Recall Knowledge checks encourage metagaming!


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Hello everyone,
Yeah, I like super titles like that, I just haven't found a place to put trap feat in it ;)

So, I have, as a player, an issue with Recall Knowledge checks. I'll give you an illustrative example of this problem:
My level 1 character has +3 to Religion. And I can face CR-1 monsters to CR3 Uncommon monsters.
If I try to recall knowledge about the former, I'll have 50% chance to have a valid information for 5% chance to have an erroneous one. If I recall knowledge on the latter, I'll have 20% chance to get valid information and 35% chance to have incorrect one. So, at first, it's not good at all, as I'll have a whole lot of misleading information in the middle of the proper ones. When you consider that it costs an action, I feel quite screwed.
And that is without taking into account the reflex of many DMs when you make a critical failure to give you a very misleading information like speaking about fire resistance or cold weakness on a white dragon. Basing the party tactics on a misleading information is a good recipe for disaster.

The whole system of recall knowledge forces you to assess the DC before rolling the check as a high DC can result in your check being detrimental on average, and sometimes a lot. Like if you cast a fireball on the white dragon because its cave is freezing cold, it's acceptable before making the recall knowledge check, but not after if your DM told you it's fire immune. So, to solve this problem, there's not lots of solution: recalling knowledge about small enemies but not about bad ass bosses, maxing the skill so you should not see any DC against which it's not interesting to recall knowledge, in one word: metagaming.

I think the critical failures on recall knowledge checks are a bad idea. So, I encourage all DMs to give irrelevant pieces of information on a critical failure instead of very misleading ones. Stating that a white dragon is fire resistant will shut the recall knowledge checks of your player in the long run, stating that it's negative energy resistant should amuse them and not have too much of a negative impact.

Give me your thoughts!


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I think part of the problem there is considering to use a not so proficient character to perform a task.

To have a +3 check instead of +7 ( for wizards or druids/clerics ) or even a higher modifier for a character which wants to rely on recall knowledge ( which won't have +0 on int/wis ) is bad ( like having +3 on hit instead of +7, even if an attack could have more weight in terms of importance, but I guess depends the situation ).

Given the fact that most of the spells requires two actions, the third caster action ( assuming he is not in the middle of the fight ) could be a raise shield ( or the shield cantrip ), a composition, sustaining a spell or use a recall knowledge ( I know there are other single actions, but especially at the beginning of an encounter, a caster could use the recall knowledge asap to give instructions to the rest of the party ).

That said, seems simply how the game is supposed to work in terms of min max ( if you want to be efficient in something, you invest everything you have towards that direction ).


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SuperBidi wrote:
The whole system of recall knowledge forces you to assess the DC before rolling the check...

I don't find that any more true for this check in particular than for other rolls that players choose to make all the time.

Also, this isn't metagaming - it's just playing the game. Knowing how the rules work is not metagaming.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
HumbleGamer wrote:
To have a +3 check instead of +7 (for wizards or druids/clerics) or even a higher modifier for a character which wants to rely on recall knowledge (which won't have +0 on int/wis) is bad

This sums up my thought exactly.

I do understand where the OP is coming from. GMs would probably have more appreciative players if the results of a bad check were inconsequential or funny instead of detrimental, but at the same time if your modifier is only +3, hopefully you have something more worthwhile you can be doing.


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thenobledrake wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
The whole system of recall knowledge forces you to assess the DC before rolling the check...
I don't find that any more true for this check in particular than for other rolls that players choose to make all the time.

Metagaming means that you alter your course of action because of out of game knowledge. I don't find other cases where we do that on a regular basis, but maybe I'm missing something.

Nefreet wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:
To have a +3 check instead of +7 (for wizards or druids/clerics) or even a higher modifier for a character which wants to rely on recall knowledge (which won't have +0 on int/wis) is bad

This sums up my thought exactly.

I do understand where the OP is coming from. GMs would probably have more appreciative players if the results of a bad check were inconsequential or funny instead of detrimental, but at the same time if your modifier is only +3, hopefully you have something more worthwhile you can be doing.

In fact, it goes even further. There are cases where rolling a knowledge check doesn't have consequences (like if you are speaking of the vampire that you should soon meet) and where it's better not to roll to get information than to roll. So, I think it's more than just having something better to do, it's non maximized knowledge check that you should not be rolling.

Also, even with a +7, if the DM decides that the DC is well above 20, it's better not to roll the check than to roll it. I don't find that fun, as it pushes to inactivity.


The DC is around 12-18 at lvl 1.

12 for lvl 0
14 for lvl 1
16 for lvl 2
18 for lvl 3

Sometimes it could be an odd number or even slightly different, but more or less that's the progression you will face.

To achieve a DC 20 task ( lvl 4 ) if you are a lvl 1 is something huge, and with a skilled lvl 1 character could happen 1 out of 3. Pretty balanced if you ask me.

And also even a simply trained character could have 1 chance out of 7 of success.

