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The Douchey DM » Misc » Dice Cheats Revisited

Dice Cheats Revisited

My last article, Dice Cheats, brought me a fair amount of feedback. While the majority agreed with my opinions on dice cheating, I was surprised at the amount of people who cheat with their dice and gave some kind of justification for it. Not a single person just said “Yeah, I’m a cheater” and left it at that. Below I’ve listed their general responses one at a time, each with my commentary..

– I cheated because I was always rolling characters with low stats

You get what you roll. That said, there are ways to get around this if your DM is agreeable. You could do a point buy for example. Or instead of rolling 3D6, roll 2D6+6. If your DM isn’t agreeable, learn to love it or find another game.

– I was helping the story along

For the most part, this is not your problem. This is a DM problem. Yes, you should help the story along by taking the obvious story hook the DM has laid in front of you all wrapped up in a nice, pretty bow. I would make the claim that if you’re trusting someone enough to DM your game, to come up with a story, or even to just run a printed module, you should trust them enough to handle the story.

– I cheated because everyone else was getting to kill things

In my Forgotten Realms game, I barely get to kill anything. I don’t know the exact kill count, but if I guessed, I’d say my other party members have killed about three times the amount of things I have, if not more. You know why? Because I can’t seem to roll a high number on a D20 to save my life. We’ve been playing this game for nearly a year. I don’t know the exact stats, but I’d guess I normally hit about 40% of the time. The rest of my group is far, far higher. That’s just my lot, and it’s made for some exciting battles. Our group never really knows if we’re going to survive, and we like it that way.

– I cheated because it’s not fun to suck at dice rolls all the time

It’s also no fun for somebody to decide to cheat and mess with my game. It’s too bad, either suck it up or go play Amber.

– I’m the DM and I let a player cheat unless the other players say something

Do the other players know he’s cheating? If they don’t, you’ve made the decision that it’s OK for this guy to put one over on the rest of the group? It makes you just as bad as the cheater.

– I’m the DM and I let my players cheat on rolls to move the story along


This is how your game should go:

DM: As you come out of the forest you see an orc.
Player A: I swing my ax at the Orc.
DM: You need 24 to hit.
Player A: OK, I rolled a 27 on my imaginary dice.
DM: OK, he’s dead. Moving on!

– Some folks said they couldn’t understand people like me who say “they can’t understand why someone would cheat?”.

To clarify: I can understand the desire to cheat. I do not understand the mentality that knows cheating is wrong, but just decides to do it anyway.

– Some took issue with my statement “What do you gain by cheating anyway? You make sure to hit the imaginary monster with your imaginary sword?”

Their take seemed to be if it didn’t matter, we wouldn’t be playing the game at all. I can understand what they are saying, but they missed the point. Of course the game matters. What doesn’t matter is your own personal enjoyment at the expense of everyone else. If everyone else is playing it straight, and you’re cheating dice, you’re the one destroying the integrity of the game. You’re the one who isn’t following the social contract to play fair.

Yes, by cheating you may be help your party easily defeat a monster. But you may very well be robbing them of the drama of battle they can win, but only at great cost. In my experience, the battles players talk about the most, even years after they’ve happened, are the ones where they took some heavy damage or losses. Sure, they also talk about battles where someone killed a fierce monster in one round, but that is a 60 second memory where only one person did anything. A group memory of a hard fought battle can be relived for longer periods, where folks are saying things like “Oh yeah, and then after you fireballed him, I shot him in the throat with an arrow which REALLY pissed him off!” I find that to be a much better experience than, “I cheated so we could kill the monster and move on with the story.”

So, your mileage may vary, but to me, cheating is cheating and if you cheat you are a cheater. I understand that is a very black and white statement and is probably going to piss some people off. I can’t help that, nor would I want to. Good or bad, I look forward to your comments.

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Living in his secluded mansion off the coast of Iowa, JimTo often spends evenings reading, role playing, and writing for DoucheyDM. His best qualities are being loud, rude, and obnoxious, but for some reason, people still love him.

Filed under: Misc

12 Responses to "Dice Cheats Revisited"

  1. shortymonsterNo Gravatar says:

    I liked your original post but didn’t have much to add other more stories of cheating dice rollers, and you had that covered pretty well. This time though, I just felt the need to say well done for hitting the nail on the head. I’ve never bothered to cheat because if the game would fall apart due to one poor dice roll, or even a few, then the game can’t have been that strong.

    On a related note, it’s why I’m not keen on the Trail Cthulhu. Sometimes there really should be the chance to fail at finding a clue, just to push the players to trying out new ways of finding things out. Only a poor GM indeed would let the game falter because one clue wasn’t turned over at the first look.

  2. JimToNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t mind the Trail of Cthulhu game, but the idea that it was needed because bad rolls in Call of Cthulhu will prevent investigators from getting the information they need is ludicrous. It’s a poor DM/GM/Keeper that can’t roll with what the dice gives his/her players.

