Fudging Rolls: Yea or Nay?


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Man. There is just so much going on here. I can't really keep track at this point.

Ryan Freire wrote:

If you're looking for every combat should be a nailbiter, might i suggest 4th ed L5R...?[/]Sure, this system is more inclined to more epic stories and combats. But I don't need to "fudge" dice rolls to further emphasize that.

If I were to alter a die result, it would most likely be more along the lines of helping a monster that's had a string of bad luck so the players feel some sort of risk more in line with what the average results would be.

Ryan Freire wrote:
citation needed

I said "in my experience." I'm talking about what I've seen and heard, out there in the wide world. It's my opinion. That is all.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yeah and im saying that i doubt you really pay that much attention to how often "the truth lies somewhere in the middle" and are fixating on a few times you remember it in order to make a rhetorical point about middle ground.

In my experience one person is correct and the other is flat out wrong far more often than both being kinda wrong with the truth lying in the middle somewhere.

Edit:

That said, this topic is entirely opinion based and the best this thread could ever have been is an informal poll of the segment of players who show up at this forum. There is no real right or wrong in a game as low stakes as pathfinder. That said, if im gming ima fudge when i feel itl make a more fun session, and if players don't like it they're welcome to find a new gm.


blahpers wrote:
I never said people who oppose my stance are "blithering morons" or "stupid and terrible people". Please stop unduly escalating the argument by misrepresenting me as unduly escalating the argument. It's disrespectful.

You are right, you never said those things. I apologize if if seemed like I was trying to put words in your mouth. Some of my comments were directed at the general phenomenon of debate and not at this situation.

But I will point out that, from what I've read on this thread, your comments have been the most apparently hostile. You have not been overtly insulting, but the subtext seemed fairly clear.
When you preemptively apologize for offense that may be given in the future, or for comments appearing ruder than they were intended to...it just comes across as angry and negative. Which certainly isn't what I partake in this hobby for.


Quixote wrote:
Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:

Which one is right?

As for the Golden Mean Fallacy: one side can be entirely wrong. One side can be entirely right.

Obviously the first is right. Which is more effective, though. I'd say in most low-stakes, armchair discussions, you make more (but still slow) progress by approaching people more in line with your second example. Though, of course, that's hardly a low-stakes situation.

And yes, one side can be right and one can be wrong.
But when both sides mean well and are composed of intelligent people, it gets a lot more compilated.

I mean, look at this thread. I think it's pretty clear that it's not so obviously cut and dry as some feel.

The problem with applying it here is that only one side is really an extreme: "Thou shalt not ever fudge."

There is no corresponding "Fudge everything, pay no attention to the dice" side. Other than as a strawman invoked by the first side.

Now, both sides may get overwrought and attack or insult each other, but if you look at the actual positions, it's hard for me to see any middle ground that isn't already essentially the second side's position.


Ryan Freire wrote:

Yeah and im saying that i doubt you really pay that much attention to how often "the truth lies somewhere in the middle" and are fixating on a few times you remember it in order to make a rhetorical point about middle ground.

In my experience one person is correct and the other is flat out wrong far more often than both being kinda wrong with the truth lying in the middle somewhere.

Oh, no way. It's something I pay rather close attention to; it's a rather big deal, to me.

Political issues are usually just so complicated that it's hard to know which direction is up.
And then there are social issues--domestic disputes and fights between kids at school--where everyone's so wrapped up in their own perspective that they can't even consider any truth outside of their own.

And this whole thread kind of strikes me as a little of both, really.


thejeff wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Quixote wrote:
blahpers wrote:
This probably sounds ruder than I intend it to, but that's a terrible pair of reasons to be convinced of something.

Well, that depends on how rude you intended it to be, I suppose.

And from my experience, most dicussions seem to devolve into two camps, each absolutely sure in their utter and compelte rightness and in the utter and complete wrongness of the other. The truth almost invariably lies somewhere in the middle. Anyone who claims that they hold the absolute correct answer in their hands and that their opponents offer nothing but foolishness of the highest order is almost always selling something.
This is a tempting technique, as using it makes one feel more enlightened than everybody else in the argument. Unfortunately, it is a terrible technique for actually arriving at the truth. Very often, one side in an argument really is completely right and the other really is completely wrong. To ignore that possibility because one or all sides in an argument don't present themselves with what you feel is the appropriate level of conviction--not too much, and not too little--is irrational at best.

