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GM cheating how much is acceptable?


Advice

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So I just started GMing a new game and I shafted my players on starting gold lvl 1 (They got more than 2000 each 2nd real session don't hate me). Anyways the first thing that happens to them (that involved rolls) was a stretched encounter with halfling pirates. So I built these dudes most of them were lvl 1 warriors with a couple of lvl 1 barbs and a lvl 3 ranger. It was like 3 encounters with no real time in between them, but they never faced more than 4 at once. It was tough, but I wasn't expecting those halflings to be such badasses.

After the first round or two everyone was still on their feet, but things weren't looking so good. So I decided whatever these halflings are a bunch of losers anyways they will now roll twice and take the worst result, attack and damage. They got through the whole thing and I think that it was pretty satisfying, but how much cheating is okay to you guys?

I mean if a player does it no that's bad, but if the GM does it in a situation like this? What's your take (citizens of the interwebs)?


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GM cheating is acceptable right up until someone stops having fun. Full stop.

Did your players have fun with the situation (and your cheaty modifications?) if yes, no problem. If no, keep that in mind for next time.

That's my opinion on the matter and from a GM known to occasionally rig dice one way or another.

Grand Lodge

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First of all welcome to GMing.

Really in this situation the most important question here is, "are your players having fun?" If the answer is yes, congratulations, you've done your job.

As far as you deciding on how the dice roll turned out, that's fine. But instead of calling them losers why not weave the reasoning into the story? You caught them exhausted after they trained or they just had too many rounds of drinks.

You're the GM. You get to decide what's legal or not. At the end of the day the core rules are not a bible but a guidebook to go by. See my first thought of are they players having fun? Yes? No worries.


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I feel like pulling punches in the first few encounters of a campaign is completely fine. You are looking for the power curve of the group vs the power curve of your NPC's. As long as you learned from it and can plan accordingly it is completely fine.


The issue here is really just first and maybe second level. Everything is swingy. Sure, there are bad saves at higher levels, but there are lot more layers of defense as well.

Long tough encounters at level one, eventually something bad is going to happen to the party. I might have eased the waves of the encounters if the party started getting in trouble at first level. But either way, crit here or there and it's a bad time.


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:

GM cheating is acceptable right up until someone stops having fun. Full stop.

Did your players have fun with the situation (and your cheaty modifications?) if yes, no problem. If no, keep that in mind for next time.

That's my opinion on the matter and from a GM known to occasionally rig dice one way or another.

Same as you, as long as everybody having fun around the table, you can cheat, but remenber one thing, you have a the power to kill everyone around the table, big power imply big responsability, if you kill someone by cheating or because you want to kill him, you're doing the wrong thing


We all "cheat" in some way. It takes time to get the desired challenge rating for an individual group right and in the "trial and error"-phase of things, we have to up- or downgrade enemies or have them act in a harmless way, like retreating, until we hit the sweet spot.


We all cheat a little to maybe upgrade/downgrade an encounter or make a tough fight memorable. Killing a player is never a goal but getting them close to death on a Big Bad before they defeat it makes them remember that battle more then the waves of minions on the way to him.
One encounter I had to downgrade lately was an underwater fight with a creature immune to piercing damage.


It sounds like you handled things in a good way.

»Cheating« with the dice (or sometimes rules interpretations) as a GM is called fudging. I think most GMs succumb to it every once in a while and most often the intentions are good. You want to avoid having a powerful enemy killing PCs or, more rarely, want to beef up a cake-walk encounter.

The common way of fudging is to ignore the result of dice. Say you rolled a 20 and fear that the PC will be killed in an instance by a critical hit - not fun! - so you pretend you just rolled an 18.

This method has problems. If the dice didn't matter this time, do they matter at all?

But your method is much better. You noticed the PCs where getting pummeled in the first fight, so you introduced a new rule - and stuck to it - for the following fights. That's perfectly acceptable and probably a way better way of handling it than many GMs, even experienced ones, would have done.


