log in or register to remove this ad

 

5E Are there actions not covered under a skill?

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I agree. And I think one of the biggest differences is, as mentioned, I use die rolls (dare I say "skill checks") as a narrative tool all the time, so this idea that you should only rarely roll and only when the stakes are high is antithetical to my DMing stye. So, even if the 5E DMG says "don't roll unless you have to" I ignore it because those dice inform me of things.

For example, if the PCs are looking for a silversmith (an example that came up early in the thread) I will have them make a check (I usually give the players a choice between a couple things, such as Investigation or Persuasion, or simply let them tell me which skill they want to use and explain how they are employing it). Now, a low roll on the check does not mean they fail to find the silversmith and got lost looking for it. Chances are, I had not given the silversmith a single thought prior to this moment. So, instead, the low roll on the check tells me something about the silversmith.

Maybe they found it but it is closed. Why, it's the middle of the day? Trouble, I'll wager. What kind? The kind that will drag the PCs in, for sure.

All that sort of thing flies through my brain in a couple moments and becomes part of the game world from that moment on. For me, after years and years of doing it this way highly successfully, this is a far superior outcome than simply saying "Yes" or "No" because this die roll -- coupled with whatever other context was happening in play -- told me something about the world. I would have learned something else about the world had it come up very high or right in the middle, too. There was no "DC" at all, and the task was trivial, but the result of the roll wasn't.
I suspected this might be your method. There are a couple of regular posters on this forum that play this way. It's looks to me like a fiat-based mishmash of Success At a Cost, Degrees of Failure, and Critical Success and Failure (DMG p. 242) combined with the Roll With It approach (DMG p. 236) and methods from various other games. Many DMs accumulate their approach over the years to deal with specific issues that have arisen in the way they play without ever taking a hard look at the underlying problems or considering whether the approaches that they accumulated are necessary in their current game.

Personally, I find this a kludgy way to play as compared to what we've been discussing and particularly hard as a player to judge what the outcome of a roll is going to end up being which means it's harder for me to apply any player skill to the game. The way I would have to deal with this is to pump my skill and tool proficiencies as high as they will go and then push to make those rolls only which is pretty much how I remember D&D 3.Xe being played by any player with a passing familiarity with the rules. I don't see how one can get to this approach by a plain reading of the rules of D&D 5e and I find a game works better when it's being played in a manner that the rules suggest.

But, of course, if that's what you and yours are used to and enjoy, then carry on. Something like this may have been for 2005 me, but 2020 me is playing a different game.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
No one ever came to my table and demanded I not change the DC of a check for any reason when I was running 3.x, any more than anyone has come to my table running 5e telling me I am not allowed to consult a chart to determine a DC (which I often do, using sources not found in the PHB or DMG). I don't think "rule zero" is the last ditch, red button catastrophe you are painting it as in 3.x: it's pretty bog standard running the game stuff. The codified part of skill DCs in 3.x meant it was easy to determine a difficulty and for standard actions it meant that process was fast and consistent -- or, in a word, efficient. In 5e, lacking those charts, it becomes a whim of the DM's mood or narrative sense. Some players (certainly not all) chafe against this because they see it as fiat.
Right, so when I said that 3.x had fixed DCs, that was correct, you just don't think it's all that important. When I said that going off the charts meant exercising rule zero, you prefer to treat this as a breathless concern rather than the rather boring point it was, because it allows you to dismiss the argument as overblown. When we talk about how procedure in play works, so long as you can pretend I'm too excited about a difference, we can just treat that difference as unimportant? Come on.

3.x procedures call for a roll whenever failure is possible. It sets DCs by the rule book, only allowing GMs authority to set DCs when not already set by the rules.

5e procedures call for a roll when the GM thinks one is necessary (and offers multiple paths for this, the middle path being only when a chance of failure, a chance of success, and a cost for failure exist, a markedly different set of conditions than 3.x), and then leaves the DC setting entirely up to the GM.

