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Abilities....Which check would you use?

Which check would you use?

  • Wisdom (Survival)

    Votes: 18 40.0%
  • Wisdom (Perception)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Intelligence (Investigation)

    Votes: 1 2.2%
  • Intelligence (Nature)

    Votes: 10 22.2%
  • A combination of the above

    Votes: 16 35.6%
  • None of the above

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    45

Li Shenron

Adventurer
A character (not a ranger) has found some animal tracks and wants to try and determine information from them, including what type of creature made them, how many there are, and whether any are injured. What kind of check would you have them make?

1. Wisdom (Survival)

2. Wisdom (Perception)

3. Intelligence (Investigation)

4. Intelligence (Nature)

5. Some other combination, like Intelligence (Survival) or Wisdom (Investigation)?
"When you look around for clues and make deductions based on those clues, you make an Intelligence (Investigation) check."

"Your Intelligence (Nature) check measures your ability to recall lore about terrain, plants and animals, the weather, and natural cycles."

"The GM might ask you to make a Wisdom (Survival) check to follow tracks"

As usual, the 5e skill system is far from being compartmentalized, as there is overlapping everywhere.

In this case, I would certainly exclude generic Perception and use something more specific.

If you want to learn more details rather than just noticing things, I'd go with an Intelligence check (there is a general trend about preferring to use Wisdom when dealing with tasks that country/wilderness-dwellers are supposed to know best, as if they are supposedly low-Intelligence, which is frankly insulting).

Nature seems more appropriate for identifying the creature (track shapes is quite straightforward lore), but Investigation is for the rest. Survival specifically mentions tracking however.

Maybe with multiple bits of knowledge at stake, I would actually call for multiple rolls. You can of course just say the Ranger makes a Survival check and get done with it... how about you ask the Druid to know exactly which creatures with Knowledge (Nature), and the party's detective (whoever she is) to tell how many and in what conditions with Intelligence (Investigation), and the Ranger to follow the tracks with Survival (Wisdom)? Now you have a group effort where 3 players participate to and with at least 8 possible hard-combinations of the outcome.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
In cases where the character needs to take a physical action, yes. In cases like this, where what's called for is largely happening in the character's head, the result is apt to be ambiguous. If we are too picky about naming approaches, we risk the, "Well, *how* do you search the room? What *exactly* do you look at?" that was a hallmark of previous editions, and more recently replaced with just "I search" without need for any particularly stated approach.

The character is really scouring the inside of their head for anything they know that applies. So, give them the benefit of the doubt, and apply the best option. If that gives them something that bears closer examination with one particular skill, they can follow on with that.
The slippery slope argument is weak. Asking for an approach so that you aren't assuming character actions isn't the same thing as pixel bitching for gotchas. The former is a hood technique for running where you assume character competence and are matching in game action to the resolution mechanics. The latter is adversarial gotcha games. Please stop insisting that anyone asking for an approach is playing adversarial gotcha games.

I'm honestly rather tired of saying this, often for many pages, as other posters continue to insist they understand goal and approach and its just pixel bitching.

Approach is where the player has the opportunity to move the resolution needke in their favor, not where the DM is trying to trip up the players. If your trying to ID the tracks, as in the OP, and you dump statted INT, then your approach is how you get to try to sway things in your favor. If you frame your action in terms of, "Bob the Ranger, using his long years of ranging his favored woodlands and the knowledge he gained at the feet of the druids, to determine what dangerous creatures keft these tracks." This reminds the DM of all the things Bob the Ranger has stacked up for success in this regard. The DM could decide to grant auto-success, or advantage, or still ask for a check. If you don't provide this, your relying on the DM to maybe remember and/or just guess what you're doing, but most certainly a check will be called.

Note the complete lack of specific action -- no CSI procedure at all -- in the above. Yet, the DM doesn't have to guess at all as to what the character is doing in the fiction and so can easily adjuducate. This is a game of many players and the DM already has most of the work. Expecting the ither players to do their bit by providing enough in their action declaration to adjudicate should be the norm, not something that has to be constantly defended from slippery slope arguments.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
Probably, but not definitely. After all, we are looking at character knowledge, not player knowledge. I never penalize a player for having no clue how to do something that their character may not even have to think about before doing. So unless the player happens to also be a hunter or a boy/girl scout, you are not going to get a detailed answer from them. This is where the player making a good background for their character comes into play also. This kind of thing can give modifiers or advantage or disadvantage on the skill check too.
Right, but the action was just looking at the tracks, not recalling cool character backgrounds to the fore. If the player actually provides the skills his character has as part of the action deckaraction, then they aren't relying on the DM to remember those background details -- they're telling the DM about them again.

