D&D 5E 5e consequence-resolution

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Notably, the designers say that if you only ever use 10, 15, and 20 for DCs, then the game runs fine. In my experience, that is true. Then it's just a matter of being consistent with those 3 DCs for given approaches to goals that come up more often than others.
 

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Hussar

Legend
If we're only going to use 3 DC's - 10-20, then why bother having a system at all? Or, to put it another way, not not simply have a chance of success based on the character? After all, the DC's are almost always going to fall within a specific range anyway, so, why not simply put it in the player's hands?

But, @Oofta, again, you are not actually talking about simulation. In a simulation system, it has to tell you something about what happened. Why did the roll succeed or fail? What happened? Since the 5e system is not based in anything remotely resembling simulation, then any narration is equally applicable.

Player: I would like to negotiate with the merchant for a discount.
Dm: Ok, fair enough. Gimme a Persuasion check.
Player: 23. I fart on him.
DM: Great, you get a 20 per cent discount.

Is a perfectly reasonable result from the 5e skill system because success or failure is not in any way tied to the narrative or the game world.
 

Hussar

Legend
You prefer rules that delineate how widely known a fact is in the game world? That sounds... unnecessarily prescriptive. I'm not sure that's exactly what you are saying, but it kinda seems like it.

As DM, yes, I do determine what is common knowledge in my world. The published adventures do a little bit of this as well.
I prefer rules that give any sort of guidance whatsoever on how to determine the DC's. And, I would like a system that actually has any sort of indication of what a success or failure actually means in the game fiction. I actually WANT a more simulationist system. I want a system that actually guides the fiction rather than simply making horsey noises when my knight takes a bishop.
 


soviet

Adventurer
If we're only going to use 3 DC's - 10-20, then why bother having a system at all? Or, to put it another way, not not simply have a chance of success based on the character? After all, the DC's are almost always going to fall within a specific range anyway, so, why not simply put it in the player's hands?

But, @Oofta, again, you are not actually talking about simulation. In a simulation system, it has to tell you something about what happened. Why did the roll succeed or fail? What happened? Since the 5e system is not based in anything remotely resembling simulation, then any narration is equally applicable.

Player: I would like to negotiate with the merchant for a discount.
Dm: Ok, fair enough. Gimme a Persuasion check.
Player: 23. I fart on him.
DM: Great, you get a 20 per cent discount.

Is a perfectly reasonable result from the 5e skill system because success or failure is not in any way tied to the narrative or the game world.
Just to note, in the real world I find this haggling technique to be of mixed effectiveness.
 

Oofta

Legend
If we're only going to use 3 DC's - 10-20, then why bother having a system at all? Or, to put it another way, not not simply have a chance of success based on the character? After all, the DC's are almost always going to fall within a specific range anyway, so, why not simply put it in the player's hands?

But, @Oofta, again, you are not actually talking about simulation. In a simulation system, it has to tell you something about what happened. Why did the roll succeed or fail? What happened? Since the 5e system is not based in anything remotely resembling simulation, then any narration is equally applicable.

Player: I would like to negotiate with the merchant for a discount.
Dm: Ok, fair enough. Gimme a Persuasion check.
Player: 23. I fart on him.
DM: Great, you get a 20 per cent discount.

Is a perfectly reasonable result from the 5e skill system because success or failure is not in any way tied to the narrative or the game world.

I suspect you're using game theory jargon and I am not. If I knew how to pick a lock and tried to pick it, I might be able to pick it quickly, it might take me a while (say a half hour or so based on my limited knowledge) or it may just be beyond my ability. When I say simulation all I mean is that we use the dice to simulate an uncertain activity and the results resemble what we would see in the real world. In the lock picking case, the result is that we pick the lock or we don't. Why did I fail? Who cares? I'm not a locksmith, I can't tell you.

