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Totally Guy
2011-01-04, 09:09 AM
I was reading a session write up that my GM wrote and he made a comment along the lines of:

"The villain rolled so well and I didn't even fudge it!"

When I questioned the GM over whether he was fudging of not he pragmatically told me that he was playing by the rules. And that in the specific instance there was no fudging so it's not an issue.

But recently I was reading GMing section of the book (Shadowrun 3E) and it actually gives the GM permission to fudge results. This puts a very different slant on the discussion we've already had.

I don't want to go back to him saying "Ok, I read through the GMing section and now I think the game sucks" because I was enjoying myself. As far as he is concerned we've already finished that talk.

My trust is damaged. My confidence in the game system is low. If the game operates in such a way that even the creators require fudging it then what's the point of it?

Yora
2011-01-04, 09:12 AM
Every gm in every game fudges. And it has always been that way.

Foryn Gilnith
2011-01-04, 09:13 AM
My confidence in the game system is low

I don't have much experience with game systems, but I was under the impression that most of them allowed (more or less explicitly) the GM to fudge results.

Typewriter
2011-01-04, 09:19 AM
As long as the GM doesn't rub your guys noses in it it shouldn't be a problem.

Who cares what he rolls, as long as you have fun. Don't worry too much about what he's actually doing behind the screen.

On the other hand - if after a fight he goes "You guys are so lucky I'm nice. You could never have pulled that off without me.", then you have a problem. And yes, I've seen that done. That does ruin things :(

Zen Monkey
2011-01-04, 09:20 AM
What's wrong with fudging dice rolls as the GM? It's their job to make a good story, and sometimes that dramatic (or comic) moment is better suited by a miss instead of a hit, or the other way around. Maybe a villain needs one more round for his last act, and sometimes it's a better story for the hero to be left barely alive over the conquered monster, rather than squished flat and replaced by a new character.

In short, it's the GM's job to create a good time for the players, and not every combination of dice rolls is fun for everyone.

TalonDemonKing
2011-01-04, 09:21 AM
Simply put, bad dice rolls happen. And sometimes it'd suck to have your ''Expert Swash-buckler and Lady Killer of ten years' killed by a bunch of dire rats.

Does it happen in real life? Sure. Is it fun? Not really. And the game is mostly about having fun.

Have you ever done something on impulse, decided it was a bad idea, then taken it back? And the DM allowed this? This is the same as fudging rolls. Perhaps your DM specifically chose something on a chart for your loot or for you to fight? This is the same as fudging rolls.

While the wording of your DM was a bit strange (I personally never-ever-ever let players see my rolls, or even know about them), fudging DM rolls have been a staple of the game; More so if its home brew, double if its the first time the campaign has been run. Sometimes encounters are too hard/easy for the players, and certain stats need to be adjusted, or certain rolls need to be changed on the fly.

Good DMs don't need to do this, but Better DMs use this as just another tool to make the story fun and interesting. Don't sweat it, and just have fun.

sonofzeal
2011-01-04, 09:22 AM
I don't really see the issue. Fudging comes in on the random element of the game, and sometimes that random element is good, but sometime's it's bad too. Sometimes the monsters roll nothing but 20's in the first encounter of the first session, and that just sucks for everyone involved. The DM is, above all, a storyteller - and sometimes the whims of the dice must bow to the necessities of the narrative.

If your DM is good, that'll only happen when appropriate, and it'll happen seamlessly enough that the overall result makes the game work for everyone. If your DM is bad, it can be handled hamhandedly, ruining suspense by removing the element of danger, or outright screwing your characters out of fairly won victories.

The question is not whether your DM fudges; the question is whether your DM is trustworthy in how he fudges.

Do you trust your DM?

Emmerask
2011-01-04, 09:22 AM
My trust is damaged. My confidence in the game system is low. If the game operates in such a way that even the creators require fudging it then what's the point of it?

The main point is to have fun, aside from competitive games you will find gms fudging rolls now and then either to increase or decrease the difficulty of something they estimated wrongly but in both cases it is to increase the overall fun :smallwink:

ScionoftheVoid
2011-01-04, 09:23 AM
I know the feeling, but think of it this way: you were having fun, so the GM is good enough at fudging that it shouldn't make a difference. If you are not having fun in a way that could be traced back to poor fudging, then you would be perfectly justified in taking whatever action you deemed necessary.

I've been in this discussion before, and the general feel of the board is that it's okay to fudge as long as it's done well.

Serpentine
2011-01-04, 09:23 AM
Yep, sorry, it's pretty standard practice. I fudge to stop a supposedly challenging enemy getting wiped out with one blow, and I fudge to avoid PC death. In other words, I fudge to make the game more fun.
It sucks that you found out about it, but if you were enjoying it before, couldn't you try to have a little more faith in your DM?

Eldan
2011-01-04, 09:24 AM
I don't really fudge rolls, but then, I also don't really throw the PCs into potentially lethal situations.

Zid
2011-01-04, 09:25 AM
My trust is damaged. My confidence in the game system is low. If the game operates in such a way that even the creators require fudging it then what's the point of it?

This is like seeing a small child lose his fatih in Santa Claus. As said before, all DMs fudge rolls sometimes.

Toliudar
2011-01-04, 09:30 AM
And thank goodness that DM's do, by the way. An element of randomness is great, but sometimes randomness gets in the way of an ongoing shared story. You want a verifiable and impersonal interpretation of clear rules? Play a computer game.

The Rose Dragon
2011-01-04, 09:34 AM
I never fudge. If I roll dice, I always go by the results.

I just almost never roll dice, so I don't have to fudge to keep things interesting.

((Though to be fair, I always come up with results that are possible by the roll of the dice.))

supermonkeyjoe
2011-01-04, 09:35 AM
Sometimes it's necessary, DMs aren't infallible and occasionally we'll throw in an encounter that quickly looks like it's going to be a TPK for a really stupid reason, no-one wants to have a campaign grind to a halt because all of the ogres somehow rolled confirmed crits this round.

I'd say fudging is a good thing if used to make the game more fun for all involved.

ScionoftheVoid
2011-01-04, 09:35 AM
I challenge the case that all DMs fudge rolls. I roll many things out for the players to see, mostly in combat (where the most fudging is likely to take place).

I try not to fudge rolls, and have not done so yet. This is mostly because I don't trust myself to know what the player's preferred roll would be. For example, someone said that they would fudge to stop what was supposed to be a challenging opponent going down in one hit, to make it more fun. Personally, I would find that less fun than actually having it work. Obviously, this GM's group would find a 1-hit victory less satisfying. I don't know which my players would prefer (many of them are having their first game, and most of the others have only been playing a few months), so I would default to the die roll. Basically, you need to trust your GM to fudge well (though not necessarily in your favour).

Erom
2011-01-04, 09:39 AM
I never fudge rolls, ever, because I am anal about randomness in a way similar to the OP it sounds like. That said, the dnd I play is more like a board game and less like cooperative storytelling as a result. So depending on what kind of game you want to play, fudging can be essential to creating the right gameplay.

Jan Mattys
2011-01-04, 09:52 AM
I was reading a session write up that my GM wrote and he made a comment along the lines of:

"The villain rolled so well and I didn't even fudge it!"

When I questioned the GM over whether he was fudging of not he pragmatically told me that he was playing by the rules. And that in the specific instance there was no fudging so it's not an issue.

But recently I was reading GMing section of the book (Shadowrun 3E) and it actually gives the GM permission to fudge results. This puts a very different slant on the discussion we've already had.

I don't want to go back to him saying "Ok, I read through the GMing section and now I think the game sucks" because I was enjoying myself. As far as he is concerned we've already finished that talk.

My trust is damaged. My confidence in the game system is low. If the game operates in such a way that even the creators require fudging it then what's the point of it?

As a DM I am supposed to tell an interesting story, to paint the world in interesting colors for my players, and to provide entertainment in the form of challenges.

The fact that I fudge or I don't fudge the rolls is irrelevant, as long my choice is functional to the story and my role.

Of course, I usually don't fudge rolls; I both need a very good reason to do that and try to keep the fudging secret.

But there are times when fudging rolls makes for a better story and for a happier player. I see no reason not to fudge, in that case.

Also, I'd like to add a little note:
while not exactly common, it is indeed "possible" for players to win at D&D. When they feel accomplishment, they are "winning", in a way. So, players fudging rolls is bad because it's... how can I say... cheating. It is trying to accomplish things without any real merit.

Dungeon Masters, on the other hand, do not win at d&d. They can have fun, but their role is to provide fun for the players, not for themselves. Also, being the omnipotent-higher-than-gods entities in the game, there's practically nothing that can be considered an "achievement" from the DM's point of view. So fudging rolls is ok, because it is a mean to an end (players having fun) and not a way to cheat the system.

DMs do not fight the system, they ARE the system.
It's not the DMs that fudge dice, it's the dice that refuse to do their part in the DM's grand scheme of things.
Sometimes those pesky cubes, tetrahedrons and icosahedrons need to be reminded who is in charge!
:smallbiggrin:

Gullintanni
2011-01-04, 09:57 AM
I never fudge rolls, ever, because I am anal about randomness in a way similar to the OP it sounds like. That said, the dnd I play is more like a board game and less like cooperative storytelling as a result. So depending on what kind of game you want to play, fudging can be essential to creating the right gameplay.

I usually don't fudge rolls, but as much as an Ogre crit can ruin a whole party's adventure, if you tell your story right, you can leave openings for DM fiat that doesn't break too heavily from reality. The Ogre crits a party member and then a pit opens up in the dungeon floor separating the Ogre from the wounded party his breakfast.

That being said, fudging the environment as opposed to the dice rolls is only a mechanical difference. I try to remain true to the dice, and my parties often suffer the consequences as a result, but I try not to let it ruin the narrative.

Zherog
2011-01-04, 10:03 AM
Every gm in every game fudges. And it has always been that way.

I can prove this statement false. I don't fudge rolls -- I roll all my dice out in the open.

While most people in here seem to have no problem with it, I agree that it's an issue. If the GM is going to fudge, why bother rolling dice at all?

Glug, I think you need to have another friendly chat with your GM. Explain your issues; explain that the game was fun, but now that you suspect he fudges, a lot of the fun factor has been stripped away for you. Presumably, you and he are friends. So it should be pretty easy for the two of you to talk it out and come to some sort of solution.

sana
2011-01-04, 10:09 AM
I roll all dice open in front of my players...

and yes i Fudge the Rolls sometimes.

I just use a second identical looking, but loaded die. My players are happy, they suspect that I sometimes Fudge the rolls.
They just never caught me swapping the Dice.

It's even a lot of fun for me knowing that one day they might catch me if my real life sleight of hand check fails. :smallredface:

Britter
2011-01-04, 10:16 AM
I see this as a game system issue Glug.

I play both Shadowrun 3e and Burning Wheel (And, if I recall correctly, you are among the few BW/Mouse Guard players on the forum). When I run BW, all the rolls, all the time, are out in front of the players and they are played as they lay. Without fail. Even if it means that everything goes wrong for me/the player/whoever rolled the dice. That works because of the fact that, even in combat, BW doesn't really require a lot of rolls. Additionally, you know what the consequences of success and failure are with a BW roll before the dice hit the table, and you can always choose to not make the test assuming you are willing to walk away from that conflict. So, each roll really matters because the player has committed to it.

Comparatively, when I run Shadowrun, I have to fudge results all the time, because I am rolling a ton of rolls that can easily kill a character, undoing hours upon hours of work on both my part and the players part.

Now, when I play BW, I don't mind dying as a player, or killing players as the GM, because the game systems encourages you to test only when it matters. So a player who dies in a BW game most likely dies trying to fight for a Belief. Therefore that failure is interesting. In Shadowrun, you can be killed in a random gunfight by a random mook, and it lacks the punch of a BW failure.

One of my personal goals is to convert Shadowrun to BW or maybe Mouseguard, so I can circumvent this exact issue. I have absolutely no issues with having the entire game ride on a single die roll, made in the open between the players and the GM. Tension is high, everyone knows that this roll MATTERS. But in a gunfight that might involved 30 or 40 rolls over the course of 2 hours (if not more) the importantce of each roll is dramatically reduced, meaning that unless you as a GM want your players to die at the whims of fate instead of for what they think matters, you have to fudge things.

A possible solution, and one that I intend to use, is to setup a variant of the E6 (a 3.5 DnD hack) "Death Flag". Essentially, the players can only die if they opt to do so. Therefore, they can not die during, say, a random mook conflict (though they can be defeated, natch, and defeat can be very interesting). However, if they find themselves fighting their arch-nemisis, they can raise the Death Flag, get some plot tokens(In a BW context, I would give them a Persona point or two) and run the risk of dying, but in a meaningful way that they choose instead of at the whims of probability.

Serpentine
2011-01-04, 10:21 AM
For example, someone said that they would fudge to stop what was supposed to be a challenging opponent going down in one hit, to make it more fun. Personally, I would find that less fun than actually having it work. Obviously, this GM's group would find a 1-hit victory less satisfying. I don't know which my players would prefer (many of them are having their first game, and most of the others have only been playing a few months), so I would default to the die roll. Basically, you need to trust your GM to fudge well (though not necessarily in your favour).I have particular trouble getting the balance of an encounter right. An encounter I expect to be a fairly easy passing battle threatens to be a TPK, while an encounter I expect the characters to have to fight hard to survive they utterly wipe the floor with. So, I fudge a bit - raise or lower a DC here, succeed or fail a save there - to try to bring it closer to my goal difficulty. I certainly don't do it for every single roll, whatever the anti-fudgers seem to think. I do it, for example, when the resulting death - PC or enemy - would feel cheap or anticlimactic, or when I want the encounter to go a bit longer or if it's obvious the players are starting to get restless with a long battle and it would be better to finish it sooner rather than later.
Trouble is... for all it's fairly standard practice, and, when used properly, enhances a game, a lot of its value - or all of it, apparently, in Glug's case - is lost if the players know about it. At least for individual rolls.
I just asked one of my players (my boyfriend, incidentally) if it'd spoil my game if he knew I fudged rolls sometimes. He said no, not at all.
Also, apparently I need to put more ranks into my Bluff skill...

Roderick_BR
2011-01-04, 10:23 AM
And you only found it now?
*All* RPGs allow it. Only board games like Hero Quest (where the "DM" actually plays to defeat the players with specific rules) won't allow anyone to fudge.
DMs do it to avoid stupid quick deaths from either BBeGs or PC.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-01-04, 10:26 AM
I'm sorry that the fact your DM fudges is disconcerting for you but... well, it is pretty commonplace. I don't know if he'll react well to pressure for him to "stop fudging the dice."

TANGENT
Personally, I don't fudge unless an Encounter was designed so poorly that a TPK is inevitable - and I'm more likely to figure out a in-game fudge (e.g. a reason for the baddies to flee, or some sort of other intervention) before I start making up die results.

I've never cared much for the practice because it does reduce the impact of the dice mechanics on a game. Fudging for the sake of the "story" in a dice-heavy game is just another version of the DM trying to keep the story "on the rails." It's just very hard for a DM to dispassionately sort between encounters that would be more awesome if the bad guy lived longer and those which would be more awesome because the PCs were able to execute their strategy well.

Zherog
2011-01-04, 10:29 AM
I don't know if he'll react well to pressure for him to "stop fudging the dice."


Yep, I agree. So to add clarity to my last point... when you have the friendly talk with your GM, the goal isn't to pressure him to stop fudging. The goal is to discuss the issue, from your perspective as well as his, and work out a solution. One solution is he stops fudging. But there's plenty of others, too.

Britter
2011-01-04, 10:33 AM
*All* RPGs allow it.

I don't think that is true. I have played systems that have no "rule Zero" or equivalent, and where everything is to be rolled in the open and played however it falls out.

It varies from system to system, based on what the designer wants a roll of the dice to mean.

Person_Man
2011-01-04, 10:37 AM
I personally allow the PCs to roll all of the dice in the game, with a few exceptions (certain Skill checks and otherwise "secret" rolls). When a monster attacks or needs a Save or whatever, they roll it. It removes the "is the DM a cheat and/or railroading us" factor entirely, and makes the game much more enjoyable for them, because rolling dice is fun. Occasionally an important plot point gets ruined or is a major let down - a BBEG ignominiously dying on the first turn, TPK resulting in a "you all wake up in prison" side quest, etc. But my attitude has always been - so be it. Roleplaying is cooperative fiction, not a chance for my friends to read parts in my latest short story.

BadJuJu
2011-01-04, 10:38 AM
Fudging can suck, but you know whats worse? When a GM is completly heartless and mows through you. I had a party TPK cause the GM rolled triple 20's on like three people in three rounds. That's instant death times 3. The last two party members were like :smalleek:

Tiki Snakes
2011-01-04, 10:45 AM
Fudging can suck, but you know whats worse? When a GM is completly heartless and mows through you. I had a party TPK cause the GM rolled triple 20's on like three people in three rounds. That's instant death times 3. The last two party members were like :smalleek:

To be fair, if you are talking DnD, triple 20 = death is a house-rule, after all. It could almost be considered fudging itself.

Serpentine
2011-01-04, 10:46 AM
Roleplaying is cooperative fiction, not a chance for my friends to read parts in my latest short story.You say this like it's an either-or situation, and it is fudging that makes the difference :smallconfused:
I fudge to make individual encounters more interesting. It has nothing to do with my "latest short story" or any such nonsense. If I was worried about my railroad being kept to, my last NSBEG* whom I was pretty sure would kill every single character and lead to a side-quest that started with the party getting rezzed by a minor BBEG** wouldn't have succumbed to a bloody Irresistable Dance after only taking down one character and get acid to the face for the next hour*** :smallsigh:
That was a pretty good example of bad fudging, actually. I was worried about the PCs getting killed too quickly and feeling gipped, so I gimped it a bit. Then I realised that they were kicking its arse, so I tried to restore it. 'twere... clumsy :smallsigh: But that's a problem with my own insecurity and weakness as a DM, not with fudging itself.



*Not So Big Evil Guy
** Turns out they put themselves on that path. Oh well. Now I just have to decide whether to go with my original plan, with the very powerful Rakshasa killing them all and resurrecting them for a task, or capturing them and giving them an offer they can't^ refuse...
*** My fault, poor item design.

^note: they actually can, before I get accused of railroading here. Or rather, they can say they accept it, and then flee and/or seek help to get out of it.

Oracle_Hunter
2011-01-04, 11:01 AM
That was a pretty good example of bad fudging, actually. I was worried about the PCs getting killed too quickly and feeling gipped, so I gimped it a bit. Then I realised that they were kicking its arse, so I tried to restore it. 'twere... clumsy :smallsigh: But that's a problem with my own insecurity and weakness as a DM, not with fudging itself.
This here contains two of the reasons why I do my best not to fudge:

(1) It's hard to calibrate the "appropriate" amount on the fly

(2) It's easy to let your emotional state at the time to interfere with deliberate mechanical choices made either in designing the system or in designing the campaign

Heck, I've taken to just rolling everything in the open these days to remove the temptation! Of course, I have a lot more faith in the mechanics of my current system than I have had in past ones.

Killer Angel
2011-01-04, 11:08 AM
The main point is to have fun

I totally agree, but now Glug isn't having fun anymore.
I don't care if it's standard practice... we're not discussing general attitude, but the specific fact that Glug isn't satisfied by a legalized fudging.

My suggestion is: talk to your DM, explain the problem and the reason you don't like it, then propose a solution: mine, is luck points.
Both the players and the DM will have some luck points, that they can spend during an adventure, to change (or reroll) a dice result, or something similar.
You had to be careful, cause LP aren't so many... that way, you (and more important, the DM) can have a backdoor if something with a dice result goes wrong. Obviously, the key is the honesty: if the DM can use 3 luck points, he cannot fudge the fourth result, so better to use them wisely...

edit: At that point, y'all can even roll in the open...

Kurald Galain
2011-01-04, 11:10 AM
Never let a die roll get in the way of a good story. Once you realize that any DC or target number is fundamentally arbitrary, you should realize that there's nothing wrong with the DM tweaking them.

ScionoftheVoid
2011-01-04, 11:14 AM
I have particular trouble getting the balance of an encounter right. An encounter I expect to be a fairly easy passing battle threatens to be a TPK, while an encounter I expect the characters to have to fight hard to survive they utterly wipe the floor with. So, I fudge a bit - raise or lower a DC here, succeed or fail a save there - to try to bring it closer to my goal difficulty. I certainly don't do it for every single roll, whatever the anti-fudgers seem to think. I do it, for example, when the resulting death - PC or enemy - would feel cheap or anticlimactic, or when I want the encounter to go a bit longer or if it's obvious the players are starting to get restless with a long battle and it would be better to finish it sooner rather than later.
Trouble is... for all it's fairly standard practice, and, when used properly, enhances a game, a lot of its value - or all of it, apparently, in Glug's case - is lost if the players know about it. At least for individual rolls.
I just asked one of my players (my boyfriend, incidentally) if it'd spoil my game if he knew I fudged rolls sometimes. He said no, not at all.
Also, apparently I need to put more ranks into my Bluff skill...

Oh, it wasn't a critiscism, just an observation that different players have different tastes, and that to trust your DM to fudge rolls you have to know that they'll be doing it for your benefit (if not necessarily your characters). I don't fudge because I don't know my players' tastes yet (apart from combat in general, as I saw last session), whilst you do because you know what kind of challenge your players like, but can't judge that until combat begins.

You can't get worse than my misjudgement (they quit the campaign to try something else before they finished the combat anyway, but it would have been a TPK), five level 4 gestalts versus a Malasynep Sorcerer, underwater, in a well-built lair. And all because I thought the standard Malasynep would be too weak. However, as mentioned they wanted to try something else then, so I dictated a crazy plan involving herding the natural Ascomoid population into its lair after a narrow escape. Which was a significant possibility, being PCs.

Psyx
2011-01-04, 11:19 AM
Instead of informing the OP that it would suck if the GM didn't fudge and telling them what to think, I'd recommend talking to your GM. Tell him that you don't want him to fudge because it ruins the risk/reward element for you.

You could go as far as asking them to roll dice in the open, but that may be going to far.

The worst thing a GM can do isn't fudging dice. It's telling players that they've done so. It destroys the player's sense of accomplishment.

I'm with the OP: I don't like fudged dice rolls, and I've managed to run campaigns without needing to fudge more than one dice roll a year, and my players really appreciate the fact.

Zherog
2011-01-04, 11:49 AM
** Turns out they put themselves on that path. Oh well. Now I just have to decide whether to go with my original plan, with the very powerful Rakshasa killing them all and resurrecting them for a task, or capturing them and giving them an offer they can't^ refuse...

Would this be a bad time to point out that a character A) knows who is attempting to resurrect them; and B) has the option of declining?

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 11:50 AM
I have particular trouble getting the balance of an encounter right. An encounter I expect to be a fairly easy passing battle threatens to be a TPK, while an encounter I expect the characters to have to fight hard to survive they utterly wipe the floor with. So, I fudge a bit - raise or lower a DC here, succeed or fail a save there - to try to bring it closer to my goal difficulty.
Hell, letís not forget the times you judge the balance just right, but the dice just donít want to play nice. After all, string of nat 20s for the bad guys and nat 1s for the good guys is often indistinguishable in effect from an unintentionally overpowered encounter.


ÖTPK resulting in a "you all wake up in prison" side questÖ
In the groups I play with, that is actually more disappointing than simply fudging the roll. Especially if you actually do mean ďTotal Party KillĒ and not ďTotal Party Knocked-Unconcious.Ē They track their own hit points. They know when they are dead. As such, it is too blatant for them. It interferes with suspension of disbelief to a greater extent than knowing that that 2 might have actually been a 19. And I think that the fact they donít necessarily know which roll was which helps.

Grogmir
2011-01-04, 11:56 AM
I can see why the OP feels the way it does. Fudging feels like the DM is hand holding you through the story.
There needs to be that sense of danger - at the time PCs don't know if that comes from the DM making the encounter to hard or the PCs messing up - all they know is they needed the DM to hand wave through.

However from the DMs side: I want these characters to see their goals fullfilled, I don't want the last half a year to be for nothing cause a Orc just critted against someone. This and many others reasons are why we fudge.

The question as always is where is the line.

I roll all combat dice out in the open - the players KNOW that if the dice fall that way - the dice fall that way. but they also know that I don't 'go for the kill - unless the story calls for it BBEG for example.

The other day when i critted the Dwarf fighter and then choose to attack again (with an action point). I knew I was making a decision that could kill him - they players KNOW that it could kill him - they KNOW that I will not change the dice roll once its gone. It was a tense moment - when everyone cheers when I promptly rolled a 4 and missed.
However what the players don't know is I was messing around with the guys HPs, the enviorment effects, the number of minions he generated. Lots of stuff to help the encounter rise to the occasion. Its not only Dice that can be fudged.

- - -

Here's another way of looking at it - getting away from helping PCs not die

Story > Not Fudging.

Its been a long, hard battle, the wizard is spent, the cleric long sinced used all the healing and the Dwarf is down on HPs. The BBE Lich is hurt as well - but its looking like a dark time for the PCs. The Dwarf Fighter shouts out, Leave. We are doomed!, (I have one daily left and i'm going in). he charges past two minions, getting hit by both - he's on 1 HP left! and the Lich attacks next. Drop... Roll... Roll... CRITTED!..... The group cheers. 67 damage!
Behind the screen you're frantically working out how much HP the BBEG has left. Its 1 HP, yep they've minionized him.

The group is Looking at you, awaiting the verdict, dead or alive? dead or alive?

The dies answer, Alive.... The DMs answer? Dead every single time. 'Cause Story > Fun.

Emmerask
2011-01-04, 12:00 PM
I can see why the OP feels the way it does. Fudging feels like the DM is hand holding you through the story.

Fudging is not a one way street :smallwink:

Psyx
2011-01-04, 12:03 PM
Hell, letís not forget the times you judge the balance just right, but the dice just donít want to play nice. After all, string of nat 20s for the bad guys and nat 1s for the good guys is often indistinguishable in effect from an unintentionally overpowered encounter.

