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5E Are there actions not covered under a skill?

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
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?
You said:

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?
I don't do any of that because I would not have asked for the result of the roll when one was not required. So what you're doing looks like more work than is necessary for no gain.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You said:



I don't do any of that because I would not have asked for the result of the roll when one was not required. So what you're doing looks like more work than is necessary for no gain.
It's literally not more work. As i said in that post, it's all stuff I was going to include, and the roll determines some aspect of it that I'd just have to decide without the roll otherwise.

As for "no gain", if you can't see the benefit of greater player engagement in setting the scene, I doubt we are gonna gain anything from continuing this conversation. Either we view the game too differently, or you're just too much in "argument" mode to actually try to understand what I'm saying.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It's literally not more work. As i said in that post, it's all stuff I was going to include, and the roll determines some aspect of it that I'd just have to decide without the roll otherwise.

As for "no gain", if you can't see the benefit of greater player engagement in setting the scene, I doubt we are gonna gain anything from continuing this conversation. Either we view the game too differently, or you're just too much in "argument" mode to actually try to understand what I'm saying.
I understand what you're saying and it's more work for no gain in my view. I see DMs do this sort of thing in games I observe. I can get the same or better engagement by just doing what the game tells us to do including the reasonable specificity that you say you find boring. (Of course, even games that don't include that can be boring.)

My views are determined by the game, not from stuff from some other game. If you have questions about how I view the game but for whatever reason don't wish to continue discussing them, you need look no further than the rules. But I'm happy to discuss it anytime.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
It's literally not more work. As i said in that post, it's all stuff I was going to include, and the roll determines some aspect of it that I'd just have to decide without the roll otherwise.
It literally is more work. As in you did more than you would have if the die had not been rolled. You may not consider this 'work' but that's a semantic argument, not a literal one. I believe that you think this is a net good, but I don't see it that way.

As for "no gain", if you can't see the benefit of greater player engagement in setting the scene, I doubt we are gonna gain anything from continuing this conversation. Either we view the game too differently, or you're just too much in "argument" mode to actually try to understand what I'm saying.
The player isn't more engaged in setting the scene, though, the dice are. The player had no additional input, except to roll a die, the result of which means you ad hoc add additional flavor to the scene but don't change the outcome of the action. I can understand how you find value in this, but I wouldn't -- it's just another random prompt for the GM to talk more. I do my talking in setting up the scene, then it's the player's turn to add excitement through narrating actions. You say this kind of play is boring, and that you've played in this game -- I respectfully submit you're mistaken on both counts.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It literally is more work. As in you did more than you would have if the die had not been rolled. You may not consider this 'work' but that's a semantic argument, not a literal one. I believe that you think this is a net good, but I don't see it that way.


The player isn't more engaged in setting the scene, though, the dice are. The player had no additional input, except to roll a die, the result of which means you ad hoc add additional flavor to the scene but don't change the outcome of the action. I can understand how you find value in this, but I wouldn't -- it's just another random prompt for the GM to talk more. I do my talking in setting up the scene, then it's the player's turn to add excitement through narrating actions. You say this kind of play is boring, and that you've played in this game -- I respectfully submit you're mistaken on both counts.
Eh, it's possible that I'm not communicating well, but at this point I don't really give a damn. I'm done. Y'all definitely don't understand what I'm saying, whether that's on me or not.

The player is more engaged, and the resolution absolutely doesn't involve more work on my end.
I understand what you're saying and it's more work for no gain in my view. I see DMs do this sort of thing in games I observe. I can get the same or better engagement by just doing what the game tells us to do including the reasonable specificity that you say you find boring. (Of course, even games that don't include that can be boring.)

My views are determined by the game, not from stuff from some other game. If you have questions about how I view the game but for whatever reason don't wish to continue discussing them, you need look no further than the rules. But I'm happy to discuss it anytime.
I mean, look at this. You somehow think I said that the player being specific about their approach is boring? After I've explicitly said that my players are being just as specific as your examples several times? Like, do you literally not process the information without an example, or what? I genuinely don't understand what is happening. Every time you reply to me you make at least one statement that completely lacks any knowledge of things I've stated explicitly more than once. Are you reading the whole post?

I mean, feel free not to even reply. Your wierd superior attitude is...well, it's not great, bud.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If a key is hidden in the room, I may ask for a roll (varies depending on the situation or not). More likely I'll base my decision on how much time they have, how well the key is hidden and how careful they want to be. All of those things come into play.

