Near and dear to every D&D player’s heart is dice. With dice comes dice fudging. It’s been a tool in the Dungeon Master toolbox since 1st Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Below you’ll find our video where we weigh in on it as well as the video transcription.
D&D Dice Fudging – Is It Cheating? Video
D&D Dice Fudging – Is It Cheating? Video Transcription
I think the first thing we should probably start off with and kind of define and that is what exactly is fudging dice. So the biggest aspect of this game is that randomness, the rolling of dice and it helped dictates the story. It defines the rules with letting us know whether something is successful or not. But many times you hear of DMs or players who just sit there and they roll one thing and they claim something else.
You kind of explained a little bit what the dice represent. I want to dive into it just a little bit more. And it’s a role-playing game, right We’re role-playing with each other, but the game aspect is the randomness that the dice generate they add to the narrative. Otherwise we could drop the g and we could just make up stories together.
If we weren’t relying on the randomness of the dice to kind of tell us what happens. As you mentioned fudging the dice essentially is rolling one thing but calling out a different number. Absolutely. And it’s not always hire though. I think we need to point that out. It’s not always your roll a low number and claim a high number, but you can go the other way too. As a GM, you might roll a 20 and be like, Ooh, that’s gonna really hurt that player’s maybe even kill them, I’m going to turn it into a regular hit or I’m going to turn it into a miss.character.
Now there’s two sides of the DM screen, right when it comes to fudging the dice, there’s the player side and there’s the GM side, the Dungeon Master. So let’s Kinda like talk about that a little bit. Okay. Well as you, as you were kind of mentioning that on the DM side, you have the ability to change things in either direction.
I have to say that over the years as the GM, I’ve altered dice in both directions. It’s not something that I really enjoy doing. I don’t really do it these days, but in the past I have been like I need to make this battle more of a challenge than it really has been.
Or the players are walking through my encounters. Well I’m not having them walks into this one as well. That’s a save. And when you’re rolling behind the GM, you’ve got that capabilities. Nowadays we tend to roll out in front of everybody in front of the GM screen. This way everybody sees what’s there and they can look, oh, that was a four. Holy Crap. You know, that’s going to be a mess.
Okay, I’m safe. Whatever, But on the player’s side. There’s a lot of times where the game that I’m starting now, I’ve got seven players.
There is eight foot between me and the player, there’s the farthest. I’m not going to be able to see what they roll. I have to rely what they tell me is accurate and it’s very easy to be like, okay I drop a die and no one’s looking at what I’m doing.
So I’m just going to say it’s this. I do notice that the one player sits right next to your, most of the time. That is not my choice. That’s whose motto is. If you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying.
Has nothing to do.
I don’t have any, particularity saying you need to sit there. It’s where he chooses it. That’s actually a holdout from when we were recording our games cause he’s a big guy, so we put the big guys for other back closest to the GM.
They don’t block everyone else out of line of sight. But yes, i his motto and, that brings us to is a really important part. Like I think most of the hymns that fudge the dice, they generally claim that it is for the excitement of the game.
It is to challenge the players. It is to keep the players from dying. It’s ultimately to make the game better is the claim. When the player fudges the dice, it’s really just cheating. There are so many reasons why somebody might choose to do it, but honestly it’s not up to the player to dictate when to, when to change a roll. It’s you play the game, you do whatever the die says and there’s lots of things that you can do with a good or bad roll depending upon what’s going on.
All right, so as I was saying there’s lots of reasons why a player might want to do it. And you touched on it’s impactful to the story and it’s really necessary that I do this because it’s going to save that person’s life or I don’t want my character to die because I wrote a bad save, but really like are those things that are justifiable for a player to go and do it when a player does it, it really, most of the time just feels like someone who’s trying to not lose it.
D&D or trying to win D&D. And the only way we win D&D is by playing the game and having fun. That doesn’t really require you to fudge the dice as a player really. when you get those bad roll, sometimes you just need to own them enroll with it and just have fun with it and let it dictate the narrative that your character is going to have start role-playing those bad roles instead of groaning and being upset about them embrace them.
now as a GM, you’ve got the ability to, if I’m rolling behind a screen, you’ve got the, the ability to change those dice as well. briefly we touched on changing a hit into a mess to not kill player or a current into a regular head, specially at low levels.
It’s super easy to just instantly kill those players. Or those characters, not the players, the characters who have super low hit points. You know, what if somebody tanks their constitution, okay. You know that wizards got five hit points. Okay. How hard is it to do 10 points, a damage on a single attack. Not Hard at all. And not only that there is always ways to fudge the game without fudging the dice as well. That’s just the dice. Just an easy way to represent the randomness.
