Fudging Rolls


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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Not quite following you on that one.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Not quite following you on that one.

I'd rather go bananas more about people blowing their heads off around me than people telling me I stole their Xbox, but then again war, sorry, "freedom enhancing assistance" is irrational.

Then again, if you manage to hang on to some sanity after all the years, your wife chose wisely. :)

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Not quite following you on that one.

Silly me. I thought that maybe, just maybe, your anecdote might be the last word.

Reminds me of the reason why I now have an ex instead of a wife. Not that there were any deaths involved, but it did involve jail time and frustratingly spurious charges that were eventually nolled.

So yeah, I think I'm with you on that one; few things get me more annoyed than being unjustly accused ... probably why I found myself unable to stay out of this discussion, as much as I originally intended to.

Now, back to my pitch for KQ before I return to ... well, never mind what I'm returning to ... I know that at least one of my players reads these boards :)


meatrace wrote:
Bob_Loblaw wrote:


There is no "pro-cheating position." I think that's the problem with this discussion. You are equating cheating with fudging. Have you ever played pinball? You can nudge the ball by bumping the machine and is encouraged. If you nudge it too much though, you lose that ball. Fudging is like this. You can nudge a little here and a little there but if you do it too much or too hard, the game will come to a halt.
Wow. Just...wow. No, sorry, cheating is cheating no matter how much you sugar coat it. The fact that you are in hard denial about your blatant lying and cheating to your players doesn't change the situation.

I'm not in denial as my posts clearly show. I very rarely fudge. I have fudged twice in the two years I've been running the current campaign. It really isn't any difference than playing pinball. A little bit can go a long way if used in the right circumstance. I don't see a need to fudge very often. Usually the players will figure things out on their own. Sometimes a small fudge can make the difference in how much fun they are having. Instead of seeing it as cheating, see it as finagling. That's how we see it and that's why we take offense when you call us cheaters.

In the reincarnate example I gave above, do you think I should have allowed him to just come back as a troglodyte? He would have scrapped his character and made the dhampir archer he wanted to play anyway. In this situation, I didn't have to introduce a new character that was a clone in all ways except race. I just had to remove troglodyte as an option. Fudging was superior in all ways to the alternative result.

No matter how much you want to paint us as evil monsters who have no care for our friends, you're not going to be right. I have never seen a PnP RPG that has not endorsed some form of fudging. I've only been gaming for a few decades though so I don't have a lot of experience to draw on. I've only played a few dozen different systems so my experience is limited there as well.

Liberty's Edge

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meatrace wrote:
The fact that you are in hard denial about your blatant lying and cheating to your players doesn't change the situation.

I love it when people demand absolute literal truth when playing a fiction-based game that revolves around fantasy, magic, and narrative story telling.


Mergy wrote:

I'm going to start this by admitting that I have not read all the posts in this thread. I apologize.

I just got back from a game where the DM rolled everything in plain view, and several times one or all of our characters were at death's door. It was scary, but it was also tremendous fun. Our level 1 characters were cowering and terrified of this crazy owlbear with 3 natural attacks (shredded my character, taking me down from full to -8 with one full attack), but when we beat it, it was freaking awesome.

All the more awesome because the monsters were being dangerous, and the DM was trying to kill us. That said, it may not have been so awesome if we'd been slaughtered, but I'm still glad he was rolling in front of us, because the story is much better.

Were all of the monster's stats publically available? Did you watch the monster's HP drop point by point? See the relevant saves and defenses in front of you before you tried things?

If so, then one wonders if you only won because you knew exactly how to target the monster that was a complete non-mystery to you as you had a cheat sheet in front of you to run the combat.

If not, then how do you know you beat it fairly? What if the GM gave it a few extra HP to make it an 'EPIC' fight? Or took a few away to stop the TPK?

If the GM literally puts everything out in public, to ensure there is absolutely no cheating whatsoever, you're playing a very strange version of D&D/PF. I prefer to not know all the details of an encounter up front, as that makes the choices of what resources to use much more compelling. And if *everything* isn't available to you, then rolling in public doesn't stop fudging from happening, it merely obfuscates it.

Scarab Sages

Bob_Loblaw wrote:
I'm not in denial as my posts clearly show. I very rarely fudge. I have fudged twice in the two years I've been running the current campaign. It really isn't any difference than playing pinball. A little bit can go a long way if used in the right circumstance. I don't see a need to fudge very often.

To be honest, if you've only fudged twice in two years, you're a lot closer to the 'don't fudge' camp than you give yourself credit for.

And to be clear, I wouldn't have a problem with playing with a GM who admitted he'd fudged twice in two years. It's the ones who reserve the right to fudge 'whenever they feel like it' that would make me question why I was wasting my time.

Bob_Loblaw wrote:
In the reincarnate example I gave above, do you think I should have allowed him to just come back as a troglodyte? He would have scrapped his character and made the dhampir archer he wanted to play anyway. In this situation, I didn't have to introduce a new character that was a clone in all ways except race. I just had to remove troglodyte as an option. Fudging was superior in all ways to the alternative result.

I wouldn't count that as a typical situation, though, which means you're now in the position of fudging once in two years.

Reincarnation is such a rarely used spell (depending on your specific group, obviously), that it simply isn't worth creating an ironclad house rule for it in advance.
Most players use it as an emergency 'raise dead with drawbacks' when they're level 7-8, or can't afford a proper raise.
It really has a narrow window of use in the game, so I'd likely not have even given it a thought when discussing campaign specifics with the rest of the group.

