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5E Are there actions not covered under a skill?

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yeah, I saw the parallel. I wasn't even doubting the text was there (I thought I remembered seeing it), just irritated that I couldn't find it when I was looking for it; it still sounds more like DM advice than a player-facing rule, but YMMV.
I agree, it is. Take 20 is what you get when you try to turn this excellent piece of DMing advice (which boils down to “if failure doesn’t cost anything, assume the characters will eventually succeed and narrate that result without a roll”) into a player-facing rule.
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I can't imagine playing without random encounters. Different strokes I guess. I use random encounters in much the same way as @Charlaquin does. I use to emphasize time as a resource and, additionally, the need to not waste that resource in hostile environments. People have very different approaches to what a random encounter is too. For some DMs it's more of a straight wandering monster check, and for others there's a huge range of what might happen, from strange sounds, to random debris, to monsters. I favor the second approach, it's like the salt and pepper flavor text for a whole location. YMMV.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I can't imagine playing without random encounters. Different strokes I guess. I use random encounters in much the same way as @Charlaquin does. I use to emphasize time as a resource and, additionally, the need to not waste that resource in hostile environments. People have very different approaches to what a random encounter is too. For some DMs it's more of a straight wandering monster check, and for others there's a huge range of what might happen, from strange sounds, to random debris, to monsters. I favor the second approach, it's like the salt and pepper flavor text for a whole location. YMMV.
Yeah, I actually refer to them as complications in my own notes, and while a wandering monster is a type of complication, there are many other types. But, usually in conversation with other DMs I just say “random encounters” because they’ll understand more or less what I’m talking about.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
See, to me the age of the paper sounds like a telegraph. All the notes and treasure and stuff would be found without need for a roll because with no time constraint there’s no consequence for just spending all day just combing every inch of the room. The age of the papers would be a hint that there’s something more to be found despite that thorough search - the cue to the players to try probing the environment. I wouldn’t hide that information behind a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check because that’s the fun part.
IIRC (it's been a while) they got that there was something hinky about the books, but didn't explore that further. They found all the treasure without rolling, because of course. They were a little concerned for plotty reasons about more Mooks showing up at roughly any time with little warning(so taking all day wasn't exactly on the table) but they were doing most of this parallel to at least some of the party members taking a Short Rest.

They did manage to find that secret door, and eventually resorted to brute force to blow it open, and interesting things happened thereafter.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Do folks generally have things hidden in rooms that the players have ample time to thoroughly search? Cause, like, sure, hypothetically if there was a scenario in my game where there was no time pressure and the players said “we thoroughly search this whole room, taking as much time as we need to make sure we don’t miss anything,” then yeah, they’d find anything hidden in that room without a roll, on account of no consequences for time spent looking in parts of the room where nothing is hidden. But, like, that wouldn’t happen in my games? If I’m setting up a challenge where the players need to find a hidden thing, there’s gonna be time pressure. At least periodic random encounter checks if nothing else.
Sometimes, yes. Other times it's uncertain - they don't know if there's a time limit or not. It can also be completely uncertain, basically the chance of a random monster.

Generally speaking though there will be a trade-off. They're spending time on this lead instead of pursuing others as an example. The PCs don't always know how often the room gets checked or what kind of risk they're running.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Yeah, I actually refer to them as complications in my own notes, and while a wandering monster is a type of complication, there are many other types. But, usually in conversation with other DMs I just say “random encounters” because they’ll understand more or less what I’m talking about.
I usually use a version of the time pool idea. I really like making the passing time concrete and visual. I'm not using it right out of the box, but it's similar to what's in the link. If the AngryGM and Adam Koebel had a love child it would be my random encounter method.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Thanks for pointing me at that, but that seems more like a suggestion, to speed things up at the tale. I don't see anything about that that prevents the scenario I outlined.
Yeah it is a suggestion. I’m away from the book atm but I don’t think it’s even presented as an optional rule or anything, it is just straight up a suggestion to solve a potential problem of players wanting to make check after check until they win.

