Consequences of Failure

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Then I go back to the fact that you're being overly-restrictive in your approach for no reason. I'd have to hunt through the PHB to get the exact wording but it explains there that sometimes a failed check just means you make no progress.
Again, this isn't about rules, this is about a preference.

Not getting information that could be useful can be it's own penalty.
How are you worse off than if you hadn't tried? (Maybe there's an opportunity cost, but the above sentence doesn't specify.

Getting noticed even though you were trying to be sneaky is bad.
Yup. Agreed.

Not being able to tell if someone is lying is not helpful.
This is like your first example. There's also zero cost to trying. Again, at least according to that sentence.

In combat if I swing my sword and miss, there is no penalty other than that I didn't do damage. Same here.
Turns are a precious resource. Have you ever missed and thought, "Drat, I knew I should have done that other thing"? At the very least, you could have taken the Dodge action.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I would distinguish between boredom with the old way, and challenge of consistently using a different (and I think better) way.

You and Oofta both made an argument like, which I find puzzling. If this were, say, a forum on mountain biking, and I said, "I got bored riding on bike paths, and I'm trying to get into downhilling, but I'm having trouble with the big drops..." I would be surprised by the response, "Then why don't you just stick with bike paths?"

I like challenges, and getting better at hard things.
I hate analogies. I've discovered over the years that analogies have two big problems. First, they tend to lead only to arguing over the aptness of the analogy. And secondly, I've discovered that when I appeal to analogies that it usually has turned out to mean that I didn't understand the problem as well as I thought I did. It took me decades to learn that lesson, often painfully.

In your case, the problem with your analogy is that I'm not telling you to stay away from the big drops and stick to bike paths. The problem I'm having is that you are insisting you already know why you are having problems with the big drops and that proper answers to solve your problem have to be in the form you expect. You want to at the same time get help to address your problem with the big drops and also insist that you already know what you are doing and that there is nothing wrong with your applied technique.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
I hate analogies. I've discovered over the years that analogies have two big problems. First, they tend to lead only to arguing over the aptness of the analogy. And secondly, I've discovered that when I appeal to analogies that it usually has turned out to mean that I didn't understand the problem as well as I thought I did. It took me decades to learn that lesson, often painfully.

In your case, the problem with your analogy is that I'm not telling you to stay away from the big drops and stick to bike paths. The problem I'm having is that you are insisting you already know why you are having problems with the big drops and that proper answers to solve your problem have to be in the form you expect. You want to at the same time get help to address your problem with the big drops and also insist that you already know what you are doing and that there is nothing wrong with your applied technique.
Ok, thanks for participating.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Oh, yes. When I used to play the other way I had no problem resolving all sorts of situations. Don't know what to do? Pick a skill and let the dice answer it for you. We rolled lots of dice, and forged ahead.

The thing is, I got tired of that.

Your mileage may vary.
As with many things, striving for balance helps. Per DMG, p. 236: "Some DMs rely on rolls for almost everything... a drawback of this approach is that roleplaying can diminish if players feel that their rolls, rather than their decisions and characterizations, always determine success. Perhaps that's what you got tired of? "It doesn't really matter what I say - can I just roll a die?"
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Then I go back to the fact that you're being overly-restrictive in your approach for no reason. I'd have to hunt through the PHB to get the exact wording but it explains there that sometimes a failed check just means you make no progress.

Not getting information that could be useful can be it's own penalty.
Just seems like a waste of time to me if that’s the only penalty. If the only penalty is that you don’t get the information, who cares? Just try again. If there’s something stopping you from trying again (including the DM ruling that you can’t retry with the same skill), then not getting the information wasn’t really the only penalty.

Getting noticed even though you were trying to be sneaky is bad. Not being able to tell if someone is lying is not helpful.

In combat if I swing my sword and miss, there is no penalty other than that I didn't do damage. Same here.
See, I would argue that all of these examples satisfy the requirement of a cost or consequence. Missing your Attack cost you your action (or a fraction of it if you have Extra Attack.) Failing to detect the lie means you might believe something that isn’t true. Getting noticed while trying to be stealthy usually leaves you in a dangerous situation. All of these things are meaningful costs/consequences for failure. What’s not such a meaningful cost/consequence is when you fail to find whatever you’re searching for and the only penalty is that you don’t find it until you try again and roll better. Or failing to pick the lock and the only penalty is that the door remains locked until you try again and roll better. Now, if the time it takes to try again brings you that much closer to the completion of the evil ritual, or the next roll for random encounters, that’s a different story.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Standard phb under ability checks defines failed check redult as no progress or some progress with setback.