And once that strategy becomes common, the most effective approach is to make your argument more extreme in the hopes that someone aiming for the middle will come closer to what you actually want. And to never give an inch, since that will shift the middle towards the other side.

That isn't exactly helpful towards rational discussion.

That is pretty much entirely irrelevant in this discussion. There is no "truth" to be found in this situation. This is a discussion of preferences and what sort of table you'd rather play with.

Could fudging rolls be used to take away player agency? I'm sure it could. I've played with a few railroad GMs and they don't usually bother fudging rolls. They'll just increase the DC or the attack bonus so high that their desired outcome is guaranteed with no fudging necessary.

On the flip side, if a GM is tailoring their encounters so the PCs have a roughly 95% chance of winning them, you'll probably end up with a lot of trivial encounters and fairly few PCs ever surviving to resurrection range. There are only so many times you can have the PCs knocked out and thrown in jail before it starts to get silly.

So what do you do? Keep the 95% success rate and just accept that many campaigns might TPK before they get off the ground? Increase the success rate to something like 99% and end up with almost entirely one-sided fights except for an occasional blue moon where RNG makes things dicey? I prefer giving some more challenging fights but moderating a bit if the dice start rolling highly abnormally such as back to back big crits in a single round.


thejeff wrote:

The problem with applying it here is that only one side is really an extreme: "Thou shalt not ever fudge."

There is no corresponding "Fudge everything, pay no attention to the dice" side. Other than as a strawman invoked by the first side...it's hard for me to see any middle ground that isn't already essentially the second side's position.

That is true.

I suppose the real debate here is more like "fudging is okay, sometimes" and "no, it's not." A good example of a shifting middle, maybe?

I mean. I'll tell people they're playing the game wrong. Yeah, I'm THAT effing guy. But here...it just feels fine, either way. As long as the "sometimes it's okay" camp knows what they're doing. That could be the real issue with that side; it takes considerably more know-how and subtly to alter the dice rolls than it does to just...not. Because there's significantly more at risk, personally, if you do than if you don't.
If you mess up fudging, people will get mad/lose interest/whatever. At you.
If the dice are brutal, they get mad/lose interest/whatever. In the game.


Use a screen and they'll either be the pedant gm book memorizing rules lawyer who's probably ruining the game for at least one other player at the table, or unaware.


Quixote wrote:
thejeff wrote:

The problem with applying it here is that only one side is really an extreme: "Thou shalt not ever fudge."

There is no corresponding "Fudge everything, pay no attention to the dice" side. Other than as a strawman invoked by the first side...it's hard for me to see any middle ground that isn't already essentially the second side's position.

That is true.

I suppose the real debate here is more like "fudging is okay, sometimes" and "no, it's not." A good example of a shifting middle, maybe?

If one considers something a transgression, letting it happen "sometimes" isn't moderation, it's the destruction of a principle.

Every time I come over to your house to play a game I can also bang your wife. Most of the time I don't. I'm only banging your wife sometimes, not that often at all really. We game twice weekly and I've banged her 5 times total in the last year, that's 95% of the time I could bang your wife but don't cus I'm moderate. Most of the time you get your way, I accept that and don't say I should always bang your wife, so I don't see why you would all get extreme and go say things like "Thou shalt not ever bang my wife".


Artificial 20 wrote:


If one considers something a transgression, letting it happen "sometimes" isn't moderation, it's the destruction of a principle.

Every time I come over to your house to play a game I can also bang your wife. Most of the time I don't. I'm only banging your wife sometimes, not that often at all really. We game twice weekly and I've banged her 5 times total in the last year, that's 95% of the time I could bang your wife but don't cus I'm moderate. Most of the time you get your way, I accept that and don't say I should always bang your wife, so I don't see why you would all get extreme and go say things like "Thou shalt not ever bang my wife".

An interesting analogy. A significantly better one in my opinion is something like speeding. Is going five miles an hour over the speed limit unacceptable? I'm sure some people think so. But in fact just about everyone I know would be rather annoyed to drive with me if I stayed exactly at the speed limit at all times.

The question there is what do people find acceptable? Going 5 over? 10? What the acceptable range is will vary from person to person. But there is quite a lot of variance. Not something like cheating which is overwhelmingly 0% tolerance.

This is an example of one of those extreme arguments that doesn't really do much to convey a convincing point.


Artificial 20 wrote:
Quixote wrote:
thejeff wrote:

The problem with applying it here is that only one side is really an extreme: "Thou shalt not ever fudge."

