257 Cheating in RPGs

Cheating in rpg’s, or as Brett puts it “what the f#$% is wrong with some people?” We talk about different ways people have tried to cheat and how you can approach people you know, not suspect, is cheating.


OSDM: “I only accept die rolls made after I call for them. Any others will be ignored - so save your luck for when it’s needed! Must be on the table, free of obstacles.”

The cheat pattern I really dislike has only happened at a store/con game, when a character declares an obscure stack of accumulated bonuses To Hit or damage - some combo that I’ve never heard before AND don’t have the time or expertise to cross-check. If it smells funny, I just do the same as Brett, modify the effect on my creature (usually just add a few HP to compensate).

Then, after the oneshot, that player ends up on my “DO NOT PLAY WITH AGAIN” list.

This is why I prefer my home game - where there are real-life social relationships holding us together that are much more important than the value of the next die roll.

If you don’t know about the Prisoner’s Dilemma, it explains this effect quite clearly: This is the best interactive version I’ve seen - https://ncase.me/trust/


I had a player many years ago, early first edition D&D, who went out and bought the module I was running. He was playing in a very focused way, unusual for a normally chaotic player. The rest of the group liked the fact that he was not setting off traps and attracting wandering monsters, none of us realized he was cheating. The Macguffin in this module was a super powerful sword that was way over powered, so I had rewritten the sword to give it some negatives. He wound up getting the sword, of course as he was laser focused on it.

Well over the next few months he became very agitated every time he used the sword’s ancillary powers, some bad stuff would happen. Finally in a fit of pique he yelled “That’s not right, I have the module and you are not playing the sword properly!” As he looked up at the rest of the table’s horrified looks, he tried to back pedal. Well, somebody at the table, not me, dumped his bag out onto the table. In it were not only several modules we had played or were looking to play, but xeroxes of my notes! I worked at the same place and would bring my bag of DM stuff to work and we would play after work.

Needless to say, that was his last game at my table and the last time I ran a module. I continued to read them for ideas, but wrote every single adventure I ran. Forty years later I still create all of my own material.


My nephew was a bit of a cheater, mostly CCG’s, stacked decks and such. I was pretty lucky the only cheater I had in my high school group was a guy who pulled the spell out of his ass but it wasn’t a spotlight hog, but when the party was really against it and looked like the thief and ranger were just about to catch a case of the deads.
The player admitted it to me after the game and I said I knew.
“Let’s consider it divine intervention.
And we will talk about your curse next game


The “biggest” event of cheating I’ve been privy to was when a 5e Monk constantly “Flurry of Blows” and used “Stunning Fist” every turn. It wasn’t until after that player left the group that we realized that those features required “Ki” to be spent every time they were used and we were 3rd level at the time…


I will say that as a younger kid/young teen, I definitely did a bit of cheating myself. Now nothing really crazy, but you know, at that age, you want to do awesome stuff. It was mainly, roll a 4 and say it was a 9 to make sure it hits what the AC should be of that creature or when rolling up a character instead of having a 9 or 10, make it a 12 to ensure higher skill points and abilities, etc. That stuff has all ceased as I got older and I have learned that failure is part of the game and what makes it interesting. Stomping everything isn’t necessarily fun and having the team work together to ensure victory is; or everyone failing together.

Using the 20 or 25 point buy system has made things much easier for everyone involved when creating characters so everyone is “balanced” and easier for a player to min/max a character, if they so choose, to allow them to play the type of PC they want.

But to stay on topic, we did run into a PFS character that someone was running that was just absolutely stupid OP and I don’t think should have been played. But it was a super late night session at Gamehole Con and the DM really didn’t do a good job handling this person. Seemed like that PC was known to do this, but she needed bodies for the game. One of the worst games I’ve played in just because of all the OP stupid stuff they were doing that didn’t make the game fun, because they were somehow putting out like 30 points of damage each hit with some crazy chaining fire spells or something. Think they were like some Alchemist/Mage who was always on fire or something. Idk. I digress.

Cheating sucks. Don’t be like that guy.


Heh - when i’m playing I’m the guy cheaters hate!

I’m always pointing out the rule that would preclude them from performing whatever cool thing they are tryintg to get away with.
It’s a slow night if I don’t get at least one “Whose side are you on Weston!” when we are playing.

Better to have a fairly delivered TPK than to win by cheating.

I got in the habit of learning what most D&D spells would do because of my good friend Brian (RIP) who liked to read just the first paragraph of a multi-paragraph spell.

