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Metagame, in Dungeons & Dragons, refers to the use of information by a player whose character would not have that information or perspective. Using metagame knowledge is referred to as metagame thinking or metagaming, and is often discouraged.

This use of this term in Dungeons & Dragons contrasts with the popular meaning of the word in many competitive video games, where it most often refers to an ever-shifting perception of optimal character choice based on what characters one's opponents are believed most likely to pick.


The Dungeon Master's Guide (3.5) (2003), p.11 defines "metagame thinking" as follows:

"Any time the players base their character's actions on logic that depends on the fact that they're playing a game, they're using metagame thinking."

The Dungeon Master's Guide (4e) (2008), p.15 defines "metagame thinking" as:

"Metagame thinking means thinking about the game as a game. It's like a character in a movie knowing in he's in a movie and acting accordingly."

The Dungeon Master's Guide (5e) (2014), p.235 defines "metagame thinking" almost exactly the same way.

Examples of metagaming[]

Suppose a group of experienced Dungeons & Dragons players start a new campaign, and encounter a medusa. The players are aware of this creature's petrification gaze attack, and all declare that their characters avert their sight to avoid it. However, there is no way for their new and inexperienced characters to be aware of a medusa's gaze attack, so this.

Players might also deduce the exact number of hit points that a creature should have by reading the Monster Manual, or assume that an encounter difficulty must be balanced since the DM would not intentionally provide an unbalanced encounter. This is information that the players have, but the players do not.

Attitudes to metagaming[]


Many rulebooks and Dungeon Masters discourage metagame thinking. For example, according to the Dungeon Master's Guide (3.5) (2003), p.11:

"This behavior should always be discouraged, because it detracts from real role-playing and spoils the suspension of disbelief."

It further advises players to intentionally foil metagame thinking, and to encourage them to think in in-game terms.

The D&D 4e and 5e Dungeon Master's Guides discourage "metagame thinking", and also suggest that DMs should encourage players to think in in-game terms.


Strict forbiddance of metagaming may force players to engage in clearly foolish actions, such as allowing their character to be petrified by a medusa. It may also lead to arguments over what a player character would or would not know.

In an ENWorld forum thread, D&D creator Gary Gygax argued that metagaming should not be handled too strictly:

"Depends on the subject matter and the character. Who can say what a PC knws and doesn't know aboit the world he lives in? if it's something that could be known, then there's no metagaming involved.
Also, coming up with new ideas not common to the assumed society should not be labeled as metagaming is the PC is reasonably inteligent."