5E Crafting Items - Expert Craftsman vs Adventurers

dnd4vr

Adventurer
The basic premise behind Bounded Accuracy is that anyone can attempt any task, and a bonus can only help you. (As contrasted with 3E, where you had a minimum bonus required before you could even participate.)

The fundamental flaw behind Bounded Accuracy is that a world where anyone can do anything would be silly. As an example, consider the manacles in the equipment section, which require a DC 20 check to slip or break. What good would manacles be if anyone with at-least-average Strength or Dexterity could escape them? The average person should have significantly less than 5% chance of escaping manacles, or else nobody would bother with them. Really, you should need significantly above-average ability in order to defeat them, if anyone is to consider them reliable enough to use. My chance of slipping manacles, or climbing a wall, or crafting a sword, really should be zero; I would need significant training before I could even begin to try.

The other major issue with Bounded Accuracy is that you can't represent the most common types of tasks - the ones that would be routine for a qualified person, but nearly impossible for an unqualified one. When it comes to picking a lock or identifying a spell or playing an instrument, you should have very close to a 100% chance of succeeding if you know what you're doing, and very close to a 0% chance of succeeding if you don't know what you're doing. If you know how to play the flute at all, then you should be able to play the simplest possible song (whether that's DC 5 or DC 10) whenever you try; but minimal training is only a +2 bonus, so even if you have an 85% chance of success, then someone who has never learned how to play the flute is still guaranteed a 75% chance of success. (Which is ridiculous.)

The difference between trained an untrained should be somewhere in the +10 to +20 range, in order for the world to make sense at all, but that's fundamentally at odds with the concept of Bounded Accuracy.
Very well put. I'll have to give this some thought. I don't want to return to the days of crazy bonuses to everything, but you have a good point. To me a lot of this stems from the idea that your ability score modifier can represent some training while proficiency is there for addition training and practice, etc. I agree that some skills simply don't work if you don't have training in them.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
The basic premise behind Bounded Accuracy is that anyone can attempt any task, and a bonus can only help you. (As contrasted with 3E, where you had a minimum bonus required before you could even participate.)

The fundamental flaw behind Bounded Accuracy is that a world where anyone can do anything would be silly. As an example, consider the manacles in the equipment section, which require a DC 20 check to slip or break. What good would manacles be if anyone with at-least-average Strength or Dexterity could escape them? The average person should have significantly less than 5% chance of escaping manacles, or else nobody would bother with them. Really, you should need significantly above-average ability in order to defeat them, if anyone is to consider them reliable enough to use. My chance of slipping manacles, or climbing a wall, or crafting a sword, really should be zero; I would need significant training before I could even begin to try.

The other major issue with Bounded Accuracy is that you can't represent the most common types of tasks - the ones that would be routine for a qualified person, but nearly impossible for an unqualified one. When it comes to picking a lock or identifying a spell or playing an instrument, you should have very close to a 100% chance of succeeding if you know what you're doing, and very close to a 0% chance of succeeding if you don't know what you're doing. If you know how to play the flute at all, then you should be able to play the simplest possible song (whether that's DC 5 or DC 10) whenever you try; but minimal training is only a +2 bonus, so even if you have an 85% chance of success, then someone who has never learned how to play the flute is still guaranteed a 75% chance of success. (Which is ridiculous.)

The difference between trained an untrained should be somewhere in the +10 to +20 range, in order for the world to make sense at all, but that's fundamentally at odds with the concept of Bounded Accuracy.
Even though it goes against the spirit of d20, probably the best answer is roll 3d6 instead of 1d20. Ultimately you get probabilities closer to what you describe (though still not perfect)
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
The basic premise behind Bounded Accuracy is that anyone can attempt any task, and a bonus can only help you. (As contrasted with 3E, where you had a minimum bonus required before you could even participate.)

The fundamental flaw behind Bounded Accuracy is that a world where anyone can do anything would be silly.
Well, the fundamental flaw is to think Bounded Accuracy is about simulating the real world.

