Metagaming is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.

In simple terms, using out-of-game information, or resources, to affect one's in-game decisions

Definition in Role Playing:

In role-playing games, metagaming can be defined as any out of character action made by a player's character which makes use of knowledge that the character is not meant to be aware of. (Metagaming while taking part in relatively competitive games, or those with a more serious tone, is typically not well received, because a character played by a metagamer does not act in a way that reflects the character's in-game experiences and back-story.)

Examples of metagaming include:

Adjusting a character's actions based on foreknowledge of the long-term intentions of the gamemaster.

Gaining knowledge from Out-Of Character.

  • All your knowledge from your past life is gone upon death
  • Using certain types of attack or defense based on the strengths and weaknesses of an opponent that the player's character is unaware of.
  • Acting on any knowledge that the character is not aware of (such as creating gunpowder in a Dark Ages or Middle Ages setting).
  • Adjusting a character's behavior towards other player characters based on real-life relationships with other players.
  • Using knowledge of the game's mechanics to gain an advantage in the game by having the character do something incompatible with that character's personality.
  • Assuming that something that appears to be wrong or unlikely in the game world is a mistake of the gamemaster rather than something that could be investigated. (This does not apply to situations where the mistake appears in the gamemaster's depiction of the world rather than in the world itself, which can cause a player to become aware of something which their character is not aware of.)
  • Deciding on a character's course of action based on how the game's mechanics will affect the outcome without more significant regard placed on how the character would actually behave.
  • Any action that is based upon the knowledge that one is playing a game. Sorry Deadpool fans!
  • Another form of metagaming occurs as a form of powergaming during character creation, when a player takes flaws or liabilities that they know the gamemaster is unlikely to fully exploit, thereby acquiring extra creation options without paying a corresponding penalty.
  • Using alternate characters you play to collect information for your main character. The reason being is it involves zero risk if your alternate character is caught, because you could simple delete the character and roll another one.
  • Basing PvP actions off of level.

How to Protect Yourself From Being Metagamed

  • Do not provide or give details about your character Out-Of-Character. In doing this, you are giving away key aspects that another character would have to work to discover. This ruins any suspension of disbelief for the player, for one example, as if you had read the last page of a mystery book. Also, if you tell someone that your character is secretly X, then the player may (whether unintentionally or intentionally) shift their gameplay to the discovery In-Character of what X is, or suspect what X is and act upon it. The motivation for this varies depending on the person. They will either metagame it because they wish to rush the discovery of the character's secrets or they want to pretend their character is superior in matters of information gathering, intelligence, or perception.
  • Do not write things in your journal you do not want other players to know. A lot of you love to write journals to reflect thoughts of your character. This, of course, is encouraged here as it helps character development and gives your characters depth. However, be careful what you write about. Do not give details you do not want people to know. For example, writing about your character secretly being a Harper gives room for metagamers to spy on your character more in an attempt to uncover your character's affiliation with the organization.
  • Do not answer questions OOCly asked. Do not tell them where you are or what you are doing unless you want them to find you and your character is not in a dangeorus situation. The exception to this is telling a player OOCly where you are in the event your character is captured by an evil person, for example, is metagaming.
  • Do not write anything in your In-Game bio that you do not want other people to see. Writing anything other than immediate physical appearance is giving consent to know about the character. If your character is an evil yuan-ti but never takes his hood off, do not put into his In-Game bio that he is a yuan-ti, otherwise everyone will know he is.

How to Prevent Metagaming Someone

Not all metagaming is intentional. The more Out-Of-Character knowledge you have, the harder it can be to separate it from In-Character. The line between OOC and IC can sometimes blur and what you know OOC can bleed over into your IC knowledge. We are, after all, human. Here are some measures to avoid metagaming others.

  • If in doubt, you don't know. If you are having a hard time determining OOC from IC, then the quickest way to fix this is to have your character play ignorant. It looks a little bad IC that your character forgot an important detail, but looks volumes better than having your character know something they shouldn't know and get accused of metagaming.
  • Encourage keeping things In-Character. Out-of-Character is used during roleplay for clarification. Ask people to stay in character and not give IC details about them. The less you know Out-Of-Character, the easier it is for you to not metagame.
  • Do not ask people about their characters when Out-of-Character. This is seen as fishing for information and unless you know the person well, they may consider you a metagamer for asking IC details.
  • In the event your character is a spy, take screenshots of information you recieve. It is very easy to metagame knowledge as a spy, because you can easily say that your character was in the area and was simply unseen. To prevent people accusing you of metagaming, take screenshots so that if they attempt to call you out, you can prove to them through those screenshots that you did not metagame.

What To Do If Metagamed

If you think someone is metagaming, try to approach them politely first and explain why calmly. Do not throw out accusations. If it is knowledge, ask them how they know. Trace their sources and verify with other players before accusing anyone of metagaming.

Don't assume immediately that it was deliberate. Everyone's done it accidently now and again and then held their hands up and apologized. After that, sometimes you can take the RP back or unfortunately, if it becomes big enough, you sometimes have to roll with it. Putting metagamed knowledge back into the genie bottle is very difficult.

If someone does metagame, then try to resolve it in a friendly way. But you may wish to take screenshots as well, just in case; if things do turn sour and you wish to take it to the DMs then feel free to contact anyone among staff about it to help get the issue resolved.

Author: DM Breaknova.

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