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

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
That's so true. Last night, my Eberron session kicked off with an important social interaction challenge that was pivotal to their success on the overall adventure. They needed to team up with NPCs who were hostile toward them without letting them know their true motives for helping (which would undermine a kingdom's plot to overthrow the government of another nation). I prepared the central NPC's ideal, bond, flaw, and agenda, and fleshed out the personality traits of the other four NPCs. I then presented a series of objections to what the players were putting forward. Overcoming those objections would slowly improve the NPCs' attitudes. Once the "final attitude" was resolved, then came the ask - could they work together?

They overcame some objections handily, gaining automatic success. But some weren't so clear cut and I called for rolls. Every single one was filled with tension as the mostly un-charismatic PCs considered what arguments to make and what limited resources to apply to improve their odds. You'd think they were trying to avoid disintegration traps.

In the end, they succeeded in convincing the NPCs to team up. It was as tense and interesting as any combat. And being an alliance built upon a lie, we'll see how this goes awry soon, I'm sure!
As an added example of a failure, one of my players wanted their character to get in good with one of Sigil's factions. However, his previous associations meant this would be a challenge. He first attempted to gain an audience and failed his DC 15 CHA check (the DC was set because the faction was unfriendly and his approach was a pretty straightforward ask). This meant he was told that the prelate was busy at the moment, but that the PC was welcome to wait to see if a there was a time to work him in. I also told the PC that he was certain that this was a brushoff and that there wouldn't be any openings for him (a no-check Insight on the clerk). The player elected to call the bluff, and spent a his week of downtime to wait in the waiting room every day during business hours. I determined that this expenditure of resource was sufficient to overcome the challenge of getting a sit-down without another check, so, towards the end of the week, the PC got his meeting. Of course, nothing had changed, so the starting DC was still 15. The player made a reasoned argument that his association with the other faction was only due to being hired for a job, which he prides himself in always completing contracts, and offered his considerably useful services to the this faction in exchange for certain privileges. The factor was interested in this as the PC did have useful skills, and the explanation was enough, I felt, to lower the DC a bit, so I called for a CHA DC 12 check. The player bombed it (around an 8, I recall). As a consequence, I had the factor offer a very tough "interview" job with a 'do it or don't come back' statement and almost no informational assistance to accomplish the task. This wasn't what the player wanted (he wanted access for his character to certain resources, and not to have to involve the rest of the party in this) as he know had to ask other party members for help in accomplishing this goal. They agreed, but that led to another failure where the whole party was defeated and left for dead (they got better, for a given sense of the word). Now, that situation stands with the target of the task completely in the wind and unreachable without much hard work and the faction quest failed with no access whatsoever and any goodwill remaining gone. The player hasn't yet engaged back with this as another party member's needs are currently driving the group, but we'll be back to this in another session or two. I believe the PCs are discussing a rather daring plan to try to lure the target back to Sigil for a pit-fighitng betting opportunity and then grab him at the match -- which one of the PCs will be fighting in! Sounds like a great opportunity for some more rolls to go horribly wrong for them and maybe land the whole party on the wrong side of the Hardheads (Sigil's self-appointed police force)!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
As an added example of a failure, one of my players wanted their character to get in good with one of Sigil's factions. However, his previous associations meant this would be a challenge. He first attempted to gain an audience and failed his DC 15 CHA check (the DC was set because the faction was unfriendly and his approach was a pretty straightforward ask). This meant he was told that the prelate was busy at the moment, but that the PC was welcome to wait to see if a there was a time to work him in. I also told the PC that he was certain that this was a brushoff and that there wouldn't be any openings for him (a no-check Insight on the clerk). The player elected to call the bluff, and spent a his week of downtime to wait in the waiting room every day during business hours. I determined that this expenditure of resource was sufficient to overcome the challenge of getting a sit-down without another check, so, towards the end of the week, the PC got his meeting. Of course, nothing had changed, so the starting DC was still 15. The player made a reasoned argument that his association with the other faction was only due to being hired for a job, which he prides himself in always completing contracts, and offered his considerably useful services to the this faction in exchange for certain privileges. The factor was interested in this as the PC did have useful skills, and the explanation was enough, I felt, to lower the DC a bit, so I called for a CHA DC 12 check. The player bombed it (around an 8, I recall). As a consequence, I had the factor offer a very tough "interview" job with a 'do it or don't come back' statement and almost no informational assistance to accomplish the task. This wasn't what the player wanted (he wanted access for his character to certain resources, and not to have to involve the rest of the party in this) as he know had to ask other party members for help in accomplishing this goal. They agreed, but that led to another failure where the whole party was defeated and left for dead (they got better, for a given sense of the word). Now, that situation stands with the target of the task completely in the wind and unreachable without much hard work and the faction quest failed with no access whatsoever and any goodwill remaining gone. The player hasn't yet engaged back with this as another party member's needs are currently driving the group, but we'll be back to this in another session or two. I believe the PCs are discussing a rather daring plan to try to lure the target back to Sigil for a pit-fighitng betting opportunity and then grab him at the match -- which one of the PCs will be fighting in! Sounds like a great opportunity for some more rolls to go horribly wrong for them and maybe land the whole party on the wrong side of the Hardheads (Sigil's self-appointed police force)!
Awesome, I just wrapped a Planescape campaign before I started Eberron and that sounds like just the sort of antics my players got up to - all Clueless, new to the planes, who eventually became a Hardhead, an Athar, a Xaositect, a Sinker, and a Guvner. (There were more players than that, but these were the "regulars" of the player pool.) The Blood Pit featured heavily as well!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Exactly! Your play is different. You have a different set of assumptions as to what an action entails, and a different way of adjudicating them. This is perfectly fine, but it's not the same way that a goal and approach method uses. You really need to accept that this is so and stop trying to judge the method from how you play and instead try to understand how it's actually used.


