Cheating GMs


Pathfinder Society

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Grand Lodge 2/5 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Ah, okay, that very well may be what he meant, which would invalidate my response. Thanks.


Your point is well made though, don't change stat blocks!


Folks do need to remember that many longtime GMs have in the past run other living campaign games, often which were much more permissive about what the GM could alter in the adventures.

Heck, many old school GMs come from a home game environment where they were free to alter stuff behind the scenes as they saw fit. Hopefully with the intent of making things more enjoyable for the players.

Tolerance and understanding, please. If someone is having a problem, help them, don't throw accusations right off the bat. Usually it's not intentional or malicious.

-j


Saint Caleth wrote:
My 2cp is that if someone called me out on a rules thing and then after the game comes up and accuses me of cheating to my face they certainly won't be welcome back at my table and quite frankly I would warn other DMs about the player as likely to be disruptive.

Shouldn't that sort of depend on whether you were actually wrong?

Sure, the player shouldn't be rude about it, there's a difference between accusing a GM of cheating and asking for clarification on how a creature is able to do what it did, but regardless of how it's brought up, shouldn't you be willing to take time after a scenario to explain how things work? How long could it take to show him there's an axe trap in room b3, this guy's base save is +17, and this other guy has the Pole Fighting ability which he used to attack adjacent targets with his glaive. And, after having done so, you could ask the player to please be more polite in the future and not disrupt the game.

On the other hand, if none (or only some) of those things are true, and you broke the rules, shouldn't you thank the player for bringing it to your attention, regardless of his lack of social skills in doing so? (And then ask the player to please be more polite in the future.)

In either case, it seems like the problem gets resolved without drama. Either the player learns to not interrupt the game, or the GM learns some rules, and in both cases (hopefully) the player also learns to be more polite.

I'm sure problem players exist, who will never learn not to (or when to) interrupt the game, and can't figure out how to be polite about it, but I'm equally sure problem GMs exist, who take offense to being challenged and feel that anything they do, regardless of the actual rules, is right because they're the GM and what they say is the law.

I'm optimistic that both of them are far more rare than presented on the forums.


What I meant was if say a pc fumbles or fails an important save I will respond to the changing dynamic of the encounter differently according to wether it was a minor or a major encounter.
End of adventure baddie = the gloves are well and truly off; random encounter which might potentially undermine the adventure if a pc dies = I won't fudge dice rolls (i.e. cheat) but I may for example, have the attacker prioritise another pc for just about long enough for a pc to recieve aid (they are usually facing more than one threat from the pcs).

4/5 ***

Jiggy wrote:
strayshift wrote:
but as I see it by and large my players benefit from my choices more than they might be penalised.
Every GM believes this of themselves. Including the GM with decades of experience who needed Mike Brock to fix his train wreck. That's why we're not supposed to change things (like which spells a wizard has prepared). We all think we know how to change things for the better, but we can't all be right. You will never meet a GM who thinks "Lots of other GMs can do a good job of changing things to improve their players' experience, but not me, so I'd better just stick to what the scenario says." There are plenty of GMs for whom the statement would be true, but none who honestly believes it of themselves.

Actually I played a scenario with a new GM, and a player who was whining about how something worked. The GM responded look I'm not sure I like the way this works either but I'm new and don't feel comfortable changing anything so we're going to play it as written in the scenario even if it doesn't make sense.

I gave the GM big props later for sticking to his guns and not giving in to the whinny player. Of course I also got a scathing email from the player...

The Exchange 4/5

So who here uses Coup De Grace as a GM, like basically ever. Lets say you have an intelligent "boss" type cleric, they are fully aware of the 2 divine casters in the group. Having seen channeling, or spellcrafting divine spells. Clearly the most dangerous physical threat is Held directly in front of them... Do you Coup De Grace that PC or do you attempt to cast spells on other targets, channel, ect.

This is the type of choice I am most likely to "fudge".
in my home games, that PC is making a brutal fort save or dying. In my PFS games... it's more variable. Sometimes killing PCs will drive players from the campaign, which is simply not my goal.

If it's a higher level table and I know the characters have the PP to raise themselves, I'm certainly more likely to kill them because it's tactically correct for the BBEG to remove a dangerous martial threat.

Grand Lodge 4/5

If the bad guy is in a position to, and it makes sense to, I will have him do it.

Owner - Pikes Comics

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I definitely agree with the fact that killing characters drives players away from the game IF the player thinks he was cheating. This is even worse when you can prove it when you end up running the module yourself.

