Content of the article: "Players accused me behind my back of fudging rolls"
I need to get something off my chest, vent a little and ask for your advice, because last night I found out that two of my players accused me behind my back that I'm fudging rolls when I'm DMing.
Let's start from the beginning. I've been DMing on and off for more than 18 years, but I've only started DMing D&D about half a year ago, because we've mostly been playing using other systems. I'm currently playing with 4 guys, Paul, Patrick, Matt and Omar (names changed for obvious reasons), most of them I've known for around 15 years, though I met Matt a couple of years later (he's a childhood friend of Patrick) and Omar joined about 2 or 3 years ago during a World of Darkness campaign. Paul and Patrick are my best friends IRL, though I've never been that close to Matt, and even though I only met Omar later, we clicked right away. He's a really nice guy, always smiling, great at RPing, no issues there. Or so I thought…
Last night we were creating characters for Paul and Matt for a side campaign (I've been running Ghosts of Saltmarsh and we're already 19 sessions in, but for the last month or so Omar couldn't make it, so I decided on doing side campaigns when not all of my players are available) and after Matt signed off from the call (after a heated argument on how Paul's character should be like), Paul told me that Matt and Omar have been talking behind my back, about me fudging rolls, so I can hit their characters with high AC.
This hurt for a couple of reasons: first of all, I'm not doing it, even though I don't believe for a second that not fudging rolls makes you a better DM. It's just hard for me, because it kinda goes against how I was brought up. I never cheat in competitive games, so the concept of fudging rolls is a bit alien to me. The only time I did fudge a roll was during our very first session when I made one of my crits into a simple hit, so that I don't kill a PC potentially on their first D&D session ever.
The second reason is that, my biggest issue with D&D has been balancing encounters, making them hard enough for the players to have a real challenge, but not causing a TPK. This usually results in encounters being too easy, so fudging some rolls might have been a better option. Still, I didn't do it.
The third reason is that I always appreciate and ask for feedback, so the fact that this has been going on behind my back feels really bad.
Now Matt has always been my most problematic player. He's actually the reason I started DMing for this group, because I didn't enjoy how he's been running his games. I have some stories worthy of r/rpghorrorstories, one of them being when Patrick and I created a duo of swordmaster brothers (using a different system other than D&D), only to have our swords, a center part of our characters stolen from us in the first scene. Our biggest achivement during that adventure was herding a flock of sheep and getting them from one place to another (I'm not even joking).
Matt also finds pleasure in min-maxing characters. He always had a tendency of finding the most broken combos in any game, be it board games, video games or RPGs. I accept that people enjoy different things when RPing, so I don't mind this that much, even though I'm not a fan of this in RPGs and it makes balancing encounters a bit of a nightmare. For example, during our current adventure and the one before that he was the only one using the Point Buy system instead of a modified Array, just so he could dump more stats. He does RP his low stats though, so I can live with this for now.
But the fact that he told me he finds the encounters easy, which is a direct result of him min-maxing and all the while he also accused me of cheating kinda baffles me.
I'm going to be honest, my first thought was dropping the campaign and finding new players to play with. I'm a passionate DM, I thrive to be the best DM I can be, I research stuff for countless hours and prepare for countless more. I can say hopefully without sounding boastful, that a lot of people would be glad to have me DM to them. People in RPG groups are always looking for DMs and I'm a better DM than a player, so this could certainly be an option. However, sessions are still fun, Paul and Patrick are still my best friends and if Paul hadn't told me this, I wouldn't have even noticed it. I also thought about removing Matt from the game if he gave me more issues than I can handle, but that would have IRL consequences I don't really want to face (he's really a good guy, I can't stress this enough) and also it would reduce the number of players in the side campaigns to two, which doesn't sound that good. If it comes to that I'd still rather drop the whole campaing than banning him from my table even temporarily.
Sorry for the long post, I'm gonna stop here. Any advice will be much appreciated.
TL;DR: Players accused me behind my back of fudging rolls, even though I didn't. How should I address this considering I shouldn't even know about it?
- Fudging your dice is holding you back as a DM. Here’s three reasons to roll in the open
- Consider having a side campaign
- My first 2 times as DM were 2 TPK’s – How to get back in the saddle (mines of Phandelver spoilers)
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