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How do I deal with metagaming? Tabletop tips from an anxious GM

Metagaming is when a player uses knowledge from outside of the game to determine their actions, this can include known game mechanics or story elements. Even someone who doesn’t like to metagame can fall victim to metagaming. Maybe their character would act without pre-existing knowledge, but the very existence of that knowledge in the player’s head causes self-doubt. There are ways around that situation as well as many other metagaming scenarios. An author writing a novel knows what’s going to happen to the characters, but that doesn’t change how they write about them — maybe some foreshadowing, but they can’t avoid their fate. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression — a combo that is less than ideal for a journalist or a game master juggling seven different players in a six-hour Dungeons & Dragons game — I know it’s tough to speak up when your character would act, and argue that your character would do it regardless of the information you have.

In this week’s column of Tabletop tips from an anxious GM (all of which can be found on our DND tips hub), I’ll be answering “How do I deal with metagaming?” in response to my previous tips piece that talked about consent and asking permission to take negative actions.

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