And is the GM you had do have the ability to kind to to take control of that randomness either, by taking it away essentially. So I’m not as sure that that’s always the best idea, but it is an option for is out there and some GM swear by other GMs don’t we’ve all done it I think for the most part at some point or another specialty, I can speak for our tables and we’ve more recently moved away from that.
I now what is the real problem with either side of the table saying that I’m going to take it upon myself and adjust the roll. I think the real problem is one, if you’re the player it is really just cheating too. If you’re the DM, you really kind of saying the, the narrative that the dice have to tell, it doesn’t matter you, you might as well eliminate it and just pick and choose at that point. Right.
When is it impactful? When is it not? I don’t know. I feel like the more impactful events that have happened in our games have been from us allowing the dice to tell their own narrative. Believe me, I definitely come from, some of that more old school thought of I want to win and I want my character of survive.
I know I’ve had characters die and it’s like man, this the sucks and it could come down to me, Rolling bad or whatever have you. B ut ultimately I’ve grown as a veteran player and DM that the dice mechanic that thing that is super important to this game that we really have to look at winds up having the ability to tell a super awesome story.
When I turned that regular hit into a crit or when I turned that crit into a miss no one is going to remember those things from the GM side or from the player side. It doesn’t add anything to, but those times when your roll in n on a saving throw and it gets talked about for decades and it has the ability to inform the future games.
When I was a player and I made an intimidation roll and I thought I didn’t have to make a roll because what I said was super awesome and the DM was like, okay, roll it. I roll a six not impactful in any way, shape or form. Well, you know what, instead of saying I’m going to eat your children, I say I’m going to eat your Satchel. I it was a monstrous humanoid may be common, isn’t his thing.
Maybe the way he said children just came out completely indecipherable and the person’s like, what. It turns out they didn’t have kids, they don’t like their kids. So you’ve really got the ability when you roll bad, number one own it. And number two, turn what’s happening in the game into something that reflects the dice.
You can’t do it all the time because you might be backpedaling all the time, but when the moment really feels like, oh this is going to be good and it screws up, go with a screw up and have fun with it. Not only that when we allow the dice to have their part of the story by not fudging it, I’m not altering them, for instance, in your game, like you didn’t change things to save Mark’s character early on and it had caused him to die.
Right. Well that created story arc for sessions upon sessions afterwards that weren’t anticipated or expected. It created arcs for the characters in the game that no one had planned. It turned what was just supposed to be an encounter i something with that was a lot more special because it had repercussions and ripples throughout the game because a character died unexpectedly.
Yeah, it sucks. But you know, at the end of the day it’s a game. You’re open, new character, you, and your roll with it. But in the meantime we were able to really drill down on a story arc that didn’t exist that wouldn’t have been able to happen without the dice without multiple failures of death saves without the consecutive failed medicine checks and the players saying I didn’t buy a medicine kit all of these things it was new for us playing fifth edition.
A nat one was involved somewhere. So with these things, it created something that you know, became great. It becomes something that we get to continue talking about and sharing. None, of us that are involved look back and say man, I wish Mark’s character, it’s survived. Like it doesn’t, it didn’t happen.
You know, the player decided, well I want to I want to play this character, his brother and make a slight change and it became fun. And all of us enjoyed that moment despite it leaving from a character dying. Exactly. Here’s the thing, if you’re a dice fudging GM or Dungeon Master, what are the keys and secrets to this is you must never let your players know. Because if you do, you’re taking away from the narrative.
You’re taking away their agency in the game essentially. If they’re being constrained to making rolls that are going to reflect how the game works and operates, but you’re not under the same constraints, you’re going to have disgruntled players. So if you are doing this one, and I don’t think you should do it all the time and it’s a tool that’s better used if you use it sparingly, if you’re going to do it.
And then the other thing is don’t let your players know ever. Yeah. It’s just so much safer to just keep it low key. And it’s not for I’ll tell him when the campaign’s over know as, as a GM you might have players that come back to your table time and time again and that’s one of those things just it’s a pill swallowing.
I that’s your style that’s all on you and it never, need be mentioned a anywhere. or us at our table the dice have their own narrative, t we enjoy that randomness and rolling with whatever happens and Yo is a journey to get there. But that’s how we play the game. Now we recommend it, but you can play the game however you want.
Whatever works at your table is absolutely fine. So let us know what you think or how you play this at your table. If you’re a GM, you might want to keep it low key. Put your thoughts about dice fudging in the comments. Share your awesome D&D stories in the comments.
My name is Dave Friant I’ve been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it’s always been a part of my life I’ve kept secret and hidden away. I’ve always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth.
Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I’m gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life.
Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG’s.