GM cheating how much is acceptable?


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The Exchange

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Boomerang Nebula wrote:
I think my point of view can best be explained with an analogy.

I like your analogy because it fits the way I see this pretty perfectly. Because for every situation where a GM ever felt the need to fudge, there's probably an instrument that could have been used to achieve the same outcome without fudging.

Problem being that most (imo: all) people can only put a limited number of instruments in their tool belt at a given time, so they simply can't guarantee that they'll never need the shifter. On the other hand there might be a few people who don't even try to use those other instruments because they have the shifter, after all. And my guess is, that it's because of those people, that some rather ban the shifter from the tool belt instead of accepting it to be used as the emergency tool it is intended to be.

Which I think can ultimately be detrimental to the game as well.


Going with this analogy: to some it's a shifter, to some it's heating the bolt with a blowtorch (so it expands), and to some it's using said blowtorch to cut the nut and/or bolt.


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Megistone wrote:

the PCs had better done some research on him before engaging; realizing he was too strong for them yet, they had the option to go somewhere else and gain more power (and HP), or to buy scrolls of Fire Resistance.

Not every campaign is like that.

I'm aware it's strictly a matter of personal preference, but that's exactly the sort of campaign I find to be enjoyable as a player -- where I get to use my brain for strategy in the game, instead of mindlessly rolling dice. If the DM insists I "stop over-thinking things and follow the story!!!" -- that's when I find a different game.

As a DM, I'm able to provide a clear storyline for the players to follow, but also allow them to go off in different directions if that's what they want to do.


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Hrmmm - for me anti-cheating/fudging comes down to really two things:

* You don't alter the dice when it's for the NPCs. Modifiers are ok but if they roll a one you don't say the bad guys make a save when they don't (player abilities that can end encounters with a single shot - should sometimes work - if that screws my plans up I see that as *my* failure not a problem with the ability or player).

* You don't alter the dice when it's against the players. A crit is a possible crit - if that results in a player death - it happens. Yeah don't make every NPC has a x3 weapon - but if they close in with the dragon and take a full attack... that's part of the story too.

You try as best as possible to be consistent in how you rule things, so the same rules apply to the NPCs and players. This means for story things too - if I want something to happen my players can't control - then I don't have it happen when they are there - anytime they are 'there' they can change the narrative - that's the point of playing the game. GM fiat is fine when they aren't on scene, but if you want a dramatic kidnap to happen then you best hope your plan is better than the players and your dice work that night because they'll muck it up.


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It doesn't seem that difficult to me.

Communicate with group or know what your group wants.
It's that simple.

I don't think anyone is advocating that a DM can't alter encounter before they happen, or alter story before it happens.

If "fudging" rolls and such is what the group wants it's not cheating. If the group playing knows or doesn't care about "fudging" then no issue. This is totally cool in my book, everyone has preferred play styles. If my DM tells me before hand that they do this I can now choose if i want to play or not.

If a DM does it in secret and hides it from the players, without knowing their preference, or bothering to tell them before the game starts...it's cheating. It's also a sign of control issues, if a DM is changing the outcome of everything on a whim why even use a rule set, or why even have players?


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I'm going to mention the most common form of "numerical fudging" that happens on tables I'm playing on or GMing:

The scenario- a fight is mostly over and the PCs have won, the last PC in initiative order before the antagonist goes again hits it and drops it to say <4 HP (out of, say, 80ish.) Rather than having the antagonist (who has no help at this point) get another turn (which may involve healing itself, depending on what it is) the GM just declares the thing dead/unconscious.

Simply because "beating on the almost-dead thing" is less interesting than basically anything else you could be doing with your gaming time. Is this sort of "simulate to finish" technique passable by most people's standards?


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Simply because "beating on the almost-dead thing" is less interesting than basically anything else you could be doing with your gaming time. Is this sort of "simulate to finish" technique passable by most people's standards?

I've done that before since it keeps the pacing going well. But only for "minion" type creatures, that really don't stand a chance. Basically when the last foes left in a combat are not even worth XP or a threat.

I'll basically ask my players if they want to stay in Initiative order or not. Since sometimes they might want to compete for the last kill or whatever.