What I would have done differently, is not to have rolled, THEN changed the result, but once I'd found out they intended to go through with it, I'd have said "Let's have a look what you're messing with.", opened the book, sat back, and read the spell, said to the players "Hoo Boy! There's some stinkers on this table! Some of these possibilities just aren't going to be workable. What say we change 'troglodyte' to 'GM's choice'? Or make it 'you come back as your original race'? Is everybody fine with that?"
Then let them roll, and then let the dice fall where they may.
It may seem like a small distinction, but it would make a huge difference to a lot of players, as one method is pro-active, pre-empting a possible problem, and agreeing a houserule prior to the roll; the other is reactive, disallowing a roll after the fact.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I removed a post and the replies to it. Let's avoid that particular discussion, thanks.


Ross Byers wrote:
I removed a post and the replies to it. Let's avoid that particular discussion, thanks.

I am sure it was for the best. Based on some of the comments in this thread, I was beginning to fear no one was watching.


The_Hanged_Man wrote:
I love it when people demand absolute literal truth when playing a fiction-based game that revolves around fantasy, magic, and narrative story telling.

Continue to love it, I still haven't gotten a response to my assertion that challenging a GM tool specifically sanctioned by the rules themselves, in the name of playing by the rules, isn't self-contradictory to the point of practically nullifying one's own argument out of the gates.

Let alone the position to house rule it out is inherently morally and ethically superior to...the rules themselves.


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Eacaraxe wrote:
The_Hanged_Man wrote:
I love it when people demand absolute literal truth when playing a fiction-based game that revolves around fantasy, magic, and narrative story telling.

Continue to love it, I still haven't gotten a response to my assertion that challenging a GM tool specifically sanctioned by the rules themselves, in the name of playing by the rules, isn't self-contradictory to the point of practically nullifying one's own argument out of the gates.

Let alone the position to house rule it out is inherently morally and ethically superior to...the rules themselves.

I don't really care what the rules say; I care about the social contract and issues of trust between friends and acquaintances. Specifically, the issues that arise when part of the group follows the standard social conventions of constant lying ("but they're only white lies!") and another part of the group expects a different treatment from that. It's no different than the situations we're constantly dealing with at the workplace, or at dinner parties. Would you rather your guests RSVP "yes" to make you feel good, and then fabricate an excuse why they couldn't make it? Or would you rather have them tell you up front they aren't really interested, or have something better to do? Would you do the same thing as a guest? All that is no different than hashing out whether the GM should fudge rolls for the players "for their own good."


Eacaraxe wrote:


Continue to love it, I still haven't gotten a response to my assertion that challenging a GM tool specifically sanctioned by the rules themselves, in the name of playing by the rules, isn't self-contradictory to the point of practically nullifying one's own argument out of the gates.

Let alone the position to house rule it out is inherently morally and ethically superior to...the rules themselves.

I'm still trying to get my head around the 'No Cheating - EVER!' crowd...

My first consideration is how do 'No-Cheating!' and 'DM Fiat' go together...

For example, lets say you're playing an adventure, and it calls for a random encounter roll.

The random encounter table allows you to generate a result anywhere from APL-3 to APL+a lot. If your first level party of 4 encounters 1d6 Trolls, and you then roll '6', how do you let that play out? What if it was while the party was camping, and only one character was on watch? What if they fail their perception check, so the 6 trolls are first seen as soon as they are 20' away?

You rolled a random encounter. You rolled it at night. You rolled it during the worst possible watch. You rolled stealth vs perception and the party blew it. So, TPK?

You could argue that the module didn't intend for 6 trolls to hit a first level party, but there it is.

Now, with DM Fiat, you can adjust the situation so that the trolls are happy gobbling up a horse, and then leave. Or that a perception check isn't required, the watch person hears something and is able to rouse people and hide up in the trees, or whatever... DM Fiat allows you to simply address the issue outside of the die rolls.

So, I can fully see a 'No adjusting the dice, EVER' mentality with a group that allows for significant DM fiat to handle outliers. So, No-cheating crowd... given the above scenario, what is the correct 'No-cheating' play? By the dice, you've got 6 trolls within 20' of the party, they have a surprise round, and only one PC is awake.

And that's only one situation... and you could argue a TPK is a teaching opportunity, and that the module is a killer module, and the next group will be better prepared... but what happens when this is the second TPK of the adventure? Do you tweak it then? Choose not to use random encounters? Choose to limit them appropriate CR?

Just curious, because if you strap yourself in too tightly to the module and dice, one wonders exactly why you need a GM at all, and why you don't just run the adventure by committee and have everyone play a PC...


Kirth Gersen wrote:
I don't really care what the rules say; I care about the social contract and issues of trust between friends and acquaintances. Specifically, the issues that arise when part of the group follows the standard social conventions of constant lying ("but they're only white lies!") and another part of the group expects a different treatment from that. It's no different than the situations we're constantly dealing with at the workplace, or at dinner parties. Would you rather your guests RSVP "yes" to make you feel good, and then fabricate an excuse why they couldn't make it? Or would you rather have them tell you up front they aren't really interested, or have something better to do? Would you do the same thing as a guest? All that is no different than hashing out whether the GM should fudge rolls for the players "for their own good."

Not everyone perfers "blunt honesty" in place of "white lies told to spare their feelings". If one my friends declines to attend my dinner party because they would rather do something else, or are just not interested - then yes, I would prefer a white lie for politeness sake.

I don't think honesty is always the best policy if that honesty will needlessly hurt someone else. I respect that you do not agree with that Kirth. I can see that for you, honesty is most important, all the time, with no exceptions. You may feel that everyone should see it the way you do, but surely you can understand that everyone does not?


Marshall Jansen wrote:
Now, with DM Fiat, you can adjust the situation so that the trolls are happy gobbling up a horse, and then leave.

If playing the monsters at their appropriate level of intelligence and motivation is "fudging," then the entire GAME is nothing but. For purposes of this discussion, we're more focused on fudging as "changing the results of actual dice rolls to get the desired result, but pretending not to."


Dren Everblack wrote:
I don't think honesty is always the best policy if that honesty will needlessly hurt someone else. I respect that you do not agree with that Kirth. I can see that for you, honesty is most important, all the time, with no exceptions. You may feel that everyone should see it the way you do, but surely you can understand that everyone does not?

