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jinjitsu
2016-05-27, 12:37 AM
I run my D&D games over Skype - I have group members in three different cities, all of whom I love running for and all of whom I'd like to keep. However, I'm having a problem with one player: We've been playing for about two months and he's never rolled below a 12 in combat, and I don't think he's ever had a critical miss. Once he figures out a monster's AC, he never misses. While he does have a +7 to his primary attacks, he should still be rolling 10 or below 15% of the time. Long story short, I'm pretty sure he's cheating (or "fudging," if you prefer that term").

Now, full disclosure, the whole reason I started this Skype game is so I could run for my two brothers, and this problem player is one of them. My other brother noticed this as well, and we both came to the conclusion that if unmitigated success in a D&D game is something he feels he needs, we don't need to take that from him. But I'm concerned about him potentially stealing the spotlight from the other players, particularly the new players who are still learning the ropes and haven't gotten their big heroic moments yet.

This is his first major campaign, but he's played in several one-offs and mini-adventures that I've run, and the perceived cheating extended to those as well. Knowing him pretty well, I feel like confronting him directly and asking "are you cheating?" will just make him angry and defensive (even if it's true). My plan has been to just make him a bigger target for monsters - if he is cheating, he's more likely to survive, so it should balance out, and in-game it makes sense for intelligent creatures to try to eliminate a greater threat. I know we have the option of visible dice rolls on several gaming sites, but I don't use maps and no one else has given me any reason to doubt their honesty; moving the game to Roll20 or somesuch would just make an already-complicated setup even more of a hassle.

How am I handling this and how would you handle it, or how did you handle it if it came up in your group?

Segev
2016-05-27, 01:00 AM
I am generally of the opinion that honesty and openness are for the best, but if you are too uncomfortable with it...

A possibly solution would be for you to roll a die in secret for him. Report the results as if he'd gotten what he says he did, but don't modify hit points or "fudge" the monster's ability to evade less-invisible consequences (such as being grappled).



As far as avoiding letting him steal the spotlight, that's a matter of plot focus more than general combat success. Do your best to incorporate the other players' characters appropriately. Let them have their heroic moments by simply not letting the cheating overshadow them. This shouldn't be too hard since you're handling the cheating by ignoring results that your dice tell you were failures. Even if you don't report that he missed, the fact he didn't do damage (even if you let him report damage rolled) means the monster isn't going down, so the other players have their shot.

Mutazoia
2016-05-27, 01:05 AM
You may want to consider moving the game over to a site such as Roll20.com. You can put up maps and such for all to see, but more importantly, there is an online die roller, which will make fudging rolls impossible.

jinjitsu
2016-05-27, 01:20 AM
I am generally of the opinion that honesty and openness are for the best, but if you are too uncomfortable with it...

A possibly solution would be for you to roll a die in secret for him. Report the results as if he'd gotten what he says he did, but don't modify hit points or "fudge" the monster's ability to evade less-invisible consequences (such as being grappled).



As far as avoiding letting him steal the spotlight, that's a matter of plot focus more than general combat success. Do your best to incorporate the other players' characters appropriately. Let them have their heroic moments by simply not letting the cheating overshadow them. This shouldn't be too hard since you're handling the cheating by ignoring results that your dice tell you were failures. Even if you don't report that he missed, the fact he didn't do damage (even if you let him report damage rolled) means the monster isn't going down, so the other players have their shot.

I prefer honesty as well, but my brother can be very defensive about these things. I've tried broaching similar subjects reasonably, basically saying, "I'm not accusing you of cheating, but I want you to know that you don't need to," and he's gotten prickly toward me and become moody about the respective activity. Your secret rolls idea is pretty good, though; I may use it if I can't get up the courage to talk to him about it.

Mr Beer
2016-05-27, 01:36 AM
A few random thoughts:

If someone cheats and gets grumpy when you attempt to discuss the matter, he is 12 years old emotionally and I'm just not gaming with that person unless I have to and it sounds like you don't.

As mentioned above, you can mandate the use of automatic open dice rolling software so the problem either goes away or he flips his lid and leaves.

If discussion or fair, open dice-rolling don't work for you but you still want to stop the cheating, you are left with 'cheating' yourself. Whether that's passive-aggressive (oh you rolled another 19? well you still miss, isn't that strange) or concealed (OK you do 12 HP damage *reduces monster HP by zero*) is up to you.

EDIT

Personally I'd go with d20 software, I've heard great things about it and you can simply insist upon using it under the guise of efficiency or whatever. So the result is what you want without having to openly confront the player.

Segev
2016-05-27, 08:58 AM
Yeah, moving to using roll20 or some similar site to "augment" the game may be the best solution. Good thoughts, those who came up with it.

