August 17, 2013
Cheating And The Death Of Honest Characters
It is all too easy to cheat in table-top games. When you roll a dice and add a bonus to it, adding one or two more to the final result does not hurt anything, does it? Or claiming four successes when you only rolled three? When you are told your character takes 22 points of damage, rounding down to 20 is okay, right? It’s unfortunate, especially in a game where the goal is just to have fun with friends, that there are people who seem to think they have to cheat to win. You do not “win” a table-top role-playing game. The adventure, the story, that is what matters. Now, I trust my players. They are my closest friends and most trusted confidants, but alas, it was brought to my attention that there might be some among them who have fallen to the temptation of “fudging” their rolls to get ahead. At first, my thoughts on this were to simply let it slide. As long as everyone is having fun, after all, does it really matter is someone is taking “liberties” with their rolls? Yes. Yes it does. Why? Because honest players end up getting screwed in the deal.
The ones hurt by cheating players are the honest players; the players who take every hit, who suffer every penalty, who let the dice fall where they may. These are the players who watch their characters suffer abuse and embarrassment and they tough through it. These are the players who are forced to endure every consequence (or an angry launching of their dice across the room) and who do so with a smile. It can be hard to be honest sometimes, especially when a character you have grown very attached to is killed. That is when the temptation to claim they have just “one more hit point” or to add just a little more to that last dodge or soak roll you made, but the honest player does not. The honest player accepts the loss, wipes the tears from their eyes, and accepts that the game will go on, albeit lesser from the loss of such a wonderful character.
Then when the honest player notices how the dishonest player’s character never seems to fail, never seems to fumble, and certainly never ends up on the killing floor, that the honest player grows discouraged. “Why did my character have to die when this other player’s characters never do?” they wonder. “Why do my characters have to look foolish or pathetic when I roll a fumble and theirs never so much as fail?” It is unfair to the honest player. No one should suffer for being honest, after all.
So, what should I do? Do I confront the accused privately, asking them to be more honest with their rolls or to roll where everyone can see them? Do I confront them in front of everyone? Do I make a generalized announcement to the group as a whole without pointing anyone out? Do I mandate requirements of visibility on all dice rolls to everyone? There is no easy answer to this one, I am afraid. I do not want to antagonize anyone, after all, and I would rather avoid any unnecessary conflicts within the group. All I know is that this has to stop. It cannot be allowed to continue. I would be doing a disservice to my honest players by allowing this to continue without some measure of repercussions. It is just a game, yes, but it is a game in which everyone has the right to have fun. If the actions of one player are discouraging the fun of others, they cannot continue.
In all truth, I am still not sure what I am going to do about this. We will just have to see where the dice land.
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