Friday, September 25, 2015

A daughter's duty - Story time

Toku Akiko was born in the fall of the third year after the Naishou dispute that left the Monkey clan and the Crane clan as rulers of the province. Her birth, just like her older sister’s was met with joyous celebration as is customary of the Monkey clan. Toku Uryo, Naishou’s daimyo and Fuzake Nabiki, the spiritual leader of the region had traveled along with their most trusted Samurai and family members to the nearest temple of Toku, the fortune of Virtue and founder of their clan. She was presented to their ancestor in a great celebration so as to show Toku that their clan was still growing strong.

From a very young age it was very apparent that if Sumiko took after her mother, Akiko was every bit her father’s daughter. Always running around the house, always causing trouble. She would constantly ask her father to teach her how to wield a sword, to which Uryo would only laugh at first. Though he eventually gave in and let her practice with the same wooden swords that he once used to spar with her uncle Gorobei. She was a very beautiful girl with long black hair (which was usually full of twigs and mud) a skin that resembled more that of her father, slightly darker than her mother’s, and two big grey eyes that were always full of joy, wonder, and most of all… mischief.

As time passed and the relations with the crane began to deteriorate, Uryo decided that it was time to have his family make some connections outside of Naishou. During the Naishou tournament Uryo had competed against Isawa Daisuke of the Phoenix clan, and though he lost the duel, he earned his respect. As Akiko reached the age a child would normally be sent to attend a school within her own clan, he used his friendship with Daisuke, his own political contacts and Gorobei’s influence in the Imperial court to have Akiko sent to the Phoenix lands to study in the Shiba Bushi school.

The day before she left, Uryo took her into the inner garden of Toshi no Naishou and sat with her in the small gazebo in the center of the garden. He mentioned what little he knew about the Phoenix lands, about the Isawa Mori, the forest that was veiled in mistery and legend, the Phoenix Mountains known for the many temples housed within. He told her about Kyuden Isawa the Palace of the Phoenix clan, and Shiro Shiba, the castle where she would be spending most of her time. Uryo went through the different ceremonies she would have to go through once she reached phoenix lands. Akiko did not understand half of them, and the other half sounded just plain stupid, but she would obey.

After a good hour of going through all of these things Uryo fell silent. He had never been good at keeping up the face of a Samurai, which is probably why he kept her uncle Gorobei close at all times when they needed to handle political matters. His eyes, usually very calm and happy, were now very sad and his face looked tired, and burdened.

“Akiko, my dear child, I want you to be strong… the coming years will be hard, I won’t lie to you… everything will seem to be working against you on every turn… you will be singled out as an outcast and be constantly reminded of your name and family. But I want you to remember these words and keep them close to you… “

Courtesy, Courage
Honor, compassion
Sincerity, and Duty.

Be Courteous to everyone, no matter who it is. Be courageous… Our clan was founded by a farmer who took up a sword and fought not because he wanted glory, but because it was the right thing to do. Honor is part of our lives and as such you must always be mindful of your actions, since you represent not only you, or your family, but our whole clan. Be compassionate… Samurai are of higher stature than the Bonge, but this only means that you are charged with protecting them, so care for them, and keep them from harm. Be sincere, both in how you speak and how you act, for this shall reflect on your honor. Keep your Duty in mind. Our clan is small, but strong, and we uphold the values of justice and peace in Rokugan. Our duty is to keep the legacy of Toku alive through our deeds”

Her father spoke with a passion she had never witnessed before, yet when he came to the end of it, when he talked about Duty, tears started running down his eyes. His face was shaking and his hands were grasping the cloth of the kimono around his knees.
Akiko was wide-eyed and gasping for a moment. She then quickly looked at the ground for a moment as if to give her father a moment to regain his composure. A long silence was broken by a skittering monkey on one of the garden trees. Akiko then spoke, her eyes still looking at the ground…
A longer silence followed, giving Akiko a very uneasy feeling.
Before she could look up again, Uryo’s arms were already around her as her father’s embrace took her in.
“You are strong… you mother and I are very proud of you. The challenges that lie ahead are difficult, but you will prevail… such is the way of the monkey”

She did not know that at the time, but this was but the first step in an elaborate plan by her family to close ties with one of Rokugan’s most powerful families. Her parents had spent a sizeable amount of resources and political favors to have her become betrothed to a member of the Isawa family, and to have her enlisted in the Shiba Bushi school.

