As mentioned before, there is a level of trust between the DM and the players. The players expect their DM to be a fair and honest broker. And the DM expects the same of his or her players – their dice-rolling his honest and their character sheets are accurate.
The notion of a character-sheet audit may not be a popular one. Some DM’s will look at a character-sheet to record vital information such as alignment, hit points, feats, or special abilities. This is often a cursory glance, just to glean some details.
At the start of the campaign, and/or when new characters are introduced, a DM may consider having a formal auditing process of players’ character sheets. The audit may be performed by the DM on each character sheet; or each player may audit fellow players’ characters; or non-participants in the campaign may be enlisted so other players would not be privy to sensitive details of a character (such as alignment, hit points, etc).
Why audit ? Two reasons : Accidental errors, and Intentional errors.
Accidental errors can creep into a character sheet without the player knowing it. It is possible that, during the complex and time-consuming process of writing up a character, a player new to the RPG (even one familiar with the system) may have made some mistakes. These could include :
- Character creation details or information taken from an outdated source or a book that is not approved for use.
- Missing bonuses for melee combat, Armor Class, racial bonuses.
- Missing Synergy bonuses for having 5 or more Ranks in a different Skill.
- Over-stacked bonuses.
- Misunderstood Feats.
- Missing prerequisites for a Feat, Prestige Class, or other ability.
- Improperly calculated Skill and Cross-Class Skill ranks.
- Just plain-old bad math.
Intentional errors made on a character sheet are a very serious matter. This suggests a conscious decision by a player to cheat at the game. While it is unlikely that a player would do such a thing, and it may be difficult to prove intent over accident or honest mistake, the DM or auditor must consider the player and their probable intentions on discovering what might be an intentional cheat. More errors to watch for include :
- Improperly-stacked bonuses (e.g. multiple Deflection bonuses added to AC).
- Too many Skill points based on the character’s INT and Class/Cross-Class rank investments.
- Attributes that do not fit the campaign’s established guidelines.
- Unusually-high Attribute scores (e.g. multiple 18’s; all Attributes over 15).
- Doubled or over-estimated bonuses to Saves, Attack, AC, etc.
- Addition errors that consistently favour the player.
- Too much starting money, and/or starting possessions whose value exceeds the campaign’s starting conditions.
- Spell details, such as range, damage, saving throw, that have been over-estimated.
Besides keeping your campaign honest and accurate, conducting audits of players’ character sheets makes sure everyone gets the most from their characters during game play and keeps the game enjoyable for all players.