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 .

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
What difference to you draw between fudging and extemporising? Is (in your mind) the latter adding something arbitrarily to the fiction or situation, and the former altering the result of a game mechanic?
Good question. And I appreciate you asking it in a fairly neutral manner. I find D&D doesn't handle completely extemporized combats very well regardless, but that's sort of a dodge non-answer. So, I'm going to assume this isn't "DM inventing entire monsters from whole cloth," but some other kind of thing.

Overall, I think my answer would be a qualified yes? While it's necessarily much more of a grey area, I very much do expect DMs to avoid certain kinds of "you thought you had a choice but you didn't" worldbuilding. So, for example, I have criticized very strongly the "quantum ogre" or "quantum haunted house," where the DM ensures that, no matter which direction the players choose to go, the ogre she intends for them to fight or the haunted house she intends for them to visit will be located there.

But if, for example, the DM were simply rolling with the players' choices, and they happened to go looking for a haunted house and said DM was just mocking things up really super quickly, then yeah, in absence of further details, that sounds pretty much just fine to me, so long as the extemporaneous additions are reasonable extensions of the already-established fiction.

To put it a different way, things that "already exist" (for a given definition of "exist") can be learned about. There is already a "fact of the matter," so to speak. (Again, recognizing that these are facts "within the fiction.") Things that are in the process of being invented, there isn't yet a fact of the matter, so I'm comfortable with that needing to be generated as opposed to altered--though it is certainly possible to generate things abusively.

I feel exactly the same way about retconning established story beats: that is, don't do it secretly, instead making sure that the PCs can potentially find out, even if they neglect to do so or make an attempt but the attempt fails. Part of the fun of a mystery story, for example, is that there IS an answer to "whodunnit" or the like, and you just have to figure it out. Having a mystery where the author decides midway through the book that no, the person who was guilty before is actually innocent, so now all those clues you read about before are fake is pulling what I would call the written-fiction form of "fudging," secretly altering stuff already observed and denying the reader even the potential to know that this has happened. It cheapens the mystery and reflects poorly on the author, implying they don't fully respect their readers.
 

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Shiroiken

Legend
Overall against, except under very rare circumstances. As I also DM, I understand you can screw up, and sometimes those screw ups can ruin an entire campaign. If a situation puts you in a weird spot where technically you should make a roll that does this, I can understand if you ignore the results, so long as you learn from this mistake and work to avoid it again. If you roll publicly, fess up before the roll rather than backpedaling, but otherwise don't let me know.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
But I am also against fudging. I want the combats to be fair and mostly challenging, but I don't want to play as sport. I want to roleplay my character, sometimes doing dumb things, sometimes not, the story and characters matter more to me that winning by wits. But I would still feel like the DM would be taking away from the fun of the game if they fudge rolls and just decide how action will be resolved.

First, DMs who "just decide how action will be resolved" do not necessarily fudge (and even less cheat). "Ignoring the Dice" in the DMG is exactly about that, the DM deciding, based on character actions, what succeeds and what fails. And that's the way we are mostly playing in our groups, to the satisfaction of all.

Only sometimes the DM roll dices, for example during combat, and what happens if a player has incredible bad luck ? Are you going to ruin his evening or possibly the entire campaign just because of randomness ? Is that even good DMing ? This is where the expectations of the table come into play. Some tables will like the dices to decide because for them it's part of the fun, others will prefer that the story of the character take precedence, and their relationships, etc.

Personnally I am lucky to have talented DMs that are good at running good character driven stories and are good are crafting challenging encounters that are balanced enough so they can be tough and challenging but haven't overdone things to make them too bad to the point of being hopeless. We have had occasional PC deaths, mostly with resurrection coming afterwards, but no TPKs.
So I trust my DMs to make great stories without fudging dice rolls to make it happen.

Good if you trust them, that's the whole point indeed. Now, are you 100% sure that they are not fudging ? How can you be sure 100% anyway ?

As for me, I don't care if they fudge, they can use every single trick in the book and outside of any books to ensure that we have the best time possible playing the game.
 

I really dislike a DM fudging when I'm a player. I want to earn my successes and failures. I'd rather a TPK without fudging than a victory with it.
This is my perspective as well. I don’t fudge as a DM, but I try not to judge those who do. As a player, I would rather my character die, whether due to unlucky rolls or player (bad) decision, than have the DM “go easy” on me.
 

Only sometimes the DM roll dices, for example during combat, and what happens if a player has incredible bad luck ? Are you going to ruin his evening or possibly the entire campaign just because of randomness ? Is that even good DMing ?
I can honestly say that I have never had a player that is so thin-skinned that a run of bad luck would ruin their evening, and I’ve played with 7-year olds.

As a DM, the solution is not to fudge dice, but to prepare situations where players can contribute even without rolling dice. Swinging your sword at a tough monster may be subject to bad luck, but realizing that the monster has a weak spot does not.
 

loverdrive

Prophet of the profane (She/Her)
Only sometimes the DM roll dices, for example during combat, and what happens if a player has incredible bad luck ? Are you going to ruin his evening or possibly the entire campaign just because of randomness ?
Managing risks is probably the most important part of player skill. If they ain't happy with that, they're welcome to play a game where death by randomness isn't a thing that happens.
 


Lyxen

Great Old One
I can honestly say that I have never had a player that is so thin-skinned that a run of bad luck would ruin their evening, and I’ve played with 7-year olds.

That's a bit of a nasty comparison, to be honest. Again, it depends on what your expectations are, but 55+ years people with 40+ years experience in roleplaying can also grow very attached to their characters, their story, and would be very affected by something untoward happening to their character, it would certainly make the rest of the campaign not as interesting to them, or certainly lessen theirs motivation to continue.

As for bad luck, it's not that difficult to go down in 5e, and it's easy to get two death saves just because of bad luck, and that has very little to do with a character decision, it's just rolling a 1 for a death save.

As a DM, the solution is not to fudge dice, but to prepare situations where players can contribute even without rolling dice. Swinging your sword at a tough monster may be subject to bad luck, but realizing that the monster has a weak spot does not.

I was pretty sure that I detected some condescension in your tone and now I'm sure of it. True, all people who have characters dying are idiots who need a DM to compensate for their lack of brains. sigh
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Managing risks is probably the most important part of player skill. If they ain't happy with that, they're welcome to play a game where death by randomness isn't a thing that happens.

Which is exactly what happens with a story-driven game and a DM occasionally fudging dices to help along. Or is that a style of gaming that is somehow inferior in your view ?
 

loverdrive

Prophet of the profane (She/Her)
Which is exactly what happens with a story-driven game and a DM occasionally fudging dices to help along. Or is that a style of gaming that is somehow inferior in your view ?
Yes, using opaque ad-hoc fixes instead of solving the problem for good with a transparent rule is an inferior style of gaming in my view.

Even if one is using D&D for a story-driven game (which, itself, is an enterprise of questionable efficacy), the correct solution is to eliminate the issue altogether with a houserule, so the table can expect the rules to work reliably and know that no one is doing something sneaky when others ain't looking.

Dramatic death: when the rules say your PC is dead, they survive, but DM will tell you, what price they'll pay. The more dramatic the circumstances are, the higher the price will be. Negotiate. If you accept the deal, you can get back to playing in the next scene with 1 HP; otherwise, that's it. Roll a new character.

Poof! DM can now stop pulling their punches, without worrying that they'll accidentally kill a PC, players don't need to question whether monsters are actually missing or it's just DM trying to save them, no fudging required.
 

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