If someone narrates "I fart on him" for their persuasion check then the check automatically fails in my game. Fortunately I don't play with 8 year olds so it's not an issue. So please lay off the hyperbole. On the other hand if the group doesn't care and they're just playing the games for laughs then who am I to say they're doing it wrong?
 

Oofta

Legend
I prefer rules that give any sort of guidance whatsoever on how to determine the DC's. And, I would like a system that actually has any sort of indication of what a success or failure actually means in the game fiction. I actually WANT a more simulationist system. I want a system that actually guides the fiction rather than simply making horsey noises when my knight takes a bishop.
They do give guidelines. It's just not guidelines that you personally prefer, and honestly I'm still not sure exactly what you want. You can have a system where (in D&D terms) all the DCs are fixed, I don't think that's any better. How the heck are they supposed to be more specific considering the nearly infinite number of situations that could call for a check?
 


Hussar

Legend
They do give guidelines. It's just not guidelines that you personally prefer, and honestly I'm still not sure exactly what you want. You can have a system where (in D&D terms) all the DCs are fixed, I don't think that's any better. How the heck are they supposed to be more specific considering the nearly infinite number of situations that could call for a check?

Again in the example I gave, the system provides zero guidance. None. Nothing for setting the dc, nothing for what kind of action it is. The only thing the system provides is the character’s bonus to a d20 roll.

And I’m using the commonly understood meaning of plain English simulation. A simulation that provides no information is not a simulation. It’s not jargon. That’s what simulation actually means.

You don’t appear to want simulation at all. You just want something that says success/failure. That’s not simulating anything. It’s just a slightly more complicated coin flip and then adding some sort of justification after the fact. You’re just making horsey noises while moving your knight.

That’s not simulation.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
But, @Oofta, again, you are not actually talking about simulation. In a simulation system, it has to tell you something about what happened. Why did the roll succeed or fail? What happened? Since the 5e system is not based in anything remotely resembling simulation, then any narration is equally applicable.
Simulating whether you are successful at a particular task. All that needs returned there is pass/fail.

Player: I would like to negotiate with the merchant for a discount.
Dm: Ok, fair enough. Gimme a Persuasion check.
Player: 23. I fart on him.
DM: Great, you get a 20 per cent discount.

Is a perfectly reasonable result from the 5e skill system because success or failure is not in any way tied to the narrative or the game world.
Or consider this:

Player: I would like to negotiate with the merchant for a discount.
Dm: Ok, fair enough. Gimme a Persuasion check.
Player: 23. I fart on him.
DM: It smelled so bad he gave you a 20% discount just to get you to leave quicker (Even with the +10 difficulty increase in DC due to your method of persuasion).

Describing the results of a skill check is all about tying the pass/fail result and the characters actions into the fiction.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I prefer rules that give any sort of guidance whatsoever on how to determine the DC's. And, I would like a system that actually has any sort of indication of what a success or failure actually means in the game fiction. I actually WANT a more simulationist system. I want a system that actually guides the fiction rather than simply making horsey noises when my knight takes a bishop.
In D&D the prescribed system for determining DC's is the DM decides. That tends to be both a pro and a con.

For a DM to set a DC in D&D he considers the scene he's described and the NPC's in it and determines the DC based on that and past precedents if applicable. He then sets the DC and proceeds to resolution. (This is a system. What it sounds like you want isn't just a system but a specific system - an index of DC's for common tasks)
 

Hussar

Legend
In D&D the prescribed system for determining DC's is the DM decides. That tends to be both a pro and a con.

For a DM to set a DC in D&D he considers the scene he's described and the NPC's in it and determines the DC based on that and past precedents if applicable. He then sets the DC and proceeds to resolution. (This is a system. What it sounds like you want isn't just a system but a specific system - an index of DC's for common tasks)
From what I understand of the term, "indexed system", I think you're spot on. If the system for determining everything - not only the DC's, but the "appropriate fiction" (after all, you increased the DC because you, the DM, felt that my method was a bad one - which rolls us right back into Mother-May-I territory), what kind of action the check is, and the events in the game - is entirely in the hands of the DM, and the only thing the system is actually telling us is the character's bonus on the die roll, again, something that is entirely divorced from anything inside the game world - then the system is basically just "make stuff up".

