anticipate" aspects of our plot than the DM just play along as though it has no reason to suspect the standard plot tropes, and act accordingly.
    If there's a reasonable (even obvious) route to how they outthought the party, and it's clear that there was no substantive leakage, then that's one thing. Or if you show that yes, you did surprise the fiend but then he adapted really fast, that might work. But that's a really high hurdle to overcome. And runs horrible risks of destroying trust.

    That sort of "I'm super smart" 5D chess master character works really well in printed fiction, but I've yet to see it work at all at the table. Because even smart people have flaws. In fact, I've been around a lot of genius-class people (having gotten a PhD in Physics). Most of them are worse as far as blind spots, inability to read people and predict what they're going to do than the much lower IQ but much more socially adapted folk over in the Business college. And much more prone to hubris, to the fatal flaw of thinking that their smarts compensates for their other flaws. That "just thinking about it" or "being smart" means you come to the right conclusions.

    Being smart does not mean you're super perceptive or able to read people. That's Wisdom (Perception and Insight) respectively. Pit Fiends are super smart, but they're not particularly superhumanly wise. The fact that they're devils means that they have intrinsic flaws, blind spots, and other such things. And a party that exploits those flaws, blind spots, etc. deserves to catch the pit fiend off guard. Possibly fatally so. And being smart doesn't mean you adapt fast or well. A lot of the very smart people I know are super fragile once their carefully-laid plans get shattered by something unexpected--they keep trying to shove things back onto the "planned" track.

    So forgive me if I don't find "he's really smart, so he can know everything and plan for all the eventualities" very persuasive. Even in comic books it rings really hollow and just like handing that character a superpower. Sure, Batman is canonically prepared for everything. But that's because the authors write that in retroactively. Not because that's even remotely plausible.
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  9. - Top - End - #129
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    If I get the time I should start something focused on the DM side of this concept.
    Little support from printed sources and it's also taboo for some groups so its nice to just have a frank conversation on it.
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  10. - Top - End - #130
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    If there's a reasonable (even obvious) route to how they outthought the party, and it's clear that there was no substantive leakage, then that's one thing. Or if you show that yes, you did surprise the fiend but then he adapted really fast, that might work. But that's a really high hurdle to overcome. And runs horrible risks of destroying trust.

    That sort of "I'm super smart" 5D chess master character works really well in printed fiction, but I've yet to see it work at all at the table. Because even smart people have flaws. In fact, I've been around a lot of genius-class people (having gotten a PhD in Physics). Most of them are worse as far as blind spots, inability to read people and predict what they're going to do than the much lower IQ but much more socially adapted folk over in the Business college. And much more prone to hubris, to the fatal flaw of thinking that their smarts compensates for their other flaws. That "just thinking about it" or "being smart" means you come to the right conclusions.

    Being smart does not mean you're super perceptive or able to read people. That's Wisdom (Perception and Insight) respectively. Pit Fiends are super smart, but they're not particularly superhumanly wise. The fact that they're devils means that they have intrinsic flaws, blind spots, and other such things. And a party that exploits those flaws, blind spots, etc. deserves to catch the pit fiend off guard. Possibly fatally so. And being smart doesn't mean you adapt fast or well. A lot of the very smart people I know are super fragile once their carefully-laid plans get shattered by something unexpected--they keep trying to shove things back onto the "planned" track.

    So forgive me if I don't find "he's really smart, so he can know everything and plan for all the eventualities" very persuasive. Even in comic books it rings really hollow and just like handing that character a superpower. Sure, Batman is canonically prepared for everything. But that's because the authors write that in retroactively. Not because that's even remotely plausible.
    Fair points. To me, high INT scores imply that the creature is an absolute master planner, with plans for contingencies, and further plans for the contingencies of those contingencies. The Pit Fiend isn't INT 22 because it studied lots of physics (I'm not saying this to demean an accomplishment at all, just to emphasize that intelligence in our world is measured differently that intelligence in a DnD setting), it's INT 22 because it can outwit beings with lesser intelligence.

    You are correct in that some of these skills are very blurry in terms of the split between WIS/INT, and I definitely gave some examples that likely fall on the WIS side of things.