(For example: If my group of 10th players are fighting a Dragon and his minions and the dragon is already dead I'm not going to keep combat going for them to kill the last kobold (CR 1/4) across the room. I'll usually just ask what they plan on doing at that point.)

If the NPC is important enough I'll keep the fight going to try and let them escape.

The Exchange

Kirth Gersen wrote:
As a DM, I'm able to provide a clear storyline for the players to follow, but also allow them to go off in different directions if that's what they want to do.

Same here.

Quote:
I'm aware it's strictly a matter of personal preference, but that's exactly the sort of campaign I find to be enjoyable as a player -- where I get to use my brain for strategy in the game, instead of mindlessly rolling dice. If the DM insists I "stop over-thinking things and follow the story!!!" -- that's when I find a different game.

I guess my (admittedly personal) problem with that is that I kinda hate if the games comes to an halt because the players try to optimise the actions of their characters, especially when combined with the planning stage before an attack on the villain's lair. That might be cool in a Shadowrun game and in some special Pathfinder scenarios where investigation plays a big role but not in the general D&D game-style scenario. I'm aware that this may be not a problem for experienced players with enough game mastery, but with new, unexperienced or more casual gamers, it might be.

And I hate metagaming: "to go somewhere else and gain more power (and HP)" as Megistone put it, is something you do in a computer game, not in a tabletop RPG. So in my games, if players try something like this they can be sure that the wizard will do the same in the meantime, will simply vanish or worse, will already have gone through with whatever threat the PCs wanted to stop. What the wizard certainly won't do is sit and wait for them to return 5 levels later.

Apart from that, the problem with doing the research is that you get your information from the GM and remember, in that example, that is the guy that isn't even aware that the wizard is too strong for the group. So what the PCs will hear is "yeah,you can beat him" only to find out that the GM "lied" to them the hard way. For some reason I don't think that the players will appreciate the GM saying: "yeah sorry, my fault, but you'd better roll new characters nonetheless."

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
WormysQueue wrote:
And I hate metagaming: "to go somewhere else and gain more power (and HP)" as Megistone put it, is something you do in a computer game, not in a tabletop RPG.

That's what I did by going to Basic Combat Training for the Army.

Of course, the time investment means I missed out on other opportunities, which certainly translates into good and bad things happening while the PCs are away.

The Exchange

TriOmegaZero wrote:
WormysQueue wrote:
And I hate metagaming: "to go somewhere else and gain more power (and HP)" as Megistone put it, is something you do in a computer game, not in a tabletop RPG.
That's what I did by going to Basic Combat Training for the Army.

Good point though I'd argue that in game terms that's what the adventurer does before he gets to level 1 in his chosen class.

topic that part here is an import issue for me as - if I ever get my homebrew in a playable state ^^ - it will probably start with a lot of (h)exploration and I'm a bit concerned that I might not be able to let them do that and still convey enough plot possibilities so that it actually feels like something a "realistic" character with an own agenda and own motivations would do.


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WormysQueue wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
As a DM, I'm able to provide a clear storyline for the players to follow, but also allow them to go off in different directions if that's what they want to do.

Same here.

Quote:
I'm aware it's strictly a matter of personal preference, but that's exactly the sort of campaign I find to be enjoyable as a player -- where I get to use my brain for strategy in the game, instead of mindlessly rolling dice. If the DM insists I "stop over-thinking things and follow the story!!!" -- that's when I find a different game.

...

And I hate metagaming: "to go somewhere else and gain more power (and HP)" as Megistone put it, is something you do in a computer game, not in a tabletop RPG. So in my games, if players try something like this they can be sure that the wizard will do the same in the meantime, will simply vanish or worse, will already have gone through with whatever threat the PCs wanted to stop. What the wizard certainly won't do is sit and wait for them to return 5 levels later.

Apart from that, the problem with doing the research is that you get your information from the GM and remember, in that example, that is the guy that isn't even aware that the wizard is too strong for the group. So what the PCs will hear is "yeah,you can beat him" only to find out that the GM "lied" to them the hard way. For some reason I don't think that the players will appreciate the GM saying: "yeah sorry, my fault, but you'd better roll new characters nonetheless.

Not fighting the Lich at level 1 and doing other things to level up is a totally reasonable course of action (an extreme example). Personally I'd hardly call wanting to get more powerful so you're better equipped to fight a powerful foe meta-gaming.

