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View Full Version : I know a player is cheating, what do I do as DM?



Hedoaen UrdWed
2007-07-29, 10:10 PM
Here's my problem.
I know that at least one of my players is cheating, possibly 2.
The first took more damage than he has hit points (something I realised after the game when collecting the character sheets from the floor-gah, the table would have been better). He didn't fall unconcious he just kept walking around and fighting...I plan to keep track of the player's hit points and damage, but I am unsure of what to do when I spot another dicrepancy (ie: he should be dead or at the very least in negatives or maybe just unconcious at 0 hit points). Should I tell him he should be unconcious or dead and how would I go about this?
The second player never rolls below 15 on his d20. By the law of averages this just can't happen! The player hasd a habit of hiding his roll with his hand or picking up the dice to see it (I think he turns it as he picks it up to get a better number). This player rolls high when he wants and low when he wants and he knows the rules quite well (sometimes better than me and we have had issues when he hasn't taken my ruling on an issue as final).
Does anyone have any solutions or advice I could use in the next game on the weekend?

Mirage_of_Deceit
2007-07-29, 10:14 PM
Kill off the one you know is cheating by making him fall into a pit and as for the guy who always rolls high I suppose you could do the same.

Xuincherguixe
2007-07-29, 10:16 PM
It might be that he's expecting you to keep track of hit points.

As far as dice rolling goes, YOU'RE the one who should be rolling the dice too.

Mirage_of_Deceit
2007-07-29, 10:17 PM
Well sure, you could do that if you don't enjoy drinking the blood of the innocent :smallannoyed:

Xuincherguixe
2007-07-29, 10:18 PM
We'll they're cheating so you can hardly drink their innocent blood.

Mirage_of_Deceit
2007-07-29, 10:20 PM
Blood, Innocent blood, what's the difference?

Dervag
2007-07-29, 10:21 PM
Platelet count.

Xuincherguixe
2007-07-29, 10:23 PM
Good point. Not like there's a difference in flavor anyways.

Quietus
2007-07-29, 10:32 PM
Good point. Not like there's a difference in flavor anyways.

I beg to differ.

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0474.html


Mmm, Gouda.

Zincorium
2007-07-29, 10:36 PM
Well, there are two ways of going at it that I've found have a reasonable chance of solving the problem.

One, the obvious, confront them. If you can't bring up your concerns and have them treated seriously, then you aren't going to be able to DM with them long term. Tell them it makes you unhappy and you'd rather they play the game by the rules everyone else is. Remember to make it about you and the other players rather than some purity of the game nonsense, if they're your friends that's going to mean more.

Secondly, compensate for it/ignore it. It's a bad trend, sure, but the key point of D&D as opposed to board games or computer games is that one person cheating doesn't mean that everyone else is disadvantaged. As DM, you have almost complete control as to types of loot, encounters, and circumstances. You can make it so the person who's ignoring hit points has conditions other than death to worry about, like paralysis and sickness, while the person who fudges rolls gets worse equipment and gets (subtly) targeted by the majority of monsters. Use your influence to keep everything on an even keel, make sure the non-cheating players are happy, and you can ignore a lot.

brian c
2007-07-29, 10:36 PM
First thing you should do is point out what you're noticing to each player, individually (and in private).

For the guy who too too much damage, just tell him you noticed that; maybe he thought you were keeping track, maybe he has the Diehard feat and you're forgetting it, or maybe he just added wrong. Try to be aware of how many hp each of your players has at all times, and if this happens again then you might want to take some action (ie: kill him off, or give him cursed items at least).

For the high roller, just don't let him cover the dice with his hand. I'm from the school of thought that players should roll their own dice, even for saving throws, just to give them something to do and feel involved. Tell him clearly that any die roll that you can't immediately see the result of doesn't count and must be re-rolled; that goes for everyone, whether their hand was over it or it fell of the table or whatever. Just roll your dice in the middle of the table where everyone can see. The guy might just be extraordinarily lucky, you never know. Don't come down too harshly yet.

Thinker
2007-07-29, 10:37 PM
Kill off the one you know is cheating by making him fall into a pit and as for the guy who always rolls high I suppose you could do the same.

You mean the players, right? :smalltongue:


It might be that he's expecting you to keep track of hit points.

As far as dice rolling goes, YOU'RE the one who should be rolling the dice too.

You think the DM should be rolling all the dice? :smallconfused:

Make sure the one who should have been unconscious knows the rules about such things and keep track of it. Tell him when he goes down. Make the one who fudges rolls roll them in the open.

ClericofPhwarrr
2007-07-29, 10:40 PM
Keep track of players' hit points yourself. They can keep track if they want (and should, lest they make poor tactical decisions), but your count is final.

As for the second player, have everyone roll their dice in the center of the floor/table, where everyone can see the result. If need be, you should call out the number before he picks it up and can lie about it. If he makes a fuss about it, ask him what he's worried about. ("You're not cheating, what's the problem?")

Remember that as DM you have the final call on everything. If you're sick of a player correcting you, just tell him that you're not doing it that way in your campaign/setting. He's free to adjust the rules if he DMs, after all.

[Edit:] Ninja'd!

Rachel Lorelei
2007-07-29, 10:42 PM
Remember that as DM you have the final call on everything.

Uh, no. As the DM, you're running the game. You're not suddenly the owner of the gaming session. "The DM is God" is rarely a particularily helpful mentality.

Dairun Cates
2007-07-29, 10:48 PM
Uh, no. As the DM, you're running the game. You're not suddenly the owner of the gaming session. "The DM is God" is rarely a particularily helpful mentality.

If by "rarely a particularly helpful mentality" you mean, "your players will lynch you in your sleep", then I wholeheartedly agree.

Seriously though, As GM, you are supposed to remain mostly impartial. Don't directly confront them about it, but calmly and rationally bring up the HP thing. As for the dice rolling, he could be lucky, but it's best to find a way to check around the issue. A pretty good one is to have people roll in a dice cup face down on the table. You can use the excuse of dice falling off the table, and it puts him in a scenario where he has to reveal rolls to the entire table.

Raum
2007-07-29, 10:48 PM
1. Talk to them, not the public.

Seffbasilisk
2007-07-29, 10:50 PM
Uh, no. As the DM, you're running the game. You're not suddenly the owner of the gaming session. "The DM is God" is rarely a particularily helpful mentality.

She makes a very valid point. It's a cooperative storytelling game, key word cooperative.

I'd advise taking the one who took too much damage aside and speaking to him about it, then have everyone every few turns in combat let you know thier HP (also helps with fudging so you don't kill the weaker ones)

As for rolling dice, keep yours behind the screen (so you can fudge if need be), but all others must be visible, and if you don't see the roll, it doesn't count, and re-roll.

PMDM
2007-07-29, 10:51 PM
Here's an easy solution.

1) Ask the player his HP count every 5 minutes.
PC: Why do you keep asking me that?
DM: Why do you keep cheating?
2) New die rules. Let the die stand. Never pick it up, until the die number is called out.

Xuincherguixe
2007-07-29, 10:58 PM
You think the DM should be rolling all the dice? :smallconfused:

Well, okay, maybe not all the time. But unless you're reasonably confident in the trustworthiness of players then yeah.

It may be that it's being done over instant messenger. And there are no actual dice. I was in a situation like this for awhile. I think if we had been cheating the DM would have noticed.


Still, one of the reasons why it pays to use a client with a built in dice roller.

Matthew
2007-07-29, 11:02 PM
Don't allow them to monitor their own Hit Points. Do that yourself, you don't even need them to know how much Damage they have taken. Implement a "if I don't see it, it doesn't count" policy. As Raum says, though, this is a trust issue and needs to be dealt with 'in house' if it gets much worse.

Dervag
2007-07-29, 11:07 PM
Don't allow them to monitor their own Hit Points. Do that yourself, you don't even need them to know how much Damage they have taken.Yes, you do, unless you really really enjoy screwing the party over.

How seriously injured a character is would be something that the character should know, just as they know roughly how strong they are and what kind of armor they're wearing.

You can keep track, but it's pathological DMing not to tell them, especially if they can't be expected to know how much damage the monsters are dealing on a hit.

Dairun Cates
2007-07-29, 11:09 PM
Honestly extreme measures should really only be taken when you're 100% sure the players are cheating intentionally. There's still a shadow of a reasonable doubt, and while you're probably right, the players that aren't cheating will start to resent you for your attitude.