I promote a sense of paranoia, but I don't use the mechanics as the means to do so, I use the fiction in play. I don't need to be vague about a success, with and answer of 'they seem to be telling the truth' because that's not needed -- I have plenty of other tools to inflict paranoia on my players.

This is my point, the difference in our play is that I do not see the mechanics, either in success of failure, as a place to make the player uncertain of outcomes. Those are where outcomes become certain. I get to play with the before and after.

So, again, our play is different -- we're prioritizing different things, and this means that you cannot judge my play by situations that occur in your method because they're not the same situations as in my method.



In my game, this player would be doing themselves a disservice because asking for a check is asking for a chance to fail, and failure has consequences that are not the status quo. That's my point -- if you do not add consequence to every check, and, indeed, only ask for checks when there is a consequence (and a chance for success/failure), then asking for a check makes perfect sense -- it's the only way to get the GM to divulge their hidden story to you. I do not play this way. My method does not work in your method of play. This should be obvious, but I keep having to say it.

This is because your point of conflict is "is this NPC lying to me." That's, frankly, utterly boring to me.

If I present a lying NPC, figuring out the NPC is lying will not resolve whatever the actual issue is. It will just lead to a new point of contention. Why did the NPC lie? What do we do know that we know the NPC lied?

To go back to the shopkeep example you proposed, determining that the shopkeep lied would never be a check in my game. I'd never need to prevaricate to preserve uncertainty so that my plot continues. Instead, discovering the lie is just one more means to advance the plot and do something different. You'd need evidence, and could then brace the shopkeep with it to expose the lie and get the truth (which leads to more adventure), or maybe you engage in discussion, discover something about the shopkeep, like that he loves his little girls, and use that to get him to confess to the lie. Or, maybe, you do not, and have to come at the problem a completely different way. To me, discovering a lie is just like opening a door -- something you have to do to move the game along. As such, if it's uncertain, there will be a consequence to failure that will change how the fiction sits -- the status quo will not hold. On the other hand, a success is a success -- the character reaps the reward and I don't try to diminish the success. Why would I? The character just took a risk I'd hammer home on a failure, so a success deserves nothing less than actual success at the intended goal. Or, for complex goals, a solid step forward.