This has happened to me. The judge was so extreme he was actually bragging about the number of tables he had TPKed on the convention.

Sadly the only way I have found around this is not to let certain people be your GM. Talk to the coordinator and let them know you are not comfortable with them being your judge.


I cheat. If I feal in a Bossfight that it is to easy for my players I give the boss more HP.
I roll always behind the screen and if I roll too bad, sometimes the 7 turns into a 17.
But never to crush the players, just to make sure that afterwards they breath out and are happy they overcame a real tough enemy.
I simply think that the rules serv the players/GM not the other way round.

The Exchange 5/5

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Alter Fritz wrote:

I cheat. If I feal in a Bossfight that it is to easy for my players I give the boss more HP.

I roll always behind the screen and if I roll too bad, sometimes the 7 turns into a 17.
But never to crush the players, just to make sure that afterwards they breath out and are happy they overcame a real tough enemy.
I simply think that the rules serv the players/GM not the other way round.

Please do not do this if I play for you. Please.

Please review the other threads that address this at some length, listing out why this is a bad thing to do.

3/5 RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Alter Fritz wrote:

I cheat. If I feal in a Bossfight that it is to easy for my players I give the boss more HP.

I roll always behind the screen and if I roll too bad, sometimes the 7 turns into a 17.
But never to crush the players, just to make sure that afterwards they breath out and are happy they overcame a real tough enemy.
I simply think that the rules serv the players/GM not the other way round.

So what happens when the players have to spend more charges from their wands to heal up after a battle that you've "improved"? What if they have to use up expensive potions and scrolls that they wouldn't have had to if you'd run it as written? What if you cause a character death because your "improvements" turn out to be too much for them to handle?

Sovereign Court 5/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Definately. I'd be tempted to do that to Sir-GRabs-A-Lot and Sir-Trips-A-Lot, but I don't. Let the chips fall where they may.

Sovereign Court 5/5 5/5

RainyDayNinja wrote:
So what happens when the players have to spend more charges from their wands to heal up after a battle that you've "improved"? What if they have to use up expensive potions and scrolls that they wouldn't have had to if you'd run it as written? What if you cause a character death because your "improvements" turn out to be too much for them to handle?

I'm making an assumption based on the lack of GM stars, but I think Alter Fritz isn't talking about GMing PFS. What one does in a home campaign is one's own choice, but PFS is obviously a different animal. And this thread is in the PFS forum.

The Exchange 5/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Alter Fritz,

What happens when you give the opponent extra hit points and extra damage, and that kills the PC cleric, and the Cleave attack kills the ninja, and that leads to killing everybody at the table? Do you think that's fair, when the guy at the next table isn't artificially inflating the opponents for his players?

Please don't re-write the encounters like this.

If you feel you need to do this, don't run Pathfinder Society.

Edit: I've been ninjaed a couple-three times, but I'm going to let this post stand. Not because it says anything that hasn't already been said, but because I want Alter Fritz to understand that he's not going to find PFS amenable to his position.

Grand Lodge 2/5 RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Yeah, the thread title doesn't exactly advertise that this discussion is in the context of organized play.

@Alter Fritz - When reading some of the negative replies to your post, please be aware that folks were reading your post in the context of PFS organized play, where the kind of things you talked about are forbidden (with good reason). In a home game, I don't think most people would call that "cheating". :)

Liberty's Edge

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Benrislove wrote:

So who here uses Coup De Grace as a GM, like basically ever. Lets say you have an intelligent "boss" type cleric, they are fully aware of the 2 divine casters in the group. Having seen channeling, or spellcrafting divine spells. Clearly the most dangerous physical threat is Held directly in front of them... Do you Coup De Grace that PC or do you attempt to cast spells on other targets, channel, ect.

This is the type of choice I am most likely to "fudge".
in my home games, that PC is making a brutal fort save or dying. In my PFS games... it's more variable. Sometimes killing PCs will drive players from the campaign, which is simply not my goal.

If it's a higher level table and I know the characters have the PP to raise themselves, I'm certainly more likely to kill them because it's tactically correct for the BBEG to remove a dangerous martial threat.

Actually, as a fellow player recently demonstrated to my GM, it often makes far more tactical sense to NOT kill the PC. Because the other PCs will go out of their way to heal him and will spend precious resources doing it while you keep pounding on them. Also they will become more emotional and prone to make tactical mistakes.

In our game situation, the Paladin cohort downed by the Demon was healed a little, just enough to channel to heal. The Demon was in the channel area and that channel just voided 3 rounds of PC attacks, not counting the action (move+standard) one of the PC used to heal the Paladin instead of attacking the Demon.