Akiko said goodbye to her parents the day after that, receiving a parting gift from each of them. Her mother gave her an Obi with embroidered cherries, which she would use with her dress kimono, and her father gave her a small white handkerchief that had a scent very much like the flowers that grew around the gardens. It had been a gift from an old friend to her father in his traveling swordsman days. He also gave her a straw hat, way too big for her at her current size. When she asked what it meant, Uryo simply said 

"That hat belonged to Doji Hakusho, one of the most skilled Iaijutsu masters I have ever had the Honor of meeting. Our relations with the Crane are very delicate at the moment, and I need you to remember that your father once had a friend amongst the Crane"

She hated the idea of leaving her home. She hated the idea of leaving her parents, her friends, her older sister and her little brother Yoshiro. But she also understood that from now on everything she did would be in representation of the monkey clan… nay… of the Uryo Family. She was to become a Samurai like her father and mother before her. She would overcome whatever task they set before her and fulfill her duty.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The fine line between challenging and impossible - DM THOUGHTS

Ever had a game of DnD where your Dungeon Master seems to be out to kill you no matter what?

First round: Everyone’s surprised, the enemy spellcaster casts Hold person on both the fighter and the cleric. Don't question it, he just does. The rogue suddenly realizes he is in a place with absolutely NO place to hide or run to. The enemy hard hitter hits the mage for infinity hit points of damage and kills him. Now it’s the party’s turn, but the rogue now has a mage down, a Cleric and a Fighter on hold for 7 to 10 business days, and a mage, two Barbarians, and a pack of wolves on top of him.

Don't be this douchebag...

Another (less extreme) example

The players prepare for a Dungeon crawl. They enter the Dungeon and immediately spring a trap. One player fails his reflex check and dies. The other three continue and enter a room with a deadly encounter with a vampire. Just as the name of the encounter suggests it, another player dies. The remaining two decide to exit the dungeon for now, and return with a different approach and two other companions. Just as they start to leave, the doors close and water starts to flood the room. 2 rounds later they are drowning, and a few failed Constitution checks later, it's a TPK.

Ugh... why?

The first thing that comes to mind when a DM sets his players up for failure like this, is "Why would he do that?".

- Players were getting cocky, the DM needed to show them that death was very possible.

- Nobody likes an easy game.

- Encounters are meant to be challenging

- I don't want to make it easy on them, my games are always hard.

These are ALL valid reasons to make a game harder, more difficult, or more challenging. However there is a fine line between making it challenging and making it impossible. Encounters should be challenging to keep your game interesting and your players awake. However, once you start throwing deadly encounter after deadly encounter, eventually one of them will die, and will probably resent the fact that you seemed to be trying to kill them from the beginning.

As a DM, one should be mindful of this balance, after all the idea behind a roleplaying game is to defeat an objective using everyone's abilities in creative ways. You do this while playing what is essentially a part in a story. you, the DM, are ALSO playing a part in that story. However you get to play everyone else in the world. and here's where you need to make a distinction.

It's not a game of "the players vs the DM".

The moment you start seeing the players as your enemies, it will be easier for you to start enjoying it every time you put an impossible obstacle in front of them, because then you "win". And where's the fun in that?

