2020-05-05 I fudged a die

I … I think … I think I fudged the dice a bit tonight! 😭 It was for the best, I swear! But I feel bad about it because I told myself not to do it ever. Never ever! And now I did it. Two adult players and six kid players at the virtual table, fighting a red dragon using Just Halberds.

Looking back I don’t think it made a big difference, but it’s still fascinating to realize how I’ve trained myself not to do it and how bad I feel for doing it. Stop it, brain! Stop. No need. It went well. Everybody had a good time.

Later, @jaranta wondered why fudging was a bad idea since it resulted in a better game for everybody. Good question. It’s like the question about railroads and precious encounter designs. Why complain when the game was good?

Here’s why I think I don’t like it: undiscovered fudging is no problem but at some point in the future players will begin to suspect and then to know that your are doing it and at that point all the achievements are revealed to be fake. That’s because at the core of it all was a lie: the implied premise was that things are hard but you were lucky and made the right decisions and the results rewarded you – the experience itself is rewarding. But if it was all a lie, then all you achievements are worth nothing.

It would have been better to not roll the dice In the first place, to play a dice-less game, or a game with bennies where you can openly haggle for better results. Then at least the narrative can be enjoyable. But for me, that’s not what I like best. I like the rewarding experience of having made the right decisions, of having been lucky. I want to laugh and cry because of fate, not because of the whims of the referee.

But yeah, it’s a good question. For more about my dislike of bennies, I wrote a blog post a long time ago: I don’t like Bennies.



I guess fudging is fine under the following circumstances:

  1. if you’re absolutely never found out because you’re a perfect liar
  2. if you just did it once or you do it so rarely that you cannot remember the last time you did it

What are your options? I think the better question is: how could you have avoided ending up in a situation where you felt that fudging was your only option?

  1. give players more information beforehand so that they can decide to pursue something else
  2. give players more information as the situation develops so that they can decide to call off their current plan
  3. give players more information on the severity of the current situation so that they rethink their current position

A classic move for the last point in classic D&D would be to attack retainers, first.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-05-06 06:31 UTC

I agree that more often than not fudging could easily have been avoided by providing more information, so the players could make a more informed decision.

However, it must also be noted that players don’t always play “perfectly”. Sometimes they just want to go forward recklessly or just trust their luck more than they should (after all, very safe plans may go awry because of dice, and the stupidest of ideas may sometimes work out for the same reason).

I’m pointing this out merely because almost every time when I agonised over character death or the like, my veteran players gave me those looks like they were almost insulted that I thought they didn’t read the situation well. Of course, it does happen, and more so with less experienced players.

Ynas Midgard 2020-05-06 15:36 UTC

I’ve heard of people rolling in front of the players and I’ve heard of people letting the players actually roll the die for their enemies to keep them all involved. Either way would avoid any temptation.

The later seems horrible to me as I had a player back in the day that seemed able to roll a 20 on command and I’m sure he could roll a 1 as well.

– Ruprecht 2020-05-06 15:55 UTC

Yeah, I usually roll in the open – but with the current pandemic we have moved to playing online and there nobody can see the dice I am rolling.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-05-06 17:21 UTC

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