I don't understand the pushback on this. It's literally the chance for the player to get the best chance for success by framing the challenge within the character's strengths, but it gets treated like the DM being super picky.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
A character (not a ranger) has found some animal tracks and wants to try and determine information from them, including what type of creature made them, how many there are, and whether any are injured. What kind of check would you have them make?

1. Wisdom (Survival)

2. Wisdom (Perception)

3. Intelligence (Investigation)

4. Intelligence (Nature)

5. Some other combination, like Intelligence (Survival) or Wisdom (Investigation)?
This sort of information is in the purview of Rangers, so why would a character who isn't a ranger be able to learn it? It detracts from the class to allow non-rangers to do what rangers can do. At best, a Wisdom (Survival) check could be used to follow the tracks (as per the PHB Survival description), but if I did allow extra information to be gleaned I would only do so with disadvantage on the check.

I know others have said you can do this or do that, but I don't like taking away or lessening key features from other classes.
 

DM Dave1

Present
This sort of information is in the purview of Rangers, so why would a character who isn't a ranger be able to learn it? It detracts from the class to allow non-rangers to do what rangers can do. At best, a Wisdom (Survival) check could be used to follow the tracks (as per the PHB Survival description), but if I did allow extra information to be gleaned I would only do so with disadvantage on the check.

I know others have said you can do this or do that, but I don't like taking away or lessening key features from other classes.
What about the party that has no Ranger? Or how about a scenario where the Ranger who is scouting ahead gets ambushed by some predators, knocked out, and carried off to be eaten later.. you won’t allow the rest of the party to try to track the enemy to rescue their friend? The Ranger might be the best at tracking, but it should not preclude other characters who have invested in Survival or other pertinent skills from trying to succeed on a tracking related action.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
The slippery slope argument is weak. Asking for an approach so that you aren't assuming character actions isn't the same thing as pixel bitching for gotchas. The former is a hood technique for running where you assume character competence and are matching in game action to the resolution mechanics. The latter is adversarial gotcha games. Please stop insisting that anyone asking for an approach is playing adversarial gotcha games.

I'm honestly rather tired of saying this, often for many pages, as other posters continue to insist they understand goal and approach and its just pixel bitching.

Approach is where the player has the opportunity to move the resolution needke in their favor, not where the DM is trying to trip up the players. If your trying to ID the tracks, as in the OP, and you dump statted INT, then your approach is how you get to try to sway things in your favor. If you frame your action in terms of, "Bob the Ranger, using his long years of ranging his favored woodlands and the knowledge he gained at the feet of the druids, to determine what dangerous creatures keft these tracks." This reminds the DM of all the things Bob the Ranger has stacked up for success in this regard. The DM could decide to grant auto-success, or advantage, or still ask for a check. If you don't provide this, your relying on the DM to maybe remember and/or just guess what you're doing, but most certainly a check will be called.

Note the complete lack of specific action -- no CSI procedure at all -- in the above. Yet, the DM doesn't have to guess at all as to what the character is doing in the fiction and so can easily adjuducate. This is a game of many players and the DM already has most of the work. Expecting the ither players to do their bit by providing enough in their action declaration to adjudicate should be the norm, not something that has to be constantly defended from slippery slope arguments.
Just to be clear tho, this definition of approach if I read you correct does not require any specific action of the character to be stated? There was no guidance as to what the character is doing, just the player stating a list of factors that they want the gm to consider.

So, whether or not the character is standing stock still in place or moving around the scene checking for stuff is not needed in the "approach" method, just that you the player get a chance to list all the stuff that went into your background that applies.

Cool.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
What about the party that has no Ranger? Or how about a scenario where the Ranger who is scouting ahead gets ambushed by some predators, knocked out, and carried off to be eaten later.. you won’t allow the rest of the party to try to track the enemy to rescue their friend? The Ranger might be the best at tracking, but it should not preclude other characters who have invested in Survival or other pertinent skills from trying to succeed on a tracking related action.
As I wrote, a simple Wisdom (Survival) check will allow anyone to follow tracks (as per the PHB), but the Ranger is the class which can discern greater amounts of information. Why would you take away one of their key abilities and allow any character to do it? If I did allow them the chance to glean additional information, the DC would be high or with disadvantage.

Skills are important, but class trumps skill IMO and at our table, but to each their own...
 

5ekyu

Explorer
This sort of information is in the purview of Rangers, so why would a character who isn't a ranger be able to learn it? It detracts from the class to allow non-rangers to do what rangers can do. At best, a Wisdom (Survival) check could be used to follow the tracks (as per the PHB Survival description), but if I did allow extra information to be gleaned I would only do so with disadvantage on the check.

