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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

jasper

Rotten DM
@iserith .. I'm basically looking for a fictional justification for recalling a specific thing…Are you trying to recall strengths and weaknesses? Something about troll culture? What this particular troll's history is in the region, or perhaps its goals? What trolls generally eat? This is the player stating a goal…..
DING DING. Yes here is an example of the “Magic Words” Or 20 questions. This great for role players, and people who remember your campaign setting. But for my dice throwers/roll players this does not work. This does not work for some of my autistic players. And sure as hell does not work with my new players and very casual players.
And I have played under DMs who wanted to play 4 plus questions. It was okay until he started changing the lore of various monsters, and I had to remember the 8 page handout.
I have started using your setback with some information idea.
@Greenstone.Walker .. Player: Can I make a Persuasion check?
GM: Why? What are you trying to do?
Player: i want to persuade the guard to let us see the mayor.
GM: Why didn't you say that in the first place?.....
I get that too regularly. The only time it gets on my nerves if it is. One, a player who has been playing 5E longer than me. Two, the older fart who has 10 years and one edition on me. The rest of the time, it is me and the hopefully the table training the new person to expand on what they wants.

Totally Aside. I now remember why I use BS a lot here. One I have an autistic player who would not role play. For months the table try to get him to role play. It wasn’t until someone say “BS” him bob, that he started to role play. I guess using BS was a good trigger word for him.
The other use of BS is short hand. And to steal from a better writer, BS = fictional justification, or other long reason.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
@iserith .. I'm basically looking for a fictional justification for recalling a specific thing…Are you trying to recall strengths and weaknesses? Something about troll culture? What this particular troll's history is in the region, or perhaps its goals? What trolls generally eat? This is the player stating a goal…..
DING DING. Yes here is an example of the “Magic Words” Or 20 questions. This great for role players, and people who remember your campaign setting. But for my dice throwers/roll players this does not work. This does not work for some of my autistic players. And sure as hell does not work with my new players and very casual players.
And I have played under DMs who wanted to play 4 plus questions. It was okay until he started changing the lore of various monsters, and I had to remember the 8 page handout.
I have started using your setback with some information idea.
@Greenstone.Walker .. Player: Can I make a Persuasion check?
GM: Why? What are you trying to do?
Player: i want to persuade the guard to let us see the mayor.
GM: Why didn't you say that in the first place?.....
I get that too regularly. The only time it gets on my nerves if it is. One, a player who has been playing 5E longer than me. Two, the older fart who has 10 years and one edition on me. The rest of the time, it is me and the hopefully the table training the new person to expand on what they wants.

Totally Aside. I now remember why I use BS a lot here. One I have an autistic player who would not role play. For months the table try to get him to role play. It wasn’t until someone say “BS” him bob, that he started to role play. I guess using BS was a good trigger word for him.
The other use of BS is short hand. And to steal from a better writer, BS = fictional justification, or other long reason.
"Player: Can I make a Persuasion check?
GM: Why? What are you trying to do?
Player: i want to persuade the guard to let us see the mayor.
GM: Why didn't you say that in the first place?....."

Why do I suspect that if we add the scenes played at the table in the immediate say 30m before "Player: Can I make a Persuasion check?" that context, setup and table talk might put that "example" (I know, it's not yours.) In a new light?

I mean, yeah, great, if you sit down for a new campaign session one and the GM says "You are all in a tavern... " and you get "Player: Can I make a Persuasion check?" you get this kind of context-less vacuum.

But if in actual play instead the party has been planning and discussing the need to to see the mayor about the dead body and his doppleganer-wife, walked up to the mayor's chateau, got stopped by the mayor's guard, been told to go away "the mayor is not seeing anyone this evening, come back tonorrow" and then you get "Player: Can I make a Persuasion check?"... then I might ask "are you letting him know about the d-wife, the bodies or what? How much are you cluing in this guard?" but the intention seems clear from context. By the same token, if I just described the tavern wench bringing ale and flirting with the characters, I likely take "Player: Can I make a Persuasion check?" in a different way altogether. (Boy, would I be surprised by an answer of "i want to persuade the wench to let us see the mayor." in that case!!!)

