D&D General How do players feel about DM fudging?

How do you, as a player, feel about DM fudging?

  • Very positive. Fudging is good.

    Votes: 5 2.7%
  • Positive. Fudging is acceptable.

    Votes: 41 22.4%
  • Neutral. Fudging sure is a thing.

    Votes: 54 29.5%
  • Negative. Fudging is dubious.

    Votes: 34 18.6%
  • Very negative. Fudging is bad.

    Votes: 49 26.8%

  • Poll closed .

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
But you won’t even recognize that it isn’t that when the player involved is fine with it. Who says they wouldn’t want you to if they knew?
Umm… Everyone who has responded to my suggestion that the DM just be honest about when they’re fudging. They’ve all said something to the tune of “eew, I would hate that.” Yes, that’s the point. Don’t do things your players would hate and then hide the fact that you’re doing it.
Again, it’s entirely about the social contract at a given table.
For sure. If a table agrees that they want the DM to fudge things and not tell them, that’s their prerogative. I wouldn’t be ok with that, personally, but obviously others are, so they can feel free to do so if it’s how they enjoy the game.
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
My response to @Charlaquin was intended to be limited to the idea that not wanting to discuss how the sausage is made during play does not inherently conflict with a desire for open and honest communication.

My personal preference is to have an open and honest discussion up front regarding playstyles (including how/whether fudging will be used) and communication preferences, with check-ins between sessions if/as necessary. I also enjoy after-game analysis if the DM wants to talk shop. What I prefer to avoid (when possible) is the DM stopping play during the session to have an open and honest conversation about mistakes and discussion of retcons--I'd rather they just fudge behind the scenes as seemlessly as possible.

To your broader point, when I DM I make it clear in a conversation up front that my style includes fudging (and an unusually large amount of on-the-fly content generation--indeed, the boundary between fudging and just-in-time authoring is very blurry at my table). So anyone who chooses to play is making an informed choice. In my mind that makes the broader controversy over fudging irrelevant to me: it doesn't matter that a large percentage of enworld posters would find my DMing method objectionable if the players at my table are fine with it. Accordingly, when I'm deciding whether or not to fudge in a given instance I don't think there's any purpose in giving weight to the fact that fudging is controversial in the general community.

(I'm also not confident that anything that can be done with fudging can be done without fudging, especially not post hoc.)
I mean, since the open and honest conversation thing initially came up in the context of a TPK due to misjudging the difficulty of an encounter, that kind of is after the session, since a TPK does tend to end the session.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I mean, since the open and honest conversation thing initially came up in the context of a TPK due to misjudging the difficulty of an encounter, that kind of is after the session, since a TPK does tend to end the session.
Thanks for clarifying! I had understood your statement about being confused how people could simultaneously value open and honest communication while not wanting to know about fudging as being more generally applicable.

Umm… Everyone who has responded to my suggestion that the DM just be honest about when they’re fudging. They’ve all said something to the tune of “eew, I would hate that.” Yes, that’s the point. Don’t do things your players would hate and then hide the fact that you’re doing it.
To clarify: as a player, if there's going to be fudging I strongly prefer not to know about it at the time. But I'm ok with fudging at a conceptual level even if that preference isn't met. So it's not that I want the DM to hide something I'd hate, it's that I want the DM to hide something I'm ok with.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Thanks for clarifying! I had understood your statement about being confused how people could simultaneously value open and honest communication while not wanting to know about fudging as being more generally applicable.
I mean, it is generally confusing to me that people can both

A. Consider open and honest communication between the DM and the players an important thing, and

B. Be ok with the DM secretly fudging rolls.

I do understand why people wouldn’t want the DM to openly fudge rolls (I wouldn’t want that myself!) But to me, the only difference between open fudging and secret fudging is that the latter is also dishonest, which only makes it worse in my opinion. I think both are bad, but doing it in secret is even worse because it adds deception on top of the fudging.

