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How do you handle a skill check if needed.

How do you as GM handle as skill check if it is needed.

  • They just declare they rolling a skill check

    Votes: 8 30.8%
  • They must give a reason why they are rolling a skill check

    Votes: 14 53.8%
  • They must use the "magic words" for me to allow a skill check

    Votes: 3 11.5%
  • If they use the "Magic words", I give a bonus

    Votes: 1 3.8%
  • No skill checks allowed at all.

    Votes: 4 15.4%

  • Total voters
    26

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't find it particularly offensive, but where is the option "Players must state what they are trying to accomplish and how they are trying to accomplish it (either in character or in game terms, doesn't matter), after which they may suggest a specific skill (ability) check / proficiency might apply "?

Unless I'm misunderstanding the listed options, I don't see it up there.
To be clear I wouldn't include the phrase "magic words" but I would say it falls under They must use the "magic words" for me to allow a skill check

Basically, the player must say something so that the DM calls for a skill ...umm ..if I can't say skill check what word can I use?
 

coolAlias

Explorer
To be clear I wouldn't include the phrase "magic words" but I would say it falls under They must use the "magic words" for me to allow a skill check

Basically, the player must say something so that the DM calls for a skill ...umm ..if I can't say skill check what word can I use?
I guess we just have different approaches to play, then.

DM: The goblin captive seems unwilling to give you any information
PC: I roll Persuasion, 17
DM: Okay, he changes his mind and tells you some things

I mean, sure, we can infer that the player wants information and that they have chosen to try to get that by being the "nice" cop, and there is always a bit of this in my games, but if that was the typical way players described their actions to me I'd quickly stop DMing for them and find something more fun for me to do.

Not knocking the style, it just isn't for me.

Edit to add: what I would expect is something like "I tell the goblin that if he tells us what we want to know, we'll let him go." I don't consider describing what the character is doing to be "magic words," and I feel like that term has negative implications that I don't care for.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Nah, we’re cool. It seems to always be the crowd that allows players to declare their own skill checks who do this kind of validation seeking. The rest of us are secure enough in our own play styles already.

How about you stop insulting people? Like, now. Thanks
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Skill check is an valid term. Looking at my pc sheet I have 'Acrobatics, animal handling, arcana, athletics, deception, history, insight, intimidation, investigation, medicine, nature, perception, performance, persuasion, religion, sleight of hand, stealth, Survival, and tool for thieves tools. Page 77 to page 78 breaks the skills down by what ability score modifies the check.
It's cool if you think this way, but those pages call out ability checks and which skill proficiencies can modify those ability checks. but really it doesn't matter if you call the cart the horse and the horse the cart in your game if all you care about is the goods being delivered.

This thread could use a lot less of:
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
What version are we talking about? 5e doesn't have "skill checks", it has ability checks, some of which might be modified by skill proficiencies. (EDIT: Looks like half the population of Enworld beat me to that one.)

Is that what you are talking about? If so, I don't "allow" them, I call for them. As in:

Player: I'm going to try to jump over the pit with the unconscious princess.
DM: That's going to take a strength check, using athletics if you have it, with a DC of 15. If you fail you might get washed away, and the princess definitely can't swim while unconscious. You still want to do it?
Player: Yeah, I'll go for it.....
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Nah, we’re cool. It seems to always be the crowd that allows players to declare their own skill checks who do this kind of validation seeking. The rest of us are secure enough in our own play styles already.
I'm plenty secure in my play style, thanks.
I guess we just have different approaches to play, then.

DM: The goblin captive seems unwilling to give you any information
PC: I roll Persuasion, 17
DM: Okay, he changes his mind and tells you some things

I mean, sure, we can infer that the player wants information and that they have chosen to try to get that by being the "nice" cop, and there is always a bit of this in my games, but if that was the typical way players described their actions to me I'd quickly stop DMing for them and find something more fun for me to do.

Not knocking the style, it just isn't for me.

Edit to add: what I would expect is something like "I tell the goblin that if he tells us what we want to know, we'll let him go." I don't consider describing what the character is doing to be "magic words," and I feel like that term has negative implications that I don't care for.
I get that different people have different approaches. But several people seem to be insulted or at least unwilling to answer the poll. I kind of get it, so the question is how to phrase the poll.

