DM confessions

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*I fudge dicerolls to make combat and story more interesting.

*I power up monsters on the fly when I discover they're no match for my players.

*I ignore the monster's initiative rolls and insert them in the initiative order in places that I feel makes combat more interesting.
whoa dice fudger!Tongue Out
I once gave my players sweet personally tailored magic items of their liking in one adventure making them very happy, just to take them all away on next adventure by engineering a fall into raging river rapid.  So bad.   I was a bad DM!
I bend/change what ever to better suit the players needs and enjoyment. Less of a confession and more of what a DM should do.

Dungeons and Dragons is a game created by the people playing it. Rules are meant to be bent/broken/changed
The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. I know the reasons DMs do those things, svendj, and will send you a PM. I can be your sponsor like in AA!

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

*I fudge dicerolls to make combat and story more interesting.

*I power up monsters on the fly when I discover they're no match for my players.

*I ignore the monster's initiative rolls and insert them in the initiative order in places that I feel makes combat more interesting.

Lots of people do. Some players even expect it. Don't be surprised to learn that your players know what you're doing, and are fine with you doing it. It's only a problem when it's not fun for someone, and it's usually only not fun when someone is insisting that the rules be followed exactly.

But the fact that you're confessing implies that it's not fun for you, or you wish you didn't have to do it. I'm the same way, at least for the first two. My approach now is to make both success and failure interesting, and then throw very tough encounters at the players. Usually they succeed anyway, and do so in an interesting way because I'm in a better position to allow their cool ideas rather than block them. And the monsters tend to be more of a match for the players, but generally aren't aiming to kill the characters, so if the monsters win the game is still interesting.

Initiative, by and large, is bull, and gets far more attention than it deserves. I too will slot a monster in when I see fit, but then I also do the same for the PCs.

To err in the players' favor is human.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I roll all of my dice in the open, so there is no fudging. 
Yeah sometimes there may be some wiggle room on a hit or a miss (or their init bonus), but it's pretty hard to fudge a nat 1 or nat 20. 

As far as powering up monsters, yeah guilty.
Although, i typically only add a few HP so they can last 1 extra round, or have a change to use that one power that only comes online once they get bloodied...
Similary, i've also reduced a monsters hp if the players were having a really hard time with it... 
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
Similary, i've also reduced a monsters hp if the players were having a really hard time with it... 

What would happen if you didn't do that?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I roll in the open so fudging rolls can be difficult, but i do use wiggle room where possible.

I change the monsters initiative order sometimes to make combat more interesting or fluid.

I add / substract monsters from encounters or power them up when I deem it appropriate based on the players actions.

I use encounters from modules / adventures that I find interesting while not bothering to use the module / adventure itself.

I invent encounters on the fly to suit the actions of my players.

I make voices for my NPCs.

I'm sure there's more ;)

"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Similary, i've also reduced a monsters hp if the players were having a really hard time with it... 

What would happen if you didn't do that?




The fight would have taken longer.
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
Similary, i've also reduced a monsters hp if the players were having a really hard time with it... 

What would happen if you didn't do that?




I've done it too. The odd time where players may be fudging a dice roll more than believable, I may reduce a monsters HP just to bring it to a close.
For that mater i've entirely skipped the last round of combat. Sometimes when it's down to a final monster and "in the bag" i ask if the players want to skip ahead or continue to slug it out.

They usually like to slug it out. Lol.  
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
I made a considerable portion of last night up...yeah...there was totally meant to be a hippogriff in the rafters of that room in the dungeon... XD But I did improvise a lot of NPC voices and mannerisms...and pulled loot out of the air..
I wish improvisation wasn't something DMs felt they needed to "confess."

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I thought we were confessing things that our players didn't know about, not things that we felt guilty about... ?  No need to paint this thread in a negative light Centauri, if you can't stop yourself then simply don't post / read it.  We're all having fun just fine so far.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

I had a player once tell me that they had fallen head over heels in love with one of my NPCs.  Then that player invited me to their place for drinks...I declined.


Once in a Hackmaster game gave the players a really good deal on a Ring of Three wishes, but the Genie had the Hard of Hearing Flaw.


I was accused of by the religious parents of my closest friend that getting him and his wife involved in D&D caused the end of their marriage.

(deep breath)

I too fudge dice sometimes. A crit here, a low damage die there, all for the sake of dramatic flare. Never to screw over the players of course, but when my players tell me how awesome a session was and how excited they were about being on the brink of death, i wonder if it was (or even should have been) neccessary...