What I like about this system is that you can expend points whenever you want, apart from your main stat, which should be the highest possible.

And every 5 levels you will have 3 ( 1 less because of main stats ) +1 in 3 different stats. Really great.

Ofc If people tries to min max and bring even secondary stats up to 20 by lvl 20, that won't work... but it's their choice.

If the DM decides so, he could help players by lowering the DC.

Sczarni

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I know a player who didn't see a point in spending money on a sheath, because they thought they could just store their weapon in their backpack. When I showed them the obscure table subtext that explains you need to spend an extra Interact Action whenever you pull something out of your backpack, they quickly bought a sheath.

Metagaming is unavoidable. It can be both conscious, and subconscious. But it's how we respond to it that matters.

If you have a low modifier and are faced with a difficult check, whether it's attacking the APL+2 Boss or rolling that Background knowledge about Farming Lore, you can either choose to take the risk for a chance at greatness (crits are always possible) or not roll at all and automatically fail.

That's really always been how dice rolling games have worked.

Scarab Sages

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Knowledge checks are written awfully, for many reasons, but this is one of them. It was a problem in the playtest and still is. There's a lot of metagaming with it, and I can't blame anyone for that.


Nefreet wrote:
I know a player who didn't see a point in spending money on a sheath, because they thought they could just store their weapon in their backpack. When I showed them the obscure table subtext that explains you need to spend an extra Interact Action whenever you pull something out of your backpack, they quickly bought a sheath.

I have never thought about that, as having a sheath for all my weapons is just basic logic. That's not metagaming.

Nefreet wrote:
If you have a low modifier and are faced with a difficult check, whether it's attacking the APL+2 Boss or rolling that Background knowledge about Farming Lore,

Even if you can't do anything else with your action (like if you are paralyzed), you should avoid to roll the Recall Knowledge check. That is way different than having low chances to succeed, it's having more chances to critically fail than to succeed.


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SuperBidi wrote:
Metagaming means that you alter your course of action because of out of game knowledge.

And that's precisely why there really is no such thing as that definition of metagaming - what you are describing as a case to be avoided is actually the entirely unavoidable: players are always using out of game knowledge because that's the only knowledge they have.

Basing your choice as to what to have your character do on how the game works is playing the game. Full stop.


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thenobledrake wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Metagaming means that you alter your course of action because of out of game knowledge.

And that's precisely why there really is no such thing as that definition of metagaming - what you are describing as a case to be avoided is actually the entirely unavoidable: players are always using out of game knowledge because that's the only knowledge they have.

Basing your choice as to what to have your character do on how the game works is playing the game. Full stop.

Give me an example. The only one I see is encounter building guidelines, which is highly metagamy. But I don't see a single other case, and I would be happy to get your input.


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In-game, every character would want to automatically recall knowledge every time they see a new creature. I mean, why wouldn't you? You either don't remember and nothing happens, or you do and you are better prepared for the fight.

What the OP is complaining about is that the actual in-game paradigm punishes you for just "trying" (by getting detrimental info, not just the action loss) so there's an incentive for characters to not want to recall knowledge at all unelss they specialize in it. This is further amplified when the enemy is obviously "high level", so recall knowledge becomes a very tactical thing that requires weighing pros and cons, rather than expected behaviour for a party.

Granted, this has always happened for chars with low social skills /low athletics (punishment for failing so dont even try), but I agree that the game should be moving away from intimidating players into not rolling dice.


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I disagree with your definition of meta-gaming, entirely. Meta-gaming is not "altering your course of action because of out of game knowledge." Meta-gaming is a character making use of knowledge that the character has no way of having.

Examples of meta-gaming:

Your character has never seen a troll before, but you as a player automatically choose to attack it with fire or acid because you (the player) know that stops trolls' regeneration.

Your character has no experience with demons, but you automatically pull out your cold iron dagger you've never attacked anything with before since you (the player) know demons' weakness.

(More extreme) Your character chooses to go out of his/her way to search a particular out-of-the-way location in a dungeon multiple times until successful because you (the player) have run this AP in the past and know there is a juicy piece of treasure there.

Examples of not meta-gaming:

Any time a character chooses to not do something he's bad at and doesn't have a good likelihood of succeeding, such as:

Wizard chooses to not try to climb the outside of a castle wall at first level because his Athletics skill is -1, meaning the best thing that can happen is he/she fails before he gets high enough to cause damage.

Dex based character chooses to not wield the nice 2-hand sword he just found because his Strength is low, and he's not proficient with martial weapons, anyway, so it's unlikely he'll hit with it.

A character with mediocre to bad knowledge skills attempting knowledge checks when the character is fully aware that he/she doesn't really know much about the subject matter.


Saldiven wrote:

Examples of meta-gaming:

Your character has never seen a troll before, but you as a player automatically choose to attack it with fire or acid because you (the player) know that stops trolls' regeneration.

Not metagaming. A character doesn't need to know what a monster is to choose to throw fire or acid at it.