That's fine, but it's also why you need to have the "shortcut" of letting players ask for rolls and why you don't seek approaches -- there's no change if they fail and they can only benefit (maybe vaguely) on a success. You've built your game around the idea that asking for checks is what's what, so that behavior is prioritized. This is not a shortcut, or even a good idea in my game, because rolls will change the fiction -- for the better on a success and for the worse on a failure -- so it's better to seek to not to roll. This is accomplished by providing an approach and goal so the GM has the best information possible to determine you might automatically succeed or, if it's going to be a roll, that you get the best possible chance by leveraging your character's abilities to the maximum extent possible. And, a good approach might net you advantage!

This difference -- rolls change fiction -- is absolutely a huge difference in our game. If you ever say, "nope, you don't find any traps," and nothing else on a check looking for traps, then this is a huge difference in our games, and, indeed, why our methods differ. This is not something that is ever said in my games. Instead, it's, "<sharp intake of breath> ooh, that's not going to be good."
So ... this all starts out fine. We play differently. We have different styles.

Then you go off the deep end. My games are boring and I'm doing it wrong. If only I did it just like you, my game would be so much better.

You know what? I've retained multiple players for more than a decade. I've been told without solicitation that I'm people's favorite DM when I run games (public and private). So you can go to ... well you can go play your own game because I don't care any more.

Have a day.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So ... this all starts out fine. We play differently. We have different styles.

Then you go off the deep end. My games are boring and I'm doing it wrong. If only I did it just like you, my game would be so much better.
Nope, I woukd find that example boring. If you see your game in that example, all I've said is that I'd find that part boring.

So, save the fake outrage for someone ekse. I'm not buying it.
You know what? I've retained multiple players for more than a decade. I've been told without solicitation that I'm people's favorite DM when I run games (public and private). So you can go to ... well you can go play your own game because I don't care any more.

Have a day.
Awesome! Me, too. And, given how many times you've said you don't care anymire but still bring this up in other threads, I'm not buying that, either.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
OK, a few folks took this conversation off this flame war and bounced ideas back and forth. Here is what we came up with:

Basic Insight DC: 20. This is the DC to be confident the speaker is telling the truth. If you miss it by 10, you're convinced they're lying. If you miss it by less than 10, you're unsure.

Modifiers:
* Subtract the speakers persuasion from the DC.
* Add to the DC if there is reason to doubt the truth. Examples (everything below is believed to be true by the speaker):
* No modifier: The merchant is telling you that he is selling the product to you at his cost.
* +5: You come across a man in an alley standing over a corpse. He has a bloody weapon in his hand and is trying to convince you that he did not kill the dead person.
* +10: The sage reveals that the God the PC worships is not a God, but is instead a Demon Lord.
* +15: The sage reveals that the PCs are just characters in a game and do not really exist.
* If the speaker would have advantage on their persuasion, lower the DC by 5. If there would be disadvantage, raise it by 5.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
OK, a few folks took this conversation off this flame war and bounced ideas back and forth. Here is what we came up with:

Basic Insight DC: 20. This is the DC to be confident the speaker is telling the truth. If you miss it by 10, you're convinced they're lying. If you miss it by less than 10, you're unsure.

Modifiers:
* Subtract the speakers persuasion from the DC.
* Add to the DC if there is reason to doubt the truth. Examples (everything below is believed to be true by the speaker):
* No modifier: The merchant is telling you that he is selling the product to you at his cost.
* +5: You come across a man in an alley standing over a corpse. He has a bloody weapon in his hand and is trying to convince you that he did not kill the dead person.
* +10: The sage reveals that the God the PC worships is not a God, but is instead a Demon Lord.
* +15: The sage reveals that the PCs are just characters in a game and do not really exist.
* If the speaker would have advantage on their persuasion, lower the DC by 5. If there would be disadvantage, raise it by 5.
I can see this working and have done similar (just not as codified or exact phrasing) in the past. Do you roll for your players or have them roll? Asking because I go back and forth on this one for a few skills; by and large I trust my players to not meta-game and just let them have fun with it but I'm curious what other people do.
 

