log in or register to remove this ad

 

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

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
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...
I will do. FWIW it also works amazingly well at the table. My players frequently want to jump something (recently, puddles of aboleth slime in ToA).
  • Is your Strength > distance? No need to roll.
  • Is your Strength < distance? You'll need to roll twice the difference.
Say Strength = 10 and distance is 15'? You'll need a Strength (Athletics) check of least 10.

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.
The guidance on stealth is that the roll 'rides'. Say they get past those two guards? Their 12 rides until they're spotted or stop sneaking. So have the succeeded or failed against the possible future guards they have not reached yet?

If the opposed check was 11 or lower, yes. Or, if the Noticing the Thing was a DC of 11 or lower, yes.
Passive Wisdom (Perception) is continuous, right? Always on while awake. No roll, and yet, it can come to beat some DC. Stealth can ride much like passive Perception. I also use passive Investigation and passive versions of the knowledge skills for what you just know, without needing to roll. (You might need to invest some effort and roll if the knowledge is obscure.)
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I will do. FWIW it also works amazingly well at the table. My players frequently want to jump something (recently, puddles of aboleth slime in ToA).
  • Is your Strength > distance? No need to roll.
  • Is your Strength < distance? You'll need to roll twice the difference.
Say Strength = 10 and distance is 15'? You'll need a Strength (Athletics) check of least 10.
Maybe a bit generous but that certainly can work.

The guidance on stealth is that the roll 'rides'. Say they get past those two guards? Their 12 rides until they're spotted or stop sneaking. So have the succeeded or failed against the possible future guards they have not reached yet?
I'd need you to point me to where the PHB/DMG say the roll "rides". To me, that leads to the absurd where the PC is potentially sneaking for over an hour (or some other long-ish period of time) between guards but using their same initial Dex(Stealth) roll. Let's say that initial roll was a 20. Do they really get to sneak through the whole large castle complex (which has dozens of guards with low Passive WIS(Perception) scores) for as long as they wish because of that one initial roll? I mean, maybe, if the DM wants to make a ruling as such. But I'm doubtful that's the RAW or even RAI on Dex(Stealth).

Passive Wisdom (Perception) is continuous, right? Always on while awake. No roll, and yet, it can come to beat some DC. Stealth can ride much like passive Perception. I also use passive Investigation and passive versions of the knowledge skills for what you just know, without needing to roll. (You might need to invest some effort and roll if the knowledge is obscure.)
Certainly not "always on while awake". Passive here is referring to the lack of roll not that the PC is being passive about their ability. Passive WIS(Perception) comes into play when the player states the PC is continuously searching for something, such as a secret door, or watching for monsters. That means not doing anything else is a prerequisite to maintain this continuous activity (excepting a Ranger in their Favored Terrain who gets an auto-success on Wisdom (Perception)). This creates tradeoffs during exploration - mapping vs foraging vs navigating vs searching for traps vs whatever.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'd need you to point me to where the PHB/DMG say the roll "rides". To me, that leads to the absurd where the PC is potentially sneaking for over an hour (or some other long-ish period of time) between guards but using their same initial Dex(Stealth) roll. Let's say that initial roll was a 20. Do they really get to sneak through the whole large castle complex (which has dozens of guards with low Passive WIS(Perception) scores) for as long as they wish because of that one initial roll? I mean, maybe, if the DM wants to make a ruling as such. But I'm doubtful that's the RAW or even RAI on Dex(Stealth).
I'd like to see evidence of this "rides" thing too. It looks to me like the DM is calling for a check simply because the player described a task that sounded like it aligned with a skill proficiency without taking into account whether there is a meaningful consequence for failure. In this case, the PC is sneaking around. But if there's nobody there right now to notice them, then there's no reason to make a roll because there is no meaningful consequence for failure. Instead, the DM calls for an ability check when it's relevant to do so, such as when they approach those aforementioned guards. This "rides" ruling looks like a fix for a problem that is occurring at the point of calling for a roll without a consequence in the moment.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
I'd like to see evidence of this "rides" thing too. It looks to me like the DM is calling for a check simply because the player described a task that sounded like it aligned with a skill proficiency without taking into account whether there is a meaningful consequence for failure. In this case, the PC is sneaking around. But if there's nobody there right now to notice them, then there's no reason to make a roll because there is no meaningful consequence for failure. Instead, the DM calls for an ability check when it's relevant to do so, such as when they approach those aforementioned guards. This "rides" ruling looks like a fix for a problem that is occurring at the point of calling for a roll without a consequence in the moment.