You dismiss this as a trivial difference. I don't see how. You further characterize the former as 'efficient', which, again, I don't see how as you'd have to look up each skill use to get the proper DC vice taking the tools in 5e and determining 'does this action sound easy, medium, hard, very hard, or nearly impossible?' We must clearly use different definitions of efficient. Further, even while dismissing the difference in play, you point out that a difference in play may be players not liking the GM having such authority over DCs and preferring the rules to set them. A remarkable statement. As I told @Oofta, I'm not responsible for your trust issues, and my players don't have such issues with my GMing, so this is a slightly offensive statement. Either we assume good faith play or we get into calling each other terrible gamers. I'm going with good faith play.

Either way, I still don't see the fundamental difference in play. There's certainly a flavor difference, and we all have preferences, and no one I know plays any version of D&D as it is laid down in the manuals. One can play loose 3.x just as easily as once can play hard ass 5e.

(btw, it is worth mentioning that I don't refer to 4E in any of my comments simply because I did not play it or run it long enough to be able to comment)
I can understand why you do not see large differences in play -- you have no experience running either game differently from each other, and so would not see any difference. I, and others, do have experience running the games differently and tell you that there is a large difference in play. You can take this however you like, but I have intimate understanding of how you approach play because I played that way. You do not have intimate experience playing my way, but proclaim yourself able to tell differences (there are none, according to you). I find this argument both common (in that you're not the only one to make it) and distressing. However, I remind myself that there are others that have attempted to make the change and they report good outcomes and see a difference. I do not need to convince you to continue to enjoy my game, or continue to consider how different approaches, even if apparently small in form, can lead to very different outcomes in play.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I can understand why you do not see large differences in play -- you have no experience running either game differently from each other, and so would not see any difference.
That's such a common DM/GM thing to do, too, in my experience. I know plenty of people who run a game largely the same way whether it's different editions of D&D, PBtA games, FATE or others.
 

Reynard

Legend
While I feel like @Ovinomancer and @iserith are both making not-so-subtle digs at me and my GMing style, I am going to chalk that up to the weaknesses of purely text communication. I feel like both are claiming superiority and one-true-wayism as it relates to 5E, but, again, it's probably me.

But, since I feel this way, it's probably best if I bow out of this discussion rather than let it devolve into something less civil.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
While I feel like @Ovinomancer and @iserith are both making not-so-subtle digs at me and my GMing style, I am going to chalk that up to the weaknesses of purely text communication. I feel like both are claiming superiority and one-true-wayism as it relates to 5E, but, again, it's probably me.

But, since I feel this way, it's probably best if I bow out of this discussion rather than let it devolve into something less civil.
Just to be clear, I'm not attacking you. I am rebutting certain arguments you have made when I perceive them as weak or erroneous. I don't like the approach you describe for this game. I might have liked it in others. But I want it known that I am in no way making this personal, particularly as I don't know you and how you run your game has no effect on me. In any case, thanks for the conversation and there's no face lost if you decide to reengage.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, been just watching the discussion because I’ve been too busy to engage.

I largely just agree with @Reynard , but I do think a couple points are worth making.

I think that the difference of focus in the written rules changes how a lot of DMs run the game, but I don’t think there is an actual difference of mechanics, just one of focus.

IME, very few DMs need to be told not to worry about a roll for things that they don’t think have a chance of failure or success or don’t have any real stakes.

Using mixed success and failure depending on the die roll isn’t a houserule or even a variant rule, it’s just following a piece of advice in the DMG when acting out the “the DM adjudicates and narrates the result” step of action resolution. Using “unnecessary” rolls to determine things about the situation isn’t a houserule or variant rule, it’s just a difference in view wrt when a roll is needed, and a particular approach to narrating results.

ability and skill checks aren’t actually different than before, the rules just go harder on making it clear that an ability check covers everything that doesn’t have its own special rule (like saves and attacks), while skills and other proficiencies just modify an ability check when it falls under that proficiency. Again, it’s just a different focus. I’ve run games “5e style” for as long as I’ve run games.

