Ever had this happen in one of your games?
You’re going along, enjoying a game, and somebody is asked to make a roll. They roll their dice, give a “Yes! Made it!” and almost before the dice stop rolling they immediately scoop those dice up before anyone else can get a look.
This person just cheated.
I don’t understand why. What is the point of cheating at a game? Especially in a role playing game, but really, why cheat at any game? Let me tell you a secret most people have already figured out: winning by cheating isn’t winning. It’s just plain cheating. And it makes you an asshole.
In my last Cthulhu campaign, there was a guy who had these very dark colored dice that I think used to have white paint in the numbers. I say “think” because the the paint had long since worn off. I used to sit next to him and unless he left his dice on the table for a good 5-7 seconds, I couldn’t read them. Neither could anyone else. Most times he scooped them up too fast. He NEVER left them where they stopped unless it was a legit good roll. Hindsight 20/20 we should have forced him to use some dice we could read or, at the very least, made a rule where the dice stay on the table.
I regret not saying anything directly to him. It is not my nature to avoid conflict, but I let this go. His attitude was also poor, but I think the his constant “successful” rolls damaged things just as bad as his attitude. While finishing that campaign, myself and two others made some pretty obvious attempts to read his rolls to try and curb his cheating. I recall one time where our Keeper just stared at him after a pretty obvious cheat until the guy looked away. For the rest of that game he rolled pretty normal, but next session went back to what he was doing. And why wouldn’t he? We let him get away with it. At the time, I think we thought we could bring this guy around, but by the end of the campaign it was pretty obvious we couldn’t. After that campaign wrapped up, I played exactly one more session with him and then swore to never game with that fool again.
This RPG hobby of ours, when it comes down to it, it’s just a game. That is what the “G” in “RPG” stands for. It doesn’t stand for “ruin the game for everyone else while you live out some ego power trip fantasy”. The point is to have fun.
A lot of the fun of any RPG is in the emotions caused by the chance of failure, or actually dealing with failure. If there is no chance to ever miss an attack, no chance to ever miss picking a lock, never missing a library roll, never missing anything…where is the fun? What about getting caught trying to sneak into a building and having to try and talk your way out? Or trying to convince the policeman you were driving like a maniac for a good reason, but you can’t exactly tell him you were chasing cultists with a cursed statue? Those are some of my favorite moments in an RPG. The pressure is on and you have to come up with something quick or some bad shit is going to happen to you.
What do you gain by cheating anyway? You make sure to hit the imaginary monster with your imaginary sword? Is it really so important to you that you have to lie about your dice rolls? If you’re gonna cheat your rolls you might as well toss out the dice and character sheets because the randomness mechanic that the dice add to the game is no longer being used. Instead, why don’t you go play any one of the current crop of First Person Shooter video games where your victory is all but assured? Hell, just put it in god mode and never take any damage.
But a dice cheat will never do that. You know why? Because single player god mode is fun for all of five minutes. All the thrill is gone: there is no danger, there is no threat, there is no fun, and there is no one around who thinks you’re awesome. And you slowly realize you’re not great, you’re not all-powerful, and nobody quakes in fear from the sounds of your footsteps. You’re just a cheater.
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