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D&D 5E Calibration of single character skill checks

Whom to calibrate common DCs for single-character skill checks, and assume party help or not?

  • Natural or skilled characters - either has a good ability score or is trained.

    Votes: 18 69.2%
  • Talented characters - assume the character would have a good ability score and must have proficiency

    Votes: 8 30.8%
  • Focused characters - assume character high ability score and expertise.

    Votes: 2 7.7%
  • No Team Support - base the DC just on the character.

    Votes: 16 61.5%
  • Team Support - should we assume the party will be able to provide +3-5 in other bonuses for checks

    Votes: 4 15.4%

  • Total voters
    26

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I mean the task is "easy". Is that what you mean? Where we might differ is that I am thinking about what that could tell us about the game world, and the nature of day-to-day activities within it.
The task may be easy in the word’s literal English meaning, yes, which is part of why it doesn’t generally demand an Easy (in ge game jargon sense, meaning DC10) check to accomplish.
In one view - there is a putative check, but it is consistently waived. In another view, there is no check. What I find helpful about the first view is that it argues for in-world consistency. Whereas the second view creates a mystery - a kind of epiphenomenal ectoplasm - an aspect of the world disconnect from other aspects. For whatever reason - partly intuitively - I prefer the first view.
I don’t think the first view is consistent with how the rules instruct the DM to adjudicate actions. Moreover, it can lead to thinking of the obstacle being the “source” of the DC rather than the task, e.g. thinking of the lock itself requiring a Hard check to pick, instead of considering the character’s approach (using thieves tools) to their goal (unlocking it) and determining that a Hard check should be required for it to succeed.
 

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ECMO3

Adventurer
Exactly. A character with a 10 fails at a DC 10 check 45% of the time. The word Easy does not accurately describe something you have barely better than a coin flip’s chance of succeeding at. The DCs may be calibrated based on wanting a completely untrained person to have that success rate, but I believe their names are relative to a character with a bit more training than that.
Agreed and for some real world examples:

1. Assuming you are familiar with american football - a 15 yard field goal is an "easy" field goal. College and pro kickers (who are experts) will make that kick 90% of the time or more. Your average athlete or high school soccer player can probably make it most of the time. Your average joe off the street will miss it quite often even though it is easy.

2. Driving a car down a residential road at 25mph without hitting a curb a parked care or a mailbox is very easy if you drive. However take a 12 year old (i.e. completely untrained) and put him behind the wheel and you are going to frequently run into something.

3. Starting a fire with 2 dry wooden sticks is easy. People were doing this back before writing was even invented and human civilization would have never made it to the civilization stage without it. This is an "easy" task (assuming the wood is not wet), but you would have a lot of people out there who have never done it that would fail if they tried it today.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
The task may be easy in the word’s literal English meaning, yes, which is part of why it doesn’t generally demand an Easy (in ge game jargon sense, meaning DC10) check to accomplish.
The literal English meaning is the meaning of the descriptor of the DC. The experienced difficulty can diverge from the descriptor, as for instance a tier-3 character who could approach "hard" DCs with every confidence of overcoming them. That is why it I say it is unhelpful in the long run to look only from the low-level perspective represented by the descriptors.

I don’t think the first view is consistent with how the rules instruct the DM to adjudicate actions. Moreover, it can lead to thinking of the obstacle being the “source” of the DC rather than the task, e.g. thinking of the lock itself requiring a Hard check to pick, instead of considering the character’s approach (using thieves tools) to their goal (unlocking it) and determining that a Hard check should be required for it to succeed.
I believe that view is not correct or convenient. A DC is a fixed property of a task*. Let me preface by saying that I see this as an investigation, not a final position!

First from the point of view of rules - which is what we might label correctness (while acknowledging that correct is really whatever works for you at your table.) Approaches can change the likelihood of success or even obviate the need to make a check, but they do not change the DC of the task. In published material, such as ToA, numerous DCs are given by the designers. Nowhere does it suggest these DCs are formed on a one-to-one basis with actors. A DC 20 secret door in ToA is not DC 10 to one actor and DC 30 to another, but it may be much more probable for one actor to notice it over another. For instance, a character possessed by Papazotl, or one with Dungeoneer. The hard check doesn't become "easy" for one actor and "very hard" for another - where those are fixed descriptors - it remains "hard" i.e. DC 20.