That's why we use dice, though. Otherwise -ultimately- you might as well just tell the players what happens and discard any random factor.

To be fair; the times that my dice have been intent on outright murder have created some of THE most amazing and memorable gaming experiences for my players, and a few very poignant deaths.

eg: The PC who died on his last side-quest just before getting home for autumn and marrying his sweetheart and retiring. The dice fell that way and it was heart wrenching, but very memorable.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 12:05 PM
Every gm in every game fudges. And it has always been that way.

Not at all true. I've run many a campaign without fudging at all. Fudging is a crutch to fix mistakes.

Pick a system and/or house rules in advance that provides the type of game you want, and design the campaign to be resilient and flexible, and you can avoid ever having to fudge.

Knowing about fudging can be pretty hard on the game enjoyment. Luck and planning are both big parts of the entertainment, and fudging can subvert either of them. And, fudging without players knowing is much harder than it appears. My last D20M campaign DM admitted to fudging exactly once in the course of the campaign. Me and another player immediately identified the exact time it happened. It was for a good cause(avoiding killing a player's character who wasn't present), but still...the point is, players pay a lot of attention to the dice.

Grelna the Blue
2011-01-04, 12:10 PM
I occasionally fudge as a GM. However, I roll my dice in front of the players and don't alter the rolls. I sometimes alter monster hit points on the fly (up or down) if a fight will be improved thereby. If I'm uncertain about the way the fight will go ahead of time and it's more than a random encounter, I might put allies for the monsters or the PCs within earshot and bring them in as needed.

Players shouldn't have impervious plot armor, but it's the GM's job to keep fights fun and exciting. Sometimes that means helping out the PCs; sometimes it means helping the monsters. However, if the PCs are fighting stupid or it's a story climax fight, I will allow bad things to happen. Emphasis on allow--I would never force or fudge that result.

The game is designed to be the story of a group of heroes succeeding against the odds. Yes, there should be genuine danger, and my players live in genuine and justified fear. But judicious GM fudging is just one more way for the GM to finetune an adventure, little different (if done right) than designing the adventure to PC capabilities in the first place.

Volos
2011-01-04, 12:13 PM
I don't want to go back to him saying "Ok, I read through the GMing section and now I think the game sucks" because I was enjoying myself. As far as he is concerned we've already finished that talk.

My trust is damaged. My confidence in the game system is low. If the game operates in such a way that even the creators require fudging it then what's the point of it?

For one, the GMing section is for GMs, not players. If you were metagaming by reading the GMing section to see if your GM was playing by the rules or to see exactly what rules there are for the GM... then it was you that failed the GM and your fellow players, not the other way around.

If it is a real issue for you, regardless of whose fault it is... then quit. If you aren't having fun, there is no point in playing anymore. But realize this, the GM has to fudge certian rolls in order to keep the game challenging and fun. Would you honestly have a good time if the BBEG at the end of the campaign wasn't able to hit you for a single point of damage or died in a single round from a single attack? No, you wouldn't. If you think you would, then you have a twisted idea of what a RPG is supposed to be.

Zherog
2011-01-04, 12:17 PM
Would you honestly have a good time if the BBEG at the end of the campaign wasn't able to hit you for a single point of damage or died in a single round from a single attack? No, you wouldn't. If you think you would, then you have a twisted idea of what a RPG is supposed to be.

I've had it happen. My players still talk about it, years later. I don't think any of us have a "twisted idea" of what an RPG should or shouldn't be, and I frankly resent the insult.

Jan Mattys
2011-01-04, 12:20 PM
Fudging is a crutch to fix mistakes.

No.


Story > Not Fudging.

Its been a long, hard battle, the wizard is spent, the cleric long sinced used all the healing and the Dwarf is down on HPs. The BBE Lich is hurt as well - but its looking like a dark time for the PCs. The Dwarf Fighter shouts out, Leave. We are doomed!, (I have one daily left and i'm going in). he charges past two minions, getting hit by both - he's on 1 HP left! and the Lich attacks next. Drop... Roll... Roll... CRITTED!..... The group cheers. 67 damage!
Behind the screen you're frantically working out how much HP the BBEG has left. Its 1 HP, yep they've minionized him.

The group is Looking at you, awaiting the verdict, dead or alive? dead or alive?

The dies answer, Alive.... The DMs answer? Dead every single time. 'Cause Story > Fun.

Yes.


Of course, if you fudge you have to do it a) with class, b) in secrecy, and c) rarely and only as the absolute last resort in order to preserve people's fun.

If you follow these criteria, fudging is ok, and I can't really see how anyone could find it all so annoying (if nothing else, because the b) point won't ever even raise the doubt anyway :smallbiggrin:).

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 12:21 PM
That's why we use dice, though. Otherwise -ultimately- you might as well just tell the players what happens and discard any random factor.
Well, Iím certainly not interested in telling my players those wimpy ogres that have nothing to do with the larger plot simply got lucky, and so the BBEG wins by default and they have to discard the characters they spent hours developing and months playing. Whether itís dice or me deciding that. Iíve never been one to play Shoot the Shaggy Dog.

And please, donít assume Iím doing this on every single die roll ever. Most of the times, the random ogres donít get that lucky. Thatís what the average rolls come out to. So of course, the dice have their say. But even the dice need their own checks and balances now and then.


eg: The PC who died on his last side-quest just before getting home for autumn and marrying his sweetheart and retiring. The dice fell that way and it was heart wrenching, but very memorable.
Well, as long is worked out and didnít make everything both the player and the character have been working towards totally pointless: Thatís just peachy.


For one, the GMing section is for GMs, not players. If you were metagaming by reading the GMing section to see if your GM was playing by the rules or to see exactly what rules there are for the GM... then it was you that failed the GM and your fellow players, not the other way around.
I was under the impression that we were past the era of GMs keeping everything total dark secrets. :smallsigh:


I've had it happen. My players still talk about it, years later. I don't think any of us have a "twisted idea" of what an RPG should or shouldn't be, and I frankly resent the insult.
Though you have to admit the excitement of such events does also depend upon context and player expectation.

And a little bit on how the GM describes the results. :smallwink:

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 12:21 PM
For one, the GMing section is for GMs, not players. If you were metagaming by reading the GMing section to see if your GM was playing by the rules or to see exactly what rules there are for the GM... then it was you that failed the GM and your fellow players, not the other way around.

Reading the GM section isn't generally metagaming. He's trying to figure out what a GM does in his game, so it's entirely appropriate. It's not like rifling through the GM's notes. If it's a game with "secret knowledge here", like paranoia, sure...it's not cool. I don't think that's what he's after, though. And it's only metagaming if he bases his actions in game on this knowledge anyhow. I hate when metagaming is used as a catch-all term to describe everything a person dislikes.

Also, I think it's sometimes quite helpful if players understand what all a GM has to do.


If it is a real issue for you, regardless of whose fault it is... then quit. If you aren't having fun, there is no point in playing anymore. But realize this, the GM has to fudge certian rolls in order to keep the game challenging and fun. Would you honestly have a good time if the BBEG at the end of the campaign wasn't able to hit you for a single point of damage or died in a single round from a single attack? No, you wouldn't. If you think you would, then you have a twisted idea of what a RPG is supposed to be.

Or...he could talk about it. Quitting isn't always the answer. It sounds like the GM wasn't trying to ruin anything by fudging, and is otherwise a decent guy with a decent game. A little conversation can go a long ways.

Emmerask
2011-01-04, 12:23 PM
I've had it happen. My players still talk about it, years later. I don't think any of us have a "twisted idea" of what an RPG should or shouldn't be, and I frankly resent the insult.

sry but it sounds like a very boring final BBEG fight then :smalltongue:

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 12:23 PM
Fudging is a crutch to fix mistakes.

No.


The sole purpose of fudging is to avoid an undesired outcome.

If you don't desire an outcome, why are you rolling to see if it will happen?

Psyx
2011-01-04, 12:25 PM
No.


I disagree. Fudging is very often (but not always) a crutch to fix mistakes.
The main cause is typically that the GM didn't plan the difficulty of an encounter, or didn't have enough fail-safes built into their plot, has the plot hanging on a single thread, or set skill check difficulties too high.

All of those can be mitigated by good planning. If missing a spot check will kill the party or ruin the plot, then that's bad planning. If something is essential to plot, then the players shouldn't have that failure option unless the GM is willing to take that route. If you need to fudge half a dozen dice in a fight then that's not bad luck: That's a fight that's too hard for the players or the PCs.

Psyx
2011-01-04, 12:29 PM
Well, as long is worked out and didnít make everything both the player and the character have been working towards totally pointless: Thatís just peachy.

It kind of did in many ways. That's what was poignant.

Not every ending needs to be good for a story to be great.

Fudging is a split-second choice that GMs make. They don't think it through because they don't have time to. If I'd have made that call and decided that it wouldn't 'be good' to kill the PC then my group would have missed out on some frankly awesomely moving gaming. At the time I might have felt that I was being ruthless, but shying away from that would have been lying to my players and cheapening the story.

Doug Lampert
2011-01-04, 12:30 PM
Fudging can suck, but you know whats worse? When a GM is completly heartless and mows through you. I had a party TPK cause the GM rolled triple 20's on like three people in three rounds. That's instant death times 3. The last two party members were like :smalleek:

Gee, I've only been gamemastering various systems for over 30 years, and I've NEVER used a screen or hiden a roll from my players.

But since it's UNIVERSAL presumably I'll get arround to it Real Soon Now.


This is like seeing a small child lose his fatih in Santa Claus. As said before, all DMs fudge rolls sometimes.

Multiple people saying it doesn't make it true.

As for the awsome story aspect. It's IMPROVED, MASSIVELY, if you know that this is ACTUALLY a massive lucky break, rather than a GM fudge.

That works even for cases where it screws the players, many of my players still speak fondly of screwups that came years ago with different GMs where they were messed up by bad die rolls, because it makes a good story.

They also tell fond stories of plans that worked perfectly when they carefully lined everything up.

Strangely, I can't think of a single story they tell about how they won by getting lucky in a situation where the GM even could have fudged it.


Never let a die roll get in the way of a good story. Once you realize that any DC or target number is fundamentally arbitrary, you should realize that there's nothing wrong with the DM tweaking them.

There's not. He can tweak the DC all he wants! In fact he sets it in the first place, but once it's set and someone has rolled he doesn't get to change his mind because he doesn't like the outcome.

If you can't bear any number on the die coming up then don't roll dice!

If you can't bear for your precious PCs to fail a skill roll or check, well, checks don't autofail on a 1! Set the DC to -5 or so and they'll probably make it. There won't be any dramatic tension, but then that's true when you know the GM will fudge to prevent failure too, and at least by NOT fudging I've preserved the ability to LATER add tension, as opposed to fudges, which can kill tension for years to come!

It's simple, up until the instant you roll dice it's all up to the GM, you made up the foes, you decided who they attacked, you made up the DCs, you can introduce new story elements.

Fudging isn't just an admission that you misjudged the encounter, or that the monster got lucky, it means you didn't think this through before rolling.

If your fumble rule or tripple-20 crit mechanism means you have to fudge to keep PCs alive, use a less random system! Seriously, the DMG TELLS YOU that additional randomness favors the monsters and tells you why.

You can pick a system and rules with the amount of randomness you want. There are systems out there with no random element at all. You don't need to fudge die rolls to have a good game because you don't even need to roll dice to have a good game!

But please don't fudge to keep my character alive from a string of bad rolls. The sense of RISK is an important part of what I get from playing a game with dice rather than reading a novel, and eventually I WILL notice that you're fudging, and that can kill the sense of risk.

Besides, if I'm playing D&D I can get raised with no trouble unless there's a TPK, and the very real risk of a TPK if we're careless or refuse to withdraw in the face of bad luck is why characters use tactics and occassionally retreat or even surrender, it adds to the game experience in a way that a good story CRAFTED by the DM rather than created by the group simply can't match.


That's why we use dice, though. Otherwise -ultimately- you might as well just tell the players what happens and discard any random factor.

To be fair; the times that my dice have been intent on outright murder have created some of THE most amazing and memorable gaming experiences for my players, and a few very poignant deaths.

eg: The PC who died on his last side-quest just before getting home for autumn and marrying his sweetheart and retiring. The dice fell that way and it was heart wrenching, but very memorable.

Exactly. There are diceless systems if you don't want the random element, but plenty of good stories come out of the random element. Fudging to what the GM THINKS makes the best story isn't really the best way to get that best story.

Person_Man
2011-01-04, 12:37 PM
In the groups I play with, that is actually more disappointing than simply fudging the roll. Especially if you actually do mean ďTotal Party KillĒ and not ďTotal Party Knocked-Unconcious.Ē They track their own hit points. They know when they are dead. As such, it is too blatant for them. It interferes with suspension of disbelief to a greater extent than knowing that that 2 might have actually been a 19. And I think that the fact they donít necessarily know which roll was which helps.

Fair enough. But in D&D, death leaves a lot of wiggle room. At high levels virtually every full caster will have some sort of Contingency or whatnot in place to avoid death. At mid levels it's likely that at least one party member will only be knocked down to -9 to 0 hit points or otherwise Helpless, in which case he just needs to escape and Resurrect his friends. Death is essentially just a tax, not a real story outcome (unless the player gets bored of that particular character and chooses not to come back). So in these cases, I feel that fudging dice rolls is basically just another form of railroading. And I don't mean that pejoratively. You're basically just choosing Story Outcome A for your group over Story Outcome ?.

At low levels character death is the most meaningful, and the urge to fudge dice rolls is the most potent. But if players believe (or know for a fact) that the DM is fudging, then death isn't meaningful, because they're being kept alive by the not so invisible hand of the DM. So (as with many things) I guess it really depends on the group. I would rather face the "real" prospect of defeat and death in combat and then get a hand wave to keep the game going ("Your twin brother vows to avenge your death!"). Other groups would prefer not to die unless the situation or story strongly warrants it, and would prefer a more "real" story telling experience not driven (as much) by dice rolls.

There's really no wrong answer when seen from this perspective. But on the flip side, if as a DM you find yourself fudging dice rolls often, you're probably doing something wrong.

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 12:39 PM
sry but it sounds like a very boring final BBEG fight then :smalltongue:
Depends on what it took to get in range of that single blow. And perhaps how big a ham the BBEG was.


The sole purpose of fudging is to avoid an undesired outcome.

If you don't desire an outcome, why are you rolling to see if it will happen?
Because Iím more worried about the outcome of the whole campaign rather than the outcome of a single action, and I canít plan every single type of roll I will need in advance of the session? And Iím not the only one making decisions that affect which dice are being rolled?


All of those can be mitigated by good planning.
Few plans survive contact with the players.

Zherog
2011-01-04, 12:45 PM
Though you have to admit the excitement of such events does also depend upon context and player expectation.

And a little bit on how the GM describes the results. :smallwink:

Sure, absolutely. But that doesn't change the fact that (to simplify events) the fighter charged the BBEG and scored a crit, then rolled max damage. How I describe the attack most certainly helps to make the moment memorable. But that doesn't change the fact that the dice determined the outcome of the event, rather than my whims and desires determining the outcome. I certainly would've preferred to have the fight last a few round -- or at least let the BBEG get an action in -- but that's not how it worked out. *shrug*


Or...he could talk about it. Quitting isn't always the answer. It sounds like the GM wasn't trying to ruin anything by fudging, and is otherwise a decent guy with a decent game. A little conversation can go a long ways.

Yep, this. Exactly this. He and the GM need to have a conversation about things. Quitting is one possible result of the conversation, but again -- there's many possible results.

"Talk about it" is quite often the answer to player-GM issues, and I'm surprised when it's not bandied about more often as a solution.

Jan Mattys
2011-01-04, 12:46 PM
The sole purpose of fudging is to avoid an undesired outcome.

If you don't desire an outcome, why are you rolling to see if it will happen?

I am rolling because of you.

And while I enjoy the rolling of dice and adjusting my storytelling with the flow of the outcomes, sometimes I decide to ignore the outcome anyway, because to you it's me rolling the dice that's important, not the outcome.

I am the Dungeon Master and you play in my game because you trust me keeping the fun at the table. I will use all the elements at my disposal to reach that goal.

If you want an impartial system that puts you against carefully balanced challenges with no personal evaluation of the situation and no empathy whatsoever, there's a myriad computer games waiting for you to play them.
And some of them are MMORPGs, so the social part of the game is taken care of too.

Seriously. The DM is a dynamic resource, and people complains when he puts to good use the "dynamic" part of his role?

I honestly don't understand that. As long as the final result is satisfying, what's the point in dictating what the DM should and should not do?

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 12:47 PM
Because Iím more worried about the outcome of the whole campaign rather than the outcome of a single action, and I canít plan every single type of roll I will need in advance of the session? And Iím not the only one making decisions that affect which dice are being rolled?

You don't need to plan out every single roll. You already set the DCs and make the opponents. If this is done poorly, then the needed rolls will not be appropriate. Proper preparation avoids all sorts of difficulties down the road.

And, if you already have a fixed outcome for the campaign in mind, I would suggest using a more storyteller based system than D&D, since you do not want the randomness the dice are giving you.


Few plans survive contact with the players.

This is true if you are planning for a single outcome for the grand story, or depend upon the players taking a certain sequence of actions. This isn't true if you're worried about pitting them against appropriate challenges. Hence the resilient, flexible portion of my requirement for a plan. If the players have choices, consider what happens for each option. Note that simply ignoring the plot hook you think is unmissable is an option.

And if players try something blatantly stupid like "I go swimming in the lava", then after the requisite "are you SURE", they die horribly. Intentional stupidity leads to bad things, unless you don't really care about your universe making sense at all.

Emmerask
2011-01-04, 12:47 PM
Anyway both sides have good arguments yes there are times when fudging a roll is the wrong move but there are also times when fudging the roll is for the good... It really depends on the situation and especially and foremost the players both not fudging at all or fudging occasionally have their distinct advantages and disadvantages.

As for the op talk to your gm and your fellow players how they feel about it and well if you are in the minority concerning this then its time to leave or to try and have fun.

One thing though is quite for certain and I think everyone can agree to this:
Fudging is not a special thing exclusive to shadowrun, it can be done in any gaming system using dice :smallwink:

Gnaeus
2011-01-04, 12:48 PM
I support limited fudging, but never to remove the threat of death.

2 examples from my recent campaign.

Fight 1, vs a enemy giant leader. PCs engaged him. We made some really bad rolls during the fight. PCs heroically sacrificed themselves for their comrades, who died anyway. TPK. DM wanted to scrap the entire encounter, and I protested. If there is no risk of loss, there is no game. Scene was rewritten so that one PC died (mine) protecting his comrades, but the party emerged victorious. Campaign didn't have to end, but everyone knew that death was a real possibility in hard fights.

Fight 2. 3 enemy archers on flying mounts, shooting the PCs from 1000 feet away. We could not hide (open plain+ See Invisibility). We could not retaliate (only 1 pc could respond at that range, and she was killed first). We could not close the gap as they were faster than we were. The DM thought that we had some items that we didn't have, and he planned for us to have some items that we didn't find, which would have made it a winnable encounter, but as it was, it was a 100% loss. The DM fudged the final roll, in which the enemy arcane archer should have Dispelled my Rope Trick, where that one roll made the difference between a retreat with casualties and a TPK. If he hadn't fudged it, his campaign would have ended in a really ugly way with an unwinnable fight. Even fudging it, there was a sense of PC loss, a reincarnate, and the understanding that fights carry risk.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 12:51 PM
I am rolling because of you.

And while I enjoy the rolling of dice and adjusting my storytelling with the flow of the outcomes, sometimes I decide to ignore the outcome anyway, because to you it's me rolling the dice that's important, not the outcome.

I am the Dungeon Master and you play in my game because you trust me keeping the fun at the table. I will use all the elements at my disposal to reach that goal.

If you want an impartial system that puts you against carefully balanced challenges with no personal evaluation of the situation and no empathy whatsoever, there's a myriad computer games waiting for you to play them.
And some of them are MMORPGs, so the social part of the game is taken care of too.

Seriously. The DM is a dynamic resource, and people complains when he puts to good use the "dynamic" part of his role?

I honestly don't understand that. As long as the final result is satisfying, what's the point in dictating what the DM should and should not do?

Scroll back to the OP. Note that the final result, due to fudging, is not satisfying. Therefore, everything derived from that is not relevant to the topic.

He's asked for advice, and a great many people have suggested that he entirely work to accept something in the DMs playstyle that he dislikes, rather than discussion, compromise, etc. While this is one possible outcome, it seems rather obvious, and he no doubt considered and rejected it before posting.

You seem to get stuck on the "I am the DM" bit. This isn't about anyone dictating anything to the DM. It's about coming up with a solution to the lack of fun.

Totally Guy
2011-01-04, 12:52 PM
I will see how I feel next session.

The GM knows how I feel about it. I just got all wobbly when the system outright said that this behaviour was encouraged. Then I thought back to the oddly specific language used in our discussion.

"This section is primarily intended for the gamemaster, though players will also find it helpful to read." So I did.:smallannoyed:

Emmerask
2011-01-04, 12:55 PM
rather than discussion, compromise, etc.

I donīt quite see how a compromise between
I donīt want you to fudge at all and occasionally fudging could be achieved ^^

Foryn Gilnith
2011-01-04, 12:58 PM
He and the GM need to have a conversation about things.

Does he really? A whole half of his complaint is founded on poor logic. He's saying that Shadowrun 3e is pointless because "the game operates in such a way that even the creators require fudging it"; this is based on a flawed premise. The creators do not require fudging, they merely make a potential allowance for it, as a majority (or at least a significant minority) of GMs and systems do. The system is average, at worst, and saying "the game sucks" or having "low" confidence in the system is ridiculous.
If Glug, based on his examination of various words' subtexts, is really so put off by the thought that the GM might have been less than forthright, maybe he does need to talk. But (and I might be wrong since my emotional reaction to this is inexplicably and inordinately strong) it seems to me that Glug is reading too far into certain things and the thread is sustaining itself on a general Fudging v. Not Fudging ideological argument rather than actually addressing Glug's scenario as presented in the original post.

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 01:01 PM
It kind of did in many ways. That's what was poignant.
Cool, then.


Not every ending needs to be good for a story to be great.
Nope. Never claimed that. But if the ending is sad or bittersweet, there should at least be a compelling reason. Otherwise, everything just feels futile.

Fudging is a split-second choice that GMs make. They don't think it through because they don't have time to. If I'd have made that call and decided that it wouldn't 'be good' to kill the PC then my group would have missed out on some frankly awesomely moving gaming.[/quote]
But the point here is that it was moving. Not hollow and meaningless.


Fair enough. But in D&D, death leaves a lot of wiggle room. At high levels virtually every full caster will have some sort of Contingency or whatnot in place to avoid death.
Never really played those levels. Though I did have a couple of campaigns where we could afford to just hop over to the nearest cleric when necessary. Assuming, of course, most of the party was still around to pick up the tab.

Thoughóout of curiosity, if every full caster has these contingency that apparently never fails, how do you defeat full caster BBEGs?


At mid levels it's likely that at least one party member will only be knocked down to -9 to 0 hit points or otherwise Helpless, in which case he just needs to escape and Resurrect his friends.
That assumes the guy is captured and nursed back to health. Or at the very least is left alone and manages to beat the odds and recover to positive hit points.

If my players are sufficiently informed as to their foesí motives, that could break suspension of disbelief as much as if all characters died. (Fortunately, the few times I have had similar scenarios, the players werenít sufficiently informed as to their foesí motives.)


Death is essentially just a tax, not a real story outcome (unless the player gets bored of that particular character and chooses not to come back). So in these cases, I feel that fudging dice rolls is basically just another form of railroading.
When you are at levels where it is indeed just a tax, anyway. Iíve rarely played at those levels, unfortunately.


And I don't mean that pejoratively. You're basically just choosing Story Outcome A for your group over Story Outcome ?.
May I suggest ďStory Outcome ĎWhy the hell did I bother spending so much time on this character?íĒ


At low levels character death is the most meaningful, and the urge to fudge dice rolls is the most potent. But if players believe (or know for a fact) that the DM is fudging, then death isn't meaningful, because they're being kept alive by the not so invisible hand of the DM. So (as with many things) I guess it really depends on the group. I would rather face the "real" prospect of defeat and death in combat and then get a hand wave to keep the game going ("Your twin brother vows to avenge your death!"). Other groups would prefer not to die unless the situation or story strongly warrants it, and would prefer a more "real" story telling experience not driven (as much) by dice rolls.
Yeah, my groups tend to be more than the latter. In part because we donít get to play very often but spend a lot of time thinking about our characters.


There's really no wrong answer when seen from this perspective. But on the flip side, if as a DM you find yourself fudging dice rolls often, you're probably doing something wrong.
Once again, depends on the context. And what you consider to be ďoftenĒ. :smalltongue:

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 01:01 PM
I will see how I feel next session.

The GM knows how I feel about it. I just got all wobbly when the system outright said that this behaviour was encouraged. Then I thought back to the oddly specific language used in our discussion.

"This section is primarily intended for the gamemaster, though players will also find it helpful to read." So I did.:smallannoyed:

Let us know how it goes. Yeah, some systems outright encourage it, some don't. I find that those that fudge tend to do so regardless of rules on the matter, though. If it's still an issue, well, ask him to clarify what he meant by his specific statement. Might not be a problem at all.


Emmerask, an excellent compromise is the use of luck or drama die, wherin all parties get to fudge/reroll/add to dice a set amount of times. It sets hard and fast limits on fudging, without removing the option for narrative control entirely. When you've got rules for it, the narrative control really isn't fudging at all.

Doug Lampert
2011-01-04, 01:02 PM
I support limited fudging, but never to remove the threat of death.

2 examples from my recent campaign.

