A house rule is perfect for combating metagaming

In the vast and ever-expanding world of Dungeons & Dragons shows, Children of Earthe is an underrated gem. Led by Dungeon Master and daredevil star Deborah Ann Woll, the show tells the story of five seemingly normal humans who, after boarding a mysterious train, are embarked on a fantastical adventure none of them could have imagined before.

Children of Earthe has lots of fascinating and fun content that is sure to inspire other DMs, especially those interested in campaign management set in modern times. However, the show’s most interesting innovation is an easy-to-implement house rule that could help any campaign combat an age-old problem in the tabletop RPG space: metagaming.

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Almost every J&D The campaign comes up against the issue of metagaming at some point. Essentially, metagaming is about using external knowledge to determine their character’s actions, especially when said player character shouldn’t know the information in question. It can be as trivial as a veteran player choosing not to use fire attacks against a red dragon when their current character doesn’t know the creatures are immune to that element.

Some metagaming is almost unavoidable; after all, players are aware that they are part of a game in ways that their characters are not. In the real world, a person is unlikely to walk into a room and immediately start opening drawers trying to find something important, but such behavior is common (sometimes necessary) in J&D to move the story forward. However, metagaming becomes a bigger issue when players adjust their behavior in ways that break immersion or interfere with roleplaying.

A common cause of metagaming has to do with skill tests, especially perception tests. Because players understand that a low roll means they are likely to be tricked or miss crucial information, they can choose their next action with that low roll in mind. For example, a player who checks a lane for traps and rolls a three will likely proceed on the assumption that there are traps, undermining the impact of the low roll.

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Children of EartheThe answer to this problem is simple: if a player is concerned that knowing what he gets on a skill check will influence his answer, he can tell the DM his modifier and have Woll roll the d20 to him. From there, she will tell the player what they see or learn without revealing the roll itself. By withholding this information, players are unable to make inferences based on what they have rolled; they just know what their character would know.

This house rule can be easily applied to any J&D game, and it could be especially useful for new players who might not even realize they are metagaming. Although the DM roll takes some power away from the players themselves, it’s up to the player to take advantage of it or not. Those who feel confident in their ability to separate their knowledge and their players (or those who just like to roll the dice themselves) don’t have to participate. Although incredibly simple, this house rule is a brilliant way to combat a common but pervasive problem.

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