Sometimes cheating is important to ensure that your first level party isn't immediately murdered by good rolls. Hence why you should never run monsters with x3 and x4 crit weapons early on, and probably not have monsters use Power Attack, but definitely use several weaker enemies to ensure that they are a threat without just killing someone outright with lucky rolls.

But sometimes not pulling punches can be entertaining and a strong way to start the campaign. I'm running Strange Aeons right now with some fresh players to Pathfinder (they've played lots of D&D though). In the very first fight, against some unarmed PC's without their gear and only the paladin with a scavenged cleaver, the first creature these PC's had ever fought critical hit the paladin into the negatives on it's first attack immediately as the fight started. Tone set for the rest of the adventure, as the PC's start counting resources and hit points and measuring their enemies carefully and planning very, very carefully for fear of more critical hitting monsters (the paladin got crit again next session by a similar creature, dude cannot catch a break).

In that same game, I had one encounter with some opium-addled rogues fight against the party with surprising results. They were using improvised weapons (but had Catch-off Guard, so it was fine), but seemingly they managed to do reasonably well against the much better equipped though quite resource drained PC's by merit of painkillers and being able to get some early sneak attacks in. Well...one of them did. Two of them were knocked unconscious by the PC's using nonlethal damage in short order because the opium ended up reducing their hit points too much, but the last rogue, who had max rolled their THP and only took a point of Con damage, strangely could not be hit. The players couldn't roll above a 10. He, on the other hand, rolled two critical hits and knocked out two PC's each time before the paladin decided he needed to be put down and finally did lethal to him. Activating the rogue's Resiliency for another two rounds of violence before finally falling unconscious. The PC's were scared the acid splash flinging wizard, who had rolled no less than two 1's, was going to have to fight this guy alone with a chair leg.

These great anecdotes wouldn't be possible if I wasn't being 100% forward with how these creatures were rolling. My policy for this game, unlike how I usually run, is complete openness about how I'm running and how I'm fudging (though not for dice, mostly for mechanics in some areas to give the PC's any chance at all, like Perception and invisibility), but I'm also letting them know when the dice are hot and there for them when their's is bad (it was definitely like that for the rogue fight, and we were enjoying it as a group when I kept announcing how good this one rogue was rolling).

A carefully measured amount of fudging and allowing the dice to roll as they lie is a very important technique that you'll develop over time.


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Fudging dice is a time honored tradition in the noble profession of GM'ing. Please don't call it cheating, that has a negative connotation and since the game assumes the GM does this, it can't be cheating if it is in the rules that they can do it.


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It's probably more accurate to say it's cheating if it's to make your PC's FAIL rather than SUCCEED. Or, more accurately, causing them to straight up lose over having a better chance at success.

Fudging against PC's is usually fairly antagonistic in my experience and I've only had negative experiences when I was on the player side of it and never done it against my PC's as a GM.


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As everyone is saying as long as your players are having fun you are fine. Try to keep any fudging subtle and rare or your players may get upset. If you fudge too much in the favor of the players then you remove the sense of risk. If the players know that they will always win they will start to get bored. If they feel that no matter what they do they can’t win they will get frustrated, especially if you are constantly bailing them out of trouble with NPC’s.

One thing I do to make sure that an encounter is balanced is to do a quick run through of the encounter to get a feel of how it may play out. Use the damage per round calculation to see how many rounds it will take for the players to beat the enemy and how long the enemy needs to defeat the players. If it takes a lot longer for the players to defeat the enemy than the enemy to defeat the players you probably need to adjust the encounter.


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I'm generally opposed to DM fudging the dice as both a DM and a player. I feel it makes players into sock puppets for the DM to make it their story. If you're going to fudge when it really matters, there's really no reason to have people roll dice. You can set up encounters well, you can give safety nets like action points or encounter cards. There's lots of ways to get the same results while protecting player agency.

