I cheat when playing RPGS, and it makes the game better. But before I explain how it makes the game better, let me explain what I mean by cheating. I don’t mean I use dice with the wrong amount of numbers on it or write extra skill points on my character sheet. What I’m referring to is doing things that are considered going outside of the normal actions, coming up with unique solutions to problems that are different from what most people will expect. For example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYAlp2WUc3I where Spoony tells the story of his PC proving how he is the Greatest Swordsman in the world, beyond all odds. But the ending shows an example of my style of cheating. Watch the link if you like to find out because I don’t want to spoil the story.
Another such example comes from the same game that story came from seen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG2btE5pTUQ, where the character took a glass from the table, puts it in a bag and smashes it against the floor, stepping on it to crush the glass better. The servants are looking at him like, ‘Did the glass offend you?’ And he smiles, shakes his head and just walks away on his adventure. In time they meet this huge epic battle boss and he goes to attack and instead of swinging says, ‘I take my bag of crushed glass and throw it in his eyes’. The ending of the game has another epic example of the ‘cheating’ I am referring to. Again, I don’t want to spoil the epic story. Just remember the key phrase, “Spoony got this”.
Some non-game examples I can reference is movies like the FX movies and FX the Series, where special effects man Rollie Tyler uses movie magic to help the cops solve crimes. There’s also stuff like in Sneakers, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Leverage, and so forth have all sorts of different storylines where they go with using skills, abilities and so forth that would be within the ‘system’ they are using.
Now, a couple examples of my own. For example, I had a Shadowrun game I was playing a techie type in, and we had to go to a meeting where we knew we were going to be screwed in. It’s what usually happens, after all. At least in published materials. So, what I did was bought a bunch of laser targetting from a gun store, hooked them up to batteries on a remote and placed them throughout the area. Then what we did was when they tried to screw us, I told them that they may want to rethink that. They laughed and advanced, I smiled and triggered the remote and 30 laser dots appeared focused at their end of the alleyway. Gave us enough time to get away while they were distracted.
Another Shadowrun example I used to mess with the players was the use of a few simple spells in ways that people had not used, such as the spell Animate to turn a tree someone was hiding in to a trap as it wrapped its branches around the player hiding in it.
I’ve used Ghost Sound and Silent Image, Ghost Sound and other such illusion spells to have all sorts of fun. Need to escape from a chase? Get into a hiding place, silent image of you running another way. Ghost Sound makes a great way to get the enemies to look a different way as the sound of people getting closer is heard, like horses coming over the hill.
Another example comes from a game of Exalted I played. I played a Drunken Monk character who was basically given an ‘Anymug’ that would produce any alcohol he asked for. Out in the middle of a frozen wasteland, the PCs were attacked by a burrowing race of creatures almost like the Aliens from the movies. We had a flyer who I gave the mug to and then they flew around in a circle with the mug, covering the area with a ring of alcohol which we then set on fire, giving us a barrier of protection.
Finally, an example taken from literature, the Knights of the Dinner Table comics. Issue #54, storyline ‘New Approaches’, has Dave the player who usually plays guys with big-ass swords is playing a magic user with 8 intelligence who can only cast cantrips. He uses his spells to get into a city, get someone else to pay for his group’s bill at the inn and get out of trouble. Given the group is used to hack n’ slash in pretty much every session to solve all problems, it was surprising to see them get out without any fighting. Parson ‘Lord Hamster’ Gotti from Erfworld is another example of working tactically and beyond the obvious, to the point the ending of the story being quite… different from expected.
So, there’s some examples where you can see how going outside of conventional sort of ‘I hit them, they hit me’ can give you many more choices. You just need to be able to come up with some creative uses for things. Sometimes a couple pieces of equipment, such as the old D&D Continual Light stone glued into a Map case can make a flash light.