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Addressing Cheaters with the Rules

Does Monopoly have rules that address cheaters?

How about Diplomacy?

How about Clue?

No, they don't. These games assume people just wouldn't cheat.

Why is it LARP players insist I design rules that address cheating?

Think about it. 


( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 27th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
I think it has to do with the different ways in which people approach board games versus interactive storytelling games. It's assumed that if you don't want to play Monopoly with someone because you know they cheat, you won't ask them to play with you. It's a self-correcting problem because firstly, the group is so small (most board game groups don't get more than six people, and I've never been to a good larp that had less than ten people); and secondly, player investment.

Put a different way - playing Monopoly is a one-off thing. I don't have a whole lot of story invested in the little shoe, or the battleship, or whatever my piece is. My little shoe has no motivation except 'go round the board, pass go and do not go to jail'. I haven't invested any of my creativity or personal animus in the little shoe. It's different with a larp. A larp is an ongoing story, with a character I have invested with creativity and a little piece of myself. For insecure characters, their PC becomes their wish fulfillment. Because they cannot succeed at life, they want to succeed with their PC - and they'll cheat to do it.
May. 27th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)

It's still possible to invest a lot in a board game. Diplomacy, for example, takes a long time, and the players can get deeply involved in it.
(no subject) - thelastmehina - May. 27th, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 27th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
Consider team sports, like football or basketball. The referees there have a long list of fouls and infractions that can be called, and penalties for each of them. These are meant to be applied to people who break the rules of the game and, having done so, get to keep playing. Similar thing.
May. 27th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but those games have quantifiable winning conditions, too, and there's a strong WIIIIIINNNNN culture around athletics. Is that true of LARP?
(no subject) - britgeekgrrl - May. 27th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jadasc - May. 27th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - innocent_man - May. 27th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyldelf - May. 27th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jadasc - May. 27th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 27th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
2 main reasons:

1) Cheating is (relatively) difficult to do in board games; knocking the dice or grabbing extra money require rare skills to not get caught, and the people who have those skills, rarely bother to use them for board games. The other players are often watching every move and submove; a person who grabs an extra house & puts it on his property is likely to be noticed, and if nothing else, other players are likely to remember that he didn't have one. However, saying "this hat holds three style points" is easier to get away with--RPGs have too many personal details for everyone to know & remember everyone else's.

2) The other players are more invested in your activity in an RPG.
If a person cheats in a board game, the other players are likely to say, "You lose! Leave now, and we'll play the game without you!" But in an RPG, especially a LARP, making someone leave for cheating also punishes everyone whose storyline was involved with that player's character(s). It'd be useful to have an in-game deterrent for cheating, so the other players aren't having to choose between the story and fair play.
May. 27th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
Running a scam that is legal is not cheating. Following the rules to give your buddy an unfair advantage isn't cheating. It's lame, but it's not cheating.

A lot of games have rules specifically written to minimize unfair actions. The best games have clear simple rules that minimize cheating and also unfair practices.

As for Monopoly that game is a dream for people looking for exploits. You can trade properties, GooJF cards, and cash back and forth and if you are working with another player, you can essentially determine which one of you is going to win.

I'm insanely good at the Monopoly rules and averages. When I play a competitive game with people I know I hardly ever win since my friends' Game Theory is to beat Ben and let whoever comes in second win. When I play with people I don't know I come off as a nice guy and try to play a 'friendly' competitive game and thus win more often then not.

Diplomacy is entirely about manipulating other people with Game Theory Psychology. Your buddy over at Square Mans has a great article about it, and I believe, was your reasoning for keeping a line between Friendly Games and Competitive Games. Thus applies to a LARP doubly so.

Regarding Clue, that game is simply an efficiency test randomized to allow the person with the best dice rolls and a passable amount of IQ to deduce who is guilty. Generally, unless everyone is crazy conservative in their play, the second person to guess the murderer is the winner. It's not much of a game, and if people are lazy with their cards any other player can easily deduce to an unfair advantage.

