Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Good Advice

It has taken weeks and many hours of searching to find this, a video with advice I can actually approve.  The speaker still has a face that is eminently smug and punchable, but at least the stuff coming out of his mouth is good advice [well, better than 80%].

"Here is the proper way to roll your dice.  You make sure that you have the attention of the Game Master; that it's your turn or at least your moment, and you say, 'I'd like to make a check.'  The dice is [sic] still in your hands.  'I'd like to make a knowledge-engineering check to see how the door is put together.'
"You're still not rolling yet.  And the Game Master ~ this is what you're waiting for ~ the Game Master says, 'All right, make your check.'  Then you take the die and you roll it.  You don't roll it off somewhere hidden behind your hand.  You roll it clearly and obviously across the table in front of you ... in your general area (you don't throw it across the table), but somewhere, where the result of the roll will be obviously plain to anyone nearby; particularly the Game Master.  With the die sitting there on the table, you look at the number."

Additional Thoughts

I grew up playing cards with relatives who had lived in the 1920s and 30s, in the backcountry of Alberta and Saskatchewan, who could still remember a time when if you were caught cheating at cards, knives emerged and people were hospitalized.  In the 70s, when I would play with these people, they would make clear, unrestrained references to this practice, deliberately suggesting to my young and as-yet-unmolded thoughts that counting the number of peg holes on the cribbage board, or the way I held my cards when playing poker or bridge, mattered ~ in the way that it matters that you don't touch a red-hot burner or walk in front of a moving car.  That is, moving a cribbage peg was an act of considerable tension, as we all took pains not to fuck up.

I'm not suggesting that we should cut out the hearts of people who hide dice behind their hands, or snap the dice up as soon as they are rolled, saying whatever number enters their dear little brains ... but when I did first encounter this behaviour in the early 80s, connected with role-playing, I was flabbergasted that players thought they could get away with this incredibly duplicitous shit.  And I was not restrained when I made my feelings about this clear.

I could not have guessed that this, and not civilized behaviour, would become the norm.  It is the sort of thing that rouses the ancestral Tory in me to say something like, "These are children who were obviously not beaten enough as children by very strong farmers."

Suffice to say, if a player were to do this at my table today, I would warn them firmly, but politely, never to think of doing it again, and never to roll a die without first getting my okay.  And then, if the player did it again, any time within a year of beginning in my campaign, that player would be bounced from my game, my residence and my whole fucking life so fast that they'd only know it as their shoes, their bags and the rest of their shit was hurled after them.

Because if a player will do this in your game, that same player won't hesitate to steal five dollars off your bureau, or a die out of your collection, or task a roommate to rob you of your computer so that he can cover his drug habit or some fine he has to pay.  People who show their character by this sort of flag are awful, loathsome scum, waiting for the eventual day when the social structure lands on them with a force that routs them into permanent, often incarcerated obscurity.

I say, help society do that.


  1. I have to disagree that people who would cheat in D&D are necessarily cheaters, liars, or criminals in other parts of their lives. I have had players in my game lie about a die roll, take advantage of my split attention to re-roll something bad, and conveniently forget modifiers or effects that should limit them on their turn. Outside of these actions, these are good people. They obey the law, they are loyal, they have principles. But there is just something about D&D that makes it "okay" to cheat sometimes, or to forget some things, or to make a mistake in your math. I have a pretty good idea what that something is too.

    The DM gets to do it.

    One player, who gets a special role in the game, is allowed, encouraged, and advised, to make judgement calls, ignore or change the rules, and to cheat at their discretion. The DM gets special permission to cheat in order to 'keep the game on track'.

    So is it really any wonder that when the game is about to go 'off track' for one player, that said player decides that what's good for the DM is just as good for the player?

    Cheating players are a symptom of the bigger problem.

  2. So, you feel that tit for tat serves as a legitimate moral compass.

    I don't.

  3. I remember learning from sitting in on a single session in 2012ish that the D&D Encounters crowd - the people who would do public play, or as a friend of mine called it, "D&D for people too antisocial to play with friends" - would never shake their gawddamn dice. They would put the die in their hands and kind of *nudge* it a bit so that it'd fall out of their palm. This counted as a roll. The DM would do this, the players would do this, and when I actually shook my dice I got this apprehension from the table like I was smoking indoors. When I asked what the hell they were doing, I vaguely remember one of them telling me that it made the roll go faster, but it managed to always score them suspiciously high rolls and take all the tension and intrinsic excitement out of rolling.

    There's something to be said about this kind of behaviour coming from top-down based on the behaviour of the DM and how D&D Encounters is set up - the DM I put up with for that session was the dictionary definition of boorish, egotistical, and inflexible - but the players I sat in with weren't individuals to remember fondly either. There was this backbiting air about them; everyone wanted to one-up each other and reinforce an incredibly unstable and over-inflated self-image as an "expert player." This meant throwing tantrums when my fighter would take the heat off a lightly armoured DPS because they "got this," grabbing my sheet without my permission, and patronising me when I made mistakes. One of them indefinitely "borrowed" my only pencil, forcing me to use my pen.

    The correlation between disgusting die practices and disgusting people remains strong to me.

  4. When I was a kid, like 6, I would get dropped off by my parents in a "morning care" offered by my school at 7 am. I learned to play cards from the teacher there, this old woman whose name escapes me, since I was always the First one there.

    One of the things I never forgot was one time when I was shuffling the cards, my hands were below the table. She looks at me and says "you always shuffle the deck in plain view of everyone, that is how people get shot."

    I never forgot that lesson.

  5. The fact that something so obvious is what counts as "good advice" is sad. Just sad.

    For the last couple years I've been trying to show my child how to not cheat dice rolls. It's tough for him (because he hates to lose and hates it when the dice fail him), but he's been getting much, much better lately. It's been a bit of a long haul, but I can see the actual "good sportsmanship" trait building in him. It's been a good investment of my time and effort (and I suspect it will be easier to train his younger sister as she'll be able to see her brother's example).

    I may be a shitty parent in a lot of ways, but damned if my kids are going to grow up to be cheating shmucks.

  6. Sad is right.

    You simply can't fathom how much dreck is out there, JB. At least three quarters of the content is from Captain Obvious' Lexicon of How to Be an Ordinary Mansplaining Superhero, and what remains are desperate efforts to be cool, to exploit the fan-boy within, to cop expertise about things we don't feel need study (like design or human behaviour) and truly execrable, abyssal shit that pretends it doesn't encourage participants to be flat out evil.

    Finding someone willing to take a stand against standard convention-player behaviour was a diamond in the rough.

  7. I feel it is less tit-for-tat, and more that the game of D&D isn't being thought of as a game. Popular advice and practice for D&D is for the DM to lie cheat, and change the rules, and that undermines the idea that D&D is a game with rules where die rolls matter.

    As an analogy, who is going to feel bad about having more than 5 cards in their hand, or sneaking peeks at other players' cards, if the way they are playing Poker is by taking turns stacking up a house of cards?

  8. To clarify, I am not advocating that the cheating prevalent in the RPG community is not bad behaviour, I am just postulating that the bad behaviour might be encouraged by the culture surrounding RPGs rather than being solely a moral failing on the part of a cheater.

  9. I find it somewhat telling that this video and YouTube account is no longer around, but all the people giving worse advice are still going strong.

  10. The maker probably lost heart at all the abuse suffered at having posted this video.


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