Fudging Dice

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MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture
Fudging Dice

Just about the strangest argument I have heard in defense of this practice came from a player who criticized my games for being too brutal. He said I have a screen for a reason: keeping the rolls secret gives me the discretion to change them if I like, and not doing so is unfair (somehow) to the players. I replied that if players caught wind of me doing that, all credibility goes out the window; and if I save one person's character by lying about the numbers, the next time someone else is in peril (and every time after that) I am stuck in a rut doing the same thing or, worse than having my integrity question, I will have the unfortunate reputation of playing favorites.

It was a weird conversation. He was just butthurt that I TPKed them with an avalanche.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

I'm not totally above fudging dice if I think it would lead to a more interesting outcome. I wouldn't do it just to save a character, but I might do it for some other reason that would advance a plotline.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

What Ed said. I'll fudge a die if doing so would lead to a result that's better for the game. Or if my miscalculation has put the PCs into a situation that is grossly unfair. Otherwise, I'm usually a straight shooter.

drumandfight
drumandfight's picture

Fixxxer wrote:

What Ed said. I'll fudge a die if doing so would lead to a result that's better for the game. Or if my miscalculation has put the PCs into a situation that is grossly unfair. Otherwise, I'm usually a straight shooter.

Same.

MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture

In that light, online dice rollers seem to be working at cross-purpose with what our ultimate job is as DMs, which is to tell a compelling story and make sure everyone is having a good time.

"Men are the only animals that devote themselves, day in and day out, to making one another unhappy. It is an art like any other. Its virtuosi are called altruists." - H.L. Mencken

Talanall
Talanall's picture

It's a fine balance between doing that via fudging, and doing it via the players' estimation that you are dealing fairly with them. I think both are valid, but if I have to do without one of them, I give up fudging. No contest.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

I'm generally in favor of letting the dice fall where they may, even to the detriment of my character. Newby knows that came up just the other day in a Deathwatch game. Now, in that case my character [b]should have died[/b], in part because of miscalculations the GM made about how much damage 'walking' in a hostile environment would incur over some dozen checks. But the game does have a 'fate' mechanic - I burned my fate point to be 'not dead' instead of letting the GM reduce the damage to a more 'appropriate level'.

If fudging is going to happen, it's important that I don't know about it. The 'good for the game' is a slippery slope. Saving a villain or a player might seem like a good thing - keeping the game where it is - but the game can develop in unexpected and more rewarding ways once you don't know what will happen. Ultimately, I think fudging die rolls is a failure on the part of the GM. The GM already controls all the bonuses and penalties on the die roll - they can stack the bonuses in favor of the result they think is most appropriate. If they DON'T do that, then maybe they shouldn't worry about what the roll will be. If they DO do that, and then still fudge the roll, maybe they shouldn't have been rolling to begin with.

Either you are open to a possibility that you aren't certain of and you roll, or you're not open to multiple possibilities and you choose. At that point rolling doesn't really make sense.

I will say that GAME SYSTEMS have flaws. Having a Space Marine - the elite of the elite, a genetically enhanced warrior die because he tripped over his own feet is a little insulting. The solution isn't to fudge the roll so the player didn't trip - the solution is to fix the game so that the paragon of warrior ability never risks death in that type of situation.

drumandfight
drumandfight's picture

Yeah, that's true. I wouldn't have handled that situation in that way. Rolling so many times to figure out a specific result will almost always end in the dice eventually giving you what you want. It's just the law of averages coming into play.

In that specific case, I might have had a series of toughness tests - say three per player - each increasing in difficulty with failure resulting in fatigue and critical failure (talking 4 DoF or more) resulting in HP loss. I think Heath realized a little too late that how he chose to run that got out of hand way quick.

Having said that, I have never intentionally fudged the dice to keep anyone alive specifically because I didn't want to see them die or something like that. When a system is flawed, like Brett said, it requires work to fix. And sometimes the fix might be worse than what was in place before. In cases like that when I have completely fucked something up, I usually come up with a compromise to keep things moving swiftly without derailing everything to the point of non-playability.