Matthew
2007-07-29, 11:16 PM
Yes, you do, unless you really really enjoy screwing the party over.

How seriously injured a character is would be something that the character should know, just as they know roughly how strong they are and what kind of armor they're wearing.

You can keep track, but it's pathological DMing not to tell them, especially if they can't be expected to know how much damage the monsters are dealing on a hit.

Hah, hah. I didn't mean you should use no flavour text, I meant you don't need to tell them the Hit Point total taken [i.e. "Bob, you took 7 Hit Points"]. Mind you, that's a fairly old school approach, so it might not wash.

Chronos
2007-07-29, 11:16 PM
Tell him clearly that any die roll that you can't immediately see the result of doesn't count and must be re-rolled; that goes for everyone, whether their hand was over it or it fell of the table or whatever.That just makes it even easier to cheat. He's going to keep hiding his roll, and if it's good, immediately reveal it, and if it's not, he'll wait for you to say it doesn't count. If, after you confront him privately about it and remind him you need to see the dice, he keeps doing it, then treat every roll you don't see as a natural 1. Yes, that's rough, but he can avoid it completely by following the rules of the table, and it won't take more than one call for him to learn.

The HP one is more likely to be an honest mistake, I think. He might have been expecting you to track hitpoints, or he might have just made a stupid arithmetic error. Ask him about it in private, but if he says that it was a mistake, give him the benefit of the doubt. But also start keeping track of everyones' HP, just to avoid any future problems.

Gundato
2007-07-29, 11:19 PM
Also, if you don't want to kill the group, I suggest doing the following next session for hitpoint guy:

1. Go buy some sort of tokens (either check your local gaming shop, or just drop off at any arts and crafts shop and buy a sack of beads) and either print out a few of those player card things (or just use index cards). I suggest multiple colours, so that it is still viable after level one (ie. "blue is 100 HP, green is 10 HP, yellow is 1 HP, red for negative hitpoints).
2. Say that you got a really cool idea from the internet (or, if it is a group of relative newbies, that you were approached after a game and told that it is somewhat hard to keep track of all the crap with numbers alone) and that you want to try this system for keeping track of HP. It also has the added benefit of giving players something else to do/a more blatant indication of their health)
3. Make them use this.

With this, you look like a nice guy, and never have to confront said player. If it was an innocent mistake, then you are helping him. If it was more sinister, you have solved it in a way that doesn't involve causing resentment and the like.

As for die roller, do something similar:
1. Again, say you got a really cool idea/are helping someone keep track of all the dice/helping organize things by getting a piece of paper, a box, and a magic marker.
2. Draw a few squares, label them as the various dice (d20, d12, d10, etc)
3. Have everyone roll the dice into the box, and then return the dice to the appropriate box.

Again, you look like you are a nice (or weird) guy without confronting the player. By rolling into the center of the table, it means he can't hide crap.

Two (somewhat convoluted) solutions that help to avoid killing the group by offending/annoying people.

Raum
2007-07-29, 11:28 PM
Yes, you do, unless you really really enjoy screwing the party over.

How seriously injured a character is would be something that the character should know, just as they know roughly how strong they are and what kind of armor they're wearing.

You can keep track, but it's pathological DMing not to tell them, especially if they can't be expected to know how much damage the monsters are dealing on a hit.You're correct, but there is a difference between knowing how many hit points you've lost and knowing that you're "severely" injured. Mind, I don't want to be the GM tracking all the hit point totals, but it's not too hard to use a qualitative status in place of a quantitative one...I'd just prefer the player keep track and use the qualitative terms himself. It does require players you can trust though.

When it comes to cheating players, talk to them. Anything else is just gossip.

Matthew
2007-07-29, 11:32 PM
Hmmn. I haven't found keeping track of HP totals to be very troubling, but I play mostly at Low to Medium Level. It's not that I don't trust the players to be honest, I just don't trust their Maths... Also, having 'crib' sheets helps me to understand how the combat is going.

TheThan
2007-07-29, 11:44 PM
I think you should get a dice cup and make everyone use it. That way youíre making sure they donít cheat you. Another thing is try to inspect his dice (discreetly) and make sure itís not loaded or set with multiple 20s or something.

The other ideas are all good ideas (even the blood drinking ones), but I suggest if you go the bead route, donít go the a gaming store, go to walmart (or the equivalent) or a dollar store and buy you beads there, much cheaper on the wallet.

I personally keep track of everyoneís hit points, and let them do their own book keeping, that way I know when I need to fudge dice rolls.

ThorFluff
2007-07-29, 11:47 PM
Also, if you don't want to kill the group, I suggest doing the following next session for hitpoint guy:

1. Go buy some sort of tokens (either check your local gaming shop, or just drop off at any arts and crafts shop and buy a sack of beads) and either print out a few of those player card things (or just use index cards). I suggest multiple colours, so that it is still viable after level one (ie. "blue is 100 HP, green is 10 HP, yellow is 1 HP, red for negative hitpoints).
2. Say that you got a really cool idea from the internet (or, if it is a group of relative newbies, that you were approached after a game and told that it is somewhat hard to keep track of all the crap with numbers alone) and that you want to try this system for keeping track of HP. It also has the added benefit of giving players something else to do/a more blatant indication of their health)
3. Make them use this.

With this, you look like a nice guy, and never have to confront said player. If it was an innocent mistake, then you are helping him. If it was more sinister, you have solved it in a way that doesn't involve causing resentment and the like.

As for die roller, do something similar:
1. Again, say you got a really cool idea/are helping someone keep track of all the dice/helping organize things by getting a piece of paper, a box, and a magic marker.
2. Draw a few squares, label them as the various dice (d20, d12, d10, etc)
3. Have everyone roll the dice into the box, and then return the dice to the appropriate box.

Again, you look like you are a nice (or weird) guy without confronting the player. By rolling into the center of the table, it means he can't hide crap.

Two (somewhat convoluted) solutions that help to avoid killing the group by offending/annoying people.


Personally i'd keep track of the HP myself, on every one, all the time, never letting them see the number, but instead describing thier wounds as they take em.
And as for the Dice, the above idea is good, though my personal solution is that you get a felted box, and just demand that every die be tossed in there.

Dean Fellithor
2007-07-30, 12:09 AM
make the gods pelt packets of Mentos at the cheaters (to death), the other characters are now featured in a Mentos Commercial.


"Mentos...the Hell-raiser"

Jack Mann
2007-07-30, 12:14 AM
But again, that screws them over. Heck, in theory, they aren't even taking any wounds on some hits. Unless you're going to be perfectly consistent, and let them know exactly what percentage of their hit points each description means, they're at a tactical disadvantage. They don't know if they should heal up or not. They know they have wounds, but they don't know what that means in game terms. When you say they take a slash across the arm, is that 10 HP, or 30?

Does it change for different party members? 10 HP might be nothing for the fighter, but it's half the wizard's. Is it the same wound?

You can describe their relative condition, but that still doesn't really tell them what it means. If they do heal, should they use cure light wounds, or go with cure moderate?

For that matter, do you want to put in that much effort? Because you have to be absolutely consistent with this system, or you're completely screwing them over. Yes, it's less realistic, but that's the way D&D was designed. It's an abstraction for the sake of simpler, fairer gameplay.

Matthew
2007-07-30, 12:18 AM
Sure, but at the moment the system isn't being handled fairly. The point of the excercise, as I understand it, is to stop players being so worried about exactly how many Hit Points they have left. There's no point being 'consistant', otherwise you might as well tell them their actual totals.

Dairun Cates
2007-07-30, 12:24 AM
Sure, but at the moment the system isn't being handled fairly. The point of the excercise, as I understand it, is to stop players being so worried about exactly how many Hit Points they have left. There's no point being 'consistant', otherwise you might as well tell them their actual totals.

I think the general point though is that for something that could conceivably have been an honest mistake, people are advocating a system that PUNISHES all of the players for no reason other than strong suspicion. Try pulling this with an actual group, and you will find yourself DM'ing to no one soon enough. Catching someone cheating is fine, but players do not generally like dictators in their DM's and will make do by finding another DM. Furthermore, this is more work for the DM, a position that is already generally work intensive. It's quite frankly unwieldy, difficult, and unfun. There's no reason to approach the problem from this angle.