If you're going to have your players able to 'win' in the LARP then you need to realize that they're going to be motivated to game the system to their advantage.

In my examples in the previous post you made I used specifically absurd examples so that it'd be obvious, but I can think of countless examples of I INSIST challenges that seem prima facia nominal and could have been agreed upon before coming to a LARP with one's friend.

I really don't see the point in the INSIST rule. Why do you have it? What does it do that the other rules don't do? Any good player will want to forward the plot, and people who constantly give away their Style because they don't want to agree to things will soon be without story plots or Style points and thus be bored and will seek Style out. This should be a strong enough market motivator to get people to accept things.

I find it odd that an Anti-competitive rule which passive aggressively removes fun (Style) from the game is part of the rules - it seems counter intuitive to the atmosphere. The quote you mentioned by Paul Tevis - "I get what I want, and you get to be Awesome", should be enough motivation. What is the reason for the I INSIST rule, and why is that fun?
May. 27th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
Speaking of Monopoly - I've gotten to the point when I play with my friends, that I'm trying now to have fun by determining through my trades and exchanges who will be the person to come in second. It's much more challenging a game that way and makes me feel like an ailing Don presiding over squabbling children. But don't tell my friends that's what I'm doing - they won't want to play anymore.
May. 27th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
In the tabletop, a contested Beauty vs. Courage risk would fill in the gap that's described, if someone couldn't be swayed via roleplay. In this, whomever bids the most style gets what they want. There are certain things that do require a competitive mechanic that lets someone get their way. Only instead of 'are they going to roll better than me', we now have 'are they willing to spend more style than me'. It keeps a touch of uncertainty in the contests.
(no subject) - wunderworks - May. 27th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nestdweller - May. 27th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - wunderworks - May. 28th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 27th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, the Illuminati card game has rules for cheating. Though, it basically says, if you want to use the cheating rules, either play with folks you're never going to see again or people you're very close friends with.
May. 27th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
You say cheating but I think you mean "being a jerk", since it is now hinged most arguments on just that word.......

May. 27th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
in my games we have a guideline called "the lance rule," coined by my good friend lance (hence the name). it goes like this: if a player is caught cheating, cheezing, or otherwise being an overt douchebag, said player immediately "takes D100 damage to the head," and then we throw a softball-sized hundred-sided die at them.

or you can do what i threaten people with at my LARP games and resolve all OOC issues by knife-fighting in a ring of fire.

ultimately, though, you can have a one-sentence rule for cheaters: leave and don't come back.
May. 28th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)

Let me say that again: Amen.

Too many RPG designs (let alone LARP) designs have rules built in to try and reign in bad play rather than heighten good play.

That said, one of the main reasons I don't play LARPs is because they are often constructed with this anyone and everyone has a "right" to play so long as they pay their club dues or otherwise participate in whatever large scale social organization method is being employed to keep the group alive. As such they fall prey to all the natural social politics that arise in any, for lack of a better word, "public" organization.

In my table-top game you are there by my invitation. If I don't like the way you play, you get uninvited. Period. There is no, "but I'm part of this organization TOO" to fall back on. It's my game.

But I get the impression you don't see Houses LARPS being organized that way on a large scale, do you?
May. 28th, 2009 05:58 am (UTC)
Larps carry over from playground cops and robbers.


They make rules for cheating because they don't want people punching.
May. 28th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
I've done a number of panels for Hex Games at conventions, and the question of problem players always pops up. And always, our answer is "why would you play with that person?"

Seriously, if you have a person who constantly cheats, power-games, or is just an awful person in general, don't let them play. No amount of game rule is going to fix that.
May. 28th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
Is it possible that, in calling for rules to handle cheating, what people are asking for are guidelines that make a clear definition of which exploits are cheating and which are creative play? That people are looking for a clear-cut way to distinguish between gaming the system, circumventing the rules, and being a munchkin douchbag? Or, to put it another way, distinguishing betwen "wow, I never would have thought of that" and "bad form?"
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )

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