    And also agreed that these villains will have fatal flaws and blind spots that heroes can exploit. It is on the players to find those things and exploit them, though, and a very intelligent being could either be very adept at hiding them, or know to lure adventurers into a trap by making them believe something that isn't true.

    It's all very delicate, and it is a huge reason why I struggle with anything of very high INT. (Coming back around to the topic of this thread...) As me, a player/DM who likely falls somewhere around, I dunno, 13-15 INT, it is nearly impossible to comprehend what 22 INT looks like in practice. If I could better comprehend it, then I would be closer to that high of a score myself.

    So what's the only way to run something with that INT? To metagame it. To "read the script" so to speak, so that the Pit Fiend can effectively defend against a player's plan against it. I admit it might not be the best, but I think it is easily justified in this case.

    And in general, I avoid high INT creatures for this reason.

  11. - Top - End - #131
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    Daemon

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by cookieface View Post
    Fair points. To me, high INT scores imply that the creature is an absolute master planner, with plans for contingencies, and further plans for the contingencies of those contingencies. The Pit Fiend isn't INT 22 because it studied lots of physics (I'm not saying this to demean an accomplishment at all, just to emphasize that intelligence in our world is measured differently that intelligence in a DnD setting), it's INT 22 because it can outwit beings with lesser intelligence.

    <snip>

    And in general, I avoid high INT creatures for this reason.
    I think you avoid high INT creatures because you've got an interpretation of INT that's causing issues for you. High INT means nothing more or less than "can remember facts easily and can perform abstract reasoning very well." It's entirely academic capability. It has nothing to do with planning or playing 5D Xanatos chess or out-thinking other people. At least by the stock settings. As such, playing a high INT creature who is normal in other respects is easy. Anything academic comes up? They got this. They can design whizbang blueprints. But are as likely as anyone else to leave big gaping holes for things like social engineering.

    A high INT PC isn't necessarily a tactician or even capable of dealing with people. Take the Ur example, the cloistered "Ivory Tower" wizard. Super high INT, low-ish WIS, low CHA. He's barely poked his head outside his walls long enough to realize that there are people, let alone understand threats. Given all the information, he can make plans. But he's not particularly good at understanding people or dealing with them. Notorious for doing things that seemed like they'd work by his calculations, but which any street-wise idiot could tell you wouldn't work. Totally lacking in that thing called "common sense". Can calculate everything but understands nothing.

    Outthinking people is much more tied in with understanding people. Which is entirely WIS (ok, might have a little to do with CHA to gain the info in the first place).
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  12. - Top - End - #132
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    I'd be very cautious about giving creatures with high int or divination magic the ability to automatically know the opponents tactics and plans by fiat.

    At least some of the PC's will have high int and divination magic and the players will not be pleased to find that their NPC counterparts are being given special treatment.
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  13. - Top - End - #133
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    ElfPirate

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Instead of just making the BBEG super smart, have them learn. Every new time the PCs show up, the BBEG's troops have adapted to the tactics they used the previous time. That way you can show an intelligent enemy without it seeming like you're being unfair. After all, the BBEG might not be able to scry the PCs 24/7, but they should certainly know what's happening to their own minions.
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    About the specific question of "Is it metagaming to tell the AC of a creature" ?

    I feel like every competent fighter/soldier/basically anyone competent in martial weapons should know the EXACT AC (well, not the Dex bonus) of every humanoid, just based on what theyre wearing.
    Chain mail ? 16
    Plate ? 18
    Plate and Shield ? 20.

    Those numbers are an abstraction of something real in the fiction : a Fighter should know how hard it is to hit an armored knight much better than me, with my 2 years of modern fencing.

    Based on that, I also consider that unless they encounter some strange outsider or very rare monster, they should have a decent idea of the AC of most Beasts.

    So I usually start my combats like : there are 5 Hobgoblins, they're wearing shields and scale mail , meaning they have AC 18. What do you do ?

    If it's not obvious, I'll annonce the AC after a full round, after they've noticed how some of their attack missed and some hit. Again, I feel a competent fighter would realize by then how likely they are of hitting their foe, even if they wouldn't know the math to translate their feeling into a number.

