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If an NPC is telling the truth, what's the Insight DC to know they're telling the truth?

Ovinomancer

Explorer
General approach is something we discuss. What does the slow and cautious approach mean both in terms of time and effort. What the standard "default" approach is, clarify that even passive checks will be at disadvantage if they're rushing. I may go into more detail the first time or two for different environments, but it doesn't take long to establish a standard baseline.

So we, as a group, make that decision once and if there's ever any question or uncertainty about how the PC would approach the situation I ask for clarification. Same as any other skill based challenge. Like I said, I find constantly having to remind the DM that I'm checking for traps (much less specifically how I'm checking) to be boring. As I've said before if the player suspects something might be trapped, I assume their PC is suspicious and will take precautions whether or not there is a trap. If that includes a dice roll, I don't see why that would cause the world I've built to crumble it just means the PC acted on their suspicion.

I play the game to slay dragons, win the damsel's heart and get shiny bling. I'd simply rather spend my time on social interactions, discussing clues, fighting monsters than describing how I search a room so I'm sure to mention that I search under the mattress.
I agree, constantly telling the DM I'm checking for traps to avoid gotchas does sound boring. I'm glad we agree. It doesn't happen in my game, either. Did you think it did?

I also play for the same reasons and find all of my play centers on interesting encounters driving thise goals. Did I say something to make you think otherwise?

I ask these questions because instead of engaging the clear examples I provided of play at my table, you seem to rather say that you play differently and then list ways our game are the same in terms of playgoals and interests. Yet, your issue is about play style, not play goals. So, I remain confused as to why you keep asking how I and others play, but then when shown pivot to complaints about things that aren't happening at our tables and ignore the examples of play.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Like I said, I find constantly having to remind the DM that I'm checking for traps (much less specifically how I'm checking) to be boring.
Surely this can be handled by Passive Perception or Passive Investigation if it's an action your character is performing repeatedly? If you've declared that you're constantly looking for traps while exploring the dungeon then that's what you're doing, no need to keep declaring it. If you stop doing it for some reason (an encounter for example), then you just have to declare that your character goes back to trap checking. The cost of this of course is that you might be vulnerable to being surprised by monsters (or that your speed is halved because of your caution).

But there's no need to keep declaring an ongoing action in 5e.
 

iserith

Explorer
To be honest [MENTION=6779196]Charlaquin[/MENTION], it's a lot less about the "gotcha" element and far more about the "Why am I pissing about describing for the 237th time how I look for traps on a chest" thing. It gets old really, really fast. If you do dungeon crawls, and I do, you're likely to have dozens of rooms/chambers. Each of which is likely going to get searched at some point. Having to repeat myself dozens of times because the DM wants more than "I search the room" just makes me want to blow my brains out.
What this sounds like to me is that the DM isn't presenting compelling content. Just a lot of repetitive chests and chambers. That would make me bored as well, regardless of how actions were adjudicated. Some DMs aren't great at presenting exploration challenges.

I've played the way you're talking about. I can see the attraction for a certain kind of player but, I'm very, very much not that kind of player. Very little would cause me to check out of a game faster than this. Not that it's bad or that you're a bad DM or badwrongfun or anything like that. Not at all. But, because it would bore me to tears. I would be a terrible player at this table. I'd be that bad player futzing around on my phone while the rest of the group plays because, fifteen minutes into the session, I'd be completely checked out.
At the risk of seeming too confident, I bet you wouldn't do this in my games. You wouldn't have time to as you'd be too busy boldly confronting deadly perils to pick up your phone. You may bristle at being asked not to make unprompted rolls, but then you may quickly see that success without a roll is better than leaving it to chance, especially when you get hit with the meaningful (often painful) consequences of failure every time you don't hit that DC. You may then notice that the approach is no slower than what you're currently doing and in many cases faster (and the game experience overall is faster).
 

iserith

Explorer
They weren't cloakers actually, they were darkmantles. Not sure why I felt OCD enough to correct that. :p Also, I'm not sure why WotC got brought into this. This was from the World's Largest Dungeon (3.5e) from AEG games. Totally 3rd party. Someone else mentioned WotC modules having the same sort of thing though.
I will never defend an adventure module as being perfect (I find them frequently terrible), but I haven't seen anything like that in the WotC adventures I've read (granted, I've not read them all). I'd be curious to see any citations if anyone knows of any.

