When should a GM fudge rolls


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The Exchange 5/5

N N 959 wrote:

....snipping to the point I am addressing....

Quote:
Yes, there ARE save-or-die/suck spells that use Will saves, but at first level, the only thing that comes close is Color Spray,

I seem to recall a certain Haunt compelling characters to leap to their possible death. Let's hope someone beats the 10 init, rolls the necessary Perception (what is the DC, 20?) and is within a Standard action of stopping you from jumping.

....snipping out the quote....

I couldn't get the above out of my head and had to come back and address this.

The above Haunt can't kill a PC. The well isn't deep enough. Even Max damage wont kill a PC, and in the case of an average WIS dumping Barbarian, it's not likely to even endanger him. Maybe teach him that he needs to do something about a sucky Will save... but then that's what Intro scenarios are for right? Teach a new player about his PC?

I have talked with someone whose entire party jumped in that well and "sat down to have tea". A little squeezed, but they even considered waiting a day or two before climbing out.

There, sorry for that, I just needed to get it said, and now I return you to you regular programming

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

nosig wrote:
N N 959 wrote:

....snipping to the point I am addressing....

Quote:
Yes, there ARE save-or-die/suck spells that use Will saves, but at first level, the only thing that comes close is Color Spray,

I seem to recall a certain Haunt compelling characters to leap to their possible death. Let's hope someone beats the 10 init, rolls the necessary Perception (what is the DC, 20?) and is within a Standard action of stopping you from jumping.

....snipping out the quote....

I couldn't get the above out of my head and had to come back and address this.

The above Haunt can't kill a PC. The well isn't deep enough. Even Max damage wont kill a PC, and in the case of an average WIS dumping Barbarian, it's not likely to even endanger him. Maybe teach him that he needs to do something about a sucky Will save... but then that's what Intro scenarios are for right? Teach a new player about his PC?

I have talked with someone whose entire party jumped in that well and "sat down to have tea". A little squeezed, but they even considered waiting a day or two before climbing out.

There, sorry for that, I just needed to get it said, and now I return you to you regular programming

How about this haunt, then:

This particular haunt or die effect gives a will save or you perform a coup de grace on yourself. So, even if you don't do max damage and kill yourself that way, you get another will save under the coup de grace rules or you croak. And I played it at tier 1-2, and was the character who was targeted by it. Thankfully, I was a cleric and had a PFS shirt on.

Shall we throw that one into the mix?


Drogon wrote:

How about this haunt, then:

This particular haunt or die effect gives a will save or you perform a coup de grace on yourself. So, even if you don't do max damage and kill yourself that way, you get another will save under the coup de grace rules or you croak. And I played it at tier 1-2, and was the character who was targeted by it. Thankfully, I was a cleric and had a PFS shirt on.

Shall we throw that one into the mix?

WHY did you go in there!? There is like no reason in the entire scenario to go into that room, except pure curiosity. And you know what they say about curiosity and cats.

:P


The reason this isn't and shouldn't be quantified in the PFSGtOP is because it isn't quantifiable.

2/5

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My response to the original poster's question: You shouldn't and if you roll in the open (which I do), you keep yourself from being tempted to do so. I can think of at least a couple of times (maybe a couple more that I can't think of just off the top of my head) in the 40 some-odd games I have run for PFS where I purposefully chose sub-optimal tactics because not doing so would have resulted in a TPK.

The Exchange 5/5

Drogon wrote:
nosig wrote:
N N 959 wrote:

....snipping to the point I am addressing....

Quote:
Yes, there ARE save-or-die/suck spells that use Will saves, but at first level, the only thing that comes close is Color Spray,

I seem to recall a certain Haunt compelling characters to leap to their possible death. Let's hope someone beats the 10 init, rolls the necessary Perception (what is the DC, 20?) and is within a Standard action of stopping you from jumping.

....snipping out the quote....

I couldn't get the above out of my head and had to come back and address this.

The above Haunt can't kill a PC. The well isn't deep enough. Even Max damage wont kill a PC, and in the case of an average WIS dumping Barbarian, it's not likely to even endanger him. Maybe teach him that he needs to do something about a sucky Will save... but then that's what Intro scenarios are for right? Teach a new player about his PC?

I have talked with someone whose entire party jumped in that well and "sat down to have tea". A little squeezed, but they even considered waiting a day or two before climbing out.

There, sorry for that, I just needed to get it said, and now I return you to you regular programming

How about this haunt, then:

This particular haunt or die effect gives a will save or you perform a coup de grace on yourself. So, even if you don't do max damage and kill yourself that way, you get another will save under the coup de grace rules or you croak. And I played it at tier 1-2, and was the character who was targeted by it. Thankfully, I was a cleric and had a PFS shirt on.

Shall we throw that one into the mix?

Yeah, I was going to bring that one up, realizing I was part of the long thread on why that Haunt was broken - but that is a different thread. But I didn't want to derail this even more.

some problems with THAT Haunt:

CdG is a full round action, and so your PC would have to do it next round. LOTS of fireworks around that. Oh, and isn't CdG a FORT save? so it isn't "another will save under the coup de grace rules or you croak" - but that's very minor. That Haunt appears designed to kill the party trap-detecter (Rogues get low Will & Fort saves), so that the party won't have him find the big trap later, the one that alerts the undead.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

nosig wrote:

Yeah, I was going to bring that one up, realizing I was part of the long thread on why that Haunt was broken - but that is a different thread. But I didn't want to derail this even more.

