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After playing the starter edition as a DM, a player that I was playing with wanted to give DMing a shot and asked me to join him. And I happily did.

We are now 2 sessions in and I have noticed a problem. I know everything.

Since I DMed the adventure myself I know every nook and cranny of it and it is influencing how I play. I know where to go, where the monsters are, where there are traps, what to ask certain NPCs and I noticed that I am very much meta-gaming. And not only I have noticed it but my DM has asked me to "Pretend to not know everything".

I have already tried to be fully in character but with players that are not really (or at least struggling) into RP and a character that is a lot like me I find it hard to pretend I don't know things.

How can I play a published adventure and get into character without letting my knowledge from DMing the adventure influence my play?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Despite the RP aspect, are the other players still OK to be engaged and make decisions (which way to go, who to talk to, etc) without expecting your input all the time? \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Jan 16 at 11:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've edited the question in the body of the post to be more focused and answerable rather than an open-ended survey-type question. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 16 at 11:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Folks answering, this really is a case where you should have some experience (or seen others) do what's happening in this question. I considered making some suggestions based purely on my RPG experience, but quickly realized the difference between coming up with a possible solution for OP and understanding how it would be to actually do it. And it's the latter that matters. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 16 at 15:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Which adventure, it will help make answers more relevant. \$\endgroup\$ – John Jan 17 at 16:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Let's keep answers in answers folks. What you have done previously is excellent support for a full answer, flesh it out to one and post it. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jan 17 at 16:23

12 Answers 12

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Take a back seat

While this might be hard to implement advice when you're already a few sessions in, the best thing would be to play a character who does not wish to lead or make decisions. This does not mean the character has to be passive: They will help out the group, gather information and offer advice. But they will never have the last word in any discussion.

This way, the players who don't already know how the adventure goes are the ones steering and making the major decisions. They get to make the bad decisions and mistakes that will make this adventure their personal story instead of just an optimized run bypassing all traps with ease.

Agree with your GM on ways to help you re-integrate your meta-knowledge. Do things like ask him for skill checks (like Perception or similar) before telling the others there is a monster down that path, and make sure to formulate those things from an in-character perspective.

Yes, this will require extremely rigid self-discipline, to not even groan when the group goes down a wrong path. Unfortunately, that's what you've to some extent signed up for right now. If you can't do that, and can't find enjoyment in being surprised at the antics of your other group members, the other option is basically:

Take a break

Tell your group that you will skip the sessions as long as they're running that adventure. This might mean not coming to the roleplay at all, or it might mean just being there as an observer, but not playing a character.

This might sound extreme, but consider this (hypothetical) rationally: You don't seem to be having unadulterated fun running an adventure you know while metagaming. But not metagaming requires mental effort that also gets in the way of fun. Since either way, you're not having fun, the old adage of "No roleplay is better than bad roleplay" advises sitting this one out.

And your GM and other players will probably not begrudge you that decision. The GM's comment shows that their fun gets affected by your issue, and I wouldn't be surprised if the other players are affected as well. If there is one player who knows how this goes, there might appear little reason for them to roleplay: After all, any course of action your character suggests will be the right one.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For taking a backseat, I would suggest to emphasize interacting with the players, rather than the environment? \$\endgroup\$ – NeutralTax Jan 16 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ When I “take a back seat” I like to play a pessimist. That way I can say “Oh no! I can’t believe we’re doing that! We’re all going to die!” Every time the others make a decision. Not helpful but fun. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jan 16 at 22:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like that answer, but would propose a third option: Play a different adventure. There are so many more adventures (official and homebrewed) available, also for beginners, that this might be a way both for the new DM to get experience and OP to enjoy playing. \$\endgroup\$ – Surpriser Jan 17 at 9:17
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Roleplay harder

You the player know the details, but your character doesn't. This is a chance to concentrate on your character, on their personality and how they react to the situation. Since this character didn't run the adventure before, your character will introduce differences to the story that will keep things interesting. Don't focus on the module's details, and instead try to weave a distinct narrative that is unique because your character is in it.

I've run Sunless Citadel twice for two different groups, both of which included my wife, and she had just as much fun the second time because she was playing a different character. Her first was charismatic and diplomatic while the second was impulsive and aggressive, leading to different paths through the dungeon and vastly different outcomes interacting with the NPCs. She helped create a new story from an old module by leaning into the roleplay.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. Nicely done with referencing your wife's change of roleplay to influence how she interacted with the module. Were their things OP should be aware of when doing this that would also help? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 16 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this answer as a whole, but I think it's different going from PC to PC than DM to PC. As a PC, you may not experience everything the module has to offer - Some rooms you didn't explore, some NPCs you didn't meet because you didn't go down this street, etc. As a DM, you know everything, making it a little harder. \$\endgroup\$ – TheLittlePeace Jan 16 at 16:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ As a DM, I know everything from the module. But as a DM, I also have experience guiding a narrative. Not just parroting paragraphs of details and processing rules, but shaping the reactions of NPCs and environments so that the players get the best experience. Unfortunately I don't have experience playing a module that I've run, but I hope that, using a story-focused mindset, my knowledge of a module will -help- me, not hinder me, in knowing what my character would do, realistically and narratively, based on their personality. \$\endgroup\$ – aherocalledFrog Jan 16 at 17:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1. As a DM who's DMed a lot of modules and oneshots, I've encountered several of them again as a player. Asking yourself "what would my character do?" when faced with new situations is very helpful. When I know campaigns or oneshots are very puzzle-heavy, I just play a character that isn't a puzzler. I might know the answer, but Bargh the Barbarian only knows that the last puzzle could be "solved" by bashing it with a big rock. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Jan 17 at 7:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ From personal experience this is a great time to break out that character who is a fish out of water, (newly awaken war forged, tribal savage, freed slave from birth, ect), who will have no context for what is happening, it makes it far easier to role play ignorance. \$\endgroup\$ – John Jan 17 at 16:19
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I will likely echo some of the answers this question already has, but I wanted to concretise a perspective which I think will be helpful but which was so far not named explicitly:

