One of the great things about tabletop roleplaying is that for most groups winning and cheating are irrelevant concepts. D&D is about group storytelling; by negating the game mechanic through cheating you loose the ability to build memorable scenes out of failure and you won’t allow room for characters to grow. Why should experience (and therefore experience points) matter if you’re just going to blow through all the encounters risk-free. In fact, one of the challenges of 4e is that since all the encounters are scalable to the PCs level, the DM has to work harder to make the encounters interesting yet winnable. Thankfully there’s a lot of knobs in the DM toolkit to adjust encounter difficulty.
With that in mind, I found it interesting that the Roleplaying Tips blog highlighted ways for GMs to handle cheaters. The article covers two types of cheaters: ones who lie about their dice roles (and stats), and ones who read ahead in the module. Flipping this around into advice for cheaters: “lie about your dice” and “read the module.”
Lie About Your Dice
This has been the go-to for GMs who roll behind a screen, but there’s no reason why you can’t either. For starters, you can roll on the table and blatantly lie about it. Odds are your GM will be too far away or too short to read the small digits on the die; your fellow players may grumble but will probably look to avoid conflict, so you’re golden there. To be a little more subtle about it, you can get loaded die (let me know if you have a link where to get some), roll on the sly (at the edge of the table, behind some books or your hand, etc), or just nudge the die after it lands.
There’s not just dice that you can lie about. When taking damage, you skim a few hp off the top to last longer, or add a few “bonus points” to skill checks and other rolls. It’s harder to lie about your ability scores and defenses, since most GMs tend to keep the basic stats on hand.
You’ll need to be wary when your fellow players start getting suspicious. Be sure to get good at lying…put a few ranks into Bluff.
Read The Module
This one is far tougher. Lying is an opportunistic event, to get a hold of the GM’s module and read it requires planning, and quite possibly money. Many GMs don’t use published modules or when they do, they modify it, so this has limited value unless you know which module and that your GM is going to use it relatively unchanged. The Kobold Hall in the back of DMG and Keep on the Shadowfell, which is free on the Internet, are easy to access. Also now that Dungeon comes with a DDI subscription, you can get your hands on the adventures in that magazine pretty easy. Other printed or 3rd party modules require that you spend some money, which seems a little ridiculous just to cheat at something where you’d only be cheating yourself.
The upside to reading the module your GM is running is that if you don’t mind knowing the spoilers, you can help the GM out by moving the plot along by making choices that move through a well-paced set of encounters. Also some modules are balanced towards the PCs finding hiding items or solving puzzles that you wouldn’t be likely to find unaided.
In case your GM is reading this blog… don’t actually cheat, you’re only cheating yourself and your friends. If she’s not… cheat to win! After all, it’s only a game!