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%

I myself don't find any appreciable difference between "calling it" and fudging. In both cases the DM is just choosing to no longer play the board game as per the rules of said game. So one isn't any better or worse than the other to me.
In this particular case: conceding is usually a part of board games, even if it's not in the rules. I've been in many board games where we didn't wait for every last meeple to be officially removed form the board. Ergo, the dm declaring the fight over without rolling for each extra minion is conceding, ad conceding isn't out of line with the concept of combat-as-boardgame.

Obviously it can be done badly or whatever, but it doesn't have the same sense of violation of social contract that changing a rolled result does.
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I was thinking about the MMO video games comparison earlier. I think its more spot on to think about how the game mechanics are just adjudicated by the A.I. Often, the designers and programmers don't see all angles and possibilities. So players either suffer from things not working well, or from things perhaps working too well. Later, these mechanics are changed in a patch or update. I can the see the case that a human GM is making the patch or update right at the table. Sometimes, you gotta play it out, and perhaps you work it out with the group for later games. However, sometimes something is just not going right in the moment and needs a quick fix.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
That's like saying that commercial planes are a lot more applicable than housing to a discussion about cars, because both are transportation. I mean, yeah, it's true, but...

Computer games and the issues with cheating are too far from RPG fudging to be relevant. You're comparing commercial planes and cars.
And I completely disagree. The two are actually very close on this specific matter, because they both involve design decisions and producing entertaining gameplay. Sure, coding an AI is a very different skill from speaking in silly voices, but both things are "how to create an effective opposition that actually challenges human players in an entertaining way." Further, it is a matter of the philosophy involved, and very specifically the explicit admonition to never, EVER let the players find out that your AI cheats, because they WILL react very badly.

Even if commercial planes and cars are very different, they still have common concerns like "be aerodynamic" and "be efficient with fuel." People were challenging, in this analogy, that there was any evidence whatsoever that anyone ever cares that much about fuel. I have demonstrated that, in a plausibly related field, people REALLY REALLY do care about fuel. It is silly to say that we cannot even remotely consider how much concern people have about deceptive enforcement of rules in games when video games give us an excellent (and significantly larger) pool of "people who play games and get upset about the rules of those games being enforced deceptively."
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Later, these mechanics are changed in a patch or update. I can the see the case that a human GM is making the patch or update right at the table. Sometimes, you gotta play it out, and perhaps you work it out with the group for later games. However, sometimes something is just not going right in the moment and needs a quick fix.
Okay, great example!

Have you seen how players react to patch changes that aren't mentioned in the patch notes?

Because that is EXACTLY the kind of thing I'm talking about. Like when New World put out its first major update, they had (finally, after a couple months of making every patch direct to the live game) added a PTR ("public test realm" for non-MMO folks; a public patch testing server) for players to see and experience some of the changes that would be made. Except...they put in a whole bunch of secret changes that weren't shown on the PTR and weren't mentioned in the patch notes. Most of these changes were intended to make the experience take longer, including a huge increase to the amount of time required to reach top tier crafting and gathering. The players were absolutely furious that these changes went in without any documentation (no mention in patch notes) or preview on the PTR.

That, right there, is exactly the kind of fury that is readily spawned by making secret changes and then having those changes be discovered later. So yes, I totally grant that analogy! I just don't think it's an analogy you actually want to make. (I fully expect someone else to repudiate it now for being inapplicable.)

(Also, in case it is relevant to anyone, I don't actually play NW. I can't stand PvP focused games and their hyperfocus on competition and zero-sum gaming. I much prefer cooperating with others, whether to RP, discuss lore, explore the world, fight some stuff, etc.)
 

Would y'all count the following as fudging: Changing the tactical prowess of the bad guys and the response of reinforcements based on how the combat is going?
I definitely wouldn't call it "fudging," since that implies taking something 'solid' and treating it as fluid. If the die rolled a 15, it's usually taken to mean it's 15, not 'somewhere in the 13-17 range'. But what the monster choses to do with it's action is already fluid - you were going to make the choice anyways, theoretically from any of the available options*, so any legal choice (which includes 'try something beyond the rules') is still within the parameters of the game.

* I'm assuming you mean "legal" moves, and not randomly adding new powers to a monster mid-fight.

Now, the reasoning behind your choice might be a factor:

If you're changing how the monsters behave because they have new information (including wrong information), that's just rp.

If you're changing monster behavior because you totally forgot they had an ability and now they start using it... that's fine.

If your changing monster behavior because the fight is getting boring and you want to mix it up... that's also fine. Players are free to do the same thing. (I often, as a player, use an ability in a less-than optimal way simply because I just got it and I want to use my new toy spell.)

If you're changing monster behavior because you want a specific end result... that's getting into railroading territory, and this thread is controversial enough.