Saldiven wrote:
Your character has no experience with demons, but you automatically pull out your cold iron dagger you've never attacked anything with before since you (the player) know demons' weakness.

Not metagaming. The entire point of weapons being made of cold iron is because that hurts certain strange and terrible monsters, so using such a weapon when you can see a strange and terrible monster makes sense - especially if you don't actually know what the monster you're facing is.

Saldiven wrote:
(More extreme) Your character chooses to go out of his/her way to search a particular out-of-the-way location in a dungeon multiple times until successful because you (the player) have run this AP in the past and know there is a juicy piece of treasure there.

This is also not meta-gaming, but unlike the other examples it is an example of playing the game in bad faith (or "cheating" if you prefer a one-word description).


thenobledrake wrote:
Saldiven wrote:

Examples of meta-gaming:

Your character has never seen a troll before, but you as a player automatically choose to attack it with fire or acid because you (the player) know that stops trolls' regeneration.

Not metagaming. A character doesn't need to know what a monster is to choose to throw fire or acid at it.

Saldiven wrote:
Your character has no experience with demons, but you automatically pull out your cold iron dagger you've never attacked anything with before since you (the player) know demons' weakness.

Not metagaming. The entire point of weapons being made of cold iron is because that hurts certain strange and terrible monsters, so using such a weapon when you can see a strange and terrible monster makes sense - especially if you don't actually know what the monster you're facing is.

Saldiven wrote:
(More extreme) Your character chooses to go out of his/her way to search a particular out-of-the-way location in a dungeon multiple times until successful because you (the player) have run this AP in the past and know there is a juicy piece of treasure there.
This is also not meta-gaming, but unlike the other examples it is an example of playing the game in bad faith (or "cheating" if you prefer a one-word description).

Depends the situation.

If the character has a greatsword and the alternative is to put it back, draw a torch, light it up and use it to swing the enemy, if the target doesn't know about the enemy vulnerability, that is definitely metagaming.

Simply because there is no reason to do that, unless you know something you are not supposed to know.

About the cold iron weapon could be true, but on the other hand the character would try to remember if the one he has in front of him is a monster vulnerable to cold iron ( recall knowledge and eventually misleading knowledge. Avoiding it and swapping a full enchanted weapon to a Normal cold iron one could be metagaming. And by saying "i prefer another action insteam of recall knowledge" given that situation and motive to swap, is not a valido excuse ).

The latter is obviously metagaming, unless you try to search better after knowing a wider part of the dungeon/strutture you are into.

Stuff like "walls are too thick... and if I knock on some section of them I feel that they are empty... There must be a secret passage somewhere...".

Eventually, becoming paranoid ( I would swap the entrance just to see how he proceede ).


SuperBidi wrote:


Give me an example. The only one I see is encounter building guidelines, which is highly metagamy. But I don't see a single other case, and I would be happy to get your input.

Should I make a second Strike, or Stride over there? Should I drink a potion this round, or just get ready to drink it for next round after I cast a spell?

Any choice of any action cannot be made without the player considering their own knowledge - and any time any mechanic is involved the player can, and should feel free to, weigh the odds just like described in the OP for Recall Knowledge.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber

recall knowledge only costs an action if you could not get the intel on the mobs in the exploration phase. Even if your stats are not good, fair to ask your NPC guide what they know about things. The entire point of having several actions is to be able to do such things. In other editions you would have you lose your turn if you wanted to stare at the mob and learn something.

Simulating the character confusion on the battlefield, rather than player knowledge of the bestiary is the exact opposite of meta-gaming. I know trolls vs. fire, but my character might know or not.

There is the metagaming of rolling low and assuming you failed so you know the info must be false, the GM could always roll in secret and tell you what you know if that becomes a problem.


HumbleGamer wrote:
If the character has a greatsword and the alternative is to put it back, draw a torch, light it up and use it to swing the enemy, if the target doesn't know about the enemy vulnerability, that is definitely metagaming.

Nope, because the character could choose to do the same thing when facing any other monster.

You're hung up on that the action happens to provide a bonus.

HumbleGamer wrote:


Simply because there is no reason to do that, unless you know something you are not supposed to know.

There doesn't have to be a reason. There's also no reason not to do that.

HumbleGamer wrote:
..the character would try to remember...

No, the character could try to remember. They also could switch weapons on a complete hunch or otherwise act without thinking.

The reasoning that suggests a need to use the Recall Knowledge action in this situation also applies in the situation of trying to use a normal weapon against a goblin just to make sure that's a goblin and not some kind of weapon-immune extradimensional boogey man.


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My friend, nobody I know would allow that stuff, or even claiming "that's not metagaming".

There have to be a reason to play in a specific way, and in a fight is to survive.

And unless you are given the Magical torch or flaming devastation, you will not consider to seathe your mithril +2 Striking Greatsword ( to draw a Normal torch or a flash of oil ).

But if you want to allow on your board because you think it makes sense, be my guest.