The one drawback is that I know, personally, people who really want to roll "real dice" in person, and I know they don't cheat because, frankly, if they were cheating, their results would be better. (Or, if they cheat, they do it incredibly subtly and skew so few results that it isn't even a matter of "they only cheat when it's important.") Somebody who is actually cheating? He's probably going to try to pull "well, I'll just roll real dice because I like to." Which leaves you still with the confrontation. Especially if he whines for an explanation and insists that any refusal to let him roll real dice is accusing him of cheating.

Red Fel
2016-05-27, 09:04 AM
Long story short, I'm pretty sure he's cheating (or "fudging," if you prefer that term").

Okay. So let's start from there: A player is cheating.


Now, full disclosure, the whole reason I started this Skype game is so I could run for my two brothers, and this problem player is one of them.

Your relationship with a cheater should be irrelevant. It's hard, but a DM needs to be impartial.


My other brother noticed this as well, and we both came to the conclusion that if unmitigated success in a D&D game is something he feels he needs, we don't need to take that from him.

Unless he's cheating. You need to take that from him.


But I'm concerned about him potentially stealing the spotlight from the other players, particularly the new players who are still learning the ropes and haven't gotten their big heroic moments yet.

So, he's cheating, and it concerns you. Two strikes.


This is his first major campaign, but he's played in several one-offs and mini-adventures that I've run, and the perceived cheating extended to those as well.

And he has a history. Three strikes.


Knowing him pretty well, I feel like confronting him directly and asking "are you cheating?" will just make him angry and defensive (even if it's true).

The fact that it would make him angry isn't a reason not to do it. If anything, it's a reason to do it. We don't avoid confronting rule-breakers because it might upset their feelings; we do it despite their feelings. If you are genuinely concerned that he is harming the game for other players, you have an obligation to do something.


My plan has been to just make him a bigger target for monsters - if he is cheating, he's more likely to survive, so it should balance out, and in-game it makes sense for intelligent creatures to try to eliminate a greater threat.

And that's the wrong something. This is a classic example of in-character consequences for out-of-character conduct, and that's pretty bad on the "DMs should not do this" list. When you have an out-of-character issue with a player - whether it's a personality conflict or the fact that the player is cheating - the solution is not to make the game harder on them. That's passive-aggressive, and never ends well.


I know we have the option of visible dice rolls on several gaming sites, but I don't use maps and no one else has given me any reason to doubt their honesty; moving the game to Roll20 or somesuch would just make an already-complicated setup even more of a hassle.

How am I handling this and how would you handle it, or how did you handle it if it came up in your group?

Talk to him. I don't care that he's your brother, I don't care that he would get angry. He has three strikes - he has a history of cheating, he's cheating now, and it's causing you genuine concern that it might ruin the game for other players. It's time for a talk. If he gets angry, he gets angry. If he walks away, he walks away.


I prefer honesty as well, but my brother can be very defensive about these things.

Doesn't matter. Defensive cheaters are still cheaters.


I've tried broaching similar subjects reasonably, basically saying, "I'm not accusing you of cheating, but I want you to know that you don't need to," and he's gotten prickly toward me and become moody about the respective activity.

Doesn't matter. Also, don't say "I'm not accusing you of cheating" - you are.


Your secret rolls idea is pretty good, though; I may use it if I can't get up the courage to talk to him about it.

It's a bit passive-aggressive, but if you're genuinely expecting an outburst that you can't handle, it's an option. That said, if he has outbursts when accused of cheating, expect one when you deprive him of his primary means of cheating.

CharonsHelper
2016-05-27, 09:09 AM
+1 to Red Fel's answer

If you don't confront him, you're enabling him.

Takewo
2016-05-28, 06:20 AM
I think I can get an idea of how you feel. Family relationships, and especially confrontations, are difficult and not particularly pleasant.

I suggest that you confront him, but in a confortable way.

I don't know what you've tried or how your relationships are, but here are some ways in which I would approach the matter.

Talk to him in person if possible. Maybe there is a family gathering soon or you've got an excuse to go and see him. This sort of stuff is always better dealt with in person.

Make a the context confortable. Ask him about his job/studies/children, tell him how you are doing, talk about common interests. But, above all, show that you are genuinely interesting on him. When people feel confortable, they are less likely to feel accused

Ask him about his experience about the game before confronting hin. Ask him how he likes it, what he would change, how he sees the new players. And important, show interest in what he is saying and accept any feedback he might give.