    Plus, it saves time at the table , and it allows for interesting tactical decisions.

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by cookieface View Post
    2) The DM watches the party plot against the BBEG (or any >20 INT villain) in the run-up to their final assault. Since the BBEG can use divination or because they are just expert strategists, they can anticipate some of the tactics the players use against them.
    While this can work, this is something you have to be very careful and sparing with; while once it will present possibly quite a unique and memorable encounter, if leaned on too often, it can just lead to annoyance and resentment.

    I have used this idea exactly once, and my players loved and still talk about the couple of sessions that the events spanned, but only because I played it up hard, and I have only done it that once. If I did it again, I am sure the response would be much less favourable.

    The adventure was a Ravenloft one set on an island mental asylum; initially the party were there my accident (shipwreck) and were allowed to remain 'as guests' til a boat arrived, but the villains in charge began gaslighting them in order to make their stay in the asylum a little more permanent. The villains were using psionic scying, polymorphing to have observers present during their planning sessions (during one planning session a character was feeding a bird that I had casually mentioned during the area description who was actually a polymorphed villain), and mind control to force party members to sabotage their own plans. I hard countered every plan they came up with for the first half dozen plans. And I did it blatantly, and arrogantly, because I wanted the party to know they were always being watched, and that the villains were smarter than them, and that they knew it, and were toying with them for their own amusement. In the end the party used that arrogance against them, but even then only barely got away (losing a party member in the process). My players enjoyed the whole process, but I think a key reason for that is because the tricks i was employing were not things I would normally do, so it made this adventure special, and a new challenge to face, but it would get quickly tedious if every super villain exibited these features.

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by kingcheesepants View Post
    Both double checking the low roll and trusting the high roll are instances of metagaming, allowing the result of die rolls which your characters have no way of knowing dictate their actions.
    (emphasis mine)


    Or you drop this unwarranted assumption and then the problem simply goes away.

    If a character does something that requires a roll, why would they not know how well they rolled?

    Gratuitous Examples:
    - Player A tries to open a lock, rolls an 18, but it doesn't open: "You were on your A-game, but you quickly realise that this lock is Just Too Good"
    - Player B tries to open a lock, rolls a 5, it doesn't open: "You fumble around with the lock, but fail to get it to open"
    - Player C searches for traps, rolls a 17: "You search the whole door and you are quite confident that there are no traps"
    - Player D searches for traps, rolls a 4: "There's a bit of door that looks suspicious, but after careful examination, it was nothing. You didn't really have time to search the rest of the door"

    I think most DM's already do this in battle. If somebody barely misses the AC, they go 'You expertly strike at their weak point, but they manage to dodge out of the way', or 'the blow was true, but bounces of the metal breastplate without doing damage'. And if a player rolls really low 'swing and a miss!' or 'the enemy laughs at your feeble attempt and steps aside to let your wild swing pass harmlessly'. (Probably with less flowery language but you catch my drift).

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    As the GM I will sometimes give the players information that their characters could not possibly know, but that explains stuff and allows them to put things into context. Cut-scenes of other important NPCs interacting, discussing PCs that are not present, often serves to emphasize to the players the role of those NPCs and illustrate the consequences of their actions, be they triumphs or misdeeds.

    For example, I could do something like this.

    GM: You successfully force open the grate to access the chute leading down to the dungeon's lower level. As you enter we cut away to...

    A torchlit hall with the trappings of a chapel or temple dedicated to Orcus. A tall figure with an ornate mask stands by the altar as a guard enters and salutes smartly.

    "My lady," says the guard. "We have intruders. The bodies of the goblins guarding the south entry have been discovered."

    "This is the work of these adventurers, no doubt!" The leader's voice is muffled by the ornate mask. "Alert the guards, and summon Albraic the Red from his laboratory. I want him to deal with these interlopers personally."


    Ok, so now the players know that the alarm is sounded, there is a female leader figure, and a lab technician or something is coming for them. Is this too much information? Maybe. Is it actionable? Sure, the players now know that there is an actual benefit to staying cautious, that the difficulty just got higher.