A few simple, standard scenarios.
  • The group carefully searches the room, taking as much time as they need. Key hidden in a drawer under some garments? They find it.
    • They mention that they're being careful to not leave a trace then I'll mention searching drawers and ask for a sleight of hand check.
    • They may also ask for checks for traps because the owner of the room is associated to the thieves guild. Whether or not there are traps, I'll allow it because it adds some tension and flavor to the scene. Yes, I know there's the whole "that's not what the rules tell you to do" argument which I disagree with from my reading of the rules and because I do it because it makes the game more enjoyable as long as I don't overdo it.
  • They search the room but they're in a hurry? They're going to need to make a check or two. Do they even think to check the drawer?
  • The key is hidden under a false floorboard? They're going to need to make a perception check to notice the loose board, grant advantage to the carpenter.
What I won't do is spend 10 minutes going through details on the room and having them walk me through exactly where they're searching. The players are not the PCs, the guy playing a Sherlock Holmes character is going to deduce things about the situation no player ever could based on a combination of my lack of description and the fact that my player is not, indeed, Sherlock Holmes.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I mean, look at this. You somehow think I said that the player being specific about their approach is boring? After I've explicitly said that my players are being just as specific as your examples several times? Like, do you literally not process the information without an example, or what? I genuinely don't understand what is happening. Every time you reply to me you make at least one statement that completely lacks any knowledge of things I've stated explicitly more than once. Are you reading the whole post?

I mean, feel free not to even reply. Your wierd superior attitude is...well, it's not great, bud.
Perhaps you're reading tone into my posts. I don't have a "superior attitude." I'm just saying what I do and why. You disagree and seem to take things the wrong way by the looks of it. And not just my posts either.

You said:

That sounds painfully boring, to me. I’ve played in that game, and it was lame.
What I provided was what the rules suggest is reasonable specificity with regard to players describing what they want to do and how the DM should adjudicate this. You find this boring, you said. "Lame," even.

You added that your players do describe their goal and approach. But clearly if you find the aforementioned sort of play boring, then a plausible conclusion in my view is that your players aren't, in fact, engaging in that level of reasonable specificity, nor are you adjudicating in a way that the rules suggest. Your players are making some effort at description and tacking on a request to make an ability check based on what you're saying. (Or a "skill check" as you call it.) You are then taking extra steps to incorporate the result of an unnecessary ability check into your subsequent narration of the result.

What am I not getting?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
If a key is hidden in the room, I may ask for a roll (varies depending on the situation or not). More likely I'll base my decision on how much time they have, how well the key is hidden and how careful they want to be. All of those things come into play.

A few simple, standard scenarios.
  • The group carefully searches the room, taking as much time as they need. Key hidden in a drawer under some garments? They find it.
    • They mention that they're being careful to not leave a trace then I'll mention searching drawers and ask for a sleight of hand check.
    • They may also ask for checks for traps because the owner of the room is associated to the thieves guild. Whether or not there are traps, I'll allow it because it adds some tension and flavor to the scene. Yes, I know there's the whole "that's not what the rules tell you to do" argument which I disagree with from my reading of the rules and because I do it because it makes the game more enjoyable as long as I don't overdo it.
  • They search the room but they're in a hurry? They're going to need to make a check or two. Do they even think to check the drawer?
  • The key is hidden under a false floorboard? They're going to need to make a perception check to notice the loose board, grant advantage to the carpenter.
What I won't do is spend 10 minutes going through details on the room and having them walk me through exactly where they're searching. The players are not the PCs, the guy playing a Sherlock Holmes character is going to deduce things about the situation no player ever could based on a combination of my lack of description and the fact that my player is not, indeed, Sherlock Holmes.
I'm glad. I don't do the last paragraph, either. Seems like you've found an example that doesn't apply to anyone, which is good, because it doesn't need to come up again.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm glad. I don't do the last paragraph, either. Seems like you've found an example that doesn't apply to anyone, which is good, because it doesn't need to come up again.
We have posts literally saying that the players need to tell the DM they're searching a guy's sock drawer for the key. The only way I can see that being faster than a quick roll or two is if I describe a completely empty room with a single bureau with only one drawer containing socks then yes it will take no time at all.

Anything other than that and it's going to be a fair amount of give and take - searching drawers, under beds, behind pictures and so on. At least in any game I've ever played in or listened to on a podcast that does this sort of thing.

Which, if it's what you and yours enjoys go for it. If I'm misrepresenting what you mean give me a simple example. Don't continue to make accusations of unfair representation when I have no idea what your game is like because you won't explain it.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Eh, it's possible that I'm not communicating well, but at this point I don't really give a damn. I'm done. Y'all definitely don't understand what I'm saying, whether that's on me or not.