Fight 1, vs a enemy giant leader. PCs engaged him. We made some really bad rolls during the fight. PCs heroically sacrificed themselves for their comrades, who died anyway. TPK. DM wanted to scrap the entire encounter, and I protested. If there is no risk of loss, there is no game. Scene was rewritten so that one PC died (mine) protecting his comrades, but the party emerged victorious. Campaign didn't have to end, but everyone knew that death was a real possibility in hard fights.

Fight 2. 3 enemy archers on flying mounts, shooting the PCs from 1000 feet away. We could not hide (open plain+ See Invisibility). We could not retaliate (only 1 pc could respond at that range, and she was killed first). We could not close the gap as they were faster than we were. The DM thought that we had some items that we didn't have, and he planned for us to have some items that we didn't find, which would have made it a winnable encounter, but as it was, it was a 100% loss. The DM fudged the final roll, in which the enemy arcane archer should have Dispelled my Rope Trick, where that one roll made the difference between a retreat with casualties and a TPK. If he hadn't fudged it, his campaign would have ended in a really ugly way with an unwinnable fight. Even fudging it, there was a sense of PC loss, a reincarnate, and the understanding that fights carry risk.

And by not keeping the fudges secret your GM has preserved the ability to have suspense about how things will come out later.

I wouldn't even call the first a fudge at all, it's a ret-con, which is an entirely different beast.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 01:04 PM
Would agree. Ret-cons are not fudges.

Not that you probably should use ret-cons often, as many players also dislike those, but there is a significant practical difference between secretly fudging a die roll and retroactively agreeing to change or ignore events.

Jan Mattys
2011-01-04, 01:07 PM
Scroll back to the OP. Note that the final result, due to fudging, is not satisfying. Therefore, everything derived from that is not relevant to the topic.

He's asked for advice, and a great many people have suggested that he entirely work to accept something in the DMs playstyle that he dislikes, rather than discussion, compromise, etc. While this is one possible outcome, it seems rather obvious, and he no doubt considered and rejected it before posting.

You seem to get stuck on the "I am the DM" bit. This isn't about anyone dictating anything to the DM. It's about coming up with a solution to the lack of fun.

I think the problem in the OP situation is not that his DM fudges rolls, but that his DM admitted, or implied, or let it slip, that sometimes he fudges rolls.

That was a huge mistake on his DM's part.

OF COURSE, now what's done cannot be undone.

Some suggested that the OP should talk to his DM explaining his reasons.
Me? The point I'm trying to make in justifying some fudging is that in my opinion the OP should understand the reasons of his DM and weight them against his initial reaction of dislike.

And I'm trying to take that point across because I honestly believe that some personal evaluation of the effect that some dice outcomes can have on a game is an essential part of any good DMing.

But so is secrecy... :smalleek:

Just that. I'm trying to help, not trying to pointlessly argue over the net. Honest! :smallwink:

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 01:12 PM
Fair enough. Honestly, I don't believe that secrecy is a sufficient reason. There's a coupla reasons for that.

1. Secrecy is not perfect. People guess. People suspect. And even the suspicion can be enough to spoil the game for some people.

2. It's inherently hypocritical. It's pretty unusual for people to accept fudging on the part of the player as ok, even if they hide it.

Psyren
2011-01-04, 01:15 PM
The sole purpose of fudging is to avoid an undesired outcome.

If you don't desire an outcome, why are you rolling to see if it will happen?

This is really my take on it. Roll in the open.


Would agree. Ret-cons are not fudges.

Not that you probably should use ret-cons often, as many players also dislike those, but there is a significant practical difference between secretly fudging a die roll and retroactively agreeing to change or ignore events.

Also this.
In fact, I'll probably just let Tyndmyr speak for me in this topic.

Gnaeus
2011-01-04, 01:15 PM
And by not keeping the fudges secret your GM has preserved the ability to have suspense about how things will come out later.

I wouldn't even call the first a fudge at all, it's a ret-con, which is an entirely different beast.

He tried to keep the second one secret. After he made the roll that would have killed the party he tried to play it off like he was rolling for some other effect instead. None of the players disagreed, but we knew.

And while I recognize that your terminology is more precise, whether you call it ret-conning or fudging or something else it all comes down to the same thing. Do the dice have no control, some control, or total control on how dangerous events are resolved? To give a simpler example than a fight, if I try to jump over the pit of sudden death and I roll a "2" hand waving the jump DC to 5 is functionally the same as ret-conning it with a statement like "eff it, you jump over the pit". Either the dice always matter, or they never matter, or they only matter in certain kinds of situations.

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 01:15 PM
You don't need to plan out every single roll. You already set the DCs and make the opponents. If this is done poorly, then the needed rolls will not be appropriate. Proper preparation avoids all sorts of difficulties down the road.
Point being there are often scenarios that you cannot properly prepare for because the players leave you with little option than winging an encounter or two.

And to be clear: I see no difference in the net effect of saying ďOh, this is DC -5 because the party absolutely must succeed and decidingófor whatever reasonóthat the guy missing the DC 10, 15, or 20 check should actually succeed this one time.

And by the way, DMs canít just arbitrarily set DCs. Players know the rules well enough to know most locks donít have DC -5, that a trained assassin wonít have a negative Move Silently score, and that the AC for most foes tends to be positive.


And, if you already have a fixed outcome for the campaign in mind, I would suggest using a more storyteller based system than D&D, since you do not want the randomness the dice are giving you.
Who said I have a fixed outcome for my campaign?

I do, however, have some idea of which outcomes may be unfun and therefore unacceptable.


This is true if you are planning for a single outcome for the grand story, or depend upon the players taking a certain sequence of actions. This isn't true if you're worried about pitting them against appropriate challenges.
And if the players manage to create their own challenge out of virtually nothing?


Hence the resilient, flexible portion of my requirement for a plan. If the players have choices, consider what happens for each option. Note that simply ignoring the plot hook you think is unmissable is an option.
Most choices have significantly more options than any one person will consider when designing the game. Canít consider everything. There is almost always a third option.


And if players try something blatantly stupid like "I go swimming in the lava", then after the requisite "are you SURE", they die horribly. Intentional stupidity leads to bad things, unless you don't really care about your universe making sense at all.
And if itís something that was reasonable at the time?

Megaduck
2011-01-04, 01:16 PM
You don't need to plan out every single roll. You already set the DCs and make the opponents. If this is done poorly, then the needed rolls will not be appropriate. Proper preparation avoids all sorts of difficulties down the road.

...

This is true if you are planning for a single outcome for the grand story, or depend upon the players taking a certain sequence of actions. This isn't true if you're worried about pitting them against appropriate challenges. Hence the resilient, flexible portion of my requirement for a plan. If the players have choices, consider what happens for each option. Note that simply ignoring the plot hook you think is unmissable is an option.



I find you're insistence to preparing for every eventuality unrealistic. As previously mentioned, players happen. They tend to go sideways, often in ways the DM never even dreamed of and the DM is left scrambling trying to get everything together so the players don't notice she's now making it up as she goes along.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 01:19 PM
I find you're insistence to preparing for every eventuality unrealistic. As previously mentioned, players happen. They tend to go sideways, often in ways the DM never even dreamed of and the DM is left scrambling trying to get everything together so the players don't notice she's now making it up as she goes along.

You're misinterpreting. You don't need to prepare for every eventuality. You merely need to prepare what you do prepare well.

Ok, so they teleported to the far side of the world on a whim, and challenged a random guard to a fight to the death. Are you prepared for that specifically? No. Do you have a level-appropriate encounter statted up that you can use? Yes.

Psyren
2011-01-04, 01:20 PM
I find you're insistence to preparing for every eventuality unrealistic. As previously mentioned, players happen. They tend to go sideways, often in ways the DM never even dreamed of and the DM is left scrambling trying to get everything together so the players don't notice she's now making it up as she goes along.

Why not tell them? "We're in uncharted territory here, so bear with me." Is it so bad to admit that you're one human trying to anticipate 4-6?

The Big Dice
2011-01-04, 01:20 PM
People get far, far too worked up on both sides of this subject.

You know what I say? I say, show me a GM and you're showing me someone who has changed an outcome of an in-game event. An NPC might have sprouted (or lost) a relevant peice of equipment at an appropriate time. A dice roll might be declared to be different from what it was. A DC that was never voiced might change after a roll has been made, or an NPC might succeed on a skill roll that they probably shouldn't. Whatever, it doesn't matter.

There's a couple of things about fudging that haven't been mentioned yet that I think are worth briging to the attention of the thread.

First, low lethality games tend to be ones where fudging isn't needed. Because if there's minimal risk of losing months of emotional investment in a character, there's no need to alter things. HIgh lethality games, on the other hand, tend to be ones where fudging is extremely relevant.

As an example, I used to GM 2020 Cyberpunk. I'd roll everything out in the open, all skills, attack and damage rolls for all NPCs. And the death rate was roughly one character every second session, with the odd outburst of mass character death.

No big deal, you might think. There was integrity there and the dice were the ones killing the characters, not the GM. Which is nothing but a GM passing the buck if you ask me, but that's another story for another time.

Problem is, making a new 2020 character is an involved business that requires collaboration between player and GM. Or it does if you want to keep people honest about their Lifepath rolls. And it takes an hour or more. Then there's the shopping. Equipment is a HUGE part of Cyberpunk, and getting the right gear for a character can take another couple of hours of flicking from one book to another.

There's three hours of a player's time, and an hour of mine, wasted because I decided to not use a GM screen. And when that's three or four players all at once needing to make new characters, then it all starts taking up far too much time.

Secondly, if the GM is fudging with the intent of making the game better for all participants, who cares? Seriously, if you're having fun, does it really matter what the GM is rolling on his dice? Does it matter that he decided the BBEG is going to have six guards instead of four. Especially after the PCs mowed down more guards than that with little to no effort getting to the throne room for that confrontation.

To all you players out there, don't sweat the small stuff. If your GM is constantly moving goalposts on you and cheating in favour of his NPCs, that's a concern. If he's telling you that the mook didn't confirm his crit and therefore your character isn't going to die, don't worry about what was really on the dice.

To all those GMs out there, only ever cheat in favour of making the game better for all involved. NPCs are there for three reasons. To hand out plot, to provide scenery or to die. You don't need to cheat to protect them or to make them appear big and important.

Gnaeus
2011-01-04, 01:27 PM
To all you players out there, don't sweat the small stuff. If your GM is constantly moving goalposts on you and cheating in favour of his NPCs, that's a concern. If he's telling you that the mook didn't confirm his crit and therefore your character isn't going to die, don't worry about what was really on the dice.


For a lot of players, that isn't small stuff. As a player, I would say to my GM that if you aren't willing for my character to die in a battle, we shouldn't be rolling dice at all. If the mooks are really trivial, save us all some time and just tell us that we kill some guards.

Psyren
2011-01-04, 01:29 PM
To all you players out there, don't sweat the small stuff. If your GM is constantly moving goalposts on you and cheating in favour of his NPCs, that's a concern. If he's telling you that the mook didn't confirm his crit and therefore your character isn't going to die, don't worry about what was really on the dice.

To all those GMs out there, only ever cheat in favour of making the game better for all involved. NPCs are there for three reasons. To hand out plot, to provide scenery or to die. You don't need to cheat to protect them or to make them appear big and important.

I think this is a fair compromise. And I agree, there's a difference between fudging between a hit or a miss, and fudging between a regular hit and a confirmed critical.

The Big Dice
2011-01-04, 01:31 PM
For a lot of players, that isn't small stuff. As a player, I would say to my GM that if you aren't willing for my character to die in a battle, we shouldn't be rolling dice at all. If the mooks are really trivial, save us all some time and just tell us that we kill some guards.

Are you happy to die in a pointless battle? Do you want your character to simply die, then get looted? If you're happy to die in a random encounter, tell your GM that.

After it happens a couple of times, it does tend to get old. At least in my experience. I prefer my characters to die for a reason other than "The dice said so." But other people may feel otherwise about it.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 01:34 PM
Why would you use a high lethality system/game in conjunction with a 3 hour character creation time?

Keinnicht
2011-01-04, 01:37 PM
Yep, sorry, it's pretty standard practice. I fudge to stop a supposedly challenging enemy getting wiped out with one blow, and I fudge to avoid PC death. In other words, I fudge to make the game more fun.
It sucks that you found out about it, but if you were enjoying it before, couldn't you try to have a little more faith in your DM?

I usually fudge in the player's favor. For example, I play with multiple critical rules (I.E., If you have a longsword, roll a 19, and then roll a 20, you do x4 damage.) If the enemy fighter with a longsword rolls the above, I do not want to frail wizard to take 4D8+40 damage. That's just not cool. I'm not against killing characters, but I am against them being killed by a total fluke of the dice.


Why would you use a high lethality system/game in conjunction with a 3 hour character creation time?

Indeed. Shadowrun needs fudge rules even more than D&D does. In D&D, you can do something really stupid and still have a decent chance of surviving. Plus Shadowrun has no way to return characters back to life.

Totally Guy
2011-01-04, 01:37 PM
Are you happy to die in a pointless battle? Do you want your character to simply die, then get looted? If you're happy to die in a random encounter, tell your GM that.

I'd actually really like that to be a possibility. That'd do it...

If I died in such a way I'd have all my confidence restored...


:smallbiggrin: Forget talking to the GM. I'm going to die in a totally ignominous way! Then I'd know he was the real deal!

Whoa!

Lets do this!:smallcool:

Saph
2011-01-04, 01:38 PM
With regard to the "secrecy" thing . . . most DMs are nowhere near as good at deceiving their players as they think they are. As a player, I can spot with a fair degree of accuracy when a DM fudges. Part of it's the expression, part of it's the sound of their voice, part of it's the time they take to read out the result, and part of it is just due to understanding statistics (fudged data looks different from raw data).

Anyway, I think Doug summed it up very well. If you're not willing to accept whatever result the dice come up with, don't roll them in the first place! If you don't want random results, modify the system so as to reduce randomness. If you don't want the PCs to be in real danger, don't send them up against dangerous encounters. Fudging is generally an admission on the part of the DM that they've made a mistake. Sometimes it's the right thing to do, but if you find yourself doing it regularly, it's probably a sign that there's something wrong with your adventure planning.

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 01:39 PM
Ok, so they teleported to the far side of the world on a whim, and challenged a random guard to a fight to the death. Are you prepared for that specifically? No. Do you have a level-appropriate encounter statted up that you can use? Yes.
Does the level-appropriate guard score an improbable string of critical hits, leaving the party just as dead as an overpowered guard would have? Maybe. I have to roll before I find that out.

The Big Dice
2011-01-04, 01:39 PM
Why would you use a high lethality system/game in conjunction with a 3 hour character creation time?

Zeitgeist. If you were playing Cyberpunk in the early to mid 90s, I don't need to explain it. If you weren't, it might not make sense if I explain how the combination of fast, dangerous action, betrayals and doomed romance was extremely exhillarating.

Here today, dead tomorrow was the motto for many a 2020 character.

And for those who survived, it was story based roleplaying but without the baggage that came when White Wolf codified that approach.

Psyx
2011-01-04, 01:39 PM
But the point here is that it was moving. Not hollow and meaningless.

But at the time the end result might have seemed meaningless. Most GMs would have been tempted to fudge, while those who habitually fudge would certainly have done so, and that would have been a bad choice for the story.

If an encounter isn't 'allowed' to kill any PC then there needs to be no chance that it can happen and it needs to be thought about first. Solving GMing problems on the spur of a moment by fudging ain't great.


Ret-cons are not fudges.

Nope: They're FAR worse!



Personally I find the answer is luck/fate/blag points. Then the GM can absolve himself of all fudging, and the players have a limited capacity for fudging, and they get to decide when and where to use those chances.

Jayabalard
2011-01-04, 01:45 PM
If you don't desire an outcome, why are you rolling to see if it will happen?There's a large (I'd even say "huge") portion of the gaming community that just enjoys hearing the dice roll... for many, it serves the same purpose as the a brief bit of dramatic music. It's a cue for the players that something is going down; that ... perhaps ... #### is about to get real.

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 01:48 PM
But at the time the end result might have seemed meaningless.
But in your case: did it? You already described it in a way that gave it impact well before the result was decided.


If an encounter isn't 'allowed' to kill any PC then there needs to be no chance that it can happen and it needs to be thought about first. Solving GMing problems on the spur of a moment by fudging ain't great.
Gonna be a pretty empty world if thereís absolutely no chance for potentially lethal encounters outside of those specifically prepared. Players do have some say in the encounters they actually meet, after all.


The only way to truly guarantee the players donít pick a fight with a Dragon is to make sure Dragons donít exist.

[hr]

Slight change of direction, but hereís a thought: The Tension Factor.

Some folks have suggested that the GM helping to keep players alive removes tension from the game. But Iím wondering how this compares to similar scenarios with a beloved media franchise character. One that you know will never die, yet is always put into life-threatening situations anyway. Despite knowing that the character is in no real danger, viewers often experience some level of tension, donít they? Usually, the tension simply comes from shifting the question from ďWill he survive?Ē to ďHow will he survive?Ē

Indeed, often this can give you a little more tension in truly lethal situations. A character without contractual immortality can safely be given up for dead. There is no tension. But for a character you expect to survive, you still have to wonder, ďhowĒ?

As a story, canít a game work with these elements in a similar manner?

Saph
2011-01-04, 01:57 PM
To all those GMs out there, only ever cheat in favour of making the game better for all involved. NPCs are there for three reasons. To hand out plot, to provide scenery or to die. You don't need to cheat to protect them or to make them appear big and important.

This is terrible advice. As a GM, you should play NPCs as if they're real people. Your NPCs are the face of your world; they're the main thing the players interact with. If you portray them as living, breathing people who matter, then the players will respond to that. If you portray them as meaningless filler, then the players will follow suit. The fact that so many DMs treat NPCs as objects is a big part of the reason that so many PCs act like sociopaths.

Psyx
2011-01-04, 02:06 PM
Gonna be a pretty empty world if thereís absolutely no chance for potentially lethal encounters outside of those specifically prepared. Players do have some say in the encounters they actually meet, after all.

That was kind of my point. If you're fudging dice to keep PCs alive then it's not at all potentially lethal.

Either prepare for the possibility of killing a PC or don't have the encounter. That preparation might be down-statting or building in a way to make the encounter non-terminal, or it might just be mental and plot-preparation in the event of such an event occurring.

Gnaeus
2011-01-04, 02:10 PM
Are you happy to die in a pointless battle? Do you want your character to simply die, then get looted? If you're happy to die in a random encounter, tell your GM that.

After it happens a couple of times, it does tend to get old. At least in my experience. I prefer my characters to die for a reason other than "The dice said so." But other people may feel otherwise about it.

I would prefer not to have a pointless battle. If character risk is there, then it has excitement, with meaningful chances of reward and punishment. If the risk is removed, then it becomes a pointless battle, which could just as easily have been scripted. I would rather waste my time making a new character, which in most systems I enjoy, than waste my time rolling dice that have no impact on the story because the result is a foregone conclusion before we start.

Freylorn
2011-01-04, 02:12 PM
Personally, I can't stand fudging rolls. I refuse to do it as a DM, and I always ask my DMs not to fudge for me. (If they want to fudge for the rest of the party, that's cool - but for me, personally, I hate the idea.)

In my opinion, once you know a DM fudges, the trust that was there is gone. How awesome would it be, for example, to actually take a BBEG down with a well-timed Finger of Death or amazingly high crit in the first round? I know I would feel really accomplished - it's a little anticlimactic, sure, but it's very satisfying. Now let's say that the save was made on that FoD, or the crit didn't kill him despite being enough damage to level a small house. Is it because they made their save/just have that much HP? Or is it because the DM just snatched your victory out from under your nose? Unless that trust is there, you don't know. And that totally ruins it for me.

I know this opinion has been expressed already, and more eloquently at that. But it's a subject I feel passionately about, so I figured I'd throw my hat into the ring. If a character dies, let him die. If a BBEG gets dropped fast, let him drop.

BG
2011-01-04, 02:15 PM
Again, I think battle lines are drawn here that don't really need to exist. There are players and games where fudging works and players and games where it doesn't. As with all things in RPGs, your mileage may vary.

Sometimes I fudge. I don't like to run games where resurrection is a common occurrence, and so I'll fudge or not fudge depending on the game.

I've run a noir-esque game based entirely on the idea of characters existing in an uncaring, random, and lethal urban environment. No fudging. A character dying pointlessly was completely fitting within the genre, and the players all knew and were okay with this.

I've done Cthulu games, where again there was no fudging, because a lot of games like that will end with a TPK.

On the other hand, I've done high fantasy where you don't really want the quest to save the world to end because of a couple of crit rolls. But a special note here, for those who are anti-fudging: I only very occasionally fudge.

My general rule (which I never actually tell my players) is that I will do a bit more to keep them alive if they are role-playing well or intelligently. (Note that when I say "role-playing well", and someone is playing a barbarian who charges red dragons, I don't fudge for them).

Ultimately, I'm not pro or anti fudging, it isn't inherently good or bad. I see it as a tool that has a specific use in certain circumstances depending on the game and the players.

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 02:18 PM
That was kind of my point. If you're fudging dice to keep PCs alive then it's not at all potentially lethal.
Does every combat have to be potentially lethal for a game to be tense or exciting?

Oracle_Hunter
2011-01-04, 02:19 PM
As a story, canít a game work with these elements in a similar manner?
Yes - if the system you are using doesn't use random chance to add tension to the story :smallbiggrin:
This is the real issue. In a story, everything is scripted in advance; drama can't come from "random stuff" happening. We know that people will succeed or fail as is dramatically important. There are, in fact, RPGs which model this very well.

D&D - and most dice-based RPGs - use randomness as the central source of tension during gameplay. It is of course dramatic when PCs and NPCs have long RP sequences with great acting but that isn't really why you made character sheets and everything. Dice rolling is one way of adding randomness to the outcome of an event; it's designed to serve the same purpose as Dramatic Tension does in games where the outcome is pre-determined.

Fudging for Drama in D&D is a way to substitute Dramatic Tension for Randomness. The problem with fudging is that only the DM is permitted to make this trade; the only way Players have agency (i.e. a role in the story) is by rolling dice. Fudging is a use of DM Fiat to trump game mechanics (yes, even when it is "allowed" by the rules) and shares the same sort of perils.

BG
2011-01-04, 02:29 PM
Oh, the other thing I forgot to mention, and I can't remember who said it before, but I will also generally give the players action/fate/force/drama/whatever points that can be used to keep their players from dying. This mostly works in particularly heroic games, where genre convention is more important, like 7th Sea or Feng Shui.

Depending on the system, these points or dice can be used for a variety of purposes ranging from "That wasn't really a critical hit" to "Oh, I'm totally killing this guy". You still have some of the randomness, but the players now get to fudge things a bit. It also recognizes that some rolls are more important than others.

Saph
2011-01-04, 02:37 PM
Does every combat have to be potentially lethal for a game to be tense or exciting?

No, but if a combat's not potentially lethal, there's a good case to be made for not including it. The word "combat" generally implies a chance of death. If only one side can die, the word "execution" is more appropriate.

The way I see it, there are three reasons a combat encounter can be made exciting:

Risk: The PCs are in real danger of dying, getting critically injured, or at the very least losing something important to them. The combat's exciting because of a sense of danger.
Story: There's some important plot-related conflict going on. E.g. the PCs are fighting a recurring villain or the BBEG in order to achieve something. The combat's exciting because the PCs are trying to achieve something important to the story.
Cool stuff: The PCs get to do something that's just plain cool, like jumping between racing wagons while fighting wolf-form dragonspawn as wyvern riders make diving attacks from above. A really good dramatic setting can work for this, too. The combat's exciting because the players get to do something novel and fun.
In my experience the best and most memorable combats are ones which include all three of these. There's danger and story and cool stuff. This is hard to keep up, though, and a combat can still work fine with only two out of three, or one out of three.

Where you have a problem is if you have zero out of three. If you're fighting an encounter that isn't story-critical, and doesn't have anything novel and exciting about it, and doesn't have any risk, then what's the point of running the combat at all. This is the big drawback of reducing or removing the chance of character death. A lot of DMs will say "well, if it's just some random unimportant battle, I don't want any of the PCs to die". The problem with this is that if it's some random unimportant battle, the sense of danger is the only reason to care about it in the first place! If you have to fight the guards to get into the castle, but the guards aren't allowed to win and aren't really very important one way or the other, why bother having the fight with the guards at all? Why not just fast-forward and get to the fights which actually matter?

I generally make it a rule when DMing to always have at least one out of the above three reasons in every encounter. This means that yes, random encounters and in-between battles are dangerous. If I don't want to risk PCs dying in them, I don't include them in the first place.

Grogmir
2011-01-04, 02:40 PM
I'd actually really like that to be a possibility. That'd do it...

If I died in such a way I'd have all my confidence restored...


:smallbiggrin: Forget talking to the GM. I'm going to die in a totally ignominous way! Then I'd know he was the real deal!

Whoa!

Lets do this!:smallcool:

Glad you've got the sense of humour to laugh about it. If some came to me with a problem, any problem I would look at it and see what I need to do. Hopefully your DM is a good guy - I expect him to react. He'll probably open it up to the group, I would, hopefully you'll all get more of a game you're looking for.
If thats a more "gritty", less DM fudged world, then good luck to you and may you roll well!

The Big Dice
2011-01-04, 02:43 PM
This is terrible advice. As a GM, you should play NPCs as if they're real people. Your NPCs are the face of your world; they're the main thing the players interact with. If you portray them as living, breathing people who matter, then the players will respond to that. If you portray them as meaningless filler, then the players will follow suit. The fact that so many DMs treat NPCs as objects is a big part of the reason that so many PCs act like sociopaths.

I'd like to adress this, particularly the bolded part. What that actually means is, most NPCs are flavour. Implementation of the NPC is what you really mean by 'meaningless filler' and not the function of the NPC in the game environment.

In terms of function, an NPC is either expository, background flavour or an obstacle. How each GM (I don't DM, I barely play D&D and the more generic term is far more appropriate, especially as I tend not to run dungeon bashes) handles the NPCs they use in-game is your issue here.