Whenever he cast any spell I just got in the habit of looking it up and reading out to him the rest of the restrictions or side effects of what he was casting. I swear he did it just to mess with me - “just for s#$% & giggles” to quote one of his favorite sayings.

I would give anything to have that grinning cheating face back at the table for just one more game.

(wistful smiley emoticon here)


I remember the days of the 4d6 rolls and “re-rolling” totally sucky stats. Was it cheating? I guess if you kept rolling until you get 16+ scores. But if you got “normal” like 12 or 13’s and being ok with it…would that be cheating? Usually my DMs would see my sucky scores and just say “re-roll” it.

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If I find that I have a cheater at the table, I will “Cheat” back. But in my view the way I do this isn’t cheating, its just increasing the level of difficulty that the players encounter. Just like D&D has their CR system, I just rescale the encounter taking into account the bull shit the cheater is using.

Instead of saying: “You see 8 figures shambling towards you, what do you do?”
I’ll change it to: “You see a large group of figures moving through the shadows up ahead, you can’t make out how many, but there are more of them than there are of you!”

In doing that, I just increased the number of creatures and added a couple bosses to the mix.

The other thing I will do is over time, I will have the bad guys start to understand the munchkinisms and cheats the players are using and exploit them. In real life, an opponent who is intelligent studies the competition. So I feel like a week, in game time, into the cheater being a cheating cheatster, the bad guys will start to work around they are pulling.

Finally, always remember that eventually the cheater will roll a :game_die: and then with that fumble, I will make it fun for those who haven’t been cheating!


The sad thing about cheating is that it doesn’t feel good to anyone, not even the cheater. How long can you play a game on “god mode” and brag about it? I guess my first thought would be to try to figure out the “why.” Why is this player cheating? Why do they need to succeed so badly? Is there some way that I could help them grow out of their immaturity? I mean, it’s not on the GM to be a psychotherapist, but sometimes this shit is easy to figure out. Maybe giving them a bit more attention, building up a little trust, and then handing them a ‘weak’ character to play as a challenge – because they are “obviously a good player.” :wink:


Agreed. Most of my DMs when I was younger would always want us to have some decent scores and reroll anything lower than a 10. And would want us always to have at least one skill at +3 or +4. But I still felt like I was “cheating” when I was rolling up a character at home and either roll a few times to get a decent number or just straight up say that 11 was actually a 12 to get the +1, you know?

Love the point buy because it takes that RNG out of the equation and just let’s players pick what they want based on what they want their PC to be. I know that’s not the “traditional” way, but games have evolved I guess.

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Pathfinder was tough for me. I ran it at a LGS and had one problem player—not only was he a legit power gamer and a story hog, but I also suspect him of cheating. He had the really tiny dice. He always held them in his hand. After a roll he would declare the result and pick them right up again.

This only ended when I ended the game (now I play exclusively at home among likeminded friends), because, once when I tried to throw him out, he just continued sitting at the table, glaring at us and making us uncomfortable. “Hey, it’s a public place,” he said.

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That’s a tough situation having some one camp out on you. Has anyone else experienced something similar - how did you deal with it?

As a player, I stopped going to PFS events. Its just min-maxing and dice cheating in my area.

Players - I’ve butted heads with enough people who try to do like 5 actions, including picking up and dropping weapons, and moving double movement, because “I can physically do it in the six second round”. My ass, you can.

I’ve told players that I feel that they’re not a good fit for the group, and as soon as I have a spot where I think they can fill in, I’ll let them know.

I’m about to start a game with one of those types of players… and even before character creation, I’m still getting headbutting. I doubt this game will go more than three sessions, and that’s only because I like the problem player’s cousin who will be playing.

Not intentionally
When I first started GMing I would roll damage without attacking. An honest mistake, I was just really excited as a new gm/dm. Pissed off my players.Quickly learned to stop.


GM’s have the ability to override your sucky rolls. “Rulings over rules and all that”.

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Whoa, the module I get, but YOUR NOTES?! Crazy.

I had a girlfriend who was gaming with my group do that to me. “That’s not in your notes!” was shouted at me one game. I stopped taking notes and forced myself to remember everything for a long time after that.

That’s not a mistake. That’s an approach to take with cheaters. :rofl::joy::smile::laughing:


My games last decades, remembering is not an option. Now it is all electronic, I suppose someone could hack me, but I am not worried.