Then there is the matter of convenience. It would be inconvenient to never know the DC until we knew the actor. It is far more convenient to know the DC of a task, and know that the actor may bring to bear an approach that changes their odds of overcoming it. As DM, I can know the DC is 20 without yet deciding the likelihood characters will have of overcoming it.

*It's not clear to me what distinction you are getting at by separating "obstacle" from "task".
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
1. Assuming you are familiar with american football - a 15 yard field goal is an "easy" field goal. College and pro kickers (who are experts) will make that kick 90% of the time or more. Your average athlete or high school soccer player can probably make it most of the time. Your average joe off the street will miss it quite often even though it is easy.
To me, that speaks to what the descriptors are about. A DC 10 is only "easy" because it is easy from the perspective of a low-level character, as stated in the DMG. A DC 20 is only "hard" from that same perspective. It remains a "hard" DC even though different characters will have different likelihoods of overcoming it.

So your field goal is not "easy" difficulty class: it might be "hard" difficulty class. Difficulty class is the bar to get over, not the chance of getting over that bar. (Although they are related.) So DC should not vary. Per your example, chance of beating DC can vary greatly.


[EDIT On re-reading, I think you might be saying something nearer to what I would agree with. Note ninja-edit.]
 
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The literal English meaning is the meaning of the descriptor of the DC. The experienced difficulty can diverge from the descriptor, as for instance a tier-3 character who could approach "hard" DCs with every confidence of overcoming them. That is why it I say it is unhelpful in the long run to look only from the low-level perspective represented by the descriptors.
It may not be helpful in all cases, but it is what the designers decided upon.

Also, one could potentially argue the 80-20 rule here. ~80% of game play occurs at first tier so... yeah those DC descriptors are spot on most of the time. (someone, please correct me if you have an accurate account of data to refute my 80-20 claim. The DnD Beyond character data are likely a reasonable approximation. Perhaps more than half is a better estimate than 80%... but I digress).

Further, while certain difficult things are easier for high level characters, the current paradigm of DC descriptors (...10=easy, 15=medium, 20=hard...) still work for that individual 15th level Fighter who dumped INT and is now asked to make an INT(Investigation) ability check.

I believe that view is not correct or convenient. A DC is a fixed property of a task*. Let me preface by saying that I see this as an investigation, not a final position!
I appreciate the bolded reminder. I'm here to learn, too. :)

First from the point of view of rules - which is what we might label correctness (while acknowledging that correct is really whatever works for you at your table.) Approaches can change the likelihood of success or even obviate the need to make a check, but they do not change the DC of the task. In published material, such as ToA, numerous DCs are given by the designers. Nowhere does it suggest these DCs are formed on a one-to-one basis with actors. A DC 20 secret door in ToA is not DC 10 to one actor and DC 30 to another, but it may be much more probable for one actor to notice it over another. For instance, a character possessed by Papazotl, or one with Dungeoneer. The hard check doesn't become "easy" for one actor and "very hard" for another - where those are fixed descriptors - it remains "hard" i.e. DC 20.
Disagree. An ability check DC is very much dependent upon the approach taken by the PC in the context of said obstacle. Are you really going to say a locked door - which everyone in the party wishes to open - has the same DC for the rogue who is going to use their thieves tools vs the wizard casting knock vs the barbarian who is going to run up and ram it with her body weight vs the bard who is going to punch it (he mad b/c the barbarian didn't like his song of rest)? The approach very much plays into the DC here. Or, let's simplify the example. Is it the same DC for the barbarian who is deciding between two options: 1. run up and slam her body weight into the locked door OR 2. whack at the lock with her great club?

Then there is the matter of convenience. It would be inconvenient to never know the DC until we knew the actor. It is far more convenient to know the DC of a task, and know that the actor may bring to bear an approach that changes their odds of overcoming it. As DM, I can know the DC is 20 without yet deciding the likelihood characters will have of overcoming it.
It's not about the actor, though. It's about the actor's approach and goal. In the previous example, if the barbarian and bard were both to throw their body weight into the door individually, the DC would be the same - just the barbarian might be more likely to succeed based on their stats and abilities.

Another example: there is a 15x15 foot pit blocking the way in a wider-than-usual dungeon corridor. Is the DM to assign a DC to the pit before finding out how the different PCs are going to approach this obstacle? IMO, that is backwards.

