Fudging is and always has been a hot topic — here on the Stew, in most gaming groups, on message boards, you name it.

That’s because it gets at the core of what gaming is all about, and once you figure out where you fall on the “NEVER FUDGE EVER EVER EVER!!!! — I heart fudge, I love it, it’s the bestest!!!!” spectrum, it reveals a pretty fundamental divide among GMs.

Roughly speaking, that divide is about what’s most important to you at the table: story, letting the dice fall where they may, fairness, keeping players happy, etc. And once you know the divide exists, it can be a sore point in your group.

Kurt just finished up a three-part series of articles on fudging, Recipe for Fudge (Exposition, Fallout, and Lessons Learned), so I’ve got fudge on the brain.

Let’s look at just one slice of the fudge bar today, a favorite hot button of mine: As a GM, when should you pull punches?

Should you pull punches when…

  1. A player is having a bad night?
  2. You realize you really skewed a combat against the PCs?
  3. A PC slips, falls off a cliff, and is about to die?
  4. To preserve the story?
  5. To cover up a mistake you made?
  6. Someone might lose a valuable item?
  7. You want the PCs’ plan to work?
  8. You didn’t prep enough material, and the fight needs to last longer?
  9. Your significant other is about to lose his first character ever?
  10. The previous adventure really sucked, and you want this one to be more fun for your players?

And a follow-up: Is it even possible to generalize about these situations?

In other words, whether you’re pro-fudge, anti-fudge, or somewhere in between, would you give the same answer in each of the 10 situations above?