Matthew
2007-07-30, 12:34 AM
Well, actually, I have done this many times with my actual group (and others prior to that) with absolutely no negative consequences. To be honest, we found it a bit finicky, and don't use it 'as a matter of course' because it's kind of fun when the DM says, "Bob, your Elven Fighter just took 90 Hit Points from that thing." On the other hand, I still am the only one who keeps a consistant track of Hit Points. It's rare that you hear somebody ask what their Hit Point Total is at our table, unless they suspect the Character is 'nearly dead' or they are about to try something very risky.

In short, this is not theoretical advice.

Dairun Cates
2007-07-30, 12:39 AM
Well, actually, I have done this many times with my actual group (and others prior to that) with absolutely no negative consequences. To be honest, we found it a bit finicky, and don't use it 'as a matter of course' because it's kind of fun when the DM says, "Bob, your Elven Fighter just took 90 Hit Points from that thing." On the other hand, I still am the only one who keeps a consistant track of Hit Points. It's rare that you hear somebody ask what their Hit Point Total is at our table, unless they suspect the Character is 'nearly dead' or they are about to try something very risky.

In short, this is not theoretical advice.

Yes, but did you start out by doing this, or did you institute it to punish a player? There's a big difference in perception there. If the DM suddenly just says, "Today, I'm going to have you stop keeping track of your HP and I'm not going to tell you what it is", most players do not react well to a sudden change without good reason. It's usually best that something that drastic be handled diplomatically. The players should have a say in that. After that, you pretty much have to admit you were doing it as punishment when they ask further. I've also GM'ed a lot. Players don't like to feel like you're shafting them for no reason.

ThorFluff
2007-07-30, 12:54 AM
True , those kind of changes should be implemented with concent for more immersive gameplay.

But in my opinion, you should have done it from the start, so much more fun (and i say this from a players standpoint)

CyberWyld
2007-07-30, 12:59 AM
To this day I do not understand cheating at a game that you can't "win". D&D is not a game to WIN...it's a game to play. Some people never grasp this...and I eventually sever ties with these people. What makes D&D great? There are far to many reasons to list. What keeps it interesting...is that at ANY POINT if this game is played correctly....you could DIE at any time. That's why you check for traps and watch your step, because you don't want to loose your character right? But taking away that ONE thing ruins the game for you...and for your group. Don't cheat on die rolls, you cheat everyone else by doing this as well. Anyways, just thought I'd state all that, I just don't get it honestly.



hasta

Matthew
2007-07-30, 01:12 AM
Yes, but did you start out by doing this, or did you institute it to punish a player? There's a big difference in perception there. If the DM suddenly just says, "Today, I'm going to have you stop keeping track of your HP and I'm not going to tell you what it is", most players do not react well to a sudden change without good reason. It's usually best that something that drastic be handled diplomatically. The players should have a say in that. After that, you pretty much have to admit you were doing it as punishment when they ask further. I've also GM'ed a lot. Players don't like to feel like you're shafting them for no reason.

No, we didn't start out that way. As I recall, the first time I implemented it was after reading about it in Dragon (many moons ago). Yeah, basically, whenever I decide to implement it, I say, "Okay today I'm not going to be telling you your exact Hit Point Totals". There's usually a brief conversation and the game goes on, exactly the same as any procedural or mechanical change I introduce during the course of a campaign.

This adversarial view of gaming just doesn't make sense to me. The DM is not there to 'screw the players'. Ideally, he should never even be suspected of doing so. My experience of it is that if the Players trust you, then they will pretty much go along with any change you want to try. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out, no harm done. Hiding HP totals does not 'punish' the players, it just removes one layer of the Meta Game from view.

Aquillion
2007-07-30, 01:21 AM
Still... I would think twice before making players' HP totals secret information. Hit points are a bizarre abstraction, generally fairly stupid when you try to apply any sort of logic to them, but one thing that is certain is that the game is designed on the assumption that players know how many HP they have left at all times... fiddling with that changes the balance in lots of subtle ways.

With the players no longer knowing exactly how hurt they are, say, they can't really afford to drop down to 20% of their resources. The way they use magical healing changes dramatically, too; big healing spells become much more worthless, since players don't really know exactly how much healing they need. Abilities and strategies that lower a player's defenses, cost them HP, or otherwise subject them to damage are seriously nerfed as well, since players can't be as careful about using them.

Monsters that can do a lot of damage quickly could easily become much more dangerous than their CR would indicate, since players have no real way to gauge when they're in the "danger zone." Monsters that are supposed to be balanced by being easy to escape are more dangerous, too, since players are less likely to know when to run.

You can still do it, of course, but I'd think it would only be something for an experienced DM and a group of players who wouldn't mind the occasional problem early on as people get used to the new challenges it poses.

Vuzzmop
2007-07-30, 01:21 AM
For the one you know is cheating, out him. And do it in an embarrissing way. For the one who cheats with dice, make him play it where it lands, and make him do it in front of everyone else. If he complains, make sure to say that he has no reason to hide his dice with his hand. This is just crap player behaviour, and you shouldn't have to worry about them like this.

Dairun Cates
2007-07-30, 01:36 AM
Yes, but under that logic, there doesn't seem to be much trust built in the group yet. Without that trust in the DM, changing the rules without giving a reason is like asking your players to play Calvinball (http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Nook/2990/cb_rules.htm). Furthermore, by doing something like this in the spirit of doing it to punish a player for cheating rather than for increasing the group's enjoyment of the game, you're giving the players no reason to trust should they find out your motive. The players shouldn't feel the need to fight the DM, but if the DM is making significant changes to the rules seemingly without reason, the players might feel the DM IS trying to play against them. Why wouldn't they?

If you were a player, and your DM told you, "I've decided that Kobolds should all have the ability to breathe fire like a dragon from now on" without any further explanation how would you react? Would you simply say okay without asking any questions? What if the DM decided to institute gender specific penalties on your players and mid-campaign said he women get a minus to strength and a plus to dex while male characters get a plus to strength and a minus to dex? Rationality aside, that's a change some groups have made. Does that make it okay for a DM to spring it on the players without question?

You may say that if a DM was doing that, you might leave the campaign. The thing is, I'm assuming that this particular DM does not want his players to leave his game. You technically can make massive changes to the system mid-campaign like that on a whim, but if your players don't trust you and don't like it, they are very likely to leave. Maybe the HP thing would be fine if he had worked with his players long enough to have their trust, but if that was the case, it would also not be likely that players would be cheating. That's why I don't think it's a practical solution to solving a cheating problem which I continue to point out is only suspected and not proven.

Matthew
2007-07-30, 01:52 AM
Well, actually, keeping Hit Point totals secret can be a trust building excercise, as the Players have to trust in the narrative honesty of their DM's verbal report as to their Character's status. It's hardly the same thing as changing an aspect of game world verisimilitude either (though it would presumably be fine if Kobolds had never been encountered or this only applied to an obscure group, assuming you modified the CR appropriately).

Now, there are some valid points here made and I'm not saying this is something the OP should definitely do without due consideration. It may be the case that he, as a DM, is not up to the challenge of accurately reporting the status of individual PCs without resorting to numeric signifiers or it may be the case that many of his Players' choices are reliant on knowing Hit Point totals (I cannot think of anything off hand that would conform to this, but you never know).

The point is that keeping Hit Point totals secret is not punishing the players, it's just a gameplay excercise. Inflicting gender specific penalties on a Character or arbitrarily declaring "your sword breaks" with no explanation or motivation beyond causing the Player annoyance is not a valid comparison, as I am not suggesting this be done to punish the player; the intent of the excercise is to reduce his focus on the mechanics of the game for the better enjoyment of all.

Dervag
2007-07-30, 01:59 AM
Hah, hah. I didn't mean you should use no flavour text, I meant you don't need to tell them the Hit Point total taken [i.e. "Bob, you took 7 Hit Points"]. Mind you, that's a fairly old school approach, so it might not wash.OK, but here's the problem.

Unless you plan to confiscate the character sheets and never let the PCs get a look at them in the first place, they know how many hit points they have. And they're going to know roughly how much damage certain kinds of attacks do, but not how much other kinds do. So they'll know roughly how much damage to expect from a fireball- they cast those themselves, after all. But who memorizes the damage from a stone giant's club?

So imagine that the fighter gets hit with a fireball. They know the caster is powerful, so that's 10d6 damage.

