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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Neverwinter D&D Campaign Session 2.

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It was the 19th day of Elisias in the city of NeverWinter at around 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It was a bright but cold day with a fierce chill wind blowing from the northern mountains at the spine of the world. The party , a snow white Birani Bard by the name of Sharia, a 6 foot 6 Half-Orc barbarian covered in tattoos of his tribe by the name of Thokk and a 6 foot 7 tall Wood Elf Ranger by the name of Mila with her faithful badger companion Tommy and Bronwyn a Drow Rogue with braided hair and white skin, were recovering from their battle with the city rebels that ambushed the town guard upon the Winged Wyvern bridge in the midst of a protest.

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Neverwinter D&D Campaign Session 1.

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It was the 19th day of Elisias in the year of the Warrior  Princess 1489 DR, at around 9 o’clock in the morning. A fierce chill wind blows from the north which means those who favour the use of ranged weapons will have the distance of their arrows flights reduced.

The party, a snow white Birani Bard by the name of Sharia, a 6 foot tall human Paladin of Torm by the name of Auron, a 6 foot 6 Half-Orc barbarian covered in tattoos of his tribe by the name of Thokk and a 6 foot 7 tall Wood Elf Ranger by the name of Mila with her faithful badger companion Tommy and Bronwyn a Drow Rogue with braided hair and white skin all met together outside the City of Neverwinter amongst a large throng of people attempting to enter the safest area of the city.  The Protector’s Enclave.

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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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