Cheating gm?


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Silver Crusade

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Daniel Yeatman wrote:
It's amusing how Veilgn can make such incomprehensible posts, and the forumgoers will start making a huge argument out of it. This is at least the 5th thread he has started. I guess people just want an excuse to argue or something, haha!

Orrrrrrrrr, someone (whose first language probably isn't English) asks a question and a conversation sprouts around it, like every other forum here.


I will add this: I tell my players that I will, fairly often, change things on the fly to make a better experience for both them, and myself. I add HP to most of the enemies they face, often change tactics to fit the situation (despite running an AP), and fudge rolls both in their favor, and occasionally mine. They are well aware of it all, and think it makes for a better experience. They don't want one sided fights, or fights that carry on forever without anything happening. However, I do most of my rolling in the open, so they know I will never make a 'hit' into a 'crit' just to kill a PC. In fact, only one player has had a death(many in fact), but I often tried to mitigate that. That player just has a habit of getting in over his head, or being reckless. Now, I NEVER tell them, I made the enemy miss you when they should have killed you off. That is bad taste and makes it seem like you are letting them off the hook out of pity. I don't consider any of this "cheating", as my players are well aware of it beforehand. In fact, a lot of the encounters (social, combat, or otherwise) they have enjoyed the most are the ones that I threw the rules out the window and changed.


Daniel Yeatman wrote:
I guess people just want an excuse to argue or something, haha!

I don't need an excuse.

Dark Archive

dwayne germaine wrote:
CWheezy wrote:


I'm not sure if it was mentioned, but you absolutely cannot fudge dice in pfs.

Citation please.

I'm not saying that I agree with or disagree with the practice, but if a GM chooses to roll behind a screen then there is always the opportunity for dice fudging. I'm also sure there is nothing that prevents a GM from rolling behind a screen, so I'm curious where this idea comes from.

For PFS Organized Play the GM isn't allowed to change any mechanics of the scenario, or fudge dice. It's in the Guild Guide, can't remember the exact wording and don't feel like looking it up right this instance.

Silver Crusade

I believe fudging is encouraged only when a new player is at the table and the GM roll could kill their character (reducing HP below negative con score).

Dark Archive

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Steve Geddes wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Hey they do make DM screens for a reason. all i'm saying. I do find it in bad taste to let your players know your fudging numbers even if its for their benefit.

Do you mean each specific case (Like "That attack should have killed you, but I changed it to a miss")?

Or do you mean at the start of a campaign ("I will generally take the rolls as they come, but I may occasionally adjust them in your favour if I think you're having an unlucky streak and I judge that failure will be un-fun")?

I wouldn't do the first, but I'd definitely do the second.

If done sparingly and not maliciously, you'd be amazed at how often players don't even notice you're fudging the dice. Often players expect the GM to roll behind a screen. there are legitimate reasons to do so. For example determining an enemy's hit points if it's a random encounter you weren't quite expecting thus didn't stat out. Or a sense motive and/or perception check. All the player really knows is "The GM just rolled dice".

A few times I've taken the old 2nd edition DMG's advice of "when in doubt, roll and shout" to heart. Namely I decided how I was going to rule something, then rolled percentile or a d20 behind my GM screen. The roll didn't actually matter since I'd already determined what ruling I would make. Or on rare occasion I've rolled die for no reason just as a joke. Such as when the a party found a badly enchanted sword. The sword sang bardic songs, off key. And occasionally I would roll a D20. The sword wasn't an intelligent sword, just had hundreds of songs it could sing. Other then the +3 bonus that was the enchantment. The fighter was fairly convinced the sword was intelligent, as was the party's wizard. And they thought I was making Ego checks. I wasn't, the sword was just an amusing prank.


Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

Thanks! I like the GMG version better than the CRB's. That there are multiple schools of thought on the matter is important to note.

Can someone confirm my suspicion that PFS is at the "no fudging, period" end of the spectrum?

PFS is at the Judge Empowerment end of the spectrum, which means it's up to their judgement, heavily influenced by the "Run As Written" Rule and the commentary which moderates it.

Dark Archive

Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

Thanks! I like the GMG version better than the CRB's. That there are multiple schools of thought on the matter is important to note.

Can someone confirm my suspicion that PFS is at the "no fudging, period" end of the spectrum?

PFS is at the Judge Empowerment end of the spectrum, which means it's up to their judgement, heavily influenced by the "Run As Written" Rule and the commentary which moderates it.