Satyrn

Villager
I see how you've decided to turn this into a problem, yes. Honestly, given the blatant misrepresentations that have been going on in this thread regarding my play, how should I react to someone calling me out on a very small matter of some less that perfect wording?
Well my intention in giving you that heads up was to be helpful. I thought that you'd like to edit your less than perfect wording into something that wasn't the opposite of what you meant to say.

Or, if you didn't want to do that, I thought that my pointing it out first might make it less likely that Oofta would focus on that part of your post and continue the conversation.



But whatever. I wish I was as wise as one of the Daves I know:

Never mind. Probably not as helpful as I first thought.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Well my intention in giving you that heads up was to be helpful. I thought that you'd like to edit your less than perfect wording into something that wasn't the opposite of what you meant to say.

Or, if you didn't want to do that, I thought that my pointing it out first might make it less likely that Oofta would focus on that part of your post and continue the conversation.



But whatever. I wish I was as wise as one of the Daves I know:
Thanks, then. It's easy to take it the wrong way when you're suddenly held to task for a minor slip after a whole thread of larger slips by others. I suppose I was a tad defensive.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
I can see this working and have done similar (just not as codified or exact phrasing) in the past. Do you roll for your players or have them roll?
They roll, but only I look. I have a dice chute that sends their dice to me, behind my screen. I then pass them back.
Asking because I go back and forth on this one for a few skills; by and large I trust my players to not meta-game and just let them have fun with it but I'm curious what other people do.
I trust my players to try not to metagame, but it is hard at times. If your PC is unsure if someone lies, but the player knows, it is hard to decide whether the PC will decide to treat them as a liar or not if the stakes are high.
 

Chaosmancer

Villager
But yeah, in my games there's not going to be a neon sign. Then again doors that get used all the time aren't going to be trapped either because that would just be dumb IMHO. Obviously using passive values does mean that there will be times when someone's passive is so high they detect every trap in which case I'll just narrate it.
To add to this, let us say there is a massive bloodstain in front of a trapped door. A door that is still trapped.

That means no one has gotten through this door, because it is still trapped and the person who tried is dead.

So then, why would there be a bloodstain in front of the next trapped door in that dungeon? No one got through the first, the only indication you had was the previous adventurers failure, no hints from the trap itself, so how would you narrate the next door that was trapped in the same dungeon?


Side Side tangent: I really want to have a big dungeon with traps and stuff clearly cleared by adventurers, holes in the walls next to next to doors for stone shape, ect. Then they come to a completely clean passage. The subsequent "oh craps" should be very entertaining.




A bit of a tangent - but what do you mean by I, the GM, would not have allowed that roll by a player to fail?
Around 400 posts ago there was a highly sarcastic example of "rolling overceding player decisions" where a player did everything to a door handle possible, including wiping it down, to try and detect a poison on the door handle. Failed the roll, and things went from there.

A better phrasing might have been, I wouldn't have let the players actions fail. OR I wouldn't have called for a roll. Or any number of things.

But, after defending myself so many times against something I never disagreed with because people think I disagreed with it, I'm getting sloppier in my responses. Mostly cause I'm getting tired of defending myself against something I never once said.




No, all skill checks need to be rolled because rolling a d20 and adding an ability modifier (and potentially a proficiency bonus) and trying to beat a target number is the definition of a skill check. If you’re not rolling, then a skill check is not what you’re doing.

If we want to get pedantic, a Rogue with Reliable Talent still rolls the die, they just change the result to (10 + Ability + Prof) If the die comes up less than 10.
Okay, first I'm really curious why every time after the first that you quote me, it shows up as you quoting [MENTION=6801845]Oofta[/MENTION]. It doesn't matter, but it is starting to get weird.

But, on to pedantry.

That's the point.

In the strictest since, a roll is being made, but the result is changing so that it doesn't matter what is rolled. So, if we decide not to roll the dice because the result is a known factor... is that an ability check?

