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%

Oofta

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.
There's a huge difference between difficulty settings and "cheating". Some old school racing games would just have cars teleport in if they were too far behind - that's cheating. On the other hand turning up the difficulty level so that the AI is more competent (and the best AI's can now beat the best sim racing drivers) is not. One changes the rules of the game, one doesn't.

It's the same with fudging for me. I adjust monsters all the time before the encounter starts for a variety of reasons, I don't remember the last time I fudged a roll. One is playing by the rules of the game - customizing monsters is core - the other is ignoring the rules of the game to achieve a desired goal.

As always I'm not saying fudging is inherently wrong, it's just something I try to avoid. If you do it too often I think it takes something away from the game when the players realize what you're doing.
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
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.)
Sure, its got a problematic side, and I bet many an MMO developer has taken note since. I would be very surprised if games didn't have stealth patches you didn't even know about. Tho, oh man if you find out!!!
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
So, I only skimmed the last five pages so this might have been brought up at some point (I know I hinted at this either in this thread or the other one--I'm not sure which LOL!):

How would you, as DM, and the other players at your table feel, if a PLAYER fudged a die roll?

Suppose your say a save is DC 16, you know the PC gets a+4 bonus, and the player rolls, but only got a 10. They tell you they made it, but a player next to them saw the roll, and calls them out?

Now what happens? Perhaps that save would keep the PC in the fight, while failing it means death??

Another scenario:

A PC is wearing a chain shirt and has an AC of 17. You make your attack roll and the hit AC 17, announcing to the group that you hit AC 17. You look at the player, who responds, "Whew! Just missed me!" That "miss" keeps the PC in the fight as well, and next round they rally the group to save the day. Does that matter to you as DM?

IMO if you are fudging things as DM, you should be cool with players doing the same. After all, they are doing it to make the game more fun for them.

DMs have choices and agency in the game based on their decisions (about the world, encounters, magic items allowed, etc.) and players have agency in the game by the choices and actions of the PCs.

I just feel like fudging rolls, changing the "script" in an encounter, etc. makes it so those decisions don't carry the same weight anymore. Now, if your group has this discussion before you play and everyone is fine with the DM and/or players fudging things--then no issue; but otherwise? Probably an issue...

As an aside, all this got me thinking: what if players and the DM agreed you could fudge ONE thing per session or level or something? If everyone agrees to that, it would give them a chance to change the reality of the game, in essence allowing them to write their own story, for a bigger part than they might otherwise have. I do sort of like that idea... :unsure:
 


jasper

Rotten DM
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.
I disagree. I have called a fight either because the monsters were going down next round, or I was up against the clock and wanted to move on to part 3 of the module. But I am an Adventure League DM.
 

p_johnston

Adventurer
So I used to fudge a fair bit when I first started to DM and have done so a lot less as the years have gone on. I've found that after years of being a DM that I can usually accomplish the narrative goals I want with other means then just changing the numbers on a monster or a roll. (NPC tactics/choice/intervention).

I typically am fairly free with information with the players. I will often just straight up tell them the monsters AC, HP, etc (Honestly especially with AC a lot of times it just makes things quicker if after a couple rounds I just announce "AC is 17 just tell me if you hit. Don't care about the number.") Same with DC's a lot of times. More often then not if I don't tell that info to the players it has more to do with me forgetting then actually trying to keep it hidden.

As for Die rolling I don't exactly roll in the open but that has more to do with convenience then anything else. I roll wherever and however is easiest for me. If the players can see it great. If they can't fine. I've rolled behind a screen, on the table in front of them, in a die tray by my side, etc. I've even had die roll across the table and had the player closest to it tell me the result and just used that. The only reason I didn't use a virtual roller while my group was playing online was that it was just more annoying then just rolling a die, not to keep information hidden.

The closest I get to fudging most often is tweaking monster abilities, especially ones I've made. Things like throwing a recharge on an ability or deciding that it's a once per battle not twice per battle thing. Stuff like that. Sometimes you try and have a monster do something cool and just don't realize how deadly it is.

Final thought is that a lot of people have said they will shave the last couple points off of a monsters HP if the party gets it down to 1 or 2. While I have no problem with this practice (used to do it myself long ago) now days I much prefer to loudly announce to the party every time they manage to get an enemy to precisely 1 hp to watch my players groan. It's become somewhat of a joke with my group how often they manage to do it.
 

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.
You are confusing everything by lumping everything together.