To clarify: as a player, if there's going to be fudging I strongly prefer not to know about it at the time. But I'm ok with fudging at a conceptual level even if that preference isn't met. So it's not that I want the DM to hide something I'd hate, it's that I want the DM to hide something I'm ok with.
What I’m trying to get at is, there seems to be something odd going on where people don’t appreciate the action itself (fudging) when they know about it, but are ok with it when they don’t know about it. The action is exactly the same, but hiding it seems to make a lot of people here more ok with it, which doesn’t really make sense to me. I think if the players wouldn’t like me doing something if I told them I was doing it, doing it and not telling them seems very disrespectful.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Fair enough. And, I think that's the point that people are trying to make. There's a mistake that's been made at some point before the die roll. Somewhere along the line the DM messed up somehow. The DM didn't quite understand how a given monster works, for example (not an unreasonable mistake- there are a LOT of monsters) and suddenly finds that what was supposed to be a fairly low key, fun encounter, is now going to completely throw the game off rails and it's not going to be fun.

Like you said, if 6 werewolves is the random die roll for that 2nd level party that doesn't have any way to hurt the creatures, at that point, "carry on accordingly" might easily be "oh, I didn't roll that, let me roll (or pick) again" without telling the players. Fudging by the definitions used in this thread, but, entirely understandable.

Let's be honest here, D&D is not a simple game. There's a ton of stuff that we misunderstand, flat out miss, or misread. It happens. I'm fairly confident in saying we've all done it. So, when it happens, there's a perfectly good reason for fudging a result.

Like I said earlier, fudging is a fairly nuclear option. It shouldn't be your go to, first option when things go a bit sideways. It should probably be only used as a last resort, presuming you're playing a game where the math of the game is fairly well thought out. But, it's just another tool in the box.
The thing is, fudging is such a controversial tool, I think it’s better not to use it at all, unless you’ve talked to the players about it and gotten all of their consent. Now, maybe that means a discussion about it during session zero - seems like a lot of folks are fine with it, and if you know that all of your players are, then yeah, nothing wrong with keeping that tool in the box. That said, I don’t know about you all, but that’s not a subject I have typically seen come up in session zero. I don’t think I’ve ever had a DM ask if we are all ok with fudging. I am 100% sure I have had DMs who fudge though.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I mean, it is generally confusing to me that people can both

A. Consider open and honest communication between the DM and the players an important thing, and

B. Be ok with the DM secretly fudging rolls.

I do understand why people wouldn’t want the DM to openly fudge rolls (I wouldn’t want that myself!) But to me, the only difference between open fudging and secret fudging is that the latter is also dishonest, which only makes it worse in my opinion. I think both are bad, but doing it in secret is even worse because it adds deception on top of the fudging.


What I’m trying to get at is, there seems to be something odd going on where people don’t appreciate the action itself (fudging) when they know about it, but are ok with it when they don’t know about it. The action is exactly the same, but hiding it seems to make a lot of people here more ok with it, which doesn’t really make sense to me. I think if the players wouldn’t like me doing something if I told them I was doing it, doing it and not telling them seems very disrespectful.
Do you understand how one can want open and honest communication outside of a game session and prefer limited information during the game session? If so, not wanting to know about fudging in the moment is no different from not wanting to know the DM's thought process about how and when they decide what content to introduce.

From my end, I'm having a hard time understanding how not telling the players when a DM fudges is in any way dishonest if the players have expressed a preference not to be told.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Do you understand how one can want open and honest communication outside of a game session and prefer limited information during the game session?
Sure, I can grok that.

If so, not wanting to know about fudging in the moment is no different from not wanting to know the DM's thought process about how and when they decide what content to introduce.
I can see why one would not want to know about fudging in the moment, sure. What I don’t understand is being ok with fudging when you don’t know about it.

