Cheating gm?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I hate when a GM "cheats" or fudges die rolls. Takes away the point of playing. IF the GM thinks the story is better if we succeed/successfully diplo the noble then who cares about trying? There's no point to anything because the GM will make the dice meaningless.
If the X4 scythe guys crits so be it. There are abilities to avoid/reduce the effect. If I choose not to take those then I get to take the full effect. The GM making it not crit ruins the game for me.


Veilgn wrote:

Is that really possible?

I offended if gm doing that !

Like make my spell too useless. Or make my damage small.

There is a rule about that in gm guide book. But when I find out. I feel angry.

I hate cheated :(

Are you unable to write in fluent English sentences due to poor grammar or citizenship outside of America/UK? I need to know before I respond to that quote above so that I know what level of vocabulary to use.


How does a spell become "too" useless? I can't think of any useless spells. Inappropriate? Yes. Underpowered versus some of it's peers? Yes. Useless? Not really. Too useless? Is that like a transmute rock to rock spell? I'm not trying to be that bad of a grammar Nazi but there may be a link between your grammar skills and this lack of understanding the rules. Or better yet, in explaining how you have been possibly cheated by your GM.


Thunderrstar wrote:

No GM can cheat.

The GM is right the rules are wrong.

And then I abbandon the game. Of thee GM think so highly like that.


Veilgn wrote:
Thunderrstar wrote:

No GM can cheat.

The GM is right the rules are wrong.
And then I abbandon the game. Of thee GM think so highly like that.

GMS are far more rare than players.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Veilgn wrote:
Thunderrstar wrote:

No GM can cheat.

The GM is right the rules are wrong.
And then I abbandon the game. Of thee GM think so highly like that.
GMS are far more rare than players.

Yes but my pride and feeling are important too.

I dont want to see my spell fail when I find the gm cheat a lot. (Gladly mu gm didnt cheat).

I could play other games.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Veilgn wrote:
Thunderrstar wrote:

No GM can cheat.

The GM is right the rules are wrong.
And then I abbandon the game. Of thee GM think so highly like that.
GMS are far more rare than players.

Pretty much.

I have been doing this, GM'ing, since 1988. So, in all of my 28 years of doing this I have NEVER had a shortage of players. I know all too well the shortage of GMs.

For those that go, "You are robbing me of the game experience!"

No, GMs who fudge, don't "rob you" of anything.

We enhance the game, and YES, that sometimes DOES mean that things aren't based on random chance. Anyone who claims they never fiat... Well.. Isn't being honest.

If we want to constrain the GM to no-fudging, and seemingly even "no abilities that aren't in the books" (which even Paizo APs do) then I want to see you run a game where:

Your class NPCs start as level 1 and you have to have full adventures where they level up, if you want a level 8 Wizard, he better start at level 1, and he better have a chance to have died before the point in the story or you just fudged, read cheated, and created him at high level. Does he follow WBL? How did he get all of his minions? Does he have leadership? Are all of his minions appropriate to the level of cohorts from leadership?

We, every GM, hand waves things. We do it all the time.

The fact is those that are claiming if there is any fudging it isn't an RPG are simply wrong. Fudging has been part of RPGs since RPGs have been a thing. So, I could easily counter by saying that if you don't fudge then you aren't playing an RPG.

RPGs are a narrative experience. You, as a player, take part in a narrative that is driven, written, and maintained by the GM.

Yes, this means that anything you accomplish is because the GM let you accomplish it. That is because the GM is the creator and master of the world. Even if he or she never fudges they STILL have to create everything.

The GM's job, in part, is to tell a story. If he's not telling a story then he's not being a GM. If he's just moderating the world then he's just a referee.


Writing a book is easier if youre more concerned with telling youre story then how that story is being told.

Fudging die rolls takes away from the validity of a game. I consider validity more important then any GMs need for control. Hence, fudging is bad.

The fact that its a rare person who GMs isnt much of an excuse.


Johnnycat93 wrote:

Writing a book is easier if youre more concerned with telling youre story then how that story is being told.

Fudging die rolls takes away from the validity of a game. I consider validity more important then any GMs need for control. Hence, fudging is bad.

The fact that its a rare person who GMs isnt much of an excuse.

The people that created the genre greatly disagree with you.


Basically... different groups have different expectations about what the GM's role should be, and that's okay. XD Some groups want a storyteller, some just want someone to referee, and a lot of people probably fall somewhere in-between. None of these are fundamentally wrong - what's important is talking with your group about things like GMs fudging and settling on something you, as a group, are okay with.


If it makes for a better story can a non DM player cheat?


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HWalsh wrote:
Johnnycat93 wrote:

Writing a book is easier if youre more concerned with telling youre story then how that story is being told.

Fudging die rolls takes away from the validity of a game. I consider validity more important then any GMs need for control. Hence, fudging is bad.

The fact that its a rare person who GMs isnt much of an excuse.

The people that created the genre greatly disagree with you.

The people who created the game also thought that people who played at high level werent playing the game right and should be mocked. Old school is not the same as automatically right.

