Fudging round 2. This time it’s creamier.

In my last article I discussed whether or not games masters should fudge rolls in their game.  In this article I want to talk about the other forms of ‘fudging’ that can occur within a game and how to deal with them.

Monster Mashing

After many sessions of adventuring players approach the fortified chamber of the dread Storm Lord Morax, General of the Northern Hordes, BBEG and antagonist to the party.

You’re expecting an epic showdown however due to a mixture of luck and skill on the players part the Storm Lord is getting his bare hide handed to him and he’s on his last legs.  You therefore decide to up the ante and give him an additional powerful spell, say a one shot of Disintegrate, on the fly.  Is this fudging and does it impact player agency?

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Fudging – delicious games master treat or hazardous game breaker?

Boy is this one a hot topic. Fortunately I have the definitive answer.

Don’t fudge in your games.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to follow me on twitter @lines_pete and let me know what you think there or in the comments. Happy gaming.

…Oh okay it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

In it’s commonly understood form fudging is the act of the games master altering a dice roll behind the scenes. In most games we’d call a player rolling one dice and pretending it’s another cheating however the games master has a unique role within D&D as a neutral arbiter of the gameworld, ergo it’s within the GM’s remit to alter a dice roll if they feel it’s appropriate

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Magic Item Creation Rules 5E D&D

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Magic Item Rarity Chart and Crafting Time

Rarity Cost Time Min Level
Common 100 GP 4 Days 1
Uncommon 500 GP 20 Days 3
Rare 5,000 GP 200 Days 6
Very Rare 50,000 GP 2000 Days 11

* Divide all of these component values by 4 for any consumable items such as scrolls or potions.  E.G. A Common Potion of Healing will cost 25 GP of components to craft.

** Divide these time and component values by 2 when reducing an item into residuum. An uncommon item takes 10 days to reduce and produces 250gp of residuum.

***There are rumours of spellcasters who are able to craft items beyond even these levels although they would need to possess god like power.

Magic items are incredibly rare within the world. This is in part due to their difficulty in crafting and the natural tendency for those with them to horde, bury and protect them as well as the Spell Plague which destroyed huge swathes of magical items that existed in the world. Even relatively uncommon items are highly prized family heirlooms owned by only the wealthy and few and the rarest can often only be found out in the world of adventure.

The magic of the Weave is like energy, it cannot be created or destroyed simply manipulated.

Spellcasters with knowledge proficiency in Arcana can craft magic items from formulas they know. This process takes 20 days for an uncommon item  (See Chart) and requires 500 GP worth of residue. Higher rarirty items cost more.  Formulas will often call for a specific component item(s), if these  components are provided you do not need to pay a residuum cost.

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Surprise, it’s an ambush!

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Ambushes seem to be a ubiquitous part of RPG’s. The 5E starter module The Lost Mines of Phandelver begins with the party being ambushed by a group of goblins while ambush monsters have been a part of the game from its inception. These ranged from Invisible Stalkers to Purple Worms, there was always something crawling in the dark waiting to kill and or swallow you whole.  Yet I’ve found the implementation of ambushes to be trickier than just yelling surprise, players just don’t seem to enjoy being ambushed and often feel cheated by them, while this isn’t surprising itself it does speak to a wider issue about ambushes within the game. I’m going to discuss why I think this is the case and some ways to improve ambushing in your game.

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Stop Telling Stories.

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Every RPG rule book seems to have a chapter at the start that describes what a roleplaying game is and a huge number of them miss the point entirely by calling it in one way or another a ‘story telling game.’

Let’s look at some examples.

The 5E Players Guide;

“The Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and sorcery. “

Pathfinder’s Core Rulebook;

“Think of it as a cooperative storytelling game, where the players play the protagonists and the Game Master acts as the narrator, controlling the rest of the world.”

4e Player’s Handbook;

“A roleplaying game is a storytelling game that has elements of the games of make-believe that many of us played as children.”

It’s only when we go as far back as the AD&D 2nd Edition Rulebook that we get a definition of a roleplaying game I can actually get behind.

“This is the heart of role-playing. The player adopts the role of a character and then guides that character through an adventure. The player makes decisions, interacts with other characters and players, and, essentially, “pretends” to be his character during the course of the game. “

While I understand why the term ‘storytelling game‘ has been used and can agree that it’s not entirely inaccurate, you are sitting around with your friends and narrating out actions that when linked together will form some kind of narrative,  it is  not what playing a roleplaying game is about to me and I’m going to tell you why.

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Everything you cherish will perish-Acceptance of death within Tabletop RPG’s.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I can see the gaping maws of oblivion inexorably closing in on me as my optimistic shell of youth fades away, the aching inevitability of that final moment creeping closer and closer as the dusts of time flake through my fingers. Or perhaps it’s because one of my players characters died and I’m struggling to cope with the latent guilt.  Honestly though, fate willed it, she got knocked down to 0 by a bugbear, none of her allies came to her aid and she failed 3 death saving throws in a row. There was nothing anybody could do.

Death is an incredibly difficult thing for humans to process in real life and equally within the realms of our table top games with many groups struggling on how to deal with player death and many games master lamenting the death of one of his critical NPC’s.  The reaper claims us all eventually and the only way to escape the suffering that contemplating our finite mortality brings, that everything we have ever known, touched and loved will one day cease to be, is acceptance that we will die. ‘Memento Mori’ ( Remember that you have to die.) As the Romans would say. In the same way dealing with death in your games comes from acceptance of death , but how does this apply within that context?

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