That was my entire POINT -- different people prefer different things. I hae long since accepted that I cannot enforce honesty in the people around me, but I fail to understand why a preference for constant lies should automatically be the default that everyone must accept if even one person is in favor.

You'll recall that earlier I advocated the position that the GM could fudge for the players who were happy with it, and be honest with the players who weren't -- and was immediately shot down as some kind of horrible barbarian, because obviously if lies are OK for one person, then everyone in the group had better damn well suck it up and accept them or it would "cause animosity." Never mind that lying to someone who expressly asks you not to is likely to cause more animosity.

Keep the posters straight -- I never said that no one should ever fudge -- I said that (a) as a GM, I personally don't; and (b) as a players, I don't want a GM who makes that decision for me.

What I'm against is the standpoint that "different people have different preferences, and therefore everyone must be lied to to make everything fair, so suck it up and deal with it, because you'll not get any honesty from me, nor should anyone be honest with anyone else."

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

As I fail to understand why you continue to savage a strawman of 'ALL FUDGING ALL THE TIME'.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
I don't really care what the rules say; I care about the social contract and issues of trust between friends and acquaintances. Specifically, the issues that arise when part of the group follows the standard social conventions of constant lying ("but they're only white lies!") and another part of the group expects a different treatment from that. It's no different than the situations we're constantly dealing with at the workplace, or at dinner parties. Would you rather your guests RSVP "yes" to make you feel good, and then fabricate an excuse why they couldn't make it? Or would you rather have them tell you up front they aren't really interested, or have something better to do? Would you do the same thing as a guest? All that is no different than hashing out whether the GM should fudge rolls for the players "for their own good."

Hmm. I think I see an issue here. fudging a roll 'for the player's own good' is not really addressing why *I* fudge rolls (or fudge mechanics).

For example, if a player does something that screams 'that is awesome', and it is so awesome I want it to succeed no matter what, the die roll is not a 'pass/fail', but instead a 'degree of success'.

For example, let's say a halfling is being grappled, and the grappler is threatening to throw you off a building. The grappled player is a summoner, and dismisses his eidolon during the discussion, then on his next action says 'I bite the barbarian as hard as I can and when he drops me off the cliff I summon an Air Elemental with my SLA to catch me before I hit the ground...'

I should require a CMB roll to break the grapple, and not allow the summon at all, right? That's the rules. And I should probably find out if it's even feasible for a small elemental to carry a halfling. Instead, I allow a CMB check, with a poor roll meaning the halfling is bouncing down the side of the cliff before he can get the summon off, a good roll and the air elemental deftly catches him and eases him to the ground.

Am I a dirty cheating untrustworthy jackhole? A power-hungry lord of fiat? Or a good GM?

I honestly don't know.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
As I fail to understand why you continue to savage a strawman of 'ALL FUDGING ALL THE TIME'.

Because, honestly, I don't see much of a difference if you lie to me once a month, or once a day, or with every word spoken. Just as I can't get out of a speeding ticket by explaining, "well, officer, I usually go slower."


Mergy wrote:
All the more awesome because the monsters were being dangerous, and the DM was trying to kill us. That said, it may not have been so awesome if we'd been slaughtered, but I'm still glad he was rolling in front of us, because the story is much better.

What if your group of level 1 characters had been slaughtered, is the question. There's obviously no possibility in raising them from the dead, so it's time to create new characters, essentially.

The question to proverbially ask yourself (which can be tricky) is, if the dice had gone the other way, would you have preferred the GM to fudge so that you could actually continue instead of being wiped out at first level?


Marshall Jansen wrote:
For example, let's say a halfling is being grappled, and the grappler is threatening to throw you off a building. The grappled player is a summoner, and dismisses his eidolon during the discussion, then on his next action says 'I bite the barbarian as hard as I can and when he drops me off the cliff I summon an Air Elemental with my SLA to catch me before I hit the ground...'

Let me repeat for umpteen-bajillionth time:

  • I have no problem allowing unreasonable things -- I often encourage it. If the rules need to be broken, it's nice to have a "free break the rules point" to track it, but whatever.
  • I have no problem cutting players a break if a particularly egregious streak of bad luck occurs outside of their control (although I prefer that it be their option, not always just mine).
  • Believe it or not, I have no problem with a GM who blatantly throws away dice rolls.

    My issue is when the GM does all of the above, and then turns around and tells me he doesn't. In other words, he tries to "get away with it" instead of including me in the decision.

    If the whole group asks to be kept in the dark, that's another thing entirely; go nuts. But if the group includes people like me, then fudging for everyone as an automatic default that cannot be opted out of is really a dick move.

  • Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

    Build a thousand houses and you're an architect, kill one man and you're a murderer?

    Murder a million men and you're evil incarnate.


    TriOmegaZero wrote:
    Build a thousand houses and you're an architect, kill one man and you're a murderer?

    Only if that one man doesn't want you to kill him. If he's requesting help with suicide, you're still an architect, to me. The difference is whether he gets to be included in the decision, or if you're reserving the right to make his decisions for him.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:

    That was my POINT -- different people prefer different things. I cannot enforce honesty in the people around me, obviously -- but I fail to understand why your preference for constant lies should automatically be the default that everyone must accept if even one person is in favor.

    You'll recall that earlier I advocated the position that the GM could fudge for the players who were happy with it, and be honest with the players who weren't -- and was immediately shot down as some kind of horrible barbarian, because obviously if lies are OK for one person, then everyone in the group had better damn well suck it up and accept them or it would "cause animosity." Never mind that lying to someone who expressly asks you not to is likely to cause more animosity.

    Keep the posters straight -- I never said that no one should ever fudge -- I said that (a) as a GM, I personally don't; and (b) as a players, I don't want a GM who makes that decision for me.

