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 .

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
(Emphasis added.) Similarly to you I don't balance encounters against the party's capabilities. But to make that work I think it's essential that the characters' intel-gathering efforts that you mention have meaningful results. If the PCs are basing their decisions on intel I intended to be accurate, but (whether due to a mistake on my part or OOC misscomunication) isn't accurate, I have a choice to make between: (1) honoring my notes, effectively retroactively making the PC's information bad intel; (2) honoring the accuracy of the intel and revising my notes to match that intel; (3) openly explaining the error and retconning the actions made in reliance on the erroneous intel. (There may be other options, but I think most options fall broadly into these categories.)

The intel has already been introduced into play, while my notes haven't been introduced yet. That makes it straightforward for me to prioritize honoring the intel over honoring my as-yet-unintroduced notes, even though revising my notes would qualify as fudging under the broader definitions of the term. Option 3 would also work, but I personally prefer to avoid retconning whenever possible, making the fudging in Option 2 my preferred solution.

In other words, it's not that I feel any need to correct an encounter than is too strong or too weak according to an abstract scale. But I do feel the need to correct an encounter that the PCs approached in reliance on intel they successfully earned that turns out to have been wrong or misleading.
I find this justification a little thin on the ground. What bad intel could be produced in reality if we're not specifically stating "this fight will be easy" or "this fight will be hard." The players are going to tend to want information on monster traits, powers, etc. or perhaps their location or the details of the location. Those are just facts that can be conveyed with no relation to the overall difficulty they may present. The players can make their own decisions based on that information what they think the difficulty may be.
 

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Sure, and if these threads are any indication, many of those people misperceive fudging as a bunch of stuff that it isn't. If you aren't viewing something correctly, your opinion that it is bad isn't really an indicator of it actually being bad.
I think there are currently 504 definitions of "fudging" in this thread so far, but I might have missed a few ;)
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I find this justification a little thin on the ground. What bad intel could be produced in reality if we're not specifically stating "this fight will be easy" or "this fight will be hard." The players are going to tend to want information on monster traits, powers, etc. or perhaps their location or the details of the location. Those are just facts that can be conveyed with no relation to the overall difficulty they may present. The players can make their own decisions based on that information what they think the difficulty may be.
Sure, but those facts can be communicated inaccurately if (e.g.) the DM glances at the wrong section of their notes or the players' understanding of the conveyed facts doesn't match what the DM was trying to say.

If a party of Wood Elves uses Druidcraft to determine that it's going to storm for the next 24 hours at their location, the PCs may plan an ambush there in order to make use of their Mask of the Wild abilities. If 12 IC-hours of character actions later, just as the ambush is about to start, the DM then discovers they looked at the wrong day on their campaign weather chart and it was instead supposed to be sunny with a light breeze, I personally think that the best option is to fudge the weather chart to match what the DM told the PCs, rather than introduce some reason that Druidcraft failed or retcon 12 hours of character actions. (Not that I personally use campaign weather charts these days, but I used to, and I believe there are plenty of people who still do.)
 

I also am of the opinion that one of the most overrated things that many of the folks here think is the end-all-and-be-all of D&D is "player agency". That someone's actions and PC are so sacrosanct that they and they alone must decide everything and anything about their character-- who it is, what they do, how they feel-- that anything that steps on that "agency" even the tiniest bit destroys any vestige of the reason to play the game and makes the entire exercise pointless.

To me, that just seems so completely overblown that I just have to shrug my shoulders when people say that's one of the most important parts of playing.
Certainly not what I mean when I say player agency. I didn't catch that definition from any other posts in this thread, but would not surprise me if it was there.

To me, player agency is about being able to make decisions and then living with the outcome of those decisions, even if it is not what I want to happen to my character. Not having the DM decide for me that I made a bad decision or was unlucky and therefore don't have to suffer the consequences.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think there are currently 504 definitions of "fudging" in this thread so far, but I might have missed a few ;)
It's not the definition, so much as the incredible misperception of what is going on. I've seen multiple people post something to the effect of, and I'm paraphrasing, "I hate fudging, because if someone fudges extremely rarely and under very specific circumstances, it means that I can't trust that they aren't going to just kill my character off or cause me to fail all the time." I mean, the disconnect there is tremendous and I can't credit their opinion at all, because it's just so way off base.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I'm mixed on that. If the new monster is one who would be seen and well known to those in the area, then I agree with you completely. However, suppose it's some sort of tomb monster that wouldn't be seen outside of the tomb it is in. I have no problem putting it into a tomb that no one has entered in an area that has seen play, because it's going to be like a part of the setting no one has seen yet.

