Issues With Metagaming In Dungeons & Dragons (And Other TTRPGs)

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Metagaming In Dungeons And Dragons

What Is Dungeons & Dragons Metagaming?

Dungeons & Dragons is a TTRPG (tabletop role-playing game). Players must use their imagination, along with pen and paper, to navigate their way through the adventure. While this game style gives players a lot of freedom, there are instances where this freedom can lead to conflicts in the gameplay. An excellent example of this is metagaming and character knowledge.

Since the players are playing in first-person, there is a discrepancy in knowledge that comes up during gameplay. As the player, we know a lot about many different monsters and items found in fantasy. However, the character may not have access to all of this knowledge.

What happens when a player uses the knowledge they obtained outside of the campaign? What effects does it have on the gameplay, and with other players in the group? These metagame issues can make or break the immersion and gameplay experience.

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Example: Metagaming Vampires

Vampires are one of the most well-known monsters in pop culture. Everyone knows a little bit about the stereotypical vampire’s strengths and weaknesses. They get their power by drinking blood. They hate wooden stakes and garlic. You know, usually vampire things.

Now, let’s say you are playing a campaign where vampires are not of common knowledge to your group. Your team enters a battle with a vampire. Technically, the characters would not know what this creature is. They must defeat it by testing out different attacks and abilities.

As a lover of fantasy, you could easily have your archer make garlic-tipped arrows and save the day. However, as stated previously, the characters don’t know what a vampire is. Moves like this operate outside of the immersion of the game.

It works the same the other way as well. Sure, you know about vampires from reading Bram Stoker and Anne Rice. However, this doesn’t mean that the vampire you are up against plays by those rules. Let’s say this monster is vampiric due to being under the spell of an evil wizard. Garlic and stakes won’t work here, leaving your pre-game knowledge of vampires useless.

Dungeons And Dragons Metagaming

Issues With Metagaming in Dungeons & Dragons

As explained above, using outside knowledge can lead to issues in the gameplay. This can also hurt the gameplay experience of the other players.

Using outside knowledge in a campaign can lead to a character being overpowered. The stories built into many campaigns are purposefully set up to feed the players information gradually to create mystery and suspense. Skipping past these parts with previously learned information can be detrimental to the flow of the story.

For example, say you previously played a character that studied beasts. You are now playing a new character in a beast-heavy campaign. It would take a lot of fun out of the game to use your previous knowledge of all the beasts’ weaknesses. 

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How To Resolve Metagaming Issues In Dungeons & Dragons

When it comes to metagaming in Dungeons & Dragons, the main focus should be the comfort of the group. Some groups like using all the rules of D&D to their advantage. Others like going into each campaign blind.

Before starting a new campaign, it is recommended that the players meet and discuss their metagaming comfort leaves with each other and the DM. Setting up boundaries beforehand will help foster a better gameplay experience.

It is also up to the players, and especially the DM, to remain vigilant about these boundaries during gameplay. Let another player know if they are crossing the line, or performing an action that is outside of their character’s knowledge.

At the end of the day, just have fun and make sure that everyone in the group is on the same page.

Metagaming In TTRPGs

Have You Had Issues With Metagaming In Dungeons & Dragons?

We hope you enjoyed our breakdown of metagaming issues in Dungeons & Dragons. Have you ever run into these issues yourself? Let us know about your experiences on social media!

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