I don't plan as much as I should. I have no problems with improv and am willing to follow the party's direction, but I should put more effort into interesting encounter ideas, map renderings, monster stats, and world background.

And worst of all, when a campaign starts to get underway and a few levels have passed, I begin to think of all the things i could have done better, the holes the pc's have dug themselves into, my lack of overarching plots and interesting quest hooks, and virtually any other percieved "problem". Then i panic that the game will never get any better than it currently is, and that a clean slate is needed for the greater good. Every few months I have started a campaign over. I have refused to start my current campaign over, but i have been tempted to...

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.-John Donne, Meditation XVII

My photo was found here.

I run 3rd Ed-

I fudge die rolls from time to time. Usually if I think it will make the story better.

Make up a lot of my DC checks on the fly. Again based on situation.

Have a bad knack of making my NPC be jerks to the PC. Granted they don't help this by stealing from townsfolk and trying to rip people off. But they are learning to be nicer to the King and the head of the adventuers guild. They have found it is a lot easier to get work if they are.

Sometimes I find myself actively trying to kill off a certin PC. Only cause he shows up every other week, at best. He is like 3 levels behind everyone else, so at some point he is going to get killed just because the monsters and traps are scaled higher for everyone else.

Sometimes I have a tough time, even with all my notes, of keeping track of the major BBEG that the PC have ticked off. Right now it is a lich, death knight, vampire, orc king, and a minotaur in charge of an army of bugbear werewolves.
I suck down rum like it's going out of style while DMing. My players insist because I seem to think faster. (I should see someone about this.)

I run games with no pants on. Same as when I run online.

But I sure as heck don't fudge. You... you disgust me.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I suck down rum like it's going out of style while DMing. My players insist because I seem to think faster. (I should see someone about this.)

I run games with no pants on. Same as when I run online.

But I sure as heck don't fudge. You... you disgust me.


Seriously Iserith...no pants.  Forget seeing someone for liquor.  Should see someone about that lol. Tongue Out

Seriously Iserith...no pants.  orget seeing someone for liquor.  should see someone about that lol. 



The two may be related.

But anyway, get off my back! I got it under control. I can quit not wearing pants anytime I want. 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I roll in the open if someone is about to die or things are very serious. Its actually a nice dramatic flourish.
Otherwise, I fudge for narrative.

I openly admit to recycling ideas with different players again and again. I'm pretty good at running my abandoned monastary cekkar 1st lvl dungeon at this point.

Another confession: I secretly think Pool of Radiance is the one true D&D 
A few guidelines for using the internet: 1. Mentally add "In my opinion" to the end of basically anything someone else says. Of course it's their opinion, they don't need to let you know. You're pretty smart. 2. Assume everyone means everything in the best manner they could mean it. Save yourself some stress and give people the benefit of the doubt. We'll all be happier if we type less emoticons. 3. Don't try to read people's minds. Sometimes people mean exactly what they say. You probably don't know them any better than they know themselves. 4. Let grammar slide. If you understood what they meant, you're good. It's better for your health. 5. Breath. It's just a dumb game.
@ Staccat0...  I like your comments (although I don't know anything about Pool of Radiance).  But what I really liked were your "few guidelines for using the internet" tag. 

@ Centauri...   always swimming against the flow... 
I'm guilty of using encounters that have no story purpose, purely to tax the PCs resources before they get to a dramatic story-centered encounter.  Luckily, everybody at the table enjoys the tactical aspects of the game, but it's still something I'd like to work on.

The most experienced player in my group is also the one playing the least-optimized character.  He really has trouble hitting, and I haven't done anything to rectify that situation -- though when they advance levels next I will strongly suggest one or two feats for him that will help immensely.

I fudge die rolls occassionally but monster HP at least a few times every session.  If a really cool attack brings the monster down to a small handfull of HP, I just think it's cooler to give the player his or her moment in the sun and smite the foul beast.

I often let the way the players talk about NPCs OOC determine exactly how trustworthy they are in game.  Sometimes I think letting the players feel clever makes them more invested and have more fun, despite what my original plans were.

One particular player is still struggling to learn all of the combat rules, and I find myself talking over her on her turn even when she hasn't asked for advice.  This needs to stop now.  When I catch myself doing it I apologize immediately, but it's better to not do anything that requires an apology to begin with. 
I roll die out in front of the screen so I can't fudge those.  But it is all a ruse.  I roll in front of the screen to show that I am letting the chips fall where they may and to convey to the players that "hey... it's not me... it's the numbers!", but behind the screen, I can fudge HP to fit the story and length of the combat.