Which does mean that as an (absurd) example if the scenario has an enemy who's listed as critting on a 10+ and deals x20 damage on a crit... when you roll a natural 10+ you have to roll to confirm the crit, then roll x20 damage.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

But I won't, in that absurd case.


I figure the way you would effectively fudge the hypothetical absurd monster with the 10+ crit threshold and x20 modifier would be to give it absolutely abysmal tactics. Like "stands there and taunts people to get close to it" level tactics.


Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

Thanks! I like the GMG version better than the CRB's. That there are multiple schools of thought on the matter is important to note.

Can someone confirm my suspicion that PFS is at the "no fudging, period" end of the spectrum?

PFS is at the Judge Empowerment end of the spectrum, which means it's up to their judgement, heavily influenced by the "Run As Written" Rule and the commentary which moderates it.
Which does mean that as an (absurd) example if the scenario has an enemy who's listed as critting on a 10+ and deals x20 damage on a crit... when you roll a natural 10+ you have to roll to confirm the crit, then roll x20 damage.

Fortunately the folks at Paizo write better than that. You don't design rules around the absurd use of them. You remind GMs that they have the power to act when players get absurd.


I often just roll dice behind the screen and make it like I am looking at something or looking something up as this prevents people from becoming hyper vigilant when I actually have to do so in game for some hidden reason.

MDC

Sovereign Court

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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Hey they do make DM screens for a reason. all i'm saying. I do find it in bad taste to let your players know your fudging numbers even if its for their benefit.

Do you mean each specific case (Like "That attack should have killed you, but I changed it to a miss")?

Or do you mean at the start of a campaign ("I will generally take the rolls as they come, but I may occasionally adjust them in your favour if I think you're having an unlucky streak and I judge that failure will be un-fun")?

I wouldn't do the first, but I'd definitely do the second.

If done sparingly and not maliciously, you'd be amazed at how often players don't even notice you're fudging the dice. Often players expect the GM to roll behind a screen. there are legitimate reasons to do so. For example determining an enemy's hit points if it's a random encounter you weren't quite expecting thus didn't stat out. Or a sense motive and/or perception check. All the player really knows is "The GM just rolled dice".

A few times I've taken the old 2nd edition DMG's advice of "when in doubt, roll and shout" to heart. Namely I decided how I was going to rule something, then rolled percentile or a d20 behind my GM screen. The roll didn't actually matter since I'd already determined what ruling I would make.

Just because I don't catch you at it doesn't mean that I like being lied to.

Now - it's different situation if you've let the players know that you sometimes fudge - just not when.

Dark Archive

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Hey they do make DM screens for a reason. all i'm saying. I do find it in bad taste to let your players know your fudging numbers even if its for their benefit.

Do you mean each specific case (Like "That attack should have killed you, but I changed it to a miss")?

Or do you mean at the start of a campaign ("I will generally take the rolls as they come, but I may occasionally adjust them in your favour if I think you're having an unlucky streak and I judge that failure will be un-fun")?

I wouldn't do the first, but I'd definitely do the second.

If done sparingly and not maliciously, you'd be amazed at how often players don't even notice you're fudging the dice. Often players expect the GM to roll behind a screen. there are legitimate reasons to do so. For example determining an enemy's hit points if it's a random encounter you weren't quite expecting thus didn't stat out. Or a sense motive and/or perception check. All the player really knows is "The GM just rolled dice".

A few times I've taken the old 2nd edition DMG's advice of "when in doubt, roll and shout" to heart. Namely I decided how I was going to rule something, then rolled percentile or a d20 behind my GM screen. The roll didn't actually matter since I'd already determined what ruling I would make.

Just because I don't catch you at it doesn't mean that I like being lied to.

Now - it's different situation if you've let the players know that you sometimes fudge - just not when.

It's been a long known thing that sometimes the GM fudges the dice. In fact, it's something many RPGs actually encourage the GM to do if it'll enhance the game rather then penalize the players.

Or are you seriously going to tell me that if I rolled a critical hit for maximum damage on the surprise round, you'd rather be bisected in the surprise round and your character die just so you know I didn't lie about what the roll was?

Grand Lodge

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Some people do.

Sovereign Court

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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Or are you seriously going to tell me that if I rolled a critical hit for maximum damage on the surprise round, you'd rather be bisected in the surprise round and your character die just so you know I didn't lie about what the roll was?