I've seen ten-die fireballs do roughly 20 points and roughly 40 points. So the fighter, who we'll say has roughly 80 HP (appropriate for eighth to tenth level), could plausibly have lost anywhere from half to a quarter of his hit points.

But how much? It makes a difference. If they persistently underestimate the damage enemies can deal to them, you get a lot more dead PCs. If they persistently overestimate, then they'll be pulling back when they don't have to, using healing resources that they should have saved for later, dealing with fewer encounters per day, levelling up slower, and probably slowing down the tempo of your adventures below the intended level.

And since they don't get numerical feedback, except for the rather useless "the orc stabs you through the heart and you die" when someone takes their last hit points out, the odds of them persistently over- or under-estimating their own ability to survive in combat are pretty good, unless they have a lot of metagame knowledge about statistics and monster damage that they're applying... which slows down combat.

Keep track of their hit points on your own to prevent cheating, fine. But I think it's a bad idea to deprive them of knowledge of how many HP they have left, just as it would be to deprive a sorceror of knowledge of how many spells he has left.


Well, actually, keeping Hit Point totals secret can be a trust building excercise, as the Players have to trust in the narrative honesty of their DM's verbal report as to their Character's status.Trust building exercises only work when they're mutual, which this isn't. A one-sided trust building exercise is either the first step in establishing a one-sided power relationship (if successful), or a good way to alienate your friends (if failed).

And the DM shouldn't have a one-sided power relationship with the players; the DM's job is different from that of the players and may require them to have veto power over the players in some cases, but if the DM is calling all the shots and the players just have to lump it, then something is wrong.

Rachel Lorelei
2007-07-30, 01:59 AM
Keeping hit points secret is a "punishment" because it doesn't let the players be as efficient with resource allocation. Which Cure do they use? How wounded are they? Does the wizard who's described as having wounds similar to the barbarian's need a Cure Light while the barbarian needs a Cure Serious?

Matthew
2007-07-30, 02:10 AM
OK, but here's the problem.

Unless you plan to confiscate the character sheets and never let the PCs get a look at them in the first place, they know how many hit points they have. And they're going to know roughly how much damage certain kinds of attacks do, but not how much other kinds do. So they'll know roughly how much damage to expect from a fireball- they cast those themselves, after all. But who memorizes the damage from a stone giant's club?

So imagine that the fighter gets hit with a fireball. They know the caster is powerful, so that's 10d6 damage.

I've seen ten-die fireballs do roughly 20 points and roughly 40 points. So the fighter, who we'll say has roughly 80 HP (appropriate for eighth to tenth level), could plausibly have lost anywhere from half to a quarter of his hit points.

But how much? It makes a difference. If they persistently underestimate the damage enemies can deal to them, you get a lot more dead PCs. If they persistently overestimate, then they'll be pulling back when they don't have to, using healing resources that they should have saved for later, dealing with fewer encounters per day, levelling up slower, and probably slowing down the tempo of your adventures below the intended level.

And since they don't get numerical feedback, except for the rather useless "the orc stabs you through the heart and you die" when someone takes their last hit points out, the odds of them persistently over- or under-estimating their own ability to survive in combat are pretty good, unless they have a lot of metagame knowledge about statistics and monster damage that they're applying... which slows down combat.

Keep track of their hit points on your own to prevent cheating, fine. But I think it's a bad idea to deprive them of knowledge of how many HP they have left, just as it would be to deprive a sorceror of knowledge of how many spells he has left.

I don't see it that way at all. It's very easy to give narrative indications of how much damage has been sustained, "The Orc deals you a mighty blow, you doubt you would be able to turn aside another like that" or something of that nature provides pretty much all you need to know. Of course, it could be a critical in which case you would expect it to have more narrative indicators, but the point is the same. You don't need to know exactly how many Hit Points you have left, a general indication will in the majority of situations be fine.


Trust building exercises only work when they're mutual, which this isn't. A one-sided trust building exercise is either the first step in establishing a one-sided power relationship (if successful), or a good way to alienate your friends (if failed).

And the DM shouldn't have a one-sided power relationship with the players; the DM's job is different from that of the players and may require them to have veto power over the players in some cases, but if the DM is calling all the shots and the players just have to lump it, then something is wrong.

A valid point, but I don't think in this case there is no trust between the DM and Players. I would say this is a case where trust is being abused and needs to be realigned and rebuilt. I don't see this as creating a power divide between Players and DM, he is not their opponent and not there to kill their Characters. This is pretty much the same as not knowing the AC, AB or HP of critter X and being reliant on narrative from the DM. Eventually players will work out the general stats from play (or they will read the MM), but they still don't know the precise HP of Ogre X from round to round.

In every game there is a social contract between Players and DM, but there is no reason te players should have a 'veto' over a rule anymore than the DM. It is the DM's responsibility to have the appearance of being fair and as long as all rules are equally applied and challenges are relative to the strength of the group that is all that is really needed.

joe
2007-07-30, 02:11 AM
As a wise man once told me "Cheating at D&D is like cheating at golf.. the onlyperson you're screwing is yourself."

Anyhow, I've been in this same problem...not so much with the HP issue, but with people cheating on their rolls. There were 3 players in particulr I knew that did this.

The first moved away, so we never had to deal with him for long.

The second was caught blantnatly switching a rolled 1 into a 19 when he thought no one was looking. He was publically brought out and yelled at by the DM at the time, and since then, hadn't done it again.

The third was a bit of a character, and while he cheated blantantly (hiding his die rolls and claiming them to be numbers they weren't, he'd actually convinced himself he wasn't doing it, and would get seriously offended at any allegations of cheating. We started tryign to subtly let him know we knew he was cheating, and he should stop. When this didn't work, I blantantly told him... which resulted in him no longer showing up to our sessions. person #2 even gave him hell for it because in his words "at least I fessed up when I was blantantly cought"

The thing is... none of the following players were really close with us (they were people we met at the Game Store, as opposed to friends or anything) so it wasn't too had. If you have a friend that's cheating, it's difficult to clal him out without putting your friendship in jeapordy. I would talk to them in private, and let them know taht you know something's going on, and that you would appeciate it if they wouldn't do it any longer.

I saw above someone suggested a dice cup... dice cups are a very good idea if you suspect there's a problem. Make all the players use it, and the problem is resolved... especially good because dice cups are inconvienent and the players that don't cheat will give the cheater(s) hell because they have to use them too.

Dairun Cates
2007-07-30, 02:19 AM
I definitely can see the no hp mechanic working and being an interesting bit of realism. Technically, fire-breathing kobolds could be an interesting world mechanic, and some groups are fine with gender based ability score adjustments (although most aren't). My point was that, as suggested, I don't think this is a good mechanic to put on players with at least a semi-vote of consent. If they're a tad leery about it, it's fine to say, "give it a try guys", but if the players are vehemently opposed to it, I certainly wouldn't use it. DM'ing is, after all, mostly about having the players enjoy themselves while managing to meek out that bit of enjoyment that keeps your insane cat-herding self coming back.

That being said, as a side suggestion, it's reasonable. It's not something I'd personally try in my group on account of certain quirks within my group and the fact that some of my players may actually kill themselves within five minutes of implementing it with their suicidal love of diving into battle headlong with low HP.

I think it's necessary to take most problems in a game with a light hand first and then escalating pressure. I think in both cases, a side discussion with the players is wiser at first. There are of course exceptions, but I don't think this is one of them.

The HP thing could've been an honest mistake and harassing the player for it is bad. Explaining to the player that you think his math was off and wondered if he's having trouble keeping up with the math or was confused on something not only shows a sign of compassion, but also shows a desire to make the environment more relaxing for the player.

The dice. It's probably best to be honest with the player and explain that he's been getting lucky rolls, and explain to him that he's been picking them up a bit fast and that while you're not accusing him of cheating, you're worried that it might look like that to the other players and they might think he's trying to one-up them. Of course, the dice cup can also be used under the basis that dice are rolling off the table. If you're not already using a dice cup, there's probably not a group alive that doesn't occasionally roll off the table. This isn't drastic enough to seem vengeful... unless your players read these boards.

I'm mostly just worried that introducing the no HP mechanic as the first reaction to potential cheating, whether its done for that reason or not might be seen as too severe by the players if they catch wind to it. It's the same as if I had a rules argument with a player 30 seconds ago and then I rolled a crit against his character. To be honest, I'd probably just call it as a regular hit, because honest or not, it's going to look too coincidental to the players and I'm going to come off as someone who brings pettiness to the table.

