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Ok... I understand that question title seems like it's a bit harmless, and I'm sure others have asked similar questions but I'm not entirely sure if this fits the same bill, or if it even a problem.

So: to the matter at hand. One of our players is cheating - but to make it interesting, it's only half the time. Honestly, I can't really pick any pattern, I only get a glimpse every other roll*.

Some examples might be attack rolls. I've seen them substitute lower rolls for higher ones, but it seems like only half the time. Nothing fantastic, like crits all the time, just enough to pass the roll. However, they do accept crit fails as well.

During our last couple of sessions, this behaviour did seem a bit more aggressive, and his character (which he has become very attached to) did come to the brink of death (2 hp) by the end of the quest.

I'm really not sure what's going on exactly to tell you the truth, but if I had to take a guess, they're cheating to keep their character alive, and doing a good job of it to keep from getting noticed. I'm really not sure how to deal with the situation.


So, to update this: the player is definitely cheating. I have been keeping tabs on his rolls, and a large majority of their rolls are 15-17, about 70%. Additionally, the majority of these "streaks" occur when the PC is getting low on health - using them to pass checks that will stop the PC taking any more damage*.

I have also got a couple of ideas of the cause of this as well. Firstly; the player is very attached to the PC. They have issues with separation anxiety, and the idea of losing the character really does upset the player. On the other hand, the DM is fairly brutal. I have been playing with this DM for a few years now, and he really does like pushing players to the edge - forcing them to use all their resources. It makes sense, but it does create a certain paranoia.

I don't really want to bring this up in front of the whole group, and openly accuse the player of cheating, especially when it's for such a minor reason, however, I don't think speaking to the DM about it is really going to sort things out either, since "backing off" for one player makes it unfair on the rest of us.

Additionally, we have experienced one PC death in the past few months - my PC was actually killed, due to a series of unfortunate rolls. While the event was a little upsetting, we were more upset by the rolls, than anything (no one managed to get higher than a 4 on the dice).

This also makes the issue a fair bit more delicate, since the player may take it as an act of "revenge"; they are comfortable cheating so that their PC can stay alive, but are not willing to do so for other players. I just want to clarify that this is not the case - my concern is that I do not want this issue to develop any further. The player is seemingly cheating to save their own skin, which is a minor issue, but I don't want this to evolve into anything more, that could potentially ruin the fun for everyone else.

How can I address this issue with the Player and the DM, so that no one feels the need to cheat?


*I would like to clarify how I know the cheating is occurring. Firstly, I have caught him red handed on multiple occasions (though obviously never said anything), calling incorrect rolls: they might call a 17, when on the dice, it's actually a 4. Additionally, I have also been noting down the rolls, and comparing them with the PC's health, and these "high streaks" always occur when the PC drops down below 10 HP.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It would be helpful if you could phrase your issue as a specific question- as of now it appears to be a general complaint, which is difficult to understand or respond to with helpful answers. For example you could ask "How do I bring up this issue without upsetting group dynamics?", or "How can I discourage this kind of behavior?" A more focused question (Preferably with an interrogative(?)) will net you better responses. \$\endgroup\$ – Psyntax Sep 3 '16 at 7:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I could imagine a few different answers here with wildly different outcomes: "Let them cheat" · "Play a different game they won't need to cheat in" · "Talk to them [to achieve various different outcomes]" · etc. Is there any particular outcome you'd like? Would you like to keep playing the same game and have them not cheat or need to worry about cheating? Would you like to just have fun with your friends and play whatever might best facilitate that? (In general, loss in classic RPGs like D&D is just flat-out unpleasant, usually without any payoff for the character.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 3 '16 at 9:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ben Has them cheating created any actual palpable problems that need resolution, or is their cheating in and of itself the problem? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 25 '17 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener There is not problems right now, it's just that I don't want the cheating to develop into anything else. So yes; the cheating is the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Mar 25 '17 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ In your question, it's not clear to me... is the GM aware of this behavior, or is it only you? Answers, suggestions, and discussions are take on a different flavor depending on that detail. \$\endgroup\$ – Longspeak Mar 27 '17 at 18:44
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If you're worried that people are cheating on their dice rolls, you need to have a norm that people roll their dice in public, in full view of the table. Most tables have this rule already: you roll your die into the center of the table and everyone can see the result.

It's probably a bad idea to accuse the guy of cheating to his face, but it seems like you could have a quick private word with your GM, say that you're pretty sure the guy is cheating, and ask him to remind people to roll in public.


This is leaving aside the broader question of whether it might be okay, occasionally, to cheat deliberately, if it will keep a character alive. Character death is pretty unpleasant, and many groups will bend the rules to avoid it. (The 3.5 DMG explicitly describes some circumstances under which the DM might cheat to avoid a TPK.) But players aren't supposed to lie about dice rolls -- that's a violation of your group's social contract -- so in that sense this is something that should stop happening.