It's the basic definition.
- emphasis added

Isn't "no progress" exactly the result Oofta is suggesting might come up?
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Failing to detect the lie means you might believe something that isn’t true.
You can rely on roleplaying for this, but in general I'd prefer the check be structured in a way that can result in the player (not just the character) getting bad information. And the problem with that is that it depends on the DMs acting ability or poker face or whatever.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
I do this too, and I like it a lot. It makes my job easier, only having to decide which of the six abilities I feel is most appropriate, and leaving it to the player to determine if one of their Proficiencies is applicable. If I ask for a Perception check to find the secret door hidden among the masonry, a player who isn’t trained in Perception will probably just roll straight Wisdom. But if I just ask for a Wisdom check, and it’s established ahead of time that it is up to the player to suggest applicable Proficiencies when an ability check is called for, they might say, “I’m trained in Mason’s Tools, would that help?” to which I would be happy to say yes.
Oh, I just realized I read iserith backwards: I thought it was that the player gets to choose the ability, not the proficiency. Interesting. I need to digest this.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
You can rely on roleplaying for this, but in general I'd prefer the check be structured in a way that can result in the player (not just the character) getting bad information. And the problem with that is that it depends on the DMs acting ability or poker face or whatever.
Yeah, I don’t handle lie detection that way, but I was trying to meet Oofta’s argument on its own terms. I find that is usually a more effective way to get one’s perspective across.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I would distinguish between boredom with the old way, and challenge of consistently using a different (and I think better) way.

You and Oofta both made an argument like, which I find puzzling. If this were, say, a forum on mountain biking, and I said, "I got bored riding on bike paths, and I'm trying to get into downhilling, but I'm having trouble with the big drops..." I would be surprised by the response, "Then why don't you just stick with bike paths?"

I like challenges, and getting better at hard things.
Well, see but in the case of bike paths vs downhilling, there may be abpn actual difference in challenge due to it being steeper and requiring more effort. There may be added gain and value in it over bike paths.

But if you were say "I am leading a group of casual bikers weekly through some trails and... " then you go into the downhills, that's a whole different animal. Is your downhill challenge better for the group?

See, the case here is you are talking like its raising the bar, but there doesn't seem to show sanyway it's a higher bar, just one with more trouble.

I mean, sure, I can choose to swim laps covered in molasses wearing golashes and a fedora but it's just causing problems for no gain.

I can tell the other swimmers all about how much higher a bar it us, but if these problems impact them... should they care about my bsr?
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Well, see but in the case of bike paths vs downhilling, there may be abpn actual difference in challenge due to it being steeper and requiring more effort. There may be added gain and value in it over bike paths.

But if you were say "I am leading a group of casual bikers weekly through some trails and... " then you go into the downhills, that's a whole different animal. Is your downhill challenge better for the group?

See, the case here is you are talking like its raising the bar, but there doesn't seem to show sanyway it's a higher bar, just one with more trouble.

I mean, sure, I can choose to swim laps covered in molasses wearing golashes and a fedora but it's just causing problems for no gain.

I can tell the other swimmers all about how much higher a bar it us, but if these problems impact them... should they care about my bsr?
And what if I said, "Hey, I've found that swimming in molasses while wearing galoshes is really fun. Anybody want to discuss how to do that more effectively?" Would you spend the thread trying to persuade me to stop?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Oh, I just realized I read iserith backwards: I thought it was that the player gets to choose the ability, not the proficiency. Interesting. I need to digest this.
I’m working on a custom character sheet for newcomers to my table that actually walks you through this process, as well as my process for handling personally traits, ideals, bonds and flaws. I think you might like it. I’ll post it here when I finish, which should be before the end of the week.
 

Celebrim

Legend
What’s not such a meaningful cost/consequence is when you fail to find whatever you’re searching for and the only penalty is that you don’t find it until you try again and roll better. Or failing to pick the lock and the only penalty is that the door remains locked until you try again and roll better. Now, if the time it takes to try again brings you that much closer to the completion of the evil ritual, or the next roll for random encounters, that’s a different story.
I think there is a lot more agreement in this thread between everyone than you might at first thing.

If in fact they will eventually find the thing if they search long enough, and they state that they intend as a methodology to do a thorough search, then there is no need to make a roll for the search. They eventually find the thing. No roll needed. Likewise, if they will eventually pick the lock if they try long enough, and they state the intention to keep trying until they succeed, there is no need to make any rolls. They simply open the lock.

None of that is I think controversial.

However, one approach that I tend to find coming up a lot in threads like this is that, if the player proposes to pick a long, then to make that lock picking meaningful, the GM needs to on the fly invent an evil ritual that is happening or invent a guard that might be coming along, so that you have immediate impactful stakes and a dramatic situation that makes this proposed act of picking the lock have a meaningful consequence of failure.

And I'm suggesting that in the long run, that's a bad idea. Just get through the lock or the search quickly and on to what is meaningful. There is no need to make everything have dramatic stakes, and at some point there is little difference between trying to make everything have dramatic stakes and antagonistic DMing or railroading.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
- emphasis added

Isn't "no progress" exactly the result Oofta is suggesting might come up?
I was providing the location and the reference.