For those that don't want to read all of that, the short version is:
The timing is bad on it.

Matthew
2007-07-30, 02:21 AM
Keeping hit points secret is a "punishment" because it doesn't let the players be as efficient with resource allocation. Which Cure do they use? How wounded are they? Does the wizard who's described as having wounds similar to the barbarian's need a Cure Light while the barbarian needs a Cure Serious?

Not as great a problem as you are imagining. Apart from anything else, Cure Spells are themselves radnomly determined numbers of Hit Points, so it is not as though you have perfect control over them to begin with. If you know the Wizard has X number of HP in total you can have a fair guess at how many he has lost during the course of the game and from narrative indicators. Honestly, there's nothing stopping the DM from telling the Players that Cure X is 'probably too potent' for Character Y, if he really feels he needs to. In most cases, though, knowing the Hit Point total of Character X and having a narrative signifier as to his status will allow a Player to determine an appropriate Cure Spell.

Funkyodor
2007-07-30, 02:44 AM
Well, lets see. Is it that he always rolls 15+ or that his final result is always 15+? If he is good at metagaming, having +11 to +14 bonus on everything that he does might not be too hard. But if he is always rolling 15+ in the shifty way you describe, then the simple answer might be to just ignore the damage he does to whatever monster he is attacking. Or have the DC scores for actions he takes increased by +10 or so.

For the HP thing, in the middle of battle ask how many HP everyone has left. Then at the end ask the same question. You might not have to bring up the situation, other players might. As a player, I find it kinda rude to have someone cheating playing beside me. It takes away some of the RP flavor and adds to the difficulty if the DM thinks she can get away with increasing the monster DC because someone always Diplomacies or Beats his part through encounters with minimal injuries while the rest of the party is gonna get pounded even more.

Kurald Galain
2007-07-30, 06:35 AM
I've done the "not telling players their hit points" bit (not for cheating reasons but for flavor) and found that it doesn't work in my group, because the PCs forget the condition they're in. But ymmv.

With respect to dice cheating, here's a weird suggestion: get a laptop, and have everybody use an auto-roller. Might not work in your group, but if it does, no more cheating.

EvilDMMk3
2007-07-30, 06:43 AM
Boot the filthy cheater.

If you can't don't want to:

1.Track PC hp.
2.All rolls where all can see, rolls not left long enough to see are 1s.
3.You DO have final say in all things. HOWEVER I would point out that you also have a respocibility and duty to the rest of the Players.

Nerd-o-rama
2007-07-30, 07:12 AM
Yeah, I don't really see what the moral dilemma here is, at least for the blatant dice-fudger. To borrow a phrase from various chat services,

/kickban

Or, if you feel nice, give him one chance to stop doing that, and make sure you can see all his rolls as he makes them.

For the guy who stayed up longer than he should have, it's possible it was an honest mistake. Erring on the side of kindness, I'd say just monitor everyone's HP yourself, and tell them their running counts if you feel like it. Erring on the side of my experience in dealing with people and human ethics...

/kickban

Just a thought.

Diggorian
2007-07-30, 08:01 AM
I've played in no PC sheet games before. They're interesting cause you can focus on character primarily and add a new level of challenge. It's simply a matter of describing things verbally instead of numerically. They do rely heavily on trust, but that's not a problem in my group, maybe for others though.

I have players fill out reference cards with certain skill mods(those ya sometimes want to roll secretly), alignment, you could include HP too. I also arrange them in initiative order for combat.

For the rolls mandate that all die fall in view of all. If you use a screen roll some of your in front of it too for good faith.

mudbunny
2007-07-30, 08:19 AM
In the game I am in, all of the players keep track of their own HP, the DM trusts us.

As for dice rolling, all dice rolls need to be in the center of the table, and the dice can't be touched until another person sees the result of the roll.

Arbitrarity
2007-07-30, 08:28 AM
Step on the dice :smallbiggrin:

Seriously, we had a player who had dice with bubbles. As he probably knew (No, those are my dice!), and was shown after someone stepped on them (crunch!)

Indon
2007-07-30, 08:30 AM
Personally, I'd address the players in private.

If they didn't change, I'd stop inviting them to the sessions.

Hallavast
2007-07-30, 08:33 AM
Well... I would take it on faith that perhaps the hitpoint discrepency was an honest mistake, and have the lucky roller roll openly out on the table. Then continue as normal... the ball is in their court... <puffs on imaginary pipe>

Jayabalard
2007-07-30, 08:46 AM
You can keep track, but it's pathological DMing not to tell them, especially if they can't be expected to know how much damage the monsters are dealing on a hit.Not at all; it's just a different style of gaming than you play.

Krrth
2007-07-30, 09:19 AM
My group had a similar problem with a player always rolling high. Things like a crit every three hits, always for max damage, always rolling over a 15 on skill checks and the like. The way we handled it was simple. We just sat him next to the DM (our group sits around a table, with the DM at the head). Then, all rolls must be on the table. The DM could keep an eye on the dice rolls, and the player got better at math *very* quickly. The beauty of it was that nothing was brought up in public, we just re-arranged seating.

valadil
2007-07-30, 09:38 AM
I think you need to double check the HP cheater. They may just be bad at math.

I have less sympathy for the dice adjuster guy. One of my groups used to have a guy like that, though I never played with him. Even though he's gone now they still talk about his shenanigans. Rather than calling him on his cheating you need to make a rule that all dice get rolled on the table and hands stay away. We had a guy who tried to cheat this way, though he wasn't quite so subtle about it. Whenever he rolled under a 5 he'd yell "that's bull!" and reroll. Eventually it was ruled that anything he rerolled was an automatic failure, even if he had succeeded on the initial roll. He kept doing it. I even told him we were playing d20, not d16+4, but I don't think he understood. At any rate, calling all nudged dice failures ought to make this player stop quickly.

Yechezkiel
2007-07-30, 09:52 AM
It is particularly cruel to out a gamer in public on their first offense.

I don't condone cheating and I too have a special place in my heart for people who try to (as I see it) ruin the game I put a lot into to run, but gamers are an awkward bunch. Even if you're not, most of us are socially introverted in one way or another and there can be all sorts of explanations why a player feels the need to shine and stand out in a game. You can really traumatize someone who already has other issues though, and the stigma of being a cheater won't go away. It's better to have them as a "reformed cheater" then an outcast.

From experience DMing tabletops, and STing LARPs, you have to at least try to approach them privately first. Don't put up with it, but try to realize the consequences for the player.

PlatinumJester
2007-07-30, 10:19 AM
Every one cheats OCCASIONALLY (don't you dare so you don't because you do) but if they do it continuosly then you should take them aside and tell them to quit cheating or quit coming to sessions. The guy who decided not to faint I can sympathise with since he might have really liked that character and probably didn't want him/her to die but you should still tell him/her off anyway.

They guy who cheats on with his D20 should be forced to roll where everyone can see the result. Yeah it sucks rolling a 1 on the intiative and being last but deal with it.

Winterwind
2007-07-30, 11:19 AM
I'd like to propose a different approach...

As several people have pointed out, cheating in a roleplaying game is pretty much screwing oneself over. That's true, unless there is a discrepancy between what the rules say and the style of playing one would prefer. After all, the purpose of playing is not adhering to the rules as written, but having fun. Now, maybe the player who cheats on his HP does not derive as much fun from the tension that lies in the possibility of death, as actual death of his character would be detrimental to his enjoyment of the session. In that case, I would just ask him whether he would prefer his character to possess a "character shield" (a question I ask every player I start playing with - so far everyone preferred the ), which would prevent his character from dying at any point (maybe incredible stupidity excluded). The character might fall unconcious, be captured or some kind of deus ex machina might swoop in, but he wouldn't die. If that's what he tried to achieve by cheating, he wouldn't have to anymore.

Likewise, increasing the dice rolls might be a sign of the player wanting to play a more competent character than he actually does, or roleplaying as a truly mighty hero, not some random wimp who travels around the world. Again, I would just ask him whether that was his desire, and allow him to, if that was what he considered more fun. Actually, manipulating a dice roll is somewhat equivalent to deciding, that one would derive more fun if an attempted action succeeded, therefore just allowing to manipulate dice rolls whenever desired might just be enough.