Yes.

Otherwise my character is never in real danger - just the illusion of it.

Again though, if you'd mentioned to me that you sometimes fudge, it wouldn't be a huge deal. (I just generally don't like being lied to outside of such a known game context - which such a mention would create.)

Note: Admittedly when I GM I generally avoid x3 & especially x4 weapons until mid levels to reduce the chances of a lucky crit being deadly.

Dark Archive

Not true! I'm not negating the danger. I just may chose to ignore the "auto kill" because I know how unfun it is to get killed without even a chance to participate. Especially at low levels. I'm not going to change a hit to a miss, but I may ignore that a given hit was a crit if it would be a one hit kill. Not always, but on occasion. Especially if my dice are rolling particularly hot on a given night. One session when I was GMing 2nd edition I couldn't roll less then a 17, and had many many natural 20's rolled that session during the dungeon crawl. It was kind of ridiculous, and I started applying only every 3rd, 5th, or 7th crit just so the players had a fair chance at success. I varied it after any given crit was applied to make things appear more random.

EDIT: Even with that fudging, I apologized after the session for how brutal it had been because my dice were really hot that night.


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Charon's Little Helper wrote:


...

Note: Admittedly when I GM I generally avoid x3 & especially x4 weapons until mid levels to reduce the chances of a lucky crit being deadly.

I prefer this approach. If the game has behaviors you don't like then just don't introduce that risk/behaviour.

If you don't want people getting insta-gibbed and whatnot just use hero-points or something similar. It does the same thing except you don't need to be deceitful.

Sovereign Court

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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Not true! I'm not negating the danger. I just may chose to ignore the "auto kill" because I know how unfun it is to get killed without even a chance to participate.

You're negating the danger of the "auto kill" - which is one of the major dangers of play.

Grand Lodge

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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Not true! I'm not negating the danger.

You are negating danger. You are literally removing the danger of death in those situations. And players will pick up on it, and it will affect their actions. If I'm with a GM that does that, I will walk headlong into danger and trust that the GM won't TKO my character for it. Sometimes the GM will get wise and change their adjudication, sometimes not. I played an elven cleric with a 6 Con precisely because of the GMs habit of telling players their PCs were unconscious at negatives rather than dead.


And then you take Diehard in that situation... become immortal! :P


I would.
Because there are things I could have done to avoid being caught in surprise round. There are things I could have done to avoid crits or reduce the lethality of crits.
I could have had a higher con or feats to have more HP.
And also rez magic is fairly available.
And being adventure's is dangerous work. If the work could be reduced to a 0% or near 0% chance of permanent death then it's not that valuable of work anymore, it's one of the safest jobs you'll find.

If I have a magic plot shield on my character I care a lot less about needing to keep him alive, and will probably test the boundaries of just how much you'll bend to keep your view of the story from breaking.

It happened to a player in PFS while I was GMing. A lv5 10 con cleric FCB into skills and the lowest level player of the party which was made off of GM credit so the first time it's actually being played, decided he wanted to be the first to enter a mystery pool of water that they knew something dangerous was in but not what it was. Cleric lost initiative and the ooze I think it was scored a crit. 38 damage later the cleric was dead, an hour into the scenario.

Dark Archive

Players only "pick up on it" if you're constantly fudging the dice to remove danger. Thing is, I don't do that. I rarely feel the need to fudge the dice. Even then, I only really do so at low levels when the game is exceptionally deadly to begin with. The session I mentioned where I started ignoring most of the crits I rolled? It was still exceptionally brutal. I was rolling high for damage, and every single attack was connecting despite the players having good armor class. It took them lot of skill, caution, camping for weeks strait inside the dungeon to recover spells, and solid tactics to survive the session.

But that's something I suspect the "never fudge" camp doesn't understand. A good GM doesn't fudge the dice very often. They don't need to, because they know how to balance the encounters for whatever system they are playing to be challenging without being overwhelming. There should always be the risk of failure, but when that risk is a 90% chance of failure then something's gone seriously wrong. Sometimes that's the GM underestimating the enemy they are using or overestimating the players. Sometimes it's the players being really unlucky while the GM is really lucky.

I'll admit that for Pathfinder, I haven't reached that sweet spot where I can balance encounters with ease yet. I'm fairly new at GMing pathfinder, and never really GMed a 3rd edition game. I prefered playing 2nd edition to 3rd edition. And am much more familiar with running Rifts and Heroes Unlimited. I've since branched out into Mutants & Masterminds, but am still feeling my way towards understanding game balance in Pathfinder.