Was that an appeal to majority just now? Like a lot of people thinking a thing makes it impossible that the thing being thought is misinformed... nice.

Think of this though: In all of these examples it's not what the character is doing that is a problem - it's what the player is thinking that is a problem. How is that not exactly the "using out of character knowledge to alter the course of action" that is supposedly being avoided?

Edit to add: Basing whether or not a character will switch between a +2 striking greatsword and burning oil is, if metagaming is a thing, an example of metagaming. In the character's, both are lethal weapons that only require one well-placed blow to kill someone/something, and all the reasons that the magic sword is so much better at it than the oil are out of character details so "I'll use the sword because more damage" is no different from "I'll use the fire because weakness."


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thenobledrake wrote:

Was that an appeal to majority just now? Like a lot of people thinking a thing makes it impossible that the thing being thought is misinformed... nice.

Think of this though: In all of these examples it's not what the character is doing that is a problem - it's what the player is thinking that is a problem. How is that not exactly the "using out of character knowledge to alter the course of action" that is supposedly being avoided?

The first part was to underline that seeing somebody accepting an armored fighter which seathe his sword to draw a torch against an enemy he has never seen is way too much.

If your character is aware of what is a troll ( just for the fire weakness + regeneration stuff,to make things easier ) in any way

- He studied in a library ( or simply from a book ) about creatures in the neighborhood, or eventually giant familiars

- from his background, he had to deal with one or some of those, so he happened to be knowledgeable about them

- an npc warned them about immortale creatures of large size, which can regeneration any wound but fire/acid.

- He, or a party member, gets a success on a recall knowledge check during the fight ( and eventually shares with the team what he recalled )

- during the campaign the adventurers find a corpse of a specific creature, which they decide to examine, in order to learn stuff from it.

- the creature happens to be damaged by a fire effect ( maybe the caster only has produce flame as single target cantrip, or a weapon is enchanted with a flaming rune ), seeing the effects on it, the adventurers could consider to make a good use of it

And so on.

Just to point out that there are many ways to know about a specific creature.

On the other hand, if you have never seen a troll and during your past fight you fought with your weapon all the times, it would be ridiculous to swap to a font of fire, lowering your damage, because of no reason.


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My biggest issue with metagaming and recall knowledge checks is in case someone critically fails, if the erroneous information they receive is too "obviously wrong" there's a tension between "roleplay the potentially silly thing" and "conclude that you rolled poorly" that is unfortunate.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
My biggest issue with metagaming and recall knowledge checks is in case someone critically fails, if the erroneous information they receive is too "obviously wrong" there's a tension between "roleplay the potentially silly thing" and "conclude that you rolled poorly" that is unfortunate.

Guess the character has to believe it.

Maybe another one could try to stop him, and maybe if the one who tries is a scholar and provvides a charming explanation he could even believe that he got it wrong.

However... potentially silly thing in a world with angels, deities, planes, dragons and magic... any example?


How many sessions stand between "I just haven't done this yet" and "you've never done that before, so doing it now is metagaming"? I've been wondering this for a while, since "you've never done that thing before now" keeps getting brought up as if it were relevant to whether or not it's okay for a character to do a thing in a present situation.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
My biggest issue with metagaming and recall knowledge checks is in case someone critically fails, if the erroneous information they receive is too "obviously wrong" there's a tension between "roleplay the potentially silly thing" and "conclude that you rolled poorly" that is unfortunate.

That, while also not metagaming because it's just playing the game, is a genuine area for concern.

It can be hard as a GM to provide false information that is plausible enough not to completely spoil the point of this being labeled a secret check, and rapidly and confidently enough to not spoil the point of this being labeled a secret check. That can be counter-acted by thinking up a few critical fail results for each monster you're going to use while you're working on your session prep.

It can also be hard as a player to incorporate false information into your role-play without making a joke out of it or not really incorporating it at all.

I think a suitable way to handle this is to embrace the "joke" aspect of it so that rolling a crit fail on Recall Knowledge becomes an expected and embraced injection of humor, but I understand that isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Appeal to majority doesn't work as a counter shut down in discussions of colloquial language. The formation of group specific language is, by its very nature, a majority based operation. Its fine for you to have your own definitions, but you've got to be aware that using those definitions in the way that is not commonly accepted in the context of the discussion you are having is going to lead to communication issues.


Never forget that as a GM you have the final say on what is and is not common knowledge in a given area. I've found the easiest way to deal with Knowledge checks is to provide a baseline amount of information to the party based on where they are from/ what they do with no check needed in the same way that any "action" that is so easy as to be automatic shouldn't be rolled.

A troll being weak to Fire/Acid is pretty much automatic knowledge for anyone who grew up with trolls around, so I tend to grant that sort of thing to my players with no check needed.

Imagine if your party were to enter a City on a quest to find a character at a famous Inn. If no one from the party has ever been to that city, perhaps they would need to gather information to find that Inn. If however one of the party members is from a neighboring town, or even the same city, no such check should be necessary. Grant the player that knowledge to keep the plot moving.