In my games, I really cannot recall a case of a called for persuasion check or insight or such where there wasn't in context of the scene and what has just happened a lot of "what are you trying to do?" already there and all the player gave me off the bat was the call for the check.
 

Hussar

Legend
Yeah, I gotta admit, the whole "state the goal thing" just seems very odd to me since most of the time the goal is pretty obvious. And, for the very small number of times when it's not, I just ask. I've never actually had a player, without any context, just out of the blue ask for a skill check. Seems a pretty odd thing to do.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
@iserith .. I'm basically looking for a fictional justification for recalling a specific thing…Are you trying to recall strengths and weaknesses? Something about troll culture? What this particular troll's history is in the region, or perhaps its goals? What trolls generally eat? This is the player stating a goal…..
DING DING. Yes here is an example of the “Magic Words” Or 20 questions. This great for role players, and people who remember your campaign setting. But for my dice throwers/roll players this does not work. This does not work for some of my autistic players. And sure as hell does not work with my new players and very casual players.
And I have played under DMs who wanted to play 4 plus questions. It was okay until he started changing the lore of various monsters, and I had to remember the 8 page handout.
I have started using your setback with some information idea.
@Greenstone.Walker .. Player: Can I make a Persuasion check?
GM: Why? What are you trying to do?
Player: i want to persuade the guard to let us see the mayor.
GM: Why didn't you say that in the first place?.....
I get that too regularly. The only time it gets on my nerves if it is. One, a player who has been playing 5E longer than me. Two, the older fart who has 10 years and one edition on me. The rest of the time, it is me and the hopefully the table training the new person to expand on what they wants.

Totally Aside. I now remember why I use BS a lot here. One I have an autistic player who would not role play. For months the table try to get him to role play. It wasn’t until someone say “BS” him bob, that he started to role play. I guess using BS was a good trigger word for him.
The other use of BS is short hand. And to steal from a better writer, BS = fictional justification, or other long reason.
Having to be this specific and detailed ... no. Just no. At least I wouldn't stick with a DM that did this.

Trying to remember details about a troll is going to give me everything I may know about trolls, the better my memory as reflected in game by a higher the score the more I know.

As far as the rest of it, I'm just tired of the strawman*. If context doesn't tell me what I need to know to understand what the player is trying to do, I'll ask for clarification. If somebody doesn't want to play exactly the way I want them to play I will make allowances or discuss with them whether or not I'm running the best game for them.

*I really hate using that term.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
DING DING. Yes here is an example of the “Magic Words” Or 20 questions. This great for role players, and people who remember your campaign setting. But for my dice throwers/roll players this does not work. This does not work for some of my autistic players. And sure as hell does not work with my new players and very casual players.
And I have played under DMs who wanted to play 4 plus questions. It was okay until he started changing the lore of various monsters, and I had to remember the 8 page handout.
I have started using your setback with some information idea.
This isn't "magic words" though. The players' role in the game is to describe what they want to do. The DM then uses that description to decide whether the task they describe succeeds, fails, or has an uncertain outcome. If the latter and there's a meaningful consequence for failure, the DM asks for a check. If the player does not perform his or her role adequately, the DM doesn't have enough information to make the necessary decisions. In order to recall lore, it follows that a player needs to describe specifically what they want to know and how the character might have some kind of experience with the lore or perhaps some kind of related asset.

It's really not about being a "roleplayer" in the colloquial sense of that word. It's really just the bare minimum of communicating what you want to do. If a player is literally incapable, perhaps due to some kind of personal challenge or learning difference, then obviously accommodations need to be made. For everyone else? No excuses in my view. They're probably asking to roll because there's no failure condition that is going to really hurt them or set them back, short of giving them false information which creates its own problems. But this does nothing in my view to make the game experience better and the higher quality the conversation, the better the game experience. And if you're a player that wants that specific, presumably useful, actionable information from the DM, isn't automatic success without rolling better than leaving it to the d20 to decide? That requires a good approach to the goal that removes uncertainty and/or the meaningful consequence for failure.

