To Metagame or not to Metagame?

That is the question. To some degree we all have to ignore certain truths that exist IRL, in real life, to adapt to a fantasy based tabletop game like D&D. Our own table is made of an eclectic group of people and we all deal with metagaming differently. Some of us immerse completely into the world and are able to mitigate much of our metagaming but others actively or unconsciously do so.

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There have been times when one of our members was called out for metagaming. This includes things like knowing about certain rare magical items in the world that a third level caster would probably not know about, or knowledge of intimate details regarding deities and famous figures in the world. We also have a player that DM’s his own games and has been for a majority of his life. There are times when he will involuntarily react to something that is said or hinted at and, even though he never reveals what he knows, we always know that was is happening is pretty bad or good depending on his reaction. It lessens the reality of the game a little each time the veil is ripped to accommodate for our real world knowledge.

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My only solution to this is to immerse yourself completely in the character you are playing. When I play Brenna Wolfheart, Paladin of Heimdall, I am her. I did a bunch of research into Heimdall and his Nordic roots before the campaign and am constantly working to improve the reality of my character. Even so there are times when I slip up too. I used to play a very outgoing Bard name Aleera. She was obsessed with money and so, of course, was the party treasurer. This time around I wanted to be completely different and give some one else a shot at being the money person. I decided to be a very quiet, gruff personality that only rarely spoke.

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For the most part I think I do a great job at running Brenna the way she would be as a real person but sometimes I slip up and start talking for the group or talking about money like I know what its worth when my character couldn’t care less about money. Thankfully I have a great DM that coaches us through our character progressions and the members of the table help keep everyone in check. Whenever we catch ourselves slipping we try to call it out and then we correct the issue. It isn’t a mean thing we do, we are just helping each other figure out our roles in the party.

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There are also some times when we feel the need to explain things in a real world context to explain a concept we have in our heads, properly. In this case we treat things like Critical Role does and try to tie the snippet of information we provide to someone or something we know of in the world. After all it makes sense that in a multiverse, certain things would overlap between worlds and planes. Like trying to explain to a remote village of inbred people how pulleys and levers work without metagaming too much.

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Then there are the times when real world context does not make sense at all in the world. In our last session our Bard tried to ask if there was a doctor present in the town we were passing through. He said “Doctor” not “healer” and that was a big source of confusion. Even non-magical healers in a fantasy setting are called healers or wise people as in older days of our own world. “Doctor” or “medical sciences” are not in thing in the world we are playing in and that was a huge source of confusion before we managed to get back on track with correct wording. It might not seem like a huge deal but remember, the goal is to keep the veil of fantasy between your character and the real world.

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We all do it to some extent. I don’t think there is a real way to completely get rid of metagaming but we can all do our part to maintain that veil of fantasy during gameplay. Immersion is the key to reducing the amount of metagaming. Trying to see through the eyes of your character as a real person and not just viewing them as your marionette in the game can go a long way.

Have a comment or question? Leave a message below or find me on Twitter @DnDWifeStories and on Instagram @dndwife. I would love to hear from you!

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Published by dndwife

My husband and I run a dungeons and dragons table together and I write about our crazy adventures both in and out of the story. My husband DM's and I am the table artist. I paint minis for everyone at the table and provide crafted gifts like dice boxes, bags, and artwork.

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