The player is more engaged, and the resolution absolutely doesn't involve more work on my end.
I follow what you're saying. Your players roll dice for skill checks unprompted. You decide if the roll is necessary or not without consideration of if it was made already. You do, however, use the roll as a prompt for you to add flavor to a scene. I'm unclear if this flavor ever has any impact or if it's just flavor, but that's a different conversation. I'm pretty sure I get this. Also, your players will provide you with clear goal and approach for task resolution even if they roll dice without prompting for a skill check. That seems a bit harder to visualize, but I'll go with it.

What I have issue with is the claim that you using the unnecessary die rolls to add flavor is indicative of the player having input into the scene. You've switched this to 'engaged' here, which is a different claim, and leave the question open of 'more engaged than what?' I also wonder why you do more work, and see that additional work as valuable (and I can see that, you like the result, you should be proud of it), but you're angry that people point out it's more work. Of course it's more work. It's valuable work, though, in that it makes your game better. I'm very confused at the anger you show here and the denial that it's more work. When did doing more work as GM suddenly because an absolute negative? I do lots of work as GM (differently than you, in places), and I'd never say that I didn't do more work when I was and thought it was a good outcome. I think you should embrace your method a bit more than you seem to want to.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
We have posts literally saying that the players need to tell the DM they're searching a guy's sock drawer for the key. The only way I can see that being faster than a quick roll or two is if I describe a completely empty room with a single bureau with only one drawer containing socks then yes it will take no time at all.

Anything other than that and it's going to be a fair amount of give and take - searching drawers, under beds, behind pictures and so on. At least in any game I've ever played in or listened to on a podcast that does this sort of thing.

Which, if it's what you and yours enjoys go for it. If I'm misrepresenting what you mean give me a simple example. Don't continue to make accusations of unfair representation when I have no idea what your game is like because you won't explain it.
No, we have posts that say if the player says they search the sock drawer and the key is there that they automatically succeed. This doesn't say that play is waiting for the players to extensively detail everything about searching a room because the example doesn't start with a whole room. Why is the player looking in the sock drawer? Don't know, didn't start there, but, if it were my game, it would be because they probably already had a good reason to look in the sock drawer.

I don't have big rooms full of stuff with the intent for players to search for a key. This is a feature of games that use lots of 'skill' checks to resolve things. It's absolutely not how I'd set something up. If there's a key in a sock drawer, it won't be at the end of a long session of meticulously searching a big room, it'll be because the PCs have a good reason to look in the sock drawer.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
No, we have posts that say if the player says they search the sock drawer and the key is there that they automatically succeed. This doesn't say that play is waiting for the players to extensively detail everything about searching a room because the example doesn't start with a whole room. Why is the player looking in the sock drawer? Don't know, didn't start there, but, if it were my game, it would be because they probably already had a good reason to look in the sock drawer.

I don't have big rooms full of stuff with the intent for players to search for a key. This is a feature of games that use lots of 'skill' checks to resolve things. It's absolutely not how I'd set something up. If there's a key in a sock drawer, it won't be at the end of a long session of meticulously searching a big room, it'll be because the PCs have a good reason to look in the sock drawer.
But how do they even know there's a sock drawer unless you describe the room in detail? How would they ever know to look in that one specific location? If they do know exactly where to look - how? Why? For that matter why even play out the scene? Just go from "you know where it is" to "you went and got it, what's next?"

I can't think of any reason why they would know exactly where to look so if they don't know exactly where to look then they have to take time to search the room which will take time, literal game time if they have to describe exactly what they are doing. In my games it will be off screen and summed up, no mention of sock drawers necessary.

Because the scenario doesn't make any sense to me ...
DM: You open the door to Bob's bedroom. There's a bed with an iron bound chest at it's foot, a bureau, wardrobe and small writing desk.
Player: We search the sock drawer.
DM: You find the key.

WTF? Huh? How exactly do you see that playing out differently? Obviously that's not going to happen ... so what does it look like?
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Perhaps you're reading tone into my posts. I don't have a "superior attitude." I'm just saying what I do and why. You disagree and seem to take things the wrong way by the looks of it. And not just my posts either.

You said:



What I provided was what the rules suggest is reasonable specificity with regard to players describing what they want to do and how the DM should adjudicate this. You find this boring, you said. "Lame," even.

You added that your players do describe their goal and approach. But clearly if you find the aforementioned sort of play boring, then a plausible conclusion in my view is that your players aren't, in fact, engaging in that level of reasonable specificity, nor are you adjudicating in a way that the rules suggest. Your players are making some effort at description and tacking on a request to make an ability check based on what you're saying. (Or a "skill check" as you call it.) You are then taking extra steps to incorporate the result of an unnecessary ability check into your subsequent narration of the result.

