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D&D 5E Do you want your DM to fudge?

As a player, do you want your DM to fudge? (with the same answer choices as that other poll).

  • Yes

    Votes: 47 23.7%
  • Almost never

    Votes: 77 38.9%
  • No, never

    Votes: 74 37.4%

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A technique for deception.

Now you are lying to yourself, Max.

Nope. There's no rule that says die rolls can't happen for pretend reasons or that the DM can't change the results. You are deceiving yourself if you believe that it's a lie for the DM to tell the truth that the attack missed, because it DID miss.
 

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Lehrbuch

First Post
...Asking for perception rolls, rolling dice, looking at NPC character sheets, grabbing miniatures, double checking the stealth rules, noting exactly where light sources illuminated to.

And the place was completely empty.

Yep, done that too. But I think that's a different sort of "lie". Even though it's going to be fraught to articulate why.

For me, that sort of "lie" is part of the theatre of DMing. Much like trying to speak in different accents, and waving your arms around, etc.

Another part of why it is different is that there is (and there was intended to be) an enjoyable epiphany when the players realise that you were bluffing. Indeed, "the reveal" was part of the point of this lie. That is different to the kind of "lie" which the DM wants to hide from the players.
 

MechaPilot

Explorer
I voted yes, and this is why: Dice can't tell stories.

Now, it's not like I want a DM to fudge all the time, or even a majority of the time. However, if the story is better served by one result than another (something a DM, especially a newer DM, might not have realized before allowing or calling for the roll) and if it doesn't remove my agency as a player, then slather some of that hot fudge on me.

Of course, it's important to bear in mind that when I talk about servicing the story I'm not talking about a pre-conceived notion of how the story should unfold. Fudging for that end smells a bit like railroading to me.
 


AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
Deception is only an issue if you think you are entitled to know what the DM is doing and why he's doing it.
False. Deception is also an issue because players need to be able to trust that their DM has the shared fun of the group as their prime priority, and it is more difficult to trust someone that you know to be intentionally deceptive.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
False. Deception is also an issue because players need to be able to trust that their DM has the shared fun of the group as their prime priority, and it is more difficult to trust someone that you know to be intentionally deceptive.

Since fudging is for the shared fun of the group, it is consistent with shared fun being the DM's prime priority.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
Since fudging is for the shared fun of the group, it is consistent with shared fun being the DM's prime priority.
Max, no.

Fudging is not inherently for the shared fun of the group - it can be used for other purposes, I've seen it done (more often than not, actually, since I have never once seen a DM fudge something and it enhance anyone's fun but the DM's).

A DM does not, despite however confident they are that they do, have the ability to guarantee their deception is never caught - and caught deception causes doubt, which makes trust harder and risks causing damage to the enjoyment of the game. Since getting caught lying is possible, but lying isn't necessary in the first place, choosing to lie is choosing to endanger the shared fun of the group, not bolstering it.

A DM also does not, despite however confident they are that they do, have the ability to guarantee that what they think the group will find most enjoyable is actually what the group will find most enjoyable - which exaggerates the risk that should you get caught lying to your players that it has a significant negative effect on their enjoyment. Anecdote: My group's DM before me fudged, he continue to this day to insist that he had our shared fun in mind and was fudging towards that ideal - and we as a group, unanimously, can say that his idea of what we would find fun was flagrantly wrong (but he was too dense and too narcissistic to take statements like "None of us are having fun, please stop doing [insert list of things he did that we didn't enjoy]" as anything more than us players not knowing what's good for us).
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
It's not generally an option for players. But, it's only a bad idea to the degree that sitting by and letting the game suck would be a good idea.

I have to second Aaron of Barbaria's response here: your phrasing implies that the only options are "do nothing, and thus have a game that sucks" or "fudge, and thus have a game that is good." Were this a philosophical argument, I'd accuse you of question-begging, but I suppose this is more a matter of a..."leading statement," I guess? The statement equivalent of "have you stopped beating your spouse?"

No. 5e is a very DM-driven game, and a 5e DMs need to take full responsibility for the player experience, that includes fudging (among many other things) "as needed." Other games are more player-driven or even system-driven or simply have less need of such DM techniques. So it's very much a matter of degree. You can think of rolling dice when the roll won't matter (or even when there's nothing to be determined by the result) as a sort of placebo for players who need to believe their experience isn't being orchestrated by the DM but is somehow more 'real' or emergent or 'immersive' than that.

