How To Cheat in D&D

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!


7 thoughts on “How To Cheat in D&D

  1. Don’t forget that cheaters don’t get to play at my table. So cheat at your own risk.

    Part of the game is risk, it’s also about exploration and finding out what’s around the dark corner. If you already know you will never die, never miss, and what is at the end of the adventure why are you there?

  2. Deliberately misinterpreting ambiguous rules wording is my new bugbear… Nefarious players can get an advantage with no real risk of getting caught. A DM needs to be right on top of rule updates, forums etc.

  3. I’ve always thought that if you feel you have to cheat when playing Dungeons & Dragons (or any other role-playing game, actually), then you are probably doing it wrong.

    Cheating at a game like this is only hurting yourself…and you’re missing the point.

    Great post!

  4. Cheating in D&D is basically a power-play. Both in terms of character power as well putting yourself above your fellow players.

    I didn’t think about misrepresenting powers. I’ve done that unintentionally tons of times, especially since I don’t really all the rules updates and keep referring to my old books, but doing on purpose is pretty douche-y. That’s basically making up your own rules.

    Who wants to play MikeQuest? In that game four to five adventurers travel forth and I win and become king of the universe…the end.

  5. We had an issue with cheating in D&D years ago. It was mostly guys lying about dice rolls and painting an extra “1” in front of single digits on the d20. Everything was eventually worked out in the end. I provide my 2 cents on cheating in D&D (by the players and the DM) in the article Cheating in Dungeons and Dragons.

  6. Uh….no, you can’t cheat. Nudging dice? Where are you guys playing? =P

    If anybody cheats, that’s the quickest way to get the boot…from _everybody_.

    I’d wager if I did any of this, I’d get a single warning, and after that, I’d get the boot. If I nudged a die and pretended like nothing…well I’d never live it down. And no, the fellow players don’t just grumble, they bust your ass.

    As for rule misrepressentation….if we use anything that isn’t in one of the DM’s books, he needs to sanction it. The end.

    So there really is no way to cheat…. At least not in my group.

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