What am I not getting?
You keep pushing the weird assumption that my players aren’t being specific, and I just can’t be bothered to keep this going.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
You keep pushing the weird assumption that my players aren’t being specific, and I just can’t be bothered to keep this going.
You keep implying it by contrasting your games with “lame, boring” ones wherein there is an expectation of reasonable specificity in action declaration.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
You keep pushing the weird assumption that my players aren’t being specific, and I just can’t be bothered to keep this going.
You can stop responding at any time. But note that I didn't say your players weren't being specific, just that they might not be as specific as the example I pulled from the PHB which you said was "boring" and "lame."
 

jasper

Rotten DM
...
DM: You open the door to Bob's bedroom. There's a bed with an iron bound chest at it's foot, a bureau, wardrobe and small writing desk.
(see below)
Player: We search the sock drawer.
DM: You find the key.

...
My players.
Chaos Bob, " I name the burro Eeyore and saddle it.
Quiet Bob, " I put a sock over the knob of the door on the outside."
Roll Bob , sounds of a die rolling, " I got a 13 perception."
Nice bob, " I search the drawer, then wardrobe."
Me. Sigh. "You find the key."
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
So, something like this has come up recently, I think, and it seems to boil down to whether the players know there's a sock drawer to mention specifically and whether the DM will treat any action description that doesn't specifically mention the sock drawer as having no chance of success (and I suppose whether the DM will treat any action description that mentions the sock drawer as having no chance of failure).

I guess I figure that reasonably competent and determined characters with adequate time are going to open every visible drawer that opens, so if they take enough time--which will depend on the size of the room and how much is in it--they'll search the sock drawer, even if the players don't specifically mention doing so. Even a quicker check might do the job--automatically if the players mention the drawers, on a die roll if they don't.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I follow what you're saying. Your players roll dice for skill checks unprompted. You decide if the roll is necessary or not without consideration of if it was made already. You do, however, use the roll as a prompt for you to add flavor to a scene. I'm unclear if this flavor ever has any impact or if it's just flavor, but that's a different conversation. I'm pretty sure I get this. Also, your players will provide you with clear goal and approach for task resolution even if they roll dice without prompting for a skill check. That seems a bit harder to visualize, but I'll go with it.

What I have issue with is the claim that you using the unnecessary die rolls to add flavor is indicative of the player having input into the scene. You've switched this to 'engaged' here, which is a different claim, and leave the question open of 'more engaged than what?' I also wonder why you do more work, and see that additional work as valuable (and I can see that, you like the result, you should be proud of it), but you're angry that people point out it's more work. Of course it's more work. It's valuable work, though, in that it makes your game better. I'm very confused at the anger you show here and the denial that it's more work. When did doing more work as GM suddenly because an absolute negative? I do lots of work as GM (differently than you, in places), and I'd never say that I didn't do more work when I was and thought it was a good outcome. I think you should embrace your method a bit more than you seem to want to.
I’m not angry, I’m just pointing out that it’s incorrect. I would be doing the same amount of description either way. The die roll just helps inform what specific information is in that descriptive work. Because why not?

Also, it has reduced my workload over time, because I can now just leave certain things unplanned, and I use improv with heavy player input a lot more, rather than trying to prep everything in advance. This has enhanced game.

As for the “hard to visualize” part, maybe I can clarify that a bit. The playing might say something like, “I search the room thoroughly, [description of what they search and how]” and then roll an investigation or perception check, and tell me the check result. If there is no time restraint, and I see no reasonable way they’d fail, I either ignore the roll or use it to determine something else. Sometimes that involves asking either the group or a particular player to come up with something that happens or something interesting but unimportant that is found,etc, other times I have an immediate idea and I just talk it out as part of narrating success

Now, I will say that if a good idea is sparked that does lead to more work, but that is by far not the norm. Side quests, recurring NPCs, unexpected character development, etc have all sprung from these moments, but 90% of the time it’s flavor, or just a “here is a little more info to make a decision between going right vs left” sort of minor benefit.

All of which is super tangential to the point that actually drew me into this thread, which is that skill checks exist regardless of the wording of the rules, and that asking for skill checks isn’t different from asking for ability checks and stating that they can add prof bonus if trained in XYZ skill.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You keep implying it by contrasting your games with “lame, boring” ones wherein there is an expectation of reasonable specificity in action declaration.
I haven’t ever done that. I have never referred to specific action declaration as lame or boring. 🤷‍♂️
 

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