@Swarmkeeper At 17:30, Jeremy explains that when someone makes a stealth check, they keep that roll until someone discovers them, or they decide they're going to stop hiding.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith

@Swarmkeeper At 17:30, Jeremy explains that when someone makes a stealth check, they keep that roll until someone discovers them, or they decide they're going to stop hiding.
That may be true in combat, but isn't otherwise true. If this is the same podcast that keeps getting thrown around in arguments about passive checks being a floor for everything, then - like that assertion - this "rides" thing is being taken out of context. Also, Jeremy "Shield Master" Crawford isn't a good source for anything in my view related to rules interpretations.
 


@Swarmkeeper At 17:30, Jeremy explains that when someone makes a stealth check, they keep that roll until someone discovers them, or they decide they're going to stop hiding.
Ah, I see now. You seem to be equating "hiding" with "sneaking past guards". I mean, they are quite similar in that both use Dex(Stealth), but I would say they are quite distinct activities. PHB p174 (emphasis mine): "So a character who has proficiency in the Stealth skill is particularly good at Dexterity checks related to sneaking and hiding."

Also, JC's interpretations are... not rules. Got anything supporting this "rides" interpretation from the PHB or DMG?
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Ah, I see now. You seem to be equating "hiding" with "sneaking past guards". I mean, they are quite similar in that both use Dex(Stealth), but I would say they are quite distinct activities. PHB p174 (emphasis mine): "So a character who has proficiency in the Stealth skill is particularly good at Dexterity checks related to sneaking and hiding."

Also, JC's interpretations are... not rules. Got anything supporting this "rides" interpretation from the PHB or DMG?
There have been numerous threads on stealth on this and other forums. "Hidden" is the state a creature is in when it has used an action to make a stealth check so that it is unseen and unheard, and other creatures don't know its location. I guess one would call a hidden creature that is moving, "sneaking", but notwithstanding the text you emphasised there isn't a mechanical difference in 5th edition between sneaking and hiding.
 

There have been numerous threads on stealth on this and other forums. "Hidden" is the state a creature is in when it has used an action to make a stealth check so that it is unseen and unheard, and other creatures don't know its location. I guess one would call a hidden creature that is moving, "sneaking", but notwithstanding the text you emphasised there isn't a mechanical difference in 5th edition between sneaking and hiding.
OK, but you haven't answered the question yet. Where in the books does it say a roll "rides"?

Also, still curious about the Strength mechanic you mentioned earlier...
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
There have been numerous threads on stealth on this and other forums. "Hidden" is the state a creature is in when it has used an action to make a stealth check so that it is unseen and unheard, and other creatures don't know its location. I guess one would call a hidden creature that is moving, "sneaking", but notwithstanding the text you emphasised there isn't a mechanical difference in 5th edition between sneaking and hiding.
In that podcast, they're talking about combat, Hide Action, Search action, and general awareness in the context of combat where the meaningful consequence for failure is built in. It doesn't apply to situations like trying to hide when nobody is around to notice you. There's no check for that. You just hide wherever it is you say you hide. If someone does turn up that could notice you and you're still trying to hide, now we make a check because meaningful consequences for failure - a prerequisite for an ability check at all - are present (and presumably an uncertain outcome is in play, the other prerequisite).
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Also, JC's interpretations are... not rules. Got anything supporting this "rides" interpretation from the PHB or DMG?
Suppose that contrary to JC's advice, we don't have stealth rolls ride. There are a couple of consequences worth considering -
  1. It would be entailed that the hiding creature makes a separate stealth roll per possible observer (because we're not allowing the roll to ride)
  2. Per RAW in combat hiding is an action (when you take the Hide action, you make a Dexterity (Stealth) check to hide) and we don't have actions outside of our turn
  3. Therefore if a new possible observer arrives outside our turn, we are unable to make a stealth check against their perception
Generally speaking, if we decide to grasp the RAW as not allowing one stealth check to cover multiple or new possible observers (i.e. to ride) then we create a thorny problem to resolve. Of course, we can always ignore the RAW, but then it is not clear to me why we want to ignore the RAW and a chief game designer's advice about the RAW, in order to make a lot more dice rolls for stealth?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Okay, you are writing a module. Where do you put the DCs?

Or better yet, please read the example and give one fo those recommendations to the DM to calibrate it - do they calibrate that their superstar can often get the DC but still fail regularly, or that someone focusing so much shoudl pass almost all the time?