    Also, the players now know that bad guys are organized, a fact that will prove to be important to the plot but perhaps easy to miss, and led by an as-yet-unidentified female character that has some sort of prior knowledge of the PCs. Maybe they can make some educated guesses as to whom that might be. If they need to follow this up with an investigation, this information can eliminate a whole lot of false leads and misunderstandings. Sure, meta-gaming. But not necessarily ​bad meta-gaming.

    -DF
    Last edited by DwarfFighter; 2021-03-04 at 07:45 AM.

  18. - Top - End - #138
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    Kobold

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    This has been discussed back and forth for several pages but I just wanted to add my perspective. Metagaming isn't inherently bad, how it is used makes all the difference.

    Consider if A DM homebrewed a creature, or modified an existing one. Bad metagaming will sometimes manifest by a player declaring what abilities damage and weaknesses the creature has, and then if it is particularly bad, they might argue with the DM "That's not how that creature's ability works!"

    Under the same situation good metagaming can have a similar situation, and when fire damage doesn't stop the regeneration effect, a character may call out, "watch out! This isn't a normal troll."

    In my experience everyone metagames to some degree, but for me it crosses the line when it gets too precise. "I think this guy is pretty low, I'm going to use burning hands instead of chromatic orb so I can take him out and hit the guy next to him ," vs "he has 2 hp. I know because the monster manual says their HP average is 18 and our DM only rolls HP for boss monsters and named characters and he's s already taken exactly 16 damage so far. Also their dexterity is a 14 so..."

    Both have the same result. Both involve metagaming, but one is so much worse than the other. There is a whole spectrum and each person will draw the line in a different place.
    Last edited by Danielqueue1; 2021-03-04 at 03:26 PM.

  19. - Top - End - #139
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by DwarfFighter View Post
    As the GM I will sometimes give the players information that their characters could not possibly know, but that explains stuff and allows them to put things into context. Cut-scenes of other important NPCs interacting, discussing PCs that are not present, often serves to emphasize to the players the role of those NPCs and illustrate the consequences of their actions, be they triumphs or misdeeds.

    For example, I could do something like this.

    GM: You successfully force open the grate to access the chute leading down to the dungeon's lower level. As you enter we cut away to...

    A torchlit hall with the trappings of a chapel or temple dedicated to Orcus. A tall figure with an ornate mask stands by the altar as a guard enters and salutes smartly.

    "My lady," says the guard. "We have intruders. The bodies of the goblins guarding the south entry have been discovered."

    "This is the work of these adventurers, no doubt!" The leader's voice is muffled by the ornate mask. "Alert the guards, and summon Albraic the Red from his laboratory. I want him to deal with these interlopers personally."


    Ok, so now the players know that the alarm is sounded, there is a female leader figure, and a lab technician or something is coming for them. Is this too much information? Maybe. Is it actionable? Sure, the players now know that there is an actual benefit to staying cautious, that the difficulty just got higher.

    Also, the players now know that bad guys are organized, a fact that will prove to be important to the plot but perhaps easy to miss, and led by an as-yet-unidentified female character that has some sort of prior knowledge of the PCs. Maybe they can make some educated guesses as to whom that might be. If they need to follow this up with an investigation, this information can eliminate a whole lot of false leads and misunderstandings. Sure, meta-gaming. But not necessarily ​bad meta-gaming.

    -DF
    I can see the appeal for this in certain games, but I know that in the types and tones of campaigns I run I would never use this personally. It feels a little... idk, Saturday Morning Cartoon, to me.

    Not saying its BAD, but its certainly not for everyone.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    To say that there is nothing new under the sun, is to forget there are more suns than we could possibly know what to do with and that there are probably a lot of new things under them.

  20. - Top - End - #140
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    Kobold

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Also in reference to DM metagaming, more important than whether the DM is metagaming there's the question why the DM is metagaming. It is impossible for the DM to not metagame.

    Lets say a party decides to infiltrate a guarded location with disguises tomorrow. A hostile DM metagaming may put the location on high alert for intruders even though they would have no reason to know that things weren't business as usual. while another DM may choose to have the Guard captain suddenly decide to do spot checks of the location making it harder for the players, but still letting them overcome through various means at their disposal, while another DM may decide that tomorrow is the day that Johny 'not-getting-paid-enough-for-this' Johnson is in charge of checking papers at the rear gate.

