To Fudge or Not To Fudge

39 posts / 0 new
Last post
This was brought up in the 'whats a player to do' forum as someone was complaining about the way his DM rolls his dice.  Fudging isn't even a topic I really ever thought about, but apparently everyone has an opnion on the matter.  It made me curious what DM's thoughts on the matter were.

Do you Fudge?  Do your players know you fudge (hide the rolls and such)? How do you keep it balanced?

I never really thought about it too much but I do fudge occassionally.  I will do it under some circumstances, those usually being to cast surprise over them, or for a plot/rp setup.  Its not something I do often.  Tabletop wise I will roll behind a DM screen, not always telling them why I am rolling.  Online it is much harder to fudge, and when they notice I assured them I have an rp reason for it.  Happily I have a good crowd and they trust me when I do that.  Like I said, it doesn't happen often.   
I don't fudge die rolls; every die roll when I'm running is made in plain sight of at least one other player.  However, if a battle is starting to go a bit south, I'll fudge by having the opponents make poor tactical decisions, which I think is more entertaining than just changing a hit to a miss.

This is probably an overreaction from an old player-DM who would constantly cheat on his own die rolls, consistently rolling high as a player on everything, and always rolling low as a DM ... so, not only was he a cheating player, he was a total powderpuff of a DM.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I've acctually commited the cardinal sin of fudging against my player's on occasion. Ever since in one of our first sessions when the completly locked down a dragon at lvl 1 and in the following session defeted a lvl 8 ogre not by blowing up the cart full of explosive barrels he was carrying but just by burning him down with some very lucky rolls. I'll only do it  when im pretty sure they have the fight well wrapped up and just to add a little tension to a fight that had been fairly underwhelming up untill then.
I don't remember ever fudging dice rolls myself, but I reserve the right to do so in the name of keeping things fun and interesting for everyone involved.

I have fudged monster hitpoints before, mostly to eliminate monsters faster and to get the occasional fight that was running longer than I liked over with.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I do not fudge dice rolls. If there is something that I think should or should not happen, then it does or does not. Things that I think should happen are usually player ideas; I tend not to forego appropriate dice rolls when they involve something bad for the players. That is, I will set up bad things to happen, but if the party should have a chance to avoid those bad things I will give them that chance. On the other hand, sometimes I just think it would be more interesting for, say, an ambush to come out of nowhere, and then it does.

Things that I think should not happen are things like bad NPC reactions or missed clues. I don't like to leave those up to dice rolls, but if I do I'll stick by the roll.

I do not roll Perception checks or any other checks for the players. I'm a rotten liar and I trust them to roleplay appropriately and to enhance the experience with their ideas.

I do my best not to "throw" fights, but I also try not to make fights about killing the PCs. Whenever possible, I give the monsters an alternate goal, so that if things go bad for the PCs they still fail, but aren't killed.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I roll in the open and let the dice fall where they may. Some DMs do it as a stylistic approach as well. If your narrative and encounter/scene design are tight enough, you just don't need to.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

Here, Have Some Free Material From Me: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Dark Sun Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Generated D&D 5e PCs

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I have been known to fudge rolls to keep players alive. I no longer do that. I try to keep a game balanced on encounters now but if a player does something dangerous then they now know it could cost them dearly. I got tired of players doing things and banking on the fact I would let them live.
I recently switched to public rolls. But before that, on the rare occasion that I fudged, it tended to be in the monsters favor to make the fight more interesting. If the players need help, I usually do the same as Salla and have the monsters make sub-optimal choices.
I fudged once...It was the first fight of a new quest and I was rolling like crazy!!! ( Nothing under 15 ) I said to myself:"I can't kill my players!" but normaly, I don't, I'm not really lucky with my dice. In fact, I happened to roll three 1s in a row more than once...But when I crit...Everyone in the neighborhood hear me, I'm like "BANG!!!! CRIT!!! TAKE THAT!!! 60 HP!!!"
I'm playing: Abin Gadon, Halfling Bard Winston "Slurphnose", Gnome Sorcerer Pasiphaé, Minotaur Shaman Eglerion, Elf Ellyrian Reaver (Ranger) DMing: Le Trésor du Fluide (Treasure from the Fluid) Un Royaume d'une Grande Valeur (A Kingdom of Great Value) La Légende de Persitaa (Persitaa's Legend) Une Série de Petites Quêtes... (A serie of short quests) Playtesting: Caves of Chaos We're building the greatest adventure ever known to DnD players! Also playing Legend of the Five Rings and Warhammer Fantasy. Sébastien, Beloeil, Qc. I am Neutral Good and 32 years old.
I keep the rolls out of sight just to keep the focus on the roleplay. The group I used to play with could go from roleplay to hack and slash very quickly so I tried to control it as much as possible.

