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%

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
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.
This came up with someone else, but they asked not to engage further, so I did not reply.

The difference to me is that you "call" the fight openly, as opposed to fudging the damage so it's "officially" over. That is, "calling" the fight, as I would term it, looks like this (with some RP embellishments)....

Bob/Theophilius: "That's...eighteen damage from that fireball."
DM: "Ooh, and all four of them failed their saves." [Checks their HP, sees the one furthest away still has enough left to last a round or two of hopeless fighting.] "Three go down outright. This last guy has no hope of survival. Tell me, Garka, do you spare him or cut him down like a mangy cur?"
Anne/Garka: "Oh you KNOW I'm going to relish ending that jerks sorry existence."
DM: "Any objections? Charity, I know you're trying to show Garka the value of mercy."
Chuck/Charity: "I try to speak out, but Garka is too fast for me. I sigh, but don't say anything yet."

While fudging would look like this (with similar RP embellishments)....

Bob/Theophilius: "That's...eighteen damage from that fireball."
DM: "Ooh, and all four of them failed their saves. [Checks their HP, sees the one furthest away still has enough left to last a round or two of hopeless fighting.] "That's done it! All the bandits are defeated. Tell me, Garka, how do you feel about being upstaged by Theo?"
Anne/Garka: "It's...mixed. I've always thought Theo was soft. Bathrobe man. But you can't argue with results, and 'burnt four bandits to a crisp' is about as clear of a result as you can get! I slap him on the back." [IC voice] "Big fires for a soft man! Maybe Gorka wrong about Theo!"

The latter is fudging, because it is hidden from the players. The former is calling the fight, because it is clear that they COULD play out the rest of the fight, the DM is openly stating that it's a hopeless thing and the players can just move on without having to go through the hassle. It is very specifically the NON secret nature of "calling the fight" that makes it not fudging.

Likewise, if I were to remove death as a consequence, I do not need to fudge in order to do it. If a PC drops to 0 HP, I don't have to KILL them. That's perfectly within my power to, y'know, just...not do. Players who fail three death saves (or whatever) wouldn't lose their characters, they would just be captured or grievously wounded or the like, and the party would have to deal with the consequences thereof. Like, let's say my current group managed to have one of their number """die""" in a combat, but the party pulls them out of the fray and escapes. Now we have a serious issue: that character is grievously injured and cannot help in combat. The party could wait, allowing the character time to heal, but that would let their many opponents advance their plans unimpeded. They could try to hire a mercenary to temporarily replace that person (player must build a temporary second character, an option I KNOW would please at least one of my players.) They could pay a lot of money to get fancy magical healing—possibly exhausting resources that could have been put to more productive use. They could do a quick adventure (with wounded PC either "fighting in spirit" as 13A puts it, or playing a temp merc) to get alchemy supplies to make an unusually potent healing potion—a risky choice, since it could involve delays, more injuries, or unforeseen expenses, but it could also get them everything they want in a short time. Etc. That injury still hurts, still affects the future and might be a critical turning point in the story, but it doesn't kill the character, and I didn't have to do any secret manipulation of the die rolls or statistics.

Now, as I mentioned previously, I do not (necessarily) completely prevent the possibility of death. No PCs have died in my game, so it hasn't been tested, but I have no problem killing a PC if it would not make sense to do otherwise. But "your character died" would never mean "you must roll up a new character" at my table. The player's choice would determine that. Do they get some solo adventures on the far side? Do they wake up alive and well in an unfamiliar place? Perhaps they get a strange vision and are instantly revived...but now have a mysterious mark on them. Maybe they pull a Gandalf the White and get officially Sent Back because Their Mission Is Not Finished. All of these are potential ways to avoid having to eliminate the character, and not a single one of them requires me to pretend the character did not drop to 0 HP and die.
 