There is no corresponding "Fudge everything, pay no attention to the dice" side. Other than as a strawman invoked by the first side...it's hard for me to see any middle ground that isn't already essentially the second side's position.

That is true.

I suppose the real debate here is more like "fudging is okay, sometimes" and "no, it's not." A good example of a shifting middle, maybe?

If one considers something a transgression, letting it happen "sometimes" isn't moderation, it's the destruction of a principle.

Every time I come over to your house to play a game I can also bang your wife. Most of the time I don't. I'm only banging your wife sometimes, not that often at all really. We game twice weekly and I've banged her 5 times total in the last year, that's 95% of the time I could bang your wife but don't cus I'm moderate. Most of the time you get your way, I accept that and don't say I should always bang your wife, so I don't see why you would all get extreme and go say things like "Thou shalt not ever bang my wife".

But that's not quite my point. Or maybe it's illustrating it? Not sure.

You've staked out an extreme position and you won't be happy with any compromise. Fine. But Quixote was talking about the middle ground between the extremes generally being the right choice and I'm saying there really isn't any middle between "Never!" and "Use sparingly" which isn't just "use sparingly".


Ryan Freire wrote:
Use a screen and they'll either be the pedant gm book memorizing rules lawyer who's probably ruining the game for at least one other player at the table, or unaware.

Or they can just understand probability and know that the chance that the GM is being a railroading, cheating, nether-orifice is above 95%.

See, anyone can describe people with differing opinions in derogatory terms.


thorin001 wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Use a screen and they'll either be the pedant gm book memorizing rules lawyer who's probably ruining the game for at least one other player at the table, or unaware.

Or they can just understand probability and know that the chance that the GM is being a railroading, cheating, nether-orifice is above 95%.

See, anyone can describe people with differing opinions in derogatory terms.

Thats my point. The only way crunching probability works is if you've memorized, or looked up the stats of what you are fighting and tracked hits and misses. Players like that are table poison.


thejeff wrote:
Quixote wrote:
Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:

Which one is right?

As for the Golden Mean Fallacy: one side can be entirely wrong. One side can be entirely right.

Obviously the first is right. Which is more effective, though. I'd say in most low-stakes, armchair discussions, you make more (but still slow) progress by approaching people more in line with your second example. Though, of course, that's hardly a low-stakes situation.

And yes, one side can be right and one can be wrong.
But when both sides mean well and are composed of intelligent people, it gets a lot more compilated.

I mean, look at this thread. I think it's pretty clear that it's not so obviously cut and dry as some feel.

The problem with applying it here is that only one side is really an extreme: "Thou shalt not ever fudge."

There is no corresponding "Fudge everything, pay no attention to the dice" side. Other than as a strawman invoked by the first side.

Now, both sides may get overwrought and attack or insult each other, but if you look at the actual positions, it's hard for me to see any middle ground that isn't already essentially the second side's position.

You're missing the point. We aren't attacking Quixote's position on fudging, we are attacking the assertions that 'level-headed' arguments are a better choice to side with over vehement ones with no regard to actual content, and that the truth nearly always lies in between two positions.


The black coffee (no roll fudging) vs coffee w/ cream & sugar (yes roll fudging) debate would be a better analogy than those mentioned earlier.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
we are attacking the assertions that 'level-headed' arguments are a better choice to side with over vehement ones with no regard to actual content, and that the truth nearly always lies in between two positions.

I said that the hostility on one side of the fence had pushed me to the other, even though in practice I belong to the first. In all honesty, I believe that the second camp has an overall stronger argument. My comment was mainly to point out that things seemed rather disproportionately heated, and almost entirely on one side. It was hardly meant as a serious philosophical declaration, but there you have it.

And if you have a problem with the phrase "the truth NEARLY always lies SOMEWHERE in between two"...I don't know how to speak more mildly and tentatively. Especially given that I preceded it with "IN MY EXPERIENCE." I'm not writing a thesis for my theory on the ethics of compromise, here. I'm sharing an opinion based on what I've seen in the world. I see what a lot of people are saying and agree; using the golden mean fallacy as a way to determine truth without regard to the arguments themselves is. Well. A fallacy, obviously. But as one of many tools to help determine truth, I think it's a good thing to keep in mind. Most camps will stoop to distressingly low levels in order to drag you over to their side. Because, unfortunately, most people seem less concerned with the truth and more concerned with winning.
And if I not only want to pursue truth, but maybe, just maybe, make actual progress towards it, being able to calmly look through each side's arguments and find points I agree with never hurts.

