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D&D 5E DMs, how do you fudge?

This is how I, as DM, most commonly fudge during our 5e D&D sessions (choose up to 3):

  • Dice rolls in favor of the PCs

    Votes: 27 22.5%
  • Dice rolls in favor of the monsters/NPCs

    Votes: 9 7.5%
  • Monster/NPC HP during combat

    Votes: 46 38.3%
  • Monster/NPC AC during combat

    Votes: 7 5.8%
  • DCs

    Votes: 17 14.2%
  • Other (comment below)

    Votes: 25 20.8%
  • I don't fudge - what is prepped is what there is

    Votes: 35 29.2%
  • I don't fudge - fudging is cheating

    Votes: 24 20.0%
  • I don't fudge - I prefer other deserts

    Votes: 19 15.8%

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'm somewhat confused by the conflation some people seem to have between this is a challenging fight and this fight took a decent chunk of player resources away. What makes something challenging or difficult is the mental effort required to succeed at the endeavor or use your resources wisely. An encounter that strips player characters of more hit points yet does not require more mental effort or skill to achieve success is not more challenging. It might feel more tense, but it is not actually presenting any additional obstacles for players to overcome.
Wait until the next combat comes along and you haven't yet got those hit points back... :)
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Because, in most cases, their rolls are a result of a choice. If everything went well, they have some information and decide to act upon it. You translate it and say "give me a something something roll" or "roll to hit". They willingly took a risk, and it succeeded. It's a gamble, but one they willingly take.
And if it was a one-and-done roll, then sure I could maybe get behind what you are saying.

But a combat involves dozens upon dozens of different rolls... attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, ability checks in the moment etc. To think every single one is "important" due to the "choice" a player took to get to that roll is a little extreme in my opinion. If a player has stood in front of an enemy and is making their seventh attack roll against that enemy because they are just in a mano-a-mano fight... what real "choice" did they make that was so important? They aren't that hurt and their enemy isn't down yet after a bunch of hits-- so it's either keep doing what they've been doing, or else run away for what would seem to be no real reason. At the end of the day, there really isn't a "choice", because there's only one rather logical action to take... the same exact action they had taken six times previously. So that "choice" isn't really so special that I need to hold it up like a Faberge egg.

But be that as it may... for me and my players it comes down to the functionality of combat. What is getting into combat supposed to accomplish? For other tables, it might be the tactical board game-- the pieces are on the board, everyone has their stats, and now it comes down to out-strategizing the DM in order to win the fight. So the same way you wouldn't want to cheat at Risk (because otherwise, why play it?)... you wouldn't want to cheat in the D&D board game. And I get that, absolutely 100%. For a large percentage of players, the board game is sacrosanct. It's why optimization is such an important thing for a lot of folks-- they want to play the strategy combat game to the top of their intelligence (and which also explains why so many players hate when WotC removes restrictions from character creation, because then if they want to play less stereotypical and optimized PCs, they have to purposefully nerf themselves on their own, rather than relying on WotC to do it. Which makes them feel like they aren't playing to the top of their intelligence.)

But for a lot of the rest of us... combat is just part of the narrative. The fights add drama to the story of these characters. But the combat are no more important than any other part of the drama. I mean for me... if I'm in a roleplay scenario with the PCs and their characters make really good arguments in their communication with whomever I'm playing as an NPC... I might forgo asking for a Persuasion check altogether. They won the argument, so I'm not even going to make the roll. Essentially I'm "fudging" the roleplay scenario by automatically letting the PCs win their "fight". That kind of stuff happens all the time. If the players explain a really awesome method for getting up the 50' waterfall, I might "fudge" and say they don't have to roll Athletics checks even if I had written down it was originally a DC 15 check to do so. And I don't treat combat really any differently. It might involve MORE dice rolls than climbing a waterfall... but I don't see them inherently more important. And thus "fudging" is not the end of the world for my table.