** spoiler omitted **...

Whoops, right. Fortitude save. Guess that poor barbarian can likely make that save, at least.

And I don't think it's a derail to go down the haunt route. It's a valid point that was being made:

Why is it deemed "good" by the defenders of fudging to auto-save against spells, thus making the wizard useless, but you can't up the hit points of a BBEG to make the barbarian useless? Meanwhile, turn the tables and it's okay to lower the damage being dealt to the wizard by the BBEG so he doesn't die, but it's not okay to allow the barbarian to auto-make his save vs. a haunt or die.

It just seems very arbitrary. And arbitrary has no place in an organized play game, as is being pointed out by many of us.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

The Haunt:
My main issue with the haunt in that scenario is that for level 1 or 2 characters, it is a fairly high save, and it’s essentially a save or suck at that low of a tier. The other thing that rubs me the wrong way, is this haunt is essentially a copy and paste of the haunt from one of the APs (forget if its Rise of the Runelords or Carrion Crown AP).

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

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I find the comparison of fudging die rolls as a GM to cheating to be laughable. RPGs are NOT adversarial games, they are cooperative games. As the GM, you are obviously not a player - you are the game, and the game can't cheat, generally speaking. If the GM abandons the neutral position and starts playing to "win", then they lose this protection - but, in my mind, fudging is NOT cheating.

The Exchange 5/5

Drogon wrote:
nosig wrote:

Yeah, I was going to bring that one up, realizing I was part of the long thread on why that Haunt was broken - but that is a different thread. But I didn't want to derail this even more.

** spoiler omitted **...

Whoops, right. Fortitude save. Guess that poor barbarian can likely make that save, at least.

And I don't think it's a derail to go down the haunt route. It's a valid point that was being made:

Why is it deemed "good" by the defenders of fudging to auto-save against spells, thus making the wizard useless, but you can't up the hit points of a BBEG to make the barbarian useless? Meanwhile, turn the tables and it's okay to lower the damage being dealt to the wizard by the BBEG so he doesn't die, but it's not okay to allow the barbarian to auto-make his save vs. a haunt or die.

It just seems very arbitrary. And arbitrary has no place in an organized play game, as is being pointed out by many of us.

OH! I've seen newbies make saves that I know were wrong - the judge was fudging on what the DC was - so I don't think it's just the "death critical" where beginners get a pass. And mostly the other players at the table never notice (just us old rules lawyer types - sometimes it's fishy), and I'll never argue with the judge.

"Sorry judge - I think the DC on that color spray would have to be more than a 14, the DC for the charm person was a 15, so I'm betting that he missed his save by one. You might need to check that again." Yeah, right. Put the Newbie down, and make him sit thru the entire fight. :(

5/5

nosig wrote:
Drogon wrote:
nosig wrote:

Yeah, I was going to bring that one up, realizing I was part of the long thread on why that Haunt was broken - but that is a different thread. But I didn't want to derail this even more.

** spoiler omitted **...

Whoops, right. Fortitude save. Guess that poor barbarian can likely make that save, at least.

And I don't think it's a derail to go down the haunt route. It's a valid point that was being made:

Why is it deemed "good" by the defenders of fudging to auto-save against spells, thus making the wizard useless, but you can't up the hit points of a BBEG to make the barbarian useless? Meanwhile, turn the tables and it's okay to lower the damage being dealt to the wizard by the BBEG so he doesn't die, but it's not okay to allow the barbarian to auto-make his save vs. a haunt or die.

It just seems very arbitrary. And arbitrary has no place in an organized play game, as is being pointed out by many of us.

OH! I've seen newbies make saves that I know were wrong - the judge was fudging on what the DC was - so I don't think it's just the "death critical" where beginners get a pass. And mostly the other players at the table never notice (just us old rules lawyer types - sometimes it's fishy), and I'll never argue with the judge.

"Sorry judge - I think the DC on that color spray would have to be more than a 14, the DC for the charm person was a 15, so I'm betting that he missed his save by one. You might need to check that again." Yeah, right. Put the Newbie down, and make him sit thru the entire fight. :(

And every so often, "Sorry, but no. He has Spell Focus (Enchantment) / is an Infernal Sorcerer".

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Netopalis wrote:
I find the comparison of fudging die rolls as a GM to cheating to be laughable. RPGs are NOT adversarial games, they are cooperative games. As the GM, you are obviously not a player - you are the game, and the game can't cheat, generally speaking. If the GM abandons the neutral position and starts playing to "win", then they lose this protection - but, in my mind, fudging is NOT cheating.

Two things:

1 - By fudging any dice roll, you are abandoning the neutral position.

2 - By black and white definition, fudging is cheating. It can be argued that it is for the betterment of the game, in certain situations, and therefore shouldn't be put to the same litmus test. But those kinds of arbitrary decisions are not okay for organized play because, again, you're supposed to be neutral.