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I find that fudging dice rolls removes all of the problem-solving and tension from the game, which makes the game much less fun for me. I don't fudge rolls as a player, and I think anyone who does is robbing themselves of the good part. At the same time, when I'm running a game, I don't want to torpedo everyone's evening because I played monsters a little too optimally (or set a DC too high, or whatever), so I will sometimes fudge those rolls to prevent a TPK, or even just a PC death.

But those are deeply personal views. Other people have other views, just as strongly held. For example, many people feel very strongly that the DM shouldn't fudge rolls either. They feel that the shared universe is set by the DM ahead of time, and that their interactions from there should all be with that fixed universe, or that failing to let the dice fall where they may cheapens any success. They're not wrong, either! (I'm sympathetic, but I think the standard is impossibly high — roughly, there's no such thing as a complete shared universe).

Similarly, some people notice that the DM controls 99% of the world, and fudges dice rolls (or just uses fiat without dice!) as needed to make the world come out as he wants. Players control only their PCs. But shouldn't they have the same degree of control over their tiny portion of the shared world that the DM does over his? If you're all telling a shared story, shouldn't you have control over how your part of it comes out? So then, a player fudging to prevent a character death is no different from a DM fudging to prevent any other derailment. And really, all the best DMs of play-by-post games (which tend to run much more strongly to narrative and less to tactical battles) tend to have this exact attitude. They let their players report their own rolls, and are completely indifferent to where those rolls came from. And frankly, even around a table, if someone felt the need to fudge rolls in one of my games to have fun, I would just shrug and move on. It's fine.

Obviously my preferred style is the one true and correct way to play (ha). But people somehow keep having fun other ways too, and that's alright. The trouble comes in when you expect to play one way, and the guy next to you expects to play another. The normal recommendation for setting social contracts is the Same Page Tool (see e.g. this answer), but it's not actually helpful here. Nonetheless, this is exactly the same sort of setting-expectations problem as show up there, so it may be helpful to read up on its approaches. You may especially want to think hard about whether this player has the same expectations about character death as the rest of the table. If he expects it to be rare, or story-driven only, then his fudging is going to be more like patching a broken part of the system from his perspective. Asking him to stop doing that will seem pants-on-head crazy.

But if you absolutely do need to get the point across, I've found that talking about whether it's okay for the DM to fudge rolls is a surprisingly good entry point. It doesn't have the same onus, so you can discuss why you would or wouldn't do that without constant undertones of "...you cheating scum".

I've heard frequent recommendations that you should have such conversations away from the gaming table (e.g. over coffee or beer instead). I can't speak to that personally, but it seems to work for others. Depending on your situation, you might try inviting everyone out for waffles/a pint/whatever after the next game, and bring up the same page tool and DM dice-fudging as conversation topics there.

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Find out why they are cheating. You cannot fix it if you do not know. Your goal here is to understand the reason for the cheating and not blame or shame anyone. Maybe the fellow player does not realises that it bothers you? Maybe they are unlucky and do not want to always fail at something? Whatever it is, you as a fellow player have no way to fix it but your GM easily can.

Once you do, you can potentially address it with the GM with providing the GM with solutions (that yourself and the fellow players approve of) instead of problems. Generally, this is the best way to get quick results and not ruffle feathers.

If it is really that they do not want their character to die? If so, the easy solution is to make sure their character does not die: GM interventions are just the solution here! Make sure you tell the player(s) that character death will only happen as a major story line point or if they behave like idiots. No charging into an army and expect to live!

Character death is uninteresting from a story point of view -- with some caveats of course! Better to have the main protagonist captured, crippled, or pulled into The Labyrinth1.

In addition, Numenera is a game where dice rolls are all rolled by the player but contains a wide array of mechanics to skew the chances towards the player: experience points, intrusions, effort, and so on… Maybe there is a need to clarify those rules?

Clearly, those are all GM fixes the GM can apply. If the GM is reluctant to do so, or refuses to make allocations you are left with one choice: find a different game. Maybe one that you run yourself?


1 Based of Torment but feel free to make up your own thing here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ These are, of course, exactly one of the reasons a GM or DM role exists. I also think it should be noted that the GM never should be seen as an enemy to the players — if players are hiding things from the GM, or reticent to communicate with the GM, then that's a far worse problem than cheating, and not necessarily with blame on the player. Me or Us vs. Them should only exist between players, and between players and NPCs — who are only acted by the GM. \$\endgroup\$ – can-ned_food Apr 21 '17 at 18:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @can-ned_food In Numenra, the GM never rolls dice. The players make all the rolls but the GM can use intrusions to affect the outcome. It is a great mechanic. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Apr 21 '17 at 20:48
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There are so many variables of social contract, group dynamic, and even individual perspective and personality which are not detailed here, I don't think it's possible to give a definitive, well-considered answer. In my case, I do have direct experience with this, but that experience is useless here because I can't relate my own dynamic to yours, and can't safely assume my solution would work in your case.