    OK a few things here.

    - I never indicated a preference for "constant lies". That is an unfair categorization. I simply like to fudge/cheat/whatever so that the PC's don't die too often. Cause I know that my players think it sucks to die too often.

    - I did not indicate that it should be the default for everyone in spite of one person's wishes. I did mention however that it might casue some resentment to have one player only use hero points and I asked for your thoughts on that.

    - I have never shot you down as a horrible barbarian. In fact I have made sure to remain polite and respectful in all my responses to you and everyone else in this thread. It is easy for me to remain polite and not call someone else a liar, even if I think they are.

    - My primary issue with you is what I feel has been an attack on the morality of fudging/cheating/whatever. Because I think it does matter why a GM does it. And I think it is possible to lie to someone for their own good. And I have been in campaigns where my character has had some really lousy deaths, it was not fun, and I wish my GM had fudged for me without me knowing.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:

    My issue is when the GM does all of the above, and then turns around and tells me he doesn't. In other words, he tries to "get away with it" instead of including me in the decision.

    If the whole group asks to be kept in the dark, that's another thing entirely; go nuts. But if the group includes people like me, then fudging for everyone as an automatic default that cannot be opted out of is really a dick move.

    On this I think we can actually agree. If as a player you make it clear to the GM that you don't want fudging, or that you want to know when it happens (either during the session or after) and the GM either refuses to stop fudging or refuses to tell you when it has occurred, then there is definitely a problem between the two of you that is likely to extend even further than the fudging realm; a GM that you can't expect to be honest with you in this manner is best abandoned in favor of another group.


    I don't fudge rolls. Not because I have any particular objection to doing so, but I often don't have a screen hiding my rolls, and it would be pretty awkward if my modifier kept changing with every roll of the die. In general, if I really, really felt that everyone wold have more fun if things went a particular way, I'd just make a decision without a roll, and my players would let me know if they had a problem with that. When I play in a game (a rare occurrence these days) I don't care if the GM chooses to fudge rolls or not, as long as it isn't actively working against the party. If fudging happens though, I just don't want to know WHEN it happens, nor how often.


    Ultrace wrote:
    Kirth Gersen wrote:

    My issue is when the GM does all of the above, and then turns around and tells me he doesn't. In other words, he tries to "get away with it" instead of including me in the decision.

    If the whole group asks to be kept in the dark, that's another thing entirely; go nuts. But if the group includes people like me, then fudging for everyone as an automatic default that cannot be opted out of is really a dick move.

    On this I think we can actually agree. If as a player you make it clear to the GM that you don't want fudging, or that you want to know when it happens (either during the session or after) and the GM either refuses to stop fudging or refuses to tell you when it has occurred, then there is definitely a problem between the two of you that is likely to extend even further than the fudging realm; a GM that you can't expect to be honest with you in this manner is best abandoned in favor of another group.

    Judging by this post, you and are in 100% agreement on every aspect of the issue. Thank you!


    Dren Everblack wrote:
    My primary issue with you is what I feel has been an attack on the morality of fudging/cheating/whatever. Because I think it does matter why a GM does it. And I think it is possible to lie to someone for their own good.

    You know how Jefferson defined "rightful liberty?"

    Thomas Jefferson wrote:
    Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

    By these standards, a GM who negates the players' rights in favor of his own view is a tyrant. If you lie to me "for my own good" and I'm OK with that -- more power to you. If I specifically ask you not to and you do it anyway -- that's an act of dominance and aggression, and I'd view it as such.

    My attack isn't on the ethics of fudging itself, but on the ethics of making the decision on behalf of the players collectively, without respecting their individual wills in the matter.


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    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    Judging by this post, you and are in 100% agreement on every aspect of the issue. Thank you!

    I believe so. I'm okay with fudging, both as a player and as a GM. But if a player tells me as GM they don't want me to fudge and I do it anyway, I'm a bad GM and I am cheating the player -- perhaps not based on the Deus Clause of the CRB, but at least cheating them out of the experience that they want or deserve (even if what they deserve is harsh, cold death at the figurative fickle hands of the dice.)

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    Only if that one man doesn't want you to kill him. If he's requesting help with suicide, you're still an architect, to me. The difference is whether he gets to be included in the decision, or if you're reserving the right to make his decisions for him.

    Then you and I have no beef (which is reassuring). You wouldn't keep calling me a murderer.

    Other people in this thread would.


    TriOmegaZero wrote:
    Then you and I have no beef (which is reassuring). You wouldn't keep calling me a murderer. Other people in this thread would.

    Well, you know, sticks and stones. I get called an "uppity yankee" and a "short person Napoleon" on a daily basis. No skin off my nose. But if those people started infringing upon my personal liberty, I'd get riled up in a hurry.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    My attack isn't on the ethics of fudging itself, but on the ethics of making the decision on behalf of the players collectively, without respecting their individual wills in the matter.

    I don't think anyone in this thread has advocated tryannical GMing in spite of what their players actually want.

    The purpose of not telling the player exactly when you are fudging is to maintain the fantasy, the suspension of disbelief. That is important to me and my players even if it is not to you.

    My feelings on having one player only use hero points is that it might send an "I am better than you" message to the pro-fudging players.

    And as you know, I polled my players on their feeling about this. Even the one pro-hero point player has stated that he would rather majority rule.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:

    By these standards, a GM who negates the players' rights in favor of his own view is a tyrant. If you lie to me "for my own good" and I'm OK with that -- more power to you. If I specifically ask you not to and you do it anyway -- that's an act of dominance and aggression, and I'd view it as such.

    My attack isn't on the ethics of fudging itself, but on the ethics of making the decision on behalf of the players collectively, without respecting their individual wills in the matter.

    You are arguing a point that those who agree with you disagree on the specifics. As TOZ stated, there are those in this thread that seem to be out for blood, and just because you can accept fudging as a non-evil act doesn't mean that all those on your side do. Remember that when things get too general on our side, because you are the exception.