The Exchange 5/5

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
nosig wrote:
Drogon wrote:
nosig wrote:

Yeah, I was going to bring that one up, realizing I was part of the long thread on why that Haunt was broken - but that is a different thread. But I didn't want to derail this even more.

** spoiler omitted **...

Whoops, right. Fortitude save. Guess that poor barbarian can likely make that save, at least.

And I don't think it's a derail to go down the haunt route. It's a valid point that was being made:

Why is it deemed "good" by the defenders of fudging to auto-save against spells, thus making the wizard useless, but you can't up the hit points of a BBEG to make the barbarian useless? Meanwhile, turn the tables and it's okay to lower the damage being dealt to the wizard by the BBEG so he doesn't die, but it's not okay to allow the barbarian to auto-make his save vs. a haunt or die.

It just seems very arbitrary. And arbitrary has no place in an organized play game, as is being pointed out by many of us.

OH! I've seen newbies make saves that I know were wrong - the judge was fudging on what the DC was - so I don't think it's just the "death critical" where beginners get a pass. And mostly the other players at the table never notice (just us old rules lawyer types - sometimes it's fishy), and I'll never argue with the judge.

"Sorry judge - I think the DC on that color spray would have to be more than a 14, the DC for the charm person was a 15, so I'm betting that he missed his save by one. You might need to check that again." Yeah, right. Put the Newbie down, and make him sit thru the entire fight. :(

And every so often, "Sorry, but no. He has Spell Focus (Enchantment) / is an Infernal Sorcerer".

(eye roll) Not going to happen - I am not going to make the statement above in any case. That was an example of something I wouldn't do, ever.

(and I realize there are ways to boost your spell DCs - I often run casters, wizards prefered. Currently my wife runs an Evoker, with spell focus Enchantment - yeah, that sometimes turns heads.)


Our PFS game is an online game via a VTT and Skype. Only one of us, a player, makes rolls via the VTT's dice roller, that show up in the chat log. Everyone else, including myself as DM, rolls physical dice and reports the result orally. I have no real way of knowing if anyone is cheating or not, other than the fact that I have been playing with these people for 30 years, so it would be both obvious and pointless.

Also, we have taken on board the "Do Not Cheat" rule written very clearly on page 21 of the PFS guide, but apart from that, I would tend to agree with Stormfriend above that cheating at games kinda ruins the whole point.

That said, as a DM, I do fudge dice rolls on occasion, in the players' favour. But I haven't yet done so in PFS (although we are quite new to the game), despite a couple of natural 20s in a single round of natural attacks.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Netopalis wrote:
RPGs are NOT adversarial games, they are cooperative games.

Exactly, which is why the GM cheating on my behalf makes me feel like I've cheated too.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Netopalis wrote:
in my mind, fudging is NOT cheating.

It is if the GtPFSOP says it's not allowed.

Also, what's your answer to this?

The Exchange

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I think for PFS what we have to consider is that none of us are actually Game Masters, Michael Brock, The Decimvirate, is the one true game master and we are but judges that help facilitate his campaign.

If he tells us not fudge rolls, which the guide does indeed say that, its our job to not ruin his game and play it with the intent he would want.

In a home game, if a friend asks for a back up GM for a night, as the back up GM you can't go crazy and start dropping magic items like candy at a parade or suddenly changing the established rules because you play it a little differently. That'd be ruining the intent of the original GM's game.

In the end, PFS is about RAW, and rules as written state that we as Gamemasters can't fudge dice because that is cheating.


Codanous wrote:

I think for PFS what we have to consider is that none of us are actually Game Masters, Michael Brock, The Decimvirate, is the one true game master and we are but judges that help facilitate his campaign.

If he tells us not fudge rolls, which the guide does indeed say that, its our job to not ruin his game and play it with the intent he would want.

In a home game, if a friend asks for a back up GM for a night, as the back up GM you can't go crazy and start dropping magic items like candy at a parade or suddenly changing the established rules because you play it a little differently. That'd be ruining the intent of the original GM's game.

In the end, PFS is about RAW, and rules as written state that we as Gamemasters can't fudge dice because that is cheating.

What is the difference between a Game Master and a Gamemaster? I've never seen them split like that before.


Netopalis wrote:
in my mind, fudging is NOT cheating.

Perhaps the word "cheating" is too inflammatory. Apologies. Let's agree that fudging dice is clearly counter-indicated by the recent PFS guides and is thus a rules violation.

I think it warrants pointing out that the people whose very livelihoods depend on the success of PFS/PF do not advocate dice fudging to save newbies. Of course maybe it's all a trick. Maybe they are using reverse psychology. Ah yes. They know that be even mentioning "dice fudging" people will see that as an option and carry out their sinister plan.

KHAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Jiggy wrote:
Netopalis wrote:
in my mind, fudging is NOT cheating.

It is if the GtPFSOP says it's not allowed.

Also, what's your answer to this?

You do realize that saying, "While we don't advocate..." is completely different from "You may not...." right?