In the end, the Demon died. But it would have died far earlier if it had killed the Paladin.

Grand Lodge 1/5

Cheating, its a tough question. From what I've heard and read, some of the modules do get a re-design as time goes by. A 3-4 module might have a monster that was too squishy in the original printing and its been beefed up a few months later. Some monsters are hard as hell's bells and might be made softer.

So the question I have for the OP is are you absolutely positive that you have the most recent version of the module that you just played? I ask because I was told by someone, I can't say who right now (I don't remember), that some of these modules get a second look and are adjusted over time, if they are not up to standards, by Paizo staff.

Example would be the Season 5 EX-clusive module I played 2 weeks ago, which is essentially a BETA test. If someone plays that module in Season 5, the Gargoyle we faced recently might get nerfed in the next 12 months time, to be a little less able to wreak havoc if it is considered too tough for the scenario right now.


Jiggy wrote:

Yeah, the thread title doesn't exactly advertise that this discussion is in the context of organized play.

@Alter Fritz - When reading some of the negative replies to your post, please be aware that folks were reading your post in the context of PFS organized play, where the kind of things you talked about are forbidden (with good reason). In a home game, I don't think most people would call that "cheating". :)

Jep I have found this thread in the Messageboardsidebar. I haven't realised that this is a PFS disscusion.

So you guys don't have to fear me GMing a session.

My comment was only for the context of home games.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
If the bad guy is in a position to, and it makes sense to, I will have him do it.

Yes if it is the big bad Guy (or Gal) but I am less inclined to do it for (what I consider) a side encounter.


And Yes, Benrislove, if it is a high level party also.

Grand Lodge 4/5

strayshift wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
If the bad guy is in a position to, and it makes sense to, I will have him do it.
Yes if it is the big bad Guy (or Gal) but I am less inclined to do it for (what I consider) a side encounter.

A side encounter likely has less reason to do it than a main one.

Scarab Sages 4/5

TriOmegaZero wrote:
strayshift wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
If the bad guy is in a position to, and it makes sense to, I will have him do it.
Yes if it is the big bad Guy (or Gal) but I am less inclined to do it for (what I consider) a side encounter.
A side encounter likely has less reason to do it than a main one.

As someone who has had a character killed by a CDG, I can definitely say, it's not fun, and I wondered if it was necessary. But, at the same time, we were fighting harpies, so it also seemed like a perfectly reasonable tactic, and I was a level 4* playing up into 6-7 of a Season 4 (shortly after Season 4 began, so its reputation was still being built). More than half our group was in tier, with one other character at level 3 or 4 (can't remember) who was being run by a much younger player and almost got a CDG himself. In that sense, I'm glad it happened to me, as I think I take these things pretty well. It could have happened to other characters as well and been much worse. Fortunately, this character is Osirion, had 20 fame, and hadn't yet made use of the 8PP Raise Dead. I also like to be challenged in a scenario, and I have a lot more fun when I am than when it's too easy. Even so, in this case the harpies were still outnumbered by non-charmed opponents, and the harpy had to 5-foot step to avoid attacks of opportunity while leaving herself open to being attacked by multiple characters later in the round. Later, I discovered that CDG was not included in the tactics of the harpies in the scenario, though again, I don't find it an unreasonable leap to make.

I was in another game where 2 players were CDGed out of combat in their sleep (poison). One of them was a new PFS player, who the party couldn't afford to raise, and he never came back (I forget if he was playing his own level 1 or a 4th level pregen... it was Tier 4-5). The other had been around a while, was level 5, and took it well. He could afford the Raise Dead, so I'm sure that helped. Also, in this case, the tactic was explicitly given in the scenario, and we were dumb to fall for the trick to begin with.

There's a third scenario where the BBEG has a "Brain Eater" feat, which allows a particularly nasty form of CDG (Arguably making a Raise Dead not even feasible). Fortunately, when I played that scenario, he didn't have a chance to employ that feat. Also, in that case, though he's given the feat, it's not in his listed tactics. When I ran it, the situation also never came up, so I didn't have to make that decision.