I'm providing little more than my opinion. Im not really saying your wrong, just that I dont want to play with that mindset.

Sovereign Court

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My opinion is that a GM can't cheat any more than the author of a novel can cheat in creating his script. Of course the BBEG is going to lose at the climax of the story, because noone actually wants to read a story where the hero goes through trials and tribulations just to come up short and fail at the end.

Now yes a RPG has more give-and-take in creating the story than the author of a novel does... since the characters in the story told by a RPG have voices in the players at the table! But, perhaps unlike some/many players of RPGs in these contemporary times, I still view RPGs as being cooperative storytelling events closer to sedentary games of Cops-N-Robbers than computerized (and imo misnamed) "RPGs" like World of Warquest and Elder Scrolls. Slavish adherence to the metaruleset is imo anathema to Role Playing Games. That's the realm computer games are designed for, and if I had my way never the two would meet.

In playing RPGs (on both sides of the GM screen) for about 40 years now, my opinion on how much fudging is appropriate has waxed and waned, and with no small influence on the game system that happened to be played at the time. If you're NOT fudging in Paranoia, for example, you're demonstrably GMing it wrong...

In a game like Pathfinder, I see fudging as a way to ensure a good story is being told. Hell, I see the entire CR mechanic as fudging. Why is it "fair" that the PCs mainly/only face CR-appropriate opposition? That's not realistic at all, and certainly not fair to the NPCs of the setting. If fair's fair and let the dice fall where they may is the order of the day, then why shouldn't low level PCs simply have to face the occasional rampaging Red Dragon or such? In my view, the answer is because that'd be a terrible story where the heroes abruptly end up as dragon poop. The CR system is ensuring that the heroes only face opposition that allows them to be heroic (and almost always victorious). It's a mechanism for telling a good story.

OTOH, if the Dragon rampages the PCs village when they're low level and the plot intends for them to live through the event, gain experience, and then go back and confront (and defeat) the dragon when they're up to that CR challenge... that's a fine (if perhaps trite) campaign story, is it not? BUUUUUT... that early razing of the village where the PCs were intended to survive... what is that if not fudging?


The GM is an arbiter, a judge. Like an actual judge at an actual trial, they must make quite a few calls on their own. But that doesn't mean they have carte blanch. Those calls are to be made when necessary to keep the trial/game going, not whenever the judge feels like it. Whenever possible they are to take their lead from actual rules.

Real judges have other judges above them to correct them if they go too far. GMs don't. That doesn't mean they don't have a responsibility to police themselves.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

big boss (who was an evil wizard) went next and took a fort save in order to cast spells with a verbal component, rolled a 1 and was disabled and reduced to 0 HP, the next turn the archer finished him off. Fight over.

I personally kind of wished the GM *had* fudged there.

After one bad experience with a boss rolling low and losing instantly because of a 'save or suck' spell I decided to add rerolls to my bosses. Improved Great Fortitude and Improved Iron Will are ways to address this. Of course feats are a precious ressource for bosses, too...

Thinking about it while I am writing this, villain points (hero points for boss NPCs) might be a better solution. But it would mean handing out hero points to the players, to stay fair...

My point is: It's possible to handle such situations without fudging.


A lot of the anecdotes about fudging seem to come down to rectifying one bad roll that would leave one party in dire straits/incapacitated/dead or otherwise hindered with no recourse.

Swingy rocket tag / Glass Characters (in the sense that 1 bad roll can leave you dead) Is a core feature of 3.X games.

I think It's safe to say that a good deal of the fudging that occurs is to circumvent this core feature/aspect of the game.


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GM's that fudge destroy the game and are forcing their view of some story. Whether people are okay with that or not doesn't change what you are doing. You cheapen the game by making the character choices and random dice mean less. I vastly prefer when the narrative is created, driven, and maintained by the entire party than just 1 guy hiding behind a screen. The GM's job is to bring to life everything that isn't the Player's characters.

CR is used to guestimate to the GM how strong a creature is and when a party should be able to handle it. CR doesn't mean that those creatures can't exist and be met by the party. Just that the GM should know that if the players are dumb and charge in then they'll likely die. That's it. Some parties need a CR +2 to be worth a normal CR fight.
If the GM wants a party to survive a dragon attack then they should set up for skills or options to allow that. Quick do you jump into the water and hold your breath or do you use survival to recognize a safe hole to hide in. Dragon's attack, you rush to the cellar. Use str checks + time to get out and see your devastated village, all who couldn't reach the cellar fast enough are dead.

But I've seen lv 4 character struggle against CR-1 fights, because the players chose really in-effective options to do. Something like, Wizard charges in with his dagger against the 4 goblins thinking they'd be easy and wanted a chance to kill something in melee. They flank him and begin attacking. The fighter instead of killing goblins is trying to untrained bull rush them away. And the druid runs over and used CLW wand to try and heal the wizard. The rogue uses stealth and 5 rounds to work his way around the fight to get into position before helping. Is it "a bad story" to have the wizard die? to me no, it's the story. To me a bad story would be that after hitting the wizard the goblins stop and roll nat 1s for a few rounds to help the players win.