My players declare actions in terms of PC abilities (including skills) because it’s commonly understood shorthand.
The situation described (By @iserith ?) where they avoid the chance of failure by describing actions in character in hopes that they will just succeed without a roll doesn’t seem any different to me than boosting a few skills and angling to use them. It’s just gaming the rules to mitigate failure chance, either way, which is fine, but not something that really bears fruit at my table. If you say “I want to stealth past the guard” and roll stealth, and I wouldn’t have asked for a roll bc I don’t see your approach failing, I’m not gonna make it fail because you rolled low. That...would be absurd? I’ll either just ignore the roll or use it to determine something about your action other than success or failure in sneaking past the guard.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The situation described (By @iserith ?) where they avoid the chance of failure by describing actions in character in hopes that they will just succeed without a roll doesn’t seem any different to me than boosting a few skills and angling to use them. It’s just gaming the rules to mitigate failure chance, either way, which is fine, but not something that really bears fruit at my table. If you say “I want to stealth past the guard” and roll stealth, and I wouldn’t have asked for a roll bc I don’t see your approach failing, I’m not gonna make it fail because you rolled low. That...would be absurd? I’ll either just ignore the roll or use it to determine something about your action other than success or failure in sneaking past the guard.
Not to put words in @iserith’s mouth, he can correct me if I’m off base on this, but I’m pretty sure the bolded section is not at all what he was suggesting. This counter-argument relies on the assumption that the DM has already decided, before the player has declared any action, that a roll would not be required to sneak past the guard, which would also be absurd in my opinion.

What Iserith is instead getting at with his “that’s not a good strategy as a player” bit is that if a player asks to make a check and the DM thinks “yeah, that seems reasonable,” then they’ll ask the player to make a check. If the player describes an action and the DM thinks “yeah, that seems reasonable,” they might ask the player to make a check, or they might tell the player the action succeeds. The latter leaves more room for the possibility of automatic success.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
So, been just watching the discussion because I’ve been too busy to engage.

I largely just agree with @Reynard , but I do think a couple points are worth making.

I think that the difference of focus in the written rules changes how a lot of DMs run the game, but I don’t think there is an actual difference of mechanics, just one of focus.

IME, very few DMs need to be told not to worry about a roll for things that they don’t think have a chance of failure or success or don’t have any real stakes.
In my experience, a lot of them do. I know a great many DMs, many new, some old, and there's a good amount of both sets of DMs who do this.

Using mixed success and failure depending on the die roll isn’t a houserule or even a variant rule, it’s just following a piece of advice in the DMG when acting out the “the DM adjudicates and narrates the result” step of action resolution. Using “unnecessary” rolls to determine things about the situation isn’t a houserule or variant rule, it’s just a difference in view wrt when a roll is needed, and a particular approach to narrating results.
What support can you find in the rules for the bolded?

One thing I thought was interesting when comparing the D&D 4e and D&D 5e DMGs was that in the section on "metagame thinking," both DMGs are almost exactly the same with one notable difference: The suggestion to make dice rolls when there is nothing at stake to curb metagame thinking is in the 4e DMG, but was curiously removed from the 5e DMG.

Further, the 5e DMG characterizes an approach where the DM rolls for almost everything, which seemingly would include "unnecessary" rolls, as having significant potential drawback - roleplaying can diminish. That's not what I would call an endorsement.

I’ll either just ignore the roll or use it to determine something about your action other than success or failure in sneaking past the guard.
But muh efficiency!
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Not to put words in @iserith’s mouth, he can correct me if I’m off base on this, but I’m pretty sure the bolded section is not at all what he was suggesting. This counter-argument relies on the assumption that the DM has already decided, before the player has declared any action, that a roll would not be required to sneak past the guard, which would also be absurd in my opinion.
No, it assumes that the DM is going to decide whether a check is needed and what the DC is based on the situation and the actions of the PC, not based on whether their action declaration includes a check they’d like to make or not.

What Iserith is instead getting at with his “that’s not a good strategy as a player” bit is that if a player asks to make a check and the DM thinks “yeah, that seems reasonable,” then they’ll ask the player to make a check. If the player describes an action and the DM thinks “yeah, that seems reasonable,” they might ask the player to make a check, or they might tell the player the action succeeds. The latter leaves more room for the possibility of automatic success.
no, I know exactly what they were saying, and I’m saying that the sort of strategy they refer to has no relevance at my table. Whether a roll is needed to determine success doesn’t change based on whether the player references a check or not.