In both cases, I would ask the rest of the group what their preferences would be, and whether they were ok with those exceptions for these players. If not, a compromise would have to be found.

The real problem I see is that these players started to cheat and thus break the group's rules, instead of asking the group to change the rules to accommodate their preferences. That's a severe breach of trust. Still, I would just make sure the players understand that if they can't find as much enjoyment in playing as they could if any rules were different, they should not break the rules, but feel free to step forward and discuss them.

Remus of Rome
2007-07-30, 11:30 AM
this is were the secret DM rolls come in handy if you ave a photo copier or to save trees you can do it by hand but ask for a copy (or copy yourself) of each player character sheets this way you can make secret rolls with them also you can verify things like hitpoints and skills and the secret rolls maybe a room filled with carbon monoxide

Telonius
2007-07-30, 11:38 AM
Scenario for the HP miscounting:

DM rolls a hit on the character. DM winces. "How many HP did you say you had?"
Player tells a number.
DM rolls damage, and says the damage total.

This works best on hits by bigger enemies, and the wince is crucial. It makes the player think that you're concerned about not killing him. He may even think that you fudged your roll lower. But in reality you're just checking up on his hp total, and getting the player to state publicly how much he has left.

For the dice cheater, if you really suspect they're weighted, consider running a one-off First Edition campaign. If the player switches dice you'll know something's up. If it's just dice flipping, require all dice rolls on the table.

One final thing, it's just barely possible that the player has learned how to roll to get a specific number to come up on top. This is, at the very least, possible with d6's. I have personally witnessed a guy nearly getting thrown out of a Vegas casino for trying to beat the craps tables like that. Dice cups are pretty cheap to get, and can prevent this.

Krellen
2007-07-30, 11:46 AM
I haven't read every post in this thread in depth, but I think this is a stance that has yet to be given.

My response to "I have a cheating player" was, and still is, "So what?"

You're not trying to win. He's not trying to win. You're playing to have fun. Is any of this visibly reducing the fun of the other players at the table? If not - ignore it.

As a DM, I never worry about making sure things are "fair"; heck, if the players are doing the fudging it means there's less fudging for me to do. TPKs aren't fun, and getting knocked out in a fight isn't fun (for that player) either. Unless the "cheating" is making things less pleasant for the rest of the table, why get worked up about it?

tainsouvra
2007-07-30, 01:12 PM
The player hasd a habit of hiding his roll with his hand or picking up the dice to see it (I think he turns it as he picks it up to get a better number). This player rolls high when he wants and low when he wants and he knows the rules quite well (sometimes better than me and we have had issues when he hasn't taken my ruling on an issue as final).
Does anyone have any solutions or advice I could use in the next game on the weekend? Player dice are rolled into a box that is sitting on the table in everyone's sight.

The "rolling into a box" idea is one that we sometimes use, but not to avoid cheating, it's just because the dice don't get lost or land on something uneven this way. It happens to be a good anti-cheating measure, though, as all the other players tend to be looking at what any one of them rolled and there isn't a way to fudge it without getting noticed.

Thinker
2007-07-30, 01:15 PM
I haven't read every post in this thread in depth, but I think this is a stance that has yet to be given.

My response to "I have a cheating player" was, and still is, "So what?"

You're not trying to win. He's not trying to win. You're playing to have fun. Is any of this visibly reducing the fun of the other players at the table? If not - ignore it.

As a DM, I never worry about making sure things are "fair"; heck, if the players are doing the fudging it means there's less fudging for me to do. TPKs aren't fun, and getting knocked out in a fight isn't fun (for that player) either. Unless the "cheating" is making things less pleasant for the rest of the table, why get worked up about it?

So you want to play a game where you play the role of an adventurer, going on dangerous quests and defeating hazardous monsters with no risk? That doesn't sound very fun to me. I want to know that my character is in jeopardy and doing what he does puts him in definite peril.

tainsouvra
2007-07-30, 01:22 PM
Unless the "cheating" is making things less pleasant for the rest of the table, why get worked up about it? There's the catch--it usually does detract from everyone else's fun. If it didn't, he wouldn't have to worry what the other players would think, and he wouldn't be hiding his cheating...but he knows.

Just use a blanket rule for everyone, not just that guy, since it's too soon to publicly call him out as a cheater. I do prefer my "dice box" rule, but really anything that makes it impossible to hide his results will work.

Krellen
2007-07-30, 01:25 PM
So you want to play a game where you play the role of an adventurer, going on dangerous quests and defeating hazardous monsters with no risk? That doesn't sound very fun to me. I want to know that my character is in jeopardy and doing what he does puts him in definite peril.
Neither I - nor those I game with - see an extraordinary amount of fun from "challenge" and "risk". If we did, we'd probably be playing sports or training to participate in Sasuke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sasuke_%28TV_series%29) rather than playing D&D. I am quite capable of crafting story lines and adventures whose enjoyment comes from sources other than the blatant fear some random encounter is going to kill you (and, in fact, most of the disagreements I've had with my players have stemmed from encounters where the risk was, indeed, quite sharp.)

It seems pretty clear to me, also, that these players who are "cheating" are likely much the same way; their fun does not come from the challenge or risk of an encounter.

Person_Man
2007-07-30, 01:27 PM
I assume your players are 14, or had their growth stunted and have the maturity of 14 year olds. You can't win D&D, and thus there is no reason to cheat.

A simple fix it to spend $10 on a dry-erase board, a large easel pad, or a bulletin board. When combat starts, write or tac the players and monsters names down in Initiative order. Have all the players list off their AC, touch AC, no Dex AC, and hit points, and add them to the board. As combat progresses, you can keep track of everything on the board, and every knows exactly how many hit points everyone has.

Also, get a box (I use a shoebox top). Whenever someone roles a die (including you. As a DM, I don't like to fake dice roles) its done in the box. This avoids cocked dice, dice falling off of tables, and most cheating. If a die seems like its fixed, then announce that to the player, and insist on rolling that die when you attack him. Or simply ask him to use one of your dice.

Yakk
2007-07-30, 02:03 PM
1> Go to Ikea. They sell decorative glass beads -- you get like 30 to 60 for 2$. Buy a few containers in a few different colours. (cheaper than gaming-store bead counters)

Now use these beads for player HP. The player should have a cup in front of them. You have beads worth 10 HP and beads worth 1 HP. When you damage a player, you ask for that many beads. They can ask you for change.

2> Get a plastic bowl with a flat bottom or a cardboard box. State that all rolls must be made into that bowl, and you can't move the dice unless the DM can see it.

3> Introduce fate points.

Fate points let you re-roll bad rolls. You get some fate points by showing up and engaging in risky behaviour in an adventure (you get 1 at the start of every fight and 1 at the start of every gaming session, and 1 whenever you gain a level).

You get additional fate points by determining what the DM storyline is, and following it. You can also get fate points by producing a storyline more interesting than the DM intended. :)

You can have at most (current character level) in fate points.

Fate points can be used to:
Reroll a to-hit roll done by you, or on you.
Reroll a save done against an effect you caused by someone else, or reroll one of your own saves.
Reroll a damage roll done to you or by you.
If you have at least 1 fate point, you can burn all of your fate points to turn certain death into merely being crippled (ie, lose all of your gear, be captured, and have to fight your way free from the BBEG's dungeon).

When you burn a fate point, the result cannot be worse than it was originally.

No more than 1 fate point may be burnt per roll, other than the "get out of jail free" effect.

The point of fate points is that it provides a means for your party to cheat legitimately.


Every one cheats OCCASIONALLY (don't you dare so you don't because you do)

Other people are not the same as you, and your own moral choices are not theirs. It is not very polite to project your own moral status and choices on other people.

Thanks!

Winterwind
2007-07-30, 02:48 PM
@Krellen: 100% agreed.


So you want to play a game where you play the role of an adventurer, going on dangerous quests and defeating hazardous monsters with no risk? That doesn't sound very fun to me. I want to know that my character is in jeopardy and doing what he does puts him in definite peril.To some people the point of roleplaying is rather in telling an interesting story and going through emotionally interesting dramatic situations with their characters, rather than overcoming challenges. And while many stories contain elements of danger and tension, most of them don't kill off their protagonists at random moments, but only when it is to the most dramatic and plot-propelling effect. Since the player has control over his character it should be, ideally, up to him to decide whether and when his character dies.

