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D&D General It's not a video game.

Reynard

Legend
This thread is not about aesthetics.

This thread is based on some weird stuff I see on Facebook, Reddit and even here: new players asking for specific strategy help with published 5E adventures. Not "help me build a cool character" or "how do I optimize versus devils" but literal, "how do I get past the cultists in Baldur's Gate?" or "Which Ten Towns adventures give the best loot?"

It is crazy to me that people would ask questions like that for a tabletop RPG. First, it is inefficient because you have NO IDEA how the GM might change the adventure. But moreover it is basically cheating. You can't cheat in a single player CRPG because it is just you, but there are other people at your D&D table.

Anyway, like I said, I have seen it popping up with an increasing frequency and I found it baffling.

Has anyone experienced this in real life? Have you ever had a player cheat at the table in this manner (reading the module beforehand or whatever)? Is it new or am I just noticing it now?
 

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payn

Hero
I ran into this on occasion at Pathfinder Society Tables with scenarios. Thats tends to happen when lots of people play them at tables all the time and are a community. Also, the GM is/was somewhat limited on what they can change in the scenarios.

As for modules and/or adventure paths, I've heard of this kind of thing but never experienced it. Most folks I game with would consider that spoiling the adventure.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
This thread is not about aesthetics.

This thread is based on some weird stuff I see on Facebook, Reddit and even here: new players asking for specific strategy help with published 5E adventures. Not "help me build a cool character" or "how do I optimize versus devils" but literal, "how do I get past the cultists in Baldur's Gate?" or "Which Ten Towns adventures give the best loot?"

It is crazy to me that people would ask questions like that for a tabletop RPG. First, it is inefficient because you have NO IDEA how the GM might change the adventure. But moreover it is basically cheating. You can't cheat in a single player CRPG because it is just you, but there are other people at your D&D table.

Anyway, like I said, I have seen it popping up with an increasing frequency and I found it baffling.

Has anyone experienced this in real life? Have you ever had a player cheat at the table in this manner (reading the module beforehand or whatever)? Is it new or am I just noticing it now?

I rarely run published modules and when I do I change A LOT - so it doesn't really happen at my table (though our current campaign is the adventures from the Yawning Portal - which we are doing mostly for nostalgia, so I wouldn't care much if they DID have the module - but I don't think any of my players would).

But I just saw this very thing with my son's group. He's 13 and running for a group of friends (currently over zoom). He decided to run a published module (Rise of Tiamat - I think he just liked the cover). One of his players. literally, had the module up AS my son was running it.

He asked me about it, I told him to not say anything about "cheating" just say that it won't be nearly as fun if he (the player) knows what will happen. I also offered to help my son change the adventure significantly (frankly the module could use it anyway!).

We'll see what happens.
 

Retreater

Legend
I read a lot of DM advice about how to run specific adventures. For Rime of the Frostmaiden I downloaded a DM "Strategy Guide" to help me present it the best way, to help organize the campaign, and to not TPK the party in the first encounter (which I did anyway, sadly).

I think reading the adventures beforehand has always been a problem. I've seen it since I started DMing in the 1990s. However, players who do that don't last long at my tables if they act on that information.

Now sometimes it happens that a player has already read an adventure (or even played through it once, when we're talking about classics especially). In those cases, I ask that they try to avoid acting on that information. In practice, they usually "dumb down" their characters, purposefully missing obvious clues and making bad decisions, over-correcting out of concern they might look like cheaters.
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
This thread is not about aesthetics.

This thread is based on some weird stuff I see on Facebook, Reddit and even here: new players asking for specific strategy help with published 5E adventures. Not "help me build a cool character" or "how do I optimize versus devils" but literal, "how do I get past the cultists in Baldur's Gate?" or "Which Ten Towns adventures give the best loot?"

It is crazy to me that people would ask questions like that for a tabletop RPG. First, it is inefficient because you have NO IDEA how the GM might change the adventure. But moreover it is basically cheating. You can't cheat in a single player CRPG because it is just you, but there are other people at your D&D table.

Anyway, like I said, I have seen it popping up with an increasing frequency and I found it baffling.