I revise my earlier post. I wasn't entirely honest.

I fudged a die roll once, back in college. It was an experimental time and to be honest, I really needed the money.

I look back on it now as a learning experience. I'm fine with it now.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

Here, Have Some Free Material From Me: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Dark Sun Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Generated D&D 5e PCs

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I revise my earlier post. I wasn't entirely honest.

I fudged a die roll once, back in college. It was an experimental time and to be honest, I really needed the money.

I look back on it now as a learning experience. I'm fine with it now.


Everyone does it in college...eventually.

I revise my earlier post. I wasn't entirely honest.

I fudged a die roll once, back in college. It was an experimental time and to be honest, I really needed the money.

I look back on it now as a learning experience. I'm fine with it now.


Deviant.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I often fudge rolls behind the screen - mainly to make monsters hit when they've rolled a miss, to keep the fight scary. Sometimes I'll reduce damage if the characters are all bloodied. I have no problem doing it and I think it makes a better experience for the players.
I never fudge the dice rolls. If you start messing with the dice scores what's the point of playing with dice at all. The amount of math and number crunching I have to do as DM is crazy. The least the players can do is except their fate when the dice are rolled.

I may change monster stats at the last second. Just before the monster attacks, if I feel it is to powerful for the players current condition, I'll lower the monsters AC or damage score by a few points.


A DM should always remain impartial, even if his most interesting plot point goes undiscovered.

Just in case I failed to mention; I am playing D&D 3.5e.
I think a lot depends on the group. 

Some players really look forward to winning the dice-game element of a role-playing game and feel cheated if the dice get fudged against or for them (and perhaps rightly so), while others don't mind so much because other elements of an RPG appeal to them far more, and sometimes the "tyranny" of the dice can interfere with what they want (hanging out with friends, acting in character, exploration, strategy and organization, storytelling, escaping from the limitations of real life for a little while....)

I think it's fair for players to know the DM's policy on fudging dice before the game starts, and vital for the DM to stick with that policy in a consistent way after it is established.  So, it's probably best to explicitly state or negotiate your position on fudging as part of the game's social contract before character creation, so that there are no unspoken rules about it and fewer hidden problems that might surface about it to cause problems after the game has started.

For the players' part, they may prefer a different mechanism for saving them from bad dice rolls, as an alternative to dice-fudging:  for example, "Fate" chips or tokens, that can be passed out as a reward for good role-playing or for reaching story milestones, might be explicitly spent by the group to re-roll a bad dice roll.  That way, it's not a matter of the DM "cheating" on their behalf, but rather a house-rule with a predictable mechanic that the players are in some control of.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
After ~20 years of rolling behind the screen I started rolling in the open earlier this year - wish I'd done it years ago.

The thing about rolling behind the screen is that players know that you're going to fudge rolls every now and then and end up assuming you're doing it far more than you actually are.  You roll a lot of dice as a DM - often more than everyone else at the table put together - and a freakish run of rolls tends to happen on a fairly regular basis.  It helps player engagement if they see those rolls instead of thinking that you're taking it easy on them/picking on them.  As other posters have mentioned, there are plenty of other ways to fudge if you need to.

Having said all that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a DM deciding to roll behind the screen/fudge rolls.  Like many aspects of D&D there is no one right way to play - it's all down to the style of the DM.

 
Do you Fudge?