Like I said, things like what you're describing are things that bug me in a game. I'm looking around. My character has a pretty high perception score (or spot or whatever your system uses). If you say X you get bonus Y but penalty Z is a losing bet, most of the time. I mean, using your examples, why would I do that unless there was some reason I knew there were monsters hanging on the ceiling beforehand? It's just as likely that something will come up from the floor, so, it's a wash.

Actually, thinking about it, in 5e, there really aren't any monsters that hide on the floor particularly, so, why wouldn't players just always look up? Odds are they are going to be right more often than wrong. And since there's no bonus or penalty horizontally, it's a free advantage that works most of the time.

Thinking about it, that's why it bugs me so much. It's just so easy to game the system. Or rather, game the DM. And, frankly, often, DM's are not very good at judging odds. Like I said, there are far, far more things that drop on you in ambush in a dungeon than hide on the floor. So, unless there's something wonky about the floor - pools, water, watnot - you're far better off looking at the ceiling. Judge your DM. How often does he/she drop a pit trap in a hallway? Never? Great! Keep your eyes on the ceilings boys, free bonuses for everyone.
Check out the trapper in Volo's Guide to Monsters for a floor-lurking monster.

Whether it's a darkmantle on the ceiling or a trapper on the floor, I'm resolving it the same way because I value consistency and the rules of the game help with that: I'm telegraphing the threat of hidden monsters, perhaps even these ones specifically. I'm asking the players what they are doing, generally, as they travel the dungeon. If they say they are staying alert for hidden dangers (as opposed to drawing a map, foraging, tracking, navigating, or any task that is at least as distracting as those), then surprise is determined normally and their passive Perception applies. If they are performing a distracting task other than staying alert for hidden dangers and aren't a ranger in favored terrain, then the character is automatically surprised when the darkmantle or trapper attacks. They made a decision to take the risk of not being alert in exchange for performing some other (presumably useful) task.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't have time to respond in detail, but I'm just stating my preference and how I run the game. If a player says their PC is doing something, if it's clear that the PC would take action X using skill Y I will ask for a roll even if I know the outcome will not change because the player is attempting something that will automatically succeed or fail. Why? Because from the PC's perspective the outcome was uncertain which is all that matters. If there is no roll, the player knows there was no reason for the PC to attempt the action in the first place.

I'm not saying anyone else is playing gotcha, or calling for rolls or unnecessarily detailed description of what the PC is doing. I have had DMs that were very much into gotchas. So the trap went off because we didn't specifically state we checked the door for traps, we had no chance to see the creature because we didn't state we were looking in the correct spot. In other cases they required us to be very specific on how you were searching a room after a vague description so we didn't find treasure because we didn't specify we looked under the mattress.

In other words, I don't need to make a medicine check to know that the horse is dead. Or wait ... do I have to state that as "carefully examine the horse to see if it's a corpse by checking to see if it still has a heartbeat"? :confused:
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
I don't have time to respond in detail, but I'm just stating my preference and how I run the game. If a player says their PC is doing something, if it's clear that the PC would take action X using skill Y I will ask for a roll even if I know the outcome will not change because the player is attempting something that will automatically succeed or fail. Why? Because from the PC's perspective the outcome was uncertain which is all that matters. If there is no roll, the player knows there was no reason for the PC to attempt the action in the first place.

I'm not saying anyone else is playing gotcha, or calling for rolls or unnecessarily detailed description of what the PC is doing. I have had DMs that were very much into gotchas. So the trap went off because we didn't specifically state we checked the door for traps, we had no chance to see the creature because we didn't state we were looking in the correct spot. In other cases they required us to be very specific on how you were searching a room after a vague description so we didn't find treasure because we didn't specify we looked under the mattress.

In other words, I don't need to make a medicine check to know that the horse is dead. Or wait ... do I have to state that as "carefully examine the horse to see if it's a corpse by checking to see if it still has a heartbeat"? :confused:
No, quite simply it's my job as GM to describe the horse as dead. I don't see how that's even something that should be rolled for.

As for uncertainty, I addressed this above. If the task is such that there's no consequence of failure then it isn't something I need to generate uncertainty, I have plenty of interesting things to get to. Take a possibly trapped door, for instance. If I have players roll, and they roll poorly, and I say "nope, nothing" what play follows? The players are now hesitant and perhaps ask to check again. For a door that is not trapped I'm now burning playtime with player uncertainty about an untrapped door.