Right now, I have to playtest encounters for my created adventures in PF to see if what I think is a balanced encounter is actually balanced. A few times I've found myself revamping an adventure because what I thought was a good low level BBEG ended up being overwhelmingly strong. Other times I end up changing around an encounter because what should be a challenging encounter ends up being too easy for the group I'm expecting. As I grow more use to the quirks of the system, I'll become better at balancing encounters.

But that still can't account for bad luck or good luck. If I'm fudging the dice, it's only because Lady Luck has decided to be exceptionally cruel to the players to the point where it's unfair to them if I play things 100% strait.

Grand Lodge

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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Players only "pick up on it" if you're constantly fudging the dice to remove danger.

Players are far more perceptive than you give them credit for.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Players only "pick up on it" if you're constantly fudging the dice to remove danger.
Players are far more perceptive than you give them credit for.

Players THINK they're far more perceptive than you give them credit for. Often they jump to conclusions because of that assumed perceptiveness.

Grand Lodge

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And often they are right.

Dark Archive

Chess Pwn wrote:

I would.

Because there are things I could have done to avoid being caught in surprise round. There are things I could have done to avoid crits or reduce the lethality of crits.
I could have had a higher con or feats to have more HP.
And also rez magic is fairly available.
And being adventure's is dangerous work. If the work could be reduced to a 0% or near 0% chance of permanent death then it's not that valuable of work anymore, it's one of the safest jobs you'll find.

If I have a magic plot shield on my character I care a lot less about needing to keep him alive, and will probably test the boundaries of just how much you'll bend to keep your view of the story from breaking.

It happened to a player in PFS while I was GMing. A lv5 10 con cleric FCB into skills and the lowest level player of the party which was made off of GM credit so the first time it's actually being played, decided he wanted to be the first to enter a mystery pool of water that they knew something dangerous was in but not what it was. Cleric lost initiative and the ooze I think it was scored a crit. 38 damage later the cleric was dead, an hour into the scenario.

That's the thing I think is being misunderstood. I don't reduce chance of death to 0% or near 0%. Doing that is just as unfair as making the chance of death 90% or higher. There's an introductory adventure for 2nd edition which starts off with 2 ogres in a trapped room. This fight is rather brutal, and has the potential to cause a party wipe right at the start of the adventure. The party's front liners might have 13 hit points, maybe, if they were lucky. More likely they have 5 to 7 hit points. And that's the guys wearing the best armor and having the largest hit die. It's quite probable that this first encounter will squish everyone if the ogres get initiative. And even if the party wins initiative, the ogres have a good chance of squishing the party.

Personally, I consider that a badly designed encounter for a level 1 party in 2nd edition. A wrong step causes 1d6 damage to the player. Getting hit causes 2d6+x damage to the player. Can't remember their damage bonus off hand. When I've ran it strait, the encounter has flat out killed the majority of players I've ran through the adventure. It's not a fun adventure by default because the first encounter is so deadly it's nearly impossible to get past without a lot of luck.

Later in the adventure it throws a gelatinous cube at the level 1 party, and the adventure flat out says "this is a very lethal encounter, remind the players they can easily out run it". Or the adventure has as a capstone an encounter with multiple shadows. At level 1. That too is a rather unfair encounter, but that's mostly because the trick to surviving it is something the players are very unlikely to even consider.

I describe this adventure because I've found that most times I ran it, I've had to fudge during the first encounter just to give the players a 50/50 chance at winning. And had to adopt something from another enounter in the adventure just to give them a chance at surviving. Namely that if they get defeated, they wake up outside in a rubbish pile with their gear missing (it's in the rubbish pile too, just not visible).

Other then that first encounter, I tend to play the adventure strait because outside of that first fight it's rather well balanced. There's always the real chance of failure, but there's also the real chance of success.

Or this really great adventure I'm working to convert into Pathfinder. It's a balanced adventure, and I've never felt the need to fudge during it. But there's a real chance of the players messing up to the point where they flat out can't survive. The reason I don't feel the need to fudge that encounter is because if the players are doomed to failure, it was entirely their own dang fault.


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Yes, it might not be the first time you fudge the dice or second but they will notice at some point of campaign. And some players will notice the first time. I have played with people who played poker at competitive level. I would wager such people would see through the average GMs bluff. On the other hand you got people like me who have used the 3rd edition chassis when it was still 3.0, it is very unlikely that fudging goes unnoticed.