I'm not sure what you mean about the 20 questions. I discourage questions in my game in favor of description of action. I find questions to be very annoying and, in some ways, a form of cheating. Questions aren't actions and so they can't come with consequences. It's a form of failure mitigation to narrow down all the available choices to the "correct" one then you take action which takes advantage of a conversation between the DM and the player that is not happening in the setting. Definitely not an option in my game.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
It's pretty odd that "engaging with the fiction" is considered "magic words". Why are you playing if not to let you participate in a shared game of imagination? Are there actually players unwilling to use their imaginations when playing this game?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It's pretty odd that "engaging with the fiction" is considered "magic words". Why are you playing if not to let you participate in a shared game of imagination? Are there actually players unwilling to use their imaginations when playing this game?
The problem is people claim there are no "magic words", yet obviously there is certainly a magic pattern, phrasing or style expected. You may call it goal and approach. If there wasn't, "can I do a ____ check" when it's obvious what the PC is doing would be okay.

I'm just tired of the bogus claim that if you don't follow this particular structure the DM will never know what the PC actually wants to do. Just because some DM was a "gotcha" DM in the past doesn't mean a different pattern or approach is going to change that behavior.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
It's pretty odd that "engaging with the fiction" is considered "magic words". Why are you playing if not to let you participate in a shared game of imagination? Are there actually players unwilling to use their imaginations when playing this game?
Well, see, here, to me...

when a group plan and discusses going up to the mayor's house to tell him his wife is a doppelganger, that is engaging the fiction.

When their character make their way across town to the mayor's house, looking for signs of villagers looking strange - perhaps already replaced - that is engaging the fiction.

When they encounter the guard at the mayor's gate, talk with him, ask yo see the mayor and get told "not until morning - office hours" - that is engaging the fiction.

So when the player with the high charisma decides to chance it that the guard is on the up abpnd up and says "Can I make a Persuasion check" - well, see, that does not start me to wondering "why oh why doesnt my player want to engage the fiction?" cuz that's what they have been doing all the way to get to this decision point.

It's really kinda propped up by examples where it seems like a scene starts out of the blue with a call for a check, but in my experience the "language" used to communicate to the GM is more indicative of local shorthand than whether or not players are or are not engaging the fiction.

I mean, sure, sometimes formatted dialog is fun and all, like Jeopardy where you have to answer the trivia question expressed as an answer with an answer in the form of a question. But really, in spite of that flipside format, Jeopardy is really folks answering trivia questions.

So, bringing this back full circle, by going thru thre or four rounds of "is it bigger than a breadbox" flavor "choose your category and sub-topic for your knowledge check" or "please express your question in the form of an action" style filtering of "Hey, does my character know about this?" to me all you are establishing is a very non-casual communication structure - and that to me is very much moving away from "engaging the fiction.

Can I have Lingo and Jargon for 600, Alex?
 

jasper

Rotten DM
ooh ohh ohhh ohhh Mr. Kotter Mr. Kotter I mean. ohh ohhh Mr. 5ekyu Can I steal "Jeopardy dialog"? It is much better than "magic words".
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
And here we go again :D
What? People calling BS?

I get it we have different styles. That's great. It's one of the strengths of D&D that we can use the same base rules and easily tweak it to personal preference.

But when the same stupid strawman comes up again and again it gets old.
  • Want people to speak in first person, never reference an ability check or skill? Fine. Just don't claim you have no expectations on how your players express themselves. If there was no pattern expected, "I make a ___ check" would be acceptable.
  • Stop claiming that if you don't follow your pattern that people won't have fun, engaging games.
  • Don't throw out dumb examples that never cause issues in real world games. If someone declares a skill and I need more info all I have to do is prompt for more detail. In some cases "Can I make a persuasion check" will be perfectly clear.
  • I don't care if you think "goal and approach" is the only interpretation of the rules. Discuss what you do and why you find it helpful, but appeals to authority don't mean anything.
  • You have fun describing how your PC picks a lock or recalls a piece of lore? Cool. I'd find it boring and a distraction because I want to spend time on investigation, exploration and moving the story along.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
What? People calling BS?

I get it we have different styles. That's great. It's one of the strengths of D&D that we can use the same base rules and easily tweak it to personal preference.

