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 .
What extreme position am I, Vaalingrade, the person you are quoting and addressing and not whatever other pro-fudge person living, dead or imagined, taking?
Accusing people who disagree with you of telling you, @Vaalingrade to play a different game.


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'?'
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
So... the dice totally care about the game and DM's don't?

I... don't think you're saying what you hope you're saying.
What I’m saying is, your position implies that the DM should have the power to override the dice whenever they want without notice or permission, because they “care about the game.” Frankly, given your generally pro-player stance, I’m pretty surprised that you would take such a position.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Though this gets into kind of a Pascal's Wager problem; as I noted in my breaking down the three options, at least when things go seriously off the rails, its not improbable that someone in the group will have a problem with any of the three. Its not just fudge/don't fudge, its fudge/step back and fix/let it happen, and none of those three are noncontroversial. Fudging is just the most visible.
Again, I don't see what is controversial about "change things, but be diegetic." It achieves literally exactly the same end (shaping the result to the desired form, rather than what the dice or numbers say), but without deception. Being diegetic doesn't require you to be all up in players' faces about it. Just means it's really "part of the world" and can be learned about and understood within the world. It's not secret in the sense of being actively concealed from the players, but it could end up never being investigated (or failing to pass a check) and thus an unknown purely by coincidence. And absolutely none of that requires any kind of explicit "I'M FUDGING THE RESULTS, GUYS" flag.

know it has a dirty name, but illusionism is a thing. Having the illusion that things are going normally, even if they intellectually know that at least some of the time it isn't, is important to some people. If you can't wrap your head around that, afraid people are going to just keep talking past you here.
Well....that kind of touches on what I said earlier. This is unhealthy. It creates the expectation that DMs need to be perfect, and if they can't live up to that expectation, they must cook the books so that they maintain the illusion of perfection. That's not good for DMs and contributes unrealistic and unreasonable player expectations.

Players can't fudge. They can only cheat. The DM cannot cheat, because 1) the rules serve him, not the other way around, and 2) fudging is an officially endorsed table rule in the DMG.
And here we have a great issue.

Why do the rules only serve the DM? Aren't they supposed to serve everyone? Plus, who the hell cares if it's officially supported? You cannot tell me that if the books were silent on this subject (as they are on the prospect of "player fudging") that you would suddenly abandon any thought of DMs being able to fudge. In fact, I am 100% certain that even if the books were explicit and thorough about denouncing fudging as an inappropriate tactic, you would openly say that that was stupid and every DM could and should ignore that section. Appeals to authority when you have made it extremely clear that any authority that disagrees with you is worthless don't do you any favors.

Is it dishonest to create new monsters or switch up old ones without talking to the players first? How about adding secret doors to a dungeon? Or deciding that dragons are more rare in my game than normal D&D? Or... Or... Or...
No, no, no, and (most likely) no, no, and no. You keep inventing these examples to make it sound as though there must be an infinite variety of things that all have to be judged individually. There aren't. I have very clearly defined a clean, simple definition of fudging. Does it cover all possible forms of DM overreach or inappropriate DM behavior? Heck no, no definition could ever do that. But it is very clear about what it is: changing the statistics or random number generators applied to, or caused by, a creature that has already entered play. The only possible grey area is "what if it's on the board but has not acted or been acted upon?" And frankly at this point I'm even willing to say "okay, fine, whatever, if it has literally not done anything at all yet, nor had anything at all done to it yet, then sure, maybe some minor tweaks--a couple points of AC, shifting its HP within its rolled options--is not the absolute worst thing ever.

And my main reason for allowing that is LITERALLY NO ONE HERE TALKS ABOUT THAT, except as a gotcha "well what about this, huh?!" Because immediately before and after asking that, people will go right back into what they actually use it for: keeping a creature alive/active when it should have fallen or killing/disabling it when it should still be standing (meaning it has taken hits already), or turning the fifth crit in a row into a miss, or lowering monster damage because the party is getting wrecked, or...

It's all post-interaction examples whenever people give serious ones. So fine. Pre-interaction, go for it. But if it's been interacted with, don't pretend like it's some horrible crime for a player to be upset about you manipulating things when they have very much gotten information about it already.

That said don’t think it’s good or bad, it’s just a necessary corrective tool. A means to an end. A safety net.
Do you really want to commit to the line that fudging is in fact necessary? As in, it MUST be used? Because I strongly suspect that you do not.
 

If I knew the DM fudged rolls and my character got killed by a Critical Hit from an Orc I would be asking the DM why he didn't fudge that one.

If you fudge you're not really rolling you're deciding. If the players know you're fuging then they know you're deciding.
This is kinda true and also one reason why I personally don't like to fudge.

But it is also a bit misleading. In a game where the GM is basically in charge of everything outside the characters, ultimately everything happens because GM lets it to happen. Even if you don't fudge the dice, you could have always have an ally to come to the characters' aid, have the enemy decide to not kill the character, etc. Ultimately there really is not escaping of that responsibility.
 

If I knew the DM fudged rolls and my character got killed by a Critical Hit from an Orc I would be asking the DM why he didn't fudge that one.

If you fudge you're not really rolling you're deciding. If the players know you're fudging then they know you're deciding.
I like and respect Seth Skorkowsky, but in his video about great role-playing, he gave an example that sticks with me of what not to do as a DM.

The final capsule of the video defends why be a better roleplayer. “Surfer Dude”’s Barbarian receives a crit, but because the DM likes the character, he downgrades it to a hit so the Barbarian won’t be knocked unconscious. I don’t think any DM is 100% equitable in their treatment of the characters, but they should aspire to be. Fudging a hit so a beloved player doesn’t go down seems like putting your thumb too much on the scale. I couldn’t help thinking whether the too generic elf ranger would also be saved.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Ok, but to flip that around, what about a situation where you are a player rather than the DM. How strict are you on such principles.

For instance, to pose to you the same question that @Charlaquin answered:
  • if a DM told you they reserved the right to fudge (modify a die roll that had already been made) during Session Zero, how would you feel?
To be clear, I would probably not play in that game.
  • if you realized during play that a DM fudged rolls and they didn’t tell you up front, how would you feel?
I would definitely not be happy. I might let it slide once or twice, but if it was a regular thing, I would probably leave the game.
 



Vaalingrade

Legend
What I’m saying is, your position implies that the DM should have the power to override the dice whenever they want without notice or permission, because they “care about the game.” Frankly, given your generally pro-player stance, I’m pretty surprised that you would take such a position.
I never said anything about not mentioning it in session 0. I'm just not going to stop the game to argue about it in media res. And frankly, I think it's a weird thing to have to mention in session 0 because I never saw this discussed as an issue on the player side until like last year. Usually it's an issue of DM machismo to brag about how you roll in the open to justify your body count.

And I am pro-player. I'm just not pro 'the game is about letting the dice fall where they may' as a style I'm going to involve myself with.
 

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