Note that the DMG pg 237-239 first instructs DMs to determine if the task proposed by the player is an auto-success or impossible for the PC. Then it tells DMs to only call for a roll if there is a meaningful consequence of failure. Only then, a full page later, does it get into setting DCs.

*It's not clear to me what distinction you are getting at by separating "obstacle" from "task".
Is the distinction clearer now?
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Disagree. An ability check DC is very much dependent upon the approach taken by the PC in the context of said obstacle. Are you really going to say a locked door - which everyone in the party wishes to open - has the same DC for the rogue who is going to use their thieves tools vs the wizard casting knock vs the barbarian who is going to run up and ram it with her body weight vs the bard who is going to punch it (he mad b/c the barbarian didn't like his song of rest)? The approach very much plays into the DC here. Or, let's simplify the example. Is it the same DC for the barbarian who is deciding between two options: 1. run up and slam her body weight into the locked door OR 2. whack at the lock with her great club?
These are different tasks. One task is picking the lock, which has a given DC. Another is destroying the door, which has a different DC. In each case, the DC of the given task doesn't vary on a per actor basis. If the barbarian tries to pick the lock, then that has the same DC as it would for the rogue. Right?

The choice of task, and the skill a given actor brings to the task, can vary. But the DC of a given task does not vary.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
These are different tasks. One task is picking the lock, which has a given DC. Another is destroying the door, which has a different DC. In each case, the DC of the given task doesn't vary on a per actor basis. If the barbarian tries to pick the lock, then that has the same DC as it would for the rogue. Right?

The choice of task, and the skill a given actor brings to the task, can vary. But the DC of a given task does not vary.
It looks to me like you and Swarmkeeper are basically talking about the level of granularity. "Get past the door" can have a lot more approaches than "pick the lock" in a practical sense. Picking a lock in a published adventure often has a DC and may or may not spell out the approach with any degree of precision, so there could be a built-in assumption of "using thieves' tools." (Not that I think published adventures are a good example of anything except often "what not to do," but it was raised as an example upthread.)
 

Composer99

Explorer
IMO, and I think this puts me in agreement with @clearstream, but the difficulty of a task as modeled by its DC should reflect its innate characteristics, and be agnostic to the characters attempting that task.

For instance, a locked door might be opened by picking the lock or forcing the door with brute strength. Either task would have its own DC, but once set, the DC does not change on account of the character attempting it.

(The locked door might be opened via the knock spell or by attacking it with an axe or club, but these approaches refer to different systems by default - knock automatically opens the door via magic, at the cost of announcing the casters presence to anything nearby, and attacking the door uses the rules for object AC and hit points, unless the DM decides to make it an ability check, that is.)



Apropos of picking locks in particular, I'm away from my PHB but petty sure the description of thieves' tools indicates they must be used as part of picking a lock.
 

These are different tasks. One task is picking the lock, which has a given DC. Another is destroying the door, which has a different DC. In each case, the DC of the given task doesn't vary on a per actor basis. If the barbarian tries to pick the lock, then that has the same DC as it would for the rogue. Right?
Correct, assuming they're both using Thieves' Tools. If someone tried to pick the lock with some makeshift tools, then I'd require a higher DC.

The choice of task, and the skill a given actor brings to the task, can vary. But the DC of a given task does not vary.
It seems you have shifted from tying the DC strictly to the obstacle and moved it to the task - so we are in agreement there.

However, there are certain (possibly edge) cases where the DC for a given task could vary between actors. In the 15' pit example, for instance, someone with STR 16 with enough running space could jump over it, no problem. If a DM were so inclined, they might allow PCs with 15 or lower STR to try, but insist they must make a STR (possibly with Athletics) ability check to make the extra effort to get over - and face some meaningful consequence for failure. A DM might rule that, since a STR 14 character could jump 14' - just 1' short - the PC only needs to beat a DC 5 to make it cleanly. Whereas a STR 10 character would need a more exceptional effort to make up that extra 5+' - and so their STR ability check would be against a DC 10 or 15.

Still, even as I type, something feels a bit off about this to me because, in general, I do believe the same approach should have the same DC. Can you (or someone else) convince me I have this wrong?
 
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IMO, and I think this puts me in agreement with @clearstream, but the difficulty of a task as modeled by its DC should reflect its innate characteristics, and be agnostic to the characters attempting that task.
We're both (all?) saying that... although I just posted a potential exception to that rule.