Yeah, I know... it's pretty sweet...but hear me out

There's just one DM and at least 3 or 4 players. If in the end you're the only one having fun at the table, then you have failed to make it entertaining for the majority of those at your table. This eventually leads to players asking themselves why they are doing this in the first place... subjecting themselves to hours of frustration just so YOU can have a laugh everytime they fail, and once they realize they don't like it, they leave and stop going to your games.. So how do you avoid this?

Try this: the players are not your enemies, see them as your allies. Sure, you're the one who places the problems in front of them, and you probably have an idea of how they could overcome that problem. S use that in your advantage. Your attitude should be "Ok guys here's the situation, how are we going to move the story forward?". If they give you ideas that are creative and inventive, then reward them with a positive outcome and move the story forward. It's a lot more fun to do this than just throw in a random no-win scenario and have them all die.

This does not mean that there should not be any impossible tasks in your world. A level 1 party that stumbles upon a dragon's hoard should be very aware of the fact that they are in for an almost guaranteed death if the dragon finds them. This is common sense. But placing nothing but extremely hard or near-impossible tasks between the players and their ultimate goal will get boring for them really fast.

So in conclusion, keep your games balanced, give your players the opportunities to shine and solve the problems in front of them. Don't go easy on them. And don't go out of your way to make their lives miserable either. Balance. Balance is everything.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Edge of The Empire - Dice head Review

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side kid…”

When you think “Star Wars” most people think about, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi Wan Kenobi… You know, the guys who have lightsabers and gtheir mastery of the force could, in theory, kill anyone with a mere thought.

However, there’s also Han Solo, Chewie, Lando Calrissian, The Millenium Falcon, Bobba Fett, the scum of the galaxy, the Hutts, the Black Sun syndicate, Mos Eisley, Ryloth, the lower levels of Coruscant. The dark gritty side of the Star Wars Galaxy is just as big as the more flashy force-wielding side of it, and there are so many ways in which one could run an RPG adventure in a setting like that.

So a long time ago, in a Galaxy far far away (In the 2000s), Wizards of the Coast owned the license for all Star Wars Collectible card and roleplaying games. Their license expired in 2010, and they declined to renew it. In comes Fantasy Flight games, doing what they do best, and pick up the Star Wars License from Lucasfilm Ltd. 2 years, a card game and a miniature game later, Fantasy Flight releases the first Game in the three part series of games that would comprise the Fantasy Flight Star Wars roleplaying game, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. Since then, another two games have been released, “Age of rebellion”, and “Force and Destiny”, to complete the “Trilogy” of Star Wars roleplaying games.
These three games, although separate from each other, are designed to be able to play using the rules from all 3 books. Today, we’ll be looking at the first and, for now, my favorite one:

I have the Beginners’ game and the Core Rulebook for Edge of the Empire [EoTE]. The Beginner’s guide includes a set of Roleplaying dice (I’ll talk more about those later) 4 character folios, a quick introductory adventure, a summarized rulebook and some adventure supplements like a two-sided map, and some placeholders for your characters and the other NPCs

The Core Rulebook has a much more complete and detailed version of the rules of the game. It gives you a brief overview on what it means to play on the Edge of the Empire, and the tone and feel of the adventures played with this system. It has a very extensive character creation chapter, then a chapter about the equipment, the ships you will be using, and other very important aspects of running the game, such as a description of the most prominent worlds on the outer rim of the Galaxy.

In addition to that, there is a whole chapter dedicated to the different factions of the Galaxy, such as the Hutt cartel, the Black Sun Syndicate, and obviously the Empire and the Rebel alliance. Since you're playing people who are the thugs, smugglers, hot-shot pilots and bounty hunters of the galaxy, it's pretty cool to see all of the oportunities you might have by working for or against any of these factions.

The last chapters of the book include a chapter on the Force Exile, a class that has a minor connection to the force and somehow survived the great Jedi purge. And a short adventure with everything you need to run it as a GM.