    That being said, the GM isn't necessarily negating the players' rights when he fudges. The game specifically says that the GM's "word is law," meaning he says what's legal and what isn't. Most keep comparing the GM and the player side-by-side, when in reality, they are in two different categories and cannot be equally compared.

    For example, in my main campaign, the GM doesn't allow half-races and gnomes, because he doesn't like them in his world. This does frustrate me to some degree, but I don't have the power as a player to say, "Well, I don't want there to be dwarves either." The GM is given his own set of abilities and rules; the players have their own, separate set.

    What my point is that the GM, while he is there to only partially craft the story (the players doing the other part) and is restricted by a set of rules, is restricted by a DIFFERENT set of rules that the players are.

    I still agree with a GM not fudging if his players specifically ask him to.


    So here's my next question.

    Given that the 'No-cheating' crowd believes that changing/ignoring a dice roll is immoral and unethical, destroying the game at worst and badwrongfun at best....

    What if you aren't adjusting a die roll?

    If a module says 'The Ogre-Troll-Owl-Bear-Lord fights to the DEATH!' and you decide it would be 'better' that he surrenders/runs away/strikes a deal...

    is that cheating? What if you do it when the party is clearly going to die but they don't know that yet because they think he's hurt when he's only taken 10% of his HP?

    Here's my point...

    The GM act of deciding to roll some dice and abide by their decision, and then going 'oh snap, those dice, they are so wacky, with all those 20s on them' and ignoring the roll is by far and away the most unsubtle, square-peg-in-a-round-hole type of fudging that I can almost see a reason for the vitriol.

    However, all of the GM tweaks and shifts and dances and 'circumstantial' modifiers and morale issues and reinforcements and NPC support and deus ex machina and etc etc too me are *also* fudging/cheating.

    I don't see tweaking monster HP any differently than tweaking a confirmation roll. Now, a good (or killer) GM will make sure he's happy with the results of ANY roll before he makes it, and in those cases I can see how fudging is breaking something that works. However, again, fudging is a tool for the GM, and sometimes, through inexperience, naivete, stupidity, carelessness, or what have you... the GM rolls a die that has a result on at least one face that he finds unacceptable.

    So he thinks: I can change the roll. 'Remember' a situational modifier. Let it stand, because it's not that bad, really.

    Hopefully, he'll make a choice that is fun. Ideally, he'll learn something about how to GM. But in any given game, sometimes a GM is gonna screw the pooch and let the dice make a decision they have no business making, and if the GM chooses to ignore it, GOOD.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Ultrace wrote:
    Kirth Gersen wrote:

    My issue is when the GM does all of the above, and then turns around and tells me he doesn't. In other words, he tries to "get away with it" instead of including me in the decision.

    If the whole group asks to be kept in the dark, that's another thing entirely; go nuts. But if the group includes people like me, then fudging for everyone as an automatic default that cannot be opted out of is really a dick move.

    On this I think we can actually agree. If as a player you make it clear to the GM that you don't want fudging, or that you want to know when it happens (either during the session or after) and the GM either refuses to stop fudging or refuses to tell you when it has occurred, then there is definitely a problem between the two of you that is likely to extend even further than the fudging realm; a GM that you can't expect to be honest with you in this manner is best abandoned in favor of another group.

    I've got to stop reading this thread because I keep getting tempted to jump back in.

    *Holds nose and jumps*

    This I too can heartily, absolutely, completely agree with. If next session my players say, "You know what, let's try all rolls count, no rerolls, no fudging, let them stand as they fall" or "Hey, after the session, could you tell us where and why you fudged/cheated/did the hula." Then, yes, I will do just that. As I've said, I do what I do because that's what my table wants. If that changes, I change.


    Dren Everblack wrote:
    I don't think anyone in this thread has advocated tryannical GMing in spite of what their players actually want.

    The argument that "I fudge, but only if I can get away with it, and it's for the players' own good, so they should accept it and not argue -- and besides, the rules say I'm allowed!" is advocating exactly that.

    Dren Everblack wrote:
    The purpose of not telling the player exactly when you are fudging is to maintain the fantasy, the suspension of disbelief. That is important to me and my players even if it is not to you.

    Each player should be allowed to make his or her own decision in that regard, is 99% of my stance here.

    Dren Everblack wrote:
    My feelings on having one player only use hero points is that it might send an "I am better than you" message to the pro-fudging players.

    OK, if being fair isn't too important, at least let them individually opt out of the "I will fidge for you, like it or not" policty -- what TOZ referred to as "keeping the death flag raised."

    Dren Everblack wrote:
    And as you know, I polled my players on their feeling about this. Even the one pro-hero point player has stated that he would rather majority rule.

    As I've said repeatedly, as long as everyone agrees, there's no problem. It's the players who don't agree that you also have to consider.


    Vendis wrote:
    That being said, the GM isn't necessarily negating the players' rights when he fudges. The game specifically says that the GM's "word is law," meaning he says what's legal and what isn't. Most keep comparing the GM and the player side-by-side, when in reality, they are in two different categories and cannot be equally compared.

    Totally, unequivocally disagree. The GM has as much authority as the players cede to him, and not an iota more. The little voice in my head says, "If everyone else becomes a second-class citizen to you simply by joining your game, and you cite some rulebook page that you think makes you Dictator for Life? Yeah, keep that game to yourself, pal." Again, if your players are OK with that, good for you -- there are plenty of sheep in the world. Just be aware that not everyone on earth will accept that sort of arrangement when dealing with people who are supposedly their friends.


    Zaranorth wrote:
    If next session my players say, "You know what, let's try all rolls count, no rerolls, no fudging, let them stand as they fall" or "Hey, after the session, could you tell us where and why you fudged/cheated/did the hula." Then, yes, I will do just that. As I've said, I do what I do because that's what my table wants. If that changes, I change.