I think a part of fudging comes from whether you have the players fit the story (like adventure paths) or if you have your story fit the players (like sandbox gaming). Personally, I prefer the latter. I find that the story shouldn't be more important than the players and their actions.

In addition, I think that trying to protect the integrity of the story is kind of doomed to fail for a couple of reasons. First off, everyone has different ideas of what is cool for a story. For example, you could have players encounter a sleeping dragon. Some people would think it is cool story telling to fight the dragon in an epic battle. And that would be fun, no doubt. Others would want to perhaps sneak by and take their treasure, or maybe cause a rock slide to bury and kill the dragon. If the GM or some players decide that those last two wouldn't make a good story, it kind of kills the creativity and ingenuity players have for overcoming obstacles in clever ways. So you end up limiting viable ideas and options in favor of protecting the story, and only choices that make the story "cool" are viable.

Now, people say that RPGs are collaborative storytelling, and this is partially true. But RPGs aren't script writing or novel writing. Look at movies that go through several rewrites with multiple writers and try and find a good one. D&D has 5-6 authors, each with their own ideas on what is a good story. To some, a good story is epic fights and high adventure. To others, it's cleverness and subterfuge. And to others, it's more social stuff. And so on and so forth. So everyone is going to have their version of the good story. And if you're trying to go for the best story by changing results here and there, or stopping certain player options because they don't fit the story, then you are really hindering the players' creativity. And in a RPG, that is a medium where you really have complete freedom to attempt to do anything.

This is ultimately why I do not fudge, or I don't like things like the Quantum Ogre or the Crafted Set-Piece Encounter. Because I do not try and fit the players into the metaplot. Rather, I have the story come from their actions (or inaction as the case may be) and fit the story to the results and consequences of those actions, good or bad. I keep things loose and flexible, preping scenarios and reactions over plots and encounters. When the story is flexible like a palmetto tree, then it is robust enough to handle the hurricane of craziness that is your players. But when you try and be stiff and unyielding, the story is going to break. And if a story can't handle the players doing some crazy stuff, then it's a problem with the story, not the players.

And to me, RPGs aren't stories, nor are they conversations or simulations or games. Sure, D&D shares qualities with all of these, but ultimately, it's a social activity, It's a club and a hobby, shared by like minded people that may have different ideas on RPGs, but come together to have fun. So the players (including the GM) come before the story or the mechanics or the setting (within reason. there are always exceptions). So ultimately, we have to run the games so everyone has the freedom to have fun, however they do wish to do it. It'll be different for every group, and there isn't a right way, but there are definitely wrong ways to do it. But I feel as long as you encourage that player creativity, supported by positive results and negative consequences, and everyone is having a good time, then you are good to go.


SheepishEidolon wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

big boss (who was an evil wizard) went next and took a fort save in order to cast spells with a verbal component, rolled a 1 and was disabled and reduced to 0 HP, the next turn the archer finished him off. Fight over.

I personally kind of wished the GM *had* fudged there.

After one bad experience with a boss rolling low and losing instantly because of a 'save or suck' spell I decided to add rerolls to my bosses. Improved Great Fortitude and Improved Iron Will are ways to address this. Of course feats are a precious ressource for bosses, too...

Thinking about it while I am writing this, villain points (hero points for boss NPCs) might be a better solution. But it would mean handing out hero points to the players, to stay fair...

My point is: It's possible to handle such situations without fudging.

Truthfully, I see that as a problem with save or suck spells. I've never been a fan of them.


*Blinks*

Who fudges nothing but natural 1's for several rounds in a row?

Personally, I'm not going to fudge things in order to save PCs from the outcome of bad decisions. If they do something really stupid, they should live with the consequences of that. I don't think that's the kind of "for the story" fudging most GM's here are referring to...


Odraude wrote:
SheepishEidolon wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

big boss (who was an evil wizard) went next and took a fort save in order to cast spells with a verbal component, rolled a 1 and was disabled and reduced to 0 HP, the next turn the archer finished him off. Fight over.

I personally kind of wished the GM *had* fudged there.

After one bad experience with a boss rolling low and losing instantly because of a 'save or suck' spell I decided to add rerolls to my bosses. Improved Great Fortitude and Improved Iron Will are ways to address this. Of course feats are a precious ressource for bosses, too...

Thinking about it while I am writing this, villain points (hero points for boss NPCs) might be a better solution. But it would mean handing out hero points to the players, to stay fair...

My point is: It's possible to handle such situations without fudging.

Truthfully, I see that as a problem with save or suck spells. I've never been a fan of them.

It's really the system in general. Characters are glass, you need to commit a non insignificant amount of effort to mitigate the risks.

You're never really more than an unlucky Crit or a failed save away from dead. Granted the crit issue gets mitigated as levels increase and the HP buffer increases but the X% chance of losing never really goes away sans immunity.

On the flipside critting enemies / killing them in a single round can feel very rewarding, also the tension around a conformation roll or an important save has a certain gravity to it.