Edge of the Empire, just like all of the other Star Wars RPGs by Fantasy Flight, is a heavily narrative game. It uses "Narrative dice" to let you know whether you succeed or not in doing an action, and whether doing said action gave you an advantage or disadvantage in play.

When you decide you want to do an action you start by assembling your dice pool. Let's assume you're making a computers check in order to slice (*Hack* in Star Wars lingo) the security system and open a door. Your character is very Intelligent (her intellect is 3) and has invested some exp in her computers skill. First you take three positive green ability dice to go with her intellect score (3), then you replace two of those with the 2 yellow dice since she has 2 ranks in Computers. These are your positive dice.

Now let's say that the security system is average, not too easy, but not too hard to crack. This would be a medium difficulty roll, so we add 2 setback dice (the purple ones). We end up with something like this:

Basically, you roll the dice, and compare how many success and advantage symbols you have, versus how many failure and disadvantage symbols you have, these cancel each other out, and if in the end you have more success symbols left, that means you succeeded!

Now, the GM could say in this case, that you succeed opening the door, and you did it in such a way that prevents the security system from raising the alarm (that's how you count the advantage symbol). However, it is also possible to succeed with disadvantage though, in which case you would open the door and raise the alarm, giving you less time to move in and do what you need to do.

This is the core mechanic of the game, it makes everything move very smoothly and give the GM a lot of opportunities to add twists and turns to the game's narrative.

Final Thoughts:

I LOVE the Star Wars Universe. Ever since I started playing tabletop RPGs I've wanted to give a Star Wars RPG a try. I was aware of the existence of the Star Wars d20 books, but once I found out they were already out of print, the number of books and supplements was absurdly high, and most important of all, I didn't have a the money to buy all of that :). 

Fantasy Flight has done a great job translating the feel of a Star Wars story into the basic rules of the game. I feel like the game plays very smoothly, even though learning the rules of the game may take a bit of reading. Also if you've never seen the movies, or are not familiar with the terminology, then it might be a bit difficult to get into the mood of the game. However, if you like Sci-fi settings and Space battles, and laser pistols and big starships, then you will have a good time regardless.

All in all, I think this game is really good. As a Dungeon Master you get TONS of tools to build great stories in the Star Wars Galaxy. You want your characters to go hunting for bounties and compete against the likes of Boba Fett? Make deals with Jabba the Hutt? Explore the lower levels of Coruscant? Steal valuable information from the Empire? mess up the communications array of the Rebel Alliance? 

You can, and it'll be a blast. But don't take it from me, here's what some friends who got to play with me as a GM have to say about Edge of the Empire.

"Ever wanted to shoot first? this is your game"
Samuel the Wookie - 2015

"From the start of the game you immerse yourself in familiar places of the Star Wars Universe, the adventure gets you hooked right from the beginning. The force guides you to complete your objectives and overcome challenges. I recommend it for everyone, even non-star Wars fans"
Ludwig the smuggler - 2015

"The setting is very easy to explain, I liked the starter set with the character folios. It's a very complete game. Although, if you don't know anything about Star Wars you might need a bit of help from your friends who are familiar with the terminologies. But this doesn't stop you from having fun!"
Krystle, the Medical Droid - 2015

And well, this one from my friend Fernando is so well written I'm just going to put it here in Spanish, and hope I don't butcher it when I translate it into English.

"Muy pocos juegos tratan de enfatizar, realmente, el aspecto de roleplay de los juegos de rol. Ignorando conceptos pre establecidos por juegos como D&D o pathfinder, Edge of the Empire y sus sucesores de enfocan de lleno en los mismos con un juego altamente narrativo, dispuesto para los narradores aventureros que mas que preparar una historia en su mente le permiten a sus jugadores decidir de que manera seguirá la narrativa. Los dados y sus símbolos tomaran un rato en aprenderse, pero una vez todo es explicado se nota una poderosa elegancia y sencillez que deja a muchos otros "juegos de rol" en vergüenza. Con esta generación de juegos de rol con énfasis en narrativas mas aya de donde las espadas golpean las escamas de los enemigos, no esta de mas decir que la fuerza esta al borde del imperio."