    In any of the above cases, the DM changed the situation of the game with knowledge the NPCs wouldn't have. How that information is used and implemented makes all the difference. An infiltration where the party not only bluff past the guards but also sneak past the much more capable captain can be a more fulfilling game.

    For a DM when you metagame, ask yourself, are you doing it to make the player's plans more interesting, or just to get in their way?

  21. - Top - End - #141
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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Danielqueue1 View Post
    Also in reference to DM metagaming, more important than whether the DM is metagaming there's the question why the DM is metagaming. It is impossible for the DM to not metagame.

    Lets say a party decides to infiltrate a guarded location with disguises tomorrow. A hostile DM metagaming may put the location on high alert for intruders even though they would have no reason to know that things weren't business as usual. while another DM may choose to have the Guard captain suddenly decide to do spot checks of the location making it harder for the players, but still letting them overcome through various means at their disposal, while another DM may decide that tomorrow is the day that Johny 'not-getting-paid-enough-for-this' Johnson is in charge of checking papers at the rear gate.

    In any of the above cases, the DM changed the situation of the game with knowledge the NPCs wouldn't have. How that information is used and implemented makes all the difference. An infiltration where the party not only bluff past the guards but also sneak past the much more capable captain can be a more fulfilling game.

    For a DM when you metagame, ask yourself, are you doing it to make the player's plans more interesting, or just to get in their way?
    Great post. Sometimes I will roll randomly to determine things like that, but I usually do it ahead of session so I can plan accordingly.

    Your closing statement really cuts to the heart of it, and I would add - do your players agree that what you find interesting is interesting?

    I have a member in my group that tries to model his games' difficulty off of Dark Souls. As a result he lost all but me and another dude as players in his game. It wasn't bad, but he didn't really communicate his intent in session 0 well, and everyone thought they were joining a more narrative game. Me an the other guys that stayed were like... "Oh, meatgrinder? Cool here's Paladin Bob the 2nd."
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    To say that there is nothing new under the sun, is to forget there are more suns than we could possibly know what to do with and that there are probably a lot of new things under them.

  22. - Top - End - #142
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    That's definitely a variant understanding of the term.

    The DMG defines it as "using knowledge that is a game to govern character actions". Knowing that you rolled a 2 on your trap check, so you ask someone else to try
    .
    I dislike this interpretation of metagaming heavily. While this is of course game knowledge - you are seeing a dice roll a 2 - this is an RPG, your rolls represent something and are our main way of putting ourselves in the shoes of our characters. Surely a trained survivalist who roles a 2 to track animals can tell they are having no luck picking up tracks, just as a chef making a batch of soup can taste it to realise it's gone awry.

    Armour class is a big example of the numbers being important. To us, combat is merely hit or miss, no ambiguity, but to a player character who is in the midst of a battle, when what they expect to be a good strike (a 14 on the 20, for example) glances off the dragons hide, they know that this is a particularly tough foe. Realising that a creature has an AC of 15 when a 14 misses yet a 15 hits represents, over the course of the battle, learning how capable a creatures defences is. However, how else can we represent this knowledge other than using numbers? This isn't metagaming, this is the game as intended imo.

    Further, take tracking damage dealt. Your DM tells you when a creature is "bloodied," so you get your calculator and figure out an approximate range for its hp. Is this boring? Maybe. Is this, however, metagaming? I would argue not - your experience mage knows how much harm a fireball typically causes, a barbarian practiced with her axe can tell how much damage it does to an enemy. To your player characters, a monster being bloodied after 5 swings of a sword is a meaningful estimation of its hardiness, and a quantifiable one too. A wizard who is now weighing up using sleep and can tell that their spell will affect monsters who aren't strong enough to take 5 further sword hits. To us as players, however, how else can we represent such a practical, in world knowledge without numbers?

  23. - Top - End - #143
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    Chimera

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by whateew View Post
    I dislike this interpretation of metagaming heavily. While this is of course game knowledge - you are seeing a dice roll a 2 - this is an RPG, your rolls represent something and are our main way of putting ourselves in the shoes of our characters. Surely a trained survivalist who roles a 2 to track animals can tell they are having no luck picking up tracks, just as a chef making a batch of soup can taste it to realise it's gone awry.