    For most things -- at what level breaks does the Dodge feat provide an AC bonus? etc. -- I like to go with majority rule, and it's fairly important for everyone to be following the same rule, regardless of what the specific rule is.

    When it comes to lying to the players (which some people do view lying about dice rolls to be), that's not so much a game rule issue as it is an interpersonal issue between friends/acquaintances. I'd still advocate an arrangement in which each person's preferences can be accommodated at the same table. I strongly believe that is possible by any number of strategies.


    The way we've used the "GM's word is law" is to keep the game going when there's differing interpretations of a rule or how a couple rules interact. Not just player vs GM, but player vs player, the latter more than the former for all the groups I've been in. I've had to step in, especially back in 2ed days, say "we're doing it X way for now, we'll decide who, if either, is correct after the game." I've seen sessions fall completely apart as somebody starts rummaging through book after book for a rule. The other then rummages some more to find a counter. And it goes on and on until half an hour passes. The rest of us sit there, no dogs in the fight and no in-depth knowledge of that particular kit, and twiddle our (I being a player at the time) thumbs.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

    Three Laws of Gaming

    Rule -1: There isn't a game without players
    Rule 0: The DM is always right.
    Rule 1: The rules were written for a reason. Ignoring them wasn't it.


    TriOmegaZero wrote:
    There isn't a game without players

    +1

    Too many people forget this.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:


    The argument that "I fudge, but only if I can get away with it, and it's for the players' own good, so they should accept it and not argue -- and besides, the rules say I'm allowed!" is advocating exactly that.

    "If I can get away with it" means if the player cannot tell I am doing it at that very moment. Most players who want the GM to fudge for them would rather not know when it is happening. Those players (myself included) know that sometimes their close call will be because they got lucky, and sometimes it will be because the GM fudged, but they don't want to know when that happens.

    Kirth Gersen wrote:


    Each player should be allowed to make his or her own decision in that regard, is 99% of my stance here.

    I don't have a problem with that.

    Kirth Gersen wrote:


    OK, if being fair isn't too important, at least let them individually opt out of the "I will fidge for you, like it or not" policty -- what TOZ referred to as "keeping the death flag raised."

    If being fair isn't too important? Is that what I was saying? I thought I was simply trying to discuss how the other players might feel about the one player at the table has the death flag raised.

    Kirth Gersen wrote:


    As I've said repeatedly, as long as everyone agrees, there's no problem. It's the players who don't agree that you also have to consider.

    I always consider how my players feel. I don't think anyone on this thread has said they do not care how the players feel. That is your interpretation of some of the things they have been saying. Even the GM who fudges to maintain the importance of the story, or to keep the boss fight going a little longer - still cares about how the players feel. It is not so black and white as that.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    Totally, unequivocally disagree. The GM has as much authority as the players cede to him, and not an iota more. The little voice in my head says, "If everyone else becomes a second-class citizen to you simply by joining your game, and you cite some rulebook page that you think makes you Dictator for Life? Yeah, keep that game to yourself, pal." Again, if your players are OK with that, good for you -- there are plenty of sheep in the world. Just be aware that not everyone on earth will accept that sort of arrangement when dealing with people who are supposedly their friends.

    Kirth, I'm curious about this.

    Now, I understand that the GM only has as much power as a player cedes the GM, because the player has the nuclear option of quitting the game.

    However, one person does have to make the rules. Imagine there are five people sitting around a table, and one of them says 'All wizard spells of the conjuration school are not able to be used in the game'...

    4 players disagree, but choose (for whatever reason) to not quit playing the game with this 5th person.

    If the 5th person is the GM... then no wizards are going to be casting conjurations. If the 5th person is a player, they can't actually *stop* the GM from having a wizard cast a conjuration spell. All they can do is say 'really, Summon Monster? I quit.'

    I've played in games where all of the participants (GM and Players) worked together to create a unique game world, and that's cool. But in most cases, the GM creates (or at least adjudicates) the game world. The GM *does* have the power to say what happens, what spells are allowed, what monsters are fought, what treasures are discovered. A good GM uses his skill set to enact limitations on the game world that make a compelling and fun campaign. If you are unwilling to cede that control to a GM, and demand that he create the world to your liking and not his, you as player become the tyrant. And if you say 'no, everything must be by the book with no deviations', then you limit yourself to a generic world.

    Now, maybe all you're saying is 'I want to agree with the GM's vision or I won't play... I'm not here to play Hamsters and Huckleberries just because the GM thinks a game about rodents gathering berries using the d20 rules is his idea of a fun time', and not 'The GM has no more say in the game world than any one other player, and in fact, if all 4 of the players want to play chaos lords with unholy avengers on the backs of tarrasques, well the GM can run that or he can just quit!'

    Somebody has to have the authority to make a final decision. That person is the GM, and if you are unwilling to cede that authority to him, then I disagree that you should play any RPG at all that has a referee. If the players and the GM are equal, then when a player says 'I always do max damage, and never miss', the GM can only sigh and accept it?

    Now, I will say that a GM shouldn't make *ridiculous* rulings, and a reasonable player should be able to negotiate with a reasonable GM, but at the end of the day, the GM decides which way the rule will play, and all the player can do in response is play, or quit. There is no option for the player to overthrow the GM authority.


    TriOmegaZero wrote:

    Three Laws of Gaming

    Rule -1: There isn't a game without players
    Rule 0: The DM is always right.
    Rule 1: The rules were written for a reason. Ignoring them wasn't it.

    I guess I just don't believe the DM is always right. That way lies madness. When rule 0 violates rule 1 and leads to -1, then I'd say rule 0 shouldn't be followed. As a DM I've been wrong before and am genuinely grateful when players edify me about some arcane misconstruction of the rules.


    meatrace wrote:


    I guess I just don't believe the DM is always right. That way lies madness. When rule 0 violates rule 1 and leads to -1, then I'd say rule 0 shouldn't be followed. As a DM I've been wrong before and am genuinely grateful when players edify me about some arcane misconstruction of the rules.