If you have multiple reasons, things get more complicated.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Okay. So every DM that fudges should be honest with its players that that will happen, and will be concealed from them whenever it does?
Not what I said. I said that the players have put trust in the DM to run the game. That has nothing to do with disclosing or not if something is fudged.

That isn't fudging,
Wait a second... I change numbers rolled and damage done so that my kids and niece & nephew's characters won't die and that's not fudging?

That isn't fudging either. It's impossible to conceal "okay guys, you've won, I won't drag this out." Calling a fight when it has become completely hopeless for one side or the other is a perfectly legitimate tool for maintaining pacing, and is completely orthogonal to fudging, unless it is done in secret. I have no idea why one would want to, since that kind of secret doesn't add anything that just being honest wouldn't.
Changing someone's HPs down so they are killed before what was written in the encounter isn't fudging?

And it's impossible to conceal?

I don't really see much point to continuing to converse, if changing dice or modifying a onster after the encounter starts to get a specific effect isn't fudging, then I don't know how you mean the word and frankly it's so far from the comon definition I see no value in learning your meaning. And from the top bit you don't understand my words either.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
And I completely disagree. The two are actually very close on this specific matter, because they both involve design decisions and producing entertaining gameplay. Sure, coding an AI is a very different skill from speaking in silly voices, but both things are "how to create an effective opposition that actually challenges human players in an entertaining way." Further, it is a matter of the philosophy involved, and very specifically the explicit admonition to never, EVER let the players find out that your AI cheats, because they WILL react very badly.
First, there's a big difference between computers cheating and DM fudging(which is not cheating). Second, the computer cheating is about challenge or accomplishing a design goal, regardless of player desires. The vast majority of fudging being described in these threads is not about that at all. Third, the mindset a player has when dealing with a computer RPG is very different than the mindset a player has when sitting down for a tabletop RPG. The DM is granted a lot more leeway than a computer AI.

It's apples and oranges. Rocket ships and boats. Computer RPGs and sit down RPGs are not close to being the same.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I find it hilarious that people don't understand that video games cheat both ways. What do they thing difficulty sliders even are? It is a way to choose what level and type of cheating you want the computer to apply.

It's the primary purpose of all lies: to make things run smoother because humans have programmed themselves to say they hate lies while absolutely requiring them.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I definitely wouldn't call it "fudging," since that implies taking something 'solid' and treating it as fluid. If the die rolled a 15, it's usually taken to mean it's 15, not 'somewhere in the 13-17 range'. But what the monster choses to do with it's action is already fluid - you were going to make the choice anyways, theoretically from any of the available options*, so any legal choice (which includes 'try something beyond the rules') is still within the parameters of the game.

* I'm assuming you mean "legal" moves, and not randomly adding new powers to a monster mid-fight.

Now, the reasoning behind your choice might be a factor:

If you're changing how the monsters behave because they have new information (including wrong information), that's just rp.

If you're changing monster behavior because you totally forgot they had an ability and now they start using it... that's fine.

If your changing monster behavior because the fight is getting boring and you want to mix it up... that's also fine. Players are free to do the same thing. (I often, as a player, use an ability in a less-than optimal way simply because I just got it and I want to use my new toy spell.)

If you're changing monster behavior because you want a specific end result... that's getting into railroading territory, and this thread is controversial enough.

If you have multiple reasons, things get more complicated.
There's one more:

If you're changing monster behavior because you weant a more specific process toward an already-likely end result... then what?

An example here would be changing an opponent's behavior such that the combat plays out a bit longer and comes across as more exciting to the players, even though the party's win was and still is almost guaranteed.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
Note: I very specifically never fudge dice rolls. If the die roll is called for by the dm, the number rolled is the number. This sometimes causes problems, but the players feeling like the rolls are just suggestions takes the game out of the role-playing game experience, and part of the reason I play DnD and not another system is for the game.
This!

For me, it goes back to Fate (DM control of the world, monsters and NPCs), Choice (Player control of their PCs) and Chance (dice control over uncertain outcomes). The whole point of rolling dice is to invite randomness into the game, to have chance decide the outcome instead of the player or DM.

So I won't adjust HP of monsters or give them a new ability mid combat either (since HP and CR is a sort of DC) but I will change tactics or have something unexpected happen in the event that I realize I screwed up my encounter. For example, I once created what I thought was a middle of the road encounter that the PCs could not escape from and after 1 round I realized it could only end in TPK of the party. I had the big bad (an evil cleric) call out to a dozen or so minions to lend him strength and prove their loyalty by throwing themselves into a lava pool (that was already established), thus rebalancing the encounter to the level I had intended. It worked thematically (was super evil/creepy) and was seamless to the players, who then blamed big bad's next big hit on what had happened. In my own head, the big bad expected to gain some advantage from it, but didn't, thus establishing a reason in fiction for the events.
 

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