No. Although many of the D&D writers tell DM's to feel free to fudge, I personally dislike doing so myself, and I don't think it's needed in 4e.

How do you keep it balanced?

D&D is pretty balanced as is. It's darn hard to actually kill a PC (and it's easy to bring him back if you do). And if the players are finding an encounter too easy, well... an occasional easy win is fine. It just means that it is time to start increasing the average level of the encounters.

Sure. Anything that causes the players to cheer, laugh, high five, shout, get nervous, or otherwise enjoy their time is fair game.
3.x Faithful.
I fudged dice rolls before.  But about 15 years ago I stopped fudging dice rolls.  I soon started making all dice rolls in the open.  It was a matter of Dm style.  I wanted to be able to narrate the dice rolls as the fell.  I was into freestyle rap, surfing, improv comedy, activities that required one to think on thier feet.  At the time I called it freestyle Dm.  I would make monster cards, i did a lot of custom monsters then, let the players randomly pick them and basically Dm by the seat of my pants.  When I gave up fudging dice rolls, it only made sense to throw the dice in front of the Dm screen for all to see. 

After 15 years I am real comfortable developing a narrative with out fudging the dice.  Although now I enjoy developing more focused campaigns.  I still enjoy the unsuspecting twists and turns with 4-8 other narrators and the randomness generated with dice rolls;  I am a firm believer in role play the roll play. 

As a player I am fine with a dm that fudges dice rolls.  Fudge or no fudge, neither define a good Dm. 
I never fudge the dice rolls. If you start messing with the dice scores what's the point of playing with dice at all. The amount of math and number crunching I have to do as DM is crazy. The least the players can do is except their fate when the dice are rolled.

All DM's fudge dice rolls - ALL.  The "controversy" really only arises in regards to fudging dice rolls FOR COMBAT.  Anywhere the rules provide for a die roll to take place but the DM foregoes a die roll because they desire a specific outcome, the DM is fudging.  Anywhere a die roll is altered or ignored by the DM, whether it's in combat or not, the DM is fudging.  Deviation at any time in any way from the rules is technically fudging things.  Once upon a time the rules and the people who wrote those rules actually said that deviating from the rules is to be expected because the rules do not encompass absolutely all possible situations when playing a game.  It is actually part of the JOB of the DM to decide when the rules should apply and when they shouldn't.   This extends beyond the game in general to combat rolls.  Over the years as the rules have actually improved DM fudging of rules has been less necessary but it has never and will never be eliminated completely because the rules will never be perfect and absolutely comprehensive.

I may change monster stats at the last second. Just before the monster attacks, if I feel it is to powerful for the players current condition, I'll lower the monsters AC or damage score by a few points.

Then you are fudging just as much as if you were fudging the die rolls themselves.  There's no real difference between altering a monsters stats to suit yourself and altering your die rolls to suit yourself.  Your goal is the same.  Don't kid yourself that combat die rolls are sacred while you freely extemporize what effect those die rolls are going to have anyway.

A DM should always remain impartial, even if his most interesting plot point goes undiscovered.

The DM is the most partisan participant at the table!  When you become the DM you are taking it upon yourself to create the game world, the adventures, the rules themselves in order to provide everyone at the table (himself included) an enjoyable experience.  A DM who places impartiality above all is actually disregarding to one degree or another the potential for greater enjoyment of the game.  Now that doesn't mean that all DM's must always fudge all combat die rolls.  It means that fudging die rolls is a tool that DM's possess.  It doesn't mean that choosing never to use that tool is necessarily wrong either.  It also doesn't mean that fudging die rolls is always right - just because the DM CAN do it doesn't mean it's the wise thing to do.  What would be wrong is to suggest that any DM who EVER fudges die rolls is somehow out of line.  For the same reason that a DM can decide better than the dice when an encounter should even take place, or what the monsters will choose to do he CAN take that principle down to the point of deciding that an individual roll hits or misses, or precisely how many points of damage it does, or that an NPC saving throw succeeds or fails, etc.