    The GM isn't always *right*. You can know you're 'wrong' and still rule a certain way.

    If a GM is using rule zero to change the rules in a way that makes the game more fun, then rule zero is being used appropriately.

    If the GM is using rule zero in such a way that the players flee, then I would say it was being used inappropriately.

    Rightness and Wrongness doesn't really apply. The issue isn't a GM saying 'I believe the rules say you take 100d6 damage when you fall 10' and I will brook NO ARGUMENTS!'

    A more likely issue is a GM saying 'I know the crafting rules say it takes you 19 months to forge a suit of armor, but lets just say you do it in two weeks of hard work.'

    Sometimes, the rules as written are getting in the way of what the players think is fun. This is when the GM gets to say 'screw the rules, I think this will be more fun for everyone'. If he's right, more fun is had. If he's wrong, players will get sullen and eventually quit.


    Bob_Loblaw wrote:


    I'm not in denial as my posts clearly show. I very rarely fudge. I have fudged twice in the two years I've been running the current campaign. It really isn't any difference than playing pinball. A little bit can go a long way if used in the right circumstance. I don't see a need to fudge very often. Usually the players will figure things out on their own. Sometimes a small fudge can make the difference in how much fun they are having. Instead of seeing it as cheating, see it as finagling. That's how we see it and that's why we take offense when you call us cheaters.

    In the reincarnate example I gave above, do you think I should have allowed him to just come back as a troglodyte? He would have scrapped his character and made the dhampir archer he wanted to play anyway. In this situation, I didn't have to introduce a new character that was a clone in all ways except race. I just had to remove troglodyte as an option. Fudging was superior in all ways to the alternative result.

    No matter how much you want to paint us as evil monsters who have no care for our friends, you're not going to be right. I have never seen a PnP RPG that has not endorsed some form of fudging. I've only been gaming for a few decades though so I don't have a lot of experience to draw on. I've only played a few dozen different systems so my experience is limited there...

    I understand how you see it, I'm just trying to define terms objectively. It's unfortunate that you take offense at the terminology, but defining it another way isn't constructive. I'm just calling a spade a spade, NOT imparting a moral judgment on someone who uses it.

    I think it's wrong to fudge, but I don't necessarily think it's wrong for YOU to fudge. I've fudged before and felt very dirty afterward, having to come clean to my players who had already kinda figured it out. To me that's what it's about, as Kirth said, the contract you have with your players.

    I'm more of the DM as referee type. I'm there to interpret the rules and describe the game world, assist the players in interacting with the story. I'm not a god and I have no right to arbitrarily change things. I am there to set up challenges for my players and let THEM work through it. The moment I change the fight or puzzle mid encounter I betray the game and its players, my friends. Whether it's done out of malice or out of pity I've robbed them of the joy of overcoming a challenge, and here's the key, whether they know it or not.

    With that in mind, if a player rolls a 2 and says "yes! possible critical" I KNOW the results he has claimed don't match the actual die roll. He is cheating, or attempting to. It's almost never that clear cut maybe it's just "I forgot to add in the +2 for flanking" when they already have. Is it less cheating if I don't catch them? Is it less cheating if it's only changing the number by +/- 1? As far as I'm concerned, cheating is Boolean.

    There are plenty of things that are open to interpretation in the game, a zillion different combinations of house rules, and the DM has a host of tools in his toolbox to mitigate unfun situations. I don't think fudging is the right one in almost any situation because it is fundamentally dishonest, which I abhor.

    In your example situation about the Reincarnation, I would have looked at the table, decided that Trog (or orc or pixie or whatever) would be unacceptable, and said to the players "oh, hadn't thought about this, ya know what? I'm going to re-roll if it comes up Trog" and begun a dialogue about creation of a new house rule. If they all hated the idea and wanted to let the dice fall where they may, I'd give them what they asked for. If not, I'd institute a new house rule that would apply across the board, a custom Reincarnate table.

    I've not painted ANYONE as evil monsters. I've painted you as cheaters. There's a reason for there to be a negative connotation but your beef should be with the idea that it should connote something negative in this situation. You seem perfectly fine with your actions, so own it!


    Marshall Jansen wrote:
    meatrace wrote:


    I guess I just don't believe the DM is always right. That way lies madness. When rule 0 violates rule 1 and leads to -1, then I'd say rule 0 shouldn't be followed. As a DM I've been wrong before and am genuinely grateful when players edify me about some arcane misconstruction of the rules.

    The GM isn't always *right*. You can know you're 'wrong' and still rule a certain way.

    If a GM is using rule zero to change the rules in a way that makes the game more fun, then rule zero is being used appropriately.

    If the GM is using rule zero in such a way that the players flee, then I would say it was being used inappropriately.

    If you can find an exception to rule 0, then it's no longer a hard fast rule.

    Also, more fun for WHOM? What if 4 of the players like fumble rules, but you don't? Is the DM right instituting fumble rules mid-campaign (or even mid-session) because most will prefer it? If it wasn't agreed upon before beginning gameplay, then the decision had better be unanimous or you're making it less fun for someone.


    meatrace wrote:


    If you can find an exception to rule 0, then it's no longer a hard fast rule.

    Also, more fun for WHOM? What if 4 of the players like fumble rules, but you don't? Is the DM right instituting fumble rules mid-campaign (or even mid-session) because most will prefer it? If it wasn't agreed upon before beginning gameplay, then the decision had better be unanimous or you're making it less fun for someone.

    I would say that there is no such thing as a 'hard fast rule'. Rule zero allows all other rules to become malleable, and rule zero itself is optional.