Now, in english:

"Very few games try to really emphasize the roleplaying aspect in a roleplaying game. Ignoring concepts pre-established by games like D&D or Pathfinder, Edge of the Empire and its successors focus fully on roleplaying with a highly narrative-centric game that gives adventurous narrators the opportunity to not just prepare a story in their minds, but also let their players decide how the narrative will progress. The dice and their symbols will take a while to get used to, but once everything has been explained you will see a very powerful elegance and simplicity in the gameplay, which leaves other "Roleplaying" games in shame. With this new generation of roleplaying games, which emphasize narrative beyond swords hitting the scales of our enemies, it's not too much to say that the force, is on the edge of the empire."

Fernando - Bounty Hunter

Beautiful, isn't it?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Legend of the 5 Rings - DICE HEAD REVIEW!

A few months ago a friend of mine convinced me to give this game a try. Basically, as he said, it’s a game where you roleplay as Samurai. And that was pretty much all I needed to give it a try.

Legend of the Five Rings (often abbreviated L5R) is a fictional setting created by John Zinser, Dave Seay, Dave Williams, and John Wick and published by Alderac Entertainment Group in 1995. The setting primarily involves the fictional empire of Rokugan, though some additional areas and cultures have been discussed. Rokugan is based roughly on feudal Japan with influences from other East Asian cultures such as China, Mongolia and Korea.

Now that we’ve got the Wikipedia part of the review out of the way, let’s get into what the game has, how it plays and my general thoughts about it.

"If you see the "half-persons" -as you call them- like posessions, you should take care of them properly. Will you leave your wonderful yukata dirty with mud, or would you clean it and make sure it is anything but perfect?"
-Daidoji Natsuki


The core rulebook is pretty thick. It has 404 pages and it’s divided by books titled after the rings referenced in the name of the game. First there’s an introduction, then there’s the Book of Air, which has about 60 pages full of Lore dealing with How the world was created, how Rokugan (the name of the setting, like “Greyhawk” or “Faerun”) came to be, the social classes, everyday rituals, religion, philosophy, Honor, Politics, Economics, and a very thorough description of the 8 Great Clans of Rokugan.

It has a METRIC ASS-TON of Lore.

I think L5R is a rich role-play game. It is quite fantastic how simple is to understand it, and though it is fictional, you can make realistic characters with it.
-Elii Mascarin – Player and Game Master

The Book of Earth deals with Game mechanics, how to roll dice, how to read the dice, how combat works, how skill checks are made and how to deal with certain situations in the game. Even though it’s mostly about mechanics, this book also has a few lore entries that help the reader to get immersed into the world of Rokugan.

“Good game, if you like manners and went to finishing school! “ 
-Priscilla Shirley - Player

The book of Fire is all about character creation. In here you’ll find tools to create your character, like a set of 20 questions to help you flesh out your character’s background story. Here’s where you choose which clan your Samurai will belong to, wether he will be a Bushi (warrior) a Shugenja (Magic user) Courtier (Politician) or a Monk or Ninja. As always, you should ask your Dungeon Master which one of these fit better in the story. This chapter goes on to explain how skills work, how spells work, and it gives you the stats for armor and weapons. It also has lore.

“Perfect family game, if you want to GET KILLED FOR DRINKING SAKE, like why, are we kids?  And the turning down gifts three times thing is pretty annoying too. Just give me my damn gift bruh. The shadowland prowlin' oni slayin' part makes it kind of worth it, though.”

-Daidouji Takeru, half-crab half-crane full awesome.

The Book of Water Talks about advanced mechanics. It has information on minor clans, Imperial Families, Ronin options, optional systems like massive battle rules. The Lore in this chapter is also very heavy.