Sometimes by the rules a failed ability check simply means "no progress" as in nothing gained. They acknowledge both the case where you get nowhere and you get some but not all with setbacks.

That allows for maybe just not knowing.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Just seems like a waste of time to me if that’s the only penalty. If the only penalty is that you don’t get the information, who cares? Just try again. If there’s something stopping you from trying again (including the DM ruling that you can’t retry with the same skill), then not getting the information wasn’t really the only penalty.


See, I would argue that all of these examples satisfy the requirement of a cost or consequence. Missing your Attack cost you your action (or a fraction of it if you have Extra Attack.) Failing to detect the lie means you might believe something that isn’t true. Getting noticed while trying to be stealthy usually leaves you in a dangerous situation. All of these things are meaningful costs/consequences for failure. What’s not such a meaningful cost/consequence is when you fail to find whatever you’re searching for and the only penalty is that you don’t find it until you try again and roll better. Or failing to pick the lock and the only penalty is that the door remains locked until you try again and roll better. Now, if the time it takes to try again brings you that much closer to the completion of the evil ritual, or the next roll for random encounters, that’s a different story.
What makes you think the PC could make the history check again? As far as picking the lock or similar, if there is no chance to jam the lock and no time pressure there is no reason to ask for a check.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I think there is a lot more agreement in this thread between everyone than you might at first thing.

If in fact they will eventually find the thing if they search long enough, and they state that they intend as a methodology to do a thorough search, then there is no need to make a roll for the search. They eventually find the thing. No roll needed. Likewise, if they will eventually pick the lock if they try long enough, and they state the intention to keep trying until they succeed, there is no need to make any rolls. They simply open the lock.

None of that is I think controversial.

However, one approach that I tend to find coming up a lot in threads like this is that, if the player proposes to pick a long, then to make that lock picking meaningful, the GM needs to on the fly invent an evil ritual that is happening or invent a guard that might be coming along, so that you have immediate impactful stakes and a dramatic situation that makes this proposed act of picking the lock have a meaningful consequence of failure.
Here’s the thing, though: has anyone here actually said they would do that? Or are you making a pre-emptive argument against a poor DMing practice you assume someone else is employing?
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
You can rely on roleplaying for this, but in general I'd prefer the check be structured in a way that can result in the player (not just the character) getting bad information. And the problem with that is that it depends on the DMs acting ability or poker face or whatever.
The progress with setback option allows for instance to give a failed check the info that he is being deceitful but pointing to the wrong bit. That leads to potentially the wrong direction chosen.

Ability checks are st their most basic phb definition trinary - three broad options to choose from depending on the roll.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I would distinguish between boredom with the old way, and challenge of consistently using a different (and I think better) way.

You and Oofta both made an argument like, which I find puzzling. If this were, say, a forum on mountain biking, and I said, "I got bored riding on bike paths, and I'm trying to get into downhilling, but I'm having trouble with the big drops..." I would be surprised by the response, "Then why don't you just stick with bike paths?"

I like challenges, and getting better at hard things.
I'll go back to the history check. I outlined a real cost to not remembering the history of the McGuffin. I guess I'm not sure why you're being so dismissive because of the nature of the cost. No, it's not immediate but it is a cost. It's a cost of time if there's a race against the clock, it's a potential combat encounter or monetary penalty depending on Jimmy's mood.

Let's say I'm trying to remember how to get to the local tavern. I try to remember the shortest route and forget that I can just go left at the next corner and get there in 5 minutes. Instead I take the long route and it takes 25 minutes. I miss happy hour in addition to spending an additional 20 minutes walking I didn't need to. If my memory is bad enough I might end up at a healthy juice bar (possibly a fate worse than death) instead of the tavern.

So for sake of argument if I want there to be an explicit penalty for a failed knowledge check then that penalty does not have to be immediate to be significant.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
And what if I said, "Hey, I've found that swimming in molasses while wearing galoshes is really fun. Anybody want to discuss how to do that more effectively?" Would you spend the thread trying to persuade me to stop?
If it was done with a gtoup snd causing problems, I would point out that issue.

Do you feel my one post where I offered advice of dont do that "spending the thread"?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
What makes you think the PC could make the history check again?
Because there’s nothing stopping you from doing so (unless the DM decides there is). Personally, I don’t like it when the only reason you can’t try something again is because the DM says so, so I handle the history check the same way as the unjammable lock with no time pressure. If it’s something the PC could know with a high enough roll, they succeed. If it’s not, they fail.

As far as picking the lock or similar, if there is no chance to jam the lock and no time pressure there is no reason to ask for a check.
I agree, and this is precisely what is meant by those of us who say a task must have a cost or consequence for failure to require a check.
 

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