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#3 Fudging to Fix What You've Screwed Up
As a gamemaster, you will screw up. It happens to the best of us. At some point the caffeine-induced high will wear off, the Doritos will mess with your synaptic speed, and you'll accidentally forget that a Gargantuan Kraken gets to do both standard damage and bonus constriction damage when grappling with a tentacle. Because of this mistake, the situation in the game world will bear no relation to what it would have been had you not erred. If you value consistency and realism in your game play (or are simply an OCD perfectionist), this is a traumatic moment.
In the face of this situation, you can simply ignore the error and keep playing. This is fine in most cases, but if your error has been egregious and involves critical aspects of the game (or major adversaries), it won't be acceptable. Your second option is to "rewind" gameplay - but this is often impossible, and even if possible, can ruin immersion. Your third option is to fudge some die rolls to get things back on track.
For example, if you realize you've been rolling only half the appropriate amount of damage for the villain, you might fudge some damage rolls to be higher over the next few rounds. Or if you accidentally have been hitting a player character you actually missed, you could fudge your next few attack rolls to insure some misses occur.
It's important to keep in mind the goal of this sort of fudging: You are not trying to alter the outcome to fit some preconceived notion of what the dice ought to have rolled. You are, rather, adjusting the dice to fix errors you created. Done properly, the outcome should be close to what would have happened if you'd never erred at all.
I'm sure there are other circumstances where fudging makes sense, even in the context of agency-driven sandbox play, but these three are by far the most common ones I encounter. I'll be interested to learn what my fellow gamemasters do in similar, or other, situations.
Alexander Macris has been playing tabletop games since 1981. In addition to co-authoring the tabletop games Modern Spearhead and Blaze Across the Sands, his work has appeared in Interface, the Cyberpunk 2020 fanzine, and in RPGA AD&D 2nd Edition tournament modules. In addition to running two weekly campaigns, he is publisher of The Escapist and president and CEO of Themis Media. He sleeps on Sundays.