The action either has a chance of failure, or it doesn’t. If they describe an approach that isn’t gonna fail, it isn’t gonna fail regardless of whether they do so and declare a skill check or without doing so.

Edit to add, for max clarity: The possibility of automatic success is wholly unaffected by whether the player references a skill check or not. It is entirely dependent on what approach they take, and my judgement of the situation and the applicability of their approach.

In my experience, a lot of them do. I know a great many DMs, many new, some old, and there's a good amount of both sets of DMs who do this.
IME those DMs don’t need to be told this, they just don’t agree that it’s a good approach.

What support can you find in the rules for the bolded?

One thing I thought was interesting when comparing the D&D 4e and D&D 5e DMGs was that in the section on "metagame thinking," both DMGs are almost exactly the same with one notable difference: The suggestion to make dice rolls when there is nothing at stake to curb metagame thinking is in the 4e DMG, but was curiously removed from the 5e DMG.

Further, the 5e DMG characterizes an approach where the DM rolls for almost everything, which seemingly would include "unnecessary" rolls, as having significant potential drawback - roleplaying can diminish. That's not what I would call an endorsement.
Yeah we are referring to two different things. I’ll come back after work and clarify.
 
Last edited:

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
You know, when I mentioned the live stream of the 5e playtest with the R&D folks (it was Against the Slave Lords they were playing, by the by), it occurred to me that the playtest documents might shine some light on the kind of thinking that went into 5e’s design. Obviously design goals change and the final product is the best representation of how it expects players to use it, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the old packets and remind myself what was in there that felt like such a radical change in technique to me at the time, and made so many old school players rejoice that it revived the 2e feel.

Sure enough, the playtest was much more explicit about the action adjudication techniques that I now use. I suppose one might argue that I’m guilty of carrying over habits from the 5e playtest into the release version of 5e 🤣

Packets 4-6 all included some version of this sidebar in the backgrounds and skills document, with minor variations accounting for what bonus proficiency in a skill provided to an ability check in that particular iteration:
How Do I Use My Skills?
During play, you describe what your character is doing, and if the Dungeon Master decides that a check is necessary, you make the check using the ability that the DM specifies. It’s up to you to suggest that one of your character’s skills might apply to that check. If your DM agrees that your character’s skill can help you with this specific task, you simply add your characters skill bonus when making a check to perform the task. For example, if your character tries to sneak past some orc sentries, the DM might call for a Dexterity check. In this case, you make a check using your character’s Dexterity modifier. If he or she has the Sneak skill and your DM agrees that the skill applies, you also add the Sneak bonus to the check.

As a player, it’s up to you to describe clearly any action that your character is trying to take and how you expect a skill to apply. You can incorporate the use of skills in your task description: “Drawing on my knowledge of forbidden lore, I study the strange glyph.”* If the DM then calls for a check - most likely an Intelligence check - you make the check and add your character’s bonus for the Knowledge (Forbidden Lore) skill. Or if your DM calls for a check in a situation where you haven’t specified a skill, you can ask him or her if you can apply a skill bonus, or just give the DM the check result with and without the skill bonus: “I rolled a 16, or a 19 if my Intimidate skill applies.”

Clear descriptions help the DM realize your intentions and adjudicate a check in a way that both makes sense in the context of a game and gives you a chance to take advantage of your character’s aptitudes.
*hey, look at that! An example of an @iserith-style knowledge check declaration!

Wow, that was quite a trip down memory lane to read again! Shame that sidebar didn’t make it through the whole process - I think the player’s handbook could have benefited greatly from such a passage.
 
Last edited:

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
While I feel like @Ovinomancer and @iserith are both making not-so-subtle digs at me and my GMing style, I am going to chalk that up to the weaknesses of purely text communication. I feel like both are claiming superiority and one-true-wayism as it relates to 5E, but, again, it's probably me.