And as far as "lying" to my players... guilty as charged! As was said above... DMing is like being a magician-- turning talking, numbers, and dice into a fun and awesome 3 hours of drama and excitement. And I will lie my ass off to make sure my magic tricks work. And my player do not care in the slightest nor ever ask how I'm doing it, because they know coming into the game that D&D is entirely a magic trick, and they are looking to be fooled. Because being fooled is part of the fun. And obviously, other tables will certainly disagree and feel differently. But thankfully I don't play with any of you weirdos. ;) LOL!
 

loverdrive

Prophet of the profane (She/Her)
I don't. If I think that I screwed up and asked for a roll where there was no need for, I'll just say exactly that.

Fudging dice/numbers/whatever, for any reason, pretty much defeats the reason I'd use D&D instead of a proper storytelling game.
 

I do not fudge. I think it takes the 'game' out of RPG when that occurs. It also is just a more exciting experience when all the dice rolls are legit. I've been gaming online lately, so it has been honor system. But in person I don't use a screen for dice rolls for this reason
 

loverdrive

Prophet of the profane (She/Her)
I'm somewhat confused by the conflation some people seem to have between this is a challenging fight and this fight took a decent chunk of player resources away. What makes something challenging or difficult is the mental effort required to succeed at the endeavor or use your resources wisely. An encounter that strips player characters of more hit points yet does not require more mental effort or skill to achieve success is not more challenging. It might feel more tense, but it is not actually presenting any additional obstacles for players to overcome.
Well, vidya game designers have the exact same issue, so it's not exactly surprising.

Dear Goddess above, how much do I hate bullet sponges...
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'm not sure you get the "math". A couple of tweaks an I can make any foe near unbeatable or an easy target. Plus adding in the environment, setting, effects and foe tactics.

Example: I want the characters to fall into the trap at spot x.....so some foes attack and then run away to spot x. Like 99% of the time the crazy mad xp thirsty players will chase the fleeing monster...right into the trap. The "math" does not matter.

If I want some character death I toss in a 3d encounter...like being underwater. Many players get super frustrated with 360 attacks and it leads to easy character death.

I guess you are thinking that combat is just rolling a bunch of dice and seeing what happens? My point is that I don't do that. I don't hinge things I want in my game on such combat. I do LOVE tons and tons and tons of randomness.......but things I want happen as I create/alter the game reality.
No, I think combat is a aspect of play with a large amount of uncertainty determined by randomness and that the players control a large amount of authorship.

For you to be in complete control, you need to overcome both the randomness and the player agency - because there are times they will do things you don't expect that would lead to a different outcome than you are aiming for.

I hadn't followed that path because that's pretty much railroading and I didn't expect that that. But I really don't see any other way to read about what you doing.
 



Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
As said above: Video games. A much, much bigger market than TTRPGs ever hoped to be. Players hate when video games cheat. A reveal that AI cheat in a game is understood to be a bad thing by game AI designers. MMORPGs exist specifically because it is possible to approximate the rule-adjudication functions of DMs using a video game--and I can guarantee you that MMO players absolutely despise it when it turns out creatures in the world can break rules the players are forced to obey.
The housing market is a much, much bigger market than TTRPGs ever hoped to be. Buyers hate when sellers cheat.

Yes, it's bigger. No, that does not make it directly applicable. With a TTRPG you are putting trust into an individual whom you are granting authority to craft a game for your table. If for a specific table that means fudging, it means fudging.

For instance I was running for my kids, niece and nephew. They were emotionally attached to their characters. I basically moved death off the table, and used what could be death to get them captured and need to be rescued or otherwise deeper into plots and bad situations.

In another game dice lie where they may, but a foe with 1-2 HPs left I may just kill off to end combat where it's a forgone conclusion - because there's no tension left at that point and the pacing of the game during our limited widow of play is more important of a tool for table enjoyment than the possibility that a resource (HP, spell slot, etc.) might be expended from the player's side.
 
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