Bounded Accuracy and 5E is about the actions heroes take. Not about simulating probabilities that craftsmen can do their jobs.

It's not a world where anyone can do anything. It's a world where heroes can do anything.

In the case of the manacles, you are right in that if you can retry every round the rule is indeed silly, since that means that any character of at least average strength will escape after two minutes on average.

If, however, the DM only gives you one attempt per "dramatic instance" and only if you are a hero, the rule works for all intents and purposes.

Tl;dr: feel free to criticize the rules for not covering the use cases you want them to cover, but don't call something silly when you aren't applying the rules correctly. :)
 
So. How do you deal with this? Do you just go "eh screw the rules" and decide that good craftsman get godly bonuses in their own craft? (They have EXPERT Expertise) Do you just shrug and say that adventurers, by virtue of their pure awesomeness, are able to compete with poor peons that spent their lives honing their craft? (well they didn't get to get their ass blasted by mindflayers so boohoo screw your hard work)
I don't think it's about "screwing" the rules, but simply using the rules, and proficiency rules (meaning: proficiency bonus by level) are for PCs. NPCs do not follow the same rules (they don't even have a "level") and can be anything. The DMG might have guidelines for creating NPCs and monsters, and those guidelines may also include proficiency bonus assignment, but they aren't rules.

So it's fully within the rules of the game to create an NPC with whatever final bonus on a specific ability/skill check.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Well, the fundamental flaw is to think Bounded Accuracy is about simulating the real world.
Not our real world, but a believable world. A place where meaningful things could really happen. Not just a story, where anything happens because the writer doesn't care. An internally-consistent world, where things happen according to natural law.
Bounded Accuracy and 5E is about the actions heroes take. Not about simulating probabilities that craftsmen can do their jobs.
If the rules only apply to PCs, then we have far worse problems than unintuitive success probabilities. If that were really the case, then not only do weird things happen around PCs, but we have absolutely no idea what the rules covering NPCs even look like. I have a thousand pages of rules, and nothing in there can help me figure out whether the smith can make a sword. What a waste of space that would be! It makes GURPS look efficient, by comparison.

Fortunately, there's nothing in any of the books to suggest that rules operate differently for NPCs. We may not know what the smith's bonus is, but we know they make their rolls the same as anyone else. (In fact, the rules for making an NPC even refer to the PC rules as one option.)
If, however, the DM only gives you one attempt per "dramatic instance" and only if you are a hero, the rule works for all intents and purposes.
D&D does not run on narrativium. Drama is irrelevant. This isn't Discworld. This isn't even Savage Worlds. This is supposed to be a real RPG, not a story-telling game.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Not our real world, but a believable world. A place where meaningful things could really happen. Not just a story, where anything happens because the writer doesn't care. An internally-consistent world, where things happen according to natural law.
If the rules only apply to PCs, then we have far worse problems than unintuitive success probabilities. If that were really the case, then not only do weird things happen around PCs, but we have absolutely no idea what the rules covering NPCs even look like. I have a thousand pages of rules, and nothing in there can help me figure out whether the smith can make a sword. What a waste of space that would be! It makes GURPS look efficient, by comparison.

Fortunately, there's nothing in any of the books to suggest that rules operate differently for NPCs. We may not know what the smith's bonus is, but we know they make their rolls the same as anyone else. (In fact, the rules for making an NPC even refer to the PC rules as one option.)
D&D does not run on narrativium. Drama is irrelevant. This isn't Discworld. This isn't even Savage Worlds. This is supposed to be a real RPG, not a story-telling game.
Good luck with that - you are clearly hell-bent on ignoring what I'm telling you, and insisting the rules are meant to do things they clearly fail at, so you're on your own.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Good luck with that - you are clearly hell-bent on ignoring what I'm telling you, and insisting the rules are meant to do things they clearly fail at, so you're on your own.
Based on your previous post, I thought you were actually being reasonable on this, and that I had misinterpreted you. I guess I was wrong about that.