  3. FelixNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve had to game with people who use unreadable dice, pick them up, and ALWAYS seem to have success when it’s important. As someone who, for whatever reason, often rolls poorly myself but openly and honestly, it sucks to have a cheater in the group. Not only does it ruin the fun of ‘danger’ but it makes my honest but poor rolls that much more spotlighted in contrast.

    The whole group jokes about the players with bad luck on die rolls but everyone ignores the obvious cheaters. As the newest addition to the group, I’ve felt forced to keep quiet. However, I seek out other groups because this one thing will wind up ruining it for me someday.

  4. Justin AlexanderNo Gravatar says:

    “- I’m the DM and I let my players cheat on rolls to move the story along; I must ask: THEN WHY USE THE DICE IN THE FIRST PLACE?”

    Because it’s not a black-or-white issue. Just because you’re OK with cheating in certain circumstances, it doesn’t mean you’re OK with cheating in all circumstances. And, of course, some people are OK with a “little fudging” but wouldn’t be OK with radically altering results.

    It might seem strange that some people would be most OK with cheating/fudging on what would seem the most important rolls, but it’s not that different from a GM who railroads his players from scene-to-scene but is perfectly content to let them run wild and free within the confines of each scene.

    In short, there are many reasons for injecting randomness into the game. Depending on what those reasons are, an individual’s opinion on fudging dice results can vary a great deal. Making matters more complicated is that many different opinions can be held simultaneously — both at a given gaming table and by a given individual.

  5. DemonGrinderNo Gravatar says:

    The difference between not-cheating and cheating is akin to sex and masturbation. Both are great, but putting in the effort pays incredible rewards.

  6. JazzIsBluesNo Gravatar says:

    As always an excellent read JimTo and deadly on target as well. I agree on all points.

    I understand why people cheat. They cheat because they want to win or they want to be in control. First off, winning isn’t the point of rpg’s if you’re hell bent on winning go play chess or yahtzee or poker. Secondly, control is an illusion. There really is no such thing. Or rather the only thing one can control is themselves, make smart decisions and a failed die roll won’t be so big a deal. But, more to the point, play the character and failing will be even more fun than succeeding.

    One way to spot a potential cheater (though not an absolute by any stretch) is to listen to their stories. If all of their stories are about how amazing and awesome their character is and how they always succeed they MIGHT be suspect.



  7. JimToNo Gravatar says:

    Hadn’t considered the listening to their stories thing. Next time I get bored at a con by some fool talking like that in one of my games, I’ll give him a closer inspection.

  8. tentagilNo Gravatar says:

    The only time I cheat my roles is when I DM, and thats usually fudges to give the players one more chance for the dramatic save when things are going really poorly. I’m of the random PC death rarely serves the story school of thought.

    Otherwise I have to agree with most of the points above, its a game, winning isn’t really part of it, so why cheat.

  9. NaetharuNo Gravatar says:

    I’m pretty torn on this problem of cheating. On the one hand I can understand how you find it annoying when players constantly cheat their roles, but at the same time it seems to me that the fun is the main issue when it comes to an RPG.

    Just remember that people play these games for all manner of different reasons, and so cheating may be far less destructive in some games than others. I think you go overboard a little bit when it comes to telling people not to bother playing/using dice at all if they are going to cheat.

    I presume you are playing with friends most of the time, in which case just be firm with them. Either they will agree and the game will run you way or they will disagree – in which case it is probably you and not them that should find another group. There really is no “right” way to RP – just different ways that people enjoy.

  10. […] are a few people around who have recently made posts about cheating in RPGs — so I’m going to […]

  11. BenNo Gravatar says:

    Raph Koster wrote a book called “A Theory of Fun for Game Design” which is directed mostly at computer games but it is a good read and can be related to any game (and teaching for that matter). In my reading and interpretation of it, Raph mentions cheating and cheat modes of computer games – relating this to RPG and the concept of “what is fun” people try to find the balance between ‘too hard’ and ‘too easy’ to find an inbetween that is fun (this can change day to day which is why some days you put god mode on and on other days you leave it off). Your cheater’s are probably those who are finding the game out of balance for them and are thus bringing it back to their ‘fun level’ which is different your familiar fun level. I would suggest looking into what makes the cheater’s tick and how to improve their gaming experience – after all, they are trying to fit into the group and feel accepted just as much as your are.
    The comments regarding the best of battle being the most memorable is probably not a concept your cheater’s find desirable as they may have been put under a lot of presure to be ‘successful’ in all things and failing is ‘not an acceptable option.’ Purhaps a DM (or GM) should point this out and let the posibility of failing be fun.
    If your DM doesn’t do anything about the cheating, they are either a ‘lame duck’ DM, naive, unaware, or smarter than you in some way (I’m leaning towards them being a lame duck). Voice your oppinion with the group and thus learn to address issues as a group; learn to play with a team mentallity or suffer trying to play a team game as a bunch of individuals.
    (This above is my oppinion and I’m not writing this on behalf of Raph who has his own oppinion and voiced it in his book. I’m referencing his book to suggest that more research could be done on this topic by the players.)

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