And as a side note, I was just looking over the thread when I noticed some comments about ending a combat without dice rolls, just using narrative when the encounter is no longer dramatic/tense/interesting, and how that is fine as long as your players know that's the kind of game you're running.
I'd take that considerably further. I think that in those situations, you HAVE to do that, or your game is no where near as good as it could be. Mopping up the last few zombies isn't exciting or rewarding. It's filling out forms at the DMV.


Fudging should be avoided at all costs IMO....

Its far better to modify monster behaviour as a way of preventing PC deaths.... a BBEG wastes a round laughing at the PCs inadequacy, a monster runs instead of fights... etc

Anytime I've GMd Ive always rolled in the open and without exception my players appreciated it. I once had a PC die on Session 2 due to unforseen crit and the player didnt bat an eyelid... took it straight on the chin. And show me a PC who doesn't like the glory of the occasional 1 shotting of a bad guy?

Dice fudging (aka guided story telling) is a complete waste of time and IMO robs the entire thing of excitement. With rolling in the open, the players start operating far more tactically, and thus realistically, in my experience. The only exception I make is that I roll certain monster skill checks behind screen, and even then the rolls aren't fudged.

As a player, I dont do tables with GMs who only roll behind screen.


doc roc wrote:

Fudging should be avoided at all costs IMO....

Its far better to modify monster behaviour as a way of preventing PC deaths.... a BBEG wastes a round laughing at the PCs inadequacy, a monster runs instead of fights... etc

Anytime I've GMd Ive always rolled in the open and without exception my players appreciated it. I once had a PC die on Session 2 due to unforseen crit and the player didnt bat an eyelid... took it straight on the chin. And show me a PC who doesn't like the glory of the occasional 1 shotting of a bad guy?

Dice fudging (aka guided story telling) is a complete waste of time and IMO robs the entire thing of excitement. With rolling in the open, the players start operating far more tactically, and thus realistically, in my experience. The only exception I make is that I roll certain monster skill checks behind screen, and even then the rolls aren't fudged.

As a player, I dont do tables with GMs who only roll behind screen.

Other than being considerably less subtle this strikes me as largely a semantic difference. The end goal of avoiding a campaign derail due to bad RNG is the same. Although if I saw a BBEG drop the fighter with a lucky crit and then spend a round laughing/monologue I'd get a hearty chuckle and an eyeroll out of the deal. At least if the villain had previously appeared dangerous and intelligent. If I knew going in we would be in disney villain realm it would be forgivable.

Not to mention if the enemy is mindless like the treasure golem I mentioned killing my PC earlier with a lucky crit, it really makes 0 sense for it to suddenly behave irrationally just because the combat circumstances are changed.

Guided-story-telling(which you equate to dice fudging, despite not even remotely necessarily being the same thing) wouldn't be to my taste, but if that is what your group wants I don't see any problem with it. You are engaging in a version of it yourself with your solution while simultaneously telling a less compelling story in my opinion.

Any player is going to enjoy the thrill of an epic crit to take out a bad guy. But the fact is that the more RNG you include in your games the less favorable it becomes for the PCs. An example would be something like: https://paizo.com/threads/rzs2o2uj?202020-rule

I'm sure it makes for a rare and exciting moment occasionally, but enemies are only built for 1 encounter typically. If they get some bad RNG the players might get an easier encounter than planned, but no real harm done. The PCs however have to more or less win every single encounter in a campaign. Any lost encounter could be the last one of a campaign.

I have a python script I made to compare character stats and see which would win in a fight. It helps me dial in the difficulty to a nice degree for the party. But the fact is if you make it so the PCs have a 95% chance of winning every encounter you'll end up with 90% boring fights, 5% interesting combats, and 5% potential TPKs with very few campaigns making it past level 6. Lowering the difficulty on average leads to even more boring fights and honestly isn't a very great solution in my opinion.

That doesn't mean you coddle the PCs. If they charge into a bandit camp without a plan and get slaughtered by the 20 NPCs stationed there... well it is a valuable learning experience. If they get rocked because you put an encounter in there with a 98% chance the PCs would win and they happen to come upon that 2%. Maybe you dial back the enemy a bit. Maybe the max damage crit the thug just hit for the 3rd time in a row becomes a regular hit.