I, for one, have no issue at all adding/subtracting/modifying an area that the PCs have yet to interact with.

I don't even consider that fudging - it's not yet part of the revealed world yet, and is, thus, subject to change.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Sure, but those facts can be communicated inaccurately if (e.g.) the DM glances at the wrong section of their notes or the players' understanding of the conveyed facts doesn't match what the DM was trying to say.

If a party of Wood Elves uses Druidcraft to determine that it's going to storm for the next 24 hours at their location, the PCs may plan an ambush there in order to make use of their Mask of the Wild abilities. If 12 IC-hours of character actions later, just as the ambush is about to start, the DM then discovers they looked at the wrong day on their campaign weather chart and it was instead supposed to be sunny with a light breeze, I personally think that the best option is to fudge the weather chart to match what the DM told the PCs, rather than introduce some reason that Druidcraft failed or retcon 12 hours of character actions. (Not that I personally use campaign weather charts these days, but I used to, and I believe there are plenty of people who still do.)
The examples I've seen in these threads trying to justify fudging seem increasingly contrived to me.
 


I 100% do not care if the GM fudges. Because while the board game is fun and all... it is so low down on my totem pole of reasons I play D&D that I could just be handed a card by the DM that said "You guys won the fight" and I'd say "Great! Now we'll get back to the roleplaying!"

I also am of the opinion that one of the most overrated things that many of the folks here think is the end-all-and-be-all of D&D is "player agency". That someone's actions and PC are so sacrosanct that they and they alone must decide everything and anything about their character-- who it is, what they do, how they feel-- that anything that steps on that "agency" even the tiniest bit destroys any vestige of the reason to play the game and makes the entire exercise pointless.

To me, that just seems so completely overblown that I just have to shrug my shoulders when people say that's one of the most important parts of playing. I literally can't grasp clinging that tightly to ANYTHING in D&D that would bring about those feelings. I have no doubt that it happens, and I do not discount others feelings of this in any way, shape, or form... but I just do not have any of those same types of feeling for this silly game for it to matter that much. So for instance if the DM tells me how I (or more to the point my PC) feels when some big monster shows up... like the creature is so alien and C'Thulu-like that it's meant to drive almost everyone insane who looks at it... then I'll go with it. I'll go with the description! And not get bothered in the least that the DM nudged me in that direction by suggesting my PC is scared. If the scene is meant to invoke a certain type of drama... then I lean into it as far as I can. Because for me THAT'S the juice of playing, all of us building drama and story together as a group-- not the idea that I figured out the proper way to move my miniature around the grid and use all my special game mechanic powers to knock the enemy miniature out without getting knocked out myself. That I "solved" and "won" this puzzle by using my agency and player choices.

I fully agree that the obsession with player agency is a bit ridiculous. We're all grown-ups here (I mean, at least in the games I'm in), and there's something inherently childish to me about playing RPGs as an adversarial or vaguely competitive activity--let's see what the mean GM throws at us, and how we can beat them!

But I also really dislike when the pendulum swings too far the other way, and GM so clearly wants something to happen that they treat dice rolls as nothing more than stagecraft or flavor. The random element is truly the only thing that separates RPGs from improv exercises. There's nothing else. If a given storyline is so important, the GM could just set themselves up as the narrator in the improv exercise, and keep nudging the scenes back to their preferred narrative.

To me, if the dice are coming out, why not lean into whatever they come up with, good or bad? Sure, the story might not have that season finale pacing or tidy plot thread resolution you imagined, but it'll be it's own weird, unique, not-TV, not-a-novel, not-a-movie thing.

So when I say that I lose respect for a dice-fudging GM, it's not because it takes away my agency in the competitive sport of "beating" the adventure. I think it takes away what makes RPGs unique as narratives, which is that in certain key moments, no one knows what's going to happen, including the person who's usually in the creator or narrator role. There's electricity in those moments, that, in my experience, disappears when the GM doesn't like the numbers and we all hear the click as we're directed back onto the correct railroad track.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Are they any better than 'If you don't play the game I want you to, a way your group is fine with, play another game'?'
I haven't seen any evidence of that, but maybe I missed it. Some games are better at certain things than others. But I doubt anyone really gives a dusty flumph how you choose to play at your own table.
 

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