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5E Are there actions not covered under a skill?

Reynard

Legend
Agreed. The razor I use to cut through this thicket is to focus my description on things that are most relevant to the players. What can they interact with or otherwise affect? What can potentially harm or otherwise affect them? What they need to be made aware of to navigate this scenario effectively? Those are the things to focus the description on.


My approach avoids this issue in two ways: the first is the use of telegraphing. If I’m doing my job right and the players are paying attention, they should be able to recognize what’s important not through quantity of description, but by the details of the description. The second is the action adjudication process. Since I don’t call for rolls to resolve things that have no chance of success, players who latch onto some unimportant detail of the environment should quickly realize they’re barking up the wrong tree when they fail to accomplish their goal without being asked to make a roll. That only happens if their approach didn’t have a chance of accomplishing their goal. Sure, there’s a small risk of the players thinking the approach rather than the goal was the problem, but it shouldn’t take long before it becomes clear that the goal is indeed the issue.


Me too. I also prefer actions over questions.


I agree.
I don't want to telegraph. If I want them to look in the drawer under the ledger for the key, I'll tell them to do that (through the fiction). But I'd prefer not to care whether they look for the key or not because I don't want to block off an important part of the game by way of the key.

That isn't to say it can't be consequential to have the key. It may or may not be. But it can't be necessary. So the key might unlock extra information, a shorter or safer route, or bonus treasure. It just won't unlock REQUIRED information, path or treasure.

Since my players know this (even at cons since I am.up front with it) they can decide for themselves how to go about investigation, exploration and looting. It's not up to me because I'm not the players.
 

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FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Barrel/cistern toe-may-toe toe-mah-toe. It's still one object of many in the entire keep. It doesn't stand out, it's not special. It's just set dressing. If you're using one of the prepared maps, the DM may not even mention it.
Um, no. A cistern, as in a large reservoir of water that takes up 20’ sq feet in a 60’ sq ft room, is not like a barrel, In which you could pack 100 in the same room with room to spare.

I mean, you are literally wrong here: the boxed text specifically mentions the cistern and it is the largest thing in the room.

Likewise, if you miss the treasure, it isn’t the end of the world. The is no guarantee that the characters will find all of the treasure in an adventure.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Um, no. A cistern, as in a large reservoir of water that takes up 20’ sq feet in a 60’ sq ft room, is not like a barrel, In which you could pack 100 in the same room with room to spare.

I mean, you are literally wrong here: the boxed text specifically mentions the cistern and it is the largest thing in the room.

Likewise, if you miss the treasure, it isn’t the end of the world. The is no guarantee that the characters will find all of the treasure in an adventure.
So the issue is that a mod I haven't looked at in 4+ years has a magic item hidden in a cistern instead of a barrel? When I clarified that I may not remember the exact detail of the scenario? That's your big takeaway and counterargument? :rolleyes:

The hideout is littered with beds, barrels, crates and other places where items could be hidden. Nothing about the cistern stands out, there's absolutely no logical reason given as to why anyone would search it specifically. It's just one more thing in a hideout that is full of "stuff". There's nothing special about it, nothing unique, absolutely no hints as to how it could be telegraphed. It's simply one more piece of clutter and set dressing so you don't have one empty room after another.

Hiding a valuable magic item (especially valuable considering these are low level adventurers) is BS. If people think anything bigger than a bread box can hold something valuable and they only way to find it is to specifically state they search it, they will start doing so. I think it's poor design and poor guidance to new DMs.

If the only way to find valuable rewards is to search everything, it leads to some people saying they search everything.

All of which is just my opinion of course. If you want people opening every sack of potatoes* because there might be a magic ring in them go ahead and hide things in random places. It can be annoying in video games it's just plain boring in TTRPGs.