As that band /power gap closes it becomes a cost benefit analysis of maximizing your potential for victory weighed against possible drawbacks (like waiting too long and his evil plan has come to fruition). Which is part of the fun for a lot of people as that's another tactic / strategy that needs consideration.

If your research about the wizard results in "you can beat him" then that's a failure on the players end as well for not asking the right questions. "What spells does he favor?", "How many minions does he have?", "Is there a time of day / place we could potentially ambush him", "Do we know where he keeps his spellbook" etc. Obviously there's potential for error as everyone's human and sometimes it happens. At which point you talk about it and figure out if you re-roll or ret-con or whatever.


WormysQueue wrote:
That might be cool in a Shadowrun game and in some special Pathfinder scenarios where investigation plays a big role but not in the general D&D game-style scenario. I'm aware that this may be not a problem for experienced players with enough game mastery, but with new, unexperienced or more casual gamers, it might be.

Probably so; I write adventures that are quite intentionally investigation-heavy (James Bond 007 gaming experience left its mark there), and tend to game with other experienced people. I'll still throw in a dungeon crawl every so often for some more straightforward fun, but a steady diet of those, for me, is like eating nothing but Oreos.


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You know, I'm noticing a really curious trend in these threads. Several people have asserted that cheating is okay regardless of the feelings of the people you are playing with, provided that no one you are playing with ever learns that you cheated. Several of the same people have asserted that it's okay for them to cheat, because they are sufficiently skilled cheaters to avoid getting caught.

But you're posting on a public forum. In my experience, if you want to avoid letting people know that you've taken Action A (regardless of what that is), bragging about how often you take Action A on a publicly-accessible website is not a good way to keep your actions a secret. Because now, anyone with an internet access can very easily discover what you've just admitted to doing.

N.B.: I also notice other people who say that they are okay with other people knowing they sometimes cheat, provided no one knows which specific instances they cheated in. That's another situation entirely. My post is only referring to people who claim to keep secret the fact that they cheat at all, yet openly share this "secret" in public.


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Firewarrior44 wrote:
WormysQueue wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
As a DM, I'm able to provide a clear storyline for the players to follow, but also allow them to go off in different directions if that's what they want to do.

Same here.

Quote:
I'm aware it's strictly a matter of personal preference, but that's exactly the sort of campaign I find to be enjoyable as a player -- where I get to use my brain for strategy in the game, instead of mindlessly rolling dice. If the DM insists I "stop over-thinking things and follow the story!!!" -- that's when I find a different game.

...

And I hate metagaming: "to go somewhere else and gain more power (and HP)" as Megistone put it, is something you do in a computer game, not in a tabletop RPG. So in my games, if players try something like this they can be sure that the wizard will do the same in the meantime, will simply vanish or worse, will already have gone through with whatever threat the PCs wanted to stop. What the wizard certainly won't do is sit and wait for them to return 5 levels later.

Apart from that, the problem with doing the research is that you get your information from the GM and remember, in that example, that is the guy that isn't even aware that the wizard is too strong for the group. So what the PCs will hear is "yeah,you can beat him" only to find out that the GM "lied" to them the hard way. For some reason I don't think that the players will appreciate the GM saying: "yeah sorry, my fault, but you'd better roll new characters nonetheless.

Not fighting the Lich at level 1 and doing other things to level up is a totally reasonable course of action (an extreme example). Personally I'd hardly call wanting to get more powerful so you're better equipped to fight a powerful foe meta-gaming.

As that band /power gap closes it becomes a cost benefit analysis of maximizing your potential for victory weighed against possible drawbacks (like waiting too long and his evil plan has come to fruition). Which is part of the fun for a lot of people as that's another tactic / strategy that needs consideration.

If your research about the wizard results in "you can beat him" then that's a failure on the players end as well for not asking the right questions. "What spells does he favor?", "How many minions does he have?", "Is there a time of day / place we could potentially ambush him", "Do we know where he keeps his spellbook" etc. Obviously there's potential for error as everyone's human and sometimes it happens. At which point you talk about it and figure out if you re-roll or ret-con or whatever.