    Armour class is a big example of the numbers being important. To us, combat is merely hit or miss, no ambiguity, but to a player character who is in the midst of a battle, when what they expect to be a good strike (a 14 on the 20, for example) glances off the dragons hide, they know that this is a particularly tough foe. Realising that a creature has an AC of 15 when a 14 misses yet a 15 hits represents, over the course of the battle, learning how capable a creatures defences is. However, how else can we represent this knowledge other than using numbers? This isn't metagaming, this is the game as intended imo.

    Further, take tracking damage dealt. Your DM tells you when a creature is "bloodied," so you get your calculator and figure out an approximate range for its hp. Is this boring? Maybe. Is this, however, metagaming? I would argue not - your experience mage knows how much harm a fireball typically causes, a barbarian practiced with her axe can tell how much damage it does to an enemy. To your player characters, a monster being bloodied after 5 swings of a sword is a meaningful estimation of its hardiness, and a quantifiable one too. A wizard who is now weighing up using sleep and can tell that their spell will affect monsters who aren't strong enough to take 5 further sword hits. To us as players, however, how else can we represent such a practical, in world knowledge without numbers?
    But how do you tell if you failed a perception check? There's no fail state there other than not noticing a hidden thing. I mean suppose the DM could say that something distracts you so you can't look properly but I'm yet to see any DM run perception like that.

    And it isn't that severe. Someone fails a perception, doesn't find a trap. Someone then triggers the trap. The party then know "Hey, this person missed that trap. Maybe we should be looking as well to make sure."

  24. - Top - End - #144
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Avonar View Post
    But how do you tell if you failed a perception check? There's no fail state there other than not noticing a hidden thing. I mean suppose the DM could say that something distracts you so you can't look properly but I'm yet to see any DM run perception like that."
    I recently ran a game set in a forest, where players noticed an illusive creature watching them - I had them roll perception checks to try and make out what said creature was, but with a failure I simply told them "you are unable to make it out, it's green form blending in and out of the trees." Of course, this is not the same thing as a binary "do you notice X vs do you not notice X," but typically I think passive skills better reflect such yes-or-no questions - and you can hide those from your players!

    Imagine, for instance, the DM asks you to make a perception check when you ask to try and make out anything through the thick fog that rolled over the hills early in the morning. I personally think a 2 better represents a failure to succeed in seeing rather than a failure in seeing something - and that's what a character can understand. The difference between a 2 failing and a 15 failing is a palpable difference too - I like to think the numbers represent a mix of luck and effort.

    This is part of an idea about "abortive" actions Vs failed actions - when you made your 4 on your investigation check, I think it represents the former, not the latter - the former being "I failed to properly investigate this area, but I am unable to do any better" vs the latter "I gave this a once over and know its clear (but it was not!)." A skilled adventurer knows what failure is as much as they know what success is.

    There is of course still lots of room to metagame - "you asked me to roll a check, so whatever I roll I will be cautious" is clearly using a games system to cheat it. However, "I tried to investigate this room but I didn't do a good job, so procede with caution" is not metagaming.

    Of course, this is personal preference, but I dislike robbing players of agency by making decisions for them. It feels bad to be told "this room is clear" when you know it isn't, and be forced to walk blindly into a trap. I think "you cannot tell" is much more interesting.

  25. - Top - End - #145
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    Chimera

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by whateew View Post
    I recently ran a game set in a forest, where players noticed an illusive creature watching them - I had them roll perception checks to try and make out what said creature was, but with a failure I simply told them "you are unable to make it out, it's green form blending in and out of the trees." Of course, this is not the same thing as a binary "do you notice X vs do you not notice X," but typically I think passive skills better reflect such yes-or-no questions - and you can hide those from your players!

    Imagine, for instance, the DM asks you to make a perception check when you ask to try and make out anything through the thick fog that rolled over the hills early in the morning. I personally think a 2 better represents a failure to succeed in seeing rather than a failure in seeing something - and that's what a character can understand. The difference between a 2 failing and a 15 failing is a palpable difference too - I like to think the numbers represent a mix of luck and effort.