I know others have said you can do this or do that, but I don't like taking away or lessening key features from other classes.
To me it's not lessening or taking away from the ranger. The ranger gets some of these features automatically in their favored terrain and that still holds.

But allowing the chance of these for other characters as ability checks of various types for non-rangers and rangers outside their favored terrains does not "lessen" that ranger ability.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
To me it's not lessening or taking away from the ranger. The ranger gets some of these features automatically in their favored terrain and that still holds.

But allowing the chance of these for other characters as ability checks of various types for non-rangers and rangers outside their favored terrains does not "lessen" that ranger ability.
LOL, fine. As usual you and I must agree to disagree, but that is hardly surprising considering our track record. :)
 

DM Dave1

Present
As I wrote, a simple Wisdom (Survival) check will allow anyone to follow tracks (as per the PHB), but the Ranger is the class which can discern greater amounts of information. Why would you take away one of their key abilities and allow any character to do it? If I did allow them the chance to glean additional information, the DC would be high or with disadvantage.

Skills are important, but class trumps skill IMO and at our table, but to each their own...
Sorry for my glossing over that bolded part. I swear things become less visible when trying to reply on a phone. I should learn to wait until I'm back at my laptop...

Anyway, agreed! The Ranger certainly might be more likely to auto-succeed/roll with advantage and/or gain deeper knowledge, while the non-Ranger might be more likely to have a higher DC and/or have disadvantage and/or just gain basic knowledge - depending on the goal and approach. But not always - a Barbarian with an outlander background might be just as able to discern certain tracks as a Ranger. Nonetheless, in general I agree with your premise that the Ranger should own the tracking spotlight.
 

5ekyu

Explorer
LOL, fine. As usual you and I must agree to disagree, but that is hardly surprising considering our track record. :)
Likely, but to be clear, you font allow that info to be gained other than for rangers inside their favored terrain? Rangers used to mountains cannot get numbers tracked while following tracks in grasslands?
 

robus

Explorer
Just to be clear tho, this definition of approach if I read you correct does not require any specific action of the character to be stated? There was no guidance as to what the character is doing, just the player stating a list of factors that they want the gm to consider.
The action is the character recalling their knowledge and experience for help in interpreting the tracks. Yes, they're not moving their body, but that doesn't mean they're not doing something. And by describing their examination in such terms, connecting their characters experience to the task at hand, it clearly communicates to the DM that their character knows what they're doing and should either get the information they need, or at least get some boost to any check that might be called.
 

WaterRabbit

Villager
As I wrote, a simple Wisdom (Survival) check will allow anyone to follow tracks (as per the PHB), but the Ranger is the class which can discern greater amounts of information. Why would you take away one of their key abilities and allow any character to do it? If I did allow them the chance to glean additional information, the DC would be high or with disadvantage.

Skills are important, but class trumps skill IMO and at our table, but to each their own...
Except that the ranger class in 5e isn't any better or worse at this than anyone else. The Natural Explorer class ability is what makes them better in their favored terrain. The Favored Enemy class ability makes them better at this against their favored enemy.

Otherwise, other classes can be as good or better depending on the circumstances. You must be thinking of the ranger from previous editions.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
Sorry for my glossing over that bolded part. I swear things become less visible when trying to reply on a phone. I should learn to wait until I'm back at my laptop...

Anyway, agreed! The Ranger certainly might be more likely to auto-succeed/roll with advantage and/or gain deeper knowledge, while the non-Ranger might be more likely to have a higher DC and/or have disadvantage and/or just gain basic knowledge - depending on the goal and approach. But not always - a Barbarian with an outlander background might be just as able to discern certain tracks as a Ranger. Nonetheless, in general I agree with your premise that the Ranger should own the tracking spotlight.
No worries. I miss stuff sometimes as well.

But yes, the DM must always allow for exceptions and a character with the proper background, etc. might be able to do nearly as much as a trained Ranger. For example, a Rogue Scout archetype gets the Survival skill (and Nature) with Expertise even, and should function almost as well as a Ranger at tracking, with the right modifiers maybe even better LOL. Give someone like that the Outlander or similar background and even more so! :)

Yet the level of information they could gain (as in the Ranger description) should be the less than the Ranger class regardless unless you add a higher DC or disadvantage. At least, this is how we would do it...
 
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dnd4vr

Explorer
Except that the ranger class in 5e isn't any better or worse at this than anyone else. The Natural Explorer class ability is what makes them better in their favored terrain. The Favored Enemy class ability makes them better at this against their favored enemy.