Please contribute positively to the thread.
I find this to be the interesting question -- where do you put the DC if you're writing a module? If you're following the 5e advice on DCs, you shouldn't be putting them in the adventure at all, but that's not what's expected, so... what do you do?

I say you shouldn't be putting them in at all because DCs are supposed to be decided by the GM based on what's being attempted and the current situation. I mean, if you have to climb a cliff, what's the DC? Depends. If the GM describes it a craggy, with handholds, that sounds fairly easy -- so is DC 10 right for this cliff? Maybe. If the PC says, "pshaw, that's not a challenge, I'm going to run up the cliff with my hands tied behand my back while blindfolded!" Maybe that needs a different DC. Yes, that example is hyperbole, but it's an extreme end and we can work back towards the middle and find situations where maybe the DC should change. Let's say character A is perfectly fine, and attempts the cliff in a straightforward manner, the DC should remain a 10. But let's say character B is missing an arm (recent encounter with a vorpol sword, maybe). Should the DC change, or is this the realm of disadvantage? Both answers are fine. The DC doesn't belong to the cliff, it belong to the action. A given situation in an adventure may be engaged from many different ways during play, and a fixed DC belonging to the task is not suitable for all of them.

But... when players buy an adventure, setting DCs is probably something they expect! I mean, it's been that way for multiple editions now (including Pathfinder). So, if I put in my adventure "the GM should assign DCs for their tables as warranted" and then just provide descriptions, then I'm probably going to be howled at by any customers. So, despite what the game actually suggests for DC, I'm going to assign fixed DCs to tasks, because this is what's expected.

And that leads here, to this discussion, where there's confusion as to how to calibrate these DCs. It appears as if this is a failure of the rules, in a way, yes? Because such things should be there. But, they aren't, because the rules don't really contemplate fixed DCs assigned to tasks, like climbing this cliff. But, adventures have a different set of expectations that don't align, and, besides, we're all used to setting fixed DCs for things. But it does mean that the rules are incoherent when we try to figure out how fixed DCs are to be calibrated. So, then, the answer is... don't know, don't care. I ignore the DCs in the adventures when I run them, so calibrate any way you want.
 

Suppose that contrary to JC's advice, we don't have stealth rolls ride.
Which still doesn't answer the question: where do you, @clearstream (or anyone else listening in), see this concept of "stealth rolls ride" explicitly stated in the books?

There are a couple of consequences worth considering -
  1. It would be entailed that the hiding creature makes a separate stealth roll per possible observer (because we're not allowing the roll to ride)
  2. Per RAW in combat hiding is an action (when you take the Hide action, you make a Dexterity (Stealth) check to hide) and we don't have actions outside of our turn
  3. Therefore if a new possible observer arrives outside our turn, we are unable to make a stealth check against their perception
Generally speaking, if we decide to grasp the RAW as not allowing one stealth check to cover multiple or new possible observers (i.e. to ride) then we create a thorny problem to resolve. Of course, we can always ignore the RAW, but then it is not clear to me why we want to ignore the RAW and a chief game designer's advice about the RAW, in order to make a lot more dice rolls for stealth?
I think I see where you are going. The PC trying to Hide in combat makes one roll for Dex(Stealth) IF the DM calls for it, then the NPCs either each make a WIS(Perception) roll if they are searching OR we use the NPCs' Passive WIS(Perception) scores to see if the PC is hidden. If the PC succeeds, they stay hidden until they decide to attack, make noise, move, or otherwise show themselves. If you define "stealth rolls ride" as the PC deciding to stay hidden their next turn in combat... I guess it's a thing? A very niche, specific thing at that. But not really applicable to using Dex(Stealth) to sneak around.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Which still doesn't answer the question: where do you, @clearstream (or anyone else listening in), see this concept of "stealth rolls ride" explicitly stated in the books?


I think I see where you are going. The PC trying to Hide in combat makes one roll for Dex(Stealth) IF the DM calls for it, then the NPCs either each make a WIS(Perception) roll if they are searching OR we use the NPCs' Passive WIS(Perception) scores to see if the PC is hidden. If the PC succeeds, they stay hidden until they decide to attack, make noise, move, or otherwise show themselves. If you define "stealth rolls ride" as the PC deciding to stay hidden their next turn in combat... I guess it's a thing? A very niche, specific thing at that. But not really applicable to using Dex(Stealth) to sneak around.
On this topic, I think the problem is asking for the roll at the moment the action is declared. I don't do this. I only ask at the moment that discovery is possible and meaningful. This limits rolls to only occurring when there's something to resolve and not just sitting there waiting for something to come along.
 