Lead the conversation towards combat. Tell him that you're a bit concerned because he always seems to be extraordinarily lucky. If he gets defensive, tell him something like: "look, you say that you don't cheat, but you hardly ever miss. How do you feel about that?"

Of course, that doesn't mean that he is not going to get angry, but it helps creating a comfortable atmosphere. If he gets angry, be understanding and do not respond getting angry yourself, just say something like, "look, I'm just trying to understand why your rolls seem so oddly high. Maybe you've got a better explanation than mine, and I'd love to hear it."

EDIT: Also be open to the possibility that, albeit unlikely, he might have a reasonable explanation that doesn't involve cheating. Maybe he's got some sort of lucky dice or something (in that case, I would suggest a dice-test or something).

Dunsparce
2016-05-28, 06:56 AM
You may want to consider moving the game over to a site such as Roll20.com. You can put up maps and such for all to see, but more importantly, there is an online die roller, which will make fudging rolls impossible.

This right here is probably the best advice. I myself use Maptools(and Formerly OpenRPG), but overall any for of digital tabletop is a great idea, since they can't cheat with their rolls and you can easily give an excuse for why you want to move to one without having to single out your brother.

GungHo
2016-06-02, 10:53 AM
Yeah, use the online die roller. Don't couch it as "this is because I can't trust you." Couch it as an efficiency. Say that it makes it easier to communicate rolls, counter rolls, and minimizes confusion in both directions by having a clear reference

Jormengand
2016-06-02, 11:05 AM
Weird how the OP says that moving to Roll20 isn't something he wants to do, and everyone starts to suggest it...

Weird question, but is this actually having a negative effect yet? You say you're worried about stealing other characters' spotlights; has this come up yet? If someone's cheating, and it's not actually making the game less fun for anyone, let them. If it's ruining the game, ask them to stop. Not in a "You're a bad person and you should feel bad" way; in a "This thing you're doing, it's making things less fun for us, please don't do this thing" way.

ClintACK
2016-06-02, 11:43 AM
Family is complicated.

Just remember that D&D is not a dice-rolling game, it's a role-playing game. You're not playing to win, but rather to have fun telling a story together.

"...particularly the new players who are still learning the ropes and haven't gotten their big heroic moments yet."

This is the 100% the right way to be thinking about DMing -- giving each of your players the chance to shine (or play out their character arc). And it shouldn't be hard to come up with a story challenge that allows each player's character to excel. Give the "Face" a challenge they have to talk their way past or the rogue a series of tricky traps. Even just with combat -- a horde of low-level undead lets the cleric look awesome turning undead. Flying foes make the archer or warlock look good. And so on.

ComaVision
2016-06-02, 12:10 PM
I have a player in my game that I'm pretty sure fudges his rolls. I don't recall him ever getting under 20 in initiative despite not being dex-based or having any initiative boosters (3.5e). I honestly don't care. Everyone in my group has fun, and the rest of the group is filling other niches anyway. It's not a competitive game.

Yllin
2016-06-02, 02:46 PM
I don't know what you should do, but you might want to cosider following points:

1) You can talk to your group about cheating without accusing anyone directly, sort of giving general advice to your players. Tell them that a win acquired through fudging rolls is no challenge and thus has no value. Only someone without any trace of self-confidence could enjoy a win like that. Also remind them that continuous cheating is always discovered, sooner or later, by other players, and the cheater is ignominiously expelled. This discussion, however, might attract your other players' attention to your brother cheating during the game, and invoke an argument.

2) If your overall objective is to get your brother into your hobby, indulging his cheating (including Segev's suggestion) might be harmful in long perspective(since the game he is playing now basically is not DnD). So would be accusing him in front of other people.

3) You might want to gather firm evidence before engaging into direct confrontation. Gather objective statistics on his rolls distribution. Calculate the average value and standard deviation, along with probablity of your observations under assaumption that he is not cheating.
You can throw in an enemy with AC so high that he would be forced into fudging even less plausible rolls.

Jay R
2016-06-02, 04:43 PM
"A couple of months ago, one of my monsters had a string of good rolls, and one player privately accused me of cheating. That doesn't help the game, so I'm moving the game over to Rolld20. That way, nobody has to worry about being falsely accused of cheating, and we can all have the fun of watching each other's die rolls."

Darth Ultron
2016-06-02, 05:47 PM
I often run in to the problem of a player online cheating, and deal with it by simply not having it matter. The cheater will simply get a ''mini game that does not matter'' so they can be all happy and cheat and not effect the main game. They won't get a chance to use cheating to effect the game.

the cheater gets a increase in the power level of foes, things like more hit points AC and damage reduction are common.

jinjitsu
2016-06-03, 05:43 PM
3) You might want to gather firm evidence before engaging into direct confrontation. Gather objective statistics on his rolls distribution. Calculate the average value and standard deviation, along with probablity of your observations under assaumption that he is not cheating.
You can throw in an enemy with AC so high that he would be forced into fudging even less plausible rolls.