For instance, a locked door might be opened by picking the lock or forcing the door with brute strength. Either task would have its own DC, but once set, the DC does not change on account of the character attempting it.

(The locked door might be opened via the knock spell or by attacking it with an axe or club, but these approaches refer to different systems by default - knock automatically opens the door via magic, at the cost of announcing the casters presence to anything nearby, and attacking the door uses the rules for object AC and hit points, unless the DM decides to make it an ability check, that is.)
For picking locks vs other door opening methods, I agree.



Apropos of picking locks in particular, I'm away from my PHB but petty sure the description of thieves' tools indicates they must be used as part of picking a lock.
Not sure I follow. I don't see anything that indicates that Thieves' Tools are the only instruments in the game capable of picking locks. Hair pins, small knives, and the like might also be used in a pinch. However, I'd say the approach here is different and so the makeshift lock picks would require a higher (much higher?) DC than the Thieves' Tools for the same lock.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
Not sure I follow. I don't see anything that indicates that Thieves' Tools are the only instruments in the game capable of picking locks. Hair pins, small knives, and the like might also be used in a pinch. However, I'd say the approach here is different and so the makeshift lock picks would require a higher (much higher?) DC than the Thieves' Tools for the same lock.
Thieves tools are generally not required RAW, they just allow you to use your proficiency bonus (assuming you are proficient). You could do the same with a straight SOH check.
 

The DC should always be based on the actual difficulty. It should have nothing to do with the characters. That is how, after trial and error, I have built things. Sometimes it makes for interesting backstory, like a locked box that is impenetrable, and other times it makes easy work for the PC. It definitely feels more natural.
 

Composer99

Explorer
Not sure I follow. I don't see anything that indicates that Thieves' Tools are the only instruments in the game capable of picking locks. Hair pins, small knives, and the like might also be used in a pinch. However, I'd say the approach here is different and so the makeshift lock picks would require a higher (much higher?) DC than the Thieves' Tools for the same lock.
Thieves tools are generally not required RAW, they just allow you to use your proficiency bonus (assuming you are proficient). You could do the same with a straight SOH check.
I can confirm that @ECMO3's reading of the rule in the first sentence is correct, having checked the PHB since my last post. The PHB puts picking a lock in the activities explicitly not included under Sleight of Hand, though, so IMO proficiency with that skill wouldn't apply (though as usual, DM's table, DM's rule).

The remark about changing the DC based on using a different tool is I think where we diverge, and I think it has to do with how we are seeing the situation play out in the fiction. IMO, if you are trying to pick the lock, that is a single task or undertaking, with the same DC for that lock no matter what method you use to pick the lock. The difference between using specialised tools versus a knife or a hair pin would be the difference between getting to add your proficiency bonus or not, just as other circumstances extrinsic to the lock itself but that bear upon your attempt (whether relating to the approach you take or not) might cause you to make the check with advantage or disadvantage.

From your text, it strikes me that you view the different approaches to picking the lock to be different tasks, thus justifying the different DCs. Is that a fair reading?
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

I'm also going with...

"None of the above".

If this was to be written down, I'd tie the "Average DC's" directly to the method for rolling/determining character stats.

3d6 in Order : "Average DC 8"
4d6k3: "Average DC 10"
Stat Array: "Average DC 12"
...etc...

Because Skill checks are based on Stat Mod + Proficiency (for the vast majority). Having an "Average DC 15" makes no sense if everyone is using old school hard-core mode of 3d6 for stats. But DC 8 for 4d6k3 with a minimum stat of 9 also makes no sense.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Correct, assuming they're both using Thieves' Tools. If someone tried to pick the lock with some makeshift tools, then I'd require a higher DC.
That's an interesting case. I believe a the rules and guidelines offer a few options here
  • Thieves' tools let you add your proficiency to your check to pick a lock, so one option is you can't add your proficiency - DC is unchanged
  • Makeshift tools might additionally impose disadvantage - DC is unchanged
  • It's really a different task - you're not picking the lock but breaking it open - different DC as it is a different task
I come down feeling that DC and task are the same thing: changing the DC implies that a different task is being tackled.

It seems you have shifted from tying the DC strictly to the obstacle and moved it to the task - so we are in agreement there.
I didn't introduce that term: @Charlaquin did in post #61. So I haven't shifted from tying the DC strictly to an obstacle. I have always, and only, tied the DC strictly to a task. If the point of disagreement was around 'obstacle', then perhaps we've unknowingly always been in agreement?