If I'm 1st level and the plot hook is "Beat the lich", I'm going to run away and hide. I really don't like thinking in character, "Sure, if I just go out and adventure, I can become near a demigod in a few months, so this is a reasonable plan."

Now, you can drop more reasonable looking hooks that I will bite on that eventually lead to confronting the lich. Or that give me ways to do useful things to thwart their plans that aren't completely out of my league and don't involve me confronting them directly - minions and the like. Then eventually, I find myself in the position of thinking I can face them successfully - without ever thinking "I just need to go beat up a bunch of random monsters so I can get super powers."


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm going to mention the most common form of "numerical fudging" that happens on tables I'm playing on or GMing:

The scenario- a fight is mostly over and the PCs have won, the last PC in initiative order before the antagonist goes again hits it and drops it to say <4 HP (out of, say, 80ish.) Rather than having the antagonist (who has no help at this point) get another turn (which may involve healing itself, depending on what it is) the GM just declares the thing dead/unconscious.

Simply because "beating on the almost-dead thing" is less interesting than basically anything else you could be doing with your gaming time. Is this sort of "simulate to finish" technique passable by most people's standards?

+1

The other common one for me is modifying the result of a bluff, diplomacy, intimidation etc. check if the players roleplay really well. I don't hide the fact I'm using GM fiat because I want to encourage good roleplaying.


137ben wrote:
You know, I'm noticing a really curious trend in these threads. Several people have asserted that cheating is okay regardless of the feelings of the people you are playing with, provided that no one you are playing with ever learns that you cheated. Several of the same people have asserted that it's okay for them to cheat, because they are sufficiently skilled cheaters to avoid getting caught.

I mean, here is the thing. If an antagonist's "to-hit" bonus and saves drop by 2 on the fourth round of combat, there's no way anybody playing the game will be able to tell the difference between:

1) I dropped those number between the third and fourth round of combat because I wanted to make things easier for the players.

2) I had written in my notes "Has 3 rounds of Heroism remaining at the start of the fight" and simply ran the fight as I had originally planned.

So I'm suspicious of anybody who claims to know, with absolute certainty, that they can tell when the GM is up to something. I certainly have never had more than a suspicion, because there's always an alternative explanation I can come up with that isn't "they changed it."


PossibleCabbage wrote:
So I'm suspicious of anybody who claims to know, with absolute certainty, that they can tell when the GM is up to something. I certainly have never had more than a suspicion, because there's always an alternative explanation I can come up with that isn't "they changed it."

I was in a game when the GM would randomly have monsters stop full attacking. Meaning they'd five foot step and then do no other than a single attack (after full attacking in previous rounds). These all happened in cases where it seemed like the party was screwed.

PRETTY certain the GM was up to something there ;)


Balkoth wrote:

I was in a game when the GM would randomly have monsters stop full attacking. Meaning they'd five foot step and then do no other than a single attack (after full attacking in previous rounds). These all happened in cases where it seemed like the party was screwed.

PRETTY certain the GM was up to something there ;)

There are plenty of feats that are incompatible with full-attacks and require standard action attacks (vital strike, focused shot, pinpoint shot, etc.), I won't claim to know all of them off the top of my head but I wouldn't be able to rule out "that's what's going on there."


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If I know that the GM is going to fudge rolls so that I can never die, that changes everything I do in character design. Instead of designing a character based on achieving moderate levels of survivability combined with moderate levels of awesomeness, I would abandon any attempt at creating a character with survivability because it's a part of the game that would never come up.

I would min-max that character like a loon and take spells that didn't buff up my or other characters' weaknesses, because it would be pointless to do so. Why set aside resources for diamond dust when you're never going to die? And why do in-combat healing when everyone will magically start missing when the combat gets difficult?

I'd also focus my role play based on taking insane risks because they were no longer insane risks.

Why? Because that's the kind of play that the GM is signaling that they want from me.

Given how foundational this choice is, when the GM leads me to believe it's a normal game, then switches the rules on me, invalidating my character concept and the years of RP invested in it up to that point frankly angers me.

And, let me put it this way, given how long combats take to resolve, I think robbing combat of ultimate consequences removes most of the tactical fun of the combats.


