D&D 5E "As DM, I Know How All the PCs' Abilities, Spells, and Items Work" (a poll)

"As DM, I know how all the PC abilities, spells, and items work to the best of my ability."

  • True.

    Votes: 59 46.5%
  • False.

    Votes: 68 53.5%


Moderator Emeritus
Okay, time for another true/false poll, but this time with a slight clarification.

True or False: "As DM, I know how all the PC abilities, spells, and items work to the best of my ability."

I added the "to the best of my ability" caveat because I know it is virtually impossible to know how everything works or to remember it accurately all the time, so the poll question here is about intention not results. We all forget some things some time, so just because you have forgotten how something works at some point doesn't mean it is false, if it is your objective to know how they all work.

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I am always constantly trying to make the game easier for my new players, as I more often than not will have a few of them in any particular campaign. So a lot of my time is spent typing and re-typing and organizing PC abilities into handy docs and charts so that they can more easily know what to do when I ask them to do something. As a result, I've learned a staggeringly large part of the books-- not because I wanted and tried to memorize them, but just mainly through rule osmosis and having read them over and over.

I have one brand new player, one that has information retention issues, and one that's legally blind (he can see some if the print is large/clear enough) so I create "cheat sheets" for them. As a result I have a in-depth knowledge of their characters. The other 3 players I generally have a decent to good grasp of their characters.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Yep. Chances are, I'm the one who wrote the macros for them, manually added the houserule stuff to their character sheets, and configured their tokens to display the number of ki points or sorcery points they have on mouse-over, etc., in Roll20.
Before VTT the answer was false, but its quickly becoming true because of the above.


All abilities spells and items? That's a pretty high bar. Most, or at least the most consequential ones? I try to at least have a general idea. But at a certain point I have to trust my players to run their own characters. I try to understand just because I'm curious how things work and there are times when people have a different interpretation of the rules (thankfully rare in my home games nowadays) than I do.


Yes, to the best of my ability. The ones I have most difficulty with are Clerics, Paladins, and Druids, since they have so many spells available, but the others are manageable.

As with others, this is largely because I put together the character sheets for the group, and keeping these things updated serves as a good way to get used to the abilities.


In OSE, yes, I do.

In 5e, no, no I do not.

I might recognize the names, but don't know exactly what things do. Last time I played, my character sheet was 7 printed pages, including spells in tiny print. And abilities were scattered all over the place - race, feat, background, spells, spell like abilities, and so on. I didn't even know what everything did on my sheet, and I played it from Lv 1.

As a DM, I'll trust my players to be on the up and up. If they're cheating or fudging, they're only cheating themselves. But I will verify...


Life’s busy. I pull the, “remind me” card out all the time, and it helps other players know what certain abilities and features are for their own future character-building purposes.


I should and I try, but I don't. And unless there's a "trust issue" with a player, I don't real feel a genuine need to, either.
I mean, there's enough other stuff on the GM's plate handling all the NPCs' details and characteristics of the rest of world.
Yeah, there’s one player at my table who really overlooks action economy and the limits therein, so I generally make him read it aloud and we examine what he’s trying to do within that constraint. He’s also a dice snatcher, so I’ve had to ask players to discretely keep an eye on his rolls.


Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Mostly true, but less so over time. I used to be an encyclopedia of rules, in part due to playing one edition at any given time, and playing that edition regularly. Anything I didn't have memorized I could usually find quickly (might take a quick refresher on the 3.5 grapple rules, for example, but I knew the basic flow and could work it fast once the page was in front of me).

Nowadays between age and playing multiple editions actively, I more often need to look stuff up and occasionally get the current version of a rule, spell or ability confused with an older version. I still wind up being the default "rules guy" in a lot of my groups even when I'm not DMing.


Speculation Specialist Wizard
I tend to retain a lot of the general information about abilities/spells/items, but I will read into them more as needed. Especially if I need the specific wording in order to make a judgement call.

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