Then the last chapter: The book of Void, focuses on tips for Dungeon Masters and gives them a lot of tools to run a game, like different types of campaigns, how to award experience points to the players, stats for monsters and nonhuman races. It also has a complete 30 page adventure that’s ready to run. And of course:  LORE LORE LORE LORE LORE LORE!!!

“We all want to play as a Samurai in some RPG in some moment of our lives. It doesnt matter which one we're playing at the moment there is always that need to wield a Katana. What surprised me about L5R is that the way the convey the setting to you makes you want to do more than just become Battousai and slash people. You do cool thinks. For example, my character, a Crane Clan Courtier by the name of Daidoji Daichi, would speak in code whenever he wanted...and it was awesome.

Daichi: It would be most imperative to suggest that the Monkey will soon land upon the branches where the Crane is taking a rest. 

Which means, basically, that Monkey reinforcements are arriving to the Crane clan's camp.

Or something like:

Daichi: It is known that when choosing between poisonous enemies, nothing goes past the webs of the Spider...or survive the venom of the scorpion.

Which can mean multiple things. So, speaking in code is pretty great. Get this game if you want to go all cryptic on other players and have them laugh/roll their eyes”
-Moises Montero – Player and Dungeon Master


Legend of the 5 rings has very simple gameplay mechanics. If you want to do something, you determine your level of success by rolling d10s. You take a bunch of d10s, you throw them, keep the highest number of the roll and add them up. If your result reaches the Target number (determined by your DM) you succeed in doing what you want to do.
Now, what determines the amount of d10s you roll? And what determines the amount of high rolls you get to keep? That’s the not-so-simple part. Let’s try to give you an example.

Rolls are described as xky
X is the number of dice you roll, and Y is the number of dice you keep from that roll. So a roll where you roll 8 and keep 3 would be read as 8k3 or “8 keep 3”

So… You want to hit something with a sword.
The skill required to do so is “Kenjutsu”

You have bought 5 skill points in Kenjutsu, which is tied to your Agility trait. Until now you’ve spent some experience points to raise your Agility to 3.

You would add you 5 skill points in Kenjutsu, to the 3 in Agility, for a total of 8 and you would keep the 3 (from your Agility) highest dice from your roll.


If one or any of your dice land on 0 (meaning you rolled a 10) they “explode”. So you can add 10 to your roll and roll that dice again, keeping whatever number it lands on. If the dice lands on 0 again, you keep adding 10 to the roll and rerolling until you stop exploding dice.
That is the basic mechanic, but this is pretty much the same for all types of checks, you take a number of dice, you roll them and keep a number of dice out of that roll.

Simple right?

Eh… no…. I would be lying to you if I said this system felt simple or in any way intuitive to me. But, as any other game, you learn to roll your skills a lot faster and more naturally the more you play.


Legend of the Five Rings is an RPG setting with a load of customization options that will make you look at Role Playing Games in a very different way. As any other setting you can always adapt some of the gameplay options to fit the type of game you want to run. Do you want a game full of political intrigue, moral backstabbing (also: literal backstabbing) and sword duels to the death? L5R has got it. Do you want a game where you slice you enemies down with your katana, fighting for the honor of your house? L5R has got that too. Is it the first time you play an RPG, and want to take a swing at roleplaying with a couple of friends for the first time? Stop right there.

-Samuel Gonzalez - Player

This game might work for you if you have never PLAYED an RPG before, as long as your Game Master is familiar with the setting. A GM that knows the intricacies of how the 8 houses interact with each other, and who has also familiarized him or herself with the oriental cultural aspects that have been integrated into this setting, is your best bet at running a really awesome adventure in Rokugan.

If you’re a Game Master that has never run a Roleplaying Game, then you might want to steer away from this one. I would suggest that you get the Core Rulebook (4th Edition) and read it. Then read it again, and again, and again. Then when you’ve finally learned the details of this game, read it again. THEN you can run a game in Rokugan. Trust me, it’s in your best interests to get REALLY immersed in the setting before you run it. It will make it a lot more fun for you, and most importantly, for your players.