If they set it up so that they'll rescue Bob from his bad choices, what happens when the GM decides not to fudge rolls to protect roguerouge from his character's choices? Why wouldn't I take that personally? I really feel that fudging rolls sets you up for hurt feelings.


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I mean, I tend to run "PCs don't die" sorts of games for two reasons:

1) The setting I run my games in has no easily accessible resurrection magic, if you die it's for keeps. So death should be a big deal.

2) The people I play with are more interested in their characters as people with backstories, personalities, desires, fears, etc. than a character who is "survivable" or "combat capable." So I don't have to worry about "my character is an irrational risk taker" because that concept only makes sense really when you're starting from a statblock and not a backstory. I can't see that character as especially fun to play.

Plus, I mean, when someone has 18 pages of backstory before they wrote down a single number on their character sheet, they're going to be really sad if that character dies in the first session. That was a lot of work they did!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

And probably has something to justify an NPC retrieving their body for a raise.

But that is the reason all of my backstories are built at the table or with the rest of the party.


roguerouge wrote:

If I know that the GM is going to fudge rolls so that I can never die, that changes everything I do in character design. Instead of designing a character based on achieving moderate levels of survivability combined with moderate levels of awesomeness, I would abandon any attempt at creating a character with survivability because it's a part of the game that would never come up.

I would min-max that character like a loon and take spells that didn't buff up my or other characters' weaknesses, because it would be pointless to do so. Why set aside resources for diamond dust when you're never going to die? And why do in-combat healing when everyone will magically start missing when the combat gets difficult?

I'd also focus my role play based on taking insane risks because they were no longer insane risks.

Why? Because that's the kind of play that the GM is signaling that they want from me.

Given how foundational this choice is, when the GM leads me to believe it's a normal game, then switches the rules on me, invalidating my character concept and the years of RP invested in it up to that point frankly angers me.

And, let me put it this way, given how long combats take to resolve, I think robbing combat of ultimate consequences removes most of the tactical fun of the combats.

It's rare that even GMs who fudge will do it so that you can never die. If you actually listen to those who say they will fudge, they generally mention specific circumstances - exceptionally bad luck (a series of really bad rolls, perhaps) or cases where they misjudged the encounter, for example.

Even in games I've been in where the players knew we had a certain amount of script immunity, we also knew that if we abused it, we'd lose it. Take insane risks because you can't die and you'll quickly find that you can die.
"Can never die" is the strawman version of the argument.

Shadow Lodge

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thejeff wrote:
"Can never die" is the strawman version of the argument.

Seen it. GM would ask for the characters hit point total and if it was too low to survive, tell the player their character was unconscious.


TOZ wrote:
thejeff wrote:
"Can never die" is the strawman version of the argument.
Seen it. GM would ask for the characters hit point total and if it was too low to survive, tell the player their character was unconscious.

I've seen it too. I've seen characters die in the same game, under different circumstances.

Even when the character is "taking insane risks"?


TriOmegaZero wrote:

And probably has something to justify an NPC retrieving their body for a raise.

But that is the reason all of my backstories are built at the table or with the rest of the party.

Well, except for the whole "can't bring anybody back from the dead" setting-specific constraint.

And we require people to submit backstories, with as much detail as the player wants (more is better) before the first session. It's not my rule originally, but I liked it so I started using it.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Even when the character is "taking insane risks"?

I rolled an elf cleric with a 6 Con.


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I like Hero points for when i don't want PC's to die. If you hand them out liberally enough it's effectively the same thing, but if they're constantly putting themselves in danger their pool will run dry.


thejeff wrote:


Even in games I've been in where the players knew we had a certain amount of script immunity, we also knew that if we abused it, we'd lose it. Take insane risks because you can't die and you'll quickly find that you can die.

I see, so in-game success depends mostly on the player's ability to read the GM's mind about what script immunity means to him/her at every session. See the second post I made on why this kind of thing risks fractured friendships--your "abused the script immunity" can easily be felt as "you like Bob better than roguerouge" when both players acted with what they considered appropriate to unwritten rules of script immunity, but only one guessed right. And, of course, since many of the GMs in this thread pride themselves on not communicating with their players about what they're doing and actively hiding that they're doing it, when they do get caught doing it by a hurt or angered player, their explanation is less likely to be taken well because of the pattern of deliberate miscommunication.