Not sure why it’s being presented as if it is “the rules”.
That’s fine. Plenty of folks don’t like random encounters. I find them a convenient way to make lost time a meaningful consequence without need of ticking clocks. If you don’t like them, don’t use them.
Again, that’s fine, but at that point it’s effectively flavor text. Nothing wrong with flavor text.
And yet your wording suggest that flavor text is less important than whatever you think the alternative is.

But the whole game is flavor text. “Flavor text” just means “the world”.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Yeah it is a suggestion. I’m away from the book atm but I don’t think it’s even presented as an optional rule or anything, it is just straight up a suggestion to solve a potential problem of players wanting to make check after check until they win.

Not sure why it’s being presented as if it is “the rules”.
It's presented as the rest of 'the rules' as how to run the game. I mean, I suppose you can just treat everything as a suggestion and continue to run however you want -- this is perfectly fine -- but it seems odd to dismiss the recommendations for play as not worth listening to because you don't think they're rules.

And yet your wording suggest that flavor text is less important than whatever you think the alternative is.

But the whole game is flavor text. “Flavor text” just means “the world”.
Well, I disagree with this, strongly.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
"Rules" are what people call them when they trying to prove their point.

"Suggestions" are what people call them when they're trying to disprove someone else's point.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Sometimes, yes. Other times it's uncertain - they don't know if there's a time limit or not. It can also be completely uncertain, basically the chance of a random monster.
The chance of a random encounter over time is a time constraint.

I usually use a version of the time pool idea. I really like making the passing time concrete and visual. I'm not using it right out of the box, but it's similar to what's in the link. If the AngryGM and Adam Koebel had a love child it would be my random encounter method.
I do too 😁

And yet your wording suggest that flavor text is less important than whatever you think the alternative is.
The alternative would be a challenge, and I don’t think less of flavor text at all. It just doesn’t require dice rolls to resolve.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I usually would say that I can't help your lack of imagination...
Mod Note:

We are all gamers here. We all have plenty of imagination.

If you haven't gotten through to someone, and you want to continue to try, starting with an insult is probably ineffective, on top of being rude.

And, if your goal wasn't to actually get them to understand your point... then why respond at all?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I can't imagine playing without random encounters. Different strokes I guess. I use random encounters in much the same way as @Charlaquin does. I use to emphasize time as a resource and, additionally, the need to not waste that resource in hostile environments. People have very different approaches to what a random encounter is too. For some DMs it's more of a straight wandering monster check, and for others there's a huge range of what might happen, from strange sounds, to random debris, to monsters. I favor the second approach, it's like the salt and pepper flavor text for a whole location. YMMV.
I use the tables, but I don’t ever roll on them. I have a few players for whom immersion is a pretty tenuous thing, but even when not playing with them, I just don’t like randomizing what is in the world in that particular way.
I do use complications like those you describe, but I generally decide ahead of time the type of challenges and oddities are in an area, and figure them out based on what feels right in the moment.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I use the tables, but I don’t ever roll on them. I have a few players for whom immersion is a pretty tenuous thing, but even when not playing with them, I just don’t like randomizing what is in the world in that particular way.
I do use complications like those you describe, but I generally decide ahead of time the type of challenges and oddities are in an area, and figure them out based on what feels right in the moment.
Oh. Yeah, I usually just choose a complication that makes sense. Sometimes I’ll roll for them, but usually the random part is determining when a complication occurs, not which complication occurs.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Mod Note:

We are all gamers here. We all have plenty of imagination.

If you haven't gotten through to someone, and you want to continue to try, starting with an insult is probably ineffective, on top of being rude.

And, if your goal wasn't to actually get them to understand your point... then why respond at all?
You're right, that was a bit aggressive of me. However, to answer your question, because others read the thread as well and perhaps they'll get it.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I use the tables, but I don’t ever roll on them. I have a few players for whom immersion is a pretty tenuous thing, but even when not playing with them, I just don’t like randomizing what is in the world in that particular way.
I do use complications like those you describe, but I generally decide ahead of time the type of challenges and oddities are in an area, and figure them out based on what feels right in the moment.
Yeah, sometimes you need to roll with what the group needs and not what you'd prefer. This whole idea has a ton of knobs and dials thankfully, so there's usually an answer for everyone. For example, in a tightly planned or smaller dungeon the actual encounter spaces are close enough together that there often is no need for random encounters, but in a big natural cave system you might have more random encounters than pre-built ones. Whatever works really.