In part I'm asking because in the thread I started I considered including a poll but couldn't think of how to word things without some people getting their grundies in a bundle. Because I am honestly curious - I have never had a DM in any private or AL game that has an issue with either the DM or player calling for a skill check. Is it a regional thing? A board thing? Is it because a lot of AL judges started DMing in previous editions?

As far as your example, that probably wouldn't fly in my campaign either. I will be a little lenient with some people that are uncomfortable with this kind of stuff but at the very least they have to tell me how they are trying to persuade the goblin. I prefer that they just play it out - it's half the fun of the game - but some people just don't play for the same reasons I do.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Edit to add: what I would expect is something like "I tell the goblin that if he tells us what we want to know, we'll let him go." I don't consider describing what the character is doing to be "magic words," and I feel like that term has negative implications that I don't care for.
What some call magic words, I instead call engaging with the game world by describing your character's action and objective. I think back in the mists of time there were DMs that insisted that players jump through their hoops or played "gotcha" at every opportunity, rather than trying to produce a fun and challenging adventure for everyone to enjoy. Directly opposing players rather than engaging with them.

It's unfortunate because I don't think that style of DMing is the norm anymore, but I think there's a fear that if any quarter is given it will return and we'll all be subject to "pixel bitching" and "magic words" once more.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
In part I'm asking because in the thread I started I considered including a poll but couldn't think of how to word things without some people getting their grundies in a bundle. Because I am honestly curious - I have never had a DM in any private or AL game that has an issue with either the DM or player calling for a skill check. Is it a regional thing? A board thing? Is it because a lot of AL judges started DMing in previous editions?
I had this happen with my DM (who had a background in Pathfinder) a few sessions ago. A newish player asked to make a perception check in the middle of a conversation.

Th DM got a little confused look on his face and said "What are you looking for?" The player wanted to find out if the NPC was lying, the DM then said "Ah, roll a wisdom Insight check".

Now I wouldn't consider those magic words, just data the DM wanted to make a judgment call rather than just letting the player roll perception in the middle of the conversation and detecting no abushes or whatever.

This is why I find "magic words" problematic to the discussion.

I do understand that probably doesn't help you phrase a poll and I'm sorry.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
I get that different people have different approaches. But several people seem to be insulted or at least unwilling to answer the poll. I kind of get it, so the question is how to phrase the poll.
I'll take a stab at rewording each of the existing poll options, in order:
  • Players can declare an ability check at any time
  • Players can declare an ability check provided they tell you what they are trying to accomplish
  • Players declare what they are trying to accomplish and how they want to accomplish it; the DM adjudicates the result, asking for an ability check if needed
  • As above, but the DM rewards players that come up with creative approaches by granting advantage, automatic success, better (or lesser in case of failure) consequences, etc.
  • We're playing a different game entirely - honestly, this is the option that seems the most dismissive of dissenting opinions to me; I'd remove it from the poll.
I'm not sure how that first option would actually work in play. If the player declares a check without knowing what they are trying to accomplish, how can the DM set a DC or narrate the results?
 

Ashrym

Explorer
Ok, how to you gm handle skill checks.
PC's initiate check by an action. Not all check or actions are initiated by PC's. Very often, checks are made by players in response to actions initiate by NPC's, which doesn't fall under any category given than I can tell.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I'll take a stab at rewording each of the existing poll options, in order:
  • Players can declare an ability check at any time
  • Players can declare an ability check provided they tell you what they are trying to accomplish
  • Players declare what they are trying to accomplish and how they want to accomplish it; the DM adjudicates the result, asking for an ability check if needed
  • As above, but the DM rewards players that come up with creative approaches by granting advantage, automatic success, better (or lesser in case of failure) consequences, etc.
  • We're playing a different game entirely - honestly, this is the option that seems the most dismissive of dissenting opinions to me; I'd remove it from the poll.
I'm not sure how that first option would actually work in play. If the player declares a check without knowing what they are trying to accomplish, how can the DM set a DC or narrate the results?
I see the word "creative" as triggering.

