cheating yourself is fun

Some friends and I were playing a game that uses mana counters. We didn’t have any with us, so we each used a d20 as a counter.

When my friend Larry got his first point of damage, he started tumbling his d20 through his fingers. “I can’t find the 1. My d20 has no 1!”

As everyone knows, you can’t prove a negative,, so maybe that die had a 1 tucked away on some obscure corner somewhere, but when I looked at the die, what I did discover was that it had two 20s.

Larry’s girlfriend said that she had bought the die because she liked the color: neither of them had ever noticed that it was a trick die. Larry has probably played some D&D sessions with this cheater’s die, and – in all likelihood – he probably rolled some crits where he should have rolled fumbles. It probably added a little – say 5% – to the fun of the session.

It’s kind of sad that we discovered the trick die. Larry is an honest person, so he’ll never use that die again. That means that, from now on, his average d20 roll will be a tiny bit worse. He’s lost his edge.

Cheating can be fun – as long as you don’t know you’re cheating. And that’s really what D&D is based on. Especially in 4e, encounters are designed to seem like you’re on a thin knife edge of doom, a single roll away from death, when in fact you have a 95% chance of winning the encounter. 4e is great at making every session feel like another against-the-odds success, so you don’t need a trick die to cheat death.

I still wish we hadn’t outed that d20 though.

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