Rolling twice? That's not good--that's totally apparent what you're doing. I'd hate that at your table.


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HWalsh wrote:
Fudging dice is a time honored tradition in the noble profession of GM'ing. Please don't call it cheating, that has a negative connotation and since the game assumes the GM does this, it can't be cheating if it is in the rules that they can do it.

It is cheating in a way. It should be minimized. And it definitely shouldn't be considered part of the rules (and please don't cite Rule Zero, which is the most over-cited excuse for poor GMing).

This is not to say fudging is never warranted, but that's just not the game everyone wants. Again, I think the comes down to the problems with first level. This is not nearly as necessary at higher levels.


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Hogeyhead wrote:
how much cheating is okay to you guys?

If the GM needs to cheat to save the players because the players made bad mistakes, I don't think the GM should cheat. The players made mistakes and should take the consequences.

If the GM needs to cheat in order to make the story go the way they want, then I think the GM shouldn't cheat and should probably have a long hard think about the difference between writing a story and creating an interactive game.

If the GM needs to cheat in order to make the system do what they want it to, then they should probably just use a different system.

If the GM needs to cheat to save the players from an encounter the GM statted where the players haven't made mistakes, then the problem is the encounter. But in the immediate short term... yeah, okay, maybe this is appropriate. Still, it's not a good habit to get into.
In the slightly longer term there are better solutions. The encounter being too tough for the characters is only a major problem if a) the players can't retreat and b) the stakes of the encounter are death. If players can retreat then encounters being a bit too tough starts being simply a different test of player skill - will they recognise that they need to retreat? If encounters have stakes that aren't "TPK", then an encounter being too dangerous stops being a thing that needs fixing on the fly. The players can lose and the failure condition of the encounter can come into affect and the encounter can continue. What if, instead of dying, they wake up hanging upside down in the Wampa's lair? What if they end up face to face with the Evil Boss, and she actually "just wanted to talk to them" and is a little bit apologetic that her "overenthusiastic" thugs hit them so hard? What if they get beaten up and robbed, but not actually murdered because murder is a step too far?


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I think that is very untrue, roguerogue (edit: sorry, wrong name), and any kind of controlling narrative is entirely a different problem and a symptom of bad DM'ing, not the ills of fudging.

Fudging should be used carefully in small doses (like to accelerate a mediocre encounter or preserve the player's sense of heroics in otherwise trivial situations), and should only impact in small measures numberwise (foe has exactly 1 hit point left? Eh, they actually dropped to 0, fight isn't going anywhere and the creature is the last one in the fight, lets move things along, these guys want to get somewhere and I'd like it to be this session).

As I explained, fudging as a tool for the GM is best employed to speed up play and minimize the impact of swingy-ness early on in the adventure, not devalue the players efforts through handholding. If I throw a brutal opponent against my players, like an invisible rogue shanking the fighter to start a fight and get them real scared, they go all out and no fudging unless I have grossly crossed the line of fairness (like rogues coup de grace'ing the PC's in their sleep). If it's a goblin hiding in an oven to pop out for a piss fight just to drain resources or do chip damage or maybe give the players some info if they capture and interrogate him, then I won't care about fudging as much if it's fun or funny. I'll have that goblin throw onions at the PC's, upturn a soup pot on their feet and slip on carrot peels at funny moments. The best fights can come from both experiences.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
HWalsh wrote:
Fudging dice is a time honored tradition in the noble profession of GM'ing. Please don't call it cheating, that has a negative connotation and since the game assumes the GM does this, it can't be cheating if it is in the rules that they can do it.

Where in the game's rules is this assumed? Citation please.


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We've had tons of threads on this topic, almost all of them extremely acrimonious. My takeaway points have been these:

  • Most DMs seem to feel it's just another tool, whereas others view it as a sign of failing at their craft.
  • Many players are OK with it, in which case it's a normal part of the game. However, some players really want the dice to fall where they fall, and not have the DM save them by fudging. The latter group tend to view fudging as a personal insult and take it very seriously (tantamount to lying to them) -- if they find out you're secretly fudging, you risk losing friends as well as players.