However, there are certain (possibly edge) cases where the DC for a given task could vary between actors. In the 15' pit example, for instance, someone with STR 16 with enough running space could jump over it, no problem. If a DM were so inclined, they might allow PCs with 15 or lower STR to try, but insist they must make a STR (possibly with Athletics) ability check to make the extra effort to get over - and face some meaningful consequence for failure. A DM might rule that, since a STR 14 character could jump 14' - just 1' short - the PC only needs to beat a DC 5 to make it cleanly. Whereas a STR 10 character would need a more exceptional effort to make up that extra 5+' - and so their STR ability check would be against a DC 10 or 15.
This was something I hoped we would get to. Ability checks are sometimes used to gauge outcomes - such as how far you jump. So far as I can make out the meaning of the rules (and here there are known gaps in the design) with a run up, a character jumps at least their strength in feet + some amount extra based on their roll. From clues in various places, it appears right to say that the amount extra is roll/2 feet.

What I find interesting is that this is a different class of ability ability check, and not one that uses a DC at all, really, but rather one that uses the roll to gauge a degree of success. Consider - with a slightly modified example - two tier-1 characters are in a long jump contest at a fair. They both just want to jump as far as possible and it happens that some ridiculously large bets have been made on the outcome, where the difference between the jumps (the gap between them) matters to the wagers. Here we don't have a simple contest, because we must know the gap between the jumps. Both roll -
  • Cecil's roll is 14+3+2 = 16+9.5 = 25.5 feet
  • Algernon's roll is 9+3+2 = 16+7 = 23 feet
  • The gap is 2.5 feet and payouts are made accordingly
For the class of check we were discussing earlier (and that I believe this thread is focused on) the number rolled is exchanged for an outcome (there is no difference between picking the lock successfully with a 15 and picking it successfully with a 14: the lock is picked either way.) But for this class there isn't really a DC: the number actually rolled is used as a gauge - in the example, it measured the distance jumped.

It's a bit of a miss by the designers to have failed to make it clearer, but hidden within the ability check design are three classes of checks
  1. Tasks - the task has a DC, you just need to beat it
  2. Gauges - there's not really a succeed or fail - you always jump at least some feet - but the roll gives you the measure of what you accomplished
  3. Standing results - the check sets a kind of defense-value or standing threshold for others to compare with, the most common example being Stealth - you don't really succeed or fail at Stealth (consider, your check is 12, guard A has passive Perc 9, guard B has passive Perc 13, did you stealth successfully? well, you both succeeded and failed... and situations arise where that matters); passives are possibly a subclass of standing results - one you don't roll for
Still, even as I type, something feels a bit off about this to me because, in general, I do believe the same approach should have the same DC. Can you (or someone else) convince me I have this wrong?
Certainly I can do you that service. @Swarmkeeper you have it wrong - what the heck are you thinking? :p
 
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I can confirm that @ECMO3's reading of the rule in the first sentence is correct, having checked the PHB since my last post. The PHB puts picking a lock in the activities explicitly not included under Sleight of Hand, though, so IMO proficiency with that skill wouldn't apply (though as usual, DM's table, DM's rule).
To be clear, the PHB (page 177) says "The DM might call for a Dexterity check when you try to accomplish tasks like the following:" - one of which is "Pick a Lock". I do agree, based on the description of Thieves' Tools, that Thieves' Tools are the only things to grant the use of proficiency for doing lock picking. I wasn't arguing against that, but I hadn't made that clear before - sorry.

The remark about changing the DC based on using a different tool is I think where we diverge, and I think it has to do with how we are seeing the situation play out in the fiction. IMO, if you are trying to pick the lock, that is a single task or undertaking, with the same DC for that lock no matter what method you use to pick the lock. The difference between using specialised tools versus a knife or a hair pin would be the difference between getting to add your proficiency bonus or not, just as other circumstances extrinsic to the lock itself but that bear upon your attempt (whether relating to the approach you take or not) might cause you to make the check with advantage or disadvantage.

From your text, it strikes me that you view the different approaches to picking the lock to be different tasks, thus justifying the different DCs. Is that a fair reading?
Yes - but I think you and @clearstream have changed my mind on this particular example. I mean, one could argue that the approach is different with different tools, albeit slightly, and a different DC is warranted. However, in this particular case, I think the lack of proficiency, and possibly imposing disadvantage, while keeping the same DC is a better adjudication. Thanks!
 