Firewarrior44 wrote:
Odraude wrote:
SheepishEidolon wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

big boss (who was an evil wizard) went next and took a fort save in order to cast spells with a verbal component, rolled a 1 and was disabled and reduced to 0 HP, the next turn the archer finished him off. Fight over.

I personally kind of wished the GM *had* fudged there.

After one bad experience with a boss rolling low and losing instantly because of a 'save or suck' spell I decided to add rerolls to my bosses. Improved Great Fortitude and Improved Iron Will are ways to address this. Of course feats are a precious ressource for bosses, too...

Thinking about it while I am writing this, villain points (hero points for boss NPCs) might be a better solution. But it would mean handing out hero points to the players, to stay fair...

My point is: It's possible to handle such situations without fudging.

Truthfully, I see that as a problem with save or suck spells. I've never been a fan of them.

It's really the system in general. Characters are glass, you need to commit a non insignificant amount of effort to mitigate the risks.

You're never really more than an unlucky Crit or a failed save away from dead. Granted the crit issue gets mitigated as levels increase and the HP buffer increases but the X% chance of losing never really goes away sans immunity.

On the flipside critting enemies / killing them in a single round can feel very rewarding, also the tension around a conformation roll or an important save has a certain gravity to it.

That is true. I suppose I'd prefer something more gradual than save or die.


Possibly one where offensive spells targeted a defensive pool similar to HP, then once that pool is reduced to nothing the spell takes effect. Although that seems like it would entail an extensive overhaul of the system in general


Johnnycat93 wrote:

Writing a book is easier if youre more concerned with telling youre story then how that story is being told.

Fudging die rolls takes away from the validity of a game. I consider validity more important then any GMs need for control. Hence, fudging is bad.

The fact that its a rare person who GMs isnt much of an excuse.

I'm sorry but worrying about the validity, or sense of accomplishment from a glorified game of lets pretend with a hint of randomness thrown in via dice rolling is such an unbelievably foreign perspective to me.

Sovereign Court

Firewarrior44 wrote:
If it makes for a better story can a non DM player cheat?

Well, in Pathfinder, that's pretty much what you're doing every time you make a Diplomacy check to influence an NPC's behavior towards your PC.

An NPC, even one with the Diplomacy skill, may not use Diplomacy to force your PC to behave in a more friendly manner. Players cheat as a matter of recourse, since the universe/story literally revolves around their PCs.

But, with what I suspect is more to the point behind your question, No. Players don't get to do all the things the GM might happen to do. That's the nature of the game. If you don't think that's the nature of the game, then (face to face, table top) RPGs may not be for you.


HWalsh wrote:

For those that go, "You are robbing me of the game experience!"

No, GMs who fudge, don't "rob you" of anything.

We enhance the game, and YES, that sometimes DOES mean that things aren't based on random chance. Anyone who claims they never fiat... Well.. Isn't being honest.

Tonight's game starts in half an hour. This session has a chance of being a total party kill. I like the fictional characters in the party and don't want to see the story end as they die.

But I am not going to fudge the rolls.

We are nearing the end of a Pathfinder adventure path module. The party skipped some of distractions in the valley and homed in on the true villains. Thus, they entered the cave complex one level earlier than the module expected. And the players know this.

The players pretend to press on so that the villains won't regroup or escape, but really they press on because they want a challenge. They are skilled at D&D/Pathfinder, have well-designed characters, and use teamwork. They can handle serious challenges beyond their level. But I have crunched the numbers and determined that the encounter with the BBEG could wipe out the party. The BBEG has a higher AC than they encountered before, can target some of their weaknesses, has been scrying on them since they entered the dungeon, is heartlessly evil, and has been making plans. The encounters so far have warned them of this.

I could play the BBEG as arrogantly stupid and cripple his strategy. But guaranteeing the win would spoil the challenge. I want to give them an encounter as promised. And that means a real risk of killing characters.

A TPK is unlikely. Two of the PCs have two hero points saved up, so somehow they will live. Unless they die spending those hero points in bold attempts to save their friends. They might.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Johnnycat93 wrote:

Writing a book is easier if youre more concerned with telling youre story then how that story is being told.

Fudging die rolls takes away from the validity of a game. I consider validity more important then any GMs need for control. Hence, fudging is bad.

The fact that its a rare person who GMs isnt much of an excuse.

I'm sorry but worrying about the validity, or sense of accomplishment from a glorified game of lets pretend with a hint of randomness thrown in via dice rolling is such an unbelievably foreign perspective to me.

YMMV


There's one thing I keep coming back to when reading the thread. There are apparently people who expect the GM to obey the dice and the printed rules slavishly, to simply simulate the world without narrative contrivances or plot devices that push the story in the direction the GM wants, but to also have an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules and the setting.

My question is, faced with a group of players like that, what would I actually get out of GMing? Like what's my incentive to put in all the time it takes to develop plots, design scenarios and antagonists, and populate a game world if I'm discouraged from telling my own story.

Like do people who expect their GMs to be like that run exclusively canned adventures?


deusvult wrote:
Firewarrior44 wrote:
If it makes for a better story can a non DM player cheat?