But when the same stupid strawman comes up again and again it gets old.
  • Want people to speak in first person, never reference an ability check or skill? Fine. Just don't claim you have no expectations on how your players express themselves. If there was no pattern expected, "I make a ___ check" would be acceptable.
  • Stop claiming that if you don't follow your pattern that people won't have fun, engaging games.
  • Don't throw out dumb examples that never cause issues in real world games. If someone declares a skill and I need more info all I have to do is prompt for more detail. In some cases "Can I make a persuasion check" will be perfectly clear.
  • I don't care if you think "goal and approach" is the only interpretation of the rules. Discuss what you do and why you find it helpful, but appeals to authority don't mean anything.
  • You have fun describing how your PC picks a lock or recalls a piece of lore? Cool. I'd find it boring and a distraction because I want to spend time on investigation, exploration and moving the story along.
On second thought, the tun knowledge checks by insisting on "what are you trying to recall" as in troll weakness vs ttoll habits vx trolls in this area etc is much more like Wherl of Fortune asking a letter st a time than Jeopardy.

But of course, they are not exclusive.

Player - "What foes my character know about trolls?"
Wheel - "What about trolls? Which aspect?"
Player - "is there a weakness?"
Jeopardy - "please express your question in the form of an action?"
Player - "I utter a prayer silently to the spirits of my ancestors asking if Woolery the Forgotten knew of troll wesknesses?"
Wheel - There are three weaknesses known yo Woolery and you see the great battle of..."
Other player - "I hit the fraggin' troll with my maul "

:)
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
ooh ohh ohhh ohhh Mr. Kotter Mr. Kotter I mean. ohh ohhh Mr. 5ekyu Can I steal "Jeopardy dialog"? It is much better than "magic words".
So, two whole posts above the one you're lauding here is what I would consider a calm, reasoned, rules-based response to your assertion which acknowledges and takes into consideration exceptions for certain players without judgment about how you choose to play the game and your response is to ignore that and double down on the ridicule that you started when you referred to how other people play as "magic words?"

Got it. I know where not to spend any more of my time.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
So, two whole posts above the one you're lauding here is what I would consider a calm, reasoned, rules-based response to your assertion which acknowledges and takes into consideration exceptions for certain players without judgment about how you choose to play the game and your response is to ignore that and double down on the ridicule that you started when you referred to how other people play as "magic words?"

Got it. I know where not to spend any more of my time.
Yeah, the willful misrepresentation is quite frustrating.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
What? People calling BS?

I get it we have different styles. That's great. It's one of the strengths of D&D that we can use the same base rules and easily tweak it to personal preference.
I’d say this is it in a nutshell. Line 1: it’s BS. Line 2: It’s different styles.

We were just, once again, try to defend our approach from yet another gross mis-characterization (ooh gotcha here are the “magic words”!!) and instead of realizing that, you and 5ekyu decided to pile on again. If it’s a just a different style why the constant need to tear it down or tell us it doesn’t work when it plainly does for us and many others.

Should never have taken the bait of this dumpster fire of a thread.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I’d say this is it in a nutshell. Line 1: it’s BS. Line 2: It’s different styles.

We were just, once again, try to defend our approach from yet another gross mis-characterization (ooh gotcha here are the “magic words”!!) and instead of realizing that, you and 5ekyu decided to pile on again. If it’s a just a different style why the constant need to tear it down or tell us it doesn’t work when it plainly does for us and many others.

Should never have taken the bait of this dumpster fire of a thread.
I've stated previously that I wouldn't have used the phrase "magic words". But it is obvious that certain phrases such as "Can I make an insight check" are not allowed in some people's games. A lot of reasons for that have been given.

There have been many examples of DMs having very specific requirements on how players can express what they want to accomplish along with a lot of bashing of people that are more lenient.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So, let's see. We have... folks on both sides of the argument (and, at this point, it is an argument, not a discussion) saying they should not have engaged. And, while they do that, they are being snarky about it.

That tells me it is about time for this thread to end. Wrap it up, folks. You're about done.

Prove me wrong. Not by arguing with me, but by behaving like you actualy respect each other as humans and gamers.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
It's pretty odd that "engaging with the fiction" is considered "magic words". Why are you playing if not to let you participate in a shared game of imagination? Are there actually players unwilling to use their imaginations when playing this game?
There’s a joke somewhere in here about verbal spell casting components, but I’m not clever enough to come up with it.
 

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