[RPG] How to persuade players not to cheat


I am DMing the Lost Mine of Phandelver Starter Set campaign for 5e with my two friends, and one of them is bringing his two friends. They use D&D Beyond, and their character sheets contain almost all 16 or 18 stats with tons of manually input gold. One of them is also a druid with 24 health. So how to persuade my players not to cheat?

Best Answer

Don’t run the game. At least, not like that.

“Guys, these characters aren’t legal. I’m not running a game with them.”

If they persist, don’t be drawn into an argument. “I’m not running it,” and “I’m still not running it,” and is all you need to say.

When arguing doesn’t get what they want — when it gets them less in the form of no game — they’ll have to make up their mind whether they really want to play.

  • If they don’t, you’ve dodged a bullet: they were going to make the game all about their favourite ways to break the rules to get uber-powerful characters, which is a headache even for experienced DMs. That won’t be fun for you, judging by the existence of your question.

  • If they do want to play, great. Make characters together, instead of on their own. Consider using the standard array method instead of rolling, if you doubt their ability to roll openly and fairly.

    Expect that they’ll try something else, though. If they don’t, great, if they do, remind them you’re runnning D&D, not whatever made-up rules they want.

There’s a natural balance between DM authority and player agency, but them wanting you to be a doormat is not in the range of healthy balance. If you want to enjoy this too, they need to not walk all over you.

Don’t run the game. Unless they’re willing to play the game that you all agreed to in the first place.