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G

Guest 7034872

Guest
Yup. And that's I think why at the end of the day the whole fuddging thing is overblown. Even those of us who do say we fudge probably do it rarely anyway. I don't think any of us are changing rolls or statistics every session... it's probably like maybe once or twice a campaign if we ever need it. But we don't feel the need to hardline a "Never do it!" stance even though when you count it up we might as well be saying we never do it.
This gives me an interesting idea I might play with: what if we let players use any earned inspiration dice to re-roll an opponent's roll instead of just their own? It might be abusable, I guess, but it could forestall some of the most commonly-needed DM fudges. No?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
This gives me an interesting idea I might play with: what if we let players use any earned inspiration dice to re-roll an opponent's roll instead of just their own? It might be abusable, I guess, but it could forestall some of the most commonly-needed DM fudges. No?
Spellcasters will be the best roleplayers at the table! :cool:
 


p_johnston

Adventurer
This gives me an interesting idea I might play with: what if we let players use any earned inspiration dice to re-roll an opponent's roll instead of just their own? It might be abusable, I guess, but it could forestall some of the most commonly-needed DM fudges. No?
So I will say I actually do this. I let players use inspiration to re-roll any dice they or an opponent roll. So far at least it hasn't had had to many serious downsides. I'd say it's 50/50 used to either re-roll critical checks or to negate a critical hit from an enemy. Worth noting that I don't give out inspiration nearly as often as most DM's though (Typically 1 per session).
 

Jahydin

Hero
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?
Most of the time yes and they're more than okay with it. For instance, the first example would be obvious to them.

Sometimes though, very rarely, they will not. Just like the second example.

Do I let the players change the script? No way, haha. That's one of the perks of being DM.
This is why I give the bosses maximum hp instead of average. And (if appropriate to the story), minions. :)
That would have worked in this case for sure, but I'm really hesitant to always do that since I think combat drags on long enough already, haha.
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:
You know, I was thinking this exact thing when I was typing it out, lol. The player I had in mind is really shy and self-conscious though, so being able to contribute and getting praise form the "veterans" was certainly a factor in my decision to "fudge". In different circumstances though, I could certainly see playing it out for laughs.:ROFLMAO:
 

Jahydin

Hero
This gives me an interesting idea I might play with: what if we let players use any earned inspiration dice to re-roll an opponent's roll instead of just their own? It might be abusable, I guess, but it could forestall some of the most commonly-needed DM fudges. No?
I like to give inspiration out like candy to keep the morale going, so I have to keep it being used before the roll for Advantage so things don't get out of hand.

BUT... If my players roll a 1 in combat, I will give them a "Hero Point" that lets them force a reroll of any die (in combat). Makes rolling 1s a little less terrible.
 

You're not even addressing my point, which was not about fudging a roll, but about your claim about never needing to fudge because you have an unbelievable ability to predict the outcome of a combat and that it is not swingy.
Predicting the outcome of a combat encounter is not hard. Typical, average 'by-the-book' encounters the PCs will likely win. Any encounter I build the PC are most likely to fail.

Though really it is just about knowing your players. A typical 'default' group is a couple strangers that just barley work together sometimes....and likely has a hostile player and a greedy player and a clueless player. Every player and every group has things about them.

I just "getting captured" is a typical fudge for a lot of DMs: the DM wants the PCs to get captured. So the DM sends a capture group of bad guys of after the PCs. Then has a random wacky combat...where the PCs roll high and the DM has to fudge things so the PCs get caught.

As said, my way to to load the bad guys up with poison/sleep/hold/nets/bolas and other capture things. And the bad guys set a trap and/or have good tactics. And if the players are just stumbling around, goofing off there is a good chance the PCs will be captured. Sure it's possible for the players to work together and get away....but that is unlikely.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I like to give inspiration out like candy to keep the morale going, so I have to keep it being used before the roll for Advantage so things don't get out of hand.

BUT... If my players roll a 1 in combat, I will give them a "Hero Point" that lets them force a reroll of any die (in combat). Makes rolling 1s a little less terrible.
Never thought about giving those for 1's.

I give them 1/day to a max of 3, usable one per encounter.

One of our other DMs gives them for going down or otherwise being unable to act in an encounter per round.

Most just give them out for doing something cool or amusing though.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don’t even fully build most monsters before initiative, and often improvise defining abilities on the fly as I declare the action with absolutely no premeditation. 🤷‍♂️

I always know the thematics, but the mechanics are just there to make those thematics work.
 

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