I will continue to address the real flaws with this system, whether mathematical or conceptual. Recognizing these flaws is the only way to improve the game. I don't think it's nearly as bad as you seem to be describing, though. This isn't some silly narrative game, where nothing means anything, like 4E or Savage Worlds. This game can still be salvaged.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Based on your previous post, I thought you were actually being reasonable on this, and that I had misinterpreted you. I guess I was wrong about that.
My post read:

Well, the fundamental flaw is to think Bounded Accuracy is about simulating the real world.

Bounded Accuracy and 5E is about the actions heroes take. Not about simulating probabilities that craftsmen can do their jobs.

It's not a world where anyone can do anything. It's a world where heroes can do anything.

In the case of the manacles, you are right in that if you can retry every round the rule is indeed silly, since that means that any character of at least average strength will escape after two minutes on average.

If, however, the DM only gives you one attempt per "dramatic instance" and only if you are a hero, the rule works for all intents and purposes.​

I stand by all of that. You, on the other hand, seem to have read into it what you wanted me to say, rather than what I actually wrote.

I contrasted realism to 5E. You chose to interpret my "not the real world" as a believable world. In other world, you ascribed me the very simulationism I specifically said 5E is not about.

Yes, the rules only apply to PCs. That is what I meant when I said the focus is entirely on the actions heroes take.

"I have a thousand pages of rules, and nothing in there can help me figure out whether the smith can make a sword." Exactly right. NPCs create exactly as many swords as you the DM need for your story. The 5E ruleset does not even attempt any verisimilitude or simulationism or historical accuracy. (Take the upcoming Saltmarsh story as an example. One group buys weapons to help them fight another group, despite a) a martial weapon doing maybe 1 point more of damage on average than a simple one, and b) being monsters, they presumably have claws and bites that deals more damage than any manufactured weapon anyway)

"Fortunately, there's nothing in any of the books to suggest that rules operate differently for NPCs." Except how the rules, if applied slavishly to NPCs, yield clearly illogical and nonsensical results, you mean? The rules are meant for those moments that are caught on camera and end up in the final film, and those moments only. (The manacles example is a good example)

"D&D does not run on narrativium."
I don't know what that even means. What I do know, however, is that if you limit the escape-manacles test to once every rest (short or long), the rules work well for their intended purpose (being a challenge to imprisoned heroes). That is because you will likely not have more than two or three short rests and one long one each day of captivity. Four tests a day or less, and the Barbarian likely breaks his bonds on the second or third day but not on the first, giving you just enough time to introduce the rest of the inmates (NPCs who you don't roll for) and one or two chances for the evil prison guards to abuse someone.

So that was my advice to you.

I am sorry if I have wasted your time.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
"D&D does not run on narrativium."

I don't know what that even means. What I do know, however, is that if you limit the escape-manacles test to once every rest (short or long), the rules work well for their intended purpose (being a challenge to imprisoned heroes). That is because you will likely not have more than two or three short rests and one long one each day of captivity. Four tests a day or less, and the Barbarian likely breaks his bonds on the second or third day but not on the first, giving you just enough time to introduce the rest of the inmates (NPCs who you don't roll for) and one or two chances for the evil prison guards to abuse someone.
What's a hero? What's a "dramatic instance"? If you can't answer those questions without meta-gaming, then the game has failed as any sort of objective model for how a fantastic world could possibly work. At that point, the rules would be worthless as anything aside from a story guide; things happen because the writer wants them to happen, and nothing actually means anything. But we know that's not the case, because this edition actually calls out meta-game thinking as something to be avoided. It's not making the same mistake that 4E made.

Saying that you can only make one attempt per short rest, or per long rest, is a great way of addressing the matter from within the narrative. Saying that you only get one attempt per "dramatic instance" is meaningless, because "drama" isn't a real thing within the game world. Drama is just a narrative convention. It only exists within stories.