Well, in Pathfinder, that's pretty much what you're doing every time you make a Diplomacy check to influence an NPC's behavior towards your PC.

An NPC, even one with the Diplomacy skill, may not use Diplomacy to force your PC to behave in a more friendly manner. Players cheat as a matter of recourse, since the universe/story literally revolves around their PCs.

But, with what I suspect is more to the point behind your question, No. Players don't get to do all the things the GM might happen to do. That's the nature of the game. If you don't think that's the nature of the game, then (face to face, table top) RPGs may not be for you.

Using a rule as it is presented in the rules as cheating. It may be a poorly designed rule prone to abuse, but abusing / utilizing it is not cheating.

As to point 2. If it makes a better story why can't I do it? So long as I don't make obvious and do it infrequently and only when it makes things more fun an interesting why is it wrong? Cheating is cheating and the rules already condone it.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

There's one thing I keep coming back to when reading the thread. There are apparently people who expect the GM to obey the dice and the printed rules slavishly, to simply simulate the world without narrative contrivances or plot devices that push the story in the direction the GM wants, but to also have an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules and the setting.

My question is, faced with a group of players like that, what would I actually get out of GMing? Like what's my incentive to put in all the time it takes to develop plots, design scenarios and antagonists, and populate a game world if I'm discouraged from telling my own story.

Like do people who expect their GMs to be like that run exclusively canned adventures?

Is there no middle ground between fudging die rolls and PFS-like games?

Im fine with GMs changing or adding whatever aspects of the game as necessary. However, once dice hit the table things are set in stone. For me, thats where the line is and why I have problems woth fidged die roll specifically.

I also try not to write campaigns that fall apart thanks to a few good or bad die rolls

Sovereign Court

Firewarrior44 wrote:
deusvult wrote:
Firewarrior44 wrote:
If it makes for a better story can a non DM player cheat?

Well, in Pathfinder, that's pretty much what you're doing every time you make a Diplomacy check to influence an NPC's behavior towards your PC.

An NPC, even one with the Diplomacy skill, may not use Diplomacy to force your PC to behave in a more friendly manner. Players cheat as a matter of recourse, since the universe/story literally revolves around their PCs.

But, with what I suspect is more to the point behind your question, No. Players don't get to do all the things the GM might happen to do. That's the nature of the game. If you don't think that's the nature of the game, then (face to face, table top) RPGs may not be for you.

Using a rule as it is presented in the rules as cheating. It may be a poorly designed rule prone to abuse, but abusing / utilizing it is not cheating.

As to point 2. If it makes a better story why can't I do it? So long as I don't make obvious and do it infrequently and only when it makes things more fun an interesting why is it wrong? Cheating is cheating and the rules already condone it.

Because in a face to face, tabletop RPG there's only one person who's empowered to unilaterally decide what's "good" for the story, and a player isn't that one person.

Sure, a good GM should usually factor players' opinions into his decisions about what's for the good of the story, but still he's different from the players in that he gets to decree fiats.


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deusvult wrote:
Firewarrior44 wrote:
deusvult wrote:
Firewarrior44 wrote:
If it makes for a better story can a non DM player cheat?

Well, in Pathfinder, that's pretty much what you're doing every time you make a Diplomacy check to influence an NPC's behavior towards your PC.

An NPC, even one with the Diplomacy skill, may not use Diplomacy to force your PC to behave in a more friendly manner. Players cheat as a matter of recourse, since the universe/story literally revolves around their PCs.

But, with what I suspect is more to the point behind your question, No. Players don't get to do all the things the GM might happen to do. That's the nature of the game. If you don't think that's the nature of the game, then (face to face, table top) RPGs may not be for you.

Using a rule as it is presented in the rules as cheating. It may be a poorly designed rule prone to abuse, but abusing / utilizing it is not cheating.

As to point 2. If it makes a better story why can't I do it? So long as I don't make obvious and do it infrequently and only when it makes things more fun an interesting why is it wrong? Cheating is cheating and the rules already condone it.

Because in a face to face, tabletop RPG there's only one person who's empowered to unilaterally decide what's "good" for the story, and a player isn't that one person.

Sure, a good GM should usually factor players' opinions into his decisions about what's for the good of the story, but still he's different from the players in that he gets to decree fiats.

Then why do you need players if their decisions aren't good for the story?

Sovereign Court

That's not what I said and I suspect you know it. To reiterate:

I said upthread that players-

help coopaterively craft the story WITH the GM

That the story doesn't exist without their exploits

And in the post you just responded to, I was simply drawing a distinction between the amount of power wielded with regards to decreeing plot points. GMs have it and players don't.

You questioned what's the difference between a player fudging in the name of a better story and a GM doing it. I answered:

The GM gets to decide what's "better". A player's opinion on that matter may help inform/influence the GM's, but a player does not get to fudge/cheat in the name of bettering the story because he doesn't get to impose his opinion on everyone else about what indeed is better for the story. Only the GM CAN (not just may) do that.


Hmm... all right, everyone, how about this as a situation?