Believe it or not there ARE "D&D" games out there (or were once upon a time) in which the DM doesn't even roll dice for combat - they simply dictate it as they see fit based on the principles described above.  Now that sort of thing takes a DM who is highly creative, but also one who is not so much "impartial" but who is committed to a good time being had by all which is often going to mean telling "the rules" and the dice to take a hike when they interfere with that goal.

Fudging die rolls can be a DISASTER, no doubt about it.  When some DM's realize that they DO have this power but haven't had it explained to them why they should be cautious, use restraint in exercising it, even avoid it as much as possible, they will run amok with it.  That's not an issue with fuding itself (since as I indicated at the outset ALL DM's fudge things because that's their JOB) but DM's not being familiar enough with what their job really IS much less how best to go about it.

IF you can accomplish your goals as a DM WITHOUT fudging then by all means you should do so, but remember that the DM is not just a ENFORCER of rules without thought or care (which is the implication of saying the DM must be "impartial") but is the primary instigator and facilitator of enjoyment at the table.  The dice can easily get in the way of that job.  DM's can be fooled into thinking that they can let the dice do that job for them and I've seen too many begin using the dice as an excuse for outcomes that completely destroyed players enjoyment of the game.  Cruel impartiality and dispassionate enforcement is NOT always the best way to go.  Knowing your players and what THEY want out of the game is also important in this issue.  Some players DO want combat die rolls to be treated as untouchable because they derive thier enjoyment from the game entirely from crunching numbers and rely upon the statistical variations to provide them with valid feedback on their efforts.  Others would rather play diceless than have a good story or exciting combat brought to a screeching halt because of a few wild die rolls.

This issue is not just deciding whether fudging is good or bad because it isn't either one at all times.  It's more about when you do it, WHY you do it, and not just whether you do it at all. 

Old School: It ain't what you play - it's how you play it.

My 1E Project: http://home.earthlink.net/~duanevp/dnd/Building%20D&D/buildingdnd.htm

"Who says I can't?" "The man in the funny hat..."

I believe the appropriate  quote is "if you're all having fun, you're doing it right". So I see fudging as a game style choice.

However, I'm pretty anti-fudging in games I play and DM, since when I play I really hate the idea that my actions have reduced consequence, or are being judged by the DM, who might be protecting my character so the plot continues as planned, or over-compensating because my character build or tactics are good. I view dice fudging as a kind of rail-roading - the DM is ensuring the "right" thing happens independently of the game rules.

Often fudging means gaining short-term "fun" (i.e. an individiual combat is in the zone for challenge rating) and losing long-term relevence (i.e. the game becomes less under player control because the success/failure branching is controlled secretly by the DM fixing the results)

For those that do fudge, if you sometimes have monsters fail or fall over easily when they start winning, when do you decide not to do this and let the dice have control of the result - what criteria apply? And same question for thsoe that fudge the other way - when do you decide to just let the players have an easy win, and benefit from better surges etc in the next battle.

I fudge like a student chef working on the fudge section of his course. However, I fudge with an eye t make the game a cool action adventure, or Discworld novel, or any cool stuff.
I roll in the open both in my Tabletop game and on the D&D Virtual Table.

And as a Player, i prefer when a DM do too.

This even if the dice are  [sblock= too cold]

Image 

[sblock=Or too hot]

Hot Dice...Cold Table

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

If I didn't fudge the odd die roll my party would be dead.  I roll so many dice and I roll a fair number of criticals.  If I plan a difficult encounter it doesn't take too many die rolls in my favor to drop the party to dead.  Overall, I probably fudge less than 2% of my die rolls, but when you roll a LOT of dice, it turns into a decent number.

Some rolls have to happen behind a screen, like NPC bluff checks.  When I do let the dice fall I will ocassionally lift the screen so the players can see that I did in fact roll those two criticals and they have to eat them, however a larger number of criticals often get turned into misses.