Any information that is not strictly speaking "common knowledge" for someone in the game world would require a check. However finding out that a Leaf Leshy has Fire Weakness (I mean... it's a plant) probably falls under common knowledge. Now whether that extends to the fact that a Gourd Leshy does NOT have fire weakness is another issue.


Malk_Content wrote:
Appeal to majority doesn't work as a counter shut down in discussions of colloquial language.

It does when the discussion comes down to "that word or phrase has no actual purpose" like in this case.


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beowulf99 wrote:
Any information that is not strictly speaking "common knowledge" for someone in the game world would require a check. However finding out that a Leaf Leshy has Fire Weakness (I mean... it's a plant) probably falls under common knowledge. Now whether that extends to the fact that a Gourd Leshy does NOT have fire weakness is another issue.

Depends if Pokemon is common knowledge haha! It has made my players make some weird decisions as far as damage types in PF1e.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
My biggest issue with metagaming and recall knowledge checks is in case someone critically fails, if the erroneous information they receive is too "obviously wrong" there's a tension between "roleplay the potentially silly thing" and "conclude that you rolled poorly" that is unfortunate.

This.

And that tension is further exacerbated by the stronger relationship between tactics and survivability.

Like, do you really want to roleplay your character to death?


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Wait a sec, how is searching over and over in the same place because you the player know something is there from previous playthroughs cheating? That's an action my character could possibly take, just like searching once or not searching at all, and I don't need to justify it because it's what I want my character to do. You're just punishing me for having played the AP before and forcing me to pretend I don't know there is a hidden treasure there (and we all know choosing a different action pretending I don't know something is impossible, this isn't play pretend dagnabit this is D&D!). In fact you're the one metagaming for not allowing my character to search multiple times at this particular spot when I could have done it anywhere there wasn't treasure.


^^snarg^^


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Oh... I see... now we're going to act like there's no difference between "I did a thing that doesn't require any specific knowledge at all to do, and even if it did is something the character may have heard of before in life" and "I didn't tell the GM I've already played this adventure so I could squeeze every advantage out of it."

Hilarious. good times.


So what if a character shouldn't make a knowledge check because they aren't proficient in it? How many times in fiction do we see the protagonist take a few seconds to stare blankly at a monster before reacting?

Frankly speaking, I see both the decision to not make a check because you are untrained and the decision to make the check because you are trained as essentially meta gamey, and that's okay. There will be some meta gaming at any table. Choosing what weapon to attack with, what feat to use, what bomb to throw, etc... are going to be "meta game" decisions because you as the player have all the time in the world to think on it. Your character has a few moments. Unless you blindfold your players between turns and use a stopwatch to time out there decisions, you are going to get meta decisions, because your players are going to use player knowledge to decide what to do.

Should I flurry of blows this guy? I know he's taken a bunch of damage, so it could be a waste. Should I try casting this spell at that guy? Wait, I'm just out of range.

Things like this happen. Do you rage at your players for meta gaming everytime they plot out their turn? Cause it sounds like you should, otherwise your overreacting to knowledge checks in specific.


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I had a discussion at my table like this that went something like:

Barbarian: What is this thing? Can I make a Recall Knowledge check on it?

Alchemist: No offense, but I'm not trusting anything that the 10 Int goblin is going to come up with.

Barbarian: That's fair.

I get the "Am I metagaming/Is this metagaming?" argument, but there are limitations at a certain point. It is still a game and people are going to engage with it as such. I much prefer my players using the system and having fun than constantly thinking, "Is this metagaming?"


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Certain parts of metagaming are necessary for the game. For example, the party stops in a tavern for dinner. An unshaved bard with a weird Scandinavian accent and no reputation asks to join the group in their adventure. Sensibly, the party would say no. At the gaming table, the bard is the PC of a new player, so they have to take him in. The metagame overrides what the characters would do in game.

Character knowledge is too big to set in advance. We can't say that Sven knows about trolls because he grew up in the Land of the Linnorm Kings were trolls are common, because the setting material is too vast to check whether trolls are common in the Land of the Linnorm Kings. Therefore, we use dice rolls on knowledge skills. The GM reads that a troll is a level 5 common giant, so it would be a DC 20 (TABLE 10–5: DCS BY LEVEL) Recall Knowledge check using, er, TABLE 10–7: CREATURE IDENTIFICATION SKILLS does not mention, so let's call it the player's choice of Occultism or Society since trolls feel like an abberant humanoid to me.

4th-level Sven the bard is expert in Occultism with Intelligence 12, so he has +9 Occultism bonus and can learn about the troll's regeneration on a roll of 11 or higher. He has a 50% chance of success and a 5% chance of false information. Alas, he rolls a 1, so as a mischievouss GM I tell him, "Trolls are a kind of undead with regenerative healing for 10 points per turn. The only way to permanently kill them is to cut off their head."

