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Dice Cheats

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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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

15 Responses to "Dice Cheats"

  1. AmeronNo Gravatar says:

    I used to have similar problems a lot when I was playing in high school. I found that it was more effective to reward honest player than to punish bad player. The cheaters stopped cheating when they realized only the honest players got magic items. Check out our article on Cheating in Dungeons & Dragons.

  2. JimToNo Gravatar says:

    That was thought of. In the end though, this particular guy didn’t really care about rewards at all, he just cared about killing. Most times, he didn’t even loot anything he killed.

  3. DerekNo Gravatar says:

    he’s still doing it in dnd, probably as we speak….

    1. JimToNo Gravatar says:

      He’ll never stop. Unless someone beats it out of him. Not that I’m condoning that, just that there are some people in this world who can only learn a lesson through pain and suffering.

  4. npalaciNo Gravatar says:

    It isn’t always about making others quake in fear or getting the best loot. As an occasional dice cheat ( sorry everybody, I know it is a terrible habit to get into) I just want to make sure that the story continues. To me, more important than the next monster battle or loot drop is the story.

    Just wanted to help explain why we ( some of us anyways ) cheat.

  5. JimToNo Gravatar says:

    I’m going to disagree here.

    Making sure the story continue is the job of the DM in my opinion. If the story is the most important thing, then let it evolve naturally. Cheating dice, (when not the DM) is not making the story the most important thing, it’s imposing your will on the game and bending the story how you want it to go.

  6. JasonNo Gravatar says:

    In the last game I ran we had a player that did this as well. In the past it’s been something that’s really bothered me so at first I attempted to resolve it by insisting that dice remain on the table until I’d seen them. Then I tried asking “What was your roll?” if I was doubtful and that seemed to help some because more often than not they’d look at the dice and tell me the ACTUAL number on it; not telling them the DC or equivalent named target number helped in these cases.

    However, eventually I quit bothering because it occurred to me that the point of role-playing is to have fun. His actions weren’t stepping on any other character’s toes, he wasn’t stealing the limelight, so his constant success wasn’t really impeding the enjoyment of everyone else. However, NOT cheating would have impeded his enjoyment and eventually he probably would have quit joining us. Since the goal was to have fun and hang out with people we enjoyed being around, I decided to just let him do it if that’s what it took for him to have fun too. Eventually I figure he’ll realize it’s a lot like playing an FPS on god mode and quit, until then, as long as it doesn’t steal the focus from other characters, I’ve decided to ignore it.

  7. AlexNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never found this to be a problem. I play tabletop roleplaying games to engross myself in an interesting narrative, and oftentimes mechanics get in the way of that goal. If the GM gives players an encounter of some kind, be it combat or skill-related, having the players suffer through bad rolls will inhibit the story. Besides, players won’t have fun if they’re constantly making poor rolls. I agree that sometimes the degree of cheating can ruin the entertainment value, but so long as everyone is having fun and the storyline is advancing, fibbing about dice rolls is fine with me. I care more for interesting results than accurate ones, and I reflect that when I’m the GM.

  8. Bob SagetNo Gravatar says:

    >single player god mode is fun for all of five minutes.

    Wrong. This is just your opinion, I personally love to be god-like and smash shit and just be awesome. I don’t cheat because I’m aware that other people don’t want to play with someone like that, but you shouldn’t condemn that playstyle just because it doesn’t mesh with yours. It’s totally valid.

  9. JimToNo Gravatar says:

    An opinion is not right or wrong. It’s just an opinion.

    As it relates to video games, it wasn’t my intent to condemn that playstyle overall, just as it relates to the type of person who cheats at their dice to “win”. After I’ve beaten a game, I’ll go back in god mode and break shit all over the place. In Saints Row the Third, you can literally achieve god mode just by leveling up enough, and I had freaking blast playing that game.

    As it relates to RPGs, if you’re not the GM, I will disagree here with your statement. Cheating is cheating if you’re just doing it to win. Again, that’s my opinion.

  10. [...] Douchey DM tackled the problem of players who cheat. While we’ve never seen the point of cheating in a cooperative game, there are those who do, [...]

  11. [...] last article, Dice Cheats, brought me a fair amount of feedback. While the majority agreed with my opinions on dice cheating, [...]

  12. FirefairyNo Gravatar says:

    As someone who has been tempted to dice-cheat (and is willing to admit it in public), I can provide one reason for a generally-not-dickhead player to be tempted to cheat a roll that doesn’t seem to come up in discussions like this:

    Because there are real endorphins involved in a roleplaying game, and anything that breaks the (spoken or unspoken) agreement that the game will be fair/winnable/etc. starts to destroy other values in the game, making the “your imaginary sword hits the imaginary monster” value seem more important. There are two basic ways that this can happen, and one is self-perpetuating. The players can screw each other over, or the GM can screw one or more players over. (Technically, one or more players can screw over the GM, but if he/she allows it, that’s a different problem)

    The players can screw each other over by cheating, blowing off the game, or devaluing one another’s characters. Cheating both breaks the game and causes an urge to match the behavior just to keep up. Blowing off the game causes an urge to make one’s own character more effective to make up for the PCs that aren’t being used effectively. Devaluing causes an “I’ll show them” urge, either through pride or wanting to prove their character’s worth to the party. All can be gateways to cheating, which then encourages other players to cheat. Once the game breaks up, the players spread to other groups, and the sickness spreads.

    The GM can screw players over either by always presenting them with insanely difficult rolls, never honoring dearly-held PC strengths, or ignoring some PCs entirely. If every roll has to be a Nat-20 or Ace in order to avoid complete failure, cheating is one tempting way to avoid a very dismal gaming experience. (This comes up a fair bit when the GM has the old adversarial mindset.) I suspect a lot of people like the one mentioned in the article started this way. If the GM always sets up PCs for failure in what are supposed to be their strongest suits, even if other things are allowed to be successful, there is a temptation to make the rolls come out “right”. This will catch players who are otherwise excellent roleplayers, and I have seen it come up often as a cause for cheating in LARP games. And finally, if a PC’s only real strength is something that doesn’t come up often (such as being the social character in a game where the GM only provides one social interaction roll per six months), the importance of that roll becomes much higher to the player, and the temptation to “make it good” is massive.

    I have seen all these motivations and origins of cheating, and experienced a few myself. Some are more easily countered than others, but like our reasons for gaming, the reasons why people cheat are a lot more complex than you might think.

  13. bearfan1985No Gravatar says:

    I experience it from time to time. Now I make sure that all players use dice that can be read by the player next to them and I make note of when a player is constantly making high rolls. If they get caught cheating they get a warning, next time their gaming rights are suspended for 30 days.

  14. NalastarNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with most opinions above. What i will add though is that “winning” a roll in an RPG with people who are, metaphorically, mentally ill may grant the player the spotlight and admiration of others, as if he really did it. That’s because humans are prone to lies and easily fall for them generally (see mind washing techniques). As for me, i too find no reason to cheat in a game except for special time. When i am a DM to save a player (or make a nice twist from an enemy action) and if i am a player, against idiotic players who try to steal/mindcontrol/beat/affectgenerally my character in a freaking cooperation game. Remember the classic rogue in the party who goes CN and “i steal my buddies for the lulz”? I enjoy seeing his face when i say i rolled 20 and “miscalculate my Perception to be 1 or 2 higher that it is.

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