Grogmir
2011-01-04, 02:51 PM
.... Lots of good points ....

A lot of DMs will say "well, if it's just some random unimportant battle, I don't want any of the PCs to die". The problem with this is that if it's some random unimportant battle, the sense of danger is the only reason to care about it in the first place! If you have to fight the guards to get into the castle, but the guards aren't allowed to win and aren't really very important one way or the other, why bother having the fight with the guards at all? Why not just fast-forward and get to the fights which actually matter?


I understand where you're coming from - totally. In 4th ed, ideally every battle should forward the story and be in a memorable location.

But think about most stories, to build up the epic level of one location - you need others that are more mundance. Its hard to build worlds that are all cool locations, even harder to get your PCs into a fight only in them locations. Even the LoTRs had the hobbits encounter the riders by the side of the road at the start. :smallsmile:

Thats why, when if time is running short and we can't get to the next 'location' my players will come across something, I'll mix up the enviroement somehow, mix it up, gotta get one of the big three in I guess, 'causes there's not a lot of story in it, and I dont want the guys to die, so the kid gloves on, but I don't shoot myself for that, sometimes time restraints on the evening (and the fun in the here and now) overcome the need for perfect story enhancing, death laced encounters.

I will say though - as a major fudger, there's a fine line between that and 'improvising as you go'. Recently I gave my BBEG a power he didn't have at the start of the battle, I only came up with it there and then, 'cause the battle was getting to easy for the PCs, and others effects hadn't worked out quite as I wanted. Mean I know, but I was more covering for my poor monster / encounter design that good ideas from the PCs.

Moose Man
2011-01-04, 02:59 PM
When DMing, whenever I mess-up an encounter's CR, I think of the weirdest thing I can and then why that would fit into the story. Then, Presto, the ogres are blown up by the clumsy alchemist who is strangely knowledgeable of the fountain of youth.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 03:04 PM
With regard to the "secrecy" thing . . . most DMs are nowhere near as good at deceiving their players as they think they are. As a player, I can spot with a fair degree of accuracy when a DM fudges. Part of it's the expression, part of it's the sound of their voice, part of it's the time they take to read out the result, and part of it is just due to understanding statistics (fudged data looks different from raw data).

This. If you're good at either reading people or with numbers, detecting fudging is pretty easy.


Does the level-appropriate guard score an improbable string of critical hits, leaving the party just as dead as an overpowered guard would have? Maybe. I have to roll before I find that out.

You've said it yourself. It's improbable. Your players might roll all 1s, and the guard all 20s. It is possible, but highly unlikely. Is such a rare chance of death unacceptable? If so, why are you allowing it to be? You could opt to not use crits at all, if predictability is desired.

There is no right or wrong level of lethality in general...only for your group. If you WANT high-lethality, then fudging to keep people alive defeats that. If you want low lethality, then play a system that gives you that. I understand shadowrun, and in it, combat is supposed to be a Bad Thing. If that's not what you want, you shouldn't play shadowrun without modifying it.

It's kind of like playing D&D unchanged and complaining that it's too much fantasy instead of sci-fi.

The Big Dice
2011-01-04, 03:09 PM
I understand shadowrun, and in it, combat is supposed to be a Bad Thing. If that's not what you want, you shouldn't play shadowrun without modifying it.

It's kind of like playing D&D unchanged and complaining that it's too much fantasy instead of sci-fi.

But nobody is talking about modifying the system. The OP's issue was that Shadowrun tells the GM that it's ok to ignore the results of a dice roll when they happen.

That's a completely different situation from house ruling and modifying a game system.

CarpeGuitarrem
2011-01-04, 03:18 PM
I've mulled over this, and there is a tack that I think I want to take. It's been mentioned before in this thread, too. That is: don't fudge rolls, but fudge results. I've kinda taken this from Mouse Guard, which by default says that players failing rolls don't automatically fail at what they were trying to do. They generally achieve some success, and generate massive complications.

I tend to roll with that. (Pun not intended) When someone makes a roll, they want something to happen. When they fail, unless perhaps they botch it, they may still eke out a compromise of sorts, but the complications generated make it that much more interesting. i.e., failure is fun.

I think (to a somewhat lesser degree, since D&D has generally codified all aspects of combat from the get-go, and has always incorporated skirmish wargaming from its very heritage) that this can be adapted into combat, as well.

Grelna the Blue
2011-01-04, 03:31 PM
Fudging doesn't have to and shouldn't mean handholding the PCs so they cannot fail. It also doesn't have to mean they won't die randomly. Unless you're playing a diceless game, randomness is part of the point. And fudging shouldn't be common, regardless of how you interpret it. However, when the GM is playing the part of the campaign world during a fight, occasionally the GM can make changes that make the encounter a little better. That's not cheating, that's doing your job as a GM.

I'm actually slightly more likely to fudge against the PCs, although as I said previously, when I do fudge it's on things like hit points or whether or not the villain has a potion of healing or an ally in a nearby room. If the players have had a string of easy, not very challenging encounters and this one is supposed to be tough and exciting, I don't have a problem occasionally giving a villain an extra 10 hit points so he'll last one extra round if the players have rolled substantially better than normal early in the fight. I have never given villains enough help to win, just sometimes enough that they lose slightly slower.

On the rare occasions I fudge the other way to help out the players, sometimes it's just to shave a couple hp off the villain so the big dramatic crit or last gasp attack kills him and sometimes it's just providing additional in-game opportunities they can exploit for tactical advantage. A moog supporting the boss might move to attack a player away from the main fight and in so doing open up a flanking position the party can exploit. That sort of thing.

So I never have to adjust the dice rolls, which are rolled in front of everyone. Sometimes PCs do die because of that, but most often only in boss fights or when they're completely ignoring tactics (like allowing the weakly armored gish to face the BBEG alone while the dedicated melee types tie themselves up in groups of mobs). When the dice turn vicious I let them do so. My players are completely convinced that the d20 I save for bosses and large monsters has it in for them (when I use it as a player it seems to roll quite low, so I think it just dislikes PCs).

I don't know if this rambling response will convince any of the unconvinced that fudging is something they'd want their own GM to do, but I hope that it might at least allow them to see that for some players and some games it can add value.

Dr.Epic
2011-01-04, 03:34 PM
Every gm in every game fudges. And it has always been that way.

Yeap. It's true. The GM is just trying to ensure the best possible game.

Britter
2011-01-04, 04:10 PM
Yeap. It's true. The GM is just trying to ensure the best possible game.

Fudging the dice rolls doesn't necessarily result in the best possible game.

Megaduck
2011-01-04, 04:10 PM
Fudging for Drama in D&D is a way to substitute Dramatic Tension for Randomness. The problem with fudging is that only the DM is permitted to make this trade; the only way Players have agency (i.e. a role in the story) is by rolling dice. Fudging is a use of DM Fiat to trump game mechanics (yes, even when it is "allowed" by the rules) and shares the same sort of perils.

That's... an interesting point of view. In that case yes, if the only way the characters can have an effect on the story then fudging is the DM removing the players ability to affect the story.

I generally try to build my adventures around the player choices and the consequences of them. The dice are just there to add a little bit of randomness to keep the players on their toes, but not enough to take away from the players freedom.


Why not tell them? "We're in uncharted territory here, so bear with me." Is it so bad to admit that you're one human trying to anticipate 4-6?



Where is the fun in that? ;P

A slightly more serious answer is that I feel it breaks the immersion factor. A one minute pause while the DM sits and looks at the ceiling is ok, after a five minute pause the players will be knocked out of the experience.

The last session I ran I had to improve the entire last hour (The Climatic) because the players did something I didn't even think was possible.

Typewriter
2011-01-04, 04:19 PM
I honestly think there are two completely different conversation going on here.

1. Is it okay to play a game in which player characters can never die.

2. Is it okay to fudge rolls.

A lot of people seem to think that fudging rolls automatically goes along with number 1, when it doesn't. You can fudge rolls because your players spent 2 hours in game planning a stealthy infiltration, and the rogue rolls a 4+22 on his stealth check, opposed by a perception 19+10 on a guard. You going to pretend that was just a 9 or make a decision that makes 2 hours of planning pointless? Or maybe the guards only had +5 instead of +10. That may not be fudging the roll itself, but it's the same thing. Maybe if it goes poorly again you decide you've already given enough leeway, and that's when the plan fails.

Fudging should not be used to determine everything, but neither should death be the only chance your character has at being in danger. Danger might be letting the bad guy get away, it might be a plan failing, or maybe it's just losing the respect of someone you were trying to get in the good graces of.

As for people saying "Why even bother rolling the dice", the game is a guide. If your players are having fun, and you use the dice 90% of the time, then you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Maybe not everyone wants to get together and play a 'no-dice' game. Maybe they don't want to die at level 2 at no fault of their own.

I understand disagreeing with playstyles, but why question what works for other groups?

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 04:24 PM
No, but if a combat's not potentially lethal, there's a good case to be made for not including it.
Even if it would be fun anyway?


The word "combat" generally implies a chance of death.
When pokťmon engage in combat, they only knock each other out. :smalltongue: (Donít take that specific example too seriously, please. :smallwink)


If only one side can die, the word "execution" is more appropriate.
If you go and remove all metafictional factors from it, sure, that might be right. But as the game is fiction, Iíd rather not. Otherwise, Iíd start thinking of the Battle of Minas Tirith as just one series of execution after the other on both sides.


The way I see it, there are three reasons a combat encounter can be made exciting:

Risk: The PCs are in real danger of dying, getting critically injured, or at the very least losing something important to them. The combat's exciting because of a sense of danger.
As you allude to here about ďlosing something important to them,Ē there are more ways to make a battle Risky than through body count.


Story: There's some important plot-related conflict going on. E.g. the PCs are fighting a recurring villain or the BBEG in order to achieve something. The combat's exciting because the PCs are trying to achieve something important to the story.
Most important reason for combat in any Story-based game. But being plot-important doesnít require high risk or lethality. Though it usually does carry some Risk, otherwise it wouldnít be important to begin with.

And not all games are Story-based anyway. Sometimes itís just four or five dudes exploring a dungeon in the middle of nowhere.


Cool stuff: The PCs get to do something that's just plain cool, like jumping between racing wagons while fighting wolf-form dragonspawn as wyvern riders make diving attacks from above. A really good dramatic setting can work for this, too. The combat's exciting because the players get to do something novel and fun.
Doing Cool and exciting stuff is the reason I play an RPG. Period. So forgive me if I come off as a little biased on this point. :smallbiggrin:

But, once again, Cool doesnít necessarily require high risk. Though I do admit, high risk can enhance the Cool factor.


In my experience the best and most memorable combats are ones which include all three of these. There's danger and story and cool stuff. This is hard to keep up, though, and a combat can still work fine with only two out of three, or one out of three.
In my experience, the stories that get passed around most tend to put a greater emphasis on that Cool factor. Everyoneís been at the climax to an exciting story with only a few hitpoints left. The only thing memorable is the style with which you eventually succeed or fail. If you donít have anything Cool, then itís just one of a million other game stories.


Where you have a problem is if you have zero out of three. If you're fighting an encounter that isn't story-critical, and doesn't have anything novel and exciting about it, and doesn't have any risk, then what's the point of running the combat at all.
Practice.

Seriously. Half the Cool things my characters do come from class abilities, so I need a relatively low-stakes scenario in which to try new tactics. See if certain abilities work a certain way. Maybe Iíll find some new Cool thing to do later on in a really important battle.


This is the big drawback of reducing or removing the chance of character death. A lot of DMs will say "well, if it's just some random unimportant battle, I don't want any of the PCs to die". The problem with this is that if it's some random unimportant battle, the sense of danger is the only reason to care about it in the first place!
As above, I respectfully disagree.


If you have to fight the guards to get into the castle, but the guards aren't allowed to win and aren't really very important one way or the other, why bother having the fight with the guards at all? Why not just fast-forward and get to the fights which actually matter?
First, by your reckoning, getting past the guards would contain a Story element.

From both a Story and a Game perspective, of course, such guard are usually employed as resource drains. They shave off a few hit points, require a spell-slot or two, and even force the consumption of a potion. Now the final battle is that much Riskier, is it not?


I generally make it a rule when DMing to always have at least one out of the above three reasons in every encounter. This means that yes, random encounters and in-between battles are dangerous. If I don't want to risk PCs dying in them, I don't include them in the first place.
Just remember that sometimes the players can provide their own bits of Risk, Story, or Cool Stuff.



You've said it yourself. It's improbable. Your players might roll all 1s, and the guard all 20s. It is possible, but highly unlikely. Is such a rare chance of death unacceptable? If so, why are you allowing it to be? You could opt to not use crits at all, if predictability is desired.
As I said, it is highly improbable. I donít undesireable rare occurrences stop me from engaging in a whole host of activities.

Example: I cross the street all the time, despite the improbable but possible event of me being hit by a car. The difference here is that whether or not the crit actually occurs if fully within my control. My ability to stop an out-of-control car however, is pretty well non-existent.

Thatís the great thing about fiction. Itís totally within your control. If you find a concept distasteful, why accept it just because a cheap piece of painted plastic told you?


Fudging the dice rolls doesn't necessarily result in the best possible game.
Neither does letting ďthe dice fall where they may.Ē

Key difference: The GM can learn better when and how to fudge. The Dice just fall.


I honestly think there are two completely different conversation going on here.

Ö
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I understand disagreeing with playstyles, but why question what works for other groups?
Thank you for this. All of it. All that is stuff thatís been circling around what Iíve been trying to say. And you just got right to it. :smallbiggrin:

Analytica
2011-01-04, 04:28 PM
I roll all dice open in front of my players...

and yes i Fudge the Rolls sometimes.

I just use a second identical looking, but loaded die. My players are happy, they suspect that I sometimes Fudge the rolls.
They just never caught me swapping the Dice.

It's even a lot of fun for me knowing that one day they might catch me if my real life sleight of hand check fails. :smallredface:

This is probably the most awesome I've heard of in a while. :smallbiggrin:

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 04:34 PM
But nobody is talking about modifying the system. The OP's issue was that Shadowrun tells the GM that it's ok to ignore the results of a dice roll when they happen.

That's a completely different situation from house ruling and modifying a game system.

It is.

But it's far superior to pick a system that supports your desired gameplay(including house rules, if necessary) that to try to force desired results out of a system. And fudging can sometimes be the latter. Avoiding lethality in a high lethality game by fudging each individual death is a kludge. The source of the problem is that the game system doesn't match your desires. So...change the system, fixing the problem permanently, and in a systemic, reliable, and fair way.

Fudging either for or against the PCs runs into a lot of the same issues. I don't really differentiate between them. Either is indicative that the DM is unhappy with the results produced by the mechanics.

And yes, if players go wildly off the rails, it's ok to ask for a moment to catch up. It does risk stopping the flow of the action, but if you get to the point where you're uncomfortable improving and have a lack of prep, a minute or two to think things through can sometimes be quite helpful.

Saph
2011-01-04, 04:36 PM
Practice.

Seriously. Half the Cool things my characters do come from class abilities, so I need a relatively low-stakes scenario in which to try new tactics. See if certain abilities work a certain way. Maybe Iíll find some new Cool thing to do later on in a really important battle.

Why do a practice battle when you can have a real one and learn what the characters can do on the fly? You get the same result in half the time. My gaming time is limited, and I'd rather not spend it on practice encounters.


First, by your reckoning, getting past the guards would contain a Story element.

Disagree. By that logic, everything counts as being important to the story, even if the players don't care about it.


From both a Story and a Game perspective, of course, such guard are usually employed as resource drains. They shave off a few hit points, require a spell-slot or two, and even force the consumption of a potion. Now the final battle is that much Riskier, is it not?

I find this a very boring style of gameplay, I'm afraid. I simply don't care very much whether the party finishes the battle with 5 or 6 healing surges, or whether the wizard has 7 or 8 spell slots. If the only reason the guards are there are resource drains, I'd vastly prefer for the GM not to include them at all.

Ozreth
2011-01-04, 04:39 PM
As somebody already said, every DM fudges.

Also, I lauged when you said "the rule book gives the DM permission to fudge."

These books don't have to give anybody permission to do anything. From the early days RPG's have always stated things like "the DM's ruling is always right" or "hand wave rules as you see fit" etc etc.

It's the nature of the game. If fudging one die here and there will help the game and story progress then I'm all for it!

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 04:41 PM
Resource management is a very specific type of gaming. Some players care about it, others do not. In it, the challenge is how to most efficiently dispose of the guards.

If death is not on the table as an outcome in such a fight, the risk is lower, and the resources to be expended also decrease. For instance, spells. This leads to longer combats and less dramatic ones, with less unusual actions. This does not seem particularly good for the story.

Temet Nosce
2011-01-04, 04:42 PM
My trust is damaged. My confidence in the game system is low.

This is why I don't fudge, it damages the players sense of verisimilitude, risk, and trust in the DM. Rolling in the open and being blatantly willing to murder your players may not make them happy when they die, but in the long run the influence it will exert on the way the players see and treat the game pays off.

Further however, even assuming a situation occurs which is blatantly your own fault and you need to alter it, you have a massive slew of options available as a DM which you can call on to control events which don't involve fudging and which won't result in problems to use. You have effectively complete control over almost everything, altering dice rolls is a poor option by comparison given the potential problems involved.

Zherog
2011-01-04, 04:44 PM
As somebody already said, every DM fudges.

Repeating it doesn't make it true.

mangosta71
2011-01-04, 04:47 PM
I never fudged in the campaign I DMed, though at one point I wished I had. The party ran across an NPC dervish bounty hunter with a vorpal scimitar, and halfway through the conversation they decided to abandon talk and fight. The NPC was standing next to the party cleric when they made this decision. First attack roll - nat 20. Took the cleric's head clean off. And then I had to spend the rest of the session putting together a quest on the fly so that they could get her ressed when the players discussed options and decided that would be easier than having her reroll.

Britter
2011-01-04, 04:50 PM
An underlying issue here is when and why do you roll dice, and what do you want the roll to represent.

It is my experience that when there is a lot of GM fudging going on, it is because the DM wants a particular outcome, but feels he must ask for dice rolls. When those rolls either fail or succede, the DM feels the need to either 1) fudge the roll or 2) call for another roll and repeat until the desired effect is achieved. I think that happens because very few systems actually discuss what a die roll represents, and when to roll dice. Sure, they are full of examples of how to resolve the roll, but thats not the same thing.

An example from my experience. I have a DM who runs a 4th Edition DnD game. He regularly calls for long, complicated skill challenges involving upwards of 10 rolls in order for the characters to sneak in or out of the city. There has NEVER been any interesting results from failing or succeding at these challenges. We get in or out either way, because he wants us in or out.

In other words, there is no conflict, no reason to roll dice, and the dice have to be routinely fudged to get us to the action the DM has planned. It would be far better for him to simply say "You leave the city by the usual route" or some such, and stop wasting our limited gaming time on trival crap.

I am NOT a fan of this approach. In my games, which admitedly use a non-DnD system, I strive to only call for a roll when there is an interesting failure consequence. I strive to resolve things with a single roll or test whenever possible, including certain types of combat. I have no interest in the dice rolls becoming commonplace. Each time random chance enters into the game, it should be because something important is about to happen, and at those important moments it is IMPERATIVE that the player be aware of the very real possibility of failure.

Gnaeus
2011-01-04, 04:58 PM
I understand disagreeing with playstyles, but why question what works for other groups?

I don't think that anyone disagrees that if everyone in your group is happy with the GM fudging roles that that is just fine. (Even Tyndmyr's point, if I understand it correctly, is only that other gaming systems would work better if the system you are using doesn't give desired results)

The OP, and other players in the anti-fudging camp, don't want their DM fudging dice in their game, or in some cases just for their character. It detracts from our fun. It doesn't "work" for us.

My small children cry when I beat them at boardgames. I lost some games of tic-tac-toe last night, and it wasn't because I didn't know how to play. When I introduce them to RPGs, I will cheat like crazy to make sure that they have the gaming experience that they want. If my DM does the same thing for me, I am just as angry as if they were playing chess or Catan and deliberately playing to lose. The challenge, for me, is one of the most important parts, and that necessitates risk. Context is everything.

Britter
2011-01-04, 05:00 PM
I don't think that anyone disagrees that if everyone in your group is happy with the GM fudging roles that that is just fine. (Even Tyndmyr's point, if I understand it correctly, is only that other gaming systems would work better if the system you are using doesn't give desired results)



This bears repeating. There is no single way that is best for everyone.

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 05:10 PM
Why do a practice battle when you can have a real one and learn what the characters can do on the fly? You get the same result in half the time. My gaming time is limited, and I'd rather not spend it on practice encounters.
And Iíd rather not lose a character I spent hours, weeks, or months of time invested in just cause he didnít have the good sense to find out if his unusual stunt would work before trying it out in a life-or-death situation when thereís a tried and true method available.

Unless, you know, he was already established as having that brand of adrenaline-fueld idiocy. Then it would only be appropriate.


Disagree. By that logic, everything counts as being important to the story, even if the players don't care about it.
No. At least, not if sneaking into the castle was part of the story. If getting into the castle is the story, then getting past the guards at the castle gate is part of the storyówhether they pose a serious risk to the party or not.

The random ogres on the road to the castle? The ones who donít have anything to do with the castle and donít even have the sense to carry a Checkovís gun for the players to loot? Yeah, theyíre not part of the story.

But everything thatís located at the castle? Thatís part of the story because the castle is the story.


I find this a very boring style of gameplay, I'm afraid. I simply don't care very much whether the party finishes the battle with 5 or 6 healing surges, or whether the wizard has 7 or 8 spell slots. If the only reason the guards are there are resource drains, I'd vastly prefer for the GM not to include them at all.
I wager that you are not a fan of Die Hard. The whole point of everything up to the last ten minutes is just to wear John McClane down so he is at a supreme disadvantage for the final confrontation.

Me? I love it.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-04, 05:10 PM
An underlying issue here is when and why do you roll dice, and what do you want the roll to represent.

It is my experience that when there is a lot of GM fudging going on, it is because the DM wants a particular outcome, but feels he must ask for dice rolls. When those rolls either fail or succede, the DM feels the need to either 1) fudge the roll or 2) call for another roll and repeat until the desired effect is achieved. I think that happens because very few systems actually discuss what a die roll represents, and when to roll dice. Sure, they are full of examples of how to resolve the roll, but thats not the same thing.

An example from my experience. I have a DM who runs a 4th Edition DnD game. He regularly calls for long, complicated skill challenges involving upwards of 10 rolls in order for the characters to sneak in or out of the city. There has NEVER been any interesting results from failing or succeding at these challenges. We get in or out either way, because he wants us in or out.

In other words, there is no conflict, no reason to roll dice, and the dice have to be routinely fudged to get us to the action the DM has planned. It would be far better for him to simply say "You leave the city by the usual route" or some such, and stop wasting our limited gaming time on trival crap.

I am NOT a fan of this approach. In my games, which admitedly use a non-DnD system, I strive to only call for a roll when there is an interesting failure consequence. I strive to resolve things with a single roll or test whenever possible, including certain types of combat. I have no interest in the dice rolls becoming commonplace. Each time random chance enters into the game, it should be because something important is about to happen, and at those important moments it is IMPERATIVE that the player be aware of the very real possibility of failure.

You make an excellent point. In fairness to him, I feel that the skill challenges section of 4e tends to unwittingly lead people down this path, but I've seen DMs do the same thing in other systems as well.

If you felt so inclined, you could call for balance checks for characters walking down stairs. It would just do absolutely nothing for the game except slow it down.

I feel like the biggest area where the meaningless die roll is a problem is in traps. Sure, there are the epic, amazing traps. They are an encounter in their own right, and are not a problem. There are also the "if you don't detect this trap, you take an arrow and lose a bit of hp" traps. Those ones are not fun at all. Either all goes well, or it doesn't, in which case, you burn another charge or three of CLW. Meh. It's not very interesting, and tends not to add any fun decision making to the game. Therefore, I've stopped using these types of traps.

Likewise, if there is some plot critical thing that they're going to get, I don't bother having them roll a search check or gather information. If Im gonna give it to them anyhow, I just do. Players still get to roll dice plenty, just not the pointless rolls.

Edit: Also, I disagree w regards to Diehard. He's in plausible risk of death the entire time. Yes, wearing him down is an effect of all this narratively, but his resistance, and what form it takes is relevant. For instance, refusing to give up the detonators results in a hostage being shot. That's an interesting decision for a PC to make, and one that bears risk. Looking at the whole movie as a buildup to a fight with the BBEG is a bit simplistic.

Saph
2011-01-04, 05:20 PM
I wager that you are not a fan of Die Hard. The whole point of everything up to the last ten minutes is just to wear John McClane down so he is at a supreme disadvantage for the final confrontation.

Oh, I love the movie. But what works for a movie doesn't necessarily work for a game.

The basic issue I have with fudging, as a player, is that I want my actions to matter. If I know that the party's going to win the battle no matter how poorly we play or how unlucky our rolls are, then I'm going to lose interest, because the choices I make don't make much difference. I know the DM believes he's only fudging because he thinks it'll make for a "better story" - but the problem is that the more he fudges, the more it becomes HIS story. No-one else gets much of a look-in.

Raum
2011-01-04, 05:36 PM
My trust is damaged. My confidence in the game system is low.This is one of several reasons I don't hide my rolls.


If the game operates in such a way that even the creators require fudging it then what's the point of it?I haven't GMed 3rd but I did run 2nd ed for a while...and fudging isn't a requirement. IMO, that designer's statement is like the much abused 'rule 0'. Completely unnecessary. GMs who fudge or use GM fiat would probably do so whether or not a rule supported it. Most of those who wouldn't, won't even with a rule in print.


Every gm in every game fudges. And it has always been that way.This is so obviously fallacious I've already spent too much time on it.


I don't have much experience with game systems, but I was under the impression that most of them allowed (more or less explicitly) the GM to fudge results.Not every game but certainly most of the mainstream games.

