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.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is sort of vague. What are some examples of metagaming that you are trying to aviod? Positioning and power selection is tactics, not metagaming. Also, rpg.stackexchange.com/q/7921/1069 and rpg.stackexchange.com/q/7500/1069 may be of some use to you. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    Aug 26, 2012 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dpatchery It's tactics, yes, but not everyone wants positioning and power selection to be player tactics. There are lots of people who enjoy roleplaying in-character tactical decision-making, which is inherently the case with anyone who thinks avoiding metagaming in combat tactics is desirable, i.e., this asker. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 26, 2012 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am sorry, I realize now how poorly defined this question is. I have a game in 3 minutes though! I will get back and edit this later. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2525
    Aug 26, 2012 at 21:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here, let me close it until the re-edit, as it's pulling various random answers at the moment - once you edit we'll reopen. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Aug 27, 2012 at 0:53

2 Answers 2


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.


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.

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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 for the first sentence. There are lots of things people think are fun and we don't get to tell them otherwise at RPG.SE. Avoiding metaplay is for some people necessary to achieve the kind of fun they personally enjoy. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 26, 2012 at 19:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: The only way to avoid metaplay is to randomly roll everything. It's not what I call fun, but I firmly believe no-one calls that fun. Maybe it's different to you because you give a different meaning to metaplaying that the one I explained there? If you're talking about non-system-0 games I agree with you, partially. It's not avoiding metagaming, it's accepting it's not a bad thing and using it properly, i.e. with a system that stops it from ruining the game. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Aug 28, 2012 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm using the meaning of metagaming where you're decision-making doesn't match or directly map to what your character is thinking and deciding. Yeah, there are lots of systems that do have a 1:1 match, and because the thought processes match, they allow players to "think like my character" (not metaplay) or "think like me playing a game" (metaplay) and the result is the same. The point is that such games don't force you to metaplay, because you can in-character roleplay decisions and never metaplay at all. Lots of people only find non-metaplay fun. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2012 at 16:40

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