So I’ve been thinking about D&D a lot. As I said, the wife and I are huge fans of Critical Role and today Matt Mercer just unloaded a bunch of therapy today. You’ll probably find it eventually on the Geek and Sundry Youtube Channel or their twitch channel if you subscribe.
Some of what my wife and I talked about started to percolate, and one of those topics was having your real life experiences start to creep into your game. That’s normal and encouraged, every good story draws on experiences. But there’s drawing from what you know and there’s metagamining, which is using knowledge you have as a player to make decisions as a character. For example, if you as a player witnesses a private conversation, you can’t simply have yourself as a character do something convenient to take advantage of what you heard. In writing, this is known as a deus ex machina. Depending on how lenient your DM is, metagaming could be a big no-no.
OR IS IT?
I was thinking about how I make decisions from day to day, and sometimes stuff works out for me because of an instinctive or unexplained reason. People draw on intuition or a reason that cannot be articulated to make a decision. Makes you think. What if each of us is a player and there’s some dice-rolling douchebag controlling our every action? Or, what if there was a D&D mechanic that takes intuition into account?
Let’s say you were gaming and wanted to make a metagaming decision for you character. Instead of dropping a rock on you and killing you outright, the DM turns to you with a wry smile and asks,
“Make an introspection check.”
So you roll the dice, and add your introspection modifier to see if you can do it. But, oh shit, your character has been neglecting their meditation, or they haven’t read a book in a really long time. Or, they’ve been making shitty rolls and you’ve been getting really mad at them, and your modifier has taken a hit from lots of decisions like that. So your character has lost their intuitive or spiritual connection to you, the player, and doesn’t make the roll. Alternatively, the player has been whispering really well to the character, making lots of choices in line with their alignment, and guiding them towards contemplating the choices they’ve done, boosting their modifier, and you actually get to make that totally cheating move, saving your character from certain doom.
Basically, I’m treating the player as a guardian angel or a daemon in the service of the character. You can RECOMMEND a metagaming decision, but your character has some autonomy based on what you’ve done before. It’s an interesting dynamic, so comment below!