Yeah as I've said elsewhere, "placebo rolling" (good phrase, that) isn't among the things I classify as "fudging." Because you aren't, as Dictionary.com puts it, "adjusting in a false...way." (I edited out the part about clumsiness, since that doesn't apply.) You aren't adjusting anything at all; you're providing a particular atmosphere, a particular sensory input, for your players. That the sensory input doesn't actually say anything about what you yourself are doing doesn't make it "fudging."

Is your issue with fudging a philosophical one? I.e. just don't roll that die if you're predetermined that you're not going to hit?

For me, yes. I have in fact said that exact thing, in different words, several times. Don't roll if you've already chosen the result.

But, since important challenges have come up to that, there are two additional points:
Do roll, if there's still a meaningful way in which the results could be different, e.g. the persuasive speech will work, but it could vary from "You have my attention, but I need concrete proof" to "My treasury and my armies are at your disposal." That is, as long as *some* part is still uncertain, rolling and *actually* using what the die says, is fine. Rolling to determine the strength of the success, and then deciding, "Y'know what, no, this is definitely just a partial success, I don't care what the die says"? THAT would not be fine.

"Placebo rolling" is perfectly fine. You're rolling a die because the clatter of dice makes your players happy. You may not even look at the die; for all you care, it could be a pre-recorded sound of a die being rolled, or a completely blank die, as long as the player is pleased to hear that sound. The number (or lack thereof) produced is utterly unimportant, and you never meant it to be.

I ask because deciding beforehand that capture, not death, is the consequence of a TPK in that encounter kinda seems like fudging by the back door.

Are the stakes telegraphed to the players? E.g. one of the goblins shouts "Boss would love to have him a few more prisoners, let's take 'em down lads!"

Well, for me, I would (personally) always leave the option of non-lethal consequences as a possibility, because I don't like killing PCs unless and until it feels thematically appropriate. (If a player wished to change to a new PC due to disillusionment with their current one, I would ask for their approval to use the character myself for future plotlines, but if they really wanted the character dead and gone, I'd probably allow it.)

But no, I don't think that deciding what failure *means* for any particular roll, or set of rolls, is the same as fudging. I do think that the DM should make it so that the players can *discover* the failure state for any given encounter, because that's part of what helps people make informed decisions--but I don't think that DMs should have to be OVERT about it. The players can, and should, take SOME responsibility for how informed they are. The information needs to be available, but not necessarily flagged--it's a balancing act between expecting the players to seek out information, and accounting for the idea that the players may not always KNOW that information is available to be sought.

If a DM made that decision after a string of bad d20's left the party on the verge of an unexpected TPK, would you still disapprove? What about if he hadn't telegraphed the likely outcome to the players (i.e. left his options open)..?

Not necessarily. The encounter hasn't actually ended yet. I'm okay with the stakes altering over the course of combat, as long as that alteration makes sense. E.g. a colony of non-sentient spiders probably isn't going to "take prisoners." But maybe instead of killing their food, they simply inject a paralytic venom and take it back for "storage," allowing the party a chance to escape. I might not necessarily have thought of that the moment combat began, but it's a plausible and appropriate consequence for the party suffering a TPK. There might be some loss of gear, or time, or money as a result (all their *stuff* got left behind! Gotta get it back!)

I do take the dice out of the equation myself, occasionally. I learned this lesson after a player at my table had consistently *terrible* luck executing flavourful and perfectly in-character japes during combat. Now my players know that describing something ultra-cool might get them a pass on the die roll. Is this fudging?

Not for me. Deciding whether or not to employ the dice as the resolution mechanic is an important part of good DMing. Rolling, and then looking at the result and saying, "No, I know better" is what bothers me. Whether it's pass-fail, degree-of-success, whatever. I'm okay with tweaking the result (Maxperson's "Is deciding that a 20 isn't a crit fudging?" question), as long as it is still consistent with the meaning of the result (e.g. very high rolls are generally successful, but you can tweak the degree of success if you want). I'm also okay with deciding the dice aren't necessary in this instance And I don't *mind* (but don't really *like*) rolling a meaningless, "placebo" die to generate suspense.

We've talked a lot (a LOT) about dice, but for the anti-fudgers out there, how do you feel about things like adding or trimming hitpoints from a monster after the fact? What about unplanned for second waves of bad guys? What about ignoring the "written in the book" second wave if things went poorly for the PCs straight out of the gate? How about deciding to throw a couple of healing potions into the treasure haul after the fact because people got more beat up than you had been expecting?

These are all things that I see as sharing shelf space with fudging a die roll in my suite of DM tools. Do you see it as being as dishonest as ignoring a die result?