As a small example, how you might address this among close friends would be very different from how you might address it if you were the new guy in an established group. Both of these differ from how you'd address it in a group that all met though an ad posted in your local game shop.

A situation where the GM catches cheating would be easier to address, but even those must deal with the above issues to a degree.

I can offer a few general thoughts and suggestions. My first is to ask yourself a question: Is this affecting your enjoyment of the game?

If no, then perhaps just let it go.

If yes, then you have to decide based on the issues of dynamic I mention above, whether and how to bring it up. Again, no definitive answer, but here's a few thoughts based on some simplified dynamic examples:

  • If you are good friends with both the player and GM, talk to the GM privately. Suggest calling for rolls in the open, but be general about it.
  • If you are good friends with GM but not player, than as above, but if the GM presses to know who the cheater is, be honest.
  • If you are good friends with the player but not the GM, talk to the player. Explain the risk/reward dynamic suffers when the risk is removed by fudging (and use 'fudging,' or a similar downplaying word).
  • If neither is a good friend, talk to GM as above, and again be honest if he presses but don't call out the player unless he insists.
  • If neither is a good friend, but they are good friends with each other, you're into murky waters. I'd talk to the GM in general terms as above. You don't want to get anyone in trouble, you just want to let chance decide with it's time, maybe we can have rolls in the open, etc.

There are so many more possibilities and responses.

Finally, consider whether or not you should leave the group if the issue doesn't resolve. If this behavior truly affects your fun to the point where the experience is negative, then bow out gracefully, and find a new group. If there's still fun to be had, consider having that fun and letting the other player have his.

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If he's cheating, like other has suggested, a good option is to make rolls in the open. But if you ask him to "roll in the open" he will feel accused, and you don't want that.

A better option is to talk to your DM and tell him that you think that rolls should be made in the open, if he refuses, explain him that you think that one of the players is cheating (but don't say who). If your DM listen to you, everyone will roll in the open, and no one will become offended,

But you're not really sure if he's cheating or he's just lucky. I'm a DM on a table with 6 players, and I have 1 lucky and 1 unlucky player. I don't know why the unlucky player rolls a 1 each 5-6 rolls, or how he can throw four d20 and get results under 6 for 2 turns in a row.

But I DMd 2 campaigns for the lucky player, and, following your logic, one would think that he's cheating, when he's actually not.

On the next Wall-O-Text I'm gonna explain how I discovered and solved the problem with my lucky player, and accidentally with my unlucky player. But you can skip the story, the conclusion is on tl;dr part at the end.


This player is an athlete since he was a little child. He has an impressive control over his body, and he can use hand tools with a lot of expertise. He is also a highly emotional individual, he starts to turn red and his muscles spams when he fails a roll, when he's about to be defeated, or when he's waiting for his turn.

He had a lot of good rolls streaks, followed by average rolls streaks, and everything was a mistery, until this 2 solo campaigns.

Over this 2 campaigns we played for almost a year and we both were curious about his look. First we tested the dice, and we found out, that one of his dice rolled a lot of 18 and 20's. So we put that dice away.

But the problem persisted. And I noticed that his rolls were average on noncombat situations. And his rolls skyrocketed when the BBEG made something really evil or when it tried to escape.

So I bought him a precision dice to use it as his default dice. For 2 weeks, his rolls were average again. And suddenly, his rolls started to skyrocket again, this time, even in noncombat skills.

So this time I asked him to roll with his left hand. And the same thing happend, he rolled average for 2 weeks, and them, Boom! Skyrocket rolls again.

I noticed that he always tried throw in the same way, and when the precision dice hit the table, it rolled exactly 3-4 times, in a straight line.

Some time later, he also told me that, before rolling, he always put the dice on the table with the 20 face up.

At this point I was sure that he was, unconsciously, learning how to roll high rolls, by repeating the same throwing pattern. I didn't really saw a problem here, because it was a solo campaign, but I started to think of ways to prevent this on the future.

The first campaign was a d&d 5e campaign, but the second campaign was a Cypher System Star wars game. And the problem became more serious, because he could roll to dodge attacks. We both got bored after a while, he felt like he was playing on god mode.

Eventually I came with a nobrainer solution, I "emptied" a nutella bottle (I insist that I bought and ate that nutella for my players wellbeing) and ask him to use the bottle to roll his dice. This solved the problem for the lucky player.

I also emptied another nutella bottle for the unlucky player, and he started to roll like everyone else.


tl;dr If you decide to roll in the open and the problem persist, ask him to change his dice and to roll the dice with a bottle or any container.

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