From my memory, the only characters that got a roll were those that had thief skills. Namely: Detect Noise. Otherwise, the DM just winged it. I remember having to tell the DM what kind of helmet your fighter or cleric was wearing, for example. I remember some games having great helms give extra protection for the head while also making it harder to see or hear. But it was just what the DM said. Everyone just kind of stopped doing that in 3e.Im trying to remember what we did before 3E introduced the skill system. Was it if your players didnt actually say what they were doing they failed?
I remember DMing and just rolling a die like flipping a coin. I used to just roll dice from time to time, too. I was more interested in making the PCs feel threatened back then.