    As to the question of 'Fun for WHOM?' well, that IS the question, isn't it?

    The reason rule zero exists as a nebulous optional soft-and-fuzzy construct is because of this one truism:

    The Rules-as-Written are not the ideal rules for all players.

    Some people like fumbles. Some don't. Some like high-powered magic, some don't. Some like magic marts, some don't.

    The rules as written are very broad and cover as many things as are feasible. Some things are glossed over, simplified, confusing, overly complicated in the rules, so groups change those things.

    I can tell you right now that there exist rules that are seen as ridiculous in the RAW. What I can't tell you is what those rules are, because *they can be different for every group*.

    This is the entire point of rule zero: create a game that is fun for YOUR players, not the entirety of the gaming population. Making a game that is fun for your four buddies is a LOT easier than making a game that is fun for the entire universe.

    And, again, this is my point. There are a LOT of tools that exist to allow GMs to run a fun game: rule books, adventure paths, chronicles, magazines, third party materials. Those tools include powers, encounters, random tables, options, story hooks. In addition there are other tools a GM can use: distinct voices, mood music, lighting, miniatures, dungeon tiles, Hirst Arts/Dwarven Forge dungeons. Props for treasure, maps, or other tactile handouts.

    GMs can have NPCs that screw with the players, help them, hinder them, force them into Faustian bargains.

    The GM gets to do all of these crazy things, use all these tools... he decides which rules are good, which are bad (a good GM will incorporate player desires into the mix heavily).

    In addition to all of these things, the GM is given another toolset: the ability to modify the game rules to create a more fun game for all. For *some groups* that means changing die rolls when a die roll would stop the fun. For other groups, the die roll being changed would stop the fun.

    By announcing that the act of changing a die roll is cheating, immoral, a breach of trust, etc... you're basically saying 'you are playing the game wrong. You are in fact a bad person, and people should really stop being friends with you.'

    Changing a die roll is a non-subtle, heavy handed tool to get the game back into 'fun land'. However, it's a VALID tool, because not every GM is a brilliant, prescient genius, able to perfectly predict the outcome of a series of random events (good or bad). Sometimes, a GM screws up, but luckily, the rules allow for mulligans.

    I've played entire campaigns 'in the open' with no screen, antagoinst cards handed to the players post-session. It was fun. For that group. other groups would have quit.

    This is my point. It is not BadWrongFun to fudge. It's either fun, or it isn't fun. If it isn't fun, don't do it. If it is fun, do it. Either way, the rules as written support your choice. It's up to your players to validate your choice for you.


    Marshall Jansen wrote:

    However, one person does have to make the rules. Imagine there are five people sitting around a table, and one of them says 'All wizard spells of the conjuration school are not able to be used in the game'...

    4 players disagree, but choose (for whatever reason) to not quit playing the game with this 5th person.
    If the 5th person is the GM... then no wizards are going to be casting conjurations.

    That's exactly how it DOESN'T work in my home game. Every houserule is subject to vote by the group, with me abstaining except in the case of a tie. If I, as GM, want to ban conjuration, and 4 players want to keep it... guess what, we're keeping it.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    Marshall Jansen wrote:

    However, one person does have to make the rules. Imagine there are five people sitting around a table, and one of them says 'All wizard spells of the conjuration school are not able to be used in the game'...

    4 players disagree, but choose (for whatever reason) to not quit playing the game with this 5th person.
    If the 5th person is the GM... then no wizards are going to be casting conjurations.
    That's exactly how it DOESN'T work in my home game. Every houserule is subject to vote by the group, with me abstaining except in the case of a tie. If I, as GM, want to ban conjuration, and 4 players want to keep it... guess what, we're keeping it.

    Which is probably a system that you and your players LOVE, which is completely and totally cool.

    However, I'm of the school that says in many cases it is easier to create a compelling, memorable fantasy world based on the things you exclude/limit, rather than the things you allow.

    While there is nothing wrong with the players and GM coming to an agreement that all variations to core RAW and Golarion canon will be voted on with majority ruling, there is ALSO nothing wrong with the players agreeing to trust the GM to create a vision that they accept will be non-standard, with restrictions up front, and potential surprises along the way.

    The most memorable RPG campaign I *ever* played in was a Rolemaster game set in 3rd age middle earth (but not involved, even slightly, with the geography or themes of the books), that at 10th level, all magic ceased to work. I can guarantee that if we'd taken a vote, we would not have voted for that to happen, and yet... it worked, because the GM had something special.

    If it hadn't worked, we'd have all quit, I'm sure.

    It's cool that you allow your players to change the rules, but that is by far and away a minority position... and again, you as GM are *choosing* to let that happen. Ultimately, the final decision rests with you.

    Scarab Sages

    Marshall Jansen wrote:

    For example, lets say you're playing an adventure, and it calls for a random encounter roll.

    The random encounter table allows you to generate a result anywhere from APL-3 to APL+a lot. If your first level party of 4 encounters 1d6 Trolls, and you then roll '6', how do you let that play out? What if it was while the party was camping, and only one character was on watch? What if they fail their perception check, so the 6 trolls are first seen as soon as they are 20' away?

    You rolled a random encounter. You rolled it at night. You rolled it during the worst possible watch. You rolled stealth vs perception and the party blew it. So, TPK?

    You could argue that the module didn't intend for 6 trolls to hit a first level party, but there it is.

    It wouldn't happen.

    For trolls to qualify for inclusion on a wandering monster table, there would have to be a lot of trolls about.

    What are first-level PCs doing, wandering around in Troll Country?

    I wouldn't need to fudge the roll on that table, since,

    • the PCs wouldn't be voluntarily wandering round Troll Country,
    • I wouldn't have written a scenario that forced level 1 PCs into troll country,
    • if I were using a pre-made adventure, say for the maps and plot, I would have already modified the encounters to those more suitable for the PCs level before the adventure started.

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