*I'm playing DOS 2 right now. Having fun but if you don't open every barrel, crate and sack you miss out on quite a bit of loot. Considering how much difference loot makes in the game I end up opening every barrel, crate and sack. I don't ever want to do that to my players in my D&D game.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
I don't claim my game is superior. I do claim that I understand and follow the rules the game lays out for us, particularly in the area of DM and player roles and adjudication process, and I show where and how. I further claim that doing so does not result in the sorts of issues you say you have with, say, "pixelbitching." That's it. There's nothing more to it than that. Anything else is reading into what I'm saying.
I would go further: saying that iserith and Charlaquin’s approach is equivalent to “pixelbitching” is the equivalent of my saying that the more abstract “roll Investigation to search” is ridiculous because the rogue could just roll Investigation at the dungeon entrance and with a good roll, he would know where all the treasure in the dungeon is located.

Both are ridiculous exaggerations that no one on the thread is supporting.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
So the issue is that a mod I haven't looked at in 4+ years has a magic item hidden in a cistern instead of a barrel? When I clarified that I may not remember the exact detail of the scenario? That's your big takeaway and counterargument? :rolleyes:
The issue is that you gave an example from an official module that you claim supported your point.

I politely pointed out to you that you had misremembered, that the treasure was easier to find than you had suggested, its location more distinctive and the treasure was optional: a small perk to players who went the extra mile in searching.

In response to that, you doubled down on your initial comment and made several incorrect statements: that a barrel and a cistern are basically the same thing and that a DM running the module might not mention the cistern.

I’m not calling you out on misremembering the details from a module you read years ago. I’m calling you out because when you were politely corrected, your response was to make stuff up that is easily disproved.

Edit: Note that my initial post didn’t even mean you were wrong! It provided context so that each poster could make up their own mind about the example provided.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The issue is that you gave an example from an official module that you claim supported your point.

I politely pointed out to you that you had misremembered, that the treasure was easier to find than you had suggested, its location more distinctive and the treasure was optional: a small perk to players who went the extra mile in searching.

In response to that, you doubled down on your initial comment and made several incorrect statements: that a barrel and a cistern are basically the same thing and that a DM running the module might not mention the cistern.

I’m not calling you out on misremembering the details from a module you read years ago. I’m calling you out because when you were politely corrected, your response was to make stuff up that is easily disproved.

Edit: Note that my initial post didn’t even mean you were wrong! It provided context so that each poster could make up their own mind about the example provided.
A water storage tank is not unique, it's a feature of the old keep. So what exactly is easily disproved? That I don't have perfect recall when I mentioned a mod I haven't glanced at in over 4 years? I barely remember what I had for supper last night. That a cistern is not a barrel? Well ... actually a cistern is just something that collects and stores liquid. Cisterns are frequently barrels*, and no I did not remember the exact dimensions of this particular cistern.

My entire point was that it was just set dressing that did not stand out from any other set dressing. Telling newbie DMs to hide stuff like this is what I don't like.

I think that some people take some general advice about how to handle searching and handling skill proficiencies much further than I ever would. If taken to an extreme it can lead to what I consider bad DMing, or as others would say pixel bitching. I have no idea how other people's games are run. I don't understand how their approach works but every DM has to have their own style. If it suits them and their players enjoy it, fantastic.

However I keep hearing this "broadcast where to search" with no concrete advice on how to actually accomplish it. LMOP is supposed to be an introductory module that teaches DMs how to run games. For the most part is succeeds, this is an example of where I think it fell flat on it's face. Unless players are specifying everything they search, they will never find it. Why include something that will (almost) never be found? Feel free to disagree.

I want to minimize meta-game knowledge influencing the actions of the PCs in my games, although I consider myself a middle of the road guy when it comes to the role of the dice. As far as I can tell other people want player ability to matter more than PC ability. Neither way is right or wrong it's a preference.

In any case, I'm just putting off trying to figure out what to do for next weeks adventure since I once again derailed my own campaign. It's bad enough when my players do it, but I did it to myself this time because I found a cool picture. :(

*I've been doing maps for roll 20 lately and I was making a cottage. I debated not only where to put the outhouse, but also whether to have a well or a barrel to catch water (aka a cistern) at the corner of the cottage. Why? Because I try to make my settings at least somewhat logical.
 

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