The GtPFSOP does not deny a GM the ability to fudge a die roll if he so chooses. It doesn't advocate it either.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

1) Drogon: I do not feel that, when I fudge, I am breaking the neutral position; rather, I am making the game world more believable. It simply doesn't make sense for a cleric who routinely deals with zombies to take massive damage from one, given their speed and his experience with their attack patterns. Another great example is in a recent scenario, where a cure is produced after destroying a monster - its blood is supposed to produce 1d3 doses of this cure per monster. Why? Does a monster's blood volume vary so much that it could triple? The purpose of fudging is not to make the players win easily, it is to make the logical outcome be the outcome. This was the approach taken by Gary Gygax in his book, Role Playing Game Mastery, in which he instructed GMs to not be a slave to the dice, to make things come out as they *should* come out. Do I fudge *that* much? Hardly. In most scenarios, I don't fudge at all. But I reserve the right to do so.

2) Stormfriend: That's why a good GM rarely, if ever, lets his players know that fudging has occurred, and its why you only fudge if the party is losing BADLY, in such a way that is very demoralizing and likely to have long-lasting repercussions for the players. I'd also add in here that I'll only fudge if there was no way for the party to avoid the situation they found themselves in. It's an extreme circumstance that shouldn't be taken lightly. Unfortunately, in some scenarios, there are simply unfair circumstances at certain tiers that cause these results.

3) Jiggy: The difference is that fudging is not uniform. A to-hit modifier is something that you apply to every single roll. Fudging is something that you do very rarely. You might change one or two die rolls in a single fight in every five scenarios. It would be improper to run a scenario with the wrong modifiers, clearly.

4) Codanus: Mike Brock has repeatedly said that he is NOT the GM, and the Guide repeatedly references the GM at the table as the GM. Mike Brock is the Campaign Coordinator. The "judge" terminology and the idea of MIke Brock as the GM is a holdver from Living Greyhawk, and that policy does not apply to PFS. The guide is somewhat circumspect about fudging. To my reading, it does not advocate it because it does not want to give bad GMs fuel to ruin scenarios. Unfortunately, I know at least one GM who would probably fudge to kill off at least one character per scenario, if possible. In the end, I believe that it is the GMs duty to provide for a fun table. The Guide used to contain a clause to that effect, until it was really abused. If fudging will provide a better experience and the conditions I have listed above are in effect, then I believe that it is merited. In the end, strict adherence to RAW is pointless if the table is not enjoying themselves. If someone is not enjoying PFS, they shouldn't be playing; they should be doing something that they would actually enjoy.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Netopalis wrote:
4) Codanus: Mike Brock has repeatedly said that he is NOT the GM, and the Guide repeatedly references the GM at the table as the GM. Mike Brock is the Campaign Coordinator. The "judge" terminology and the idea of MIke Brock as the GM is a holdver from Living Greyhawk, and that policy does not apply to PFS. The guide is somewhat circumspect about fudging. To my reading, it does not advocate it because it does not want to give bad GMs fuel to ruin scenarios. Unfortunately, I know at least one GM who would probably fudge to kill off at least one character per scenario, if possible. In the end, I believe that it is the GMs duty to provide for a fun table. The Guide used to contain a clause to that effect, until it was really abused. If fudging will provide a better experience and the conditions I have listed above are in effect, then I believe that it is merited. In the end, strict adherence to RAW is pointless if the table is not enjoying themselves. If someone is not enjoying PFS, they shouldn't be playing; they should be doing something that they would actually enjoy.

This is not entirely correct. Where there are things in the book that say, "At the GM's discretion" when it is referring to building a character (like what other animals might be on a Cavalier's list of mounts), Mike Brock is the GM and makes those calls.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Andrew Christian wrote:

You do realize that saying, "While we don't advocate..." is completely different from "You may not...." right?

The GtPFSOP does not deny a GM the ability to fudge a die roll if he so chooses. It doesn't advocate it either.

If memory serves, when the rules are completely silent on a PC option, your stance is usually "If it's not given to you explicitly, assume you can't do it." But now that it's a GM option instead of a player option, you're going with "We don't advocate X" meaning you can do it.

Why the difference? Where's the explicit rule stating a PFS GM can fudge dice rolls?

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

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NN959: Sorry, you posted as I was typing up my rather lengthy response. As Andrew pointed out above, the language used in the guide is one of not advocating - that is very different from not allowing. As I also mentioned in my post, this is to avoid abuse from GMs who feel that things are "too easy" and that the campaign should be much deadlier than it is.

As a side note, to those of you who are advocating lessening tactics, I ask you this: Is it more obvious to a player that a GM is dialing down a roll by 2 or 3, or that the monster is clearly choosing non-optimal targets, or switching targets randomly?

The Exchange

Netopalis wrote:
4) Codanus: Mike Brock has repeatedly said that he is NOT the GM, and the Guide repeatedly references the GM at the table as the GM. Mike Brock is the Campaign Coordinator. The "judge" terminology and the idea of MIke Brock as the GM is a holdver from Living Greyhawk, and that policy does not apply to PFS. The guide is somewhat circumspect about fudging. To my reading, it does not advocate it because it does not want to give bad GMs fuel to ruin scenarios. Unfortunately, I know at least one GM who would probably fudge to kill off at least one character per scenario, if possible. In the end, I believe that it is the GMs duty to provide for a fun table. The Guide used to contain a clause to that effect, until it was really abused. If fudging will provide a better experience and the conditions I have listed above are in effect, then I believe that it is merited. In the end, strict adherence to RAW is pointless if the table is not enjoying themselves. If someone is not enjoying PFS, they shouldn't be playing; they should be doing something that they would actually enjoy.