If your advice is to treat the game world like a story, and not a real place, then that's not useful advice. In this thread, or any other.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
What's a hero? What's a "dramatic instance"? If you can't answer those questions without meta-gaming, then the game has failed as any sort of objective model for how a fantastic world could possibly work. At that point, the rules would be worthless as anything aside from a story guide; things happen because the writer wants them to happen, and nothing actually means anything. But we know that's not the case, because this edition actually calls out meta-game thinking as something to be avoided. It's not making the same mistake that 4E made.

Saying that you can only make one attempt per short rest, or per long rest, is a great way of addressing the matter from within the narrative. Saying that you only get one attempt per "dramatic instance" is meaningless, because "drama" isn't a real thing within the game world. Drama is just a narrative convention. It only exists within stories.

If your advice is to treat the game world like a story, and not a real place, then that's not useful advice. In this thread, or any other.
The only useful advice I'm trying to give is: don't treat the game as something it isn't, or you'll end up getting disappointed.
 

S'mon

Legend
"D&D does not run on narrativium."
AFAICS the 5e rule for NPC smithing is the same as the 1e one - "DM decides". The DM may decide from a primarily dramatic/story, world-simulationist, or even gamist (challenging the players) perspective. Gygax tended to favour world-sim by default and provides some aids for that.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
One thing I don't think has been mentioned is setting a DC can be subjective if you want to play that way. It solves most issues anyone might have with Bounded Accuracy IMO.

Scenario 1:
Take the blacksmith NPC. For him, crafting a sword might be a simple task. Sure, it takes time but he knows the process and has done it many times during his life so the DC could be 5 or even 10, and then add in a STR 14 (+2 mod, strong, but not a Conan-type) and "expertise" in Smith's Tools for another +4 to +6. Even at a +6 total with a DC 10, he might mess up 15% of the time--meaning most attempts will succeed but sometimes the quenching is off or whatever and the sword is weaker than it should be. It might still even function, but perhaps will break on a natural 1?

Now, look at a PC who has STR 18 (+4 mod, more the Conan-type) but no proficiency. Sure, in 5E part of that +4 might represent some "training" in everything STR-related (a very laughable concept and to me the REAL problem with 5E), including smithing a sword. The DM could rule without proficiency, the task is understandably very difficult DC 25 and there is no chance the PC could do it. Even at a more reasonable DC 20, there is only a 25% chance of success without proficiency.

Scenario 2:
A street performer NPC is playing his flute for the crowd, playing a simple but pleasing melody he wrote. He is reasonably charismatic with CHR 14 and has "expertise" in Performance (which, btw, means he can effectively sing any time of music, dance any style, play any instrument he picks up, etc. -- again, laughable and over simplistic IMO but ok I'll just go with that) and like the smith NPC might have a total +6. For him such activity is routine and might warrant a DC 5 or 10.

But, the PC Warlock with CHR 18 decides to try to make a little money for the party by singing a simple melody to go along with the street performer. Not having proficiency in Performance, her "training" from CHR 18 still grants a +4 bonus. But because she doesn't normally sing in front of a crowd (a scary thing for most people--even heroes) or practice singing much (if she did, she would be proficient in Performance), the DM sets the DC at 20. Why? Because failure has consequences (or at least setbacks!) as the crowd boos and hisses at her failed performance. If the player rolls low, the DM might start with some taunting and allow the player to roll again, maybe even with disadvantage. A couple lucky rolls and the PC wins over the crowd, but it is most likely downhill and rotten vegetables. :)

The summary is this: depending on the situation and just who is attempting the task, the DC could be easier or harder. Some people might not like playing that way (which is fine), insisting that a simple melody should be the same DC no matter what, that crafting a sword should always be the same DC again no matter who is attempting it.

Another idea I had to reflect on this idea was to simply impose disadvantage on any check where proficiency in a skill is applicable but the PC doesn't have it. While it helps, it doesn't create enough of a difference between the people involved in scenarios like those above. In the smith example, the NPC would be 85% with DC 10, but the with the same DC 10, the PC would be over 56% chance of success (better than 75% RAW, but not enough).