But, since I feel this way, it's probably best if I bow out of this discussion rather than let it devolve into something less civil.
You're 100% wrong. I'm super happy you have fun playing how you play and suggest you do what works for you. My way is not better than yours, it is different. Let's not forget who's raised trust issues about the other's playstyle.

I don't personally care for your approach, but I do not begrudge you it.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
No, it assumes that the DM is going to decide whether a check is needed and what the DC is based on the situation and the actions of the PC, not based on whether their action declaration includes a check they’d like to make or not.
Your example didn’t include a description of the actions of the PC though...

no, I know exactly what they were saying, and I’m saying that the sort of strategy they refer to has no relevance at my table. Whether a roll is needed to determine success doesn’t change based on whether the player references a check or not.
If you know exactly what he was saying, then you are misrepresenting it, because he was not saying that whether a roll is needed to determine success changes based on whether the player references a check or not.

The action either has a chance of failure, or it doesn’t. If they describe an approach that isn’t gonna fail, it isn’t gonna fail regardless of whether they do so and declare a skill check or without doing so.
But the player in your example didn’t describe an approach at all!

Edit to add, for max clarity: The possibility of automatic success is wholly unaffected by whether the player references a skill check or not. It is entirely dependent on what approach they take, and my judgement of the situation and the applicability of their approach.
Then you and @iserith are talking past each other, because nothing about this assertion is in any way contrary to his point.

Again, @iserith, correct me if I’m wrong about that.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I think the objection he's making is something like this: I'm saying that it's smart play not to ask for checks because ideally you don't want to roll. He's saying even if a player does ask for a check, he's not going to retroactively decide that the outcome of the task is uncertain and has a meaningful consequence for failure just because a player asked, so what's the big deal?

If that is a correct summation of the objection, then I can only say "good." It just means the player asked for a check for no apparent good reason. But this isn't what I'm referring to.

The smart play as I see it, given the game's rules and processes and assuming the DM is trying to adhere to them, is to pay attention and engage with the environment the DM took the time to describe in a way that attempts to complete a task by removing any uncertainty as to the outcome and/or the meaningful consequence for failure. This is how you avoid rolling an ability check. If your goal is success, rolling is not the best strategy. The character's proficiencies and resources are insurance in case you do end up having to roll.

If this was not the objection, then I'll stand by for clarification.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
3.x procedures call for a roll whenever failure is possible. It sets DCs by the rule book, only allowing GMs authority to set DCs when not already set by the rules.
I'd call that a very uncharitable spin about the rigidity of the 3e rules compared to DM authority. The rules provide guidelines for the DCs, this is an edition significantly influenced by the ethos that players can make really meaningful choices only if they know the stakes, but the rules are also clear that the DM can heap on all sorts of modifiers if they seem appropriate to the situation and change the impact of modifiers if necessary. It calls the +2/-2 circumstance modifiers the DM's Best Friend for a reason.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Your example didn’t include a description of the actions of the PC though...


If you know exactly what he was saying, then you are misrepresenting it, because he was not saying that whether a roll is needed to determine success changes based on whether the player references a check or not.


But the player in your example didn’t describe an approach at all!


Then you and @iserith are talking past each other, because nothing about this assertion is in any way contrary to his point.

Again, @iserith, correct me if I’m wrong about that.
Why would I include it? The point has nothing to do with the particulars of the action declaration, except for the idea that asking for a check has literally any effect on how the action is adjudicated. I only included what was relevant. I included the fact that the action and approach were described. Since the specifics aren’t relevant to my point, again, why would I include them?
As for any “misinterpretation”, nope. But, hey, they knew what I was saying, so I’m good.

I think the objection he's making is something like this: I'm saying that it's smart play not to ask for checks because ideally you don't want to roll. He's saying even if a player does ask for a check, he's not going to retroactively decide that the outcome of the task is uncertain and has a meaningful consequence for failure just because a player asked, so what's the big deal?

If that is a correct summation of the objection, then I can only say "good." It just means the player asked for a check for no apparent good reason. But this isn't what I'm referring to.