“If you like Intrigue and strategy, Legend of the 5 rings will be an enormously satisfying experience for you.”
-Fernando Dolande – Game Master and player

Here’s my absolutely honest opinion, this game is awesome. If you’re looking for a game that draws inspiration from Oriental culture, and lets you play as Samurai. Then look no further than Legend of the 5 Rings.

Also did you know they have a Collectible Card game?!?!? Time for a SEQUEL REVIEW!!!

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fudging Dice - DM Thoughts

Generally speaking, Roleplaying Games are games where you don’t necessarily win or lose. You just move the plot further through either success or failure. There are many plot devices and narrative tools that a DM can use to move the plot along, some of these can be shared with the players, others… not so much.

Today I’d like to talk to you about “fudging dice rolls”


Dominic: Ok guys the enemy mage fires a fireball, roll me a dexterity save.

Patrick: ok… 3

Vanessa: Ugh… 6

Jules: I got this… ok, no I don’t…8

Nataniél: 9… oh wait no… that’s a 6

Dominic: ok…

At this point Dominic has a choice to make. He can let the dice fall as they may, and call the full damage of the fireball on his friends. Or he can roll the dice and give his friends a chance to regroup and mount a strategy by calling part of the damage rolled by the dice. You might think “But why would he do this? Dom needs to put his big DM pants on and roll like he means it” And in a way you’re absolutely right.

However, like I’ve said before, D&D are games that revolve around telling a story, and sometimes you may need to help the story along. Or you just simply don’t want the story to stop. A couple of bad rolls on the player’s side, and a couple of good rolls on the DM’s side could end very quickly on a Total Party Kill (TPK), meaning your players would all need to get their act together, create new characters, make new backstories, and you would have to explain how these new characters are filling in for the dead ones. Depending on the type of game you’re playing this means you might have to change the story a bit, a lot, or not at all. You might want to fudge the roll only to keep the current game going. You might also want to see how far these characters can defy the odds

Now, how do you fudge dice?

Words to live by

You’re the DM and don’t need to give out explanations for every roll you make, let’s start with that. Also if you don’t want to use a DM screen then fudging is out of the question. Let’s see how Dominic handles the situation:

Dominic: Ok… the mage raises his hand, points a finger at you, and shoots a small bead of fire towards you. You are all unable to react in time and the fireball explodes close to where you all are, dealing… (Rolls 3d6 behind the screen, the outcome is 15, which would kill all 4 lvl1 characters) 7 fire damage!

Patrick: Well I’m almost dead, my character only has 1 hit point!

Vanessa: My fighter still has a potion and could probably cover you guys, but I’m going to need some healing… only 3 HP left

Jules: I’m down to 0 hit points. Shit… do I roll death saves now or at the end of the round?

Nataniél: Hey wait… I’m a Tiefling, I have fire resistance. He only does 3 damage to me! I can heal Vanessa with Cure wounds. Just make sure you hit that mage with all you’ve got before he fires again!

Dominic: Well you guys seem to have things under control *smiles evilly* Roll me a death save Jules…

So Dominic does not kill the party outright, but he does put them in a challenging situation that might end up either in a TPK or in an amazing victory, that depends on what the players decide to do next. As you can see, fudging dice is simply handling the dice results in such a way that keeps engaging the players to come up with different strategies and ways to beat the obstacles that you present to them.

The alternative? Well you could just kill them and narrate the dramatic events that follow the heroes’ failure to beat the evil mage. In the end, the decision to fudge or not to fudge the dice roll depends on the type of game your players want to play. Maybe they specified that they preferred a more hardcore experience, where all traps are deadly and every single room has at least one vampire in it. If this is the case, then by all means, roll every single dice in front of them and watch them fall like flies.

Thanks for reading