Otherwise, other classes can be as good or better depending on the circumstances. You must be thinking of the ranger from previous editions.
Probably, and the revised UA rangers from this edition. There is a good reason why a lot of tables house-rule rangers to improve them or use a UA version. ;)
 

5ekyu

Explorer
The action is the character recalling their knowledge and experience for help in interpreting the tracks. Yes, they're not moving their body, but that doesn't mean they're not doing something. And by describing their examination in such terms, connecting their characters experience to the task at hand, it clearly communicates to the DM that their character knows what they're doing and should either get the information they need, or at least get some boost to any check that might be called.
Got it. For me, rather than get the characters history for every stand around and think about stuff moment, I prefer to know say any proficiencies or features they might actually have that apply- like z background or class trait.

See, that who " learned at the feet of Greenskin the Smelly" ain't really gonna get you much knowledge about tracking unless you represented that say by giving your character proficiency in Survival or higher Wisdom or some other way that it factors into the game. I mean, obviously, each table sets their own balance between roleplay snd mechanics and all that jazz. So, not ever gonna be the same, but for me all that history recitation at every call to resolution would tend to slow our games down. Especially if we have to go thru the "stand still and try to solve" then the "move around and look" try to solve and then some other "use tools or other approach" try to solve.

Of course, maybe "approach and goal" is not used all that often that it's called for at every "challenge" or scene?
 
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WaterRabbit

Villager
Probably, and the revised UA rangers from this edition. There is a good reason why a lot of tables house-rule rangers to improve them or use a UA version. ;)
So what you are saying is that your house rules are more important than the actual rules. Got it.

But again, even the UA ranger only specifies what advantages they have when tracking. It doesn't nerf the abilities of other characters.

Finally, the ranger is going to be revised yet again, so I wouldn't bother with the UA version at this point. It still has all of the issues the original ranger has in my opinion. To me, the ranger works best if it is assumed to be a combination of fighter and rogue. It should just be removed altogether and replaced with a scout class IMHO.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
This is, honestly, a major problem with the "goal and approach" way of dealing with things - if the *player* doesn't have domain knowledge, they can't always guess what approaches are reasonable. This can lead to, "I beat the ground with my club until the very Earth itself tells me what I want to know to avoid the pain," frustration approach.
Interesting point: if the player's score is lower than the character's score, asking for a specific approach borders on unfair. While I wouldn't accept "I'm rolling Survival to find out more about the tracks," I would accept "I look at the tracks to get more information."

I was thinking that it's clearly an Intelligence check to use tracking training to learn about tracks, and then I saw the discussion about what actions are involved. So I'm picturing two characters looking at the same tracks:

The Genius gathers all the data he can about the tracks, with actions, before making an educated guess - Intelligence.

The Wise Woman uses some folk tales to guess what local creatures meet the general appearance of the tracks, more glancing around than acting, and probably notices something not available through induction, due to sheer - Wisdom.
 

dnd4vr

Explorer
So what you are saying is that your house rules are more important than the actual rules. Got it.

But again, even the UA ranger only specifies what advantages they have when tracking. It doesn't nerf the abilities of other characters.

Finally, the ranger is going to be revised yet again, so I wouldn't bother with the UA version at this point. It still has all of the issues the original ranger has in my opinion. To me, the ranger works best if it is assumed to be a combination of fighter and rogue. It should just be removed altogether and replaced with a scout class IMHO.
If you want to stick to "actual rules", then only the Ranger class has any mention of being able to do anything remotely like what the OP wants. No one else could even do it, even with the Survival skill since that only allows a character to track in the PHB. Of course, anything else the DM wants a skill to do is entirely up to the DM, but that makes it a house-ruling either way, not an "actual rule." ;)
 

iserith

Explorer
Interesting point: if the player's score is lower than the character's score, asking for a specific approach borders on unfair. While I wouldn't accept "I'm rolling Survival to find out more about the tracks," I would accept "I look at the tracks to get more information."

I was thinking that it's clearly an Intelligence check to use tracking training to learn about tracks, and then I saw the discussion about what actions are involved. So I'm picturing two characters looking at the same tracks:

The Genius gathers all the data he can about the tracks, with actions, before making an educated guess - Intelligence.

The Wise Woman uses some folk tales to guess what local creatures meet the general appearance of the tracks, more glancing around than acting, and probably notices something not available through induction, due to sheer - Wisdom.
Right, these are two different approaches to achieve the same goal and both can be described by the players as they say what they want to do which makes it easier for the DM to determine whether there's an ability check and which ability and skill proficiency applies. Neither of these approaches is the "one true solution" in a way that promotes the "pixel bitching" that some posters insist is going on. A DM like me does not want to guess what the character is actually doing, perhaps getting both the imagined task and desired ability check and skill proficiency wrong, because the player failed to adequately describe what he or she wanted to do. We can ask more of our players in this regard by setting the expectation that we need to know what they hope to accomplish and what they're doing to achieve it through a reasonably specific action declaration.
 

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