How is a player supposed to distinguish between a tough encounter that the GM is going to fudge because they messed up and a tough encounter that they're not going to benefit from fudges because it's supposed to be this hard?

All of the fudgers' concerns are better handled by putting that mechanic in the hands of the players with plot cards, hero points, etc.


WormysQueue wrote:
Boomerang Nebula wrote:
I think my point of view can best be explained with an analogy.

I like your analogy because it fits the way I see this pretty perfectly. Because for every situation where a GM ever felt the need to fudge, there's probably an instrument that could have been used to achieve the same outcome without fudging.

Problem being that most (imo: all) people can only put a limited number of instruments in their tool belt at a given time, so they simply can't guarantee that they'll never need the shifter. On the other hand there might be a few people who don't even try to use those other instruments because they have the shifter, after all. And my guess is, that it's because of those people, that some rather ban the shifter from the tool belt instead of accepting it to be used as the emergency tool it is intended to be.

Which I think can ultimately be detrimental to the game as well.

Exactly. Having every kind of spanner is an ideal situation not a realistic one. The shifter is there to fill the gaps, not to replace the spanners.


Narrative immunity is so much worse than fudging just to protect the players (which I also don't love).

What is the point of playing if you have narrative immunity or enemies have narrative immunity.

I had an unfortunate situation once where a PC wanted to climb a sheer cliff to reach an airship high above them.

I described the cold, icey, flat, cliff face. I then said, it's going to take a series of very difficult climb checks and more than one failure would likely mean certain death.

He said, he was a hero and could do it and was willing to risk death. After three checks he plummeted to his death. And he was unhappy. He wanted his heroic moment and assumed taking the risk would lead to reward.

It's unrealistic and ruins the foundation of the game. I guess we realized that I was probably not the best GM for him. But I believe in fair notice. And I believe in realism.

If a PC goes negative and there are other targets, do I go after them instead? Sure, most of the time. Am I going to simply lie to validate a player's choice? No. I just don't see the fun in that exercise.

In order to feel truly heroic there needs to be risk. And I do hate the randomness of dice. If you're really good at something, you shouldn't fail 5% of the time. But fudging is not how I handle it. I prefer house rules or other methods that give my players clear notice of their options. But otherwise I like my players to have a game where we share mutual expectations and the excitement, risk, and story feel real, not just like a choose your own adventure with no bad endings.


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I feel like "The PCs aren't likely to die" is not necessarily "narrative immunity" provided the PCs actually care about something beyond their continued survival. If you want to not kill PCs, and avoid "narrative immunity" they're going to need something to care about.

Since if they're alive, but their hometown is overrun by Demons, the Necromancer has deposed the King, the capital has sunk into the ocean, and the party is wanted dead or alive by every law enforcement agency on this continent, and half of the Gods of Good are dead or corrupted, they're going to wish they could have stopped some of those things.

Shifting the risk from "Make a new character" to "that thing your character wanted to stop? It didn't get stopped and now it's worse" doesn't remove risk, it simply makes failing potentially interesting in a way it was not previously. Personally I think "the PCs have failed at something" ought to be an opportunity to evolve the story, rather than an opportunity to get new PCs.

The Exchange

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Create Mr. Pitt wrote:

I described the cold, icey, flat, cliff face. I then said, it's going to take a series of very difficult climb checks and more than one failure would likely mean certain death.

He said, he was a hero and could do it and was willing to risk death. After three checks he plummeted to his death. And he was unhappy. He wanted his heroic moment and assumed taking the risk would lead to reward.

Can't speak for everyone else but if something like that happened in my game, you can bet that I wouldn't fudge any die just to help the PC survive.

And I'm practically in the same boat with PossibleCabbage. I wouldn't announce my games as "you don't die"-games, but in practice, the body count in my games is very low, partly for the same reasons PossibleCabbage mentioned, but also due to the players' optimization efforts and because combat generally isn't the main focus of my games.

This said, my answer to your question, what the point of playing is: For me it's to collaboratively tell a story akin to the Lord of the Rings or similar fantasy epics, where the heroes of the story have to go through a lot of challenges to be victorious in the end. I'm way less interested in stories like Game of Thrones, where every turned page a protagonist seems to die. And while I'm not ruling out the possibility of character death, I'm again with PossibleCabbage in that the PCs still can fail even without dying and that this is mostly more interesting than if you create new characters after characters until you finally succeeded in the task.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Even when the character is "taking insane risks"?
I rolled an elf cleric with a 6 Con.