I never fudge dice to increase the difficulty of an encounter, I use a plot element for that like bringing in renforcments or adding a trap component.  If I realize a monster AC is too low, I may change it in the first few turns but that's more tweaking, I almost never scale the difficulty up in my games.  I run a tough enough game as it is I feel.
Tolkein was a jerk. Seriously, what DM sends 9 Wraith Lords at a Lvl 2 party of Halflings. The only 'correct' way to play D&D is by whatever method is making the group you have at that session, have the most fun.
If I didn't fudge the odd die roll my party would be dead ...[snip]...  I run a tough enough game as it is I feel.



This is what I was referring to in my post. From your quotes, you appear to run a "tough" game, then protect the PCs from being killed.

Doesn't that make the toughness rating you choose actually irrelevent, because there is no real consequence to the PCs or storyline from it being tough?

At most, it looks to me that numerically tough encounters routinely drain PC resources (to the point they sometimes need assistance from dice fluffing), so it simply feels tough, provided the players never catch on to the protection you grant them.

But surely then looking back at the game and how it went, the results will show that the game is not tough at all, but easy to the point that PC success is a foregone conclusion . . . How do you prevent yourself getting into that situation? How do you asess when not to grant protection and let the PCs lose because that's "fair" and good for the story?

If I didn't fudge the odd die roll my party would be dead ...[snip]...  I run a tough enough game as it is I feel.



This is what I was referring to in my post. From your quotes, you appear to run a "tough" game, then protect the PCs from being killed.

Doesn't that make the toughness rating you choose actually irrelevent, because there is no real consequence to the PCs or storyline from it being tough?

At most, it looks to me that numerically tough encounters routinely drain PC resources (to the point they sometimes need assistance from dice fluffing), so it simply feels tough, provided the players never catch on to the protection you grant them.

But surely then looking back at the game and how it went, the results will show that the game is not tough at all, but easy to the point that PC success is a foregone conclusion . . . How do you prevent yourself getting into that situation? How do you asess when not to grant protection and let the PCs lose because that's "fair" and good for the story?




An excellent point.  For the most part I try to let the dice fall where they fall, but if you're rolling any sets of dice that are even decently random, eventually the numbers are just NOT going to fall in the PCs favor no matter how good their tactical planning, skill or whatever.  They basically crap out.  (Craps being the game)

To me, having my players ;lose' the game and end up abandoning several months to years worth of played game time because of a string of bad die rolls just doesn't hold my interest, I'd rather fudge that 3rd critical in a row against the wizard who has no more healing surges than kill his character because of letting the dice fall where they fall.

The difference is if the players are doing something diliberatly dangerous or blatantly stupid, then absolutly Tim the Dim needs to die.

That's basically my marker for when to fudge or not.  If I have a player who's a rogue, let's say, and his last two trap attempts failed, so he's down some healing surges, then they get into combat, he's doing his job, he's flanking with the fighter but getting caught in odd fireball blasts and taking hits by some offhand strikes, but playing his character class well and working with the team, but somehow works himself down to 0 healing surges and the rest of the party is at maybe 3/4 to 1/2 their surges left...  Other DMs are suggesting to have the monsters start targetting the other players, that makes sense but is fudging of a different sort.  By not rolling in the open you can still tell that player that the last arrow missed, so they have a sense that their character is very nearly about to die.

The alternative, is you kill that character and the player then needs to roll up a new one, or the party has to get him ressurrected.  Both options are going to impact my storyline, but they may not be in ways I want to deal with at the moment.  If the party is doing a pre-quest that has them gathering the magically gate key that only works on the full moon and the full moon is tomorrow (next game session) then suddenly Robert Rogue bites it, they don't have the time between sessions to get him rezzed.  Asking Robert to sit out a session isn't a really nice thing to do either.

Really for me it's a mix between how the story is running and how the players are playing.  If the players are low level and still learning the game and making poor tactical errors because they are new, beating them into the ground is going to sour the experience.

So, reasons to fudge:

1) to protect a plotline where player death would interfere or de-rail
2) to protect a postitive play experience.