-----
Fudging has little to do with "competitive" gaming. It's usually more about one person forcing his view of how things should turn out on the rest. It's no different from any player (GM or not) fudging. It works well for many groups...and not so well for others.

Raum
2011-01-04, 05:42 PM
...it is indeed "possible" for players to win at D&D. When they feel accomplishment, they are "winning", in a way. So, players fudging rolls is bad because it's... how can I say... cheating. It is trying to accomplish things without any real merit.

Dungeon Masters, on the other hand, do not win at d&d. They can have fun, but their role is to provide fun for the players, not for themselves. Also, being the omnipotent-higher-than-gods entities in the game, there's practically nothing that can be considered an "achievement" from the DM's point of view. So fudging rolls is ok, because it is a mean to an end (players having fun) and not a way to cheat the system.Have you really broken this argument down to look at it? For it to have a chance at being valid, DMs cannot "feel accomplishment". If they did, they would be winning in the same way you describe players as winning.

As someone who actually enjoys GMing more often than not, I can certainly say I have felt a sense of accomplishment on many occasions.

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 06:08 PM
Oh, I love the movie. But what works for a movie doesn't necessarily work for a game.
Well, the only difference I see between the two is that for Fighty McStabberton we can label him as having lost 6 out of 30 hit points, whereas with John McClane we have to be a bit more vague.


The basic issue I have with fudging, as a player, is that I want my actions to matter.
Well, I tend to figure that the decisions that matter most are the ones that eventually determine which rolls you are making rather than the rolls themselves.


If I know that the party's going to win the battle no matter how poorly we play or how unlucky our rolls are, then I'm going to lose interest, because the choices I make don't make much difference.
Just Ďcause the DM nudges a number here or there doesnít necessarily mean the party will win. Or lose for that matter. Or that everything that happened in between those nudges is negated.

In fact, where hedging out an undesirable TPK is concerned, I would think fudging for the players would get have there actions matter more. At least in terms of the fictional world in which they live. Otherwise itís just a big shaggy dog story (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaggy_dog_story).


I know the DM believes he's only fudging because he thinks it'll make for a "better story" - but the problem is that the more he fudges, the more it becomes HIS story. No-one else gets much of a look-in.
Well, as a player, I try not to define my role in a campagin by whether or not I get hit by a particular roll in a particular fight. :smallconfused:

Grelna the Blue
2011-01-04, 06:10 PM
Out of curiosity, is everyone posting here who objects to fudging when it is in the players' favor (seeing that as cheating players out of an honest win or loss) equally outraged at the idea of fudging against the players to make some encounters more difficult (assuming in this case that the final outcome of those encounters remains unchanged)?

Psyren
2011-01-04, 06:11 PM
I wager that you are not a fan of Die Hard. The whole point of everything up to the last ten minutes is just to wear John McClane down so he is at a supreme disadvantage for the final confrontation.

Me? I love it.

The fact that you're using a movie (read: passive entertainment) as an analogy here is telling.

If all you want is for your players to watch a movie, then great. But did you have any doubts going into Die Hard that John McClane wouldn't save the day and get the wench?

olthar
2011-01-04, 06:17 PM
I used to let the dice speak for themselves. This led to a tpk when the pcs rolled poorly and I rolled well. After that I decided that spending a session rerolling everyone characters once every other month or so wasn't worth my time. So I started to fudge a bit.

I'm sure my players knew when I was fudging a roll. I'd always roll the dice then look up and say to the player "how many hp do you have." I never completely lied on a result, so a hit was never made into a miss, but I also don't like the "oh, you were hit for 30 and you have 20 hp, so you're just dead." This never toned down the lethality of a game because the party couldn't always get to player x in the 2 or 3 rounds I'd give them, but it at least gave them a chance. There is nothing more disheartening than having a lucky roll drop you from half hp to autodeath because the mook you were fighting doublecrit.

I guess my issue is that randomness shouldn't be the deciding factor. The game is about me giving my players options and the players taking them. Yes, combats should be dangerous and they should (and do) kill the characters, but they shouldn't just die because they randomly rolled **** while I randomly rolled awesome. They should die because they made stupid decisions like going on when the mage and cleric were out of spells or not searching for traps when entering the assassin's home. If they die during a legit combat that's one thing, but to get killed at level 4 because you fumbled and cut off your hand and then the orc doublecrit is kind of insane. (Guess that's why diplomacy is my favorite game. No Randomness.)

Raum
2011-01-04, 06:24 PM
Out of curiosity, is everyone posting here who objects to fudging when it is in the players' favor (seeing that as cheating players out of an honest win or loss) equally outraged at the idea of fudging against the players to make some encounters more difficult (assuming in this case that the final outcome of those encounters remains unchanged)?No difference in my opinion.

In the interests of full disclosure, I'll make two points: I'll retcon a roll or result (which is what fudging is) if there is group consensus to do so. I won't do so arbitrarily. So far, it hasn't come up.
Rolls don't have to be phrased as all or nothing. You can phrase them as "Make it and you'll succeed, fail and you still succeed but <bad stuff happens>."

BG
2011-01-04, 06:27 PM
There's also an underlying assumption in a lot of anti-fudging posts that seems to assume that in the games where DMs fudge dice, the dice are the only means of the player affecting the game.

I know some of you have asked that if you fudge the dice, then why have them at all, but I think that's creating a false dichotomy where the dice are either completely necessary or completely unnecessary, which isn't the case. For the most part I like the randomness the dice bring, but not always.

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 06:32 PM
The fact that you're using a movie (read: passive entertainment) as an analogy here is telling.
When framing a problem as an issue of story arcs, I fail to see how that matters. Story Arc is Story Arc. It was a question of Story, not of Game.

Raum
2011-01-04, 06:39 PM
I know some of you have asked that if you fudge the dice, then why have them at all, but I think that's creating a false dichotomy where the dice are either completely necessary or completely unnecessary, which isn't the case. For the most part I like the randomness the dice bring, but not always.The question still remains...why roll at all in those situations where you want a given outcome?

I'll ask for such rolls only if I can phrase the success / fail into something interesting for both success and failure. Otherwise the PCs simply act successfully.

JBento
2011-01-04, 06:40 PM
On the other hand, Die Hard might just be the perfect analogy:

let's say McClane knew his DM was fudging, that, in the end, the wench would be saved and the bad guy would be punished even if his performance would otherwise result in that. Furthermore, he knew that all that would happen within the span of the movie.

And now, Die Hard consists of nothing more than John McClane finally having a decent night's sleep, having breakfast and reading the morning news. At the end of the movie, the bad guy is downed and the girl is safe, without him having had to do anything.

One of my favourite movies now sucks. It's all your fault and I hate youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. :smallfurious:

Shhalahr Windrider
2011-01-04, 06:53 PM
The question still remains...why roll at all in those situations where you want a given outcome?
Maintain suspension of disbelief?

Sometimes you only need to fudge on certain degrees of success when the results arenít simply binary.

Sometimes youíre making several rolls all at once and that improbable triple-20 takes you by surprise.

Probably a number of other good reasons.


On the other hand, Die Hard might just be the perfect analogy:

let's say McClane knew his DM was fudging, that, in the end, the wench would be saved and the bad guy would be punished even if his performance would otherwise result in that. Furthermore, he knew that all that would happen within the span of the movie.

And now, Die Hard consists of nothing more than John McClane finally having a decent night's sleep, having breakfast and reading the morning news. At the end of the movie, the bad guy is downed and the girl is safe, without him having had to do anything.

One of my favourite movies now sucks. It's all your fault and I hate youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. :smallfurious:
Point me in the direction of the GM that fudges that badly, and Iíll join you. In the meantime, letís save the straw, please.

Ashiel
2011-01-04, 07:09 PM
Every gm in every game fudges. And it has always been that way.

No I don't.

Fuzzie Fuzz
2011-01-04, 07:15 PM
Honestly, I don't see a problem with fudging, if the players agree to it beforehand. I will fudge occasionally, but only after our group discussed the matter and they decided that they would rather that I sometimes fudge than kill their characters in a random battle, or to keep an underpowered encounter interesting. But! I don't think that it should be discussed again, after the initial discussion. I would never tell players that they only won a fight because I fudged rolls.

So basically, Gulp, you should talk to your DM and the rest of your group and come up with a policy on fudging.

Also, can we please ignore the obvious exaggeration of "every DM cheats?" No one meant that there has never ever been a DM that fudges rolls, it's just that many, if not most, DMs will change rolls a few times. That's most of the point of the screen, which has long been a gaming staple. (Yes, I know not everyone uses one, but as above, most DMs do.)

Raum
2011-01-04, 07:16 PM
Maintain suspension of disbelief?If 'suspension of disbelief' relies on a player hearing the rattle of a rolling die in real life...well, it's a mind boggling concept.


Sometimes you only need to fudge on certain degrees of success when the results arenít simply binary.This is where the 'question' you're rolling to answer needs to be rephrased. Instead of of "succeed on a swim roll or drown" it can be "succeed on a swim roll or you panic and start dropping heavy stuff". The first is boring while the second is a role playing opportunity.


Sometimes youíre making several rolls all at once and that improbable triple-20 takes you by surprise.Surprise isn't a bad thing. (Note, I have no idea what a triple 20 is unless it's just an awesome success.)


Probably a number of other good reasons.So far, every reason seems to boil down to one of three things: force a desired result
avoid a result you wish hadn't been included in the possible results
keep players' interest (still not sure how a meaningless die roll accomplishes this)The first is a meta-game issue of control. The second simply needs better framing of random possibilities. The third I don't think works. Die rolls only matter to players when they think the roll has meaning. Which brings us back to the OP's point...once the players become aware of GM fudging you run a significant risk of losing that suspension of disbelief. And they will become aware of it if you play (and fudge) long enough.

Zherog
2011-01-04, 07:26 PM
(Note, I have no idea what a triple 20 is unless it's just an awesome success.)

Triple-20 is a house rule that results in an auto-kill against the target. Only applies to attack rolls, obviously.

Britter
2011-01-04, 07:32 PM
You make an excellent point. In fairness to him, I feel that the skill challenges section of 4e tends to unwittingly lead people down this path, but I've seen DMs do the same thing in other systems as well.


I agree that this is a system issue with 4e, for certain.

I also agree with your other points as well.

It makes me wonder if a corollary discussion about when, why, and how different GMs ask for and resolve die rolls might not be a worthwhile one.

Raum
2011-01-04, 07:39 PM
Triple-20 is a house rule that results in an auto-kill against the target. Only applies to attack rolls, obviously.Ah, I see. It sounds like the rule needs to be changed if the GM finds themselves fudging to get around it. Should be easy to do if it's a house rule.

Psyren
2011-01-04, 07:46 PM
When framing a problem as an issue of story arcs, I fail to see how that matters. Story Arc is Story Arc. It was a question of Story, not of Game.

And that's the problem with your analogy. Tabletop gaming is both.

The Valiant Turtle
2011-01-04, 09:14 PM
One thing for Glug, Gnaeus, and others in the no-fudge camp: You should certainly ask your GM to never fudge for you, but your fellow players may not feel the same way and your GM has to keep them in mind as well. Some people get very invested in their character and some players need fudging more than others, for a variety of reasons. Somewhat ironically, the role-players typically need more fudging than the roll-players.

On the rare occasions when I've GM'd I find I can usually handle the vast majority of my fudging needs by simply having the opponents make different and possibly sub-optimal choices. My favorite is rolling randomly and openly for who the archers target, which is incredibly dumb for the archers. The players think its entirely fair but it's actually taking it very easy on them. The times I've most wanted to fudge rolls it wasn't possible because they were player rolls. I've seen the player whose character had the highest attack bonus in the party go through 4 rounds of combat without being able to hit a single mook while the rest of the party did just fine. Imagine the battle of Helms Deep but every single arrow Legolas fires misses (yes it's realistic in real life and he used his knives for a lot of that battle). He'd be one pretty pissed elf. In my case, it was a terribly un-fun hour (or however long) for that player and he was one pretty pissed human. He was not enjoying the playing of the game, although the encounters were going well other than his rotten luck. I would have gladly fudged anything just to make the gaming session more enjoyable for him, but it's hard to justify when his dice won't roll higher than a 3.

The problem for that player was that it's not just the GM's story. It's also the player's story of their character and if the dice are consistently telling them the character isn't who they think they are (and have built for), they are going to find it extremely unpleasant.

I also disagree that the GM's job is to make the game fun for the players. It's also his job to make it fun for himself, and if he has more fun with some fudging than it's his right to fudge for all it's worth even if the players don't want him too. That may include fudging just because they don't have time to prepare options or massively re-work the story. Yeah, that may not be the best GM, but quite frankly, just be glad you have a GM. I've played with GM's who can handle just about anything players can throw at them and do it without fudging a singe die and I've played with GMs who can barely handle it if you skip down his railroad tracks instead of walking and have to fudge basic encounters (the railroad necessity has often been me). In all cases I'm just glad to have a GM.

The Big Dice
2011-01-04, 10:13 PM
If 'suspension of disbelief' relies on a player hearing the rattle of a rolling die in real life...well, it's a mind boggling concept.
Sometimes the rattle of a dice, followed by an evil grin sent in a player's direction can ramp the tension up by an order of magnitude.

Even more so if the player doesn't know that the roll was simply to ramp up the tension and had no bearing on the game.

Sometimes being a GM is a performance. Dice are part of that performance, and you owe it to your players to put on a good show for them.

So far, every reason seems to boil down to one of three things: force a desired result
avoid a result you wish hadn't been included in the possible results
keep players' interest (still not sure how a meaningless die roll accomplishes this)The first is a meta-game issue of control. The second simply needs better framing of random possibilities. The third I don't think works. Die rolls only matter to players when they think the roll has meaning. Which brings us back to the OP's point...once the players become aware of GM fudging you run a significant risk of losing that suspension of disbelief. And they will become aware of it if you play (and fudge) long enough.
I'm sorry, but to me this is just hyperbole. Especially the second point. Rolling a dice can be a dramatic effect, utterly meaningless other than the emotional response it triggers in the players sat round the table. The key being, if the players think it has meaning, it has meaning. How do they know you're rolling for dramatic effect rather than the result?

And if your players are acting as if they are suspicious of you, ask yourself what they are trying to hide. Are they dice bombing, roll snatching, lying about results or indulging in creative accountancy on their sheets?

The point being, if your players don't trust you to make sure they have a good time, how are you to trust them to make sure that you have a good time?

Trust is very much a two way street, after all.

Ah, I see. It sounds like the rule needs to be changed if the GM finds themselves fudging to get around it. Should be easy to do if it's a house rule.
So rather than fudge a roll, you would take something away from the players? Something that most players find very satisfying, as it comes up very rarely.

valadil
2011-01-04, 10:37 PM
Ask your GM to roll in the open, or get out of the game. Fudging is a choice the GM makes. If you won't tolerate it, leave the game. Usually fudging is something that a GM will do or not do no matter the system, so switching him to something else isn't going to fix the problem.

The closest thing I can see to a compromise would be to tell him you'll leave if you suspect him of fudging. Tell him it takes the fun away for you. At the very least this will force him to hide it better :-P

Actually here's another compromise. What if you asked him not to fudge your rolls? Let him handle the other players however he likes, but always go with the dice for you.

Kudaku
2011-01-04, 10:41 PM
Fudging dice rolls is a bit like faking orgasms. It's a useful tool for creating a magic night but it should be used sparingly, and you should never ever ever tell your partner(s) that you just did it.

Psyren
2011-01-04, 10:48 PM
The problem for that player was that it's not just the GM's story. It's also the player's story of their character and if the dice are consistently telling them the character isn't who they think they are (and have built for), they are going to find it extremely unpleasant.


They should also take the hint and rebuild their character.

If random chance is "consistently" working against your build, the problem lies with your build, not the act of rolling dice.

Typewriter
2011-01-04, 11:00 PM
They should also take the hint and rebuild their character.

If random chance is "consistently" working against your build, the problem lies with your build, not the act of rolling dice.

My group follows the triple 20 rule, and we had one character lose 2 characters in one night to it. Random chance can 'consistently' work against someone, and that's exactly why a DM should fudge.

It's called bad luck, and maybe if you think you've never had a run of it you had a DM who was looking out for you :P

Marillion
2011-01-04, 11:16 PM
Fudging dice rolls is a bit like faking orgasms. It's a useful tool for creating a magic night but it should be used sparingly, and you should never ever ever tell your partner(s) that you just did it.

Yes. This.

Tiki Snakes
2011-01-04, 11:46 PM
Fudging dice rolls is a bit like faking orgasms. It's a useful tool for creating a magic night but it should be used sparingly, and you should never ever ever tell your partner(s) that you just did it.

That and it's usually much more difficult for one half of the equation to do than the other. :smallsmile:

Raum
2011-01-05, 12:01 AM
Sometimes the rattle of a dice, followed by an evil grin sent in a player's direction can ramp the tension up by an order of magnitude.Only if they think it's meaningful. See OP and others' comments about keeping the fudging hidden...


I'm sorry, but to me this is just hyperbole. Especially the second point.I don't think "hyperbole" means what you think it does...or can you show that list to be wild exaggeration?


Rolling a dice can be a dramatic effect, utterly meaningless other than the emotional response it triggers in the players sat round the table. The key being, if the players think it has meaning, it has meaning. How do they know you're rolling for dramatic effect rather than the result? See OP and others' comments about keeping the fudging hidden...


And if your players are acting as if they are suspicious of you, ask yourself what they are trying to hide. Are they dice bombing, roll snatching, lying about results or indulging in creative accountancy on their sheets?Err...not sure I understand this. To restate, you're saying "If your players are suspicious of you (as GM) fudging, they must be lying or otherwise hiding something." How in the world did the GM's actions get turned into the players' fault?


The point being, if your players don't trust you to make sure they have a good time, how are you to trust them to make sure that you have a good time?

Trust is very much a two way street, after all.Trust is harder to earn than to lose. Get caught lying once and it will take far more 'truths' and, more importantly, no more falsehoods before you earn back the trust you threw away with a lie.


So rather than fudge a roll, you would take something away from the players? Something that most players find very satisfying, as it comes up very rarely.A) This is a false dilemma. B) If it is "satisfying" why are you fudging it? C) It's a house rule. If you don't want it to apply to mooks, change the rule so only BBEGs and PCs have it. Or only PCs.

-----
Whether to "fudge", who can do so, and when should be things the group decides. You can go completely free form if you wish...whatever makes the group happy. It's only when one player (GM or not) does it arbitrarily or against expectations that you have issues.

Psyren
2011-01-05, 12:03 AM
My group follows the triple 20 rule, and we had one character lose 2 characters in one night to it. Random chance can 'consistently' work against someone, and that's exactly why a DM should fudge.

It's called bad luck, and maybe if you think you've never had a run of it you had a DM who was looking out for you :P

Analogies that begin with "my group" tend to be the exception rather than the norm, I find.

In my opinion, if your group uses strange houserules and falls victim to them, it only has itself to blame.

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 12:06 AM
Skipped over a few pages...
Would this be a bad time to point out that a character A) knows who is attempting to resurrect them; and B) has the option of declining?That was actually going to be the basis of my method of removing my DMPC from the game, but then they insisted that they wanted her to stay, so I have acquiesced. Anyway, yes, that would be a possibility, but I trust that my players will do what's good for the story, and the characters are optimistic enough for it to not go against roleplay. But, yes, that is a point in favour of capture rather than death... But then I don't get to have my threat of (something worded better than) "I spent a lot of money having you resurrected. If you don't do this task, I will require a refund."

That's why we use dice, though. Otherwise -ultimately- you might as well just tell the players what happens and discard any random factor.
The sole purpose of fudging is to avoid an undesired outcome.
If you don't desire an outcome, why are you rolling to see if it will happen?
If you can't bear any number on the die coming up then don't roll dice!I already covered this way back: We do not simply make up every single roll. We tweak things in one way or the other, a tiny bit, occasionally. It's not "I expect the PCs to lose this encounter. They're winning, so I'll fudge to make sure they lose." or "this encounter is taking too long and the players are losing so I'll make the enemy fail every single check" or "this encounter is too easy. Natural 20s all the way!".
Most often, it's "I expect the PCs to lose this encounter. They're losing, but I don't want them to feel like they got crushed, so I'll make it last a bit longer" or "I expect the PCs to lose this encounter but they're wiping the floor with it. I'd like them to have at least SOME challenge from it, so I'll add some more HP or whatever" or "I expected this encounter to be easy, but it's taking way too long and the players are starting to lose interest. I'll take away some HP or whatever".
FUDGING DOES NOT REPLACE DICE ROLLS. I cannot stress this enough, and it would be nice if people stopped insisting on this. Fudging is a single paddle-stroke to ease a canoe in a swift current through a particularly treacherous patch. It is NOT - or at the very least should not be - a motorboat towing the canoe to avoid the rapids altogether, no matter what you like to claim.

There's not. He can tweak the DC all he wants! In fact he sets it in the first place, but once it's set and someone has rolled he doesn't get to change his mind because he doesn't like the outcome.Yes he does. Because he's the DM.

valadil
2011-01-05, 12:11 AM
"I expect the PCs to lose this encounter but they're wiping the floor with it. I'd like them to have at least SOME challenge from it, so I'll add some more HP or whatever"


Another way to add HP is to have reinforcements show up. If the players wipe the floor with 6 guards, the other two that come running in from down the hall are just more HP. For some odd reason the anti fudge crowd (usually, from what I've read) frowns on enemies receiving free Toughness feats, but is okay with reinforcements. I see them as functionally equivalent, which is why I've been able to justify certain amounts of fudging.

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 12:20 AM
Another way to add HP is to have reinforcements show up. If the players wipe the floor with 6 guards, the other two that come running in from down the hall are just more HP. For some odd reason the anti fudge crowd (usually, from what I've read) frowns on enemies receiving free Toughness feats, but is okay with reinforcements. I see them as functionally equivalent, which is why I've been able to justify certain amounts of fudging.Yes, that too. If when planning the encounter you determined that there would be X number of enemies turning up at Y times, and then during the encounter you change that number - more or less - then that's fudging. And that's also something I have done.

Vknight
2011-01-05, 12:21 AM
I don't fudge often.
It's all a matter of combining good story telling with a realistic playing experience. To much fudging & the game becomes a railroad. No fudging & that villain of your just got 1hit by the Bard first round of combat.

Example of goo Fudging
Fudging saved my players in a Star Wars game.
The Human Jedi & Droid Soldier got flanked by 2 Vibro-Droids for each.
I proceeded to roll a crit for each Droid & max damage. This would have killed both of them so I decided that they took a normal hit from the droids.

Britter
2011-01-05, 12:24 AM
Yes he does. Because he's the DM.

I disagree with this. The DM does not, in my opinion, have carte blanche to invalidate a rolled result because the DM dislikes an outcome anymore then a player does.

In other words, if you as the DM are going to occasionally alter things to make them come out the way you want them too, you should extend the players the same authority. Some systems do just this (7th Sea with it's drama dice mechanic come immediately to mind).

Edit: I should note that adjusting numbers in a conflict, having reinforcements arrive, or complicating the situation are all fine in my opinion. I feel that the DM is in fact supposed to do things like that to keep a game interesting. After all, when you are running the game it is just your one brain against the players combined, so you can not reasonably be expected to think of everything.

But, for me, once a test is called for the DMs job becomes that of impartial arbiter. No matter how the roll comes up, the DM doesn't have the authority to change events to invalidate player success or minimize player failure. By doing so, the players ability to feel like their choices matter is negatively impacted.

The above is of course all my opinion. ymmv.

Raum
2011-01-05, 12:28 AM
Another way to add HP is to have reinforcements show up. If the players wipe the floor with 6 guards, the other two that come running in from down the hall are just more HP. For some odd reason the anti fudge crowd (usually, from what I've read) frowns on enemies receiving free Toughness feats, but is okay with reinforcements. I see them as functionally equivalent, which is why I've been able to justify certain amounts of fudging.At a purely meta-game level they are probably equivalent. However, I wouldn't classify this as fudging. My definition of fudging is essentially "misrepresenting a die roll result".

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 12:31 AM
Out of curiosity, is everyone posting here who objects to fudging when it is in the players' favor (seeing that as cheating players out of an honest win or loss) equally outraged at the idea of fudging against the players to make some encounters more difficult (assuming in this case that the final outcome of those encounters remains unchanged)?

Yes. Already stated as much, but boosting an encounter that would otherwise be "too easy" is no different than nerfing an encounter that would otherwise be "too hard".

A mistake is a mistake, and removing player agency happens regardless.



Movies and RPGs are not the same, just as books and movies are not the same(and those are both passive!) A great many books fail utterly when adapted to a movie, and even those that work, well...they require a great deal of adaptation. The same is true for roleplaying games. You can draw inspiration from other works, but they're very different mediums. And frankly, Die Hard was still more complex than "grind down the heroes hp before facing the end boss". In fact, that sounds like a pretty terrible movie plat.



There's also an underlying assumption in a lot of anti-fudging posts that seems to assume that in the games where DMs fudge dice, the dice are the only means of the player affecting the game.

They are A means of affecting the game. Im pretty sure the emphasis on "only" is not really a focal point here.


I know some of you have asked that if you fudge the dice, then why have them at all, but I think that's creating a false dichotomy where the dice are either completely necessary or completely unnecessary, which isn't the case. For the most part I like the randomness the dice bring, but not always.

Go back and reread. Either a die is rolled, or it is not. There is no rolling of a partial die. Nobody ever stated that you HAVE to roll dice for everything, or play a diceless system. That would be ridiculous. You use dice when you need randomness. When you don't need randomness, you don't need to use dice.

The triple 20 thing that everyone keeps mentioning...yeah, that's not standard D&D. It's an optional rule that explicitly warns that using it means players will randomly keel over dead, and it hurts them most. If triple 20s are a problem....don't add them to your game?



How do they know you're rolling for dramatic effect rather than the result?

And if your players are acting as if they are suspicious of you, ask yourself what they are trying to hide. Are they dice bombing, roll snatching, lying about results or indulging in creative accountancy on their sheets?