Don't you know life is an insane risk with 6 con?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

She never died.


My yolo elven diviner wizard with 5 con only made it to level 3 in pfs (favored class to skill points, of course).

Died to a block of wood falling on his head.


Our last session the cavalier (who built his entire concept around his backstory with his dog) had his dog get sent to another plane by a prismatic spray.

We have been playing for 4 years and his dog only was hit like twice up until the last month - and in the past 4 sessions has died twice and now is on another plane of existence.

So I rolled - the dog is in the plane of dreams.

You know - the trip to get that dog back will most likely be the most memorable thing they do in this campaign. I rolled with it - and now I'm going to have fun with it.

If I had fudged the entire opportunity to see what his dog dreams about would have been lost.

Sometimes letting the story roll away from you - helps to make your creative side jump in and take advantage of the moment.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I had a sorcerer make it to level 10 on Con 6 and less than 30 HP. Then she got lost/abandoned in a desert and was never seen again because the party FEARED HER.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
So I'm suspicious of anybody who claims to know, with absolute certainty, that they can tell when the GM is up to something.

Clearly you don't play much poker?

The Exchange

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Clearly you don't play much poker?

So you win every time at the poker table and never misjudge the situation or the body signs your game partners send (or pretend to)?

And even if you did, that would set you very much apart from the average gamer.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
So I'm suspicious of anybody who claims to know, with absolute certainty, that they can tell when the GM is up to something.
Clearly you don't play much poker?

Because if you had, you'd know that bluffs never work in poker? I don't follow.

I've played with some GMs where it was sometimes very obvious that they were fudging or otherwise up to something. (Though it's possible in some of those cases, I was wrong.) I've played with other GMs that I never noticed anything. (Though it's possible in some of those GMs didn't fudge and others I just couldn't tell.) I've played with some where it was only after years of playing together that I could recognize their tells.
I've played with at least one GM where I never realized until we talked about it and she told me she was basically faking it all along - not bothering to track enemy hp, that kind of thing. (In older systems, where you'd expect variation in hp, not PF where every standard X has standardized HP.) Running by feel and dramatic necessity not strict mechanics. One of the best GMs I've ever had - not crunchy enough for many here, but brilliant in terms of mystery style plot, NPC characterization, etc. Not like she didn't let characters die either.
Once we'd talked about it, I could see it and that did detract from those parts of the game, but before then ...

I suspect a lot of this has to do with what you're looking for in a game. If you're really focused on the tactical challenge part, then it'll bother you much more. If other aspects are more important, then fudging can be a means to that end without detracting much. Probably, the more you're focused on the tactical challenge, the more likely you are notice it as well.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
So I'm suspicious of anybody who claims to know, with absolute certainty, that they can tell when the GM is up to something.
Clearly you don't play much poker?

I feel like it should be pretty self-evident that you don't have absolute certainty about whether or not someone is bluffing in poker until you actually see their cards.

You can have very strong suspicions, but that's not the same as certainty.

It's going to be even harder to achieve similar outcomes in Pathfinder, because there's always the possibility that you're fighting a custom monster with a template the GM came up with and maybe "its AC changes as the fight goes on" is part of the gimmick.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

The point was that people have tells, and if your players know you well, you're unlikely to be able to fool them. And if you're a really bad bluffer, it's even worse.

My tell was the pause between rolling the dice and announcing the result. And I tend to have an open expression. My GMs tell was asking how many hit points you had.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
My tell was the pause between rolling the dice and announcing the result. And I tend to have an open expression. My GMs tell was asking how many hit points you had.

Oh snap! I've done that too! I wonder if they know... :(

;P


I don't think "asking for" (or otherwise tracking) HP information is necessarily evidence of GM malfeasance. Just like how a GM might narrate "battle damage" for antagonists to indicate which baddies are hale, which are close to death, etc. which help dictate player tactics, I don't know if trying to model the same behavior for intelligent antagonists is necessarily bad form.