If that's the system we have, then, fair enough. But, "make stuff up" isn't a simulation of anything. Which is where I fell down this rabbit hole in the first place. @Oofta's claim to prefer simulation. But, the system doesn't actually simulate anything. Pass/Fail isn's a simulation when the conditions of the pass/fail are entirely arbitrary.

So, yes, I would like a skill system that is a bit more meaty than what 5e has given us. I would like a skill system that is at least as complex as the combat system. Or, at the very least, anything more than just "Here's the bonus on your d20 roll, make everything else up as you go along."

I'm not saying we have to go full on GURPS or anything like that. There's a considerable middle ground here. A LITTLE more complex would go a long way. Again, anything more than basically a "Roll high" system. Basic, standard skill actions should not require the DM to create virtually every single step of the resolution. Imagine if the combat system was like that. You have an attack bonus and nothing else. The enemy's AC is entirely in the hands of the DM and can change depending on how you describe your action. People would lose their poop. There's no way people would accept a combat system like that.

But, for some reason, it's perfectly fine to have half the game (as in the non-combat part of the game) be pretty much freeform. :erm:
 

Oofta

Legend
Again in the example I gave, the system provides zero guidance. None. Nothing for setting the dc, nothing for what kind of action it is. The only thing the system provides is the character’s bonus to a d20 roll.
The system does provide guidance. Difficulty can go anywhere from very easy to nearly impossible. It doesn't give specifics because there are a near infinite number of challenges that are not opposed rolls.
And I’m using the commonly understood meaning of plain English simulation. A simulation that provides no information is not a simulation. It’s not jargon. That’s what simulation actually means.

You don’t appear to want simulation at all. You just want something that says success/failure. That’s not simulating anything. It’s just a slightly more complicated coin flip and then adding some sort of justification after the fact. You’re just making horsey noises while moving your knight.

That’s not simulation.

I have no idea what you mean by "no information". As a DM when I describe something I'll give the players the information I believe the PCs would have. You keep saying it's not a simulation like it's a mantra. It's meaning kerfluffle by now because you can't explain it other than say that the game provides no information. I disagree.

Do a quick search on how long it takes to pick a lock. You'll find that it can typically take between 7 seconds and 45 minutes to open a lock while sometimes being impossible. If you want to simulate ... sorry ... mimic that in a game there's only so many ways to emulate that. One way is to use D&D's methodology, perhaps with degrees of success/failure which is what I do. I am simulating the outcome of attempts to pick a lock. The reasons it can take differing amounts of time to open a lock is due to several things from lock construction, whether the lock has a broken or sticking spring to just plain luck. Sometimes you open a lock quickly because you just happen to lift the mechanisms just right on the first try. In D&D we represent that by the roll of a die.

But this is a tangent. If you don't things like this are simulation, fine. If that's the case I don't see how any TTRPG could be considered having elements that are simulationist, which I think is a silly interpretation. But you do you.

But it comes back to the same question. What option is there? Other games have a set target number for all task resolutions that are uncertain and I would find that unsatisfying. A lock on a farmer's shed should be far easier to pick than the lock on a god's treasure chest. Degrees of success/failure is covered in the DMG, and is something I use depending on the type of check. You keep saying things are arbitrary, but everything about games is arbitrary at some point.

From what I understand of the term, "indexed system", I think you're spot on. If the system for determining everything - not only the DC's, but the "appropriate fiction" (after all, you increased the DC because you, the DM, felt that my method was a bad one - which rolls us right back into Mother-May-I territory), what kind of action the check is, and the events in the game - is entirely in the hands of the DM, and the only thing the system is actually telling us is the character's bonus on the die roll, again, something that is entirely divorced from anything inside the game world - then the system is basically just "make stuff up".