What if you want to flag down the waitress? It could be seen as a DC 5 charisma check. But, considering how minor in importance that moment is, and the high likelihood of success, we choose not to roll the dice. There is little to no uncertainty and no stakes. But does that mean there is not an ability check that could be rolled?

So, if the Rogue's Reliable Talent is an ability check, which is must be since that ability only works on an ability check, even if we do not roll the dice... then why must flagging down the waitress not be an ability check? Why is there a division between these two events, where they are both situations where no roll is made for speed of play, even though a roll could or should be made "technically:"

I have no idea what you’re talking about.
I believe it was you who had an issue with the fact that sometimes I call for rolls when, given the amount of time players have and the lack of threat, the end result of the roll is not going to change the goal. Eventually, the players were going to get through the vault door. They had over a week until the next major threat that could possibly interrupt them from doing so, and it was only the work of hours to break through it, and the monsters in this area are automatons and are stuck in loops, not reacting to sounds.

So, some people on this thread would have said that I should not call for the roll. There was no significant consequence for failure, the only thing being the inconsequential loss of time. And yet, I did it, and I did it because I knew that it made sense and that my player would enjoy succeeding on the roll. And that failure on the roll, indicating he could not break down the door quickly, would have been important to them, even if it changed nothing narrative.

That idea seemed to bother people, and so a line of discussion spun off from it.


”Obviously I wouldn’t put mustard on my hot dog, but if for some buzzard reason we decided to put mustard on them anyway, I would put Dijon on mine.”

Who cares what kind of mustard we would use “if” we put mustard on our fries, if we all agree we don’t want to do that?!


You kinda did, though. Again, you claim you wouldn’t call for a roll in that situation, but you are advocating hard for the proper way to narrate the failure “if someone did, for some reason.” If a roll shouldn’t be called for, than all ways to narrate the failure are improper, because it is not proper for the action to fail in the first place.
I did.

And the point in that post I made was never about how to handle that roll, it was about how to narrate failure on a die roll. That is something that happens. A highly skilled character can fail trying something that statistically and mathematically they were unlikely to fail.

And so, I responded that instead of just going with "You fail. Take Damage" I would want to cushion it in the narrative. There was a reason they failed in the story. It was because of the dice, but the dice only told us they failed. They don't tell us why. So, if I am confronted by failure, I don't just brush it off, I give them the reason in the narrative.

Players fail rolls. It happens in the game. Whether that particular roll should have been called for has nothing to do with the fact that as a DM I have to consider how I would narrate a failure, even one that on the surface seemed so unlikely that we didn't think it was going to happen.


Not exactly. My problem was with the way of narrating the failure you claimed was better. It wasn’t better, it was flawed for exactly the same reasons that the ruling in the example was flawed - namely, that arriving at it would still have required calling for a roll in a situation where the outcome was not uncertain. It was no better a call, it was just a more flowery way of making the same bad call.
Exactly. You have no problem with what I said, you have no disagreement with me. Your entire disagreement is that I didn't condemn an absurd premise hard enough.

Fine.
[MENTION=6801328]Elfcrusher[/MENTION], in your sarcastic example of a DM calling for a die roll to disarm a poisoned handle, even after the player declared they were wiping the handle with a thick cloth and were wearing gloves so that no poison could possibly contact their skin, you were completely wrong in all ways and there was nothing redeemable about that. No roll should ever be called upon in that situation, no matter the circumstances, and nothing else could ever be said about that example or any permutation of that example because your failure in calling for that roll was so extreme it eclipses everything else.

Further more, my use of that example to bring up an entirely different point was wrong in all ways. I should have never have done so, and will endeavor to punish myself appropriately for such a disgrace, since my point fell under the assumption of the roll that must have never been and that is a shameful scar upon my DMing from here on out.

Now, [MENTION=6779196]Charlaquin[/MENTION], if I have properly responded to the roll that never should have been made, can we just drop this already?




This is because your point of conflict is "is this NPC lying to me." That's, frankly, utterly boring to me.

If I present a lying NPC, figuring out the NPC is lying will not resolve whatever the actual issue is. It will just lead to a new point of contention. Why did the NPC lie? What do we do know that we know the NPC lied?