If it's trapped and they roll badly, then something happens the players would rather not happen. A wandering monster check, maybe, or the trap activates, or something else, but the players aren't now in a metagane place going "aha, there's something up with this door," because they're already dealing with the fallout of the something. I never hit the dreaded metagame because all rolls have consequences for failure. The need to roll to create player uncertainty and avoid the metagame just doesn't even factor in my play.
 

iserith

Explorer
No, quite simply it's my job as GM to describe the horse as dead. I don't see how that's even something that should be rolled for.
"If an NPC's horse is dead, what's the Medicine DC to know the horse is dead?"

After all, the horse is lying (on the ground).
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
No, quite simply it's my job as GM to describe the horse as dead. I don't see how that's even something that should be rolled for.

As for uncertainty, I addressed this above. If the task is such that there's no consequence of failure then it isn't something I need to generate uncertainty, I have plenty of interesting things to get to. Take a possibly trapped door, for instance. If I have players roll, and they roll poorly, and I say "nope, nothing" what play follows? The players are now hesitant and perhaps ask to check again. For a door that is not trapped I'm now burning playtime with player uncertainty about an untrapped door.

If it's trapped and they roll badly, then something happens the players would rather not happen. A wandering monster check, maybe, or the trap activates, or something else, but the players aren't now in a metagane place going "aha, there's something up with this door," because they're already dealing with the fallout of the something. I never hit the dreaded metagame because all rolls have consequences for failure. The need to roll to create player uncertainty and avoid the metagame just doesn't even factor in my play.
I was assuming uncertainty from the perspective of the PC. Uncertainty from the perspective of the DM doesn't matter to me. Also, it was just a joke.

But in any case the horse is still dead, and there isn't really anything new here. Have a good one.
 

WaterRabbit

Villager
So despite claims to the contrary, you cannot tell if a person is lying just through body language unless you have a baseline of their behavior to compare it to -- and even then, it isn't certain. You can tell if someone is under a cognitive load based upon their body language, but it is generally not possible to tell why.

So baring magic like a Zone of Truth, and Insight check should not be able to determine if someone is telling the truth one way or another. And even Zone of Truth provides a large amount of wiggle room. The only way to be certain if an NPC is telling the truth is to confirm their information. Overtime, you can then determine if an NPC is trustworthy or not.

So, the DC for a "truth" check for an NPC that is a stranger to a player should be very high -- like DC 30 or something. Generally, I prefer to create ahead of time a chart that reflects the amount of information a check gives (insight, history, investigation, etc).

Check 5 or better gives x
Check 10 or better gives y
Check 15 or better gives z
etc.

Even if the PCs don't make a check it give you as the DM a better idea as to what information an NPC has they can impart.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
I was assuming uncertainty from the perspective of the PC. Uncertainty from the perspective of the DM doesn't matter to me. Also, it was just a joke.

But in any case the horse is still dead, and there isn't really anything new here. Have a good one.
Do you only read part of my posts? I directly addressed the uncertainty statement, but your response is devoid of any recognition of that, instead just repeating your initial point. It's very difficult to try to explain a playstyle if the person who asks doesn't bother engaging the explanation. Do you really wish to try to understand, or is this all performative?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
So despite claims to the contrary, you cannot tell if a person is lying just through body language unless you have a baseline of their behavior to compare it to -- and even then, it isn't certain. You can tell if someone is under a cognitive load based upon their body language, but it is generally not possible to tell why.

So baring magic like a Zone of Truth, and Insight check should not be able to determine if someone is telling the truth one way or another. And even Zone of Truth provides a large amount of wiggle room. The only way to be certain if an NPC is telling the truth is to confirm their information. Overtime, you can then determine if an NPC is trustworthy or not.

So, the DC for a "truth" check for an NPC that is a stranger to a player should be very high -- like DC 30 or something. Generally, I prefer to create ahead of time a chart that reflects the amount of information a check gives (insight, history, investigation, etc).

Check 5 or better gives x
Check 10 or better gives y
Check 15 or better gives z
etc.

Even if the PCs don't make a check it give you as the DM a better idea as to what information an NPC has they can impart.
While I agree that in the real world you are correct, the rules state that "Your Wisdom (Insight) check decides whether you can determine the true intentions of a creature, such as when searching out a lie or predicting someone's next move".