My older brother - who's another player in the group, and the person I've most talked with about this - kept track of his rolls in a mini-adventure that I ran to integrate a new player into the group. He kept track through one of the 3 sessions, and my younger brother never got a result below a 16 on a d20 roll - he had good bonuses, but not that good, and sheer numbers say that he should've rolled below 10 on around half of the rolls he made. That's the only reason I decided to post on here for advice.

I'm in a new housing situation that allows me to sometimes play face-to-face with my brother. In-person, he wasn't trying to fudge rolls or anything; he just played what rolled. My hope - and I think it's starting to happen - is that he'll realize that he doesn't have to cheat to survive, and that he doesn't have to carry the team alone. After talking to him at length about how he feels about the game, I'm thinking that the main reason for his cheating is that without a primary healer, his ranger is having to serve as the group's make-do healer AND frontline fighter - with two new players in the group running a fighter and paladin, I think it'll feel less perilous for him. Really, I just think more experience playing without being able to fudge rolls will show him that it's not necessary.

Keltest
2016-06-03, 06:08 PM
My older brother - who's another player in the group, and the person I've most talked with about this - kept track of his rolls in a mini-adventure that I ran to integrate a new player into the group. He kept track through one of the 3 sessions, and my younger brother never got a result below a 16 on a d20 roll - he had good bonuses, but not that good, and sheer numbers say that he should've rolled below 10 on around half of the rolls he made. That's the only reason I decided to post on here for advice.

I'm in a new housing situation that allows me to sometimes play face-to-face with my brother. In-person, he wasn't trying to fudge rolls or anything; he just played what rolled. My hope - and I think it's starting to happen - is that he'll realize that he doesn't have to cheat to survive, and that he doesn't have to carry the team alone. After talking to him at length about how he feels about the game, I'm thinking that the main reason for his cheating is that without a primary healer, his ranger is having to serve as the group's make-do healer AND frontline fighter - with two new players in the group running a fighter and paladin, I think it'll feel less perilous for him. Really, I just think more experience playing without being able to fudge rolls will show him that it's not necessary.


Good, but don't let yourself use that as an excuse to drop the issue. If he does stop cheating on his own, well, problem solved, but operate under the assumption that wont happen until you start to see evidence of it.

pi4t
2016-06-04, 07:33 AM
Consider using Tabletop Simulator when playing sessions over the internet. While each player will have to buy/be given a copy, it accurately simulates a tabletop, with physics engine and so on. In particular, it lets you actually roll dice in the game rather than just typing a command and having the computer generate a number. And it allows most of the other advantages of a physical tabletop, as well as some things you can't do in real life like copy-paste.

Quertus
2016-06-04, 11:00 AM
Do not confront him. Let me explain.

This sounds redundant, but cheaters cheat. You're not going to change that. The only thing you will accomplish by pointing out his cheating, other than confrontation and hard feelings, is to teach him to cheat better. Unless your plan is to kill or imprison him* after the confrontation, don't do it!

It is better to keep his cheating at the level where it is easily observed, so that you can determine its impact on your game easily detect it.

But what should you do? Well,


Weird how the OP says that moving to Roll20 isn't something he wants to do, and everyone starts to suggest it...

Weird question, but is this actually having a negative effect yet? You say you're worried about stealing other characters' spotlights; has this come up yet? If someone's cheating, and it's not actually making the game less fun for anyone, let them. If it's ruining the game, ask them to stop. Not in a "You're a bad person and you should feel bad" way; in a "This thing you're doing, it's making things less fun for us, please don't do this thing" way.


I have a player in my game that I'm pretty sure fudges his rolls. I don't recall him ever getting under 20 in initiative despite not being dex-based or having any initiative boosters (3.5e). I honestly don't care. Everyone in my group has fun, and the rest of the group is filling other niches anyway. It's not a competitive game.

The solution you don't want, moving to mandating a shared online dice roller, would solve the problem. Sort of. While removing the joy of rolling dice (:smallannoyed:), and adding the potential for people to question the move, and force the issue anyway.

But is there a problem?

It sounds like the answer is "not yet", and "maybe never". If he isn't detracting from anyone's fun, don't do anything.

Or, to put it another way, he's your brother, man! Put a little thought into contingencies to keep the campaign fun for everyone, and to reduce the chance of this becoming an issue in the first place.