Lady Anna the cleric, on the other hand, is trained in Society with Intelligence 12, so she has a +7 Society bonus and can learn about the troll's regeneration on a roll of 13 or higher. She has a 40% chance of success and a 10% chance of false information. She rolls a 15, so I honestly tell her, "Trolls are not undead. However, Sven is right that they are hard to kill. They have regeneration 20, deactivated by acid or fire."

The players know out of game that trolls have regneration deactivated by fire, so the other two characters roll Recall Knowledge untrained to try to confirm the correct information. That is a degree of metagaming that I find acceptable. They both have regular failures. if one rolled another critical failure, I would have made up different false information than Sven's, just for the laughs.

If the players of Sven and Anna are like my players, they will ham up a disagreement about the troll's regeneration ability while attacking the troll. Sven will insist the Anna should hit the troll with Disrupt Undead and she will insist that Sven should throw his Alchemist's Fire and neither follows the other's orders. The troll's regeneration is obvious, but telling the difference between regeneration 10 and regeneration 20 is difficult. Amazo the wizard settles the argument by hitting the troll with Acid Splash, which deactivates the regeneration for a round.

Skipping the failed Recall Knowledge would have skipped the roleplaying silliness. Some forms of metagaming are just no fun.


Way way wait.

How did Amazo know to believe Lady Anna over Sven after failing his own roll?

Especially because it is conceivable that, in game, the wizard probably has some sense that the bard is more an authority (expert) on the topic than the cleric (trained)!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'd probably trust the one that heals me more.


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rainzax wrote:

Way way wait.

How did Amazo know to believe Lady Anna over Sven after failing his own roll?

Especially because it is conceivable that, in game, the wizard probably has some sense that the bard is more an authority (expert) on the topic than the cleric (trained)!

Because science!

My players have scientific training. See the introduction to my Iron Gods campaign for details: Iron Gods among Scientists. For Iron Gods, they made high-Intelligence characters who tended toward scientific experiments. I had a lot of fun setting up situations in Iron Gods where the PCs could follow their scientific inclination. The theme of that campaign became the contrast between the science-creating party and the technology-hoarding Technic League.

In my players' hands high-Intellignce Amazo would have thought scientifically, too. This is not metagaming, this is character design.

Amazo had two hypotheses. (1) The troll has regenertion 10 deactived by beheading, and (2) The troll has regeneration 20 deactived by fire and acid. He wants to test the hypotheses. He had no way of beheading the troll, he did not prepare Produce Flame nor Burning Hands that morning, but he did prepare Acid Splash. Therefore, he could test the hypotheses by casting Acid Splash. It's a classic use of the scientific method.

That does bring up one other weakness of Recall Knowledge. Why waste an action making an unreliable Recall Knowledge check when the character can test the creature for resistances and weaknesses by simply hitting it with a weapon? "That arrow went right through the skeleton's empty ribcage. Piercing damage is useless. I am switching to my mace." Shooting the skeleton with an arrow took the same amount of actions as a Recall Knowledge check. Experiments are powerful.

By the way, my wife quipped that after the battle, Sven should say, "Well, this was a southern troll. Northern trolls are different. They have to be beheaded." She is a delightful roleplayer.


Fair enough.

That said, "experimentation" is dangerous, as Encounter Mode is dangerous. I typically feel as though our party (in a given combat scenario) is one or two lucky die rolls away from catastrophe.

If the former sentence holds true, it follows that the "tension" (as Possible Cabbage described it upstream) between wanting to ignore or incorporate meta-game knowledge can be imagined as the silvery cord splitting the distance between the pre- and post- afterlife.

Which, love it or hate it, is a direct consequence of the existence of an equal to or greater than 5% chance of misinformation on player character attempts to Recall - and consequently implement - Knowledge.

If that makes sense.


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IDK what's the problem with crit fails. There are numerous ways to give wrong info to players. In my gave they identify the Nexian wizard's clothes as Gebbite - it is a crit fail check. For monsters they might think that a dragon's breath is line instead of cone. It's not very hard to give some not fatal, but wrong info by my experience.
With secret checks all metagame from recall knowledge almost disappeared from my table. All this nonsense when someone recalls something and throws a public roll badly and then the whole party declares "I want to roll too" - gone. This is the best output from the system.


thenobledrake wrote:
Saldiven wrote:

Examples of meta-gaming:

Your character has never seen a troll before, but you as a player automatically choose to attack it with fire or acid because you (the player) know that stops trolls' regeneration.

Not metagaming. A character doesn't need to know what a monster is to choose to throw fire or acid at it.

So, you're both defending my definition of metagaming. If you have a flaming greatsword, it's not metagaming to attack a troll with it, but if you draw a torch, it is. Metagaming is "altering your course of action because of out of game knowledge".


SuperBidi wrote:


So, you're both defending my definition of metagaming. If you have a flaming greatsword, it's not metagaming to attack a troll with it, but if you draw a torch, it is. Metagaming is "altering your course of action because of out of game knowledge".