Play your character more like a DMPC than like a PC.

You're very much in the same position as a DM playing an NPC that has fully (but temporarily) joined the party. DMs in such position generally play the characters as not volunteering information unnecessarily, and not wanting to lead the party or have the final (or even strongest) word in decisions. So do the same: participate actively in combat and other all-information-is-known activities, but sit back when decisions and the unknown are central. Cast your character as a "can't be bothered with the thinking, just tell me what needs bashing/disarming/sweet-talking when you've figured out that part" type if it helps.

On the "similar to a DMPC" note, you could take this further and actually offer your character as a sort of dmPC to the DM: tell your DM that since you already know the adventure, they can't spoil anything for you and you could become the DM's "agent" in the party. Let your DM give you general guidance for how they want the adventure to evolve (or what they want to avoid), and if the party veers rasantly counter to that, help steer it in the right direction.

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This might seem counter-intuitive, but read the adventure again, imagining how your character sees the details, what draws his interest, what actions he'll attempt. You've done it before from the omnipotent-omniscient view, do it again from a restricted and narrow perspective. It can be painful. You really have to let go of any desire to improve your character, or even survive the mission (which are the 2 main reasons I play in the first place).

I went through a friend's first GM experience running a game I knew like the back of my hand. So I reread it the night before, deciding what my character would do in each situation. The worst was knowing that my curious Mage would definitely activate an item that woke some undead, I prayed the other PCs would turn the other direction (they went straight for it like a pitbull to steak). I got lucky, the GM decided the Specter would want to parlay with me, and I RPed to survive; ended up linking us to our next quest.

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I have that same problem too, so what I do is I just follow the other pc's and offer hints if they are stumped, I also help in combat scenarios as well if they need it kinda bad. This means that i'm not leading the adventure, I'm kinda just a side character that helps every once in a while. The worst thing you can do in D&D is meta game so try and avoid that if you can, but if you do that often I recommend to take a break for that session and just DM.

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Become an enabler.

Enable other players,

Sit in the back playing the strong silent type and use your prior knowledge to enable other players. Be silent Bob, be a support character, don't say anything until you absolutely need to, but sit back and subtly prepare yourself to help other players make the most of a situation, you know a big encounter is coming don't prepare fireball, prepare bless and haste, help other players take the spotlight. Be the guy that reminds other players of their abilities or uses your abilities to help them shine. Be the guy who charges in just to give the rogue the ability to sneak attack.

This is a good time to pull out the fish out of water character, the newly freed slave, the just awaken war forged, the tribal hunter who got arrested for sleeping in the street because it is his first time in a city, the cloistered cleric who has not left the monastery since they were 12, the fatalistic barbarian who does not fear death just death out of combat, character who would have no idea what is going on and act in unusual manners. Actually a cleric or druid is great choice as you can use whispers from the wild or communing with your god as sources for your "hints". It helps if you play a character who morals/priorities are a little weird so your goals and everyone else are different.

Enable the DM,

Offer to take some of the burden off the new DM, be the guy that keeps the party notes, takes care of the part equipment or supply list, look up rules before hand and have them ready for the DM(there is a water section coming up let me look up the water combat rules and have them ready). Help build atmosphere, be the guy that rolls to identify the monster, be the guy who role plays catching food or making dinner, be the guy who asks what the room or furniture looks like.

Help keep the party on the rails. It is a new DM running a published adventure they are not going to be ready for much improv so gently guide the players back when they wander to far off the rails. Be the guy who asks the DM out loud what would my character know about this, which lets the DM feed the party information. Be the guy who asks the bartender for rumors or asks an NPC how things have been in the town or if they can recommend an establishment.

Don't try to preempt an encounter, but if the party spends ten minutes obsessing of trying to find a secret door you know isn't there, be the guy who does something else so the DM does not have to drop hints or random encounters to get them moving.

