D&D General Dice Fudging and Twist Endings

Clint_L

Hero
Never make a threat that you aren't prepared to deliver on. If you are having the players roll for something, the implicit threat is that they could fail the roll, with consequences. If it's a situation where the consequences would be serious - say, character death - don't have them roll if that is not an outcome that you are willing to accept.
 

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Arilyn

Hero
That's my point though - the d20 is swingy. So whether it rolls low or rolls high, it's still up to the DM to say what those good or bad results will be prior to the roll. So why choose something that nobody wants, only to be forced to ignore it if the die rolls that way? This seems pointless to me.
Because most of the time the rolls can land where they will, even the wild swings. But if the GM feels a fudge is necessary? Judgement call. GMs make a ton of them at the table. D&D practically requires it. We all have different ways of adjudicating. I know this gets said a lot, but if everyone is having fun, then things are going well.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Because most of the time the rolls can land where they will, even the wild swings. But if the GM feels a fudge is necessary? Judgement call. GMs make a ton of them at the table. D&D practically requires it. We all have different ways of adjudicating. I know this gets said a lot, but if everyone is having fun, then things are going well.
Fudging isn't necessary at all if the stakes are something the DM buys into. It's only when they don't that they fudge. So, don't create stakes you can't buy into, then you don't have to fudge.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Fudging isn't necessary at all if the stakes are something the DM buys into. It's only when they don't that they fudge. So, don't create stakes you can't buy into, then you don't have to fudge.

It feels like sometimes some DMs might not have thought through all the stakes or possibilities before calling for a roll or rolls. As a species the likelihood of making decisions without contemplating everything seems fairly widespread and I can imagine many cases a mulligan in other settings might be appreciated too.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
I'd your job is to tell a story then why play a game?

Just tell a story.

Probably won't be getting people to show up for that though.
I've always had a strong narrative focus, and I haven't had a problem filling D&D tables for 30 years, across five editions and Pathfinder. If narrative play really didn't attract players, Wizards and Paizo both would focus on publishing setting material instead of almost exclusively adventure paths.

As far back as 1984, you have the extremely narrative (and best-selling) Dragonlance module path hitting store shelves. Dragonlance was cancelled shortly into AD&D2, but got its own standalone story-forward TTRPG system (shared with Marvel) that no one seems to have liked but was frankly too well supported for too long during TSR's worst years to not have sold well.

We talk a lot about "playing to find out" in a theoretical, dungeon-mastery-craft sense, but I think the vast majority of tables in the wild have very narrative-minded dungeon masters running games for players who are more concerned about their character development (both in level and in personality) than whether or not they are being railroaded through the dungeon master's pet novel.

I think this is definitely borne out by the fact that D&D just keeps stubbornly getting less and less simulationist in terms of consequences despite the ever-increasing importance of combat and despite online theorycrafters' dogged insistence on the glory of the player-driven let-the-dice-fall-where-they-may sandbox.

Sorry, most folks out there are aping Matt Mercer, and what's more, they were for decades before Critical Role even aired. Matt had to learn from somewhere.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It feels like sometimes some DMs might not have thought through all the stakes or possibilities before calling for a roll or rolls. As a species the likelihood of making decisions without contemplating everything seems fairly widespread and I can imagine many cases a mulligan in other settings might be appreciated too.
Sure, loads of DMs in my experience reflexively call for rolls without considering a number of things, but we can see here that the fudging has an underlying cause. Focus on the cause, I'm saying.
 


DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
It feels like sometimes some DMs might not have thought through all the stakes or possibilities before calling for a roll or rolls. As a species the likelihood of making decisions without contemplating everything seems fairly widespread and I can imagine many cases a mulligan in other settings might be appreciated too.
I'd go a step further and note that perfection is not achievable, regardless of how much control one exerts or thinks they are exerting over the variables, and a major part of the point of enjoying a TTRPG is ceding part of that control to others to allow oneself to be surprised.

But there are good surprises and bad surprises. When my players make a choice I didn't expect and don't like, I do my best to adapt and honor that choice. When a cheap plastic Platonic solid makes a choice I didn't expect and don't like, it can get f**ked.

It's worth noting that when one of my players makes a choice I didn't expect and that the other players don't like, in many circumstances, they can also get f**ked.

Lately my attitude has been that TTRPGs are non-competitive games, and if anyone isn't having a good time, a Mulligan may be best practice even when dice are not involved.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'd go a step further and note that perfection is not achievable, regardless of how much control one exerts or thinks they are exerting over the variables, and a major part of the point of enjoying a TTRPG is ceding part of that control to others to allow oneself to be surprised.
In this particular area, however, it is possible to achieve perfection, at least where removing the necessity of fudging is concerned, and it's actually really easy. Here's how:

Before you call for a die roll, think about (and maybe even announce) what success and failure look like. Assuming everyone's good with those two outcomes, roll the dice and do what they say. Either way, you win!
 

Clint_L

Hero
One thing I would add, as a former fudger, is that I have discovered that the consequences of just going with what the dice dictates has turned out to be a net gain, and even really dire results (character death) have turned out to be positives, including for the players involved. It's just a story/game, after all, and the dice rolls being consistently open and honest has raised the stakes in my games - it really does feel more like there is real tension.

So I think I was worried too much about "protecting" my players. Which, in retrospect, and thinking only of myself, was kind of condescending of me.
 
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