Now rest of the post is purely about changing the outcome of the dice. Some people me included value integrity of the 'game' part of the rpg. Changing the outcome to something else is never worth the price of making that integrity anything else than absolute. Some have differing views but I am hardly the only one.

Second point is that, if GM can't* run a game without fudging, well quite frankly that means that their skill as GM is not all that good. It might be just not grasping the mechanical side of things or inexperience, reason does not matter. It is simply lack of skill, nothing else.

*Note I said can't not won't.

Regarding the swingyness of the early levels, solution is simple just don't play at the lowest levels. Personally I see it as waste of time anyway to start lower than 4th level, but everyone has their preferences, I am sure some people like how at first level the d20 is all that really matters. It really is no different than the fact that some people do not want to play at the high levels since it is practically a different game at that point. Of coarse there are other solutions as well, as the mentioned not using higher than x2 crit weapons. But if certain level range plays in a way that is an issue it can simply be ignored.

All that said fudging is perfectly fine way of playing as long as everyone is informed of this matter. And not informing people and then getting caught is sure fire way to get people walk from the table.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
And often they are right.

I think, though, that accusing your GM that they are fudging crosses a bright line of bad faith and should be avoided unless it's literally the last resort. If you're not having fun because you don't ever feel your character is not in any actual peril, say *that* don't demand to see dice or accuse your GM of malfeasance.

Ask people running a game to run a better one (or at least one more in keeping with player expectations) don't accuse them of running a bad one. Even if it's a bad game, you're not going to make it better by putting the GM on the defensive.

Grand Lodge

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I never said anything about accusations.


Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Or this really great adventure I'm working to convert into Pathfinder. It's a balanced adventure, and I've never felt the need to fudge during it. But there's a real chance of the players messing up to the point where they flat out can't survive. The reason I don't feel the need to fudge that encounter is because if the players are doomed to failure, it was entirely their own dang fault.

The biggest issue ive found with conversions to 3.x/pathfinder is the increase in hitpoints + damage/strength. Right when 3. came out a gm of ours converted against the giants....straight across. Giants do a lot of damage, and have a lot of hit points....there are a LOT of giants in that module. Most PC's died under barrages of boulders.

Dark Archive

Yeah, it's the interesting mechanics of the adventure I've been converting that may create the problems. What makes a really good ghost story adventure in 2nd edition can have a lot of it's spookiness defanged in 3.x/pathfinder.


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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Or are you seriously going to tell me that if I rolled a critical hit for maximum damage on the surprise round, you'd rather be bisected in the surprise round and your character die just so you know I didn't lie about what the roll was?

FWIW, this is my preferred way to play (I like DM rolls in the open, partly for this reason). I grew up with PC deaths due to dumb luck being a thing and my whole way of playing has developed accordingly.

I still play if the DM fudges. My reason for thinking it's one of the things that should be discussed pre-campaign (and adhered to) is because some people share my preference but would rather not game under those circumstances.

What positive can possibly be gained you a DM who occasionally fudges concealing that tendency from the players going in to a campaign?

Dark Archive

I think the Role Playing Game Manifesto printed in the front of the BESM d20 player's guide says it all, and explains why views that the rules are absolute and can't be changed/ignored is silly. And remember, this is something written by the writers of the game book.

"BESM D20 wrote:


These rules re written on paper, not etched in stone tablets.
Rules are suggested guidelines, not required edicts.
If the rules don't say you can't do something, you can.
There are no official answers, nly official opinions.
When dice conflict with the story, the story always wins.
Min/Maxing and Munchkinism aren't problems with the game, they're problems with the player.
The game master has full discretionary power over the game.
Te game master always works with, not against the players.
A game that is not fun is no longer a game-it's a chore.
This book contains the answers to all things.
When the aboe does not apply, make it up.

Shadow Lodge

Kahel Stormbender wrote:
I think the Role Playing Game Manifesto printed in the front of the BESM d20 player's guide says it all, and explains why views that the rules are absolute and can't be changed/ignored is silly.

I don't think anyone actually espouses those views.

Dark Archive

Steve Geddes wrote:


What positive can possibly be gained you a DM who occasionally fudges concealing that tendency from the players going in to a campaign?