Alright you bring up some good points and maybe I was wrong in my interpretation of the Guide.

I am not gonna agree with you completely but what you've said has been enlightening, throughout the whole thread. What you said about breaking the neutral position to make the game world more believable, it makes a lot of sense and I guess its hard to pin down when it is right and wrong to fudge.

*Edited for a minor typo.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Jiggy wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:

You do realize that saying, "While we don't advocate..." is completely different from "You may not...." right?

The GtPFSOP does not deny a GM the ability to fudge a die roll if he so chooses. It doesn't advocate it either.

If memory serves, when the rules are completely silent on a PC option, your stance is usually "If it's not given to you explicitly, assume you can't do it." But now that it's a GM option instead of a player option, you're going with "We don't advocate X" meaning you can do it.

Why the difference? Where's the explicit rule stating a PFS GM can fudge dice rolls?

Several reasons, but here are a few:

1) The rule of thumb of, “If it doesn’t say you can, assume you can’t,” is a good rule for players who specifically don’t understand how to read the rules, especially the rules in context with other rules. This is more for new players who continually ask questions like, “Can I do X” where X is obvious to those of us who know the rules very well that you can’t, but there isn’t anything explicitly saying you can’t. Especially where allowing it would be game breaking. This is hard to define without a specific example, because it could easily be taken that the rule isn’t explicit for a reason… Still, generally a good rule of thumb, especially in organized play, so you don’t have table variation on whether your character is even legal to play.
2) GM’s and Players are not equal at the table. I know this is going to be a fairly controversial statement, and possibly even contradictory to other comments I’ve made that say a GM and Player relationship should be one of cooperation for storytelling. I still believe that. I also feel that a GM/Player relationship should never be adversarial. That being said, they are not equal at the table. A Player’s job is to run their character within the confines of the rules and the scene set by the GM. The GM’s job is to set the scene, run all the NPCs, adjudicate the rules, all the while making sure everyone (including themselves) are having fun/a good time. So while for a player to fudge a die roll is certainly cheating, a GM is expected to make decisions at the table that they feel are best for everyone concerned given the context of the situation and all mitigating circumstances. To hold a GM to the same stricture on die rolls you hold players to, would mean a GM couldn’t make a judgment call they felt necessary to alleviate a grand miscarriage of circumstance. For instance, by what you are saying, I couldn’t fudge a die roll to stop from killing a 7 year old girls Kitsune character. I’d have to possibly traumatize her, leave her balling her eyes out, and maybe never play the game again leaving one more young girl in the hands of Barbie and Ken, instead of Ambrus Valsin and Zarta Dralneen.
3) The Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play has enough language in it that gives a GM the leeway to make whatever decision they feel is appropriate, up to and including fudging an occasional die roll. The Table Variation and Creativity sections and other sections that further talk about using common sense are a key component to my argument.
4) You and I both know they can’t come right out and say, “GM’s are allowed to Fudge die rolls,” as that would lead to having to stipulate exactly when and how and all that. They also haven’t come right out and said a GM can’t either. Instead, they’ve given plenty of language to help a GM feel confident in adjudicating things fairly with common sense. If common sense says that I’d rather not send a 7 year old home crying because, “Well the dice have spoken,” then by golly, that’s what I’m going to do, regardless whether you, or anyone else likes it.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

Andrew: Mike Brock sets the campaign rules, yes. That does not mean that table GMs are merely judges. That terminology, to me, is so...dead. It brings to mind legions of GMs looking over dusty scenarios, wearing horn-rimmed glasses and those green visors that accountants wear. A GM does much, much more than just set campaign rules, though. With that task out of the way, we still serve as storytellers in addition to being arbitrators. We also have the option to depart in limited ways from what is printed - scenarios run off the rails, tactics can be modified, etc. In the end, yes, Mike Brock does perform one function of a GM. That doesn't mean that we are not GMs ourselves.

Jiggy: Please point to me a rule that says that you are allowed to draw maps for mapless encounters, like some of the ones in The Many Fortunes of Grandmaster Torch? Oh, dear, there isn't one, is there? Guess you have to run those on a flat grid. How about a rule that lets you act out NPCs? One that lets you include interesting tidbits of Golarian lore? One that lets you decide where monsters appear in a room when it is not clear from the scenario? One that lets you create NPCs or non-combat events to cover when a party goes off the rails?

Or, how about this? Strictly speaking, by RAW, we should be consuming trail rations or enforcing hunger rules. I have never been asked to consume trail rations, nor have I ever seen another GM do so. What about overland travel? When the scenario has a VC briefing in Absalom, then says that the party travels to Ustalav, do you get out your ISWG and try to calculate the distance, the number of days, the speed of the party, the amount of fatigue and the effect that it has on subsequent rolls? Frankly, I don't.


Andrew Christian wrote:
...leaving one more young girl in the hands of ... Zarta Dralneen.