Also, when I say 'random' encounters, I do sometimes 'roll' the dice and just pick the one I like. Forge that narrative...
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
However, to answer your question, because others read the thread as well and perhaps they'll get it.
Mod Note:

The question was rhetorical. When you see "Mod Note:" we are not looking for discussion in-thread.

What you've now insured that they'll get is, "Ovinomancer is willing to treat people badly to make a point."

Next time, show more respect for folks.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
That’s not what I was identifying as the difference between our ways of thinking. “Knowing that intimidation will be a lower DC than persuasion” first of all presupposes the necessity of a check to execute an action, and second of all implies that it is the proficiency employed, rather than the goal and the action taken to try and achieve it, that determines the DC.
I agree with Charlaquin and iserith, and sometimes, a different example can break the logjam.

First encounter in LMoP, goblins have set an ambush for the characters. Barring character action, the goblins attack with surprise if their Dex(Stealth) beats the character’s Wis(Perception). I ran the game with my children.

Oldest Son: “There’s a horse in the middle of the road with arrows sticking out of it? This looks like an ambush.”

Middle Son: “Wait, we were told there were bandits on this trail...”

Based on the foregoing, there was no need to roll to see if the characters were surprised. My players probably weren’t even aware there was a chance they might be surprised.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's presented as the rest of 'the rules' as how to run the game. I mean, I suppose you can just treat everything as a suggestion and continue to run however you want -- this is perfectly fine -- but it seems odd to dismiss the recommendations for play as not worth listening to because you don't think they're rules.
Well, I disagree with this, strongly.
Im not dismissing the DMing advice in the DMG, I’m just correctly noting that it isn’t rules.
Which part do you disagree with? What argument can there be that the world isn’t flavor text?

"Rules" are what people call them when they trying to prove their point.

"Suggestions" are what people call them when they're trying to disprove someone else's point.
Nope.
The alternative would be a challenge, and I don’t think less of flavor text at all. It just doesn’t require dice rolls to resolve.
That First part makes no sense, to me.
The rest, I get but just strongly disagree in terms of creating good gameplay. I think the game loses soemthing extremely good and important when only those things which “challenge” the PCs have any chance of failure, or of meaningful differentiation as to warrant mechanical resolution. The world and people and things in it matters more than how many HP the kobold shaman has. Who the Duke of Vagarsal is as a person is more important than how many of his guards we have to knock out without getting caught in order to find the needed clues as to what he was up to before he disappeared.

The “flavor text” is quite often the most important thing by an immense margin.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
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.
Worth pointing out that LMoP seems to be written specifically with this approach in mind.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Do folks generally have things hidden in rooms that the players have ample time to thoroughly search? Cause, like, sure, hypothetically if there was a scenario in my game where there was no time pressure and the players said “we thoroughly search this whole room, taking as much time as we need to make sure we don’t miss anything,” then yeah, they’d find anything hidden in that room without a roll, on account of no consequences for time spent looking in parts of the room where nothing is hidden. But, like, that wouldn’t happen in my games? If I’m setting up a challenge where the players need to find a hidden thing, there’s gonna be time pressure. At least periodic random encounter checks if nothing else.
Let me suggest a 2nd example where the different styles described would yield different results.

Scene: the battle has ended, the heroes having victoriously prevailed over 5 kobolds.

Style 1:

Player 1: I search the bodies. I rolled a 16 Investigation.
DM 1 (improvising): Well, in addition to a short sword, light crossbow and leather armor, one the the kobolds has a secret compartment in its boot. It holds a small agate wirth 20 gp.

Style 2:
Player 2: I search the kobolds’ bodies.
DM2: They each have a short sword, light crossbow and leather armor.

On the plus side, on a high roll, Player 1 could find something that the DM1 improvised. Conversely, on a low roll, Player 1 could miss something that DM2 would have let Player2 find automatically.
 

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