Cheating at the Game Table

26 March, 2010

It didn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t!

Two of my PCs mentioned it recently. One mentioned it in passing, what might be nearly a year ago. The other mentioned it earlier in the week. When it was mentioned a second time, I realized that half of my table cheats on dice rolls.

I went through the K├╝bler-Ross model, the denial stage having been since it was mentioned it to me. I’d catch a player picking up a die immediately after rolling, to look at it. Sometimes they’d take much too long to calculate a number. Many times, at the opposite end of the table, they’d hide their roll under snacks and soda cans.

As soon as I realized that that happens every game. And it happens often every game. And then I remembered that cheating does not belong in DnD. There was rage.

I think I'm probably still, mostly, at the rage stage.

We play DnD every week because it’s fun. We play for a developing storyline, for challenging combat encounters, and to otherwise be a powerful adventuring group doing what adventurers do. As a DM, I put trust in my PCs to not waste the time I spend building fair and challenging encounters; I could say that over 80% of my free time is spent on DnD, and mostly on social and combat encounter makeup, storyline, and reading relevant material. And of course, each of the players at the table sacrifices a their time, once a week for tomfoolery within the parameters of the DnD 4th edition ruleset.

Why the heck would you cheat at the game table?

Doing introspection and getting some opinions from the PCs I know are legitimate, there’s a few reasons. I know I’m not very strict as a DM (but I don’t plan to resemble anything like a babysitter). Sometimes the fights are difficult, and sometimes the stakes are really high. The most interesting one I heard, was “everyone wants to do 100 damage on their turn.” In a big group, it takes awhile to get to your turn, and missing is really disappointing.

I’m planning on talking to my players when we start next session. I’m hoping that if I mention it, things will change. We’re a group of mature adults, for the most part. If there’s any problems, if the fights are too hard, if the consequences for failing are too strong, I’ll ask them to let me know.

I’m not going to dock experience or punish PCs. I’m not going to watch over shoulders like an eagle. I’ve talked to the honest players, and they’re willing to enforce honesty from their fellow players. So the cheating at the table is going to stop.

It hurts my heart to say this, but if you don’t respect the game enough to cheat in a group of 6-8 friends, I don’t want you playing at my table.We’ll see how this goes…



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