Since I've started GMing myself, though, I think back to those games a lot when planning the villains' tactics. I also think about what I do as a player, and there's usually something more productive I can do than CDG an already helpless enemy, with a possible exception being when fighting a single foe or finally doing something to get an enemy helpless who would otherwise likely kill a party member. The conclusion I've come to is that, barring no other reasonable option, or if it's already a technical TPK (everyone helpless), then unless it's an explicit tactic given in the scenario, I'm probably not going to have an enemy employ CDG. To me, it deviates a little too far from most enemies' listed tactics, and that falls into the territory of changing the written adventure to me. Now, if it's several rounds into the combat, the enemy has exhausted their written tactics, and the character in question had been doing significant damage and/or antagonizing them, maybe.

I guess the bottom line for me is, it's part of the game, so it could happen, but it shouldn't be the default option. Especially at lower levels. Ghouls and Ghasts are already scary enough.

Ferious Thune "The Risen"

PS - Ran into some harpies in another scenario and burned them real good, so it all works out in the end.

* <EDITED - I checked the chronicle sheet, and I was level 4 playing 6-7, not level 5. Knowing what I know now about Season 4, what was I thinking?!>

Grand Lodge 4/5

Whoops, we're in the PFS forums. I was speaking about general games.

Although I ran an encounter at the Grand Convocation in which the tactics stated the construct uses CdG on paralyzed PCs. It was retconned by Mark halfway through, but not before a 1st level fighter was almost killed by it at my table.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Umm anyone else notice the fella who started this thread hasn't responded to it in a while.....let it go.

Owner - Pikes Comics

People arent letting it go as other people seem to have the same issue or similar issues and are discussing those.


Okay - a confession here - I haven't read the forum listing and don't contribute to pathfinder society stuff. Please disregard my comments here - any 'ninja' out there feel free to delete (although I feel they have raised a valid response to the issue).


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Mike Bramnik wrote:
RainyDayNinja a few posts up is 100% correct. If you have an issue with a VO, you bring it to Mike Brock, not a messageboard.

And if you have an issue with a GM, you bring it to a VO, not a messageboard.


Finlanderboy wrote:
Since I have had two different answers. One appraoch the DM for directly cheating, and another email his boss. I would think it is safe to say there is some disagreement on the issue.

Both are reasonable actions to take. I don't see how people mentioning either option are disagreeing with one another.

Shadow Lodge

Finlanderboy wrote:
Since I have had two different answers. One appraoch the DM for directly cheating, and another email his boss. I would think it is safe to say there is some disagreement on the issue.

No, there's no disagreement on the issue.

Step 1: Approach the GM directly.
Step 2: If that does not resolve the issue, forward it up the chain. For table GMs, that means VOs, for VLs that means VCs, and for VCs that means Mike Brock.

This is exactly what you've been advised to do so far in this thread.


Nowhere in that chain is any sort of message board.

The only reason to post here would be to vent. It's not a good reason.

It is much like having a problem with an employee at a place of business, but instead of approaching management with your complaint, repeatedly venting about the problem to the other same-level employees or other customers. Not exactly productive.

-j

1/5

Finlanderboy wrote:
Since I have had two different answers. One appraoch the DM for directly cheating, and another email his boss. I would think it is safe to say there is some disagreement on the issue.

However, note that there is no disagreement on the advice that you take it up directly with the GM in question (or the leadership chain), rather than continuing to beat the drum here in this thread.

You may not be intending to do so, but your posts keep reinforcing the impression that you feel this must be an extremely widespread issue, and you're looking for people to agree with you on this. This is why people keep asking you, "what are you really trying to accomplish with this thread?"

3/5

I have yet to see GMs out of my local area. In my area I know a few that cheat and brag about it after the game(this is heresay, so it is hard to do anything about. I could care less about them. I also feel the cockraoch syndrone a bit. If I notice it in my area, it is safe to assume many other areas may have problems too.

I honestly feel it is a taboo to talk about. Thats a big reason why I explain myself. Because this should not be a taboo. It is a part of the game that can be broken. I am defending people to come on here and chat. If you feel someone is crying then ignore them/me. You do not have to answer every post. When you answer you bring this to the front.

1/5

Finlanderboy wrote:
If I notice it in my area, it is safe to assume many other areas may have problems too.

Maybe, maybe not. It might simply be a part of the local gamer culture in your area.

I've been active in online gamer communities for nearly 2 decades; I've frequently run into gamers who believe that "it's how things are with my local gaming community, so it must be how things are everywhere." IME, that is not a safe assumption to automatically make.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

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I've removed quite a few posts and replies that quoted them. The message boards are not a place to start bashing people. If you feel someone has wronged you, you email your VC or VL privately off the board. If it is a VO that you feel has wronged you, then you email me privately off the board.