Quite simply, the players don't actually need to know when an encounter should have been more lethal then it actually was. If I describe the enemies you're fighting as wearing rusty armor and that you can tell their weapons are shoddy, do you really need to know more then that the enemies are poorly equipped? Or if an ogre hits you with a club, breaking three of your characters ribs and putting you at -3 hit points, do you really need to know I actually had rolled a critical hit and max damage, and the attack should have flat out killed you? Or are you going to count yourself lucky that you did survive that big hit because I only told you about the max normal damage that was rolled (instead of the X2 damage)?


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PFS has you fight a Minotaur with a weapon doing 2d6+4. On a max hit that is 16 damage, on a crit that is 32 damage. 32 will kill almost any lv1 character right out.

PFS lv1 has lots of times where orcs have greataxes for a x3 crit.

PFS lv5 can face a phantasmal killer spell with DC booster. 2 fails and you're dead.

Being one shotted is a very real possibility for many levels.

and if I ever found out that you should have killed me and didn't, I'd lose interest in the character and start playing reckless.

Sovereign Court

Kahel Stormbender wrote:
I think the Role Playing Game Manifesto printed in the front of the BESM d20 player's guide says it all, and explains why views that the rules are absolute and can't be changed/ignored is silly. And remember, this is something written by the writers of the game book.

1. No one said that. Fudging is entirely different from houserules.

2. Any note by the writer which blames the player for the rules not working correctly is pretty lame.

3. The BESM d20 rules are a freakin' hot mess. Interesting vibe, but terrible rules. (I've heard that the non-d20 ones are better - but I haven't seen them.)

Shadow Lodge

Relevant example.

The Exchange

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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Quite simply, the players don't actually need to know when an encounter should have been more lethal then it actually was.

The thing is, even when you tell them beforehand, that you'll ocasionally fudge, they'll still don't know that about any given encounter. Just because you know that I might fudge, doesn't make you know the exact moment, I do it.

The difference being that I'm telling you gives you the choice to comment on that. I've run for players who told me: "Do what you want, as long as we're telling a good story together. Oh and by the way, I'd prefer to tell the story with exactly the PC I just built for this game." Those players wouldn't probably not enjoy dying in an relatively unimportant side encounter due to bad rolls. So I occasionally fudged rolls because I knew the players wouldn't like the consequences if I didn't.

I've also run games for players who despised any kind of fudging. So I didn't, plain and simple. And I happen to think that in both cases, I did what worked best for the group.

This all said, I actually prefer games were fudging is not an option. If my character dies, then so be it. There are other possibilities to make character death a rare outcome.

But even without fudging, I still have to talk to my players about what they want to be able to modify the game accordingly.


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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:


What positive can possibly be gained you a DM who occasionally fudges concealing that tendency from the players going in to a campaign?
Quite simply, the players don't actually need to know when an encounter should have been more lethal then it actually was. If I describe the enemies you're fighting as wearing rusty armor and that you can tell their weapons are shoddy, do you really need to know more then that the enemies are poorly equipped? Or if an ogre hits you with a club, breaking three of your characters ribs and putting you at -3 hit points, do you really need to know I actually had rolled a critical hit and max damage, and the attack should have flat out killed you? Or are you going to count yourself lucky that you did survive that big hit because I only told you about the max normal damage that was rolled (instead of the X2 damage)?

I'm not saying you should tell the players each time you do it (I suspect they'll be far less happy with fudging if you do that).

I'm saying that, at the start of the campaign, one of the things the group should decide is "What's the position on fudging?" that way people get a chance to say what they like and they go into the game knowing what they're getting.

Dark Archive

Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Kahel Stormbender wrote:
I think the Role Playing Game Manifesto printed in the front of the BESM d20 player's guide says it all, and explains why views that the rules are absolute and can't be changed/ignored is silly. And remember, this is something written by the writers of the game book.

1. No one said that. Fudging is entirely different from houserules.

2. Any note by the writer which blames the player for the rules not working correctly is pretty lame.

3. The BESM d20 rules are a freakin' hot mess. Interesting vibe, but terrible rules. (I've heard that the non-d20 ones are better - but I haven't seen them.)

The story or the adventure is that if the players get defeated, they are captured. The BBEG has given orders to bring any intruders to him, alive. According to the dice, the player was hit in round one for enough damage to take them from full to -16, their con is a very respectable 14. This is a clear cut instance where the story is in conflict with the rules. According to the rules, the player is dead because of that critical hit. According to the story, they are suppose to survive any defeat so they can be interrogated. I'll chose to let story trump the rules, and ignore the crit. Your character is still defeated. Just not outright killed. Who knows, maybe your allies can revive you. And you STILL have to worry about bleeding out, I'm not auto stabilizing you.