The party is moving through the wilderness, and they've all chosen to Take 10 on Perception along the way instead of constantly rolling. They're Level 2. The campaign has already planned an ambush for the party, for two reasons - as plot (to emphasize that the region is dangerous) and as XP (since the GM wants them to level at a certain point, and a break for a fight between destinations is more fun for the table then "Okay, you're at the next town now...").

Following the plan, the ambush is sprung - and in the spirit of fairness, the GM rolled the foe's Stealth check (in private) and found that nobody in the party spotted it. The creature runs over and attacks... and crits their target badly enough to instantly kill them thanks to an improbably high damage roll.

Essentially, the player didn't even have an unfortunate roll, but now must be told "your character is dead" before they even had a chance to react. There's no story drama here - it's just a quickie wilderness encounter. Would it be appropriate to fudge the crit confirm roll and say it wasn't a critical (in which case the character is injured, but very much alive), or should that player be expected to pull out their next character sheet, and why?


Johnnycat93 wrote:

Is there no middle ground between fudging die rolls and PFS-like games?

Im fine with GMs changing or adding whatever aspects of the game as necessary. However, once dice hit the table things are set in stone.

If a certain villain is supposed to escape and reappear later, is there a major difference between between "he had a contingency spell prepared to get him out of there" and "changing his HP from what you had written down at the start of the fight (if you bothered to write down a value) so that the PCs can almost but not quite kill him?" Like the difference between "as he collapses, unconscious, a previously cast contingency spell whisks him to safety" and "before he collapses, unconscious, he casts a spell that whisk him to safety" is really just the description offered.

Like I really suspect what players dislike is not "the GM changing things to make certain story beats happen" it's "knowing how the GM changes things to make certain story beats happen."

If I prepare something that I expect will be really cool, I'm going to figure out a way to work it into the campaign somehow no matter what the players do, even if it means that something that was planned to have happen in one city ends up happening in a city on a different continent. Probably the clumsiest way of "making sure all the story beats come off correctly" is fudging die rolls, which is why players dislike it so much because they tend to figure it out.

I do make no apologies for trying to avoid meaningless character death, particularly in settings where resurrection style magic is largely unavailable.


Firewarrior44 wrote:
If it makes for a better story can a non DM player cheat?

I would say yes. In moderation.

1) Player is lined up for what should be a devastating hit. Example: Rogue with Ring of Invisibility, takes aim at a flat-footed enemy. Goes to attack. Rolls a 1.
That just plain sucks, and makes the character look incompetent. A simple reroll ("the die was cocked") can easily fix that.
This happened to me a few sessions ago. When I revealed the cheat after game, the GM and other players all agreed it was an appropriate decision.

2) Party is getting devastated. Needs some serious help to win the day. Next player up "confirms" a crit, and gets x3 damage. His opponent goes down, and he can now move in and free the cleric to start healing.
Also a cheat no one I play with objects to.

3)Player never rolls less than a 15 on any roll. Rolls higher Perception checks than the character with max ranks and a high Wisdom. Rolls better Bluffs than the Bard. Seldom misses in combat, and rolls a crit almost every round.
Everyone else at the table wants to strangle this guy.
Player 1 put effort into being good at a skill, but since his average roll on a D20 is 10.5 not 17.5, he is overshadowed.
Another player chose a martial character, and has class features and feats to improve combat ability. But the cheater will always roll an average of 7 higher on the dice and be more effective in combat.
This is not an acceptable cheat.

Sovereign Court

GM Rednal wrote:

Hmm... all right, everyone, how about this as a situation?

The party is moving through the wilderness, and they've all chosen to Take 10 on Perception along the way instead of constantly rolling. They're Level 2. The campaign has already planned an ambush for the party, for two reasons - as plot (to emphasize that the region is dangerous) and as XP (since the GM wants them to level at a certain point, and a break for a fight between destinations is more fun for the table then "Okay, you're at the next town now...").

Following the plan, the ambush is sprung - and in the spirit of fairness, the GM rolled the foe's Stealth check (in private) and found that nobody in the party spotted it. The creature runs over and attacks... and crits their target badly enough to instantly kill them thanks to an improbably high damage roll.

Essentially, the player didn't even have an unfortunate roll, but now must be told "your character is dead" before they even had a chance to react. There's no story drama here - it's just a quickie wilderness encounter. Would it be appropriate to fudge the crit confirm roll and say it wasn't a critical (in which case the character is injured, but very much alive), or should that player be expected to pull out their next character sheet, and why?

I can't give an answer to this other than "It'd depend".

It'd depend on a host of factors like how "gritty" the campaign is meant to be, how the players would react to a character death, whether I had a juicy mini plot all set to go just up there in the town that's ruined without that dead PC's involvement, but most importantly would be how the players feel about "letting the dice fall as they may".

I'll spitball my answer in saying I' probably fudge a scenario like that in the players' or player's favor, but there could certainly be very plausible contexts where I wouldn't.


GM Rednal wrote:
Stuff im far too lazy to copy paste

Don't roll a dice you're not willing to accept the consequences for.

and don't have encounters that serve no purpose.