To go back to the shopkeep example you proposed, determining that the shopkeep lied would never be a check in my game. I'd never need to prevaricate to preserve uncertainty so that my plot continues. Instead, discovering the lie is just one more means to advance the plot and do something different. You'd need evidence, and could then brace the shopkeep with it to expose the lie and get the truth (which leads to more adventure), or maybe you engage in discussion, discover something about the shopkeep, like that he loves his little girls, and use that to get him to confess to the lie. Or, maybe, you do not, and have to come at the problem a completely different way. To me, discovering a lie is just like opening a door -- something you have to do to move the game along. As such, if it's uncertain, there will be a consequence to failure that will change how the fiction sits -- the status quo will not hold. On the other hand, a success is a success -- the character reaps the reward and I don't try to diminish the success. Why would I? The character just took a risk I'd hammer home on a failure, so a success deserves nothing less than actual success at the intended goal. Or, for complex goals, a solid step forward.
Okay, I find myself somewhat confused here Ovinomancer.

Why do you think finding out if the shopkeeper lied or not is the end of the conflict?

As I understand things (and I abandoned the shopkeep lying discussion a while ago) it was a discussion a single moment. IF they are lying then that puts forth on set of events. If not, the players are going in a different direction.

It is a single obstacle... why does it have to be interesting? The event of a goblin scout noticing the party is not, in and of itself, interesting. It is a relatively boring thing. The interest comes in the reactions after that. So why is it that we must investigate the shopkeep and turn his love for his daughter against him for him to tell us he lied.... if we don't know he lied.

If we suspect he lied, then went back to get the truth, I see it. But, why do we suspect he lied? Are you just going to tell your players that the shopkeep is lying to them about what is going on? If we don't come out and say it, and or you strongly hint through clues and roadsigns that are impossible to miss, then why would the players investigate him for leverage to get the truth. They have the "truth" and don't suspect anything else.

This is where the roll comes in. Can they tell if he is lying? If they can, then they can work to get the truth, if they can't they will assume he is not lying and that changes the nature of their investigation until they get the truth.
 

Satyrn

Villager
To add to this, let us say there is a massive bloodstain in front of a trapped door. A door that is still trapped.

That means no one has gotten through this door, because it is still trapped and the person who tried is dead.

So then, why would there be a bloodstain in front of the next trapped door in that dungeon? No one got through the first, the only indication you had was the previous adventurers failure, no hints from the trap itself, so how would you narrate the next door that was trapped in the same dungeon?
My megadungeon has numerous paths to most areas, and so there'd generally be another way around the trapped door. And there's also goblins that go around resetting their traps or laying new ones. But yeah, if the area beyond the trapped door wasn't accessible, then it would be silly of me to telegraph the followup trapped door with bloodstains . . . although the bloodstain could be from a treasure hunter who teleported past the first trap.

Anyway, there are plenty of ways to telegraph a trap without using signs of a previous victim. I've got a trapped portcullis where the players will see barrels of poison gas on the other side, for example. And then some tombs clearly warn they are trapped because I figured they figure it's better to turn away cowards so the trap will remain untriggered.

I find it a fun creative exercise.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
They roll, but only I look. I have a dice chute that sends their dice to me, behind my screen. I then pass them back.
I trust my players to try not to metagame, but it is hard at times. If your PC is unsure if someone lies, but the player knows, it is hard to decide whether the PC will decide to treat them as a liar or not if the stakes are high.
Hmmm ... now I'm kind of envisioning some kind of Rube Goldberg dice rolling apparatus involving small rockets, squirrels on an exercise wheel and of course a catapult. :heh:
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Hmmm ... now I'm kind of envisioning some kind of Rube Goldberg dice rolling apparatus involving small rockets, squirrels on an exercise wheel and of course a catapult. :heh:
I think every player should be required to bring a few dozen completely functional Schrodinger's Cat apparati to every session, and whenever a die roll is needed you open one up and see if the cat is alive or dead.