You can go even further depending on how serious your group is. Play the example of what not to do. I once played a character in a short adventure (dungeon) I helped built and never got to use, I talked with the DM and played a character who had been cursed to die a never ending series of horrible death every day, he stumbled in to every death trap, (touching the floating black ball, running across the frictionless floor, falling in the chasm of ooze) letting the DM showcase the dangers of every rooms perils. He died at least a dozen times in three sessions, always popping back into existence an hour later, a little less stable and more pissed off each time. It was a fun house with lot of instant death traps, very first edition feel. On the one day he managed to survive without getting killed once, a lot of lucky rolls) at midnight he exploded into bloody salsa injuring another character. He had a bit of death wish but didn't want to get the other characters killed.

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If your DM is comfortable making adjustments to the campaign

This may not specifically apply in the OP's case, but could be applicable to other people in a similar situation.

When DMing games where one of my players has DM'd or played the adventure before, I make modifications to the adventure to invalidate their prior knowledge. A monster that was in room A is instead in room B; a poison arrow trap on a door becomes an acid-filled pit trap in a corridor; the dungeon layout gets twisted so rooms and corridors aren't in the same place; the MacGuffin the party needs to defeat The Big Bad is in a different dungeon altogether.

Integrating and tracking changes like these into a campaign in a seamless way can be challenging, and not all DMs will feel comfortable doing so. You can always try it out in a dungeon, and if

Talk to your DM and see if this is something s/he might consider doing. You can always trial it in one dungeon, and if it doesn't work out, no harm done.

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A friend of mine had the exact same problem. He was the DM of the Mines of Phandelver and ruled the campaign a looong period of time till one year or so.

A few months ago, his friend wanted to DM the same campaign to another group (not the same players that the other one) and invited him. Him, knowing all that would happen and knowing what decisions make, decided to play a Warforged Wizard that knows the future. I don't remember exactly which mechanics he used but it was something like he rolled a d100 and d10 to determine if he knew what exactly to do. I think the percentage was low and it didn't affect so much in the decisions the group made. Unfortunately, the DM didn't like that idea and instant-killed his PJ.

So all I can say is roleplay in a way you can control yourself or think or something funny that can allow you to sometimes help your group but always talking with your DM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 20 at 7:52
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Play a Kenku with an heavy role-playing part. Kenkus were cursed by a goddess so that they may never have an original thought, which is perfect for your situation. You can participate just like you usually would, but can't take the lead, because your character literally can't.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Can you elaborate on your answer, and support it by citing evidence/experience? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 20 at 7:52
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We had once similar issue in our group. Adventure was based on scenario from cRPG or something like that, and one of the players knew whole plot. He stepped back. He didn't took any part in planning, and when we stuck with something he was giving us hints, which were careful and based on that what he consider his character could knew or heard.

At the end, it worked out quite well.

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I would like to propose two (and 1/2) ideas.

1.) Relay this information to the other players and GM openly and purposefully, so they all know what to expect. ("Hey guys, I played this before, but [X] wants to run and I want to play"). I know this flies partially in the face of the new GM's request, which is why I propose 2A and 2B.

2 A.) Tell them that you will be rolling whether or not you will be helpful (plot point-seeking) harmful (plot-point avoiding) or neutral for a duration (scene, combat, investigation check, etc). This removes the true and absolute burden of choice. This also means more random rolls at the cost of narrative flow and a showing of poor table manners (rolling when no check is called for). This method requires not sharing the result of the roll to work, and may require actual deception on your part.

2 B.) Don't tell them that you will be doing 2A. This may prevent your knowledge of the plot and secrets therein from from garnering stares of constant "what's next" going to YOU, a fellow player, (which, I am certain, would make the new DM feel cheapened by the experience). The drawbacks of 2A still exist here, but also prevent the aforementioned dependency on a player that knows all the secrets and prevents some degree of storyless completionism.

[Source: First-hand; I ran and played in a couple non-dnd modules and the "what's next" was constant.]

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I do not have experience with a situation like yours in specific but even in my games I sometimes have meta information that my character would not know. It is not fun to be completely passive and not-knowing. Also doing dumb things on purpose is no fun either. So I use the following approach:

Randomize your actions

You have a couple of dice in front of you that you use for fighting and all these things. You could also use them to decide what your character is going to do. For example if you know there are some monsters ahead and you should probably roll for perception and be careful, maybe roll a dice and if it comes up low, don't do that. If the others say they think it might be dangerous you could depend on how low the roll was. If it was very low just tell them its probably fine, if it was middle you can now ask for perception.

Another example if you have a couple of NCPs that you could talk with and you know that it is important to talk to one of them, maybe roll a dice to decide whom to talk to exactly.

This way your character will be suggesting a course of action, which you know is wrong and dumb. That may be a bit hard at times, but it will not really be your choice but the dices. Always remember, your character does not know better. Also the other team members will now think that you don't know everything and they will actually bother discussing the course of action.

I also apply this approach as a DM. Because NPCs just like PCs don't know everything, but as the DM I do know everything. So sometimes the information a NPC gives are wrong or the actions are stupid. In order to allow for that to happen as well, I roll for their actions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Anyone care to tell me what problem they got with this answer? \$\endgroup\$ – findusl Jan 17 at 9:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Im going to guess people are down voting because they dont like the idea of rolling for your behavior. You dont really grow as a character when its just random. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jan 17 at 13:44

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