Again, I think the people who say fudging the dice is BadWrong make the mistaken association that fudging=removing all danger. Chess Pwn says if he ever found out he should have died but the GM lessened the hit so he had a chance at survival, he'd lose interest and start playing recklessly.

The thing is, how do you find out? If I was the GM, and started ignoring crits because the only thing I can roll all night is a natural 20, then yeah afterwords I may mention this. Or even mid-session I might say "you know what guys, this isn't vary fair to you. Tell you what, I'm only going to apply every sixth 20 as a possible crit." More then likely, I'll just quietly make the adjustment.

Yes, I have been known to fudge dice. But it's not very often. I tend to run combat fairly. If I'm fudging the dice, it's because I'm trying to keep things fair. Not because I'm reducing the danger you're actually in. I'll make any adjustments to reduce danger before the game. Such as arming enemies with weapons that deal 1d4 and 1d6 instead of giving them 2d6 damage weapons for a level 1 adventure. Or having slightly lower AC then usual for the first adventure in a new campaign.

But again, something which I think people have ignored. When I GM for PFS, I don't fudge the dice at all. If things go excessively badly in a PFS session, they went excessively badly. If the dice say you just got hit for 68 damage in a 1-2 scenario, then you just ate 68 damage. Sorry, not much I can do about that. And generally speaking, this goes for when I'm not running a PFS session. However I'll probably not throw you up against something which can potentially do six times your max health in damage with one attack.

Sovereign Court

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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Again, I think the people who say fudging the dice is BadWrong make the mistaken association that fudging=removing all danger.

No one said that fudging is badwrong - you're straw-manning pretty hard. (perhaps not intentionally)

People have been two things pretty consistently.

1. You should tell players that you may fudge. Fudging isn't Badwrong - but lying to your friends is.

2. Some of us would prefer to not have dice fudged, even in our favor. That is purely a matter of taste, and something we would (if you were our GM) inform you when you initially told us that you prefer to sometimes fudge.


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Hopefully you understood my post above - I'm not saying you shouldn't fudge, nor that each time you do you should declare it just happened. I'm saying your players should know when they sit down to play what your view on this topic is.

-----------------------------------------------------

Having said that, this is an interesting snippet, unrelated to what I've said so far:

Kahel Stormbender wrote:
The thing is, how do you find out?

You find out because we as humans are absolutely terrible at probability and even worse at emulating random number generators.

To illustrate:

Quote:
If I was the GM, and started ignoring crits because the only thing I can roll all night is a natural 20, then yeah afterwords I may mention this. Or even mid-session I might say "you know what guys, this isn't vary fair to you. Tell you what, I'm only going to apply every sixth 20 as a possible crit." More then likely, I'll just quietly make the adjustment.

If you've been rolling an extraordinarily high number of 20s all night your chance of rolling a 20 next time is 1/20. There is absolutely no need to make any adjustment to future rolls to 'make things fair' based on what has gone before.

This is an example of the kind of thinking that makes fudging detectable, even if its rare. The DM forms an often erroneous view about how they are rolling (based on many well-known psychological biases), makes an adjustment in the future based on that and consequently skews the results in a strongly detectable way (since another bias is that we underestimate the result of our meddling - so if we think we're tweaking things 'a little bit' we generally over-egg it).

I've played many games and can confidently predict when the DM has a fudge-friendly approach. Remember that there are other cues besides probabilistic ones from body-language to how long it takes before you announce the result - the time you take to think ("Will I confirm that crit or just pretend it was an ordinary hit?" is tiny to you but perceptible to an observer).


My poker face when I threaten a critical hit is a hideous cackle of glee followed by letting my players watch me roll to confirm after I tell them exactly what die result I need.

I also use communal Hero Points which expire at the end of each session, so even though we play the dice as they lie, they have a limited safety net against inevitable cruel fate.

There have been some close calls so far, but they have earned every victory.


You guys are weird I've never had a player complain about not getting killed outright. I have had players have a horrible time because their character died first combat of the night due to luck and have to spend most of session making a new one.