While my players prefer to have the additional element of risk of dying, I perfectly understand why somebody would want to go without it, and therefore offer every single one of my players to decide whether or not (s)he wants the possibility of death - after all, their understanding of fun might deviate from mine.

On another note, a DM of a group I play in introduced an interesting concept: at the beginning of every session he hands out one card to every player, upon which there are three terms - one overall theme and two opposing things associated with it (like, say, Mage - Genius - Insanity). A player can play his card at any time and override the DM's description and dictate himself what is going to happen - but the new course of things has to be linked somehow with one of the three terms written on the card.
It's a fairly interesting way to include the players in the DMing process and give them a chance to provide more input into the overall story, can also serve to similar purposes as the fate points Yakk proposes.

NamelessArchon
2007-07-30, 03:04 PM
I've had a few players who like 'winning' so much they're treading the fine line bordering 'loser'. Thus, I've used the following before in various cases:

1. All players use the DMs dice. I have a wide variety of sets in varying colors. Dice are assigned by me at random (I hand 'em out) to players. This prevents "loaded dice" and similar cheats. All dice are returned to the DM at the end of the session. No exceptions. Don't bring outside dice - I won't use them, you won't use them. Since I use the same dice sets as the players do, no one loads dice and everyone's happy.

2. All players roll onto the table. Dice which bounce off something (books, drinks, hands) or roll off the table are rerolled immediately. A reroll that does so is an automatic failure.

Using a "roll box" has been used instead if people prefer that, but I tend to use more than one (Say, 1 per 2 players) since getting people around a table small enough to use one boxtop means there's not a lot of room left for sheets, maps, and books on the table.

Touching the dice before they're read = fail. Period. If it's a damage roll or similar roll (which can't be failed), then the result is treated as the least favorable. (Minimum damage, natural ones, etc.)

3. Character sheets are always kept by the DM between sessions. Copies that leave are made available and are always permitted - but the "originals" the DM keeps always rule if there's any discrepancy. A comparison copy is often made/kept by the DM from before each session, in case I suspect someone to be going Red Mage on their character sheets. This one's often a little extra bookkeeping, but you don't have to be religious about it - you only have to copy the ones you think are cheating.

4. Players may not consult a "DM" book or chapter during play. Monster Manuals, DM's Guide, and similar are verboten during play. Sure, you can memorize it - just don't get caught by surprise when your memory and my world conflict. Blurting out "That's not in the Monster Manual" is not a good way to make friends with the new beastie. I allow knowledge skill rolls to "remember" tidbits like weaknesses and immunities.

5. Always used: Being caught once is a warning in private after the session. Being caught twice is a public shaming. Being caught three times is an instant removal from future sessions. (I keep a red stamp pad with a big rubber 'VOID' stamp for character sheets from such occasions. I've used it exactly never, but that day may yet come...)

Interestingly enough, I don't have much trouble with cheaters. I assume it's because my players are scrupulously honest, and not because I'm willing to enforce these draconian measures if need be.

hewhosaysfish
2007-07-30, 03:06 PM
Since the player has control over his character it should be, ideally, up to him to decide whether and when his character dies.

While my players prefer to have the additional element of risk of dying, I perfectly understand why somebody would want to go without it, and therefore offer every single one of my players to decide whether or not (s)he wants the possibility of death - after all, their understanding of fun might deviate from mine.

The problem is, of course, when different players have different ideas of fun in the same group e.g. in a land overrun by an army of demons, one person plays their character as if the group were desperate, isolated geurillas while another wants to lead a heroic crusade and drive the demons back to the Abyss... and then invade it.

In a high-level campaign, the first character is being stupid, imagining they are outclasses by a bunch of bebliths, and will look like a right tool when the invasion of the Abyss goes to plan. In a low level campaign, the second character is being stupid, going off like they're the bastard love-child of Leeroy Jenkins and Mary-Sue, and will look like a right tool when they are duly creamed.

But with optional death, both can be right at the same time and player 1 can be engaged in a tense life-or-death struggle with a babau at one end of the room while at the other thier team-mate is holding of 5 balors single-handedly.

Winterwind
2007-07-30, 03:17 PM
The problem is, of course, when different players have different ideas of fun in the same group...Which is why it is always advisable to make sure everyone is on the same page, both in terms of setting (what is powerful, what is not, what is general knowledge, what is unknown to even the best educated character, etc.) and gamestyle (is death possible, how much can the players decide what their characters are capable of, how much is that the DM's task, and so on)
If widely differring a compromise must be found, or alternatively it may be better to split the group into two groups with different styles. I have to admit I am lucky enough to play with people who all share similar views (if anyone it is me who comes up with proposals to shift away from status quo).

But with optional death, both can be right at the same time and player 1 can be engaged in a tense life-or-death struggle with a babau at one end of the room while at the other thier team-mate is holding of 5 balors single-handedly.Right. :smallsmile:

Dairun Cates
2007-07-30, 03:24 PM
The problem is, of course, when different players have different ideas of fun in the same group e.g. in a land overrun by an army of demons, one person plays their character as if the group were desperate, isolated geurillas while another wants to lead a heroic crusade and drive the demons back to the Abyss... and then invade it.

Couldn't you do both incredibly easily without even the difference in power? Couldn't the campaign start out with the group being guerillas in a hopeless future and gradually gaining ground through the leadership of the heroic character (who will die in episode 6 to stand as a monument of inspiration to everyone... DAMN YOU POPULAR ANIME!)? Eventually, they lead their last assault on the enemy base while the more pessimistic characters learn to get a more heroic side. Seems like a pretty easy rift to deal with. The wonderful thing about players wanting to play low and high level is that you can go from one to the other.

Yahzi
2007-07-30, 11:01 PM
1> Go to Ikea.

3> Introduce fate points.
Excellent advice, Yakk!

Those are such good ideas I think I'll use them without waiting for cheating players.

:smallsmile:

tannish2
2007-07-30, 11:51 PM
Couldn't you do both incredibly easily without even the difference in power? Couldn't the campaign start out with the group being guerillas in a hopeless future and gradually gaining ground through the leadership of the heroic character (who will die in episode 6 to stand as a monument of inspiration to everyone... DAMN YOU POPULAR ANIME!)? Eventually, they lead their last assault on the enemy base while the more pessimistic characters learn to get a more heroic side. Seems like a pretty easy rift to deal with. The wonderful thing about players wanting to play low and high level is that you can go from one to the other.

or go from being part of a heroic crusade, which is utterly crushed, and go to being geurillas fighting in a seemingly hopeless ect ect.

Dairun Cates
2007-07-31, 12:06 AM
or go from being part of a heroic crusade, which is utterly crushed, and go to being geurillas fighting in a seemingly hopeless ect ect.

That's certainly a darker take on it, but I think I made my point.

Middle Snu
2007-07-31, 01:58 AM
As far as the HP cheater: probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. I know that I have actually lost a character due to bad math. (It was a major forehead-smack later.)

Varnithis
2007-07-31, 02:06 AM
Next time they make camp and the cheaters go to sleep, they get Coup de Graced by a goblin with a ring of invisiblty and silence cast on him.

That's my prefered method of removing cheaters in low level games.

((Don't really do this unless you like being totally evil. Let them know subtely that you know they are cheating and see if they stop. Then unload the wraith of the DM if they don't.))

((Yes, I know I can't spell))

Stephen_E
2007-07-31, 02:16 AM
I think the private approach is probably the best, initially at least, although this will depend on your assessment of their personalities. There are those who'll just get nasty and abusive regardless of theire actual guilt, at the suggestion they might be cheating. The others are those, as someone else mentioned, who just don't see what they're doing as cheating. In some way or form they'll justify what they're doing as "fair".

Nonetheless -
Mr Wrong hit points: -
Point out to him that you think he may've noted his damage down incorrectedly in that last battle, and can he keep a claose eye on it. Whether he says "huh! I thought you were keeping track of that" or "sorry, I'll try and be more careful", keep track oh his hps for the next few sessions. If he takes the outraged "are you accusing me of cheating!" the best response is probably something along the lines of <puzzled look> "Huh, what are you talking about? I just thought you made an adding mistake", unless he's incredibly touchy normally that should be the end of it. If it isn't, and he wasn't incredibly touchy beforehand, it probably means he actully was cheating. Cheats can get very touchy about their "honesty" strangely enough.