On this topic, I think the problem is asking for the roll at the moment the action is declared. I don't do this. I only ask at the moment that discovery is possible and meaningful. This limits rolls to only occurring when there's something to resolve and not just sitting there waiting for something to come along.
I see what you mean and would 100% agree if this were an exploration scene. But, in this instance, the context is in combat - so surely you ask for a roll when the player indicates their PC is trying to take the Hide action in combat, right? Like the PHB indicates in the Actions in Combat section?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I see what you mean and would 100% agree if this were an exploration scene. But, in this instance, the context is in combat - so surely you ask for a roll when the player indicates their PC is trying to take the Hide action in combat, right? Like the PHB indicates in the Actions in Combat section?
Oh, yeah, I missed some context in my skim.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Which still doesn't answer the question: where do you, @clearstream (or anyone else listening in), see this concept of "stealth rolls ride" explicitly stated in the books?
To clarify, I am not saying that the words 'stealth rides' appear in RAW. I am using them to describe what is mandated by RAW.

I think I see where you are going. The PC trying to Hide in combat makes one roll for Dex(Stealth) IF the DM calls for it, then the NPCs either each make a WIS(Perception) roll if they are searching OR we use the NPCs' Passive WIS(Perception) scores to see if the PC is hidden. If the PC succeeds, they stay hidden until they decide to attack, make noise, move, or otherwise show themselves. If you define "stealth rolls ride" as the PC deciding to stay hidden their next turn in combat... I guess it's a thing? A very niche, specific thing at that. But not really applicable to using Dex(Stealth) to sneak around.
Let's detail a possible combat situation further -
  1. Round 1, in their turn a wood elf takes the Hide action, rolling as explicitly stated in RAW
  2. Round 2, they stay hidden (other stuff happens) while moving through cover to a new location (sneaking around). Per RAW they don't need to take a new Hide action to do this
  3. Rounds 3-4, they stay hidden, continuing to sneak
  4. Round 5, an observer has an opportunity to (passively) spot them - their round 1 roll is the roll compared with that observer's perception
To see how that is applicable outside of combat - say when sneaking in an exploration scene - look at the RAW on PHB177 that reads -
When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check's total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence.

Let's separate out our concerns here: I'm not wedded to the words "stealth rides". However, the RAW mandates that your one stealth check continues to be used on an ongoing basis until you are discovered or you stop hiding. A view that is supported by what JC says is the intention of the designers. That one check could ride for hours, in principle, and it isn't automatically broken by moving or "sneaking".

So what do you think?
 
Last edited:

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
On this topic, I think the problem is asking for the roll at the moment the action is declared. I don't do this. I only ask at the moment that discovery is possible and meaningful. This limits rolls to only occurring when there's something to resolve and not just sitting there waiting for something to come along.
I like this approach, too. There are metagame pros and cons for it. A large pro is that I find it more exciting for the player if we do not know the quality of their check until it counts! For us that creates the tension of "sneaking" well. A small con is that a hidden possible observer could be given away by calling for a roll. A DM can make that roll in secret, for the player, but I have observed that feeling bad where the stealth roll was poor and the character seen, and the player felt a bit robbed (even though all they were really robbed of is throwing that d20.)

That noted, here I'm speaking specifically to the RAW on PHB177 and the (to me natural) reading of it that JC advises is the intent of the designers. The RAW mandates that one check rides until stealth is broken. Both in combat (where the mechanics of combat double-down on it) and out of combat such as in exploration scenes. That can be squared with the above by deferring that one check, and then keeping the result from then on (assuming stealth wasn't broken at that point.)
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
To clarify, I am not saying that 'stealth rides' appears in RAW. I am saying that it describes what is mandated by the mechanics.


Let's detail a possible combat situation further -
  1. Round 1, in their turn a wood elf takes the Hide action, rolling as explicitly stated in RAW
  2. Round 2, they stay hidden (other stuff happens) while moving through cover to a new location (sneaking around). Per RAW they don't need to take a new Hide action to do this
  3. Rounds 3-4, they stay hidden, continuing to sneak
  4. Round 5, an observer has an opportunity to (passively) spot them - their round 1 roll is the roll compared with that observer's perception
To see how that is applicable outside of combat - say when sneaking in an exploration scene - look at the RAW on PHB177 that reads -


Let's separate out our concerns here: I'm not wedded to "stealth rides". However, the RAW mandates that your one stealth check continues to be used on an ongoing basis until you are discovered or you stop hiding. A view that is supported by what JC says is the intention of the designers. That one check could ride for hours, in principle, and it isn't automatically broken by moving or "sneaking".