This is an opinion thing. There is no universal right answer, just right for you. And as I've said previously in this thread, right for you with that GM. One I absolutely trust and am happy to let fudge in that I'd know he has a good reason. The other I would much rather see the rolls so I can ask how that monster has a +26 to attack at level 6 (it was the AC). I trust that he has our best interests in mind, I just don't trust that he knows the rules that well. And fudging when you don't fully understand the rules can end up setting bad precedents and unbalancing the game or worse, making fudging the default answer to any problem.

As for the assertion that only pedantic rules lawyers will notice fudging, GMs are also pretty good at finding it out. I can't tell you what the attack bonus of a Goblin is. I can tell you if we're fighting six of them at level 6 then they're either a complete cakewalk or have an attack bonus somewhere around +6-8. More rolls also means it's easier to spot when the rolls aren't really random. Then there's the GMs that are just terrible poker players. Roll, make a disappointed face, ask for your AC, tell you it hit. Some even skip asking for AC even though they've never seen your sheet and it's the first battle.

What (hopefully) everyone can agree with is that the players and GM need to agree on how they want to run these things.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:

This is an opinion thing. There is no universal right answer, just right for you. And as I've said previously in this thread, right for you with that GM. One I absolutely trust and am happy to let fudge in that I'd know he has a good reason. The other I would much rather see the rolls so I can ask how that monster has a +26 to attack at level 6 (it was the AC). I trust that he has our best interests in mind, I just don't trust that he knows the rules that well. And fudging when you don't fully understand the rules can end up setting bad precedents and unbalancing the game or worse, making fudging the default answer to any problem.

As for the assertion that only pedantic rules lawyers will notice fudging, GMs are also pretty good at finding it out. I can't tell you what the attack bonus of a Goblin is. I can tell you if we're fighting six of them at level 6 then they're either a complete cakewalk or have an attack bonus somewhere around +6-8. More rolls also means it's easier to spot when the rolls aren't really random. Then there's the GMs that are just terrible poker players. Roll, make a disappointed face, ask for your AC, tell you it hit. Some even skip asking for AC even though they've never seen your sheet and it's the first battle.

What (hopefully) everyone can agree with is that the players and GM need to agree on how they want to run these things.

If I don't ask the AC, it might just be because I know from the roll it'll hit anything you've got. Even as a player I sometimes don't bother with the math. :)

But yeah, some aren't good at it, but that's not the same as "It's always obvious". Most of those who fudge don't fudge entire combats, so it's not like you can tell "the rolls aren't really random". Often you're just dialing back weird dice luck to something closer to what would be expected. The six goblins just rolled 3 20s in that round? Nah, one of them was really a crit, the others just normal hits.

Of course, I've also played with a GM who barely even bothered tracking hit points in some games, just ran the game off dramatic instincts. Worked well for her, since her instincts were damn good. One of the best GMs I've played with, even if the combats weren't necessarily the high points.


Ryan Freire wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Use a screen and they'll either be the pedant gm book memorizing rules lawyer who's probably ruining the game for at least one other player at the table, or unaware.

Or they can just understand probability and know that the chance that the GM is being a railroading, cheating, nether-orifice is above 95%.

See, anyone can describe people with differing opinions in derogatory terms.

Thats my point. The only way crunching probability works is if you've memorized, or looked up the stats of what you are fighting and tracked hits and misses. Players like that are table poison.

But your point is wrong. If my AC is 42 and I have been critted 3 times in a row I don't need to know the stats of the critter I am fighting to know that something is not kosher. If the DC for my saves is 36 and not one save in 6 tries has failed I do not need to know the stats of the critters to know that the gods of probability have been defied. If my AC is 10 and all of the bad guys miraculously miss me when I am at 1 hp I do not need to know the stats of the bad guys to notice something is seriously amiss.

But you seem to have completely missed my point in your zeal to be wrong.


No you're just acting like you roll enough dice in a session to get a proper bellcurve distribution. Which you don't.

If your AC is 42 and youve been critted 3 times in a row, your gm may be on a hot streak, or the monster may have a higher to hit than you think it does.

If the DC for your saves is 36 and not one save in 6 tries has failed, your dm may be on a hot streak, or there may be buff bonuses to save that you aren't aware of.

But its the knee jerk response of table poison to flip out because probability isn't what they think it should be.


That's why it's better if you can roll openly. If you roll behind a screen, it's a natural assumption that anything statistically unusual is probably the GM changing the numbers - isn't that the primary reason for them to use a screen in the first place?