Hm... wait a minute...


Andrew Christian wrote:
For instance, by what you are saying, I couldn’t fudge a die roll to stop from killing a 7 year old girls Kitsune character. I’d have to possibly traumatize her, leave her balling her eyes out, and maybe never play the game again leaving one more young girl in the hands of Barbie and Ken, instead of Ambrus Valsin and Zarta Dralneen.

You make some very good points for requiring a minimum age for PFS. That girl is too young to play PFS if you aren't able let the dice fall where they may. Unless this was her first ever session. But being that she has a Kitsune boon I'm guessing this isn't a brand new player.

What are the rest of the PCs at the table supposed to feel after you turn the monster's attention away from the 7 year old? They'll feel picked on is what. Inside they'll be thinking, damn if that player wasn't a little girl that giant horrible monster would have continued attacking her until she was unconscious but the GM is obviously pulling his punches. Guess I get to take the full force of the monster now.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

Chalk Microbe wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
For instance, by what you are saying, I couldn’t fudge a die roll to stop from killing a 7 year old girls Kitsune character. I’d have to possibly traumatize her, leave her balling her eyes out, and maybe never play the game again leaving one more young girl in the hands of Barbie and Ken, instead of Ambrus Valsin and Zarta Dralneen.

You make some very good points for requiring a minimum age for PFS. That girl is too young to play PFS if you aren't able let the dice fall where they may. Unless this was her first ever session. But being that she has a Kitsune boon I'm guessing this isn't a brand new player.

What are the rest of the PCs at the table supposed to feel after you turn the monster's attention away from the 7 year old? They'll feel picked on is what. Inside they'll be thinking, damn if that player wasn't a little girl that giant horrible monster would have continued attacking her until she was unconscious but the GM is obviously pulling his punches. Guess I get to take the full force of the monster now.

I really doubt that any player at any table that I have ever GMmed or played at would feel picked on because the GM turned a monster's attention away from a 7 year old girl.


OK, thanks Netopais. Let me know if you ever experience otherwise.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Netopalis wrote:
1) Drogon: I do not feel that, when I fudge, I am breaking the neutral position; rather, I am making the game world more believable. It simply doesn't make sense for a cleric who routinely deals with zombies to take massive damage from one, given their speed and his experience with their attack patterns. Another great example is in a recent scenario, where a cure is produced after destroying a monster - its blood is supposed to produce 1d3 doses of this cure per monster. Why? Does a monster's blood volume vary so much that it could triple? The purpose of fudging is not to make the players win easily, it is to make the logical outcome be the outcome. This was the approach taken by Gary Gygax in his book, Role Playing Game Mastery, in which he instructed GMs to not be a slave to the dice, to make things come out as they *should* come out. Do I fudge *that* much? Hardly. In most scenarios, I don't fudge at all. But I reserve the right to do so.

Here's the thought process I want you to look at:

Hm. That barbarian is huge. He's going to do a ton of damage when he hits me and this fight will pretty much be over for me once it's his turn. Moreover, if I hit him as hard as I possibly can, I will likely only take him halfway down in hit points. I think I'm just going to make sure I hit no matter what. It'll be more fun. rolls d20 "I hit an AC 24? Hit? Excellent. Take 18 damage."

Now, please apply these two lenses to that thought process:

Lense # 1 - He's the GM and the barbarian is a player known to optimize.

Lense # 2 - He's one of the six players at the table and the GM just destroyed the wizard.

Which one is cheating?

Gary Gygax:
Just because we are who we are, here's another quote from Gary Gygax from a fanzine called Alarums and Excursions, published in 1975:

"Dave and I disagree on how to handle any number of things, and both of our campaigns differ from the "rules" found in DandD. If the time ever comes when all aspects of fantasy are covered and the vast majority of its players agree on how the game should be played, DandD will have become staid and boring indeed. Sorry, but I don't believe that there is anything desirable in having various campaigns playing similarly to one another. DandD is supposed to offer a challenge to the imagination and to do so in many ways. Perhaps the most important is in regard to what the probabilities of a given situation are. If players know what all of the monster parameters are, what can be expected in a given situation, exactly what will happen to them if they perform thus and so, most of the charm of the game is gone. Frankly, the reason I enjoy playing in Dave Arneson's campaign is that I do not know his treatments of monsters and suchlike, so I must keep thinking and reasoning in order to "survive". Now, for example, if I made a proclamation from on high which suited Mr. Johnstone, it would certainly be quite unacceptable to hundreds or even thousands of other players. My answer is, and has always been, if you don't like the way I do it, change the bloody rules to suit yourself and your players. DandD enthusiasts are far too individualistic and imaginative a bunch to be in agreement, and I certainly refuse to play god for them -- except as a referee in my own campaign where they jolly well better toe the mark."

To take away what I think Gary wanted us to take from this: the parameters of this game have been set by Paizo. If we don't want to abide by them, we should be playing in our own home games.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Andrew Christian wrote:
I’d have to possibly traumatize her, leave her balling her eyes out, and maybe never play the game again leaving one more young girl in the hands of Barbie and Ken, instead of Ambrus Valsin and Zarta Dralneen.