    Therefore, the main thing is: if you're going to fudge the dice, (a) do it sparingly, and (b) never, ever do it unless the players have indicated that they're OK with it.


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    There is only one circumstance in which I will fudge the dice or change things on the fly. That's when a mistake of mine has gotten the PCs into hot water.

    If the players make mistakes and it gets the PCs into hot water, too bad. But if I screwed something up the PCs shouldn't have to pay for it. In practice it rarely comes up.


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    Ravingdork wrote:
    HWalsh wrote:
    Fudging dice is a time honored tradition in the noble profession of GM'ing. Please don't call it cheating, that has a negative connotation and since the game assumes the GM does this, it can't be cheating if it is in the rules that they can do it.
    Where in the game's rules is this assumed? Citation please.

    Probably this.

    "The Most Important Rule

    The rules presented are here to help you breathe life into your characters and the world they explore. While they are designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs. Most Game Masters have a number of "house rules" that they use in their games. The Game Master and players should always discuss any rules changes to make sure that everyone understands how the game will be played. Although the Game Master is the final arbiter of the rules, the Pathfinder RPG is a shared experience, and all of the players should contribute their thoughts when the rules are in doubt."

    So I mean if everyone at the table knows the GM uses a Houserule to "Fudge" the dice rolls then it's total fine.

    But if the GM does in secret without telling the players it's cheating.


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    Ravingdork wrote:
    Where in the game's rules is this assumed? Citation please.

    GameMastery Guide, page 33... although it's less "assumed you're definitely doing it", and more "here are the various schools of thought, but we basically recommend doing it only infrequently and when it supports everyone having more fun".


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    In the beginning, with new players and a new GM, it can be difficult to create encounters that challenge your players but don't overwhelm them. Instead of out and out cheating--lying about die rolls, altering stats on the fly, and other things that can cause players to lose confidence in your honesty when they notice--you can tune the difficulty of your encounters with reinforcements.

    Start with small encounters that you're confident your players can overcome, and set them in areas where it's plausible that other creatures might become involved. If your players are coasting through an encounter, have reinforcements for the monsters show up in the middle of the fight. If they're struggling, don't.

    Eventually your players will start making battle plans that involve stealth and isolation to prevent reinforcements. By then you'll have a better grasp of what they can and can't handle.

    Not every fight needs to be a struggle, however. Sometimes it's good to reward your players for strategic play emotionally, with an easy victory. Other times, it's good to reward them with the additional treasure and XP they get off the reinforcements.

    Have fun, and make sure they do too!


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Does the GameMastery Guide, Ultimate Campaign, or some other similar hardcover go over this to some extent?

    EDIT: Found it.

    GameMastery Guide, page 33 wrote:


    Cheating
    Though it’s considered more polite to call it “fudging,” cheating happens—sometimes a GM will be tempted to alter a die roll to make the story go a certain way, or to save a player character from a blow that would kill them and knock a fun personality out of the game. Should the GM give in to the temptation to cheat? And if the GM is truly in control of the world, and making his or her rolls in secret—is it really cheating at all?

    There are several schools of thought on the matter. One side says that the dice are there to assist the story, not determine it—if a GM needs to occasionally alter or totally fabricate some die rolls for the sake of making an encounter a perfect challenge for the players without killing them, then he’s just doing his job. Others say that it’s the randomness which creates the realism and sense of danger, and that PCs who believe the GM won’t let them die lose half the fun. And a third notes that GMs who clearly cheat or have too many coincidences—the party’s powerful new items always getting stolen by sticky-fingered halflings, or villains being saved by miracle rolls when a player comes up with an unexpectedly effective strategy—undermine the players’ enjoyment, and subtly encourage the players to cheat as well.