Maybe reintroducing a "non-proficiency" penalty would be a good way to resolve it, like -5 or even -10? That way, you can assign the same DC for the people in the scenarios, but the smith's DC 10 will succeed 85% (using +6) while the NPC's would only be 25% with a -10 penalty and 50% with a -5.

Just more to think about. :)
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
AFAICS the 5e rule for NPC smithing is the same as the 1e one - "DM decides". The DM may decide from a primarily dramatic/story, world-simulationist, or even gamist (challenging the players) perspective. Gygax tended to favour world-sim by default and provides some aids for that.
Just a note: you quoted me, but the text was in turn a quote by someone else.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
The way I'm understanding and using 5th edition.

You only really need three DCs: DC 11*, DC 15, and DC 20. (I have used DC 25 a few times, but only at high level and only to challenge the Rogue who otherwise would auto-succeed every time)
*) never DC 10. Assuming you use passive scores DC 10 means ordinary commoners always succeed. Using DC 11 means "anyone with ability or training finds it easy; less endowed characters might fail half the time". For example, I consider a secret door (DC 10) to be an oxymoron. It isn't secret at all, more like an ordinary door tucked away behind a few shelves or drapes (anyone that isn't worse than average finds it automatically).

All rolls assume a "heroic on-off". That is:

* You only roll for special occasions, never routine or background tasks. In particular, this means that you're not supposed to be able to just keep trying until you succeed. Otherwise simply say yes.
* You only ask for a roll when something is dramatically important and where failure matters. Otherwise the DM just decides.
* You only roll for player characters unless the PCs are working with a very special NPC.

Anything else the rules can't handle.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It isn't just crafting either IMO. I was looking at proficiency bonus for attacks. At level 1 you are +2, at level 8 you are still only +3.

Let's say the kingdom is having a festival and there is an archery contest. Young Tim was trained by his father Bob in the bow for a long time, so he is a Fighter 1 with Archery Fighting style, just like his dad, Bob, who is level 8.

Now, Tim is blessed with a very good Dex (16), but his father has honed his Dex over the years (ASI) and has an 18 now.

So, Tim is 2 (prof bonus) + 2 (Archery) + 3 (Dex), so +7.
Bob, is 3 + 2 + 4 = 9.

Despite being 7 levels higher and a bit higher Dex, Bob is only +2 to hit over his son, Tim. THAT IS RIDICULOUS IMO!

We're talking an XP difference of up to 48000 points. None of the characters in our current game have that much XP and we've been playing for almost 6 months now. Sure, Bob has Extra Attack, he might even have Sharp Shooter so no disadvantage at longer ranges. But either way, Tim has over a 38% chance of rolling higher, and 4.5% of rolling the same total as Bob. If they each took a single shot, Bob has less than a 60% chance of beating his son, Tim, despite the incredible difference in XP/levels!

I know Bounded Accuracy was meant to keep things under control, but to me it goes a bit too far.
That's why I say that Bounded Accuracy should have bounded things at +10 or +12, not +6.
 

Ristamar

Explorer
Assuming you use passive scores DC 10 means ordinary commoners always succeed. Using DC 11 means "anyone with ability or training finds it easy; less endowed characters might fail half the time". For example, I consider a secret door (DC 10) to be an oxymoron. It isn't secret at all, more like an ordinary door tucked away behind a few shelves or drapes (anyone that isn't worse than average finds it automatically).
Only automatic if someone is making an effort to Search. If no Search action is taken, the door will remain hidden.
 

Ristamar

Explorer
Okay.

Doesn't change the rationale for DC 11 checks though.
I understand your binary postulation, but I don't agree with the rationale. I don't find passive checks to be a problem at any DC since they all have a requisite action. It's possible for a door to be poorly hidden, but if no one ever has a reason to look for it, it achieves the same desired outcome (i.e. remains hidden). Raising the DC by a single pip from 10 to 11 doesn't suddenly take it from incredulous to plausible... IMO, YMMV, etc, etc.
 
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