* Or kick him out, but that just shoves the problem off onto the rest of us! :smallmad:

jinjitsu
2016-06-04, 02:29 PM
The solution you don't want, moving to mandating a shared online dice roller, would solve the problem. Sort of. While removing the joy of rolling dice (:smallannoyed:), and adding the potential for people to question the move, and force the issue anyway.

But is there a problem?

It sounds like the answer is "not yet", and "maybe never". If he isn't detracting from anyone's fun, don't do anything.

Or, to put it another way, he's your brother, man! Put a little thought into contingencies to keep the campaign fun for everyone, and to reduce the chance of this becoming an issue in the first place.

This has been my mindset pretty much from the beginning; I could've worded my original post better to reflect it, but my hope was to find a way to mitigate things if there was cheating that wouldn't cause undue friction between my brother and me.

Because, y'know, it's a game. It's something we do for fun. And if it's fun for him to be a superhero who never fails, that's what's fun for him; some people enjoy playing video games with God Mode on. But if Superman comes on every mission, the rest of the Justice League start to feel a bit redundant.

Quertus
2016-06-04, 03:25 PM
This has been my mindset pretty much from the beginning; I could've worded my original post better to reflect it, but my hope was to find a way to mitigate things if there was cheating that wouldn't cause undue friction between my brother and me.

Because, y'know, it's a game. It's something we do for fun. And if it's fun for him to be a superhero who never fails, that's what's fun for him; some people enjoy playing video games with God Mode on. But if Superman comes on every mission, the rest of the Justice League start to feel a bit redundant.

So, you want to know how to keep the players from resenting having Superman in the party, especially given that his powers seem based, not on alien DNA, but on the power of love cheating? Hmmm...

First priority is to keep the other players from finding out that he is cheating. Second priority is to make sure everyone has their moment of glory. Sound right so far?

Random ideas follow. Some may backfire. Mix and match as you see fit.

Make the game be less about the dice. Perhaps that means more puzzles, riddles, diplomacy, mysteries, etc. Perhaps that means that the tactics of how you keep the npc alive are more important than the individual rolls. Perhaps the only way to defeat the BBEG is to use the McGuffin; fighting is just to keep him busy / keep his minions from killing the holder of the McGuffin.

You say he always rolls what he needs once he knows what he needs? Make it harder for him to know what he needs. Include fights against several different types of foes, with different ACs. And/or include fights with foes that have combat expertise / shock trooper / other ways of changing AC. And/or include foes that die in one hit.

Tailor make challenges to the party. Tailor make the party to challenges. Give everyone a (different) "rock scissors paper" power. Perhaps a blessing that applies +2d6 damage vs the chosen element.

Play with him in person, and see if his luck continues.

jinjitsu
2016-06-04, 11:41 PM
So, you want to know how to keep the players from resenting having Superman in the party, especially given that his powers seem based, not on alien DNA, but on the power of love cheating? Hmmm...

My new approach is to fudge things myself - plan for certain Moments of Glory for each character, and if he would end up stealing their thunder, just postpone the success. Maybe he knocked someone's personal enemy down to 0 hp - I'll just keep them alive until the proper character gets the killing blow.


Tailor make challenges to the party. Tailor make the party to challenges. Give everyone a (different) "rock scissors paper" power. Perhaps a blessing that applies +2d6 damage vs the chosen element.

Honestly, the cheats really only happen in combat, where he's already quite impressive; thus far, most of the players seem happy to have their shining moments be out of combat in their areas of expertise.


Play with him in person, and see if his luck continues.

Like I mentioned, it already seems to be getting better now that we've had a session or two where he and I are in the same room. Things are looking up.:smallsmile:

Ualaa
2016-06-14, 10:51 PM
In the past, I had one player in my group blatantly cheat.
His numbers are always impossibly good.
His average roll (on a d20) was 18, but he got 20 maybe every other roll.
His low roll in an evening of play was 15.

He'd place the d20 on the desired number.
And then roll (and pick up) a different die, leaving his die on whatever number he wanted.

It was pretty obvious.
Our group didn't want to confront him, as he was our friend.
Maybe we should have confronted him...

His character was a DPS type.
I had another, non-cheating DPS build player in the same group.
I ended up ignoring the hits and misses of the cheat player.
And doubling the damage of the non-cheat player.

Overall, the damage was about equal to that of two DPS type characters.
It's just that double the damage was coming from one who rolled legitimately, with none coming from the other.

killem2
2016-06-14, 11:46 PM
roll 20 man. It will put a stop to all this. However, because he is conditioned to getting his way because he cheats, it will have a poor gameplay as the random roll in front of everyone puts him out there and he has to deal with it, so you have to prepare for that.