I would suggest the more neutral "some" or "certain".

The reason is, "creative" implies novel, new, imaginative or any number of ways to imply "fun" when in fact what may often be used as the benchmark is "effective". Does the approach our plan make it more likely to succeed or less, the book pretty much uses this as part of its advantage and disadvantage suggedtions.

Crestive seems to lean into "rool of kewl" territory since it seems to leave efficiency and helpful at the curb for a more artistic judgement.

Or maybe both should get listed, in case there are GMs who dont give z hoot about " more likely" and are looking for "novel".
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I see the word "creative" as triggering.

I would suggest the more neutral "some" or "certain".

The reason is, "creative" implies novel, new, imaginative or any number of ways to imply "fun" when in fact what may often be used as the benchmark is "effective". Does the approach our plan make it more likely to succeed or less, the book pretty much uses this as part of its advantage and disadvantage suggedtions.

Crestive seems to lean into "rool of kewl" territory since it seems to leave efficiency and helpful at the curb for a more artistic judgement.

Or maybe both should get listed, in case there are GMs who dont give z hoot about " more likely" and are looking for "novel".
I might even phrase it:

  • As above, but the DM can apply advantage, automatic success, better (or lesser in case of failure) consequences, etc if the DM thinks the approach warrants such modification to the check.
A bit wordy maybe?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I get that different people have different approaches. But several people seem to be insulted or at least unwilling to answer the poll. I kind of get it, so the question is how to phrase the poll.

In part I'm asking because in the thread I started I considered including a poll but couldn't think of how to word things without some people getting their grundies in a bundle. Because I am honestly curious - I have never had a DM in any private or AL game that has an issue with either the DM or player calling for a skill check. Is it a regional thing? A board thing? Is it because a lot of AL judges started DMing in previous editions?
I think the key would be to engage with different play styles on their own terms. I don’t particularly feel a need to poll people on the subject, but if I were to try, I might go for:

1. Players are free to make ability checks whenever they like.
2. Players are free to ask to make an ability check at any time and the DM decides if it is appropriate.
3. Players cannot initiate ability checks. Players announce actions and the DM calls for a check when appropriate.
4. Ability checks are never called for. All actions are resolved narratively or by other means.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
I see the word "creative" as triggering.

I would suggest the more neutral "some" or "certain".

The reason is, "creative" implies novel, new, imaginative or any number of ways to imply "fun" when in fact what may often be used as the benchmark is "effective". Does the approach our plan make it more likely to succeed or less, the book pretty much uses this as part of its advantage and disadvantage suggedtions.

Crestive seems to lean into "rool of kewl" territory since it seems to leave efficiency and helpful at the curb for a more artistic judgement.

Or maybe both should get listed, in case there are GMs who dont give z hoot about " more likely" and are looking for "novel".
Excellent point - by "creative" I meant to include both rule of cool and particularly likely to succeed.

This is also where the term "magic words" becomes meaningful, as well as being the source of some of its negative connotations. If you have a DM that is extra permissive / lenient if a player phrases what they want to do just right, that can make the game less fun for players that feel the DM essentially punishes them because they don't know the magic formula for success.

That's not to say a DM should never reward that behavior, but it's important to remain as fair and impartial as possible when adjudicating player actions.
 

Harzel

Explorer
Add me to those to whom "magic words" sounds dismissive and snarky. I have no idea whether that was intended; I'm willing to believe it was not. But in addition to tone, "magic words" has IMO another problem as a description of "players declare actions; DM calls for check if she deems it necessary" - it connotes something constrained/specific, when in fact players declaring actions is just the opposite - very unconstrained. So in addition to the tone problem, it seems to me that "magic words" is just flat inaccurate.

Also, the question heading the poll is ill-phrased for what the poll seems, after subsequent explanations, to be asking. In particular, "if needed" sounds like the context for the question is that somehow it has already been decided that an ability check is in fact needed. In that case, my response would be, "The DM calls for a check." However, given what the poll actually seems to be after, I suggest rephrasing the question as, "When you are DMing, what triggers a player-rolled ability check?"
 

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