5/5

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Michael Brock wrote:
I've removed quite a few posts and replies that quoted them. The message boards are not a place to start bashing people. If you feel someone has wronged you, you email your VC or VL privately off the board. If it is a VO that you feel has wronged you, then you email me privately off the board.

Mike, would it be possible to just have the thread locked as the entire topic itself is quite inflammatory and seeks to only divide the community?

Sovereign Court 4/5

This all seems just a reiteration of the "don't change rules or tactics, or creature stats." It's a valid point to mention, that increasing the difficulty to make it more fun (so to speak) also might increase the use of resources. If a scenario is written easy, then it's easy for everyone. This works both ways too!

As for "cheating GMs" (ooh a touchy subject) I suspect some come from a different school of play, where the adversarial (GM vs. players) play is much more common. Such a background can easily leave a mark on a GM who then tries to 'win' over the PCs, sometimes with all aces drawn.

I for one admit that I've run Delirium's Tangle (1st season scenario) mostly as Tier 3-4 excluding the boss fight and still mark it down as Tier 1-2. I now understand why I shouldn't have done that, but I ultimately wanted to provide a challenge (Tier 3-4 didn't provide it even against fresh characters).

Liberty's Edge

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Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
I've removed quite a few posts and replies that quoted them. The message boards are not a place to start bashing people. If you feel someone has wronged you, you email your VC or VL privately off the board. If it is a VO that you feel has wronged you, then you email me privately off the board.
Mike, would it be possible to just have the thread locked as the entire topic itself is quite inflammatory and seeks to only divide the community?

In my experience, preventing people from debating topics that actually divide the community only worsens the divide and reduces the life expectancy of the community. Doubly so for virtual communities such as this one.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

The black raven wrote:
Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
I've removed quite a few posts and replies that quoted them. The message boards are not a place to start bashing people. If you feel someone has wronged you, you email your VC or VL privately off the board. If it is a VO that you feel has wronged you, then you email me privately off the board.
Mike, would it be possible to just have the thread locked as the entire topic itself is quite inflammatory and seeks to only divide the community?
In my experience, preventing people from debating topics that actually divide the community only worsens the divide and reduces the life expectancy of the community. Doubly so for virtual communities such as this one.

Agreed and why it wasn't locked.

Lantern Lodge 3/5

Michael Brock wrote:
The black raven wrote:
In my experience, preventing people from debating topics that actually divide the community only worsens the divide and reduces the life expectancy of the community. Doubly so for virtual communities such as this one.
Agreed and why it wasn't locked.

I couldn't agree more. I've only been part of this community since Nov, but as far as I can tell, Mike has seemed discerning and fair in all of his posts that I have read. I appreciate being part of an organization where thoughts and concerns can be shared openly.

While I personally am not fond of some of the blanket assumptions the OP has made, I am also going to speak in his defense and say I don't feel anything he has said has been overly rude to anyone in his posts - and there was a response or two that were rather snippy towards him.

Those things said though, there are only really three things to do in this situation. After gathering a little evidence to be certain it's cheating and not just an honest mistake or something wonky in the module/scenario:

1). Talk to the GM, get his perspective, and share yours.
2). Inform your VC or Mike if you don't feel comfortable confronting them yourself.
3). Find a different GM or stop playing.

I agree with you bud, if a GM was cheating, I'd be none to pleased about it. Pissed right off even, depending on the circumstances. I bet most of the community would feel something similar as well. I can also understand wanting to vent about it a little bit. It's not that we ignore it happening, it's that most of us don't have the experience you believe you are having. If we did, though, you can rest assured most of us would take the steps many have outlined. The best resolution to this will come from taking steps to correct it, and I wish you patience and wisdom in that.


Alter Fritz wrote:

I cheat. If I feal in a Bossfight that it is to easy for my players I give the boss more HP.

I roll always behind the screen and if I roll too bad, sometimes the 7 turns into a 17.
But never to crush the players, just to make sure that afterwards they breath out and are happy they overcame a real tough enemy.
I simply think that the rules serv the players/GM not the other way round.

This is all part of putting trust in your GM, Fritz. I feel the same way as you do.

Sometimes its better for the table that the BBEG has a few more hit points and doesn't drop when the Barbarian crushes him. Maybe its a better hook for that new player to drop him next round when his brave cleric steps into melee to help out the party.

Sometimes its better to bend the rules for dramatic affect. If you have the best intentions of the players in mind, you and your table will have more fun.

And sometimes your GM cheats and doesn't have the best interest of the players in mind. And then it sucks.

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