...which would be just as true if, instead of attacking with whatever weapon you have on hand, you choose Recall Knowledge instead.

Plus, there is no course of action without out of game knowledge, so it's a fools errand to try and prevent them.


I forgot to answer to this post.

thenobledrake wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:


Give me an example. The only one I see is encounter building guidelines, which is highly metagamy. But I don't see a single other case, and I would be happy to get your input.

Should I make a second Strike, or Stride over there? Should I drink a potion this round, or just get ready to drink it for next round after I cast a spell?

Any choice of any action cannot be made without the player considering their own knowledge - and any time any mechanic is involved the player can, and should feel free to, weigh the odds just like described in the OP for Recall Knowledge.

This is not metagaming, it's just gaming. You base your choices only on in game knowledge. The "rules" are a way to represent the world. In the world of Pathfinder, if you attack a lot in a row, you lose accuracy, clumsy people take more damage from fireballs and attacking someone in the back gives you an advantage. Your character has exactly the same choices than you do, with the same amount of knowledge.

Now, if you choose to Stride because you have read the module and you know that your position will explode in a second, then it's metagaming. Your character doesn't have the knowledge that allowed you to take this decision..


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So how is using the Recall Knowledge check metagaming? I keep reading and I'm not seeing why that is. They're done in secret and the GM can make the call for critical failure. Your example of a GM saying "The white dragon is fire resistant," isn't a very good use of the critical failure.

Like Maelorn7 said, giving good erroneous information is key. Telling players that white dragons aren't known to be spellcasters and then -BAM- it dimension doors to block the only avenue of escape is flavorful and exciting. So, click-baity title aside, is what you mean to say "Take care when giving critical failure effects" or "Actually make Secret rolls secretly"?


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SuperBidi wrote:

This is not metagaming, it's just gaming. You base your choices only on in game knowledge. The "rules" are a way to represent the world. In the world of Pathfinder, if you attack a lot in a row, you lose accuracy, clumsy people take more damage from fireballs and attacking someone in the back gives you an advantage. Your character has exactly the same choices than you do, with the same amount of knowledge.

Now, if you choose to Stride because you have read the module and you know that your position will explode in a second, then it's metagaming. Your character doesn't have the knowledge that allowed you to take this decision..

Okay, let's examine what knowledge of the game "system" that your character actually has. Does a Wizard know exactly what every one of their spells does to the smallest detail? Maybe. A Cleric? How about one of the Spontaneous casters? Do they simply know exactly what is going to happen when they cast a spell?

Or do they have an "idea" of what the spell does and apply it in situations it seems suited for?

Does a Monk know that they are gaining an extra d6 of damage when they Ki strike? Or does a Paladin know exactly how much they can heal a person with Lay on Hands?

Your character does not have the same amount of information as you the player have. You have stats given in numbers that tell you fairly accurately how they interact with the world. Your character on the other hand is making due with knowing that "fireball" throws a powerful ball of fire at things that hurts.

Also, you say that Clumsy people tend to take more damage from fireball. How does your character come to that conclusion? Shouldn't anyone caught in a fireball take a boatload of damage from it? If you are using knowledge that a foe is probably clumsy to decide to hit them with a fireball, isn't that pretty hard core meta gaming? How do you know they are clumsy?


beowulf99 wrote:

Okay, let's examine what knowledge of the game "system" that your character actually has. Does a Wizard know exactly what every one of their spells does to the smallest detail? Maybe. A Cleric? How about one of the Spontaneous casters? Do they simply know exactly what is going to happen when they cast a spell?

Or do they have an "idea" of what the spell does and apply it in situations it seems suited for?

Does a Monk know that they are gaining an extra d6 of damage when they Ki strike? Or does a Paladin know exactly how much they can heal a person with Lay on Hands?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. Your character doesn't know the dice, but he knows obviously that ki strike is doing more damage and by what amount, that Lay on hands will get someone back by that amount of life percentage, that such spell does that or that.

Ask any seasoned fighter, like a boxer, if he doesn't know precisely what hit at what part of his opponent body will have what effect on his fighting efficiency.
Unless your character is a peasant with a weapon, he knows very precisely the effect of his abilities as he used them a lot and trained to master them.

beowulf99 wrote:
Also, you say that Clumsy people tend to take more damage from fireball. How does your character come to that conclusion?

Even I came to this conclusion...

The Reflex save is supposed to represent the fact that a character jumps out of the blast, which is a very human action that anyone can know of without having ever cast a fireball by just looking at any action movie.

All the rule system is supposed to represent the world. So, all the rule system is intuitively known by everyone, like you don't have to know about Newton to know that a rock will go back to earth if you throw it in the air. Everyone knows intuitively the laws of physics, which is the rule system of our world.


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If everyone intuitively knows the rule system (which I don't agree with), why is Recall Knowledge not considered under this blanket, free from "metagame" scrutiny?


