What are some ways of avoiding meta-gaming (both as a player and as a GM) within combat. One of the basic decisions in combat is what to use on what, when and where and how to best position yourself to do it.
closed as not a real question by mxyzplk♦ Aug 27 '12 at 0:53
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First of all let's be conscious that avoiding metaplay at all is not impossible bot it's not fun.
Let's take a D&D character. Choosing his feats, his class, even is sex is metaplaying. It's decisions the player takes outside of an in-game knowledge. The only way to avoid it is to let every decision that could be made by knowing how the game mechanically works be a casual outcome.
D&D's "roll six stats, in order" is the prime example of this.
Of course you're not trying to avoit metaplay at this level. You're trying to avoid that, i.e. if the player knows that a monster is vulnerable to an element, the player deals that element damage without his character knowing of the vulnerability. You're putting the players on a spot. They can chose between lightning and fireball, and they get biased if they make the right choice.
The real solution is good game design. While it might not be "realistic" let's have the fireball deal more damage to the vulnerable monster only if the vulnerability is known by the character. This way, there's no out-of-the-game knowledge that could be advantageous to the players.
D&D is a game that behaves very badly to this regards. If I have a fire-vulnerable monster, shouldn't I discover that by fireballing it?
The easy solution is that knowledges of this type are automatic. Don't bother researching them. Avoid monsters with hard to guess, easy to obtain vulnerabilities.
Sticking to D&D, the knowledge devotion feat is a good example of how things should be done. If the knowledge roll is high enough, you get bonuses. No wild guessing, nothing you could do to obtain the bonuses anyway, even if you know everything the players do.
As for good positionig, it's called tactics and it is perfectly fine. If you're the GM and you're bad at tactics (I am too) a game where positioning and timing is not important would be better suited to you.
It is possible that it's not meta-gaming.
In combat a veteran warrior will use all his experience to gain any advantage possible. He would be thinking about: what to use on what, when and where and how to best position himself.
The only difference is how the players/GM are explaining their character. Are they role-playing it, or number crunching it?
In answer to your question: encourage them to role-play it. Use whatever means you have to support the role-playing when it happens.