One thing though, my players are keeping up with HP at least loosely, so when I say a monster is bloodied, I have to pretty-much stick to what I have committed to, or they'll know.  

But this is not an all-time occurance.  It is purely an as-needed basis.  I usually stick to the numbers, just to keep it real.  When they whittle down a brute, they have earned their rejoicing.  Sometimes they enjoy a slugfest, sometimes I can sense that they are ready to move along.  All depends.   
OK, I admit it.

I AM the "killer DM" you hear about.  And I'm fine with that.

I run brutal games.  Always have.  And those playing in them know this.  I've killed hundereds of PCs over the decades. 
My table is soaked in fictional blood....

Once combat starts?  My monsters really are trying to kill off your characters.
Same thing happens in larger scale plots.  Once you've come to the attention of "bosses"?  They'll use their resources to try & end you - just as you players would against them.
I don't bother fudging dice rolls or HPs.  I don't need to.  I have endless monsters.  So I will kill your PCs eventually.
I actually use magic items that my "BAD GUYS" have on them. Stupid I know but you'd be amazed on how many DM's do not use magic items that are on the bad guys they use. 

I've also brought back someone from the dead for 5$. lol.
 A lot of the stories on my campaign are ported directly the arcade games D&D Tower of Doom and Shadow over Mystara, and my players are loving it Surprised
Because our campaign is being run over the internet, I allow my PCs to steal, cheat, lie, and stab eachother in the back constantly through secret communication. I recently approved the request of one PC to kill another PC because it fits in perfectly with his character.

I recently allowed a character to come back from the dead when he should have been gone for good by making a faustian bargain with an entity known as the "Soul Collector". The cavat was his soul now belongs to it and he has to follow it's every whim or else it turns him into ash. I have every single intention of turning him against and getting him killed by the rest of the party.
"Contemplation is the womb of treachery." -Imperial Thought for the Day
@ Centauri...   always swimming against the flow... 



In Centauri's defense (not that he needs one) I feel that he is trying to get us to look at situations differently. I love questioning myself and actions as a DM, I feel in the end it makes me a better DM.

Back to topic:



  • I usually roll out in the open.  In one horrible combat where it was coming down to the end.  After rolling nothing less than 15 and blooding almost all of my player and dropping two I rolled behind my screen and had them miss till combat ended.  Later I told my players that what I did.



  • I ran a game where all but one of my players characters had issue with the horrific acts of another player's character who both refused to see it as an issue and constantly did things to attempt to get the other players in trouble for his character's own actions out of spite.  The other characters conspired to have the player killed.  I allowed the players to find NPCs to help.  After the character was dealth with the player in question accused me of doing it because I disagreed with his play style.  Six months later he left the group, only to be kicked out of his next two groups for similar behavior.


My real confession with the last one is that I don't and have never really felt sorry about doing it.




All my NPCs have the exact same voice!  Plus, they all seem to have a similar vocabulary....I'm glad I've gotten that off my chest.
I make my own Campaigns, but much of it is just reused plots and characters from stories my PCs haven't read. I get complimented on my creativity often.
I often use the DM screen to hide the fact that I have blank paper in front of me.
I roll in the open, I don't fudge hits but I sometimes fudge damage.  I play very quickly so Im not sure my players ever notice (not why I play quickly I just like to get monster turns over fast and get back to the PCs).

I won't kill a PC over bad rolls.  I will kill a PC over bad actions.  You choose to keep on going when you know its likely a deathwish?  Wish granted.

I make up my monsters during combat.  Normally I have some type of ability in mind and when I describe them to the PCs I wing the description at the time and give them powers based on their descriptions.

There has to be more, I just can't think of any right now.

Edit: Ooh, remembered one.  I give the PCs puzzles with random details and no solutions.  They just have to make up a good answer that fits the clues they have and generally that works. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
All my NPCs have the exact same voice!  Plus, they all seem to have a similar vocabulary....I'm glad I've gotten that off my chest.



That sounds like me!

actually that's not entirely true.  Some of my important NPCs have unique accents, but that's about it.