    This is part of an idea about "abortive" actions Vs failed actions - when you made your 4 on your investigation check, I think it represents the former, not the latter - the former being "I failed to properly investigate this area, but I am unable to do any better" vs the latter "I gave this a once over and know its clear (but it was not!)." A skilled adventurer knows what failure is as much as they know what success is.

    There is of course still lots of room to metagame - "you asked me to roll a check, so whatever I roll I will be cautious" is clearly using a games system to cheat it. However, "I tried to investigate this room but I didn't do a good job, so procede with caution" is not metagaming.

    Of course, this is personal preference, but I dislike robbing players of agency by making decisions for them. It feels bad to be told "this room is clear" when you know it isn't, and be forced to walk blindly into a trap. I think "you cannot tell" is much more interesting.
    Your example is very different though, it seems that the party already knew something was there and were looking to get details. In that case I would have done it exactly as you did. But let's take a different example. The party is going down a corridor in a dungeon. One player checks for traps, rolls a 6 on their perception check. Did they not see anything? Did something distract them from seeing anything? If it's the latter, then I just feel that it will lead to a cycle of every character checking every corridor one after the other. Something like that I can see slowing down a game a lot as each character goes up to a door, checks it, then stands back for the next person to check it. To me that just seems a little...weird?

    If the party has reason to believe there are traps, but no traps are found, that is a reasonable excuse for multiple people checking granted. So just do that, don't always make the DM introduce some weird thing that stopped you perceiving well at just the wrong moment.

  26. - Top - End - #146
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Avonar View Post
    Your example is very different though, it seems that the party already knew something was there and were looking to get details. In that case I would have done it exactly as you did. But let's take a different example. The party is going down a corridor in a dungeon. One player checks for traps, rolls a 6 on their perception check. Did they not see anything? Did something distract them from seeing anything? If it's the latter, then I just feel that it will lead to a cycle of every character checking every corridor one after the other. Something like that I can see slowing down a game a lot as each character goes up to a door, checks it, then stands back for the next person to check it. To me that just seems a little...weird?

    If the party has reason to believe there are traps, but no traps are found, that is a reasonable excuse for multiple people checking granted. So just do that, don't always make the DM introduce some weird thing that stopped you perceiving well at just the wrong moment.
    You make a fair point: perception isn't really a skill that someone can meaningfully fail outside of a binary yes or no without some third party. However, perception is the outlier here surely? Every other skill is just that, a skill - surely a poor knowledge roll represents not knowing, not a mistake. A professional assassin would know what it's like to fail hide well, indicating that some other approach is best. An animal handler who has no clue what a certain beast is communicating isn't mistaken, just out of their depth. So why shouldn't an investigation check be like this? Why should a rogue be told "you think it is clear" and expected to act on it when they know they have done poorly, and not "you don't find anything" but know they rolled a 2.

    Notably, I think there is room for nuance here - a roll of 2 and a roll of 15, if they have bother failed, would both reveal "you don't find anything." One, however, inspires caution while the other (misplaced!) confidence. I think this is important for any skill in DnD - players should be able to use their dice to understand degrees of success. A bard rolling 2 on persuasion knows she made a faux-pas, but a 15 was a well made speech that simply wasn't enough - why shouldn't other skills be like this, with the outlier being purely instinctual things?
    Last edited by whateew; 2021-03-05 at 02:55 AM.

  27. - Top - End - #147
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    ElfPirate

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Avonar View Post
    Your example is very different though, it seems that the party already knew something was there and were looking to get details. In that case I would have done it exactly as you did. But let's take a different example. The party is going down a corridor in a dungeon. One player checks for traps, rolls a 6 on their perception check. Did they not see anything? Did something distract them from seeing anything? If it's the latter, then I just feel that it will lead to a cycle of every character checking every corridor one after the other. Something like that I can see slowing down a game a lot as each character goes up to a door, checks it, then stands back for the next person to check it. To me that just seems a little...weird?