It can be over used and it shouldn't be a safety net or expected but to say when you add up damage you take off (or add under right circumstances) a little here or there Is a GM's prerogative. I don't think you guys are saying fudging numbers is straight out or that it should be used all the time but sometimes you can do it to increase the enjoyment of a game.

Its funny most things don't work in an extreme case its the middle ground balance that most things function correctly. Knowing where that is the real trick.

I will add once the players hit about 6th level I pretty well no longer fudge numbers (on their behalf) cause at the point they don't need the help. (and I do it rarely at most iIthink was thrice for a whole campaign)


Steve Geddes wrote:

Hopefully you understood my post above - I'm not saying you shouldn't fudge, nor that each time you do you should declare it just happened. I'm saying your players should know when they sit down to play what your view on this topic is.

-----------------------------------------------------

Having said that, this is an interesting snippet, unrelated to what I've said so far:

Kahel Stormbender wrote:
The thing is, how do you find out?

You find out because we as humans are absolutely terrible at probability and even worse at emulating random number generators.

To illustrate:

Quote:
If I was the GM, and started ignoring crits because the only thing I can roll all night is a natural 20, then yeah afterwords I may mention this. Or even mid-session I might say "you know what guys, this isn't vary fair to you. Tell you what, I'm only going to apply every sixth 20 as a possible crit." More then likely, I'll just quietly make the adjustment.

If you've been rolling an extraordinarily high number of 20s all night your chance of rolling a 20 next time is 1/20. There is absolutely no need to make any adjustment to future rolls to 'make things fair' based on what has gone before.

This is an example of the kind of thinking that makes fudging detectable, even if its rare. The DM forms an often erroneous view about how they are rolling (based on many well-known psychological biases), makes an adjustment in the future based on that and consequently skews the results in a strongly detectable way (since another bias is that we underestimate the result of our meddling - so if we think we're tweaking things 'a little bit' we generally over-egg it).

I've played many games and can confidently predict when the DM has a fudge-friendly approach. Remember that there are other cues besides probabilistic ones from body-language to how long it takes before you announce the result - the time you take to think ("Will I confirm that crit or just pretend it was an ordinary hit?" is tiny to you but perceptible...

.

Except for - what makes you think the particular statistical sequence you 'detected' is invalid? Flipping heads twenty times in a row, for example, is a void statistical outcome. And not rolling twenty for two sessions straight has happened even rolling out in the open.


Ryan Freire wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Players only "pick up on it" if you're constantly fudging the dice to remove danger.
Players are far more perceptive than you give them credit for.
Players THINK they're far more perceptive than you give them credit for. Often they jump to conclusions because of that assumed perceptiveness.

My players frequently believe I'm doing one thing when it's really the other. Or believe they already know my intentions and what I want them to do. Sometimes players honestly believe anything they want to believe and come to their own conclusions.


RDM42 wrote:

...

.

Except for - what makes you think the particular statistical sequence you 'detected' is invalid? Flipping heads twenty times in a row, for example, is a void statistical outcome. And not rolling twenty for two sessions straight has happened even rolling out in the open.

Right, so lets say that the GM apparently rolled three very low numbers in a row that just happen to save a PC from nigh-certain death.

And they hesitated before declaring the results of the rolls, which isn't something they normally do.

And their body language and tone was abnormal, in a way that would typically suggest intent to deceive.

Naturally, a reasonable person would think that the PC just got lucky and the GM is a totally honest, upstanding Game Master.

No, wait, that's completely stupid. The reasonable thing to think is that the GM probably fudged the rolls, and that they are reasonably likely to also fudge other rolls in future when the PCs are in vaguely similar circumstances.

On a more general note, you can fool some players some of the time, but you can't fool all players all of the time, and it only takes one misstep before a player (or the entire table, if they reveal their suspicions) will operate under the default assumption that any lucky break may actually be the GM screwing with the numbers. They wouldn't know for sure that the GM is fudging, but they would know that the GM probably would fudge if they felt they needed to, and that is enough for most purposes.


Or, perhaps like I do, on any roll that is liable to provide the final fate of a player they pause and go back over all of the math to make sure it's right. It's also somewhat on the arrogant side to assume you know the reason for the pause as if you are a trained police interrogator.

Just a song likely is that they see a sequence that their bad at statistics brain thinks is odd, and then their suspicious mind starts looking for confirmation - and asks often true, when it's a matter of proving yourself right or wrong the mind is very good at providing even clues that don't exist to preserve its opinions.

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