A "one big hit" opponent might avoid weaker targets.
A "I want to fae worthy foes" opponent might similarly seek out more currently dangerous PCs.
A "I am a coward" opponent might seek out the weakest PC possible,
A "brought to a frenzy by blood" opponent might seek out the most injured PC.
et cetera.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

A pattern of only asking when the PC is in danger is pretty obvious. As was the tone of voice.

Ravingdork wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
My tell was the pause between rolling the dice and announcing the result. And I tend to have an open expression. My GMs tell was asking how many hit points you had.

Oh snap! I've done that too! I wonder if they know... :(

;P

Oh, probably. But you never know with players, they can be pretty thick.


WormysQueue wrote:
So you win every time at the poker table and never misjudge the situation or the body signs your game partners send (or pretend to)?

Every time? Don't need to. But if I sit at a table with the same people for that many hours, I'm going to be right occasionally -- more than often enough to give the lie to these constant b!#+%$&# claims of "the players will never know it" that people keep spuriously making.

Ultimately, DM fudging relies on suspension of disbelief from the participants. If, deep down, they know you might be doing it but are cereful to pretend you're not, it works. If they don't want you to, though, and you do it anyway, they'll eventually catch you at it.


thejeff wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Clearly you don't play much poker?
Because if you had, you'd know that bluffs never don't always work in poker

. See edits; hopefully that will clear up your confusion. I don't need to know every time a DM fudges in order to know that the DM in question fudges. And the more the players do catch him doing it, the more obvious it will be in the future.

thejeff wrote:
I suspect a lot of this has to do with what you're looking for in a game. If you're really focused on the tactical challenge part, then it'll bother you much more. If other aspects are more important, then fudging can be a means to that end without detracting much.

Skirting pretty close to Stormwind territory there. A person can be focused on tactical challenges AND roleplaying and exploration and so on; it is in no way a zero-sum thing.

--

P.S., Henceforward, let's just treat it as assumed in the community that whenever I make a post, thejeff vehemently disagrees with every aspect and also says I'm a bad person. That'll save you stalking me from thread to thread in order to make snide (and often wildly inaccurate) "rebuttals."


I mean, here's the thing. If I suspect the GM is intervening in some way that I don't like, I will not be able to prove it no matter how strong my suspicion is. So it's not something I would ever bring up in a group dynamic situation since that's potentially toxic and ruins games.

I might say, after the game is over, when it's just the two of us "hey, when such and such happened, were you actually doing this?" which hopefully results in a constructive dialogue. I mean, the GM is totally within their rights to do whatever provided it's in the best interest of the game, and suggesting how the interests of the game could be improved more through other techniques is a positive conversation.

So I can suspect, and some of my suspicions might be correct, but there's never going to be enough to bring a case so watching the GM eagle-eyed for "tells" just seems like a way to breed a toxic dynamic at the table. Since I don't know about you, but I will always be able to come up with another explanation than "the GM is cheating." I mean, this is how empirical reasoning works: theory is always underdetermined by evidence; we simply use non-empirical tools (aesthetics, pragmatism, parsimony, etc.) once we've winnowed down the competing theories enough.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
watching the GM eagle-eyed for "tells" just seems like a way to breed a toxic dynamic at the table.

One doesn't need to specifically look for bluffs, eagle-eyed or otherwise, in order to eventually catch on to them. And remember, I'm 100% in favor of DM fudging IF THE PARTICIPANTS AGREE. It's the DMs saying "I do it because they'll never catch me!" that I'm mostly addressing -- and I'm of the opinion that actively doing something you've promised not to do has pretty much already created a toxic dynamic, even if it's not immediately obvious.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Since I don't know about you, but I will always be able to come up with another explanation than "the GM is cheating." I mean, this is how empirical reasoning works: theory is always underdetermined by evidence; we simply use non-empirical tools (aesthetics, pragmatism, parsimony, etc.) once we've winnowed down the competing theories enough.

That seems like a lot of effort to go to in order to weasel out of it when you're caught doing something you'd promised not to do? Remember, yet again, that players who are OK with the DM fudging won't need any of that. On the other hand, if you've promised not to fudge the dice and someone calls you on it, claiming "You can't prove it!" really isn't going to make them feel any better about it.

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