    If the party has reason to believe there are traps, but no traps are found, that is a reasonable excuse for multiple people checking granted. So just do that, don't always make the DM introduce some weird thing that stopped you perceiving well at just the wrong moment.
    That seems like a textbook example of when to use a passive ability check.
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  28. - Top - End - #148
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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Quote Originally Posted by Avonar View Post
    Your example is very different though, it seems that the party already knew something was there and were looking to get details. In that case I would have done it exactly as you did. But let's take a different example. The party is going down a corridor in a dungeon. One player checks for traps, rolls a 6 on their perception check. Did they not see anything? Did something distract them from seeing anything? If it's the latter, then I just feel that it will lead to a cycle of every character checking every corridor one after the other. Something like that I can see slowing down a game a lot as each character goes up to a door, checks it, then stands back for the next person to check it. To me that just seems a little...weird?

    If the party has reason to believe there are traps, but no traps are found, that is a reasonable excuse for multiple people checking granted. So just do that, don't always make the DM introduce some weird thing that stopped you perceiving well at just the wrong moment.
    (emphasis mine)

    If you run it as a 'binary no metagaming', then the characters will start doing that anyway after the first trap they failed to spot. So no difference there. Except, in that case you would expect them to have all other characters also check if the first one rolled high.

    So the difference between the two methods is that in one method, each character will always roll (maybe this will slip if they get bored and then they runinto a trap, feel gotcha-d and start al rolling again). And in the other method they will only roll until one of them rolls high enough they feel confident. So to me, the "metagaming" method slows the game down less.

  29. - Top - End - #149
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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    I think the metagaming that annoys me is the stuff like jumping off cliffs because climbing is slow and a pc has enough hp to not care. But that's more an artifact of hp inflation and weak falling damage, easily fixed by making falls do d20s instead of d6s. Skill metas I handle by having a wide range of DCs (like using the full range evenly instead of mostly average DCs), not making everthing binary pass/fails, and reasonably frequent rolls. In a murder-hobo & spontaneous undead generating world most reasonable people have a trap or two hanging around the basement, attic, and trash pit. Have you seen the size of those spiders?

    But for, gosh, must be twenty years or more now... well, I haven't had any issues with "know a monster" metas. I include in equipment lists a book called "Captain Wembley's Monster Atlas", which is basically a birding book for the usual monsters. If they buy one I just point as the MM and say it's all the pictures and fluff, no dice numbers or stats. They quickly learn meta info is imperfect since I mostly use weaker (-50% all numbers, double vulnerability) or stronger (+50% all numbers, half or no vulnerability) monsters. Plus the worst monsters are always people. Monsters are usually just hungry or territorial, but people can be wicked and cruel.
    Niven's Laws, #5
    If you've nothing to say, say it any way you like. Stylistic innovations, contorted story lines or none, exotic or genderless pronouns, internal inconsistencies, the recipe for preparing your lover as a cannibal banquet: feel free. If what you have to say is important and/or difficult to follow, use the simplest language possible. If the reader doesn't get it then, let it not be your fault.

  30. - Top - End - #150
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    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: What does and doesn't constitute metagaming?

    Re: The party doesn't know x monster can only be hurt by weakness x.

    I think I might be fine with such a ruling if the players could also call out the gm. Imagine the hilarity:

    Gm: the blue dragon let's out a blast of lightning striking the wizard

    Player 1: Hold up, that's metagaming. The wizard hasn't gone yet, so the dragon can't know that he's a threat, and there are no obvious tells that he's a wizard, so shouldn't he ignore him?

    Player 2: Yeah, and I've attacked the dragon 8 times, shouldn't it see me as a threat?

    Gm: fine, I target player 2 with the lightning breath.

    Player 2: good thing I have that amulet of lighting immunity!

    Some rounds later

    Gm: the dragon now breathes lightning on the mage

    Player 1: hold up, that's metagaming!

    Gm: *groan* how so? I know the mage is a mage now!

    Player 2: yeah, but the last time it used lighting its target was immune, and my character obviously isn't magical, so the only logical solution is that the mage is buffing the party to be immune to lightning. Your using out of character knowledge to know where my character's immunity is coming from.

    Gm: kill me.
    Last edited by Jakinbandw; 2021-03-05 at 10:40 AM.

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