Has anyone experienced this in real life? Have you ever had a player cheat at the table in this manner (reading the module beforehand or whatever)? Is it new or am I just noticing it now?
Some people absolutely play D&D like they would a digital RPG. It's a valid way to play and can be a ton of fun.

My longest 4E campaign was like that. I introduced a group of friends to D&D, and their references were games like Diablo. It became clear to me that even though they enjoyed social interactions and investigating, they were driven by challenging encounters, tactics and obtaining loot.

I started building my campaign with few encounters (sometimes as little as one between long rests) but have them really push the party to its limit. They really enjoyed standing around the game mat and deciding together what were the best moves and making plans "if you do enough damage and he's bloodied, I can do this next turn".

It's definitely different. I tend to reprimand my players if they do too much backseat decision taking for others or try to control what other players do. But in this playstyle its almost encouraged.

Obviously, optimizing comes with it. Optimizing a character always seemed silly to me. But optimizing a party totally make sense. They would discuss and say stuff like "I'm thinking of picking this power next level that will allow me to push back enemies", and then they'd try and create synergy with their build choices.

I've ran something similar in 5E once, but it didn't last as long because of unrelated reasons.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I also offered to help my son change the adventure significantly
Tell your son to check out this thread:


@GuardianLurker has some excellent suggestions for changing up and adding to the adventure. The "Frozen Castle" supplement would also be fun to check out, especially if the group didn't play Hoard of the Dragon Queen first.

 

R_J_K75

Hero
Has anyone experienced this in real life? Have you ever had a player cheat at the table in this manner (reading the module beforehand or whatever)? Is it new or am I just noticing it now?
Yes. I had a player read an adventure that I ran once. It was Castle Spulzeer. I realized not long into the first session when he kept commenting on how things were supposed to play out but didn't because I changed so much. In the end him reading the adventure did no good and his character died after the party ended up in Ravenloft.
 

Pre-written adventures are great to use and, as I've found, a great place to start for customizing things for your players. It's so easy for a DM to say "The monster in room 4B doesn't thematically so I'm going to change it". or to change an encounter to play into a character's background.

@Mort I'd start by having your son move the loot around at the very least. If the fancy magic sword is supposed to be in the library and it's not, then it will be fun to watch the "cheaters" panic.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
It's an open source game with a large community. It's not surprising that new modes of play have opened up over time.

It's not that different than watching a Youtube video about boss strategies for raids in Warcraft, and no one considers that cheating. It's not like most encounters in a module can be skipped, you still need to execute the plan and be ready for unexpected complications.
 

dave2008

Legend
Some people absolutely play D&D like they would a digital RPG. It's a valid way to play and can be a ton of fun.

My longest 4E campaign was like that. I introduced a group of friends to D&D, and their references were games like Diablo. It became clear to me that even though they enjoyed social interactions and investigating, they were driven by challenging encounters, tactics and obtaining loot.

I started building my campaign with few encounters (sometimes as little as one between long rests) but have them really push the party to its limit. They really enjoyed standing around the game mat and deciding together what were the best moves and making plans "if you do enough damage and he's bloodied, I can do this next turn".

It's definitely different. I tend to reprimand my players if they do too much backseat decision taking for others or try to control what other players do. But in this playstyle its almost encouraged.

Obviously, optimizing comes with it. Optimizing a character always seemed silly to me. But optimizing a party totally make sense. They would discuss and say stuff like "I'm thinking of picking this power next level that will allow me to push back enemies", and then they'd try and create synergy with their build choices.

I've ran something similar in 5E once, but it didn't last as long because of unrelated reasons.
That is not exactly what the OP is talking about. The OP mentioned the Player trying to find out what actually happens later in the adventure so they can use that knowledge to beat it.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I've had lots of players play in modules I'm running that they've read or played in before or read about on the internet. It's never been an issue. I change some things, but not a lot (depending on the module), just enough to be able to say - and sometimes prove - that making assumptions is dangerous.