From my end, I'm having a hard time understanding how not telling the players when a DM fudges is in any way dishonest if the players have expressed a preference not to be told.
If that conversation has already happened - let’s say for example there’s a session zero and the DM asks how the players feel about fudging, and they all agree they’re ok with it but they don’t want the DM to tell them when they do it. I still don’t understand why players would want that, but evidently a lot of folks here do, so let’s assume everyone in this hypothetical group does. In that case, I don’t think it’s dishonest at all to fudge and not tell the players. The open, honest conversation has already happened, and the DM and players have all agreed fudging is allowed whenever the DM wants, without permission or notice, so doing so is just doing what you agreed to.

Of course, I have never, ever seen a DM actually ask the players how they feel about fudging in session zero, and I know for a fact that I’ve had DM who fudge sometimes and don’t tell me so. That was dishonest of them.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
If that conversation has already happened - let’s say for example there’s a session zero and the DM asks how the players feel about fudging, and they all agree they’re ok with it but they don’t want the DM to tell them when they do it. I still don’t understand why players would want that, but evidently a lot of folks here do, so let’s assume everyone in this hypothetical group does. In that case. I don’t think it’s dishonest at all to fudge and not tell the players. The open, honest conversation has already happened, and the DM and players have all agreed fudging is allowed whenever the DM wants, without permission or notice, so doing so is just doing what you agreed to.

Of course, I have never, ever seen a DM actually ask the players how they feel about fudging in session zero, and I know for a fact that I’ve had DM who fudge sometimes and don’t tell me so. That was dishonest of them.
Yeah, this is the exact issue I have.

I have likewise never--not once--had a DM mention fudging in any way during a session zero, or anything analogous to it (e.g. a "let's get a game together" thread). Given threads like this one, though, I am likewise convinced I have almost certainly had DMs that fudge dice. That would seem, as you have said, to be where deception specifically turns to dishonesty: doing the deed without seeing how people feel about it in the abstract.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Yeah, this is the exact issue I have.

I have likewise never--not once--had a DM mention fudging in any way during a session zero, or anything analogous to it (e.g. a "let's get a game together" thread). Given threads like this one, though, I am likewise convinced I have almost certainly had DMs that fudge dice.
Right, there’s this undercurrent of “well there’s nothing wrong with it if the group agrees to it,” and sure, I agree. If the group agrees to it. How many folks here have ever actually had a group agree to it though? I certainly never have. I’ve never even been asked how I feel about fudging in the context of an actual D&D game. I don’t think that’s common practice, though maybe it should be. I think if it was, folks would find that it’s not very often that everyone in the group is actually willing to give the DM the power to override dice rolls (or adjust monster stats mid-combat or what have you) whenever they want without notice.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Right, there’s this undercurrent of “well there’s nothing wrong with it if the group agrees to it,” and sure, I agree. If the group agrees to it. How many folks here have ever actually had a group agree to it though? I certainly never have. I’ve never been asked about fudging in the context of an actual D&D game. I don’t think that’s common practice, though maybe it should be. I think if it was, folks would find that it’s not very often that everyone in the group is actually willing to give the DM the power to override dice rolls whenever they want without notice.
Exactly.

Even if 90% of players are not outright negative about fudging, that means 10% are outright negative. Most D&D groups are a DM plus four or five players, so even if we use that 10% figure, only 59% of five-player groups (.9^5 = 0.59049) would be in the clear--still a majority, but far from a slam dunk no questions kind of thing. If we bump it up just a little, to 85% not-negative vs 15% negative, a five-player group has only a 44.4% (0.4437053125) chance of having zero concerned players. If it's as bad as this thread's poll implies (that is, only 95/134), then it's a (95/134)^5 = 17.9% chance that no one in a five-player group would have an issue, and a 25.3% chance that a four-player group wouldn't have at least one concerned player.

Point being: even if we presume this poll is MASSIVELY over-representing players outright opposed to fudging, the odds someone will be upset if you do it without telling them are sufficiently high that it should be something people talk about. But they don't. I have been told repeatedly in threads like this one--one of them on this very forum--that the DM should not tell their players that they fudge, ever, no matter what. That it should be a secret the DM keeps to their grave.
 
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