    Where you fall on the spectrum is a personal call, but if you do decide to fudge rolls for the sake of the game, it’s best done in secret, and as infrequently as possible. And only—only—if it results in more fun for everyone.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    What the GameMastery Guide said. In general, is it fun? Then you're fine.


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    I only fudge dice when I've messed something up. Whether that's forgotten a modifier, missed encounter balance, whatever, I won't fudge for anyone but my own mistakes.

    I never fudge player success into player failure. If I designed a cake-walk encounter by mistake and my players nuke it, they nuke it.

    I never fudge monster failure into success. If I roll consecutive natural 1's for 7 attacks and 3 saving throws, that monster misses and fails.

    I try to fudge the ultimate outcome in preference to the consequence of the dice roll. My goodness, that attack dropped you to -3 hp? Wow, it could have been SOOO much worse! Lucky I only rolled minimum damage!

    Most of the time I don't have to fudge at all. Don't think I've actually had to for a couple of years.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Chemlak wrote:
    I never fudge monster failure into success. If I roll consecutive natural 1's for 7 attacks and 3 saving throws, that monster misses and fails.

    I have, but only because I needed to extend an encounter out so everyone got a chance to do something useful, i.e., it was a slaughter, and I wanted to make sure everyone got to kill a baddie... so a few were granted extra HP on the fly. But, that pretty much sticks to the general rule of "if it increases the fun at the table."


    I usually don't fudge. With this in mind I put more effort into designing encounters and also into handling post-encounter trouble. This approach resulted in PC death last session (vampire critted on energy drain), player was p*ssed off, but it will result in good things on the long run: Due to reincarnate he can explore a new race, there will be a quest about getting his former body back and the players might have learned to be more careful. Negative twists are part of the story, unless GM and players agreed on something more light-hearted (beer and pretzels).

    If a PC would die on the first level, I'd rather bring a high level cleric (which will demand a favor later) or allow an identical twin brother to replace the fallen PC. You could call that fudging the story, of course.


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    I try hard not to fudge at all.... but then I balance things by viewing the game as like chess. My encounters are set to be v.challenging.... IMO too many of the monsters in AP are underpowered and so they are tweaked.

    I do not shy away at all from PC deaths... I would rather do it that way than be constantly fudging rolls up and down!


    SheepishEidolon wrote:
    If a PC would die on the first level, I'd rather bring a high level cleric (which will demand a favor later) or allow an identical twin brother to replace the fallen PC. You could call that fudging the story, of course.

    It's better than asking someone to stop playing with you till the party gets enough dosh to buy raise dead scrolls XD

    And might have more narrative flow then letting a good character disappear from the game that the players enjoyed. I've definitely seen games fall apart because of too much character death.

    Early deaths I resolve with a 'catch' system I pinched off another GM of mine (Kobold Cleaver of these boards fame, and he got it from his love of action points), since I loved his ideas for it, though I put a bit of a spin on it. Essentially, I let my player give me an ultimatum as to how or why their character should survive, but at some great loss to the character (dismemberment, permanent stat drains that need healing that isn't necessarily Con, destruction of gear, all good examples but should keep them involved if at a severe combat disadvantage but could be resolved, but equally it could be stuff they can't fix easily). The detriment needs to meet the situation, however, and I need to approve it. If they can't think of one, or it's not really appropriate or good enough, I'll make one up for them. I might even throw a corruption in there depending on what did them in.

    I've used it exactly once to spare a character (from his own mistakes) but bring him out of play (he begged for his fairy godmother to save him, and got spirited away to the feywild, but is now her slave, and the party are now going to stage a rescue with their new gunslinger friend, the player's temp character and potential new ally PC for the party once they save the bard). The players thought it was hilarious and a great setup for the next quest.

    doc roc wrote:
    I try hard not to fudge at all.... but then I balance things by viewing the game as like chess. My encounters are set to be v.challenging.... IMO too many of the monsters in AP are underpowered and so they are tweaked.