Just another example of D&D being over-simplified. Personally I use insight as more of a vague feeling rather than a lie detector, but that's not following the letter of the rules.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Do you only read part of my posts? I directly addressed the uncertainty statement, but your response is devoid of any recognition of that, instead just repeating your initial point. It's very difficult to try to explain a playstyle if the person who asks doesn't bother engaging the explanation. Do you really wish to try to understand, or is this all performative?
I understand you, I just don't run my games like that and I don't see what value it adds to the game.

Horse. Dead. Time to move on.
 

WaterRabbit

Villager
While I agree that in the real world you are correct, the rules state that "Your Wisdom (Insight) check decides whether you can determine the true intentions of a creature, such as when searching out a lie or predicting someone's next move".

Just another example of D&D being over-simplified. Personally I use insight as more of a vague feeling rather than a lie detector, but that's not following the letter of the rules.
The question really is should insight be better than the 2nd level spell ZoT? That is subject more to DM interpretation. Also the DC is set by the DM, so a DC 30 for a stranger aligns with the general rule for Insight.
 

iserith

Explorer
The question really is should insight be better than the 2nd level spell ZoT? That is subject more to DM interpretation. Also the DC is set by the DM, so a DC 30 for a stranger aligns with the general rule for Insight.
After reading the spell, it looks to me like zone of truth performs a somewhat different function than a task to observe mannerisms and body language to determine a creature's true intentions. You may even be likelier to get a more evasive response or no response at all from a creature in a zone of truth. Zone of truth probably enhances but does not replace mundane attempts to get at the truth. So I don't really see it as a trade-off that needs balancing.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The question really is should insight be better than the 2nd level spell ZoT? That is subject more to DM interpretation. Also the DC is set by the DM, so a DC 30 for a stranger aligns with the general rule for Insight.
There's a fairly common trope in fiction of "the human lie detector" and some people probably are slightly better at it than others.

However, in my games the only 100% sure-fire way of knowing whether someone is lying is magic. Even then, as you stated there are frequently ways of skirting the truth if using zone of truth. People also remember things incorrectly all the time as well so you probably need hard evidence to be certain. False memories are easily created - see the "lost in the mall false memory" study.

Telling the players that they don't need to bother with an insight check because the person is telling the truth makes insight far too powerful for my game. Which is why I would go with the old standby "They seem to be telling the truth".

Adjudicating interrogations can be tough, but I agree with your concept of getting more based on DCs.
 

Ovinomancer

Explorer
I understand you, I just don't run my games like that and I don't see what value it adds to the game.

Horse. Dead. Time to move on.
This started because you asked, and continued because you kept misrepresenting the playstyle. I'm more than willing to concede different strokes, and all that, but I'm skeptical you actually understand given your repeated complaints about things that aren't even a factor in my play. Still, provided we skip further performative credulity, I'm willing to let the horse lie.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
This started because you asked, and continued because you kept misrepresenting the playstyle. I'm more than willing to concede different strokes, and all that, but I'm skeptical you actually understand given your repeated complaints about things that aren't even a factor in my play. Still, provided we skip further performative credulity, I'm willing to let the horse lie.
If my player states something along the lines of "I don't believe them, I think they're lying. Can I make an insight check?" I will let them even though I know the NPC is telling the truth. I also won't ask for any more clarification of what they're doing, to me it's obvious.

It's my understanding that you would not have them roll because you know the NPC is telling the truth. Perhaps you've somehow "broadcast" that they're telling the truth. You may also object to them asking to make a specific skill check (sorry, I don't remember everything you've said).

If that's misrepresenting what you would do, I apologize. If it's not, then I understand what you're saying I just don't run my game that way.
 

Imaculata

Explorer
In my experience, this just leads to players using magic to overcome everything because magic, unlike skills, doesn't require any DM adjudication. They know what they are going to get if they use a mage hand to open a chest or whatever. And I really don't want that.
If the players are going to use magic to overcome my traps, they are using up some of their resources, which is okay in my book. Besides, not all traps can be overcome that easily with magic, and magic should feel useful to the players.

Honestly, I cant remember the last time I saw someone posting about their GMing and saying anything like

"Honestly though, the way I make rulings on ABCD is very unfair towards my players."

Just sayin'
You haven't seen me posting about how I balance my combat encounters then, I presume. :D
Honestly though, it is very unfair. I always pick monsters at least 2 CR's higher than what is reasonable. I first throw a bunch of easy encounters at them to completely drain them of their resources, before dropping them into a double boss fight with two powerful foes that are 4 CR's higher than they should be, with a bunch of minions that are 2 CR's higher than appropriate for their level.
 

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