Mr Never rolls below 15: -
To be honest this guy sounds more like he has been cheating, but people can be lucky.
I suggest you mention to him that some other players have expressed unhappiness about the way he hides his rolls, and that for the sake of group harmony could he start rolling the dice in the open and reading them before picking them up.

It should be also noted that there are 3 types of D20. Only one of them is guaranteed entry into tournaments. This is has a 2,8 & 14 adjacent to the 20. Another has two 10+ numbers adjacent to the 20, this is sometimes allowed, and sometimes not. The blatantly illegal one is the "spin down". All the higher numbers are on one side, around the 20, and all the low numbers are on the other side around the one. Note: Ownership and use of a "spin down" doesn't automatically mean a person is cheating. Many were sold and purchased in good faith. The trouble is that by intent or simply natural throwing style, you can dramatically increase the odds of getting a high result.

Stephen

caden_varn
2007-07-31, 02:38 AM
Hmmm. Personally I would avoid explicitly accusing players of anything without sure proof of cheating. The HP could be error, as many people have already pointed out. Try to get them to change their behaviour without making a big deal of it. If this fails and you feel you do need to confront either player, do so in private and as diplomatically as possible. Even if you feel a player is cheating, and even if you don't like them, getting angry or confrontational can easily get out of control and have much bigger consequences than you anticipated.

Personally, when I DM I keep track of HP - I find it invaluable for making sure the game goes as I expect. If they find one encounter much harder than I anticipated, I can then lower the difficulty or plain drop later encounters. I don't do it to detect cheating, but I can tell if it happens. I also keep track of AC and a few other stats like spot and listen checks, which can speed the game and add a little paranoia.

As for the dice roller, have all dice rolled in plain view. Something like into a box as suggested before is a good idea, as it also keep dice on the table and away from any minis you may have. Give them a little time to get used to it and try to get the other players on side to enforce it. If he persists, you could say that any hidden rolls are automatic failures - not rerolls. Or if you prefer make rolls yourself (more work for you though). Be consistent - if you do it for him, do it for the other players. If you decide to do that, think beforehand about how you will present this to your players. You may not want to say it's because player X is abusing the system, depending on your group and approach.

Dervag
2007-07-31, 02:46 AM
2. All players roll onto the table. Dice which bounce off something (books, drinks, hands) or roll off the table are rerolled immediately. A reroll that does so is an automatic failure.But bounces don't affect the randomness of a roll, do they? If the die was on a random number before it hit the obstacle, it will be on a random number afterwards.

And why the automatic failure?


Interestingly enough, I don't have much trouble with cheaters. I assume it's because my players are scrupulously honest, and not because I'm willing to enforce these draconian measures if need be.If they're honest, then they probably think you're kind of a meanie for enforcing draconian measures on them, no?

kismetrose
2007-07-31, 04:03 PM
Having dealt with something like this in the past, here's my advice:

Do not punish the characters for what the players are doing, if you can avoid it. Do not crush them in-game even if you're miffed. Do not make encounters harder to "compensate" for their cheating. Punishment maneuvers tend to breed resentment quickly and don't solve the basic problem. It really helps to keep out of game troubles out on the outside, and in game troubles on the inside.

If you feel it will help, confront them. If you think confrontation will only make things worse, then be calm and try some other measures. People do not like to be accused of cheating, even if they're doing it (perhaps especially if they're doing it). If it ends up coming down to a confrontation, try to think of it as a conversation instead. Start your sentences with "I" rather than "you" so that you don't just sound like you're breathing down their necks.

Having players roll in the open is a great idea and it can work like a charm. If you have players you can trust to monitor each other, it's even better. If you can't trust them and you think they'll let each other cheat, then they'll have to roll where you can see it. Institute the rule that no one should pick up the dice before the roll is registered. Any dice that can't be read from at least a foot away should not be used (they'll use it as an excuse to pick them up). The dice cup might be a good addition to this as well. If the player's dice are weighted and consistently come up too high (like, out of 20 rolls), then you will have to call them on it directly.

People should be keeping track of their own hit points; the DM has enough to take care of. You should keep track of them for now so you can set your own mind at ease but you should also make it clear to them that they need to keep track of their HP at all times so they know their character's status, and because that is part of their job as players. They get ONE character apiece to handle, and they need to keep track of their characters. Keep an eye on the situation to find out if ignoring hit points is a trend. It might just have been a one time thing. If it is a trend, then you'll probably have to talk to them about it.

NamelessArchon
2007-08-03, 03:16 PM
But bounces don't affect the randomness of a roll, do they?Nope, not as such. On those rare occasions where I've actually *used* such a rule (and I do mean rare), I've had reason to do so. We're not talking about "oops, I bounced it off my soda by accident" in a normal game night here, we're talking about players making deliberate attempts to influence the randomness of the outcome. Cheating players, in other words, as the OP was discussing. Try to stick with us here, yes?

I've had players who seem to derive great amusement from rolling a die such that it bounces off things and lands on the floor (or other unseen spot) to be retrieved and read - without any need or obvious cause for it to do so. Needless to say, this slows the game down more than it has to, and there's the big question of how you read that d20 that landed on carpet, or how you read the one that rolled under that book conveniently jutting out from the stack, or whatever. This is usually very similar to the "hides with hand and reads" behavior the OP mentions.


And why the automatic failure?Since I don't use ANY of these rules in an otherwise "normal" session, I thought that alone would make it obvious. Would you do something wrong twice (in an attempt to cheat), while knowing that if you were caught screwing around, you would suffer the worst result as a result? The threat of this rule being put into place is often enough to keep the ones that are worst about it from doing it in the first place.

The guilty flee when no man pursues them, after all.


If they're honest, then they probably think you're kind of a meanie for enforcing draconian measures on them, no?Since the topic was about dealing with two players the DM thinks are cheating (probably with good cause), how about we evaluate the material as it deals with THAT, instead of speculating about how my players may or may not react to rules I don't even use in a "standard" game? As I said at the end of the very post you're quoting: "If need be." I don't like playing ethics monitor.

My standard games use none of these rules - with the exception of the roll box if playing in an area where such a thing helps keep dice under control better, and that's a convenience issue, not a cheat-stopper. I have enough things to worry about without continuing to invite cheating players.

Krasus
2007-08-03, 09:37 PM
General advice, then my belief on how to deal with Hedoaen Urdwed's people/problem....

-General Advice First: As DM, keep track of their total HP, AC, save bonuses, and spot/search/listen bonuses. The HP let's you keep a vague idea of how much HP they should/do have. The AC is so you can tell if you hit them. The Save bonuses is because they don't always know they are making a save. Not all mind affecting spells are detectable, nor are all poisons and it may change their actions if they knew that made a save. Similar with spot/search/listen. If you make the person in the front make a spot check when the party begins walking down a hallway, some players suddenly become very interested in walking slowly and checking for traps. Or they begin checking nearby ledges and the ceiling for enemies. Same thing with Listen. And the search is because a player doesn't know how well they searched an area. If someone rolls and says they got a total of 8 for searching a room, someone else is inclined to say they'll search the room too. They only said this after they learned their ally did poory, when their ally would believe there is nothing there since they didn't find anything. DnD wise I was raised by an ADnD'er who had the strong belief that the DM was god, and I agree with him. But you are also playing with other people, so don't be arrogant or a jerk. Your word is final, and the if your decisions are different than those in the rulebook, it doesn't matter. I would recommend letting them try to convince you why they should be right. Some times they may be right.

-Possible HP cheater: Start of next game tell the guy that you thought he took more damage then he recorded, and to keep a better watch on it. I'm not saying doing this privately, that is up to you and the person you are telling. You need to judge which way would be better. Some other people mentioned some good ways of subtling getting the player to publicly announce their HP. I would reccommend trying a few of them.

-The High Roller: Once the next game has started, after he gets a few high rolls, tell him you want to see the dice when it lands. No handing it to you, no covering it with the hand. If he gets all angry about it, ask him why he is mad. From their you need to use your judgement to what to say to him since there is no real way for me to tell what he will respond with. If he gave me grief I personally would say that if I didn't see his dice land and get to observe the number untouched, he would begin getting a luck penalty. -1 to everything each time he gave me trouble with it. Most won't agree with the meaning of the next statement but: Remember, you are DM.