At any given table, there's likely to be at least one person who vehemently hates the possibility of fudging, so you're usually going to be spoiling at least one person's fun by hiding your rolls.


thorin001 wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Use a screen and they'll either be the pedant gm book memorizing rules lawyer who's probably ruining the game for at least one other player at the table, or unaware.

Or they can just understand probability and know that the chance that the GM is being a railroading, cheating, nether-orifice is above 95%.

See, anyone can describe people with differing opinions in derogatory terms.

Thats my point. The only way crunching probability works is if you've memorized, or looked up the stats of what you are fighting and tracked hits and misses. Players like that are table poison.

But your point is wrong. If my AC is 42 and I have been critted 3 times in a row I don't need to know the stats of the critter I am fighting to know that something is not kosher. If the DC for my saves is 36 and not one save in 6 tries has failed I do not need to know the stats of the critters to know that the gods of probability have been defied. If my AC is 10 and all of the bad guys miraculously miss me when I am at 1 hp I do not need to know the stats of the bad guys to notice something is seriously amiss.

But you seem to have completely missed my point in your zeal to be wrong.

More importantly, you're assuming that the GM is fudging basically everything, essentially ignoring the dice. If your GM is that blatant, you'll probably notice, but that's not what anyone in the fudging camp here suggests.

Far more likely, based on that advice, that the GM makes one of those crits a normal hit or just blocks a hit when you're at 1hp to give you a chance to heal or withdraw - push your "luck" and you'll go down.

The more often, the more blatant, the easier it is to notice and the advice is don't do it often or be blatant about it.


Matthew Downie wrote:


At any given table, there's likely to be at least one person who vehemently hates the possibility of fudging, so you're usually going to be spoiling at least one person's fun by hiding your rolls.

That person is welcome to find other GMS.


Normally DMs at our table are asked to not fudge and roll openly. But if the DM insists on fudging and does it behind a screen, than I'll just whip out my own screen and do the same (as a player, if that wasn't clear).


Anarchy_Kanya wrote:
Normally DMs at our table are asked to not fudge and roll openly. But if the DM insists on fudging and does it behind a screen, than I'll just whip out my own screen and do the same (as a player, if that wasn't clear).

Must have missed the "player screen"

You have a link to the pathfinder player screen?


DRD1812 wrote:

My attitude tends to be that "the screen is there for a reason," but I can't shake the feeling that I'm somehow cheapening the game when I alter result behind the screen. What is the community's attitude on this one? Are the dice sacred, is it the GM's prerogative, or is the answer "only fudge the roll sometimes in these specific circumstances?"

Comic for illustrative purposes.

My general rule is to play the die as it lies. Sometimes that means your monsters get ganked in one round, ruining your encounter, sometimes it means a character dies, sometimes it's TPK.

Overall, the PC's are the heroes, and I don't want to demoralize the party battle after battle. If the guys are getting beat up, I may change the encounter so it's not as difficult. That usually involves reducing enemies, or making them less challenging in some way.

I'm not opposed to occasionally fudging a die roll or two to make an encounter work better, so it's more exciting for the PC's or they survive the encounter and feel like it's a real accomplishment.


thejeff wrote:
But yeah, some aren't good at it, but that's not the same as "It's always obvious". Most of those who fudge don't fudge entire combats, so it's not like you can tell "the rolls aren't really random". Often you're just dialing back weird dice luck to something closer to what would be expected. The six goblins just rolled 3 20s in that round? Nah, one of them was really a crit, the others just normal hits.
That's a nice ideal. Three posts later:
Matthew Downie wrote:
That's why it's better if you can roll openly. If you roll behind a screen, it's a natural assumption that anything statistically unusual is probably the GM changing the numbers - isn't that the primary reason for them to use a screen in the first place?

Here's some reality. You are right, not all fudging is caught. But not all "catches" are fudging either. And anything that looks like it's not random to the player is going to be labeled fudging by someone looking for it.

And in the nicest way, people are really bad at understanding probability. Randomness to them means the results keep changing. You even allude to that yourself by talking about "dialing back dice luck". But what happens if the goblins all roll above 13 next round (or whatever they need to hit)? Do you make a few of them misses so the goblins don't all hit? Because otherwise the players will suspect you changed the dice, even though you didn't that round.

