D&D 5E Would you change a monster's hit points mid-fight?


First Post
I started rolling openly as DM so I could avoid the desire to fudge rolls and to allow me to point to 20's and cackle while the players watch.
I do the same. A good thing too, or one of the players getting critted twice in the first round of combat in one of the fights would probably have been even more annoyed. :D

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As the title asks: it's the middle of an encounter, would you change a monster's hit points?

This might be during a boss fight where the PCs roll well and it looks like the big bad is going to die before taking a turn. Or maybe during a long fight that looks like it might drag. Or perhaps a tense fight where the party is toeing on a TPK.

Would you?

Yes I've raised or lowered hit points, added combatants and had some run away. Whatever tools are necessary to control the pace of the game better. It's so accepted among our group we call adding hit points to the Big Bad "Phantom Hit Points".

It's not something done to the degree that it will change the outcome of a fight, but if say a monster has 7 hit points left and the fight has been going on, and the player rolls 6 damage. I'll say they kill sometimes.
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Well, I did a comment at the end saying: " I am fine with fudging if you cleared the fudging with your players in advance. It's more of a play style thing, even if I think less fudging is better."

Yeah, I saw that... my final paragraph was meant to be for the "general you", not you, Blackbrrd, specifically. Sorry if that didn't come across.

Jacob Marley

First Post
Sure. All of these things are valid things to do, and they all are in support of the same goal-- making the game as fun for the players as possible. If a bad guy receives a critical hit for like 52 damage and drops down to 2 remaining HP... cutting that long fight short by having having him throw his hands up in surrender versus just having him fall over dead/unconscious from that critical hit both accomplish the same thing. And which way you do it all depends on your particular style. But one is not defacto "better" than another because no one is judging how you DM and scoring you points. No one else cares how you do it.

Unless of course you genuinely believe your own style of play is the "right" one and everyone else is playing wrong and you think you're going to get a trophy at the end of the year for playing the "right way". In which case, best of luck to you! ;)

In terms of ending an ongoing combat? Yes, death, surrender, and running away accomplish the same thing. However, each of these events will have a vastly different impact on the ongoing narrative. A surrendering combatant could be questioned and, depending on the make-up of the party, could be brought back to town for trial, executed on the spot, etc. An enemy combatant who runs away could return as a villain (or ally?) later on in the campaign, etc.

While I am in no way in favor of fudging, I also think that these other combat-ending tools need to be closely examined by the DM before implementing.


First Post
Do I fudge rolls? Sure. Rarely it becomes necessary for the sake of the situation. I don't generally pull punches on things that the player's instigate. If I make a grievous error in a challenge I may make minor alterations to compensate for a mistake I made so the players don't suffer for it. The trick to it is not letting the players know that what happened was altered. They must feel that their actions mattered and the outcome was based on their efforts. Would I tag on a few hit points so a BBEG puts up a bit more of a fight and ensures that the confrontation is a nail-biter? Absolutely. If a fight is dragging and the players are feeling a grind, I will adjust accordingly to ensure maximum enjoyment from my group. I don't feel bad in the least about doing what a DM is meant to do. Deliver a compelling story and facilitate player enjoyment.....

As a guideline, like everything in this game: no. In my 25+ years of DMing, I have fudged very occasionally, but usually to make it harder for the PCs (I have never ended a fight early), but I had an evil druid NPC that wild shaped onto a hawk and flew away (to maybe come back later), only for a player to get out his bow and at max distance nail him, of course I let it ride.

I have had characters end an encounter I spent time on in the surprise round, you know what, tough noogies for me.

Tony Vargas

I don't play D&D for the same reasons I read a book or watch a movie. I expect plot immunity in books and films, but I despise it in a RPG like D&D.
One of the things I've always liked about D&D was the way saving throws, and, particularly, hit points, abstractly modeled the 'plot armor' that let protagonists improbably survive to the end of their plot arc.

How is it disruptive to immersion?!? Fantastic shots from a bow kill people in-genre across a lot of sources. The anti-climax, in this case, came from a magic item that they had no reason to believe existed as it did - and that, I think, is far more damaging to immersion because it puts you on an action/counter gamist mindset. And that's not really immersive.
Elf Witch's story was:
But finally evil elves and me with one darn arrow left. The baddie was about to murder a hostage so I fired my bow at a range penalty and I rolled a 20 and then rolled another 20 and then rolled max damage it was a thing of beauty the table went wild until the DM tells us the bad guy show no effect to any of the damage and then proceeds to kill the hostage,

The DM then explained that he wrote the encounter with the bad guy wearing a brooch of shielding and even showed me his typed up notes that he didn't cheat. And technically he didn't cheat but that din't change the sour taste in my mouth over it. As a DM I have a lot of power to make the game fun for players and in case like this the player fun would outweigh any desire to 'not cheat".

Something's been bothering me about this story. I finally realized what it was:

SRD said:
Brooch of Shielding: This appears to be a piece of silver or gold jewelry used to fasten a cloak or cape. In addition to this mundane task, it can absorb magic missiles of the sort generated by spell or spell-like ability. A brooch can absorb up to 101 points of damage from magic missiles before it melts and becomes useless.
I guess the DM had previously expanded the function of that magic item?


First Post
I am more likely to solve these kinds of issues another way. I am quite adverse to fudging numbers, as at some level that consistency increases immersion.

If a fight is dragging on and victory is assured, I might just blow past the end of the encounter without making everyone go through the motions.

If a monster is owning the players, I am more likely to impress upon them (or remind them) how the creature does not look to be slowing down, to give them a hint to alter their strategies and maybe just flee.

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