In the example the encounters purpose what to be a threat to the PC's and to reinforce that the woods are a dangerous place.

It fulfilled both of it's purposes.

If you really don't want stuff like that to happen then use Hero points, or just don't put a monster there and find some other device to reinforce the danger like say the fresh corpses of NPC's, tracks, gouges in trees etc.


After some thought, I think I've come to a fine conclusion.

When I GM, I fudge things now and again. I've kept one of my party's characters from dying twice now. The first time he died by drinking a potion of unknown liquid that made him save-or-die. It was a DC 15, and he had a very good fort, so I assumed he'd be fine. He ended up getting a 14. I ruled that since the party Mesmerist had implanted Psychosomatic Surge into the character earlier, he could activate it to cover that 1 point.
I did that because I knew all the players would feel disappointed for the character to die right then, like a chump. He's the party leader, and his reckless personality makes him fun for everyone involved.
The second time I saved him was when he got caught in a trap that was slowly dealing damage to him. The party found him just as he was hitting his negative hitpoint max (He had 16 con, and he hit -16 the round before they broke him out.) I decided that he could roll one last check to stabilize (I made the DC higher), and he made it, so I let him keep living.
I did THAT because it was a better moment for the party and the narrative to have saved him in the nick of time, instead of having gotten there a second too late.

At least on the first one, all my players knew, because it was obvious, but no one complained. On the second one, at least one of my players knows, probably more. Everyone's still having a grand old time, and given that they all have backup characters written, they know that there's still the chance that things will go so south I won't let it squeek by.

But see, I did those things knowing that my players would like it that way. They're my friends, I know what they're like, and I know that they'd rather I fudge a close roll than stick to the dice and have them die. But If I was DMing for a group of people like Johnnycat, who made it clear he doesn't want any fudging, I won't.

So, in conclusion, when thinking about fudging rolls, ask yourself, the GM, "Would my players be okay with this?"
If you don't know your players that well, just ask them instead.

Shadow Lodge

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I lie, cheat, and steal, all in the name of a better game.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

There's one thing I keep coming back to when reading the thread. There are apparently people who expect the GM to obey the dice and the printed rules slavishly, to simply simulate the world without narrative contrivances or plot devices that push the story in the direction the GM wants, but to also have an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules and the setting.

My question is, faced with a group of players like that, what would I actually get out of GMing? Like what's my incentive to put in all the time it takes to develop plots, design scenarios and antagonists, and populate a game world if I'm discouraged from telling my own story.

That right there is why you don't fit into being that type of GM Cabbage.

As a GM I have zero interest in 'telling my own story.' The whole reason I'm there is to see what sort of story the players CREATE in conjunction with the world around them.

Quote:
Like do people who expect their GMs to be like that run exclusively canned adventures?

Exactly the opposite in my case. Right now I'm only running AP's due to playtesting, but typically I never used published material. I make it all up on the spot.

Everything that is birthed into the world- either off the top of my head or that of my players [or thought through meticulously during their character creation, which is where the vast bulk of the part of the world that exists before the first session is developed] is part of a living breathing world that acts as it acts with or without the players.

PC's are agents in the world acting on it while it acts on its own. Everything spins together according to creativity, inspiration and dice.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Johnnycat93 wrote:

Is there no middle ground between fudging die rolls and PFS-like games?

Im fine with GMs changing or adding whatever aspects of the game as necessary. However, once dice hit the table things are set in stone.

If a certain villain is supposed to escape and reappear later

Why is he supposed to escape and reappear later? Obviously self preservation is in his best interest and if he has goals he's aiming towards that will clash with the party he very likely will reappear later if he escapes... but why is he supposed to escape?

Quote:
If I prepare something that I expect will be really cool, I'm going to figure out a way to work it into the campaign somehow no matter what the players do, even if it means that something that was planned to have happen in one city ends up happening in a city on a different continent.

The best way to do this one is to have an organization doing the plans rather than an individual, and don't tie anything down until it happens.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

If something is supposed to happen, you don't ascribe mechanics to it. You just narrate it.

You might lose players if you don't warn them ahead of time that this is how you're doing it, however.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Johnnycat93 wrote:

Is there no middle ground between fudging die rolls and PFS-like games?

Im fine with GMs changing or adding whatever aspects of the game as necessary. However, once dice hit the table things are set in stone.

If a certain villain is supposed to escape and reappear later, is there a major difference between between "he had a contingency spell prepared to get him out of there" and "changing his HP from what you had written down at the start of the fight (if you bothered to write down a value) so that the PCs can almost but not quite kill him?" Like the difference between "as he collapses, unconscious, a previously cast contingency spell whisks him to safety" and "before he collapses, unconscious, he casts a spell that whisk him to safety" is really just the description offered.

Like I really suspect what players dislike is not "the GM changing things to make certain story beats happen" it's "knowing how the GM changes things to make certain story beats happen."

If I prepare something that I expect will be really cool, I'm going to figure out a way to work it into the campaign somehow no matter what the players do, even if it means that something that was planned to have happen in one city ends up happening in a city on a different continent. Probably the clumsiest way of "making sure all the story beats come off correctly" is fudging die rolls, which is why players dislike it so much because they tend to figure it out.

