Thursday, August 12, 2021

Hot Fudge

There's been some talk across the blogosphere about Fudging Dice and since I am a big fan I thought I would take some time out from the RPGaDay Challenge to add in my two credits.

Now, Fudge...I mean, who doesn't love fudge, am I right? And Fudge Dice? Come on! As a gamer what could be cooler than that?

Wait a second...that's not what we're talking about? Then what...?

Ahhh. OK.

Here we see some very different viewpoints analyzing this very serious...giggle..sorry, this very serious issue. It is of the utmost importance...giggle-snort...ahem. My apologies. It is of the utmost importance that the sanctity of the rules and the results of dice!

Sorry. I just couldn't keep a straight face through that whole daffy business.  

Let's take a look at what all the hubbub is about. 

First, allow me to give you my definition of Fudging. It might not be the same as yours and it behooves us to be on the same page in order to have an intelligent conversation, does it not? So glad you agree. 

Player 1 - Playing a Starfleet Science Officer: "I scan the moons of the planet to see determine their general composition. Do I need to roll for this? I mean, I am a Lieutenant in Starfleet, the Chief Science Officer of a ship on an Exploration Mission and I've already scanned the planet itself twice."

GM: "Good point. No need to roll. You find that the moons are..."

This is not Fudging.

No roll was necessary and therefore nothing needed adjusting in any way. The outcome was pre-determined and agreed upon by all involved.

Player 2 - A Dwarven Fighter: "I appreciate you giving Burngold Half-An-Axe a Notice Roll but I am going to say he shouldn't get one or that he'd automatically fail. We've established he was born and raised in the city, knows nothing of the Elven Forests, and doesn't look kindly on things Elves think are important."

GM: "Understood. I in turn appreciate you being true to character."

This is not Fudging. 

No roll was necessary and therefore nothing needed adjusting in any way. The outcome was pre-determined and agreed upon by all involved.

Player 3 - A Skilled Based Superhero: "Superspy launches an explosive cartridge at Obvious Threat using his Mini-Grenade Launching Pen. *Rolls the dice which bounce over some books and one lands in a space between two hardcovers. It is on an angle between the books and while it looks like a failure it could be construed as not wholly on that number*. Dang it. Can I roll that again? It got caught in the crevice here."

GM: "Sure why not."

This is not Fudging.

This is known as a Re-roll and happens when the visual accuracy of the roll is in question.

Sometimes a die rolls off a table or falls into the crack between the cushions of a sofa. More often than not, the GM will just have the player re-roll. The outcome of a second roll is no different than the outcome of a first roll. Both are randomly generated numbers. Remember that you are people, often adults, playing a game for fun. No money is on the line. It isn't going to effect anyone's physical health or topple a major cultural institution. It's a f***ing die roll. Calm the f*** down.

Player 4 - Doesn't matter: "I attack and get a...*rolls dice - gets a 10*...a 15! I hit him!"

GM: "Are you sure that was a 15? You kind of covered it. It looked like a 10."

This is not Fudging. 

This is cheating. This person is likely a child, probably raised poorly by ruffians and thieves. Maybe wolves. OK, perhaps just a normal child. If this person is not a child than do not play with them. They are untrustworthy scallywags of the worst sort. 

Now, check this out...

Player 5 - A Great One: "I noticed the opponent has feature X on her person. Your description of X seems similar to the pictogram we saw in the sunken temple five sessions back. Also, I believe Player 1 discovered this opponent's 'Source of Power' is the key to unraveling this whole affair. I want to swing my sword as if to injure the opponent but I am actually just trying to separate the X feature from her forehead."

GM: "Very interesting!. Go for it!"

Player 5 rolls and gets a failure but misses the target number only by one or two.

The GM knows that the Player has finally put clues together that will lead not only to defeating this enemy but saving the world in the long term. It is a major feature of the campaign. If the Player just misses, the narrative doesn't change much and there is no reward for her clever realization. So the GM decides, right then and there with no pre-determined outcome planned before now, to Fudge...

GM: "Damn. While you fail to remove feature X, you do get the tip of the blade under it a little and it becomes slightly dislodged. You can see this causes the opponent great distress. You're on to something.

This is Fudging.

Fudging, IMHO, is when an RPG participant - nearly always the GM - sees a die result and weighs the outcome of that roll against the logical progression of the events in the session, what has gone before and is established in the campaign, and the overall enjoyment of the players and themselves, and determines if the result should stand as is or be modified in some way. 

What Fudging is not:

The End of Days
Something against which a Higher Power will judge you such that you can't enter Heaven
A Big Deal

These are games and yes, games have rules. We are also not talking about traditional games. I don't really enjoy traditional games. There is a reason I have a blog dedicated to RPGs and not Chess, Monopoly, or Chutes and Ladders. There is a narrative experience possible in RPGs found no where else. I like the 'R' and 'P' in RPG. The 'G' is considerably less interesting and important to me. Not unimportant but compared to those who seem to forget the other two letters come first, I don't hold sacred the inarguably word of the holy 'DICE'.


You out there who have never Fudged a dice roll...I call you out. I call BS. You're lying. Unless you are some sort of aren't are you?...or have only been playing RPGs for a very short time, I am nearly 100% certain who have Fudged a roll at some point. It might have been for a PC or against one, it might have been very minor or fate sealing but every GM I have ever met has at one point or another. 

Perhaps the dice just wouldn't land on the number needed to set off that special power the monster has and you REALLY wanted the PCs to see it. Maybe it was to make someone feel better when their real life had been dumping on them lately and they just couldn't score a hit to save their PC's life all session. I guess you could also be a heartless, uncreative, cruel-minded pit of darkness but I'm giving you all the benefit of the doubt here and saying that probably isn't the case.

Listen, I'm not here to tell you how to run your game. My goal is to suggest other points of view. Run things the way you want to run them and determine what works for you. I'm not your parent. I'm more like your Fun Uncle.

There are elements of the article by Cavegirl I did not address directly. She goes a bit far and I am not sure that even I am comfortable doing things the way she suggests but now I am aware of that way and it gives me something to consider. That's why I like blogging, reading blogs, and listening to other people's ideas.

You never know what it might inspire.

Peace Out,

Barking Alien


  1. In my last gaming session I fudged a couple of to-hit rolls by the monsters the PC's were fighting because everything was just going so freaking badly for players that session. In the end the players still had a rough time and barely came out on top, but showing a small bit of mercy in the name of fun and keeping a game going isn't that big a deal in my mind.

    1. Not that big a deal is the key my friend.

    2. I'll go one step further and say (after reading B/X Blackrazor's observation of this post and your response) that it is extremely rare for me to Fudge in the way you describe. I don't usually do things such as to say a hit is a miss or vice versa.

      What I would've done is have the monster receive a sudden penalty, as if weakened or made ill by something the PCs had on them. Let the PCs then figure out which of them is holding the 'Kryptonite' and what it is. Maybe a recently obtained magic item has a previously unrevealed secondary effect. Now the PCs know that the fighter's +2 Sword also makes X kind of monster suffer -2 on its attack rolls when the creatures get too close. Something like that.