The point being, if your players don't trust you to make sure they have a good time, how are you to trust them to make sure that you have a good time?

Trust is very much a two way street, after all.

You respond to suspicion with accusations? This seems unlikely to help matters at all. If trust is indeed a two way street, and you expect your players to trust you, perhaps you shouldn't deceive them?

Er, fudging is blatantly obvious, most of the time. Some DMs manage to make it merely suspicious. The length of time they look at the dice. The way they respond. Even with no other cues, humans are very good at picking up on lies and deception. Consider the importance placed on bluffing in professional poker playing, and the commonality of sunglasses in such settings, and that requires no actual lie be told at all. Yes, every DM thinks that he is exceptional, and nobody notices his cheating...but tbh, players, even when they blatantly see cheating, are often hesitant to call someone out on it. Causes waves, nobody wants to do that. But, the secret is out. And once someone thinks you're cheating, it's fairly hard to make that suspicion go away.

Plus, there's the fact that non-random results are remarkably easy to detect to anyone who pays attention to rolls. Players tend to pay a great deal of attention to rolls that directly impact things like if their character dies or not.

Britter, I agree. Definitely potential for a theoretical discussion on the role of dice(pun intended) and randomness in gaming and game systems.

I agree that fudging can take different forms than die roll modification or ignoring. Some of these other methods are also bad, but there's a fuzzy line before we get into improv territory. What round the additional guards show up is somewhat of a judgement call, and can easily be modified due to player actions. I'd rather limit this discussion to obvious definitions of fudging like ignoring rolled results. Otherwise, it becomes another thread that ends with everyone arguing over details of a definition.

Also, yes. 7th Sea Drama Dice is imo the best system for resolving this. I've used it, or modified versions of it, in other systems as well with excellent results. There's a reason that, a decade after the system is out of print, people are still hosting games for it, and the books still sell for hefty prices(try finding a copy of swordsman's guild for under $150), and the attention put into narrative control is a big part of that.

Edit: Just going to toss it out there, but having a notorious villain die horribly(say, one round of combat or less) due to ridiculous luck isn't automatically a bad thing. I find that those tend to be the stories players tell. The tales that get repeated are invariably about the unusual events. Luck can sometimes make for great stories, and players do like seeing their characters pull off crazy stuff once in a while.

BG
2011-01-05, 12:32 AM
The question still remains...why roll at all in those situations where you want a given outcome?

I'll ask for such rolls only if I can phrase the success / fail into something interesting for both success and failure. Otherwise the PCs simply act successfully.

Again, fudging isn't something I do all the time. I pretty much only use it in very specific kinds of games, and even then it's only done rarely.

I still use the dice because there are a lot of outcomes between complete success and TPK, and if the players are being smart but getting killed by bad luck, I'll fudge a little. They are probably still not going to complete whatever objective they were trying to accomplish, but I'll try and keep from killing them all.

I will again reiterate that I do not do this often, and I do have some kinds of games where there's no fudging at all.

olentu
2011-01-05, 12:37 AM
Personally I have found that I dislike fudging since it to a greater or lesser degree removes the effect of choices and in so doing makes the choices have much less meaning generally to the point of making them meaningless.

Theodoriph
2011-01-05, 12:45 AM
It's not just attack rolls. PCs can be incredibly dumb. It's often necessary to fudge DCs, saves, damage etc. to prevent them from killing themselves.

Moreover telling the PCs what happens isn't as satisfying to them as having a chance of failure, but succeeding.

E.g. PCs running after gang of people. They're about 100m behind. The gang crosses a rope bridge. The PCs follow them. The gang cuts the ropes supporting the bridge.

Sure I could tell the PCs that they made their reflex save to avoid plummetting to their deaths. But most people would feel more satisfied if I rolled a reflex save for them and then told them they succeeded, regardless of the actual die result. It's the literary equivalent of telling v. showing.


There are other ways to fudge of course, many of which have been mentioned.

A monster intelligent enough to target the same PC? PC getting low on health? Have him attack the PC, and bash him on the head, stunning the PC for a few rounds. This takes the PC out of the fight for a short while giving the monster a logical reason to start targetting another PC and allowing the PC to heal themselves after recovering from the stun.

Sense motive checks often require fudging. PCs don't always put points into sense motive, and it's irritating when they go off of on multiple useless tangents in the same session because they keep failing.


Example:

PCs sent on a minor side quest to collect a debt for the thieves gold in a village a few days from the castle. When they arrive, the person tells them someone has already been around to collect the gold. The PCs fail their sense motive check and believe him. They go back to town and get chewed out by the thieves guild. When they go back, the guy has packed up and left.

Later in that session, the PCs enter the minor villain's lair. When they reach they clear out the dungeon, they find him asleep in a bed. I meant for them to capture him. They wake him up with a sword to his throat. He does what anyone would do. He lies. He tells them that he was captured and forced to work under threat as a servant for the MBEG. He claims his master isn't in the lair but is travelling to X village. The PCs ask to roll a sense motive. The PCs fail their sense motive check. They let him go.

At this point I was getting annoyed by the PCs naivety, so I started fudging their sense motive rolls here and there if it would be better for the story for things to go their way. (I also spent a good 10 minutes openly laughing at them).

Britter
2011-01-05, 12:47 AM
Britter, I agree. Definitely potential for a theoretical discussion on the role of dice(pun intended) and randomness in gaming and game systems.

I agree that fudging can take different forms than die roll modification or ignoring. Some of these other methods are also bad, but there's a fuzzy line before we get into improv territory. What round the additional guards show up is somewhat of a judgement call, and can easily be modified due to player actions. I'd rather limit this discussion to obvious definitions of fudging like ignoring rolled results. Otherwise, it becomes another thread that ends with everyone arguing over details of a definition.

Also, yes. 7th Sea Drama Dice is imo the best system for resolving this. I've used it, or modified versions of it, in other systems as well with excellent results. There's a reason that, a decade after the system is out of print, people are still hosting games for it, and the books still sell for hefty prices(try finding a copy of swordsman's guild for under $150), and the attention put into narrative control is a big part of that.



I agree that limiting the discussion to mechanical fudging is probably best. And I also think you are right on in that some of the non-roll-based fudging/altering of an in-game situation can lead to some very bad places. The nefarious DMPC is such an item (one which also leads to near endless debate about what is in fact a true Scotsman).

I may very well start up a thread regarding the role of rolls in gaming. I think that it is a major issue. I am very fond of the way the the Burning Wheel frames the issue. The system puts a strong emphasis on distinguishing the task from the intent, minimizes the sheer amount of rolls that occur in a situation, and protects both success and failure very effectively.

Really, I feel that most peoples games would be improved by thinking extensively about why they call for a dice roll, when they call for a dice roll, and what the implications of the roll are. Once you and your table have come to a similar view on those items and selected a gaming system that supports that view, the need for fudging is eliminated in my experience.

Glyde
2011-01-05, 01:01 AM
I have two sides of the coin, here. For example, fudging skill checks should not be done. There should ALWAYS be an alternative. Not being able to progress because of a failed sense motive? That's not good.


However, fudging things, particularly just with dice, is at discretion. It really depends on if there's something being done that deserves a saving grace. Rule-of-cool often beats out rolling all sixes for falling damage in my games.

BG
2011-01-05, 01:07 AM
Go back and reread. Either a die is rolled, or it is not. There is no rolling of a partial die. Nobody ever stated that you HAVE to roll dice for everything, or play a diceless system. That would be ridiculous. You use dice when you need randomness. When you don't need randomness, you don't need to use dice.

See, partial dice rolls are generally the way that I fudge.

For example, I have a player low on hit points through a series of lucky hits and an Ogre takes a with a greatclub. When I roll for that Ogre, I will honor every roll of the die that isn't a 20. If the Ogre rolls a 19, the player is hit, and will probably be in the negatives, but he won't be instantly dead. If the Ogre doesn't roll high enough to actually hit, then it's a miss. That's how and when I would fudge.

I will again emphasize that these fudges only occur when an otherwise smart player has a run of bad luck, and only in certain games. Like I said before, I still like having the randomness there because there is a wide variety of outcomes that exists on the spectrum between "complete success" and "TPK".

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 01:08 AM
I have two sides of the coin, here. For example, fudging skill checks should not be done. There should ALWAYS be an alternative. Not being able to progress because of a failed sense motive? That's not good.Yeah, my "fudging" in that regard generally comes down to DM fiat, usually when there's a "want" rather than a "need" sort of thing. So, for example, during downtime a character wants to make something fancy which would be really nice to have in the game. I might have them make a roll or two, but often, even if it wouldn't really be allowed RAW, I more or less let them take 20 by saying that they're in the middle of a city and can find whatever help they need, you can do what you're trying to do. However, that often also means that you won't have something really, really good quality or whatever that you'd get from a very good dice roll.
A slightly more "fudgy" example might be if getting out of an area relies on succeeding on a Survival check. If there's too many bad rolls, I'll just say something like "you wander around for X number of hours/days until finally you get your bearings and make your way out".
Dunno if they really count as fudging, though, especiallys as they're not really secret most of the time.

Britter
2011-01-05, 01:10 AM
Maybe it's just me, but this idea of "progress" in a game being impeded by failures is a little off-putting. Frankly, I have had more fun with players going off on their own, way off the rails, because of a failed test. They make assumptions, bad choices, and all matter of decisions based on false information. They get in trouble with all the wrong people, head off in interesting directions, and seek out solutions to problems that sometimes aren't there. The moment where they realize how wrong they are is usually an awesome one, and can lead to a struggle to resolve the issues they created and try to fight back to the solving the problem that they had missed due to the original failure.

There is enormous potential in a game that is about rectifying your own mistakes or overcoming your own failures. Instead of always making the correct decision, allowing a failure to stand and allowing the players to fail opens the door for characters to overcome interesting circumstances in interesting ways.

Once you have a meaningful failure, a game practically writes itself.

Mind you, the same applies to a meaningful success.

Glyde
2011-01-05, 01:11 AM
A failure usually has opportunity for furthering the campaign in it. A failed reflex save off a collapsing bridge causes the party to be stranded. A failed survival check gets them not back to the trail or town, but stumbling on abandoned ruins / orc camp / etc. In the case of crafting, that's usually something I go by the rules for.

Britter
2011-01-05, 01:24 AM
A slightly more "fudgy" example might be if getting out of an area relies on succeeding on a Survival check. If there's too many bad rolls, I'll just say something like "you wander around for X number of hours/days until finally you get your bearings and make your way out".
Dunno if they really count as fudging, though, especiallys as they're not really secret most of the time.


This is a great example of a missed opportunity due to fudging, imo. I am not picking on you Serpentine, so please don't take any of this personally. I just want to use this as an example to illustrate why I dislike this sort of fudging. I also realize that I have no idea of what the context of this event was, so really I am using this as an opportunity to make a general example, not address you directly.

In the situation you describe above, what exactly was as issue with the players failing the survival check? Would they have died? Would it just have taken extra time to get where they had to be? Was something time sensitive at stake?

If there was no conflict, then you can simply say "You wander around for a few hours/days and then you find your way" and skip the dice rolls and the need to fudge. Save the table time and the rolls for something that actually mattered.

HOWEVER, if there was a time sensitive issue, say for example that you as the GM had planned a story involving the players dealing with an assassination attempt on a major npc. The players knew that an assassin was going to attack and likely kill an important npc at a certain time, then this survival test begins to really matter. If they succede, they will get there in time, potentially foil the plot, and the story procedes as you had hoped/intended.

If they fail, however, things have gotten interesting. They will have to deal with the results of not being around to prevent the death. They will have to investigate the murder, chase the assassin down, learn whats going on, all without the aid of the npc. They may feel guilty for not being there to prevent this thing. They may become motivated to overcome the lack of skill that kept them from preventing the assassination in the first place.

By allowing the failure to not only stand but to have MEANING, you can add interesting, intense, and worthwhile elements to your games that are lost if you insist on calling for unnecessary rolls and then fudging the results of those rolls.



Glyde, I completely agree. Failure can make a good game into a great game.

Theodoriph
2011-01-05, 01:27 AM
A failure usually has opportunity for furthering the campaign in it. A failed reflex save off a collapsing bridge causes the party to be stranded. A failed survival check gets them not back to the trail or town, but stumbling on abandoned ruins / orc camp / etc. In the case of crafting, that's usually something I go by the rules for.

If your PCs survive falling from a bridge, you're probably already fudging ;)

Glyde
2011-01-05, 01:29 AM
If your PCs survive falling from a bridge, you're probably already fudging ;)



Depends on the height of the bridge, and quality of the landing.

Theodoriph
2011-01-05, 01:34 AM
Depends on the height of the bridge, and quality of the landing.

Obviously. Don't forget that is also depends on your PCs armor check penalties if it's over water and the depth of said water, and whether it's actually water, not acid... ;)

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 01:41 AM
Britter: None of the above, really. The two events I had in mind, I don't think there actually was any fudging involved. The first was just a "test" for my character - she had to survive in the wilderness and find her way home. She was all on her own right at the beginning of the campaign - so no impact on other characters or particular events - but her completing the task was kinda necessary for her to join the game at all. And then she got a great big string of bad Survival checks which started a long history of screwing up Survival checks to not get lost. It SHOULD have been a simple task, nothing but a lead-in to the game. But instead it was just frustrating. I can't remember whether the then-DM declared that she just eventually found her way out or whether I finally rolled well enough to do it on my own (note: with every failure, it was harder to succed). Either way, it would have been a suitable point for a "you make your way out".
The other example I think I did just barely manage to get a good enough roll when it most mattered. The longer we stayed in a particular forest the more likely it was that we would all fade into nothingness. One character damn near did, and was only just barely able to be pulled back - because, I suspect, of the DM fudging the rules of this particular effect. I think that the only reason my final Survival check was good enough for us to escape was because the DM lowered the DC slightly. It would have really sucked to get a TPK just because the Ranger with maxed-out Survival had a seriously bad sense of direction.

Basically, with your own examples, it just depends on the situation. If it was time-sensitive, no, I probably wouldn't fudge it. But it depends on the particular adventure and event.

edit:
The two events I had in mind, I don't think there actually was any fudging involved.Obviously I changed my mind as I was writing this... Be fair, this happened several years ago, my memory's pretty fuzzy about it,

Britter
2011-01-05, 01:48 AM
No worries, and thank you for the details. Really, the point I was making is that, assuming you only call for rolls when there is a reason for success of failure to matter, and you are impartial about allowing the result of the rolls to stand, the players choices and decisions acquire narrative weight. Your example gave me a jumping off point to expand on my personal approach to the process.

Thanks again for the clarifications.

I am starting to post more on the nature of rolls and their role in games, so I might just have to break down and start another thread on that issue.

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 01:51 AM
The thing is, when we say "it can be okay/appropriate to fudge a roll/DC/value/whatever on this occasion", that doesn't mean we will every time, or often, or sometimes, or Hell, even at all when it comes right down to it. All it means is that "this can be an appropriate circumstance for fudging". Nothing more.

Golden-Esque
2011-01-05, 01:53 AM
DMs do not fight the system, they ARE the system.
It's not the DMs that fudge dice, it's the dice that refuse to do their part in the DM's grand scheme of things.
Sometimes those pesky cubes, tetrahedrons and icosahedrons need to be reminded who is in charge!
:smallbiggrin:

Couldn't have said it better myself. :smallcool:

Grelna the Blue
2011-01-05, 02:13 AM
Out of curiosity, is everyone posting here who objects to fudging when it is in the players' favor (seeing that as cheating players out of an honest win or loss) equally outraged at the idea of fudging against the players to make some encounters more difficult (assuming in this case that the final outcome of those encounters remains unchanged)?

Yes. Already stated as much, but boosting an encounter that would otherwise be "too easy" is no different than nerfing an encounter that would otherwise be "too hard".

A mistake is a mistake, and removing player agency happens regardless.

[snip]

I agree that fudging can take different forms than die roll modification or ignoring. Some of these other methods are also bad, but there's a fuzzy line before we get into improv territory. What round the additional guards show up is somewhat of a judgement call, and can easily be modified due to player actions. I'd rather limit this discussion to obvious definitions of fudging like ignoring rolled results. Otherwise, it becomes another thread that ends with everyone arguing over details of a definition.

I do agree with you on one thing in this debate. It think it is a mistake (although not a sin) for GMs to mess with die rolls. As you said in another part of your post, players will notice and they enjoy their illusions of winning against the odds. However, although that isn't the only reason I don't fudge rolls (I do think there is some value added from randomness), it is very much the primary reason. I firmly believe that it is occasionally a GM's duty to "adjust" the outcome of a fight. Just because I think there are far better ways to do it than by lying about the result of a die roll doesn't mean I don't still consider it fudging.

I don't mind the players thinking I relish the taste of their sweet, sweet tears--I rather like them thinking that, actually--but in point of fact I don't. What I want is a good story. I tell part of it; they tell part of it. The GM can affect the story, the game, and the PCs in so many far more profound ways that nudging the outcome in a fight is near the bottom of the list in importance. Further, unless the GM is working from published material (written by people with NO knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the PCs in question), he or she created every encounter in the first place with the intent of challenging the PCs to a certain degree. Attempting to influence a fight in which the dice have gone haywire (through no fault or to no credit of the PCs' tactics and actions) to more closely match that planned-for level of challenge is not even close to a mortal sin, unless the players notice.

I don't believe most players actually want GMs to play the part of a computer in a fight scene the GM orchestrated beforehand. The GM's job is certainly not to guarantee a party's success, but neither is it to roleplay a world in which the PCs' story truly doesn't matter and they get no special breaks, ever. It might be argued that some players are up to and in fact WANT the challenge of succeeding in such an impartial world, but it is an illusory goal. In a truly impartial, uncaring world encounters would frequently (not just sometimes) be level inappropriate and powerful and intelligent villains wouldn't be balanced to be (hopefully) just within a party's capabilities to defeat.

As stated, I don't mess with die rolls but I do sometimes alter monster stats midfight, although it is more common for me to come up with in-game reasons for monsters to adjust to tactics that are a touch more or less optimal than would be usual. It's only a slightly more subtle way of getting the outcome I want than fudging a die roll would be. However, if I were to completely forswear the practice of nudging results then combats would instantly become both potentially more deadly and simultaneously far more boring because some fights would be over far too quickly (often boring) and too many others would involve PKs that weren't significant to the overall plot (also boring). I don't run a game in which coming back from the dead is something that is a casual option. Frequently it's not an option at all. I do infrequently get dead PCs in my game either from PC stupidity or because the dice absolutely insisted on their pound of flesh, leaving no wiggle room. The stupidity I can't help, but I can at least limit the Dice Gods to only an occasional sacrifice.

I encourage ALL die roll-fudging GMs to learn to be more subtle in their approach and abandon dice rolls as their preferred method, but only because I think fudging is a important skill that all GMs should master and messing with die rolls is amateurish.

R. Shackleford
2011-01-05, 02:24 AM
Dice rolls are only binding to the players.

For the DM dice rolls are hidden and open to interpretation. Unless it's funnier the other way.

I think coming from a background of competitive gaming, our group always assume the dynamic is PCs vs. DM in some way or another, and not happy fun story time where everyone works toward a happy ending and goes to Pizza Hut afterward. The only absolutes in regards to interpreting the dice is a 20 or a 1. So, the expectation is that the game itself is against them. Plus in 4e, its really damn hard to kill players anyway, so fudging dice in the DMs favor doesn't seem to be that unreasonable.

But, everyone's different.

olentu
2011-01-05, 03:25 AM
Dice rolls are only binding to the players.

For the DM dice rolls are hidden and open to interpretation. Unless it's funnier the other way.

I think coming from a background of competitive gaming, our group always assume the dynamic is PCs vs. DM in some way or another, and not happy fun story time where everyone works toward a happy ending and goes to Pizza Hut afterward. The only absolutes in regards to interpreting the dice is a 20 or a 1. So, the expectation is that the game itself is against them. Plus in 4e, its really damn hard to kill players anyway, so fudging dice in the DMs favor doesn't seem to be that unreasonable.

But, everyone's different.

Er if it is PCs versus DM and the DM can change any roll they want would that not mean that the DM always wins unless deliberately choosing to lose.

ffone
2011-01-05, 03:31 AM
DM fudging impinges game enjoyment when it starts to influence player and PC behavior - i.e. it encourages metagaming. This usually happens b/c it's too frequent and/or has predictability too it. Certain DMs gravitate to certain tropes, like giving the BBEG Plot Armor vs save or lose spells, or wanting targets or Scrying to make their Will save b/c it pierces the planned plot progression, etc.

Drascin
2011-01-05, 05:38 AM
Personally, as has been mentioned in other threads (we kind of have got into this argument at length several times, so I'm not going to repeat everything), I fudge. Not continuously, but I certainly do - turn a crit into a hit, or conveniently "forget" about some option the baddie has, or ignore a rule that would kill the character in the current situation. This is particularly important in games that aren't D&D, because in most games you don't get resurrection, so death isn't a time-out but a sentence to spend two hours making a new character while I scramble trying to find some way it'd make sense for your new guy to get into the party.

But, to be honest, this preference for fudging is one I have on both sides of the screen. I don't want to play with a GM that is completely adamant about following the rules, and a GM straight up telling me that he intends to let the dice rule the game is going to make me politely bow out. I have already had too many bad experiences with the kind of "excitement" strict adherence to dice causes.

Myth
2011-01-05, 05:59 AM
Dang, don't have the time to read this 7 page thread. I have a question for you guys though (sorry if it's been discussed already). How do you feel about "custcene mode". Not fudging, but stuff happens without any die rolls present. Such as a NPC getting skewered off screen or by a spell (but the DM doesn't roll the save etc.)

Do you do it as a DM? Would you be angry if you knew the DM does this as a player? Naturally this does not include anything relating to the PCs, just NPC to NPC.

Earthwalker
2011-01-05, 06:32 AM
I have fudged dice in the past, I imagine I will again in the future who can say.
I have certainly changed from where I began, my next pathfinder campaign I am planning on rolling as few dice as possible. Letting the player roll a defense roll as opposed to me rolling to hit them, so they will know what has happened.

I also plan on adding a mechanice to allow players a certain number of rerolls or roll adjustments using a plot point system I am calling grit.

I plan on making the skill rolls more complicated so they produce levels of success, it will still be possible to fail completely but less likly.

What has me boggled is Glug having problems with Shadowrun and the need for the GM to fudge dice. I would like clarification if the OP thinks the dice are being fudge in the players favour or the GMs. The shadowrun system itself does have an inbuilt mechanic for altering dice rolls and keeping the PCs alive.

Raum
2011-01-05, 08:57 AM
It's not just attack rolls. PCs can be incredibly dumb. It's often necessary to fudge DCs, saves, damage etc. to prevent them from killing themselves.They can afford to "be incredibly dumb" when you're saving them from themselves.

My group recently sank an ironclad (Deadlands) in spite of being outnumbered (5:12) and outgunned (pistols, rifles, shotguns, and some hand placed dynamite vs two gatling guns and a cannon plus the individual weapons). They had a couple casualties and took some damage but only one of their opponents managed to escape...and they have an ironclad under 20-40 feet of water one of them wants to try recovering. They accomplished this through good planning and managed to pull it off in spite of a couple set backs in the combat itself.

All of that was with the dice rolled in the open.

Give your players a chance, they might surprise you! (I honestly thought they'd be forced to run from the ironclad once the cannon opened up.)

The Valiant Turtle
2011-01-05, 09:19 AM
Personally I have found that I dislike fudging since it to a greater or lesser degree removes the effect of choices and in so doing makes the choices have much less meaning generally to the point of making them meaningless.

I strongly disagree with this. When done correctly fudging greatly enhances the effect of choices and diminishes the effect of dumb luck.

It's important to realize that almost every system introduces far more randomness than we have in real life. Consider Olympic level athletes. If we tried to stat them up in any system their bonuses would all certainly be within a hairs breadth of each other. If we assume d20 it's likely that there probably wouldn't be more than +3 difference between any 2 athletes. In d20 world every competition would basically be won by whoever rolls 20 and there would be wildly different winners all the time. This isn't what we see in the real world. Fudging is a way to make the fantasy world a little more realistic.

The Big Dice
2011-01-05, 09:28 AM
This thread really boils down to a simple question.

Who is in control of a game session, the GM or the dice?

I know who is on control of events when I GM a session. I can't say about other people, but if you want to abrogate responsibility for actions, results and situations, that's for you and your group to decide.

Personally, I've seen too many campaigns torn apart by the wrong character dying because of allowing the dice to make decisions that are really the GM's responsibility. There are times when the dice are going to give you the absolute worst possible result that you could ever dream of.

And if you're not prepared to sacrifice your campaign to the whim of the dice, then why are you complaining that some GMs treat the rolls as guidelines?

Psyx
2011-01-05, 09:35 AM
They can afford to "be incredibly dumb" when you're saving them from themselves.

+1

Choices must have repercussions. Otherwise it's all aboard the plot choochootrain.

As regards cut-scenes, I sometimes use them, but only when I'm 100% sure that it represents the character correctly. There's nothing worse than a GM describing a cut-scene and players cutting in that just makes no sense for the character to act in that manner, or makes them look a jack-ass. Cut-scenes should be cool.

I typically would use one in the closing stages of the party massacring some mooks, at the point where their desire for rolling dice and blood is sated and their victory is inevitable. Or in an action-packed game with the party moving between locations and involved in a running battle that is blatantly going to go their way, such as moving through a town mid-riot, with people accosting them with things that are of no real threat. Or after delivering what should be on paper the killing blow to a great foe/BBEG I'll switch to narrative combat and describe the player-team finishing them and their minions off.

It's generally good not to use expendable items (ammunition, spells etc) in such scenes unless you are once again 100% sure that the player would have used them.