That's an interesting case. I believe a the rules and guidelines offer a few options here
  • Thieves' tools let you add your proficiency to your check to pick a lock, so one option is you can't add your proficiency - DC is unchanged
  • Makeshift tools might additionally impose disadvantage - DC is unchanged
  • It's really a different task - you're not picking the lock but breaking it open - different DC as it is a different task
I come down feeling that DC and task are the same thing: changing the DC implies that a different task is being tackled.
Agreed on all of this. The approach (pick the lock) in the Thieves' Tools vs makeshift picks example really hasn't changed. But my mind has - thanks!

I didn't introduce that term: @Charlaquin did in post #61. So I haven't shifted from tying the DC strictly to an obstacle. I have always, and only, tied the DC strictly to a task. If the point of disagreement was around 'obstacle', then perhaps we've unknowingly always been in agreement?
Ah, a misinterpretation of your position on my part then. Sorry. But maybe useful for those following along? In any case, cool. :)

This was something I hoped we would get to. Ability checks are sometimes used to gauge outcomes - such as how far you jump. So far as I can make out the meaning of the rules (and here there are known gaps in the design) with a run up, a character jumps at least their strength in feet + some amount extra based on their roll. From clues in various places, it appears right to say that the amount extra is roll/2 feet.
I didn't pick up on those clues. Can you point them out?

What I find interesting is that this is a different class of ability ability check, and not one that uses a DC at all, really, but rather one that uses the roll to gauge a degree of success. Consider - with a slightly modified example - two tier-1 characters are in a long jump contest at a fair. They both just want to jump as far as possible and it happens that some ridiculously large bets have been made on the outcome, where the difference between the jumps (the gap between them) matters to the wagers. Here we don't have a simple contest, because we must know the gap between the jumps. Both roll -
  • Cecil's roll is 14+3+2 = 16+9.5 = 25.5 feet
  • Algernon's roll is 9+3+2 = 16+7 = 23 feet
  • The gap is 2.5 feet and payouts are made accordingly
This is covered under the rules for Contests (PHB p174). I would simplify it by making it a straight up Strength opposed roll, with Athletics proficiency applying if a PC has it. Cecil still jumps further and less maths. Win-win!

For the class of check we were discussing earlier (and that I believe this thread is focused on) the number rolled is exchanged for an outcome (there is no difference between picking the lock successfully with a 15 and picking it successfully with a 14: the lock is picked either way.) But for this class there isn't really a DC: the number actually rolled is used as a gauge - in the example, it measured the distance jumped.

It's a bit of a miss by the designers to have failed to make it clearer, but hidden within the ability check design are three classes of checks
  1. Tasks - the task has a DC, you just need to beat it
  2. Gauges - there's not really a succeed or fail - you always jump at least some feet - but the roll gives you the measure of what you accomplished
  3. Standing results - the check sets a kind of defense-value or standing threshold for others to compare with, the most common example being Stealth - you don't really succeed or fail at Stealth (consider, your check is 12, guard A has passive Perc 9, guard B has passive Perc 13, did you stealth successfully? well, you both succeeded and failed... and situations arise where that matters); passives are possibly a subclass of standing results - one you don't roll for
I would argue #2 is covered well enough by Contests. The ultimate measure or result being narratively assigned without having to fiddle with extra math. That's the 5e "easy" way.

Number 3 can be thought of another way. The PC is trying to sneak past the guards, but one of them notices. The PC really needed to beat a 13 to make it unnoticed. So they failed. However, there's some additional nuance here where, if the guards leap into action to start combat, Guard A would be surprised while Guard B would not.

Certainly I can do you that service. @Swarmkeeper you have it wrong - what the heck are you thinking? :p
LOL. Thinking sometimes gets me in trouble. Do or do not. Right?
 

AtomicPope

Adventurer
I placed one vote in "Natural" and one in "Talented", because that's literally how I run my games. At lower levels, assume "Natural". At higher levels you have to assume "Talented" otherwise you're engaging in a worthless dice rolling exercise. High level characters have so many additional factors to that single d20 that's they're regularly hitting DC18+ on skills that aren't their best. So we have to consider the purpose of the skill check. Why are we making the players roll dice? If it's a big deal then the PCs should be leaning on Talented characters. If it's something minor then we're looking at Natural characters. As a DM, I see this as a means for the PCs to explore the world.