Ack! I need brain bleach, STAT!

Andrew Christian wrote:
3) The Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play has enough language in it that gives a GM the leeway to make whatever decision they feel is appropriate, up to and including fudging an occasional die roll. The Table Variation and Creativity sections and other sections that further talk about using common sense are a key component to my argument.

Alright, let's go the common sense route:

If the intent was a neutral/unspoken stance on X, then why say "We don't advocate X, but you can do Y if necessary"? Why not just say "You can do Y if necessary"?

Why does the Guide bother to say "We don't advocate fudging" at all, if the intent is for it to be thought of in the exact same way it would have been if that line did not exist? What does that phrase attempt to communicate?

If the answer is "nothing", then it should be removed. (Which I would be fine with personally, but that's really beside the point.)

Andrew Christian wrote:
If common sense says that I’d rather not send a 7 year old home crying because, “Well the dice have spoken,” then by golly, that’s what I’m going to do, regardless whether you, or anyone else likes it.

Sure, and if dice fudging is indeed allowed, that would be a very good reason to do so. But over at the next table there might be a multi-star GM fudging every save the BBEG makes for as long as it takes to get the PCs on the ropes, all while citing the same "common sense" language you're talking about. I'm glad that you and Drogon agree that situations like that are an abuse of power, but until I've heard more GMs agree with you than I've heard advocating that abuse, it'd be nice for players to have something to point to.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Chalk Microbe wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
For instance, by what you are saying, I couldn’t fudge a die roll to stop from killing a 7 year old girls Kitsune character. I’d have to possibly traumatize her, leave her balling her eyes out, and maybe never play the game again leaving one more young girl in the hands of Barbie and Ken, instead of Ambrus Valsin and Zarta Dralneen.

You make some very good points for requiring a minimum age for PFS. That girl is too young to play PFS if you aren't able let the dice fall where they may. Unless this was her first ever session. But being that she has a Kitsune boon I'm guessing this isn't a brand new player.

What are the rest of the PCs at the table supposed to feel after you turn the monster's attention away from the 7 year old? They'll feel picked on is what. Inside they'll be thinking, damn if that player wasn't a little girl that giant horrible monster would have continued attacking her until she was unconscious but the GM is obviously pulling his punches. Guess I get to take the full force of the monster now.

There isn’t a minimum age though. And I have to take into account every player at the table. And whether they are mature enough to play the game or not is not my call to make. That’s the parents call. I know some grown adults, older than I am (I’m 42), who would take the death of their character much the same way. Only then its more uncomfortable to deal with, because it isn’t just a young child throwing a fit, but now I have to have a discussion with the adult who will do everything in their power to find a rules reason (to the point of purchasing the scenario to make sure everything was run exactly to a T) to get the character death overturned.

It is quite ridiculous…

But yeah, call me a softy if you want, but if it comes down to knocking a 7 year olds Kitsune out and perma-killing their favored furball, I’ll choose to knock them out every time.

Scarab Sages

CRobledo wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
...leaving one more young girl in the hands of ... Zarta Dralneen.
Hm... wait a minute...

Yeah, I agree that Zarta may not be a good choice for a role model for that girl. How about Silver Crusade Leader for a role model, might get some good morals.

On topic,

My thought: GMs should only fudge to save new players from cruel dice. But that's the most they should be able to do. Using poor tatics is fine too. But let's stop the fighting, come together, and kick some Aspis!

PATHFINDER!

Sovereign Court 5/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Drogon wrote:

Here's the thought process I want you to look at:

Hm. That barbarian is huge. He's going to do a ton of damage when he hits me and this fight will pretty much be over for me once it's his turn. Moreover, if I hit him as hard as I possibly can, I will likely only take him halfway down in hit points. I think I'm just going to make sure I hit no matter what. It'll be more fun. rolls d20 "I hit an AC 24? Hit? Excellent. Take 18 damage."

May I turn this on its head, Drogon?

Hmm, that barbarian is going to hit on a 3 or higher vs the rogue, and does enough damage on a crit to drop the rogue to permadead in one hop. So when he opens that door, Roger rogue is going to take at least one hit in the surprise round, then another if he rolls poorly for initaitive. I know! He'll be so cocky that he fights with his eyes closed and strikes to subdue! rolls "I'd have had you, if not for that pesky miss chance!"

I'd also point out that the example above you have the GM fudging to harm the players. I think we've left off anyone advocating that some time ago.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

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Drogon: It's elementary that GMs and PCs are differently situated when it comes to cheating. A GM is playing as the game world, a PC is acting as a character in that world. When asked to justify why a particular DC is that high or why a particular roll is that high, do you explain where all of the bonuses come from for the player? If you ask a player how he has a 29 AC as a level 1 player, do you expect him to tell you where all of those bonuses come from? As for Gary Gygax, yes, he might not necessarily approve of the way that PFS is run. That doesn't mean that you throw out everything that he's ever said.

Jiggy: The line is there to communicate that you *can* do it, but to use it *very* sparingly.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Matthew Morris wrote:
I'd also point out that the example above you have the GM fudging to harm the players. I think we've left off anyone advocating that some time ago.

Fair enough.

But it seems to be circling around.