The smart play as I see it, given the game's rules and processes and assuming the DM is trying to adhere to them, is to pay attention and engage with the environment the DM took the time to describe in a way that attempts to complete a task by removing any uncertainty as to the outcome and/or the meaningful consequence for failure. This is how you avoid rolling an ability check. If your goal is success, rolling is not the best strategy. The character's proficiencies and resources are insurance in case you do end up having to roll.

If this was not the objection, then I'll stand by for clarification.
Yeah that’s about it. IME, most DMs aren’t going to change the nature of the situation just because the player said “roll stealth” as part of their action/approach description. It requires a roll or doesn’t based on how you approach the action. That’s it. So, while I’d consider a good description better engagement with the world, I don’t buy that it’s “smarter play”, nor do I want my players to be trying to win the game by outsmarting the rules, which that comes across as. IMO D&D is a vastly better game for the decreased emphasis on “smart play/player skill”, but I know some folks like their D&D closer to Dark Souls, where it’s “get good“ or die repeatedly until you give up.

I would hazard a guess that your mindset is much less “win D&D” than the description comes across, though. Forum debates lead to exaggerated perceptions of each others’ stances.

But on another note, I said I’d clarify something. When I referred to unnecessary rolls, I wasn’t speaking of the off-topic idea of the DM making or asking for unnecessary rolls to keep the players guessing. I was referring to the on-topic idea of letting rolls that I didn’t ask for slide, and using them to determine things about how things play out other than success.

eg, when the player rolls a stealth check to shadow a mark unnoticed in a scene where I see no reasonable chance of failure for this expert assassin, I don’t admonish the player or say “no need for a roll you just succeed”. Instead, I say, “Okay you succeed regardless of the roll, but what did you roll?” And when they tell me, I think about the scene, and I weave new elements into the scene, or decide what route the mark takes, or decide which of several potential complications will arise, or give them additional information if it’s a good roll, or something like that.

This offloads some cognitive work from me onto the dice, and often onto the players as I say, “okay, there was going to be a complication regardless, but Sinjin is way stealthier than this job requires, so I’m gonna let the group represent his superior knowledge of the City. Which of these two options can he deftly avoid, instead dealing with the other complication?”

D&D benefits, IME, from letting the dice be more than success or failure. The DMG encourages this, though I’ll be damned if I’m gonna leaf through it today to find the passage that talks about degrees of success and letting a poor roll fail forward or present a mixed result that’s more interesting than a total failure.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'd call that a very uncharitable spin about the rigidity of the 3e rules compared to DM authority. The rules provide guidelines for the DCs, this is an edition significantly influenced by the ethos that players can make really meaningful choices only if they know the stakes, but the rules are also clear that the DM can heap on all sorts of modifiers if they seem appropriate to the situation and change the impact of modifiers if necessary. It calls the +2/-2 circumstance modifiers the DM's Best Friend for a reason.
And I find it odd that the +/-2 is held out as evidence that GM's have lots of leeway in setting DCs. Rather, it seems a nearly insignificant modifier after the early kevels: too small to make a difference if untrained/low ranks/cross class, and to small to make a difference in focused skills, especially with synergies.

Maybe we remember different games.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Yeah that’s about it. IME, most DMs aren’t going to change the nature of the situation just because the player said “roll stealth” as part of their action/approach description. It requires a roll or doesn’t based on how you approach the action. That’s it. So, while I’d consider a good description better engagement with the world, I don’t buy that it’s “smarter play”, nor do I want my players to be trying to win the game by outsmarting the rules, which that comes across as. IMO D&D is a vastly better game for the decreased emphasis on “smart play/player skill”, but I know some folks like their D&D closer to Dark Souls, where it’s “get good“ or die repeatedly until you give up.

I would hazard a guess that your mindset is much less “win D&D” than the description comes across, though. Forum debates lead to exaggerated perceptions of each others’ stances.
Smart play in my view is opening the bureau and rifling through the folded clothes to find the key. There might be no roll here at all - you just succeed because the key is, in fact, hidden beneath a set of folded clothes. Less smart play is doing none of that and just saying "Can I make a Perception check to pace around the room and search the walls and furniture for clues?" The PHB suggests that, in this example, you don't even get a check. You just fail due to a lack of reasonable specificity in engaging with the environment.