Reasons to let the dice fall as they do

1) the characters are doing something obviously 'dumb' examples, metagaming "The DM would never put a dragon we couldn't defeat so let's just attack it' or 'let's just attack wolves in the forest and level up before we go inside the cave of eternal horror so we're over-leveled for the content'

also "The DM would never kill me, he's got so many questlines wrapped up in my character, so I'll just run around like I'm immortal"

and 'We barely won that last fight, the party resources are drained and we're all almost dead, but the DM won't kill us so let's go kill the Ironhide the golem of untold evil and destruction then take an extended rest.

finally "Wow, this huge monster of unspeakable horror is really hard to hit, isn't even at bloodied and pummeled the crap out of us down to almost no healing or potions, but that small cave to the north is too small for it to follow us and the path we came in here is also wide open and only full of dead monsters, but we'll continue the fight even though all signs are telling us we're going to die because we're heroes!"

2) it would be compelling for the story, sometimes going on that quest to find a fellow PC's soul so you can ressurect them is a good questline and it might be time it finds it's way into the campaign arc

3) it would be dramatic, if the party is almost tapped out and they are starting to flee but the paladin steps up tells the rest to flee and holds the door, ala Gandalf "You shall not Pass!"

In the end, either choice, to roll openly or not is valid.  The advantage to rolling openly is your players know that you're just ref-ing the dice and that you aren't just picking on a certain player, they know for sure that you're being fair, at least for combat.

The downside is that when you throw that fistfull of criticals, and the players are rolling a string of misses and '1's for damage, that fight with the goblins that should have been a gimme is going to kill them and possibly send home some unhappy players.

Tolkein was a jerk. Seriously, what DM sends 9 Wraith Lords at a Lvl 2 party of Halflings. The only 'correct' way to play D&D is by whatever method is making the group you have at that session, have the most fun.
 ..., All DM's fudge dice rolls - ALL. ...,

This issue is not just deciding whether fudging is good or bad because it isn't either one at all times.  ... 



Wrong not all dms fudge dice rolls.  I never fudge dice rolls, nor has a game been ruined or players fun ruined over dice rolls.  The games I Dm do not focus arround statistics and statistical variation, they are always focused on a ever expanding narrative.   Players do get upset when the dice seem to work against them.  Despite the dice rolls, Pcs can always find success and those successess are all worth the moments of consternation when the dice fall and therefore the narrative turns against them.  A dm does not disregard a compelling narrative by never fudging a dice roll.  That is a false assumption argued by The_Man_in_A_Funny_Hat,  against never fudging dice.  We agree that fudging is neither good or bad.  I will go further and say a good Dm will always have a fun game as long as the narrative and the narration are fun and compelling, regardless if a dm fudges or does not fudge dice rolls.
I've heard of DM ignoring Crit but i also have heard of DM turning miss into Hit or cranking up damage of low rolls.  I as a Player would rather have my PC not die because he was rescued by a NPC, another PC or some sort of external event (ex. the ceiling crack and falls on the enemy) than because the DM ignored the rolls against me and Fudge a Crit.  But that's just me. 

PS To me, Fudging rolls  in D&D feels like cheating in Book Where You Are The Heroe or other Solo adventure relying on chapter reference. Its honor based. Why playing if you skip unfavorable outcome ? Why rolling if you are to change the outcome and call the shots ? Wink

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

If I didn't fudge the odd die roll my party would be dead.

fwiw: sometimes they might surprise you. The most memorable encounters I've ever had were when a seemingly inevitable TPK was turned around without fudge (indeed, 4e is actually balanced to do this frequently). Conversely, I've had some excellent, tense moments ruined by a soft DM.

Not saying your situations were like that, just saying that now you'll never know.