This is why I personally roll in the open. I am not willing to commit to continuously altering dice rolls so that players think it's random in defiance of actual randomness. There's a thousand other tools on the GM side during battle (target priority, spell choice, HP values) and outside of battle (healing/resurrection for quests, provided loot) that changing the actual dice rolls just doesn't seem worth it.


People that are saying a GM should never fudge seem to be trying to say that when a GM fudges a roll it's usually in the GMs favour rather than help the players.

So I have a new question!

If your opinion is that a GM should never fudge are you assuming that fudging GMs are usually doing it to hit the players more/have monsters succeed on saves more often?
Or do you think that when a GM fudges a roll they're usually pretending to roll less so that when they're on a hot streak the monsters aren't going to kill the PCs?

People that think it's okay to occasionally fudge a roll: Do you think it's okay to fudge to the detriment of the players or do you just mean it's okay to occasionally fudge to help the players a little if they're not doing so well/you keep rolling really high/you designed a fight that's harder than you expected?


Warped Savant wrote:

People that are saying a GM should never fudge seem to be trying to say that when a GM fudges a roll it's usually in the GMs favour rather than help the players.

So I have a new question!

If your opinion is that a GM should never fudge are you assuming that fudging GMs are usually doing it to hit the players more/have monsters succeed on saves more often?
Or do you think that when a GM fudges a roll they're usually pretending to roll less so that when they're on a hot streak the monsters aren't going to kill the PCs?

People that think it's okay to occasionally fudge a roll: Do you think it's okay to fudge to the detriment of the players or do you just mean it's okay to occasionally fudge to help the players a little if they're not doing so well/you keep rolling really high/you designed a fight that's harder than you expected?

I would say it's never okay to fudge a roll to the detriment of the players. Only for their benefit.

Normally, that's going to be the same as to the benefit of the PCs, but I think it's an important distinction, since it's not the GM vs the Players and anything the GM does should be aimed at be better for the players, even when it's screwing their characters over.

That said, from what I've seen in my personal experience and from what I've seen people advocate for here, it's 95+% helping the PCs. Generally clamping down on hot dice runs or misjudged encounters. The only common exception would be something like a really bad save that shuts down a climatic encounter at the start and I'd consider that pretty iffy. Use sparingly.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:
thejeff wrote:
But yeah, some aren't good at it, but that's not the same as "It's always obvious". Most of those who fudge don't fudge entire combats, so it's not like you can tell "the rolls aren't really random". Often you're just dialing back weird dice luck to something closer to what would be expected. The six goblins just rolled 3 20s in that round? Nah, one of them was really a crit, the others just normal hits.
That's a nice ideal. Three posts later:
Matthew Downie wrote:
That's why it's better if you can roll openly. If you roll behind a screen, it's a natural assumption that anything statistically unusual is probably the GM changing the numbers - isn't that the primary reason for them to use a screen in the first place?

Here's some reality. You are right, not all fudging is caught. But not all "catches" are fudging either. And anything that looks like it's not random to the player is going to be labeled fudging by someone looking for it.

And in the nicest way, people are really bad at understanding probability. Randomness to them means the results keep changing. You even allude to that yourself by talking about "dialing back dice luck". But what happens if the goblins all roll above 13 next round (or whatever they need to hit)? Do you make a few of them misses so the goblins don't all hit? Because otherwise the players will suspect you changed the dice, even though you didn't that round.

This is why I personally roll in the open. I am not willing to commit to continuously altering dice rolls so that players think it's random in defiance of actual randomness. There's a thousand other tools on the GM side during battle (target priority, spell choice, HP values) and outside of battle (healing/resurrection for quests, provided loot) that changing the actual dice rolls just doesn't seem worth it.

Yeah, I guess some people will assume that any use of a screen means everything is cheating. Not much I can do about that. I'm certainly not going to change rolls to show I'm not changing rolls.

You underestimate what I'd consider a problem for dice luck. All rolling over 13? Whatever. I make a joke about my dice being hot and move on. I described that as turning multiple 20s into just one crit and the rest hits.


I've had situations where a player comes up with a great plan, but the dice destroy it, time and time again, all the while rewarding something pointless, or even utterly foolish.

That's when I'll fudge, in a player's favor. Great plans when the dice are relentlessly against you makes a disappointing game.

I will also admit to occasionally assuming a success for NPCs - not directly against the party, but if the mad slasher fails on his first kill attempt, it doesn't make for much of a murder mystery.


thejeff wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Use a screen and they'll either be the pedant gm book memorizing rules lawyer who's probably ruining the game for at least one other player at the table, or unaware.