I use skill checks to engage the PCs with the narrative, that is from a point of strength or weakness. When the whole party is sneaking often I'll only make the loudest character roll a Stealth check. Sometimes the players need to be reminded that their PCs are not experts at everything and that's a very easy way to do it. It lets us tell the story from a point of view that we often don't hear at the table but should. Not to punish anyone but to remind them of the roles they chose. There's no need to shotgun blast every skill encounter with an entire party's worth of d20's.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
I didn't pick up on those clues. Can you point them out?
I may need to a follow up post (am at work, sadly.) The baseline is strength in feet (spelled out under special kinds of movement in the adventuring section of the PHB. In the section on ability checks, it then describes that Strength (Athletics) can be used to jump further than your 'normal distance'. Seeing as normal distance is strength in feet, that must mean further than strength in feet. But how much by?

I found an example somewhere in official material that gives a formula in the context of a jump with/without a standing start. From memory, I think it frames it as increasing the DC by 2 for each foot it is over your basic distance with, and by 4 without. I'd like to find the reference again and confirm that though.

This is covered under the rules for Contests (PHB p174). I would simplify it by making it a straight up Strength opposed roll, with Athletics proficiency applying if a PC has it. Cecil still jumps further and less maths. Win-win!
Remember that in my example, we need to know how much by, because that impacts on the pay outs. How many feet did Cecil win by?

So the question (to my mind) isn't what we rolled. In the example, that is intended to be Strength (Athletics) as you have it, albeit remembering that for a jump, we should retain that the contestants jump at least their Strength in feet. So that if Cecil were Strength 7, and Algernon Strength 17, that should matter more than the swing in modifiers alone might suggest.

Number 3 can be thought of another way. The PC is trying to sneak past the guards, but one of them notices. The PC really needed to beat a 13 to make it unnoticed. So they failed. However, there's some additional nuance here where, if the guards leap into action to start combat, Guard A would be surprised while Guard B would not.
In the guidance on stealth, the player rolls before encountering any guards. They get a 12. Did they succeed?

That's why I dub it a standing result. I believe it is sufficiently distinct from making a check to perform a single concrete task. Passive perception is similar. Say mine is 11. Did I succeed?

LOL. Thinking sometimes gets me in trouble. Do or do not. Right?
It's honestly pleasant to be able to chew over possible interpretations without umbrage.
 

I may need to a follow up post (am at work, sadly.) The baseline is strength in feet (spelled out under special kinds of movement in the adventuring section of the PHB. In the section on ability checks, it then describes that Strength (Athletics) can be used to jump further than your 'normal distance'. Seeing as normal distance is strength in feet, that must mean further than strength in feet. But how much by?

I found an example somewhere in official material that gives a formula in the context of a jump with/without a standing start. From memory, I think it frames it as increasing the DC by 2 for each foot it is over your basic distance with, and by 4 without. I'd like to find the reference again and confirm that though.

Remember that in my example, we need to know how much by, because that impacts on the pay outs. How many feet did Cecil win by?

So the question (to my mind) isn't what we rolled. In the example, that is intended to be Strength (Athletics) as you have it, albeit remembering that for a jump, we should retain that the contestants jump at least their Strength in feet. So that if Cecil were Strength 7, and Algernon Strength 17, that should matter more than the swing in modifiers alone might suggest.
Right, right. So you apply a conversion factor to the difference. STR/2 is fine whether it is official or not - but I am curious when you have the chance to confirm...

In the guidance on stealth, the player rolls before encountering any guards. They get a 12. Did they succeed?
If the PC is trying to slink past the guards, they would likely be asked to roll Dexterity(Stealth). If the player rolls a 12 but one guard has a Passive Wisdom(Perception) of 13 then the PC did not succeed in their goal of slinking past the guards.

That's why I dub it a standing result. I believe it is sufficiently distinct from making a check to perform a single concrete task. Passive perception is similar. Say mine is 11. Did I succeed?
If the opposed check was 11 or lower, yes. Or, if the Noticing the Thing was a DC of 11 or lower, yes.

It's honestly pleasant to be able to chew over possible interpretations without umbrage.
Agreed. Dolores is a most disagreeable Professor.
 

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