When we are talking about fudgeing a roll, we are talking about changing a dice roll. It's when the DM has a monster attack a character...rolls 100 damage ...then freaks out as they don't want the character to die so the fudge it...and say "oh, um, 25 damage"

MY point is that is you can't handel the result of a random roll, THEN NEVER MAKE THAT RANDOM ROLL. See, it is easy.

The two examples from a couple pages back:

1.Sad Bob. So poor, Sad Bob rolls low dice and his character misses three times in a fight. Bob is all Sad and not having Fun Would I EVER fudge his missed roll four so Bob's character can hit, and Bob be happy? NEVER. Bob can roll ones and twos for every attack for all I care.

2.The group has an easy encounter or by passes a "planned" encounter so the group has "more" resources then the DM "planned" for the group to have for the final battle. Ok...there is SO much wrong with that whole wacky idea of the DM "planning" all that in the first place. I don't "plan" like that. Some times encounters are easy, sometimes they are hard....and they are hard a LOT more as I'm a Hard Fun type DM. Between that easy encounter will likely be at least a couple other encouters before the "big" one...so the characters will most likely use and loose resources before that. And even if they did it somehow...so what...they might have a slightly less then hard 'big' encounter. Maybe....but there is a good chance it would still be hard.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It's the same with fudging for me. I adjust monsters all the time before the encounter starts for a variety of reasons, I don't remember the last time I fudged a roll. One is playing by the rules of the game - customizing monsters is core - the other is ignoring the rules of the game to achieve a desired goal.
Fudging is an officially recommended 5e table rule. It's not ignoring the rules of the game to use it.
 

Jahydin

Hero
When playing 5E, I guess I'd be a "fudger"...

I don't limit myself whatsoever when running combats. Fun comes first.

Example 1:
Big Bad that the party has been following 3 sessions comes out and gets flawlessly destroyed round one... no way! He gets up, spits out blood, and challenges the players to try that again! Second health bar time! I know for a fact just describing that my friends would be super pumped and high-fiving each other knowing darn well they actually wrecked him, but stoked their getting a better battle, not to mention double the XP and more treasure!

Example 2:
Spider bites the fighter and she instinctively rolls a Con Save... it's a 1. The player looks worried the poison might kill her. Before I can tell her the spider wasn't poisonous, the Druid blurts out not to worry, she has Protection from Poison ready to go. The other players look relieved and thank her for prepping it and the Druid player looks happy with herself. Am I going ruin this great moment between players? No, of course not! Spider is now poisonous (and again, worth more XP).

I specified 5E, cause I only play this way when running it. I've tried for years to run it "seriously" like I would my OSR games, but I just don't think the ruleset supports it. Challenge Ratings are all over the place, the combat math is just terrible, and players are practically on the same power level as the Avengers by Level 6. So when I want a real "game", I have other systems for that. 5E is time to just let my imagination go wild and have fun.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
When playing 5E, I guess I'd be a "fudger"...

I don't limit myself whatsoever when running combats. Fun comes first.
Question: do your players know you do such things?

And are they then (most likely from the sounds of it) okay with it?

Question: do you let your players change the script so the game is more fun for them, too? Turning a miss into a hit because they missed 5 times in a row already?

Big Bad that the party has been following 3 sessions comes out and gets flawlessly destroyed round one... no way! He gets up, spits out blood, and challenges the players to try that again! Second health bar time! I know for a fact just describing that my friends would be super pumped and high-fiving each other knowing darn well they actually wrecked him, but stoked their getting a better battle, not to mention double the XP and more treasure!
This is why I give the bosses maximum hp instead of average. And (if appropriate to the story), minions. :)

Spider bites the fighter and she instinctively rolls a Con Save... it's a 1. The player looks worried the poison might kill her. Before I can tell her the spider wasn't poisonous, the Druid blurts out not to worry, she has Protection from Poison ready to go. The other players look relieved and thank her for prepping it and the Druid player looks happy with herself. Am I going ruin this great moment between players? No, of course not! Spider is now poisonous (and again, worth more XP).
LOL I wouldn't have bothered, but I would have let it play out anyway that the fighter is freaking out because she thinks the spider was poisonous! The druid, if she has actually cast detect poison (and disease) would have laughed her butt off and told the party the fighter is a hypochondriac. ;) The comic element alone would have kept me from fudging this. :ROFLMAO:

Now, this one is also a gray area when it comes to fudging since for me fudging is about changing the perceived reality for the players once it is established. If the player rolled the CON save without you asking for it, the perceived reality IS the spider is poisonous and telling them it wasn't would break that.

Nice examples, BTW.
 

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