5E How to skill check (and why 5e got stealth wrong)

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Most of the time when players in my games are encountering locked doors, they’re doing so in a dangerous place full of hostile creatures. In such places, I roll for random encounters once per hour, and any time the PCs make a lot of noise or otherwise attract the attention of those hostile creatures. Attempting to pick a lock will take time, whether you succeed or fail. Of course, if you fail you can always try again, but that will again take time. A faster approach to opening a locked door would be to try to break the lock (or break the door down); that takes almost no time at all, but it is very noisy. Succeed or fail, that noise is going to trigger a random encounter roll. You can always try again if you fail, but that’s going to trigger another roll.

Now, if you’re in the tavern trying to pick or break the lock on a chest you hauled out of the dungeon, yeah, you’re just going to succeed without a check. Narrate opening it however you like, there’s no challenge there, no point rolling. And that’s what the “consequence of failure” thing means to me.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Most of the time when players in my games are encountering locked doors, they’re doing so in a dangerous place full of hostile creatures. In such places, I roll for random encounters once per hour, and any time the PCs make a lot of noise or otherwise attract the attention of those hostile creatures. Attempting to pick a lock will take time, whether you succeed or fail. Of course, if you fail you can always try again, but that will again take time. A faster approach to opening a locked door would be to try to break the lock (or break the door down); that takes almost no time at all, but it is very noisy. Succeed or fail, that noise is going to trigger a random encounter roll. You can always try again if you fail, but that’s going to trigger another roll.
Hmmm... I've never much liked random encounters.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
I did have a thought @FrogReaver. In the sneak scenario. You have your outline, your character gets spotted. You decide the orc in a guard tower has noticed them, but none of the others. The character can in theory get there and kill the orc before the alarm gets raised (I'm making some very broad assumptions here). Can we roll again? What would you do as the next step?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Hmmm... I've never much liked random encounters.
I think they’re great. It’s important to note that when I say “random encounter,” I mean an encounter that is triggered randomly. The encounter itself may well be planned in advance. Its not necessarily what happens that’s random, but when it happens. And I find that to be a very powerful pacing tool.

For example, I’m running Tales from the Yawning Portal. When we get to White Plume Mountain, I plan to have multiple groups of adventurers besides the PCs who are also following up on the clues about the three artifacts, whom they will encounter at multiple points throughout the dungeon. Those encounters will be planned out, and will probably happen in a specific order, but I will use that random encounter mechanic to determine when the next encounter down the list happens.
 

ad_hoc

Adventurer
I wouldn't typically, unless going through that door was important to the story. Then no check needed. Clearly failing the check means you try another approach to opening that door or find a different door. Or don't check out this location.
Or just try again until you get it.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
I did have a thought @FrogReaver. In the sneak scenario. You have your outline, your character gets spotted. You decide the orc in a guard tower has noticed them, but none of the others. The character can in theory get there and kill the orc before the alarm gets raised (I'm making some very broad assumptions here). Can we roll again? What would you do as the next step?
So we are at the moment when the rogue is sneaking up and an orc in a tower spots him!

The first question I as the DM has is does the rogue know he was spotted. For the sake of your example, let's say that he knows it (auto success or successful perception or possibly insight check, whichever resolution got us here it doesn't matter).

So as the DM I've already decided that this orc is going to be discreet about everything and not raise an alarm but play dumb and watch and inform a superior when the rogue gets close enough to be captured (the player doesn't know this) but he knows he was spotted.

Now I give the player a choice. "The Orc acts as if he has spotted you no alarm has been raised, what do you do."

The next step is on the player. Presumably he will fall back to safety - but orc patrols would then go out looking for him, which sets up a potential encounter for the party.

A particularly brave player might continue to approach. If that happened, I would let the player get almost too his goal. I would then have some orcs start to come out after him. He would have one final choice which would be framed in a way that he could accomplish his goal but would face a greater risk of capture or death.
 

aco175

Adventurer
Dealing with checks against NPCs, how many checks are against their scores, or against the standard default where 15 is average and 20 is difficult? I tend to have some of each when I ask for a check.

I also tend to add to the DC when things get harder instead of making the check with disadvantage. In the orc discussion upthread, some things like a waterfall next to camp or at night after a celebration may make the DC easier, but a large clearing in front of the camp makes the DC harder. I usually make it 2-3 points for each situation.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Dealing with checks against NPCs, how many checks are against their scores, or against the standard default where 15 is average and 20 is difficult? I tend to have some of each when I ask for a check.

I also tend to add to the DC when things get harder instead of making the check with disadvantage. In the orc discussion upthread, some things like a waterfall next to camp or at night after a celebration may make the DC easier, but a large clearing in front of the camp makes the DC harder. I usually make it 2-3 points for each situation.
Right, what I'm saying is that sneaking up to the encampment shouldn't care about orcs individual scores. It's a scenario that has it's own independent DC, although orcs being particularly perceptive or unperceptive could play into lowering or raising the DC. But the scenario is more concerned with the encampment and the focus of the residents as a group than the individual residents of the encampment.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
I have never liked meaningless encounters, myself, but whether its planned and placed by a designated number on a map or determined by some random mechanism (especially if keyed to evolving situations) I find meaningful encounters to be very useful and enjoyable.
I liked the method he described using encounters, not random encounters, but randomly timed encounters. I could get behind that.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
@Beleriphon

Perhaps to a better way to handle such example situations is to roleplay them out as I fee a lot is being missed by me giving my take.

So, maybe we should start here:

You are sneaking up to an orc encampment. Make a stealth check vs DC 20. Result 19. You've just passed into the clearing to approach it's outer edge when an orc spots you and you notice that he has spotted you. What do you do? (or if you need any additional information just ask).
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Then why make the check in the first place?

Just tell the PC they can't pick the lock. Don't have them roll for something they can't do.
They very much could have picked the lock. Once they rolled and failed, that lock was revealed to be unpickable.

But if they had succeeded they would have picked the lock, thus revealing it to be a pickable lock.

Call it schrodingers lock if you will ;)
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
@Beleriphon

Perhaps to a better way to handle such example situations is to roleplay them out as I fee a lot is being missed by me giving my take.

So, maybe we should start here:

You are sneaking up to an orc encampment. Make a stealth check vs DC 20. Result 19. You've just passed into the clearing to approach it's outer edge when an orc spots you and you notice that he has spotted you. What do you do? (or if you need any additional information just ask).
Lets assume I want to attack said orc. If we go with that lets assume we run a short combat, I win the orc is dead. Yay me. I would like to continue my attempt to sneak into the camp. Based on how you see the resolution going, what's the next step?
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Lets assume I want to attack said orc. If we go with that lets assume we run a short combat, I win the orc is dead. Yay me. I would like to continue my attempt to sneak into the camp. Based on how you see the resolution going, what's the next step?
Whoa, don't jump ahead of yourself. You want to attack said orc. That's fine. We will roll initiative. You win and attack the orc. Your first attack hits and injures the orc but fails to kill him (a very likely scenario). The orc instead of firing back, ducks behind the wall of the watchtower and starts shouting, alerting orcs in the other towers and possibly on the ground that something is going on, but at least he's pinned down and not sounded the actual alarm yet.

What do you do?
 

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