Edit: And, Netopolis, it's not elementary that they be treated differently. That, in fact, is the definition of "arbitrary."

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

Alright, if they are to be treated the same, then do you explain why a save DC against a particular spell is 18 when a player asks? I don't. Do you expect your players to be able to explain how they got their numbers? I do. Do you consider it bad form for a GM to run a scenario with perfect information, knowing what is coming next? I don't. Do you consider it bad form for a person who has previously GMmed a scenario to play it, anticipating future events? I do. There is an enormous gap in how the rules treat GMs and players.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Chalk Microbe wrote:


What are the rest of the PCs at the table supposed to feel after you turn the monster's attention away from the 7 year old? They'll feel picked on is what. Inside they'll be thinking, damn if that player wasn't a little girl that giant horrible monster would have continued attacking her until she was unconscious but the GM is obviously pulling his punches. Guess I get to take the full force of the monster now.

Maybe all the players you know watch each other like a hawk and are ready to pounce at the slightest bit of favoritism, like William Shatner counting his line count vs Leonard Nimoy.

Maybe the bulk of the players I know wouldn't mind if an absolute newbie is shown a bit of grace on their first time out.

We all make different assumptions.


I totally agree with you, LazrX.

The Exchange 5/5

Netopalis wrote:
Alright, if they are to be treated the same, then do you explain why a save DC against a particular spell is 18 when a player asks? I don't. Do you expect your players to be able to explain how they got their numbers? I do. Do you consider it bad form for a GM to run a scenario with perfect information, knowing what is coming next? I don't. Do you consider it bad form for a person who has previously GMmed a scenario to play it, anticipating future events? I do. There is an enormous gap in how the rules treat GMs and players.

ah... I've been staying out of this but...

for the bolded part, my answer would be a yes.
If not in the middle of the fight, at the end I would. It's how the players learn after all.
Judge answer: "Spell Level + Int bonus + racial bonus + spell focus + greater spell focus"
Player :"what's greater spell focus?"

2/5

It's not directly related to the thread topic per se, but I just had a nine year old girl in a public PFS game last weekend and she was years ahead in her 1. grasp of the game and 2. maturity level. I've met grown men my own age that show less sophistication in PFS than she displayed- and when it came time to unleash proverbial Hell on her... (a nasty combat where she was separated from the party by "two move equivalents" and suprised)... I didn't fudge or show favoritism. She didn't die (as in the Kitsune case outlined above), but I didn't pull punches either.

Now if she had started crying... well, I'm not an ogre... ^_^ But the point is that age isn't as important as maturity. In the examples above where grown men would cry foul over favoritism in sparing a child's character I would wonder about the maturity level of those grown men.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Jiggy wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
I’d have to possibly traumatize her, leave her balling her eyes out, and maybe never play the game again leaving one more young girl in the hands of Barbie and Ken, instead of Ambrus Valsin and Zarta Dralneen.

Ack! I need brain bleach, STAT!

Andrew Christian wrote:
3) The Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play has enough language in it that gives a GM the leeway to make whatever decision they feel is appropriate, up to and including fudging an occasional die roll. The Table Variation and Creativity sections and other sections that further talk about using common sense are a key component to my argument.

Alright, let's go the common sense route:

If the intent was a neutral/unspoken stance on X, then why say "We don't advocate X, but you can do Y if necessary"? Why not just say "You can do Y if necessary"?

Why does the Guide bother to say "We don't advocate fudging" at all, if the intent is for it to be thought of in the exact same way it would have been if that line did not exist? What does that phrase attempt to communicate?

If the answer is "nothing", then it should be removed. (Which I would be fine with personally, but that's really beside the point.)

Andrew Christian wrote:
If common sense says that I’d rather not send a 7 year old home crying because, “Well the dice have spoken,” then by golly, that’s what I’m going to do, regardless whether you, or anyone else likes it.
Sure, and if dice fudging is indeed allowed, that would be a very good reason to do so. But over at the next table there might be a multi-star GM fudging every save the BBEG makes for as long as it takes to get the PCs on the ropes, all while citing the same "common sense" language you're talking about. I'm glad that you and Drogon agree that situations like that are an abuse of power, but until I've heard more GMs agree with you than I've heard advocating that abuse, it'd be nice for players to have something to point to.

Jiggy,

The bottom line is this.

They can't advocate arbitrary fudging, because as you have so eloquently pointed out, there are some GM's who would abuse that ability. I know you've experienced this personally on more than one occasion.

But at the same time, the more restrictions you place on GM's the further the job trends toward simple automaton regurgitation of written text.

I'd rather the dialogue centered around helping GM's who are working outside the fold to bring them more in line with creating a shared storytelling atmosphere. The more we discuss the GM vs. Player dynamic, the more we actually foster division.

So I'll say again, I will use my nearly 30 years of GM experience of both making mistakes of when to fudge, and doing so at exactly the correct moments to help inform me on when to continue doing so in the future.

I'll also say, you can't have it both ways. You can't have both a storyteller who is able to bring things to life by making arbitrary decisions on how the scene is set (of course within the confines of what the scenario says), and keep coming up with more ways to restrict what GM's can do on an arbitrary level.

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