Altering the stats of a monster after it has appeared in actual play ("after minis hit the map," whether literally or metaphorically) is a form of fudging in my book, and I don't like it. It is mathematically equivalent to doing the reverse operation to PC damage (that is, trimming HP = bonus PC damage, adding HP = trimming PC damage), and I would never ever be okay with a DM that reduced my damage because it would be "more interesting" for me to do less damage. Since the two are mathematically equivalent, I should feel the same about them,* even if it is done allegedly "for my benefit."

Altering the stats, number, or even arrival of things that haven't actually appeared in play is 100% okay, as long as the players aren't convinced it MUST happen. E.g. there's a castle assault, and the players have an accurate, up-to-date copy of the guard duty roster. They know where the guards will be stationed. Altering the patrols or removing guards they know will be there is no longer kosher, unless and until there is a good reason for the players to believe their intel is no longer accurate; say, for example, there's an alarm raised...*elsewhere* in the castle, meaning someone ELSE has tried to break in and has attracted the attention of the expected guards.

But, in places where the PCs have no idea what specific deployment or organization of forces they'll be fighting? Modify away. Toss out the second wave if the first wave is doing fine on its own. Throw in a third wave if the PCs kill off the first before the second can even arrive. Etc. You can even completely remove upcoming, separate encounters if one or more of them would prove too much for the party to handle. Same goes for the treasure; unless the PCs have some way of knowing precisely what is in the treasure hoard (which seems fantastically unlikely to me), adding to or modifying it is just fine. I'd caution against reducing it unless there's a good in-story reason, e.g. they dilly-dallied and wasted time, so the duke's usurping brother had to spend more gold on his hired mercenaries, draining a bit from the duchy's coffers.

I'd be careful about throwing around the word "dishonesty" in this conversation. I do think that making players THINK a roll matters when it doesn't is...disingenuous, at the very least, which is why I don't like the "placebo rolling" thing. But people get offended, and probably rightly so, for having their fudging called "dishonest," so...maybe don't use that word.

*This is similar to the "un-rested penalty" vs. "rested bonus XP" thing from World of Warcraft's early stages. When it was listed as a "penalty" to experience for not having a "well-rested" character, people HATED it. Then they took the exact same system and just changed the labels: being "rested" gave you "bonus" XP (that is, the originally intended amount of XP), while not being rested gave you "normal" XP (50% of the originally intended amount). Simply labelling the old penalty as "normal," and the old normal as a "bonus," made people LOVE it. Exact same system. Exact same numbers. They literally did nothing but change how it was described. When I learned about that, it poisoned my appreciation of the so-called "rested bonus"--because mathematically equivalent things should arouse the same feelings on my part.

Yep, done that too. But I think that's a different sort of "lie". Even though it's going to be fraught to articulate why.

For me, that sort of "lie" is part of the theatre of DMing. Much like trying to speak in different accents, and waving your arms around, etc.

That is precisely what I have said on a similar subject ("placebo" rolling--rolling without actually looking at the die or even caring what it says, because one or more players NEEDS to hear a die in order to enjoy the consequences you deliver). And I would say the same thing here.

Neither the players, nor their characters, knew that the place was abandoned. I would, of course, have made checks to see if they had passively figured out that it was abandoned, but if the abandonment had been very recent there might not be any signs at all. The players were caught up in executing their plan, and didn't think to consider the possibility they were simply wrong about something. It's not the DM's fault if the players neglect to confirm that their quarry actually is present.

Another part of why it is different is that there is (and there was intended to be) an enjoyable epiphany when the players realise that you were bluffing. Indeed, "the reveal" was part of the point of this lie. That is different to the kind of "lie" which the DM wants to hide from the players.

This, on the other hand, I'm a bit leery of. The players need to be able to confirm things. It's okay to avoid overtly breaking an illusion, especially if their characters wouldn't be able to plainly see the difference (e.g. my "Roman-style arena" example: intentionally making people think it's a recessed Roman Colosseum-style place, when it's actually a square, raised plinth over a pit of spikes; the players can't tell the difference if you don't tell them, but their characters ABSOLUTELY know the difference, so that IS the DM's bad for not being clear.)

So I guess I'd have to ask: If someone had asked, or tried to check, if there actually were anyone present...would you have allowed them to break the illusion, or would you have lied/"bluffed" (given my whole "don't use the D word" thing above) and waited until the "right time" for the reveal?
 

steppedonad4

First Post
As far as I'm concerned, fudging is just a polite way of saying cheating. If the players can't cheat, why should the DM be able to? You want to steal my agency? Go play a video game.
 

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