SuperBidi wrote:

Even I came to this conclusion...

The Reflex save is supposed to represent the fact that a character jumps out of the blast, which is a very human action that anyone can know of without having ever cast a fireball by just looking at any action movie.
All the rule system is supposed to represent the world. So, all the rule system is intuitively known by everyone, like you don't have to know about Newton to know that a rock will go back to earth if you throw it in the air. Everyone knows intuitively the laws of physics, which is the rule system of our world.

You kinda dodged a bit there. You said that your character makes all of the same decisions with the "same amount of knowledge" as the player, but that is simply not true.

Your character in game is not aware that they are a character in a game with game like rules right? Because if they did know that they were a character in a game, meta gaming wouldn't matter, it would just be how they interacted with the world. The assumption when Role Playing is that you attempt to put yourself in the shoes of the character you are portraying to the best of your ability. You make decisions on what to do as that character based on the rules, however your character has no idea that they are subject to those rules do they? As you say yourself, to them it's just physics and existence. To you it's roll Xd6 to hurt the bad guy.

The point I'm trying to get across is that Meta Gaming is simply something that is bound to happen at any table. It is a fools errand to try to stamp it out, instead work with it. I already stated that I like giving my players "common knowledge" in the same way that I don't require a roll for every single simple task taken by a character. If a player then wants more information, well that is what the Knowledge Check exists for, and as others have pointed out, even failing a Knowledge check can lead to fun and exciting roleplaying opportunities. Very rarely do I veto a player on a given action simply because it is meta gaming. It takes them wildly reaching to justify an otherwise outrageous action like say killing an NPC in book 1 of an AP because they know they are going to turn on the party later.

So no, I don't believe that Recall Knowledge specifically encourages meta gaming more than any other check in the game. To say they do is kinda missing the point of having them be secret rolls made by the GM. And any meta gaming that does come from Recall Knowledge is largely harmless. Roll with it.


beowulf99 wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

Even I came to this conclusion...

The Reflex save is supposed to represent the fact that a character jumps out of the blast, which is a very human action that anyone can know of without having ever cast a fireball by just looking at any action movie.
All the rule system is supposed to represent the world. So, all the rule system is intuitively known by everyone, like you don't have to know about Newton to know that a rock will go back to earth if you throw it in the air. Everyone knows intuitively the laws of physics, which is the rule system of our world.

You kinda dodged a bit there. You said that your character makes all of the same decisions with the "same amount of knowledge" as the player, but that is simply not true.

Your character in game is not aware that they are a character in a game with game like rules right? Because if they did know that they were a character in a game, meta gaming wouldn't matter, it would just be how they interacted with the world. The assumption when Role Playing is that you attempt to put yourself in the shoes of the character you are portraying to the best of your ability. You make decisions on what to do as that character based on the rules, however your character has no idea that they are subject to those rules do they? As you say yourself, to them it's just physics and existence. To you it's roll Xd6 to hurt the bad guy.

The point I'm trying to get across is that Meta Gaming is simply something that is bound to happen at any table. It is a fools errand to try to stamp it out, instead work with it. I already stated that I like giving my players "common knowledge" in the same way that I don't require a roll for every single simple task taken by a character. If a player then wants more information, well that is what the Knowledge Check exists for, and as others have pointed out, even failing a Knowledge check can lead to fun and exciting roleplaying opportunities. Very rarely do I veto a player on a given action simply because it is...

I think those are different things.

Imagine you are wearing your Normal clothes and try to jump over a small fence.

You do this easily.

Imagine now that you are given 1kg weight to both wirst and ankles, and you are asked to perform the same task.

Even without perform thr task, by simply standing, walking and so on, you will be able to instantly understand something's off with your body, cause you feel limited in your movement. Obviously you won't think "I am limited 3 in my movements", but you would be able to feel a little or moderately limited.

Same goes with the clumsy condition ( and the name itself says everything ).

Metagaming is indeed something bound to the table, but stuff can be made from both players and DMs to prevent it or limit it.

Personally, I tend to give info to single players through private ways, modify monsters sheets to either enhance some of them ( a lighting vulnerability troll,for example ) or to slightly modify their stats ( a ogre boss could have less hp but higher reflex).

The whole point of all of this stuff ( these are just examples ) is to force players to think that everything they think they could know is not granted.

Once they accepted this, the can give more weight to their decisions, even without knowing the outcome.


thenobledrake wrote:

Oh... I see... now we're going to act like there's no difference between "I did a thing that doesn't require any specific knowledge at all to do, and even if it did is something the character may have heard of before in life" and "I didn't tell the GM I've already played this adventure so I could squeeze every advantage out of it."

Hilarious. good times.

(A character hearing of something before in life sounds like some Knowledge they learned that maybe they can Recall...)

Searching the same spot requires no specific knowledge. My character has heard of secret doors and knows they exist, so he's being overly cautious by searching multiple times, it just happens to be in this one location. I thought I didn't have to justify these things.

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