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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 .

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
The examples I've seen in these threads trying to justify fudging seem increasingly contrived to me.
I'm sorry you feel my example is contrived. I had hoped a simple example would be more illustrative of my point that a more fleshed-out example would be, but apparently not.

Stepping away from the example, do you always communicate intel to your players accurately, and do they always take away from it what you intended them to? If not, how do you personally prefer to address such errors and miscommunications when they arise?
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
I've been thinking about the notion that fudging is okay when the DM has presented a challenge that they miscalculated in some way and it's harder (or perhaps easier) than they intended.

I believe in order to arrive at this conclusion, one has to have a presupposition that challenges in some sense have a static level of predictable difficulty.

At least in my case, I'm only talking about using it in catastrophic miscalculations. And I'm not talking about "the players screwed up by the numbers" but "the GM (me) either vastly underestimated the effect of an ability on the monster's end, or assumed a player capability to deal with something they don't actually have."

The level of thing I'm thinking about is not the sort of thing that is going to happen accidentally; it requires gross misjudgment for one reason or another.

This has not been my experience in any edition of D&D. I've seen what I thought were easy challenges become hard or deadly for a number of reasons or what I thought

I can't say I've seen a genuinely easy challenge turn into a deadly one in any game in a very long time.

So, what I do is simply tell players that not every challenge is carefully calibrated for them to defeat it with certainty and to govern themselves accordingly in play. Gather your intel with rumors, sages, scouting, or divinations. Try to recall lore on the monsters you face. Have a plan B for when plan A isn't viable. Have an escape plan for when

I have to point out that if they're dealing with something that should have genuinely been an easy encounter, but is, as you said, deadly, none of this is likely to help.

things go wrong. In other words, make good choices in the face of many unknowns. Given this understanding, I don't have to care at all if some challenge I present gets too difficult (or too easy). The players will tend to approach them, more or less the same way, and if they don't do that, that's on them. As a result, there's just no reason for me to fudge anything with regard to this issue, nor do I need to have a conversation with the players to say that I "messed up" and offer a mulligan. The challenge is what it is and how do you deal with this? That's on the player to decide.

I will flatly say I can see any number of erroneous decisions I could make at my end that no action on the players part would flatten out. Among other things, if I've made a fundamental error in how dangerous something is, any information gathering (even if that's, in practice, possible) is going to be just as flawed most likely.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I've been a player and had every one of these come up AND I've been a DM and Done every one of these things. So with that:

Anticlimax is a good reason to fudge. As a general rule I don’t want any the BBEG to be a SWEG (Small Weak End Guy). Sure every so often it’s fine for the Players to take down a foe before they get to act, but I do think it’s anti-climactic when that is anything but rare. As both a player and a DM
Having been on both ends (doing this and having it done) I completely disagree. There is ALWAYS another BBEG. Sometimes the BBEG going down like a chump is the most fun, greatest thing of the campaign!

Suspense is a good reason to fudge. The mystery scenario can fall flat when the player just happens to look in the right place and happen to check for the right thing, for no other reason than dumb luck (or having cheated and read the notes). Session over, sorry guys time to finish for the night.
Effectively pulling of a mystery is HARD. Illusion of choice is certainly a way to increase suspense, but it's also a way to increase player frustration - especially if they catch it, or even suspect it. As above, sometimes the greatest enjoyment is getting an easy win!

Training is a good reason to fudge. It’s not a problem to go easy on a new character while they find their stride. You can reduce is as they learn the rules. That second crit on the first round of combat that takes the new player out before they have acted isn’t necessary.
I find it much better to offer advice (when asked) and to make sure the new player understands exactly what is going on and the consequence of their actions. I find taking it easy/fudging tends to teach the exactly wrong kind of lesson (that the DM will provide a safety net).

Common Decency is a good reason to fudge. If you’ve heard the phrase, don’t kick a man when he’s down. The wizard has a fireball left but casts a scorching ray because if he casts fireball that downed character who was taken out on the first round and who has failed two death saves is dead. It’s gratuitous, it isn’t necessary
The DM is always the final arbiter of what the villains do. If the villain casts scorching ray instead of fireball - it's pretty extreme to call it fudging (IMO). You are not changing results AFTER they happen here.

Balancing other Players Excesses is a good reason to fudge. If one player is spamming abilities and overshadowing players maybe resistance, appropriate spells, immunity to conditions etc might appear on the monsters stats.
When you have to change the encounters to "balance" for 1 player, that's something that needs to be addressed differently. maybe even out of game. Plus, while it's an issue (and a potentially serious one) unless your changing the enounters after they occur, is it fudging? And if you are changing the encounters after they occur, that is fudging - and as a player I might have a problem. Think about it, you're singling out that player because of a tactic/build they are using. Better to discuss above game than do that!
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
So, what I do is simply tell players that not every challenge is carefully calibrated for them to defeat it with certainty and to govern themselves accordingly in play. Gather your intel with rumors, sages, scouting, or divinations. Try to recall lore on the monsters you face. Have a plan B for when plan A isn't viable. Have an escape plan for when things go wrong. In other words, make good choices in the face of many unknowns. Given this understanding, I don't have to care at all if some challenge I present gets too difficult (or too easy). The players will tend to approach them, more or less the same way, and if they don't do that, that's on them. As a result, there's just no reason for me to fudge anything with regard to this issue, nor do I need to have a conversation with the players to say that I "messed up" and offer a mulligan. The challenge is what it is and how do you deal with this? That's on the player to decide.
I mean, good for you and your group if that's what you like.

I and many others... don't. We don't care about the 'consequences' or 'challenge' and are really just down for a good game of pretend with an arbitration system that can adjust by reading the room.

And that works for us because that's what we like.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
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.

An example I damn near did back in the D&D3e days involved Damage Reduction. I thought a particular monsters had Damage Reduction 10 (with a bypass I knew the party didn't have and had no immediate way to acquire) when it actually had Damage Reduction 30. If they'd looked into it I'd have characterized it as something difficult but possible to hurt with mundane weapons, whereas in it actually was, in practice, invulnerable to them. As it was, I noticed my error halfway through the session and did a quick monster swap, but it'd have been a lot more of a problem if I'd noticed it mid-fight.
 



TheSword

Legend
But it's not a necessary tool. It is a tool, but one of many that can be used. As I've pointed out repeatedly, there are many other tools that can be used. And since fudging is so controversial, why use it?
It isn’t really controversial, happens all the time. The people that object to it, just don’t know it’s happening.

For all your protests, you’ll never know if your DM is doing it. And because you want your players to think you don’t, nothing you can say can convince me that you don’t do it either 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
The best way to fudge at the game table:

1649268452245.png

BUCKEYE FUDGE (Source)
  • 3-1/4 cups peanut butter chips, divided
  • 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Line an 8" x 8" pan with parchment, foil, or cling film, and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Melt 3 cups of the peanut butter chips in a microwave, stirring every 15-30 seconds until smooth. Add the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter, and stir until smooth. (Mixture will be very thick.) Spread into the prepared pan.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the chocolate chips with the cream. Heat in a microwave, stirring every 15-30 seconds, until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter fudge. Let cool for 5 minutes, then garnish with the remaining peanut butter chips.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then remove from the pan and cut into squares. Makes 16, 2" x 2" squares.
 
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