If that's the system we have, then, fair enough. But, "make stuff up" isn't a simulation of anything. Which is where I fell down this rabbit hole in the first place. @Oofta's claim to prefer simulation. But, the system doesn't actually simulate anything. Pass/Fail isn's a simulation when the conditions of the pass/fail are entirely arbitrary.

So, yes, I would like a skill system that is a bit more meaty than what 5e has given us. I would like a skill system that is at least as complex as the combat system. Or, at the very least, anything more than just "Here's the bonus on your d20 roll, make everything else up as you go along."

I'm not saying we have to go full on GURPS or anything like that. There's a considerable middle ground here. A LITTLE more complex would go a long way. Again, anything more than basically a "Roll high" system. Basic, standard skill actions should not require the DM to create virtually every single step of the resolution. Imagine if the combat system was like that. You have an attack bonus and nothing else. The enemy's AC is entirely in the hands of the DM and can change depending on how you describe your action. People would lose their poop. There's no way people would accept a combat system like that.

But, for some reason, it's perfectly fine to have half the game (as in the non-combat part of the game) be pretty much freeform. :erm:

In 3.5 we had some example DCs. One was given the type of wall you were given a DC to climb them. But it didn't really matter because as a DM that just meant I had to reverse engineer the target DC I wanted. If I had low level PCs and I wanted a wall they could climb but it shouldn't be too difficult then I wanted a DC 10 so I had to look up on the table how do describe it. Or maybe I wanted to make it more difficulty so I also had to cross reference in the climb modifier. It gave the illusion of objectivity but it was really just a layer of unnecessary complexity.

That was just for climbing, how can you possibly come up with a comprehensive list for every action the PCs might want to take that have an uncertain outcome? Come up with the equivalent of monster entries? We have a couple thousand of official monsters and enumerable custom variants. I don't even know where you could start with a list of possible actions that wouldn't end up just like the climbing guidelines except exponentially worse.

But I'd also say that everything about D&D (and all TTRPGs) is arbitrary. The AC of a bullywug? Arbitrary. How much damage a red dragon's breath does? Arbitrary. It may follow some logic, just like when I set the DC for that lock or that wall, but ultimately it's just arbitrary made up numbers. They're just made up by someone else that as a DM I have to look up.

So I'll ask again. What options are there that would be better?
 

In 3.5 we had some example DCs. One was given the type of wall you were given a DC to climb them. But it didn't really matter because as a DM that just meant I had to reverse engineer the target DC I wanted. If I had low level PCs and I wanted a wall they could climb but it shouldn't be too difficult then I wanted a DC 10 so I had to look up on the table how do describe it.
Sure, but the GM must also respect the fiction, and if they don't it becomes blatantly obvious. Like it would be hella weird if that farmer's shed had an enchanted adamantium door so that the GM can set a high DC.

I really don't agree with @Hussar on this, but I also think some charts of examples of DCs for things that commonly feature in adventures is a good thing, and helps the GM to consistently extrapolate further DCs.
 

I really don't agree with @Hussar on this, but I also think some charts of examples of DCs for things that commonly feature in adventures is a good thing, and helps the GM to consistently extrapolate further DCs.

This is a good point... and, as I'm noticing while looking through a few books, some example DCs have been provided to guide us.

Xanathar's has a whole section on Tool Proficiencies and sample DCs for various activities using said tools.

Tasha's provides a section on Parleying with Monsters which suggests a method for setting a DC and choosing an applicable skill for discovering what a monster might desire (DC = 10 + the CR of the monster). If the PC succeeds on the Ability Check, they gain advantage on an effort to communicate with the monster (presumably then using the Social Interaction DC tables in the DMG.) Horsey noises optional.
 

Oofta

Legend
Sure, but the GM must also respect the fiction, and if they don't it becomes blatantly obvious. Like it would be hella weird if that farmer's shed had an enchanted adamantium door so that the GM can set a high DC.

