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D&D General Poll: Do DMs/GMs need to trust their players?

Do GMs/DMs need to trust players?

  • Always

  • Frequently

  • Sometimes

  • Rarely

  • Never

  • Other, explained below.

Results are only viewable after voting.


I voted 'Never'.

I don't need to trust my players because the game is being run entirely from my perspective. If I see there are issues with the game, I'll solve them. If it means letting players go because they are disruptive, then I'll do so.

But I couldn't care less how or why that disruption came about. If a player is a schmuck and I let them go... whether I "trusted" them or didn't "trust them" is irrelevant. I could have an entire table of people I "trust"... but that in no way assures me one of them won't be a schmuck and that I won't have to let them go.

Now if someone wants to say I'm more likely to have LESS schmucks at the table if the players that I bring in are trustworthy... I won't disagree. But just like being a trustworthy person doesn't mean you can't be a schmuck... being an untrustworthy person doesn't mean you automatically will be. And thus I do not go out of my way to check or test everyone's "trustworthiness" prior to letting them sit at my table.

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"Trust" is such an odd thing for D&D. Trust has so many word salad definitions for each person. What is the definition?

It is nice to think a player would not cheat, but the problem is the temptation is huge. As each player has a personal stake in the game, they will often feel compelled to cheat just to have their version of fun. The player does not want to just sit there and let a bad roll...or bad choice they made, ruin the whole game night for them.

And a lot of players are forgetfully, amazingly even more so for anything negative. Like when the player "forgets" that their character has the poisoned condition. It's common enough, but it's also common for the untrustworthy player to "forget" such things.


Rotten DM
Frequent trust the players. but I have players who don't know the rules. I have players who forget the rules. And some forget to their advantage when the table is not paying attention.

So I have two seperate takes on this:
One one hand, GMs need to trust that players won't cheat. If you do catch a player cheating, you should talk with them. I dont think it is a "one and done" situation. Also, cheating for an advantage over a NPC threat is less egregious than cheating over a fellow PC.
On the other hand, a GM needs to trust that the players will work with them for a shared vision of what the game is. That they will buy in and participate in good faith. Not engage in story sabotage. If anything, this is a bigger concern.


Trust but verify? I set up a DDB account in part so that my player had to use a system. It's not that I don't trust the vast majority of players, but people make mistakes. I know I have.

The people that outright cheat have been very rare, and I simply don't put up with it. I've DMed for hundreds of players over the years and only 2 people come to mind as obviously cheating. There was a 3rd that used transparent dice with all the ink worn off, so he'd have to hold up his dice and squint at it to get a number; no clue if he was cheating or not.

But you can't always tell. I knew one guy who was just amazingly lucky. Didn't matter if he was using his own dice or someone handed them a random set, he would just roll high more often than statistically likely. He was probably the universe's way of balancing average dice rolls to counter Will Wheaton. :unsure:


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
People like to say, rather frequently, that players just need to trust their DM/GM. That it is strange, foolish, or self-sabotaging to play in a game where you "don't trust the DM," usually without clarifying whether that means "trust in all possible situations no matter what" or a more general "overall trusting DM/GM judgment" sense.
This is a big deal in D&D, where the DM is literally given all of the authority by the table. A player can definitively revoke their grant of the authority only by leaving the table, though luckily good communication can help in the majority of cases.

In other games where the DM is not nearly as all-powerful, and is in fact constrained by rules like Agenda, Principles and Moves like in a PbtA game, that need for "perfect trust" can be reduced to the normal amount of trust you would like to have with someone you play a game with.

What about the other way around? I'm curious about whether folks around here think that there is a burden of trust in the other direction, or if this trust is absolutely one-sided. So: Do DMs/GMs need to trust their players?

Note that this does not imply strictly distrusting. "Never" simply means the DM has no need to trust any player's intentions or motivations, for whatever reason--that might be because trust is irrelevant, or it might be because DMs should distrust players.
I've played with people who would lie about dice rolls, or not properly track HPs or spell slots used. As a player and as a DM I've disliked the energy that brings to the table. I've played with players who have read modules, and ended up stealing the thrill of discovery from the group - or acted whiny when I've changed things and negatively affected the mood of the group. So yes, there does need to be a level of trust with the players. That they will play the game honestly.

I voted "always". But it's a complicated question (which is why my earlier answer in post #8 was not so serious).

I trust that the players behave within the boundaries of what I consider fair play. And that actually differs between a live game and an online game.

When we play live at a table, it's impossible to cheat a dice roll and with our paper character sheets there are no digital distractions and no chance to quickly look up monster stats. So, it's a little pointless to talk of trust. But I trust the people to be on time, to bring some snacks and to be involved in the game. And yeah, I think I need to trust the players on these things.

When we play online, I know that it's impossible to turn off all the digital tools. So, I fully expect the players to have some monster stats on a different tab of the browser and to do some meta-gaming. Also, I would not be surprised if some important rolls are cheated. So, what I demand of the players has nothing to do with these issues. I trust that they will interact, roleplay and do their best. In my opinion, you can trust the players even if they do things that others would consider cheating.

Do DM's NEED to trust their players? No, the game runs just fine when dice are rolled in the open and character sheets are available for inspection. Lots of organized play games, for example, assume the DM should check character sheets before the game starts.

Do I WANT to trust the players? Sure, I wouldn't want to run a game for player who was constantly trying to cheat, or play with a DM who acted like a casino pit boss.

the Jester

I'd say it depends on the nature of the game. Is it regular campaign play? A convention one-shot? A one-off with your regulars + some guests? I'd say the answer varies depending on the situation.

But in a regular, ongoing campaign, I think trust makes the game better. It's not a thing in every group, but for me, if I don't trust a player, I have to reconsider whether they need to stay at my table. They're bad for the group.

On the other hand, some groups have a bunch of secrets going on between various pcs, between pcs and the dm, and there's a significant political feeling to it. This can be fun- I don't prefer it for D&D, but for something like Amber, never trusting the players can actually add to the game.

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