If they know there's a dragon somewhere in the lower levels or that the good treasure is hidden behind the secret door in Area 25, that's really not a problem for me. It's a bit of a running joke in my games that a player will say something about a monster's abilities or the like and add "...or so I read in my grandpa's journal." We even have a custom Discord reaction for it.
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
That is not exactly what the OP is talking about. The OP mentioned the Player trying to find out what actually happens later in the adventure so they can use that knowledge to beat it.
Ah, I reread the post more carefully and you're right. I think stuff like "optimizing against devils" and "help build a cool characters" can fall under my post. But stuff like "which adventure gives better loot" and questions about overcoming specific challenge in a specific adventure are something else entirely. I don't think that ever happened to me.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
This thread is not about aesthetics.

This thread is based on some weird stuff I see on Facebook, Reddit and even here: new players asking for specific strategy help with published 5E adventures. Not "help me build a cool character" or "how do I optimize versus devils" but literal, "how do I get past the cultists in Baldur's Gate?" or "Which Ten Towns adventures give the best loot?"
I think it's an related to power gaming & optimizing. Both treat the game as if it were a video game to be won. They both stem from MMO culture. Finding lists of best-in-slot items. Reading blogs about the best optimized / perfect builds. The attitude of anything less than the perfect build is stupid or a waste of time. Watching boss fight / raid videos for strategies. Grinding until you get the best loot. Etc.
It is crazy to me that people would ask questions like that for a tabletop RPG. First, it is inefficient because you have NO IDEA how the GM might change the adventure. But moreover it is basically cheating. You can't cheat in a single player CRPG because it is just you, but there are other people at your D&D table.
It's basically the same as players reading the Monster Manual and finding monster vulnerabilities...or any other form of metagaming.
Anyway, like I said, I have seen it popping up with an increasing frequency and I found it baffling.

Has anyone experienced this in real life? Have you ever had a player cheat at the table in this manner (reading the module beforehand or whatever)? Is it new or am I just noticing it now?
Yes, it's been around awhile. Yes, I've dealt with it in real life. Yes, I've had players cheat by reading the module ahead of time. I think it's old and you're just noticing it now.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't use published odd but I've had people literally open the Monster Manual in the middle of the game and look up details on the monster I was running. Then proceed to tell everyone about the monster's actions and how many legendary actions they had left and so on.

It's incredibly annoying, and yes I politely informed the player to stop it. He was surprised that it mattered, even though I try to run descriptive combats.

So if this is happening to you? Talk to the player if it bothers you.
 


Doug McCrae

Legend
OD&D (1974) Vol I Men & Magic:

If you are a player purchasing the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS rules in order to improve your situation in an existing campaign, you will find that there is a great advantage in knowing what is herein. If your referee has made changes in the rules and/or tables, simply note them in pencil (for who knows when some flux of the cosmos will make things shift once again!), and keep the rules nearby as you play. A quick check of some rule or table may bring hidden treasure or save your game “life.”​

Dragon #10 (1977) Random Monsters, Paul Montgomery Crabaugh:

One of the problems with D&D is that the players always know too much. This is news? “You obtain surprise over three Clickclicks.”​
“Clickclicks? Oh, yeah, they’re in Supplement Three. Hand it to me. And where’s Greyhawk? It had a note about them.” A pause. “We​
shout out ‘November’.”​
“That’s right, the Clickclicks fall over dead.”​
Sound familiar?​
 
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loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Publisher
Well, I'd say, post-3E D&D is pretty videogamey. I'm starting to think that genre best suited for it is emulating diablo, lol.

But, anyway, honestly I personally enjoy playing modern adventure paths I've played/ran before much more than playing them fresh.
 

Mallus

Legend
I haven't encountered behavior like this. But I'm pretty confident the good people of Reddit didn't invent the idea of cheating their way through a D&D adventure. It's not like none of us ever bought the module the DM was running...
 

I had a player in a different RPG who was absolutely horrible at this. The first was in an adventure I was greatly looking forward to running, and the players knew I had it. At first I didn't notice, but his character just happened to be trained in several obscure skills that made parts of it much easier to overcome (for example, one trap was avoided by dancing around it by rolling Reflexes/Dancing). I also realized after the fact that he'd made key decisions on which way to go, always choosing the easiest route. I was super irritated, but not as much as the next campaign, where he literally built his character to optimize the first adventure.
 

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