I am pretty new to DMing, but I have let the players in my group know that I will be rolling in the open for combat and that where the dice falls, they fall.  I have also let them know that it is a little more difficult to raise a character from the dead in my campaign than it would be in another since I am developing the game world myself.  I've asked them to develop some backup characters just in case the campaign encounters end up killing them so there will be little to no downtime and I can incorporate their new characters into the storyline.  Do I want the player characters to die?  Not really.  However, without the consequences of character death, the campaign loses meaning and players start to feel like they are protected and can't fail.  Without failure, success can easily become boring.  However, there may be a time when a whole party falls unconscious, and I find ways in the story to keep the party from all dying.  I think that would be far more palatable to me than to have a DM fudge die rolls in my favor.  I absolutely don't see any reason to fudge die rolls against the players, under any circumstance.  DM's who do that shouldn't be DM's.
I try to avoid fudging, but after what was to be a "very challenging fight demanding the players to think outside the box" was finished before the named villain even managed a single attack, and his minions tossing out a whoppin 9 2's in a row, my resolve is failing.

The fact that the group is a mix of essentials and hand-picked hyper-efficient classes don't help either.
I try to avoid fudging, but after what was to be a "very challenging fight demanding the players to think outside the box" was finished before the named villain even managed a single attack, and his minions tossing out a whoppin 9 2's in a row, my resolve is failing.

What would you have done differently? You couldn't have fudged the named villain's attack, and fudging the minions' attacks doesn't seem like it would affect much.

I hope at least they burned a lot of resources to accomplish that.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I try to avoid fudging, but after what was to be a "very challenging fight demanding the players to think outside the box" was finished before the named villain even managed a single attack, and his minions tossing out a whoppin 9 2's in a row, my resolve is failing.

The fact that the group is a mix of essentials and hand-picked hyper-efficient classes don't help either.



I guess I could see fudging rolls to keep people alive, but fudging attacks against the players so that they hit? I think I'd prefer my monsters to take their beating and learn my lesson for next time. After all, it's not DM versus player - it's monster versus player. If I failed to compensate for Bob the Rogue's Devastating Attack, my fault, not theirs.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

Here, Have Some Free Material From Me: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Dark Sun Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Generated D&D 5e PCs

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I worry about fudging rolls too, but I still do it.  I tend to fudge a little more in the Players' favor, making a near-miss into a hit when the battle's wearing down.  I'll also hand-wave the ends of encounters too-  Players take a d10 of damage each and the 3 (of 12) bloodied enemies die/surrender.
I also fudge in my favor every once in a while.  One player has a defender that I can roll double digits against about 20% of the time.  I've fudged in my favor there so that one of them would actually be hit.  I wish I could fudge defenses in another player's favor more often, but you can't often turn a 2 or 3 into a hit.  When he's DM, he tends to roll high.  Against me as a DM, he suffers from the always low roll- he even tried to throw his dice away by chucking them over his head.  They bounced off the door frame and rolled back under his chair.

Overall, I don't like to fudge rolls but I'll do it more often to help out the players.  Not once have I turned a hit into a miss because I didn't want my monster to be locked down or nova'd or something. 
I try to avoid fudging, but after what was to be a "very challenging fight demanding the players to think outside the box" was finished before the named villain even managed a single attack, and his minions tossing out a whoppin 9 2's in a row, my resolve is failing.

The fact that the group is a mix of essentials and hand-picked hyper-efficient classes don't help either.

Heh. It sounds like the group has earned the right to face encounters that are increasingly well beyond their level

The main issue is that it's optimized players running Spelltower.
Between the Warden with the ridonkulous defense and "lol no" powers, and the Barbarians "Splat, splat splat, next".

Heck they almost managed to pull off the frontal assault option with 5 floors worth of encounters funneling down, and that with 2 players off sick.

And i know it's not PvDM, but as is the only challenge that hits them is riddles and puzzles, and that just the language barrier.
I roll in the open, and don't change what the result is. If a PC is really bummed about a result, we have a quick group chat and may decide to change it. "I don't want to go out like a chump by kobold #14, thats lame, can we say that did nonlethal, or maybe missed". Sort of situations. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

I roll out in the open (unless its a hidden check or something similiar).  I find that this makes combat more exciting, makes the players feel genuine threat, forces better tactics, ramps up the adrenalin and mostly works for better combats.

However, behind the screen I will, if necessary, alter monster hp, defenses, tactics, powers, reinforcements etc on the fly to make combats better. 

Best of both worlds
Playing Scales of War

Rogue.jpg