    I always tweak to make monsters stronger or creatures with class levels stronger unless they already pose a significant threat to a party. Once the party realises that a certain kind of enemy is chaff by merit of their stat construction being just outright bad, it's time to spice them up a bit.

    Those rogues I mentioned a few posts up? Core rogues in the book. I made them unchained, gave them Bludgeoner so they can alternate between nonlethal and lethal, and gave them Resiliency so they could survive for one more round in a dramatic fashion. PC's expect that of barbarians, not rogues, and it makes for a lot of fun, even though they only saw it once due to their use of nonlethal damage. A simple tweak like that made them more interesting and more effective, however, and gave them a bit more damage overall.

    Grand Lodge

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    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

    I try to avoid fudging as much as I can, but the dice can be very harsh. Evening out those hard spikes makes the game run much smoother.


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    "Others say that it’s the randomness which creates the realism and sense of danger, and that PCs who believe the GM won’t let them die lose half the fun."

    This is me. As James T. Kirk said, "Risk is our business." As a player, if I know that the DM is always going to get me out of trouble, or even just most of the time, then I'm not enjoying myself.

    As a DM, I roll all of my dice out on the table, in front of everyone so that they can see that I'm not fudging the rolls. I create campaigns, adventures, and scenarios and then sit back and adjudicate as necessary.

    A recent addition to this is to have a former regular player who now lives out of state play the villains when he's in town. Ed goes for the throat and all the players know it. It is up to me to create an encounter that challenges the PCs but for which the odds are still ever in their favor.

    Dark Archive

    As one of the people who are very much against fudging, i understand sometimes you may accidentally make your pirates to strong. I would recommend instead of fudging the rolls maybe the pirates knock the players out. They bring them back to their island only for a npc to help them break their cages. Now they must go commandeer a ship and get back to the mainland. your story doesn't need to be set in stone all the time. Hell i know at least once we were fighting a troll at lv one in a friends game and about half way through we took a break. The GM statted out a new npc who showed up, who ended up being around for almost the entire campaign.


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    Do what works for you and your table and try not to be overly concerned with what other people think.


    I would much rather not fudge but have my PCs struggling to stay alive...

    Grand Lodge

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    Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

    I prefer to lowball encounters so that we can get the fights over with and get back to exploring and interacting with the world.


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    TriOmegaZero wrote:
    I prefer to lowball encounters so that we can get the fights over with and get back to exploring and interacting with the world.

    Yeah, a lot of DMs for some reason get it in their heads that the PCs need to "just barely" win every single fight, or the game is no fun.

    In my experience as a player it's most fun when some encounters are a cake walk, others are maybe too much for us and we wind up retreating, and some that we thought would be easy end up taxing us heavily.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
    Hogeyhead wrote:
    ...how much cheating is okay to you guys?

    Two things:

    1} What you did wasn't cheating. Why? Because you designed the encounter, discovered it was imbalanced, and improvised a solution at the table. If you sit down and decide "you know, I think a nice CR20 balor would be good for this encounter", then change your mind at the table, that's not cheating. That's learning.

    2} It's up to your group. When I DM, I roll out in the open. So do my players when they're DMing for me. There's much less room for fudging rolls, but there's also less room for bad-feelings if the random chance isn't in the players' favor. That said, we're all experienced players, so our encounters are usually pretty balanced and our PCs are usually prepared for what they fight. There's not a lot of biting-off-more-than-can-be-chewed, and there's not a lot of didn't-think-that-would-kill-you.

    Some groups expect softballs. Some groups expect hardcore PC death. Talk to your players, but keep in mind my point #1 in this specific case.


    Zero GM cheating is acceptable to be found out about.

    Don't cheat or don't be caught.


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    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Losing a character due to poor rolls is hardly the worst thing in the world. It's only a barrier to fun if you let it be. Having to sit out while the rest of your friends have fun because your character died, however, IS absolutely a barrier to fun every single time.