So what do you think?
You also have to take into account the rules for calling for an ability check in the first place which requires there to be an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence for failure. If one of those two things is not present, then there's no ability check. No check, no "ride." In the example of combat, the rules on PHB 177 indeed do apply because creatures in combat are assumed to be alert for danger. But in the aforementioned example of sneaking past some guards (an exploration challenge), the check is not called for until there's a meaningful consequence for failure. You don't roll your Stealth check while you're having your breakfast and ride it all day, right?
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
You also have to take into account the rules for calling for an ability check in the first place which requires there to be an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence for failure.
I find in play that these conditions are very often in place, when characters are thinking of sneaking.

If one of those two things is not present, then there's no ability check. No check, no "ride."
Perforce I can speak only of when there is a check. When there is a check, to me - based on the RAW - it seems right to say that it rides; and that view is supported by one of the chief game designers. I agree with you that if a check is not justified then there shouldn't be a check, and if there isn't a check it cannot ride.

In the example of combat, the rules on PHB 177 indeed do apply because creatures in combat are assumed to be alert for danger. But in the aforementioned example of sneaking past some guards (an exploration challenge), the check is not called for until there's a meaningful consequence for failure. You don't roll your Stealth check while you're having your breakfast and ride it all day, right?
To me, the meaningful consequence is that the sneaking character could fail to remain hidden from those - and further - possible observers.

The breakfast example doesn't seem relevant. Were we discussing climbing, then I would perforce only be speaking about Strength (Athletics) checks in the context of there indeed being something to climb. Likewise here, aren't we premising that "in cases where a stealth check is justified, then..." the one check will be ongoing until the sneaker is discovered or stops hiding?
 
Last edited:

To clarify, I am not saying that the words 'stealth rides' appear in RAW. I am using them to describe what is mandated by RAW.
Understood. You feel it is implicit.

Let's detail a possible combat situation further -
  1. Round 1, in their turn a wood elf takes the Hide action, rolling as explicitly stated in RAW
  2. Round 2, they stay hidden (other stuff happens) while moving through cover to a new location (sneaking around). Per RAW they don't need to take a new Hide action to do this
  3. Rounds 3-4, they stay hidden, continuing to sneak
  4. Round 5, an observer has an opportunity to (passively) spot them - their round 1 roll is the roll compared with that observer's perception
I mean, sure. Sneaking around a white room with adequate cover, this works to explain how a Dex(Stealth) roll "rides". I wonder if any player ever has decided to stay hidden in combat for 4+ rounds without taking any other action to "break" the Hide AND/OR without any enemy trying to sniff them out AND/OR without suffering the wrath of the other players at the table for not contributing to the combat in a meaningful way.

To see how that is applicable outside of combat - say when sneaking in an exploration scene - look at the RAW on PHB177that reads -
When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth) check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that check's total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check of any creature that actively searches for signs of your presence.
Let's separate out our concerns here: I'm not wedded to the words "stealth rides". However, the RAW mandates that your one stealth check continues to be used on an ongoing basis until you are discovered or you stop hiding. A view that is supported by what JC says is the intention of the designers. That one check could ride for hours, in principle, and it isn't automatically broken by moving or "sneaking".

So what do you think?
Hmm... I actually think you are right in your interpretation.

Of course, "in principle" does not mean "in practice", which is where I think I've been getting hung up. If a player declares their PC will continue to Hide after assessing the environment, the DM needs to adjudicate accordingly - enemies could start actively searching, the terrain could change from one area to the next increasing the chance of making noise, cover could be compromised, etc. "Stealth rides", IMO, really means that the player doesn't have to roll again to maintain their hidden state as long as no other conditions in the environment have changed that threaten that state.

I also think that JC's "stealth rides" is a potentially misleading way to shorthand it - possibly leading players to think of Stealth as some sort of always-on buff leading to disappointment when a new roll is required for reasons.

Now I'm trying to figure out a way to bring this back around to the spirit of the thread... which is not really about opposed checks... so maybe we've wandered off the track a bit. But thanks for the discussion - it was... revealing (sorry, that's the best I could do with a Hide reference...)
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top