 
I won't kill a PC over bad rolls.  I will kill a PC over bad actions.  You choose to keep on going when you know its likely a deathwish?  Wish granted. 



i do that as well.  i remember one time I had a player poke his weapon into the demon mouth in the tomb of horrors.  I gave him a strength check to see if he could hold on to the weapon, then I gave him a dex check to see if the sudden pull caused him to fall down (and thereby NOT fall in), then I gave him a wis check to determine if holding on to the weapon was a good idea.  He passed all three.  Then I flat-out asked him "do you want to let go of the weapon?" And he said no.

so I reached over my screen, took his character sheet and told the rest of the group "you see him disappear into the mouth." And to this day I've never told any of my players what happened to him. 
Next thing you will tell me Browbeat is bad.
And to this day I've never told any of my players what happened to him. 




Now that has me curious as to what happened to him, lol!


My 'confessions'

I run 3rd Ed exclusively.  We know it, we love it, no reason to fix what isn't broken.

I have fudged dice rolls when the players are getting the shaft unnecassarily.  Bad enough that I put them in rough situations as a DM, but when they can't catch a break from their dice and they're losing characters, gotta stop the bleeding somewhere.  Of course, this is earlier in a campaign.  Later on in the campaign they are on their own.

I have made alterations on the fly when a situation presents itself for better story telling.  Likewise, I have railroaded players for the sake of a section of the story.

I'm sure that I've committed more transgressions, but they seem to be lost to the gremlins in my brain, sooo....

More confessions:
I use this table for determining monster defenses:

































































Toy+16vACDifficultyEasyMedHardGimmick
Chunk+16vACRange4-78-1212-1415+
Hiwi+12vFortMaxAC23273031+
Jack+13vRefMaxFort19232627+
Vynn+14vWillMaxRef20242728+
MaxWill21252829+


Rather than pay any attention to the creature's written defenses I just pick how easy it should be for the group to hit them and then place it on the scale. (I don't account for CA, so its slightly easier than it looks).

Ex: A typical solder has defenses of Med Max/Med/EasyMax/EasyMax or, for my group, 27/21/20/21.

Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
I fudge hp/dmg/powers because it makes the combats more fluid.


I am intrigued by Matyr's idea of puzzles with no legit solutions, just requiring something that makes sense...

  • I don’t fudge dice roles, but I usually roll behind a screen nevertheless.

  • Often I take inspiration from dice-roles on random tables from previous editions (or self-made ones)

  • When it comes to dragons, I’m a killer-DM (I mean it is the iconic monster and should always be a very tough boss-fight)

  • I don’t like classical dungeons because I find them so hard to justify (I do lairs and mini-dungeons like mansions and temples instead)


Edit: I remember “cheating” only once, when I tuned down a random encounter from a group of trolls to one lonely troll.

Panartias, ladies-man and Jack of all trades about his professions:

"Once, I was a fighter -

to conquer the heart of a beautiful lady.

Then I became a thief -

- to steal myself a kiss from her lips.

And finally, I became a mage -

- to enchant her face with a smile."

I don't think it is wrong to "fudge" some dice rolls or adding to an encounter to make it appropraitely challenging, so long as the DM also adjusts the XP the encounter accordingly. This is in accordance with the players wanting to be chalenged and the wanting to be fairly rewarded for it.


It should, however, be a last resort. The ussual expectation is that a DM be familiar with the parties abilities and be able to plan ahead of time, so if you find you are doing this all the time, then you need to evaluate how you are buildign your encounters. 
I'm a very very lazy DM.
I prep as little as possible.

- I make up most things on the fly because I can't be bothered pre-preparing.
- I fudge rolls sometimes but try to avoid it.
- I'm too nice. I hate telling my players no... To anything. Haha. And as a result I have a PC running around with a brown bear skull crudely tied onto his head as a hat, and a giant snake head strapped to his shield purely for "flare".
- NPCs generally start with a particular voice or accent but generally lose it about 2 sentences later. Again, mainly due to laziness.
- If things are dying too fast I'll add on an extra 10hp to keep the fight going.
- I make up all DCs on the fly.


- I'm too nice. I hate telling my players no... To anything. Haha. And as a result I have a PC running around with a brown bear skull crudely tied onto his head as a hat, and a giant snake head strapped to his shield purely for "flare".



That...That's awesome. Why would that be a confession?


"Encouraging your players to be cautious and risk-averse prevents unexpected epic events and-well-progress at a decent pace in general."-Detoxifier

"HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA NOT REGENERATING DUE TO FIRE" -iserith 

"If snapping a dragon's neck with your bare hands is playind D&D wrong, then I don't want to play D&D right." -Lord_Ventnor

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