    GMs don't need to fudge dice.

    They need to find ways to keep the players involved in the game and having fun. Be it playing a companion creature until the next game, having backup characters ready to go, or changing the narrative slightly to explain a sudden arrival of a new, trustworthy ally. Doesn't really matter. Fun thing about imagination games such as these is that you can do literally anything to explain away anything.

    When you have that kind of narrative power, there's no reason for your players to be sitting out not having fun due to bad rolls. If that's happening, then the GM needs to step up his game.

    But not by fudging. Well intentioned though it may be, fudging just isn't really necessary in these kinds of situations.


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    Rhedyn wrote:

    Zero GM cheating is acceptable to be found out about.

    Don't cheat or don't be caught.

    Or get consent and then getting caught is irrelevant


    Personally, I would rather the orc barbarian happen to have a philosopher stone, than learn the GM fudge a crit away

    I like my RPGs to respect their game portion as a means by which the narrative is enriched. Pathfinder is one of the few stories where the heroes don't have plot armor.


    I suppose we can say so far that the consensus is;

    1. Check with PC's first about their preference. Some players get attached and want long arching narratives. Some are in for the meatgrind. Some like a middle ground. But remain consistent and always preserve fun. There is no true way of playing.

    2. Have a method of dealing with death, and state that outright before the game starts. Let the players know your stance or come to one that suits your players.

    3. If things become apparent that they are imbalanced...Ummmm. This is where there is less consensus, so I think you can't really go wrong but probably base it on what experience your players are looking for as a game and be consistent.

    4. Be a fair judicator. But also be fair on the player's and the narrative they want to tell. Strike a balance that all of you can agree upon, whatever that balance might look like.


    I should mention that I'm not new to GMing and I rarely fudge, but this was my first time Gming pathfinder in a while, and it was literally the first fight. It would not have been fun if somone died, considering how much effort I insisted everyone put of character creation. I mean we dedicated a whole session to it, plus the characters were a bit special and replacing them would have been very awkward.

    Well thanks for everyone's input.


    As the GM you can be as arbitrary or as improvisational as you want provided that choice results in everybody having more fun that way.

    A couple things I have found:

    - Shenanigans with the dice are generally less acceptable if there's no sort of explicit narrative justification. "The pirates are so pleased with themselves, they spend an action to take a deep swig of grog" (and as a result has penalties) probably works better than extra die rolls.

    - You might have a better result dealing with "Oops, I made this encounter too hard" if you institute some house rule for avoiding pointless and meaningless character death in situations that have low-narrative stakes. For the current campaign I'm using a synthesis of the 13th Age rule that the party can just run away any time every player agrees to do so (no matter whose turn it is), and the "Death Flag" rule from Ryan Stoughton's "Raising the Stakes" (Google it, I don't have the link handy.)

    But if you made a call, and your players had fun, then you made the right call. That's really the end of it. The thing to be aware with fudging and other GM Shenanigans is that you want to make sure not to overdo them so things are less fun. You have a lot of tools at your disposal, so don't be afraid to experiment. The clumsiest one is numerical fudging, but every once in a while it's going to be okay despite the protestations of some.


    Fudge when you need to. Simple as that.

    Avoid it when you can, but do it without hesitation when the need arises.


    HWalsh wrote:
    Fudge when you need to. Simple as that. Avoid it when you can, but do it without hesitation when the need arises.

    ...unless the players themselves are anti-fudging and view it as a violation of their trust. In which case, don't do it, even if you think you need to. Simple as that. Avoid it always, even if you hesitate based on the real outcome.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    The only character I've ever killed was one that I was running, too. Damned swarms at first level, grrr...


    I've killed two. A ghost critical hit a tumbling kobold, and a gibbering mouther ate a halfling investigator who tried to fight it alone while his companions machine gunned the cultists directing it. The first was my first time GM'ing Pathfinder. The second was my second. I had a nice track recording going for a while.

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