I really don't agree with @Hussar on this, but I also think some charts of examples of DCs for things that commonly feature in adventures is a good thing, and helps the GM to consistently extrapolate further DCs.
Yeah, there are a lot of things in D&D that lean on the DM being fair. Not sure how to get around that. When it comes to examples, that goes back to page count, simplicity and speed of play.

Assume for a moment we had more examples. How many would be enough? Let's say you had [picking arbitrary number] 20 examples. That means that as a DM I have to be really familiar with those examples if we happen to hit an action covered by an example. I hit in 3.x was that people will be flipping through the book, slowing down the game looking up specifics.

There are some guidelines, it just can't ever be comprehensive.

EDIT: remove typo.
 
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Cruentus

Adventurer
I think some examples are fine, but in this case I agree with @Oofta, there is no way to cover every eventuality that might come up in play. And if you’re really ‘respecting the fiction’, then you shouldn’t be rolling that much anyway.

Player (thief): I want to climb the wall of the building, are there handholds, a drain or boards I can get hands into?”
DM: Yes, you see a trellis further down the wall, a downspout to your left, or you think you could climb up using the windowsills and separated walllboards, but it might be more obvious.”
Player: “I will use the downspout if it looks sturdy enough to hold me.”
DM: “You give it a tug, and it doesn’t shift much. You climb to the top fairly easily.”

Done, respects the fiction, and doesn’t require a single roll. And it’s not “mother may I”, unless you view the player/DM interactions as essentially oppositional. Even though this was a ‘simple’ task, likely DC 10, why have the player roll? Simulationism? There is no need, and the actual rolls are often overused. In a simple situation, with no pressure, no roll would be necessary.

No, if it’s raining, or wet, or the thief is being chased, or the thief has a big need to be quiet, or unseen, THEN we’re getting into rolling territory. Because then there is a consequence for failure. Maybe that easy DC 10 climb is now a moderate DC 15, or whatever, because it’s raining, or the city guard is right behind them. Maybe the DM gives advantage because the thief spies some easy handholds, or has climbing gear they can use. It all ties into the fiction. Pass the now asked for roll, you climb the wall and it gets described (or I’ll often ask the player to describe the climb). Fail the roll, and maybe I describe a foot slipping, and the thief falling to the alley floor, or the guard grabs and ankle - what do you do?

Those situations are just as, or more engaging than combat, without the need for complicated lists of DCs for tasks. Now, I think more and further fleshed out examples in the rules would be great, but for what it is trying to accomplish, they work just fine. You’d have to find a much crunchier rule set to give you what you’re looking for it you want more (in my experience).
 

There are some guidelines, it just can't ever be comprehensive.
Sure. Comprehensive list is impossible and impractical. But I don't think a little bit more would hurt. Setting some benchmarks that help extrapolating. Perhaps skill descriptions could have some sample DCs for common uses? I don't know, this is not a thing that is a problem for me, as I have my own internalised model, but I can see how new GMs might benefit from having a bit more examples.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Sure. Comprehensive list is impossible and impractical. But I don't think a little bit more would hurt. Setting some benchmarks that help extrapolating. Perhaps skill descriptions could have some sample DCs for common uses? I don't know, this is not a thing that is a problem for me, as I have my own internalised model, but I can see how new GMs might benefit from having a bit more examples.
One problem I have with set DCs is that it assumes everyone’s imagined world is more consistent with each other than they need be.

A climb DC for a wall in your fictional world need not be the same DC as a similar wall in my fictional world. My fictional world may view climbing harder as I’m approaching the game as a non athletic nerd and you as a college athlete. Or perhaps my game is grittier and yours more high fantasy. Or perhaps the walls are only superficially similar and the dc reflects the true differences, Etc. the point is dcs can be on a bit of a sliding scale depending on exactly the kind of game being ran. To me that’s a pro. I can understand why it would be a con for others.
 

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