I do make no apologies for trying to avoid meaningless character death, particularly in settings where resurrection style magic is largely unavailable.

If you aren't deciding mid-battle that the wizard has contingency or some other thing that is saving him then fine. If you are having him whisked away for no other reason then "he's the villian; he can't die yet" then, yes, I have a problem with that.

As for making sure certain plot points happen: no, I don't really see a reason to do that. If you have something cool, but the players miss it just pocket it for later.

Unexpected changes can be a good thing, as long as you have the ability to roll with them I think the game is always better off when the players start doing stuff you didn't plan for. It shows they're engaged and thinking about things in ways you haven't considered. When that's the case I can honestly say it's the most gratifying part of GMing, at least for me.


GM Rednal wrote:

Hmm... all right, everyone, how about this as a situation?

The party is moving through the wilderness, and they've all chosen to Take 10 on Perception along the way instead of constantly rolling. They're Level 2. The campaign has already planned an ambush for the party, for two reasons - as plot (to emphasize that the region is dangerous) and as XP (since the GM wants them to level at a certain point, and a break for a fight between destinations is more fun for the table then "Okay, you're at the next town now...").

Following the plan, the ambush is sprung - and in the spirit of fairness, the GM rolled the foe's Stealth check (in private) and found that nobody in the party spotted it. The creature runs over and attacks... and crits their target badly enough to instantly kill them thanks to an improbably high damage roll.

Essentially, the player didn't even have an unfortunate roll, but now must be told "your character is dead" before they even had a chance to react. There's no story drama here - it's just a quickie wilderness encounter. Would it be appropriate to fudge the crit confirm roll and say it wasn't a critical (in which case the character is injured, but very much alive), or should that player be expected to pull out their next character sheet, and why?

Character is dead, do the rest survive? Awesome. Now depending on decision decided on by group. They either do something to get the friend raised and be in debt to something or the guy brings in a new character. BUT you'd have really driven home the point that this place is dangerous. If you "ignore the dice and make up your own story" then why should I/the party ever care to be more aware? The GM will save me. The fact of life of an adventurer is you have X percent of dying at any moment, and it goes up the less you do and the stronger the enemies are. And it only goes away for certain classes at high enough level since the probability becomes effectively 0.


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All the talk of "GMs are rarer, so you'll take what you get and like it" just reads like some kind of toxic relationship. That's... not good. "Nobody's ever complained because they can't replace me" sounds like what a mob boss says before an underling finally gets fed up and offs him, not what I'd like to hear from my GM.

PossibleCabbage wrote:

There's one thing I keep coming back to when reading the thread. There are apparently people who expect the GM to obey the dice and the printed rules slavishly, to simply simulate the world without narrative contrivances or plot devices that push the story in the direction the GM wants, but to also have an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules and the setting.

My question is, faced with a group of players like that, what would I actually get out of GMing? Like what's my incentive to put in all the time it takes to develop plots, design scenarios and antagonists, and populate a game world if I'm discouraged from telling my own story.

Like do people who expect their GMs to be like that run exclusively canned adventures?

Bolding mine. This is what's wrong with fudging to me. You should never be telling your (singular) story. You should be telling your (plural) story, with the input of all the players. And yes, the GM is another player, but one with the power to summon whatever monsters they want out of thin air. With that power comes the responsibility to help the other players tell their story as well.


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It's the idea that you should play to find out what happens. Your job shouldn't be to make or write the story but to facilitate its creation.

Plot is a derivative of play.


See, where some people here have said that they'd leave a group if the GM had a story I'm the complete opposite. I don't sandbox. If the GM has no plot and it's more or less, "Do what you want and I'll just react." Then I get bored. I walk.

I'm here to participate in an epic tale not an alternate reality simulator. I want a threat to the land, ancient artifacts, some reason to put my life in danger other than for gits and shiggles.

I want to be a big dang hero who saved the Princess from Assassins. Who undertook a quest to destroy the Crimson Shadows (Assassins) who found their lair only to confront their grandmaster. Then have the grandmaster surrender only to explain that the Crimson Shadows are part of a Good organization known as the Keepers of the Eternal Flame and that the person we thought of as the Princess is actually a Demon who possessed her body by removing her soul. Thus I resolve to trek to the Demon's old lair, find the soul, and pledge to return it to the body and force the Demon out where it can be destroyed once and for all!

I do not want this possibly epic story, as a player or GM, to be ruined because the demon rolled a Nat 1 on a Bluff check in session 1 and a player happened to roll very high.


Firewarrior44 wrote:

It's the idea that you should play to find out what happens. Your job shouldn't be to make or write the story but to facilitate its creation.

Plot is a derivative of play.

That is your opinion. I strongly disagree.


To be fair, you can do that in a sandbox campaign, you just need to go look for it. If you tell the GM "I want a grand quest, so I'm going to go to ______ and find someone who needs my help." They'll probably put a grand quest in front of you.

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