The WORST use of a cut-scene I've ever seen was during a bodyguard scenario. We'd pretty much finished, rolled up in the train station to get out and -instead of the GM painstakingly putting us through the minutae of our protection procedures for the twentieth time - he switched to narrative, had us step out of the train in a manner that was completely different to the way we'd got out of EVERY vehicle since the job had started, and had our principle gunned down in front of us, without so much as a perception test. Worst. Cut-scene. Ever.

Totally Guy
2011-01-05, 09:46 AM
I know who is on control of events when I GM a session.

The Big Dice?

:smalltongue:



What has me boggled is Glug having problems with Shadowrun and the need for the GM to fudge dice. I would like clarification if the OP thinks the dice are being fudge in the players favour or the GMs. The shadowrun system itself does have an inbuilt mechanic for altering dice rolls and keeping the PCs alive.

Not really sure what you mean. I think the dice are probably being fudged in my favour sometimes. And sometimes in favour of the GM. But either of those things make me feel edgy. There's a game in the somewhere and my attempts to play it might be obstructed.

What mechanic are you talking about?

The Big Dice
2011-01-05, 09:47 AM
The Big Dice?

:smalltongue:

Think about the implications of my screen name for a bit :smallwink:

Totally Guy
2011-01-05, 09:56 AM
Think about the implications of my screen name for a bit :smallwink:

I don't get it.:smallconfused:

olentu
2011-01-05, 10:01 AM
I strongly disagree with this. When done correctly fudging greatly enhances the effect of choices and diminishes the effect of dumb luck.

It's important to realize that almost every system introduces far more randomness than we have in real life. Consider Olympic level athletes. If we tried to stat them up in any system their bonuses would all certainly be within a hairs breadth of each other. If we assume d20 it's likely that there probably wouldn't be more than +3 difference between any 2 athletes. In d20 world every competition would basically be won by whoever rolls 20 and there would be wildly different winners all the time. This isn't what we see in the real world. Fudging is a way to make the fantasy world a little more realistic.

It still replaces the result of the players choice with something different. Now sure the system may not model real life absolutely accurately but the players choice was to take that action within the system (with all its flaws and virtues) and take the outcome whatever it would be by the dice. The fudging does remove the outcome of the players choice and substitute something different.

Now if this were freeform or something of the sort that would be a different matter as the outcome of the players choice is the same as the personal opinion of the DM since the player chose to attempt that action in the freeform environment and take the outcome whatever it would be by the DM. Thus while still the personal opinion of the DM the outcome of the players choice has not been deleted and replaced with something different.

Emmerask
2011-01-05, 10:04 AM
+1

Choices must have repercussions. Otherwise it's all aboard the plot choochootrain.

And why do you think fudging rolls means that there are no repercussions for actions? Infact rolling a random number to see if there are repercussions at all for an action does (potentially) take it away, not the other way around :smallwink:


The fudging does remove the outcome of the players choice and substitute something different.

So the players choose what number to roll before they roll? That is news to me

Britter
2011-01-05, 10:06 AM
Call me nuts, but I don't think a dice roll should be made until the player knows the consequences for failure (obviously, in a multi-roll combat, this is not exactly possible). If the player is aware of the choice they are making, the stand they are taking, and the risks of failure, then many of these issues of "random chance made the wrong thing happen" go away.

Additionally, if you say, up front to the player, "This bad thing will happen if you fail, but if you succede you will achieve your intent" you give the player the opportunity to determine if the risk of failing is worth it for them.

A generic example. The kidnappers have cut down the small rope bridge over the chasm. The player wishes to leap over the gap, in order to continue his pursuit. The test is a jump check, natch. Before the roll is made, the DM says "The DC of this roll is x. If you make the roll, you cross the gap, all is right with the world, the chase continues. If you fail, you are going to fall 20 feet into the river below, take appropriate damage, and you will have to swim for the shore. You will most likely lose track of the kidnappers." The player can choose to take the risk, can ask if any of his items, abilities, or ideas might mitigate the difficulty of the roll, or can decide to go around another way, even though that will mean letting the kidnappers get away, at least in the short term. The player doesn't make any roll until the actual DC and appropriate bonuses are all known. The dice are played as they lie.

Mind you, my attitude is influenced by the system I play. In Burning Wheel, it is actually possible for a player to use different "plot points", cross-class skill mechanics, and even ask for helping dice from other players with an appropriate skill. In other words, if a roll matters a lot, and the consequences for failure are very bad, you can actually try harder to overcome the obstacle. Not all sytems support this.

The Big Dice
2011-01-05, 10:12 AM
I don't get it.:smallconfused:
The big dice that tells all the little dice in the pouch what's what? It's not the kind of gag I'd expect anyone but me to think was particularly funny, really.

It still replaces the result of the players choice with something different. Now sure the system may not model real life absolutely accurately but the players choice was to take that action within the system (with all its flaws and virtues) and take the outcome whatever it would be by the dice. The fudging does remove the outcome of the players choice and substitute something different.
I don't see how the dice are making the player's choice. The dice are what you use to determine an outcome when the result of an action is in doubt. And the players certainly don't choose for themselves to have a run of lousiy rolls, while the GM rolls nothing below a 17 for the entire fight. The players don't choose to be hit for max damage four times in one fight. The players don't choose to have three out of five characters killed while the group is deep underground trying to rescue the wife of one of the dead characters from the Drow slavers that took her.

That's all stuff that the dice decide and that the GM (or Big Dice as I might call the post if I ever write my own RPG) should be making the calls on.

Psyx
2011-01-05, 10:12 AM
And why do you think fudging rolls means that there are no repercussions for actions? Infact rolling a random number to see if there are repercussions at all for an action does take it away, not the other way around :smallwink:

I was referencing a GM fudging dice to protect PCs because 'the players were dumb'. Nothing tends to evaporate my sympathy like blatantly dumb choices, whereas I'd be much more tempted to fudge a dice roll if the players really thought about things, made an awesome plan which was about to fall flat on its face at the first dice roll.

Hmm... I should do that: Give players a number of re-rolls based on how good their plan is.

Britter
2011-01-05, 10:17 AM
I don't see how the dice are making the player's choice. The dice are what you use to determine an outcome when the result of an action is in doubt. And the players certainly don't choose for themselves to have a run of lousiy rolls, while the GM rolls nothing below a 17 for the entire fight. The players don't choose to be hit for max damage four times in one fight. The players don't choose to have three out of five characters killed while the group is deep underground trying to rescue the wife of one of the dead characters from the Drow slavers that took her.

That's all stuff that the dice decide and that the GM (or Big Dice as I might call the post if I ever write my own RPG) should be making the calls on.

But the players chose to fight. That should never be entered into lightly, and if fudging is done to eliminate the risk of failure and possibly death in the service of a heroic cause, then in many ways there is no point to having the fight. I, and many of the people I game with, would be glad to have a character die in a difficult fight for such an important cause as you indicate above. It would make the rescue heroic and interesting, it would let the surviving characters grieve or memorialize their fallen comrades, it gives extra impetous to the survivors to not let the sacrifice of their comrades be wasted.

By taking away the impact of their decision to fight for, and possibly die for, what matters to them, you have altered the value of their decision.

Again, my opinion only. And if what you do works for you, great. But I will continue to argue that if the consequences for failure and success are clear from the get go, fudging the dice kills the impact of difficult decisions.

Emmerask
2011-01-05, 10:20 AM
I was referencing a GM fudging dice to protect PCs because 'the players were dumb'. Nothing tends to evaporate my sympathy like blatantly dumb choices, whereas I'd be much more tempted to fudge a dice roll if the players really thought about things, made an awesome plan which was about to fall flat on its face at the first dice roll.

Hmm... I should do that: Give players a number of re-rolls based on how good their plan is.

True that is one possibility and in this case I do agree with you, but there are a number of other possibilities also:

The same dm deciding this plan is beyond stupid (lets just say it was the stupidest plan ever for the sake of argument) fudging the rolls to a failure

and on the strictly roll side:
A very very bad plan succeeding because of luck
A very very good plan failing because of random misfortune

Earthwalker
2011-01-05, 10:22 AM
The BigNot really sure what you mean. I think the dice are probably being fudged in my favour sometimes. And sometimes in favour of the GM. But either of those things make me feel edgy. There's a game in the somewhere and my attempts to play it might be obstructed.

What mechanic are you talking about?

I was talking about Edge.
Now this is from memory and I have played alot more Shadowrun 3 then 4, but you can use edge to add to dice rolls, and re-roll and I thought you could use it to buy off a glitch. So you have a in built mechanic to let the players fudge the dice (so to speak).

I would think fudging from the GMs point of view was unneeded.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 10:24 AM
Er if it is PCs versus DM and the DM can change any roll they want would that not mean that the DM always wins unless deliberately choosing to lose.

Pretty much. I don't understand the point of DM vs PC games in systems where the DM has limitless power. Great, you won D&D. Now let's play something fun.

Tiki Snakes
2011-01-05, 10:28 AM
Big Dice telling the Little Dice what's what is kind of a nice mental image, actually. :smallsmile:

"Now see here, yous guys!"

Emmerask
2011-01-05, 10:30 AM
In a game of dm vs pcs it really does not matter if the dm fudges or not the dm wins no matter what if he wants to.

Wow I really did not think you could save against the 3 sod spells in a row... well there are 3 more casters coming around the corner lets see if your luck holds... make another 3 saves :smallwink:

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 10:32 AM
Exactly. The system isn't meant for that kind of gameplay. Now, there are systems that are, and they can be a blast with such things, but D&D doesn't really place a lot of limits on the DM.

Yeah, fudging because "the players are too dumb" seems to be among the poorer reasons. A dumb action that always works isn't dumb, is it?

The Big Dice
2011-01-05, 10:32 AM
But the players choose to fight. That should never be entered into lightly, and if fudging is done to eliminate the risk of failure and possibly death in the service of a heroic cause, then in many ways there is no point to having the fight. I, and many of the people I game with, would be glad to die in a difficult fight for such an important cuase as you indicate above. It would make the rescue heroic and interesting, it would let the surviving characters grieve or memorialize their fallen comrades, it gives extra impetous to the survivors to not let the sacrifice of their comrades be wasted.
Would you be glad to die in an encounter that was supposed to do nothing more than show how hostile an environment the Underdark is?


By taking away the impact of their decision to fight for, and possibly die for, what matters to them, you have altered the value of their decision.
You are basing this on the assumption that you always have a choice of whether to fight or not. I've seen too many fights over pool tables, at taxi ranks and outside late night fast food joints to think that there's always a choice. Sometimes the choice is simply fight or get beaten up.

In a wilderness area, the choice can be fight or get eaten.

Otherwise, the GM is making the world revolve around the players. Which is far more unsatisfying to my sensibilities than the GM letting drama rather than a random number generator decide the outcome of an event.

[QUOTE=Britter;10099976]Again, my opinion only. And if what you do works for you, great. But I will continue to argue that if the consequences for failure and success are clear from the get go, fudging the dice kills the impact of difficult decisions.
Again, what have the dice got to do with decisions? The dice determine an outcome when a result is in doubt. They resolve "Bang, you're dead!" vs "No I'm not!"

However, there are situations where the dice will give an unsatisfying outcome to an event. In L5R, that could be rolling 6k2 for damage against a character and seeing five of those dice come up a 10. In D&D it could be rolling a crit against the last character standing at the end of a particularly hard fight. In GURPS it could be rolling a natural 3 followed by a 18 on the critical table.

as I've said before, if you are not prepared to gamble your entire campaign on a roll of the dice, then you should be prepared to have to make a call on what happens in game. If you're a slave to the dice, the day will come when the dice turn on you.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 10:47 AM
Would you be glad to die in an encounter that was supposed to do nothing more than show how hostile an environment the Underdark is?

Dude, nothing demonstrates hostility like killing someone.

Did they not choose to go off down the dark hole of bad things to save the girl? Didn't they suspect that this course of action would be dangerous?

Britter
2011-01-05, 10:50 AM
Would you be glad to die in an encounter that was supposed to do nothing more than show how hostile an environment the Underdark is?

It would in fact prove the point that the decision we made was a dangerous one. So, yes, I would. It is a reasonable consequence for a decision.



You are basing this on the assumption that you always have a choice of whether to fight or not. I've seen too many fights over pool tables, at taxi ranks and outside late night fast food joints to think that there's always a choice. Sometimes the choice is simply fight or get beaten up.

In a wilderness area, the choice can be fight or get eaten.

Otherwise, the GM is making the world revolve around the players. Which is far more unsatisfying to my sensibilities than the GM letting drama rather than a random number generator decide the outcome of an event.


Even in a real world ambush scenario, there is always a choice. You CAN fight, sure. Or you can run. Or you can curl up and hope they just beat you up. The point is, in an RPG context, once a player makes a choice, they should be willing to live with the consequences of how the dice determine the outcome of that choice.



Again, what have the dice got to do with decisions? The dice determine an outcome when a result is in doubt. They resolve "Bang, you're dead!" vs "No I'm not!"

However, there are situations where the dice will give an unsatisfying outcome to an event. In L5R, that could be rolling 6k2 for damage against a character and seeing five of those dice come up a 10. In D&D it could be rolling a crit against the last character standing at the end of a particularly hard fight. In GURPS it could be rolling a natural 3 followed by a 18 on the critical table.

as I've said before, if you are not prepared to gamble your entire campaign on a roll of the dice, then you should be prepared to have to make a call on what happens in game. If you're a slave to the dice, the day will come when the dice turn on you.

See, I am prepared to and have gambled my entire campagin on a dice roll. I reject the binary forumla of "success or failure" on a die roll. I ascribe to a "success or difficult/dangerous/tragic complication to overcome". Since I took up this approach to rolling dice, I have not lost a campaign due to a bad roll. The players know the stakes before they roll. They choose to take the risk, as live with the consequences, good or bad. That is what creates drama in gaming, in my opinion. It also creates unexpected twists, different outcomes then anticipated, and a general feeling that your decisions have powerful, irrevocable impact.

Edit: And again, the missing link here is that you and I obviously call for rolls for very different reasons, think about rolls very differently, and use them for differing purposes. Is this system dependent? Is it group dependent? I find the entire thing fascinating.

Zherog
2011-01-05, 11:07 AM
... I more or less let them take 20 by saying that they're in the middle of a city and can find whatever help they need, you can do what you're trying to do. However, that often also means that you won't have something really, really good quality or whatever that you'd get from a very good dice roll.

Um... you realize that by letting them take 20 you are allowing them to have the best possible die roll -- a 20.

*

I have a player in my game who has absolutely horrid luck with rolling dice. To the point where I bought him new dice -- and it didn't help. It seems like* the only time he rolls well is when his good roll is superseded by a party member's roll. (For example, he rolls a 20 on a Spot check, for a total of 21; meanwhile, the rogue rolls a 12, for a total of 29.)

Yes, I completely realize I just used confirmation bias. Deal with it. :P

Twice in the current campaign, his characters have died. I'd be lying my ass off if I told you I didn't feel a twinge of guilt the second time, and that I considered - for the first time in at least a dozen years - fudging the damage. I didn't. It made for a great remainder of that session and start of the next session**, as the remaining PCs, severely wounded and resource-depleted (they burned most of their spells to survive the fight) sneaked out of the mine complex they were in and made their way to town. It was tense - in large part because everybody knew that when I was rolling Spot and Listen checks for baddies, that what I rolled was going to be the result, no fudging to help them. They were going to have to get out of the situation they got themselves into with their own skill and a bit of luck. They used stealth where possible, and carefully planned ambushes where they thought they couldn't get past.

** We had about an hour of game-time left when he died, and it carried over for about 45 minutes the next session. He used the remainder of the session to begin flipping through books to find a replacement class - he had already decided that his dwarf wouldn't accept a resurrection.

I'm glad I resisted the urge to alter the outcome of the dice. I understand completely why folks want to do it - why they actually do it. In my opinion though it's better to resist the urge. And absolutely, positively, what works in my game for me and my groups doesn't necessarily work for others. If you fudge dice and your players truly don't care and everybody has fun, then more power to you -- you're playing the game the right way.

*

I love Britter's rope bridge example. It's really close to how I handle many events in my game -- including giving out the DC for stuff. I also love the previous example that built upon Serp's "getting lost" tidbit. I use those sorts of moments to run little sidetreks. I have a folder, actually, with all sorts of little pieces - NPCs I found or made, heavily modified adventures, single encounters, notes about crazy off-the-track ideas, and so forth. Any time my players "get lost" (whether it's actually getting lost or just going completely off the rails) I can always pull something together fairly quick, and then use the time between sessions to hammer stuff together into a cohesive plot.

Circling back onto Serp's example (and I'd like to add the same disclaimer that I'm [b]not[/i] picking on you, just building off your example) about getting lost on her way to meet the group. There's probably still some information missing, but from what's been described if I were running the session there wouldn't have been any die rolls. It sounds like the idea was to get you to Point X in order to meet up with the rest of the group, and it also sounds like your character had the ability to get there (ignoring the bad luck). We have limited game-play time -- about 4-5 hours a session every other week. I don't want to spend my time waiting for the ranger (or whatever) to roll above a 15*** on her Survival check so she can go over the river and through the woods. She can do the task; there's really no consequence for failure - other than wasting time; blow through the task and get to the good stuff. And... if it was truly important for the player to see her character go over the river and through the woods, then I'd ask that player to come a half-hour early (or on another night - whatever works) so we could get through her solo part before everybody else arrives, again preserving the precious little game time we have as a group.

*** totally making up a number just to expound on my point.

And this post is now way longer than I originally intended. So I think I'll stop here...

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 11:15 AM
Um... you realize that by letting them take 20 you are allowing them to have the best possible die roll -- a 20.Uh... no, not exactly.
Taking 20 means you are trying until you get it right, and it assumes that you fail many times before succeeding. Taking 20 takes twenty times as long as making a single check would take.

Since taking 20 assumes that the character will fail many times before succeeding, if you did attempt to take 20 on a skill that carries penalties for failure, your character would automatically incur those penalties before he or she could complete the task.
Honestly, the "really dumb decision" situation is probably one where I'm less likely to fudge in either direction. Mostly, I think, I use it to influence the duration of an encounter, not its outcome.

And no, I don't believe fudging a roll is depriving the person of their decision or anything like that. They choose whether or not they want to do a particular action. Fudging (one example of it) can just help it to succeed or fail. Many - probably most - don't involve any decision-making on the part of the player at all. When taking a hit from a spell or an attack, for example.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 11:34 AM
Um... you realize that by letting them take 20 you are allowing them to have the best possible die roll -- a 20.


Letting people take 20 on non-time sensitive things isn't really fudging. That's what taking 20 is there for. Rolling over and over again until you get the desired number can be a giant waste of time. The rule just allows you to speed that up.

I see nothing wrong with Serp's use of this rule. I, too advocate allowing taking 20 on things like Gather Information in cities, and just assuming they can successfully find any common assistance in them.

Think of it like this...if dropped into a strange city where you knew the language, would it really be a problem to accomplish mundane tasks? Not really. Might be slower than in a place you are familiar with, but it's not like you would be just unable to do things.

Britter
2011-01-05, 11:37 AM
Serpentine, I see your point. However, the connected issue is that, as a player you can't fudge rolls against the DM. So why does the DM get that ability? It really does cut down on the impact of decisions.

If the DM is going to be allowed to occasionally alter the outcome (regardless of if it is in the players favor or not) then the player deserves to have the same ability, even if only in a limited capacity.

I enjoy playing a system where I, as the player, can expend a plot token of some sort and say to the DM "No, we DO get away" or whatever, and have it actually happen.

If the players don't have a similar fallback, they can easily find themselves at the mercy of a GM who will fiat them right down the railroad. That can lead to frustration, table conflict, and dissatisfied gamers.

I guess that I just want more people to realize that the DM is just another player, and they should be bound by some rules and limitations just like the other players. Rampant dice fudging is just one example of how the position of DM is implictly elevated to a role of greater importance than that of the player.

Edit: Like Tyndmyr and Serpentine, I like the Take 20 rule for stuff thats not time sensitive. It is a good way to avoid wasting table time.

Emmerask
2011-01-05, 11:39 AM
Letting people take 20 on non-time sensitive things isn't really fudging. That's what taking 20 is there for. Rolling over and over again until you get the desired number can be a giant waste of time. The rule just allows you to speed that up.

I see nothing wrong with Serp's use of this rule. I, too advocate allowing taking 20 on things like Gather Information in cities, and just assuming they can successfully find any common assistance in them.

Think of it like this...if dropped into a strange city where you knew the language, would it really be a problem to accomplish mundane tasks? Not really. Might be slower than in a place you are familiar with, but it's not like you would be just unable to do things.



It would really depend on the information they try to gather, taking 20 on gather information check for the secret hall of the guild of assassins wouldnīt be all that good an idea ^^

But in general if its not sensitive information then taking 20 is absolutely fine with me too :smallsmile:

Zherog
2011-01-05, 11:40 AM
Letting people take 20 on non-time sensitive things isn't really fudging. That's what taking 20 is there for. Rolling over and over again until you get the desired number can be a giant waste of time. The rule just allows you to speed that up.

I see nothing wrong with Serp's use of this rule. I, too advocate allowing taking 20 on things like Gather Information in cities, and just assuming they can successfully find any common assistance in them.

Think of it like this...if dropped into a strange city where you knew the language, would it really be a problem to accomplish mundane tasks? Not really. Might be slower than in a place you are familiar with, but it's not like you would be just unable to do things.


I don't have any problem with it either. It's exactly what Take 20 is for.

However, Serp said that she'll let her player take 20 rather than roll and get a better result. And there is no better result. That's what I was pointing out.

Serp -- your quote of the take 20 rules doesn't invalidate what I said. When you take 20 it's as though the character rolled a 20. There is no better result.

Emmerask
2011-01-05, 11:43 AM
Serp -- your quote of the take 20 rules doesn't invalidate what I said. When you take 20 it's as though the character rolled a 20. There is no better result.

Isnīt it like first try a 1 next a 2..... next a 19 then a 20 ? I could be wrong though.

Zherog
2011-01-05, 11:45 AM
Isnīt it like first try a 1 next a 2..... next a 19 then a 20 ? I could be wrong though.

Yes, exactly. So in the end, you "roll" a 20 and then add your modifier to it. There is no "better" result, which is my only point.

I love the Take 20 (and Take 10) rule. It's perfect; Britter's Gather Info example is exactly a perfect scenario for it -- there's no need for a die roll, since eventually they'll find what they're looking for. Cut to the chase and save the table time for stuff that actually matters.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 11:46 AM
It would really depend on the information they try to gather, taking 20 on gather information check for the secret hall of the guild of assassins wouldnīt be all that good an idea ^^

But in general if its not sensitive information then taking 20 is absolutely fine with me too :smallsmile:

Oh, I would certainly allow that. I would, however, point out the "failing many times before getting it right" part of the rule, though. So yeah, they'd eventually probably get it(depends on DC and the skills involved, seems like a high check), but failure in that situation probably has consequences. Fun consequences.

Emmerask
2011-01-05, 11:47 AM
these to be exact ^^

Try Again
Yes, but it takes time for each check. Furthermore, you may draw attention to yourself if you repeatedly pursue a certain type of information.

Psyx
2011-01-05, 11:47 AM
Even in a real world ambush scenario, there is always a choice. You CAN fight, sure. Or you can run.

Not if it's a decently organised ambush. That's kinda the point. :smallbiggrin:




The same dm deciding this plan is beyond stupid (lets just say it was the stupidest plan ever for the sake of argument) fudging the rolls to a failure


If it's a stupid plan then it won't need the GM to fudge dice to fail: It will fail on it's own [lack of] merit.




and on the strictly roll side:
A very very bad plan succeeding because of luck
A very very good plan failing because of random misfortune

If it's stupid and it works, then it's not stupid.

And the second one fails 9/10 in systems with no luck points in my experience. The excellent infiltration plan always fails at the first stealth check. The ways around this are:

1) Live with it. This doesn't really motivate players to plan very much.
2) Fudge for them. This rewards them for good planning, but is 'cheating' to many GMs.
3) Have a luck point system. Then the choice to fudge is with the players, which hands responsibility back to them, and they are once again succeeding through their own merits, and the GM can wash his hands of any 'cheating'.
4) Openly give players re-rolls for having a good plan. Once again this puts responsibility in the hands of the players and also very visibly rewards good planning.

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 11:50 AM
My point was that I would be willing to allow it in situations where it might not strictly speaking be permitted. It's also not "taking 20 rather than rolling and getting a better result". It's weighing up which way will take longer, and which way will be more boring. I suspect, though, that it's more generally available than I thought, and in fact I use it normally.
Serpentine, I see your point. However, the connected issue is that, as a player you can't fudge rolls against the DM. So why does the DM get that ability?For the same reason that the players don't (usually, without DM permission) get to say "I own a city over there. I'm its emperor, and everyone bows down to me and gives me whatever I want. Also the city is protected by an ancient celestial fiendish dire red dragon and is made out of diamonds." Because the DM creates the world and all its rules, and the player interacts with it.

If the DM is going to be allowed to occasionally alter the outcome (regardless of if it is in the players favor or not) then the player deserves to have the same ability, even if only in a limited capacity.See above. But also, I sorta do. At least, they often get to determine the severity or extent of a success or failure - often making the failure much harsher than I would have.

If the players don't have a similar fallback, they can easily find themselves at the mercy of a GM who will fiat them right down the railroad. That can lead to frustration, table conflict, and dissatisfied gamers.Then you have a much more general problem with the GM themself, far beyond abuse of fudging. And abuse is distinct from use.

I guess that I just want more people to realize that the DM is just another player, and they should be bound by some rules and limitations just like the other players. Rampant dice fudging is just one example of how the position of DM is implictly elevated to a role of greater importance than that of the player....but they're not, and they are, more or less :smallconfused: The DM DETERMINES the rules. They should be a benign dictator, working towards the good (aka fun) of their players, but they are still the dictator.

Britter
2011-01-05, 11:53 AM
Not if it's a decently organised ambush. That's kinda the point. :smallbiggrin:



And in that circumstance, if you choose not to fight, you would die or be seriously wounded. It happens in the real world all the time.