We "win" at D&D when everyone has fun and creates an exciting, memorable story by playing. Arguably, it's more fun to succeed than it is to fail (though some failure can be fun). A player is more likely to see the character succeed if he or she engages with the environment in the manner I have described. Task by task, it also tends to make for a richer interaction which adds to the creation of an exciting, memorable story.

But on another note, I said I’d clarify something. When I referred to unnecessary rolls, I wasn’t speaking of the off-topic idea of the DM making or asking for unnecessary rolls to keep the players guessing. I was referring to the on-topic idea of letting rolls that I didn’t ask for slide, and using them to determine things about how things play out other than success.

eg, when the player rolls a stealth check to shadow a mark unnoticed in a scene where I see no reasonable chance of failure for this expert assassin, I don’t admonish the player or say “no need for a roll you just succeed”. Instead, I say, “Okay you succeed regardless of the roll, but what did you roll?” And when they tell me, I think about the scene, and I weave new elements into the scene, or decide what route the mark takes, or decide which of several potential complications will arise, or give them additional information if it’s a good roll, or something like that.

This offloads some cognitive work from me onto the dice, and often onto the players as I say, “okay, there was going to be a complication regardless, but Sinjin is way stealthier than this job requires, so I’m gonna let the group represent his superior knowledge of the City. Which of these two options can he deftly avoid, instead dealing with the other complication?”

D&D benefits, IME, from letting the dice be more than success or failure. The DMG encourages this, though I’ll be damned if I’m gonna leaf through it today to find the passage that talks about degrees of success and letting a poor roll fail forward or present a mixed result that’s more interesting than a total failure.
This looks like extra work to me for no gain. The player's making a roll he or she doesn't need to make and the DM is making stuff up because of it. As a player, I would just not ask to make the roll in the first place, per the rules. As DM, I'd remind the player (and have, many times, when retraining players out of this habit) that it's not their role to determine if there is an ability check, just like it's not my role to describe what they are doing.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Smart play in my view is opening the bureau and rifling through the folded clothes to find the key. There might be no roll here at all - you just succeed because the key is, in fact, hidden beneath a set of folded clothes. Less smart play is doing none of that and just saying "Can I make a Perception check to pace around the room and search the walls and furniture for clues?" The PHB suggests that, in this example, you don't even get a check. You just fail due to a lack of reasonable specificity in engaging with the environment.

We "win" at D&D when everyone has fun and creates an exciting, memorable story by playing. Arguably, it's more fun to succeed than it is to fail (though some failure can be fun). A player is more likely to see the character succeed if he or she engages with the environment in the manner I have described. Task by task, it also tends to make for a richer interaction which adds to the creation of an exciting, memorable story.



This looks like extra work to me for no gain. The player's making a roll he or she doesn't need to make and the DM is making stuff up because of it. As a player, I would just not ask to make the roll in the first place, per the rules. As DM, I'd remind the player (and have, many times, when retraining players out of this habit) that it's not their role to determine if there is an ability check, just like it's not my role to describe what they are doing.
That sounds painfully boring, to me. I’ve played in that game, and it was lame.

But your attempt as an example of my play doesn’t work. The player would, as I already said several times, describe their action and approach.

It also...isn’t any work at all? I’m not sure where you get the idea that it’s extra work. 🤷‍♂️
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That sounds painfully boring, to me. I’ve played in that game, and it was lame.

But your attempt as an example of my play doesn’t work. The player would, as I already said several times, describe their action and approach.

It also...isn’t any work at all? I’m not sure where you get the idea that it’s extra work. 🤷‍♂️
If the DM is adding stuff based on a roll that was not needed, which is what I understand you to be doing, then it's more work than not doing that.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If the DM is adding stuff based on a roll that was not needed, which is what I understand you to be doing, then it's more work than not doing that.
I don’t understand. I described something other than “adding stuff based on a roll” and you...decided that what I’m doing is that?

What?
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top