Or they can just understand probability and know that the chance that the GM is being a railroading, cheating, nether-orifice is above 95%.

See, anyone can describe people with differing opinions in derogatory terms.

Thats my point. The only way crunching probability works is if you've memorized, or looked up the stats of what you are fighting and tracked hits and misses. Players like that are table poison.

But your point is wrong. If my AC is 42 and I have been critted 3 times in a row I don't need to know the stats of the critter I am fighting to know that something is not kosher. If the DC for my saves is 36 and not one save in 6 tries has failed I do not need to know the stats of the critters to know that the gods of probability have been defied. If my AC is 10 and all of the bad guys miraculously miss me when I am at 1 hp I do not need to know the stats of the bad guys to notice something is seriously amiss.

But you seem to have completely missed my point in your zeal to be wrong.

More importantly, you're assuming that the GM is fudging basically everything, essentially ignoring the dice. If your GM is that blatant, you'll probably notice, but that's not what anyone in the fudging camp here suggests.

Far more likely, based on that advice, that the GM makes one of those crits a normal hit or just blocks a hit when you're at 1hp to give you a chance to heal or withdraw - push your "luck" and you'll go down.

The more often, the more blatant, the easier it is to notice and the advice is don't do it often or be blatant about it.

The advice is don't do it at all if the table is not okay with it.

If the table is cool with the occasional fudge then your advice is sound.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Anarchy_Kanya wrote:
Normally DMs at our table are asked to not fudge and roll openly. But if the DM insists on fudging and does it behind a screen, than I'll just whip out my own screen and do the same (as a player, if that wasn't clear).

Must have missed the "player screen"

You have a link to the pathfinder player screen?

I'm using my DM screen, of course, and if I don't have it with me, I improvise with whatever's at hand, like a book.


thorin001 wrote:
thejeff wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Use a screen and they'll either be the pedant gm book memorizing rules lawyer who's probably ruining the game for at least one other player at the table, or unaware.

Or they can just understand probability and know that the chance that the GM is being a railroading, cheating, nether-orifice is above 95%.

See, anyone can describe people with differing opinions in derogatory terms.

Thats my point. The only way crunching probability works is if you've memorized, or looked up the stats of what you are fighting and tracked hits and misses. Players like that are table poison.

But your point is wrong. If my AC is 42 and I have been critted 3 times in a row I don't need to know the stats of the critter I am fighting to know that something is not kosher. If the DC for my saves is 36 and not one save in 6 tries has failed I do not need to know the stats of the critters to know that the gods of probability have been defied. If my AC is 10 and all of the bad guys miraculously miss me when I am at 1 hp I do not need to know the stats of the bad guys to notice something is seriously amiss.

But you seem to have completely missed my point in your zeal to be wrong.

More importantly, you're assuming that the GM is fudging basically everything, essentially ignoring the dice. If your GM is that blatant, you'll probably notice, but that's not what anyone in the fudging camp here suggests.

Far more likely, based on that advice, that the GM makes one of those crits a normal hit or just blocks a hit when you're at 1hp to give you a chance to heal or withdraw - push your "luck" and you'll go down.

The more often, the more blatant, the easier it is to notice and the advice is don't do it often or be blatant about it.

The advice is don't do it at all if the table is not okay with it.

If the table is cool with the occasional fudge then your advice is sound.

And my point is that if "the table" doesn't like it they can go find a different GM. Tables rarely have trouble finding players..finding GMs is more problematic.


Better no GM than bad GM.


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Artificial 20 wrote:
Better no GM than bad GM.

While I agree with that, fudging...or not fudging...doesn't make the difference, by itself.


EldonGuyre wrote:
Artificial 20 wrote:
Better no GM than bad GM.
While I agree with that, fudging...or not fudging...doesn't make the difference, by itself.

That's sort of the contention at hand.

It's pretty clear that for some people it does. And for a subset of those simply not being sure because they can't see the rolls will be enough.


thejeff wrote:
EldonGuyre wrote:
Artificial 20 wrote:
Better no GM than bad GM.
While I agree with that, fudging...or not fudging...doesn't make the difference, by itself.

That's sort of the contention at hand.

It's pretty clear that for some people it does. And for a subset of those simply not being sure because they can't see the rolls will be enough.

My point here is simply that it varies by table. Any cry of "You're doing it wrong!" is simply uncalled for.


My point is that the actual rulebook says its fair play for the gm.

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