In the context of a game, it is the GMs job is to make it clear to you that that is the consequence of your choice. When you roll to survive the ambush by running, failure would mean death. Fighting might also mean death, but it would at least be on your terms. Either choice should have a chance of sucsess and a chance of failure with interesting results for the failure.

As an example, why are you being ambushed? If you need to be somewhere to do something important in the game, and you die in an ambush designed to prevent you from doing the important thing, that sure makes things interesting for your fellow gamers, as now they have to deal not only with your death, but your failure to do what you had to do.

Edit: Serpentine, lets just say I fundamentally disagree. The DM/GM is just another player with a clearly defined and different roll. The PC should have limits on what they can do (i.e., your "This city here? It's mine. no, I don't have to roll anything for it" is a fine example of what the rules of the game are in place to limit). The DM should have limits.

Also, it is my opinion that the PCs should have nearly as much influence on how the world works and why things are the way they are as the DM does, but that is a different topic.

I have played with plenty of non-abusive, nice guy DMs who fiated me right down the railroad. They feel that they are entitled to it becuase they are the DM. I disagree.

Different strokes, different folks, in the end.

Typewriter
2011-01-05, 11:56 AM
Serpentine, I see your point. However, the connected issue is that, as a player you can't fudge rolls against the DM. So why does the DM get that ability? It really does cut down on the impact of decisions.

If the DM is going to be allowed to occasionally alter the outcome (regardless of if it is in the players favor or not) then the player deserves to have the same ability, even if only in a limited capacity.

I enjoy playing a system where I, as the player, can expend a plot token of some sort and say to the DM "No, we DO get away" or whatever, and have it actually happen.

If the players don't have a similar fallback, they can easily find themselves at the mercy of a GM who will fiat them right down the railroad. That can lead to frustration, table conflict, and dissatisfied gamers.

I guess that I just want more people to realize that the DM is just another player, and they should be bound by some rules and limitations just like the other players. Rampant dice fudging is just one example of how the position of DM is implictly elevated to a role of greater importance than that of the player.

Edit: Like Tyndmyr and Serpentine, I like the Take 20 rule for stuff thats not time sensitive. It is a good way to avoid wasting table time.

In my opinion the reason you have a DM is to be the one who has that power. It's not always a good thing, but that's one of the things a DM has to decide when and how to use. It's part of the responsibility.

If you like players to have the ability I'd take a look at Paizos plot twist cards. They're pretty nifty things the players can use. Things like, "An old ally appears right at the perfect moment". The DM determines the exact affect, but the card gives a mechanics adjustment and flavor text for what occurs. Pretty nifty.

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 12:00 PM
The DM should have limits.The DM's only limits are fun, and the preferences of their players (see: fun). That's all. That's the whole point of Rule 0.

Britter
2011-01-05, 12:04 PM
The GM/Dm, in my opinion, is there for three reasons.

1) To create a conflict for the PCs to engage. This involves a lot of factors, including world building, planning, plotting stuff. The players should have input as to what the game involves, and what sort of conflict they are interested in, etc., but in the end the DM has to set the stage.

2) Impartial arbiter of all dice rolls, including his or her own. The DM/GM also has the authority to call for tests when the conflict is clearly understood, the success and failure conditions are laid out, and it is time to see if things fall in the favor of the pcs or go against them.

3) To adjust to players actions and keep coming up with new conflicts for them to deal with, even as the dice rolls change the circumsatnces of events.

There is no other inherent power in being the gm.

Again, I realize this is not everyone's approach. Thats cool.

Edit: Also, I detest rule 0. Rule 0 tells me that the designers of a game have no faith that there system can actually do what they claim it can do. I primarily play a system that explictly discards the idea that you can simply rule 0 things as you see fit. Again, works for me, might not work for you, thats cool.

Typewriter
2011-01-05, 12:05 PM
The DM's only limits are fun, and the preferences of their players (see: fun). That's all. That's the whole point of Rule 0.

I agree completely. I never have fun when I'm DMing unless my players are having fun. DM is an all-powerful role that needs to be handled appropriately. Don't abuse your power, but don't avoid using it when it might improve things for your group.

Keep in mind fudging is more than rolls. Fudging is making the 30 INT wizard lose to a party. Fudging is doing anything explicitly not stated in RAW, RAI be damned.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 12:05 PM
In my opinion the reason you have a DM is to be the one who has that power. It's not always a good thing, but that's one of the things a DM has to decide when and how to use. It's part of the responsibility.

This is historically incorrect. The DM position heralds back to wargaming, in which the players occasionally needed an arbitrator of rules. This can still be seen in modern wargaming competitions, which have judges. Yes, this is a position of some degree of power, but the power is not the point of it all. It's to have an unbiased interpretation of the rules. And that is why you have a DM.

It is never the role of the judge to randomly make up rules or change the rules midway through the game. However, it is frequently historically common for folks in wargaming and RPGing to agree to special rules for a game or campaign. Happens all the time.

Now, as D&D got further from it's wargaming roots, it's notable that other common needs, ie a place to host the game and adventure design, are also often filled by the DM, but they are not intrinsically part of the role in the same way that arbitration is. You can play a game at a game shop/someone elses house with a prefab module, and still be a legit DM.

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 12:08 PM
There is no other inherent power in being the gm.You just listed the inherent powers in being the GM. The players don't get any of that. Thus, the DM is not just another player, they are not bound by the same rules and limitations as the other players. If you don't count the determination of the entire universe in which the game occurs and the rules (house- or otherwise) by which it functions an "inherent power" distinguishing the DM from the players, I don't know what you would :confused:

Typewriter
2011-01-05, 12:11 PM
This is historically incorrect. The DM position heralds back to wargaming, in which the players occasionally needed an arbitrator of rules. This can still be seen in modern wargaming competitions, which have judges. Yes, this is a position of some degree of power, but the power is not the point of it all. It's to have an unbiased interpretation of the rules. And that is why you have a DM.

It is never the role of the judge to randomly make up rules or change the rules midway through the game. However, it is frequently historically common for folks in wargaming and RPGing to agree to special rules for a game or campaign. Happens all the time.

Now, as D&D got further from it's wargaming roots, it's notable that other common needs, ie a place to host the game and adventure design, are also often filled by the DM, but they are not intrinsically part of the role in the same way that arbitration is. You can play a game at a game shop/someone elses house with a prefab module, and still be a legit DM.

But the DM is no longer just a 'judge'. He's the one whose job it is to make sure people have fun. Judges don't usually equate to fun. That may have been the original incarnation, but I've not purchased a rulebook in the last 10 years that said, "Be nothing but an impartial arbiter of rules". They all say your job is to make sure people have fun.

Britter
2011-01-05, 12:16 PM
The way I play, the players tell me what their characters are interested in doing in the game world. direct a large part of the story through the conflicts they engage in and the failures they risk, and tell me what sort of hard choices they are interested in having to make within the context of the world. Additonally, my players have veto power over me in many circumstances, again explictly stated. For example, if I am calling for excessive tests for the purposes of forcing a failure on the player, they have the authorty to make me stop and let the results of the succesful test ride.

Also, please note that no where in my description of GM authority do I allow for the random changing of the circumstances of rolls to suit me, or the players. Dice hit the table, and we all have to abide by them.

It is a subtle distinction I am making here, honestly, and it may not be obvious or even important to many people. It took me a long time and a lot of thinking to reach my position on these issues, and it is very much influenced by the system I play.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 12:18 PM
If it's a stupid plan then it won't need the GM to fudge dice to fail: It will fail on it's own [lack of] merit.

If it's stupid and it works, then it's not stupid.

I do this as well. I give the standard "are you sure", then let them carry on. Dice are rolled in the open. If Plan:Ride the Dragon Like a Pony actually works...good for them. If, as expected, it fails horribly, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Oh, on the stealth rolls...remember distance modifiers and the like. They get left out frequently, and doing so makes party stealth almost invariably impractical.

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 12:19 PM
It seems to me your playstyle is significantly different to mine and, I presume, many/most others. So, your desire to make "more people... realize that the DM is just another player" is misplaced, because that's just not true for most/many people.

Typewriter
2011-01-05, 12:20 PM
The way I play, the players tell me what their characters are interested in doing in the game world. direct a large part of the story through the conflicts they engage in and the failures they risk, and tell me what sort of hard choices they are interested in having to make within the context of the world. Additonally, my players have veto power over me in many circumstances, again explictly stated. For example, if I am calling for excessive tests for the purposes of forcing a failure on the player, they have the authorty to make me stop and let the results of the succesful test ride.

Also, please note that no where in my description of GM authority do I allow for the random changing of the circumstances of rolls to suit me, or the players. Dice hit the table, and we all have to abide by them.

It is a subtle distinction I am making here, honestly, and it may not be obvious or even important to many people. It took me a long time and a lot of thinking to reach my position on these issues, and it is very much influenced by the system I play.

I understand where you're coming from, but what bugs me about is - why have a DM? Honestly it doesn't sound like you're doing anything, so why not just become a player, and DM collectively? If you have no final say in anything, you only do things your players want, and they have the ability to change whatever they want, why have a DM? It seems like it would be easier to just buy a pre-built module and run through it taking turns reading what happens next.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 12:21 PM
But the DM is no longer just a 'judge'. He's the one whose job it is to make sure people have fun. Judges don't usually equate to fun. That may have been the original incarnation, but I've not purchased a rulebook in the last 10 years that said, "Be nothing but an impartial arbiter of rules". They all say your job is to make sure people have fun.

All game playing is to have fun. The purpose of the rules is to have fun. That's a broad, overarching goal. It's sort of like the description of what roleplaying is in every RPG book ever. Boilerplate text slapped on the front to explain to noobs what this is all about.

Wargaming is fun. Judges may not directly be fun, but having a properly running wargame sometimes requires a judge, and arguing endlessly over the rules is not fun. Avoiding that makes the game more fun as a whole. The same is true of roleplaying.

Edit: Typewriter, round robin DMing is actually a thing. I've done it, and seen it done. It can work well, if everyone wants to do that, and has some agreement on what they want from a campaign. You've sarcastically described what lots of people actually do.

Britter
2011-01-05, 12:25 PM
It seems to me your playstyle is significantly different to mine and, I presume, many/most others. So, your desire to make "more people to realize that the DM is just another player" is misplaced, because that's just not true for most/many people.

I would agree if not for the fact that much of what I am trying to combat with my approach are issues that I see coming up all the time in various places, including these fora, and that have repeatedly cropped up during my 18 year history of playing pnp rpgs. It is my opinion that because many people have only ever played their RPGs one way, they have no idea that there are in fact other ways that may suit them better. Again, there is NO universally best way to do things. However, that doesn't preclude the value of hearing different opinions and letting them inform your play experience.

I can be something of a hard-case when it comes to this sort of thing, so I can understand if people don't see things my way. I don't expect them too, but I would like them to at least hear me out and consider my point of view. Just because something has always been a certain way doesn't mean that it is the best way.

Typewriter
2011-01-05, 12:25 PM
All game playing is to have fun. The purpose of the rules is to have fun. That's a broad, overarching goal. It's sort of like the description of what roleplaying is in every RPG book ever. Boilerplate text slapped on the front to explain to noobs what this is all about.

Wargaming is fun. Judges may not directly be fun, but having a properly running wargame sometimes requires a judge, and arguing endlessly over the rules is not fun. Avoiding that makes the game more fun as a whole. The same is true of roleplaying.

Edit: Typewriter, round robin DMing is actually a thing. I've done it, and seen it done. It can work well, if everyone wants to do that, and has some agreement on what they want from a campaign. You've sarcastically described what lots of people actually do.

You're right - every group wants to have fun. The DM does whatever he can to make sure they have fun. If that's fudging then fudge, if it's not then don't. Either way the players should never know.

And I wasn't being sarcastic. I was saying that if you're going to have a DM let him DM. If you're not going to let him do his job, then don't have a DM.

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 12:28 PM
I would agree if not for the fact that much of what I am trying to combat with my approach are issues that I see coming up all the time in various places, including these fora, and that have repeatedly cropped up during my 18 year history of playing pnp rpgs. It is my opinion that because many people have only ever played their RPGs one way, they have no idea that there are in fact other ways that may suit them better. Again, there is NO universally best way to do things. However, that doesn't preclude the value of hearing different opinions and letting them inform your play experience.

I can be something of a hard-case when it comes to this sort of thing, so I can understand if people don't see things my way. I don't expect them too, but I would like them to at least hear me out and consider my point of view. Just because something has always been a certain way doesn't mean that it is the best way.Somewhat nitpicky, but there is a difference between suggesting to people a new way of doing things, and trying to get them to "realise" something that isn't actually true of the way they do it. The former is fine. The latter is what you said.

Britter
2011-01-05, 12:29 PM
I understand where you're coming from, but what bugs me about is - why have a DM? Honestly it doesn't sound like you're doing anything, so why not just become a player, and DM collectively? If you have no final say in anything, you only do things your players want, and they have the ability to change whatever they want, why have a DM? It seems like it would be easier to just buy a pre-built module and run through it taking turns reading what happens next.

A good question. The players don't get to do whatever they want. They get to tell me what they want to do. I get to place the obstacles in front of them, tell them what happens when they fail, and generally make their characters lives as difficult as possible. I place roadblocks between them and their goals, and force them to work as hard as possible to overcome them. I work my tail off to force them to make hard decisions, face the consequences, and suffer the agony of defeat.

Honestly, since I started playing the way I play, I would say I have been much MUCh harsher as far as what I do to characters in game. I just do it all upfront, let them know what they are facing, and enjoy watching them make hard decisons.

Negotiating the creation of conflict and the setting of consequences is much more rewarding when you know exactly what your players hold dear, and you can attack it directly instead of in a round-about manner.

Edit: To Serpentine. Yup, you make a good point. But since it is what I honestly believe and what I honestly think people need to understand, I hold to it. The DM is just another player. I honestly feel more gamers would have more fun if they worked that way. So I do want them to realise that. I also realise that that stance is in direct contradiction to my "different strokes" statement as well. No one said that it had to make sense :) Very few issues of belief really do.

Totally Guy
2011-01-05, 12:29 PM
I can be something of a hard-case when it comes to this sort of thing, so I can understand if people don't see things my way. I don't expect them too, but I would like them to at least hear me out and consider my point of view. Just because something has always been a certain way doesn't mean that it is the best way.

I understand. I GM from a perspective very similar to yours.

Psyx
2011-01-05, 12:30 PM
As the GM I see myself and a referee once play has started, and a script writer and croupier beforehand.

When I write a game, I decide what choices the PCs face, and the repercussions of those (where possible). When I write an encounter I decide IN ADVANCE how dangerous it should be, and I stat it to reflect that. I draw upon gaming and system experience and can nail the difficulty pretty well.

If I decide that there should be a slim chance of a PC dying in an encounter, then I've built that into the encounter difficulty. If I decide it's a TPK unless they run away, I'll build that in too. My point being that I decide in advance, in the cold light of day and after some thought how I want the odds to pan out, and I make sure that I am happy with that chance of killing players.

Once the game starts, I'm the ref. I'm fair, and I play straight. It's my job now to impartially deliver what I've written. If I decided that a slight chance of killing a PC was acceptable in the cold light of day, it is not my 'job' at the table to veto my own choice by fudging. It's not my role to -in the heat of the moment and after several drinks- suddenly have second thoughts. To me that would be bad reffing.

I can't plan for everything, but I can plan for most things and then let the dice do their job.

I appreciate that a lot of GMs work differently, but this is my way. And this is not only why I don't tend to resort to fudging, but also why I hold the opinion that fudging dice is often simply a crutch for bad GMing: Either via lack of preparation, lack of encounter balance and appreciation for the odds, lack of foresight in the consequences of failure, or spur of the moment emotion over-riding carefully considered plans.

Serpentine
2011-01-05, 12:36 PM
Edit: To Serpentine. Yup, you make a good point. But since it is what I honestly believe and what I honestly think people need to understand, I hold to it. The DM is just another player. I honestly feel more gamers would have more fun if they worked that way. So I do want them to realise that. I also realise that that stance is in direct contradiction to my "different strokes" statement as well. No one said that it had to make sense :) Very few issues of belief really do.I don't think you understood my point. If you want someone to "realise" something, then that thing must be true for them. And for most games, the DM is NOT just another player (I'm not convinced it's true in your games, either, but that's another matter). There is no judgement involved, it's just a statement of fact. Maybe your way is better, maybe it's not, but it's not the way most people play. So by saying you want people to "understand" and "realise" that, you're telling them to do something they cannot do because it isn't true for them. What you should be doing is convincing or persuading them that it is better if the DM is more like just another player, not that the DM already is just another player.
Like I said, nitpicky, but bugging me.

The Big Dice
2011-01-05, 12:36 PM
But the DM is no longer just a 'judge'. He's the one whose job it is to make sure people have fun. Judges don't usually equate to fun. That may have been the original incarnation, but I've not purchased a rulebook in the last 10 years that said, "Be nothing but an impartial arbiter of rules". They all say your job is to make sure people have fun.
I haven't seen an RPG in nearly 30 years that says a GM should be nothing but an impartial rules arbiter. That includes games like RoleMaster, which were adamant about the dice being the sole decider of outcomes.

This is historically incorrect. The DM position heralds back to wargaming, in which the players occasionally needed an arbitrator of rules. This can still be seen in modern wargaming competitions, which have judges. Yes, this is a position of some degree of power, but the power is not the point of it all. It's to have an unbiased interpretation of the rules. And that is why you have a DM.
The role of a judge in a wargame is so different from the role of a GM that the two really have very little in common. A wargame judge will make rulings on disputes to do with the rules of the game and on things like line of sight, or who is inside the explosion radius and so on. But they never set the scene. And they certainly don't play NPCs unless the scenario calls for civillians or other noncombatants that need to move or act during the turn sequence.

The common ground is in making rulings and interpreting the rules when such things need to be done. But where a wargame referee is an impartial arbiter, the GM in an RPG is anything but that.

Personally, I blame the 90s, in particular Mark Rein-Hagen, for obscuring the function of the GM in an RPG. You see, a GM isn't there to hold your characters hand as you go skipping through the daisies. His task is not to tell you the story of how Thomas, Richard and Harold went off into a cave to kill a dragon.

The task of the GM is to challenge and entertain his players. It's not PvP with an umpire, like a wargame. It's PvE, player versus Environment. And who provides the environment?

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 12:38 PM
You're right - every group wants to have fun. The DM does whatever he can to make sure they have fun. If that's fudging then fudge, if it's not then don't. Either way the players should never know.

And I wasn't being sarcastic. I was saying that if you're going to have a DM let him DM. If you're not going to let him do his job, then don't have a DM.

It's not that. It's that some people see the job of DM as more limited.

Heck, in some systems, there is no DM at all. It's a minority, but a DM is not actually even required for RPGing, let alone a specific way of DMing.

I agree with your summary, Psyx. Frankly, it's easier to determine difficulty and so forth while planning, with no time constraints, and the like. Rushed decisions can turn out alright, but they're more likely to be wrong. Therefore, they should be reduced as much as possible. Good DMing always requires a certain amount of preparation and pre-work. Doing that well mitigates all sorts of issues later on. Also, it makes your material much more reusable.

BadJuJu
2011-01-05, 12:41 PM
To be fair, if you are talking DnD, triple 20 = death is a house-rule, after all. It could almost be considered fudging itself.

Well, it sure fudged us.

The Big Dice
2011-01-05, 12:44 PM
Frankly, it's easier to determine difficulty and so forth while planning, with no time constraints, and the like. Rushed decisions can turn out alright, but they're more likely to be wrong. Therefore, they should be reduced as much as possible. Good DMing always requires a certain amount of preparation and pre-work. Doing that well mitigates all sorts of issues later on. Also, it makes your material much more reusable.
In the real world, planning everything in advance isn't always an option. Nor is it a practical solution, as players can and will do something you never anticipated. Which renders all your plnning void. Sun Tzu might say the the contingency is more important than the plan. But who can come up with a contingency for your players deciding the best way to track down the BBEG is by opening a coffee shop?

Yes, I have seen this happen.

Good GMing is a little like playing jazz or blues. There's a strong compositional element to it, but you also need to be able to wing it. To improvise around a theme. And like a musician, you need your bag of tricks, but you also need to be able to twist those round so that they don't become repetitive.

I find players will pick up on recycled plots, NPCs and situations a lot faster than they'll pick up on me seeming to count but actually deciding that the 19 I just rolled is in fact a 9. Especially players that like to challenge their GM and make him work for things as hard as he makes them work for things.

Britter
2011-01-05, 12:45 PM
I don't think you understood my point. If you want someone to "realise" something, then that thing must be true for them. And for most games, the DM is NOT just another player (I'm not convinced it's true in your games, either, but that's another matter). There is no judgement involved, it's just a statement of fact. Maybe your way is better, maybe it's not, but it's not the way most people play. So by saying you want people to "understand" and "realise" that, you're telling them to do something they cannot do because it isn't true for them. What you should be doing is convincing or persuading them that it is better if the DM is more like just another player, not that the DM already is just another player.
Like I said, nitpicky, but bugging me.

I think you are really getting a little pedantic, yeah. :) I do understand what you are saying. Honestly. And I honestly want everyone to convert to my way, because it is obviously the best (tounge is firmly planted in cheek here, natch) :smalltongue:

I used to think the DM was special somehow. I no longer do. I changed because someone said to me "Why do you think that?" I spent a lot of time looking at the way things were done. I decided my stance was wrong. It works better for me now. I think it will work better for everyone.

Much like a religious convert, I tend to argue these issues from a very emotional place more often than from a logical perspective. It is very much a belief issue for me. This can make it challenging to pick wording that doesn't seem like I am saying "I'm right, and the rest of you scrubs are all wrong". My intent can be very easily masked by my word choice.

I will acknowledge that the DM/GM is a different kind of player from the PC, but there are still checks and balances, limits on powers, and specificly disallowed actions, just like a player has.

And I also, honestly, don't think there is a WRONG way to game, if you and your table are having fun. I game at 3 or 4 tables currently, and only 1 of them (besides mine) runs the way I prefer. I still have fun at the other tables. I just adjust my expectations, pack my radical ideas away, and hang out with my friends and roll dice. It is a good time, no matter what.

In the end, it is just a game.

Tiki Snakes
2011-01-05, 12:48 PM
Britter - The style of DM as Player play you are describing almost seems more like PVP, Player VS DM style play. In such a case, yes, Fudging would be unfair as it would give the DM an advantage over the other Players.

But few people openly run their games as DM Vs PC these days. It's certainly a valid way to play, with it's own attractions, but should not be considered the prevelant style.

For most DM's, the right to Fudge, no-matter how rarely or ever excersized, is a legitimate and non-disruptive tool in their kit.

I myself only ever had cause to legitimately fudge on one occaision, (Keep on the Shadowfell, Irontooth encounter. Nuff said), though I have come close once or twice. I reserve the right to do so, however, should I choose, and it's really not a players place to object should I do choose to do so.

If a player of mine prefers me not to fudge in their favour, then that's fine and I'll not pull punches should the situation arise, though.

Britter
2011-01-05, 12:51 PM
Agreed Tiki Snakes. Hence why even though my heart says "Do it my way!!!" my head says "Do what works at your table".

Psyx
2011-01-05, 12:55 PM
In the real world, planning everything in advance isn't always an option. Nor is it a practical solution, as players can and will do something you never anticipated. Which renders all your plnning void. Sun Tzu might say the the contingency is more important than the plan. But who can come up with a contingency for your players deciding the best way to track down the BBEG is by opening a coffee shop?


I do have a lot of contingencies, but in off-piste situations like this I still like to be fair. I don't like 'it doesn't work' nor 'everything is rainbows, it works, level up'. Basically, I tend to pick up a dice, roll it (high = good!) and then have that as a sliding scale of success. It's fair and impartial.


Good GMing is a little like playing jazz or blues.

You have to be a pretentious chain-smoker? :smallcool:

Psyx
2011-01-05, 12:56 PM
Agreed Tiki Snakes. Hence why even though my heart says "Do it my way!!!" my head says "Do what works at your table".

My heart -at the table - often screams 'let the players win'. Which is why I don't like knee-jerk fudging and try to be a fair referee.

Britter
2011-01-05, 12:58 PM
My heart -at the table - often screams 'let the players win'. Which is why I don't like knee-jerk fudging and try to be a fair referee.

I agree completely.

Tyndmyr
2011-01-05, 01:05 PM
In the real world, planning everything in advance isn't always an option. Nor is it a practical solution, as players can and will do something you never anticipated. Which renders all your plnning void. Sun Tzu might say the the contingency is more important than the plan. But who can come up with a contingency for your players deciding the best way to track down the BBEG is by opening a coffee shop?

Yes, I have seen this happen.

Preparation doesn't negate this aspect, but neither does the PCs opening a coffee shop suddenly require you to fudge die rolls.

Good preparation will also leave you with fallback bits. Various statted up NPCs can be useful in a variety of situations, for instance. I like to make more than I think I'll need. It's not like the extra work is going to waste, I'll always need more NPCs in the future.


Good GMing is a little like playing jazz or blues. There's a strong compositional element to it, but you also need to be able to wing it. To improvise around a theme. And like a musician, you need your bag of tricks, but you also need to be able to twist those round so that they don't become repetitive.

And in music, improvisation comes after you've done the basics, not before. You master the rote playing before you truly develop an interpretation of a piece.


I find players will pick up on recycled plots, NPCs and situations a lot faster than they'll pick up on me seeming to count but actually deciding that the 19 I just rolled is in fact a 9. Especially players that like to challenge their GM and make him work for things as hard as he makes them work for things.

You don't need to recycle with the same players. Odds are pretty strong you'll game with more than one group of people in your life. Well prepared material is always of use. I played a campaign recently that the GM used for the third time. None of the three groups played through it in the same way, but there was a great deal of overlap, and the campaign was extremely well prepared and polished. If the art of DMing appeals to you, spending the time to make well rounded adventures is well worth it.