Ok, SURE, one re-usable apparatus and a supply of cats could also work. I guess. But it's not as fun.

And if you think that chasing a d20 under the radiator is annoying, just wait until the cats start escaping. And chasing those runaway d20s.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Okay, first I'm really curious why every time after the first that you quote me, it shows up as you quoting [MENTION=6801845]Oofta[/MENTION]. It doesn't matter, but it is starting to get weird.
Sorry, I copy and paste quote tags a lot, and sometimes things get mixed up. My bad there.

But, on to pedantry.

That's the point.

In the strictest since, a roll is being made, but the result is changing so that it doesn't matter what is rolled. So, if we decide not to roll the dice because the result is a known factor... is that an ability check?
Yes, because the thing you’re doing is defined by the rules as an ability check. You’re just skipping the roll for expediency’s sake.

What if you want to flag down the waitress? It could be seen as a DC 5 charisma check. But, considering how minor in importance that moment is, and the high likelihood of success, we choose not to roll the dice. There is little to no uncertainty and no stakes. But does that mean there is not an ability check that could be rolled?
Did the approach of flagging down the waitress have a reasonable chance of succeeding in the goal of getting her to come to your table, a reasonachance of failing to do so, and a cost for attempting or consequence for failing? If so, then why are you skipping the dice roll? If not, then an ability check is not the proper method of adjudicating the action, and there’s no reason for that DC5 to just be out there, existing in isolation of an action that requires a check to resolve.

So, if the Rogue's Reliable Talent is an ability check, which is must be since that ability only works on an ability check, even if we do not roll the dice... then why must flagging down the waitress not be an ability check? Why is there a division between these two events, where they are both situations where no roll is made for speed of play, even though a roll could or should be made "technically:"
Reliable Talent is only applicable to ability checks, ergo if Reliable Talent is coming into play, there must be a reasonable chance of the approach succeeding in achieving the goal, a reasonable chance of the approach failing to achieve the goal, and a cost for attempting or consequence for failing. If you choose to skip the actual dice rolling part because the effect of Reliable Talent makes it impossible to get a roll result lower than the DC, that’s fine, but it doesn’t make the process of comparing your lowest possible result to a DC not a check.

I believe it was you who had an issue with the fact that sometimes I call for rolls when, given the amount of time players have and the lack of threat, the end result of the roll is not going to change the goal. Eventually, the players were going to get through the vault door. They had over a week until the next major threat that could possibly interrupt them from doing so, and it was only the work of hours to break through it, and the monsters in this area are automatons and are stuck in loops, not reacting to sounds.

So, some people on this thread would have said that I should not call for the roll. There was no significant consequence for failure, the only thing being the inconsequential loss of time. And yet, I did it, and I did it because I knew that it made sense and that my player would enjoy succeeding on the roll. And that failure on the roll, indicating he could not break down the door quickly, would have been important to them, even if it changed nothing narrative.
Right, and my point was that your reason for calling for a roll despite the results not actually mattering (namely that your players like to roll dice) is a result of the fact that calling for rolls that have no consequence for failure changes the incentives in your game. In your game, checks are how things get done. You break down doors by succeeding on Strength (athletics) checks, and failing Strength (athletics) checks doesn’t really mean anything, except that you didn’t manage to break down the door, or didn’t manage to break it down right away. Naturally players want to roll in a game where that is the procedure. In my games, you don’t break down doors by succeeding on checks, you open doors by breaking them down, and if something bad could happen as a result of you trying to break the door down, then a check is how we decide if that bad thing happens or not. Naturally, players in my games want to avoid making checks. I like that incentive my style creates. I want plauers thinking about what their characters can do to insure the best possibility of success, not what check they have the highest bonus to.

I did.

And the point in that post I made was never about how to handle that roll, it was about how to narrate failure on a die roll. That is something that happens. A highly skilled character can fail trying something that statistically and mathematically they were unlikely to fail.

And so, I responded that instead of just going with "You fail. Take Damage" I would want to cushion it in the narrative. There was a reason they failed in the story. It was because of the dice, but the dice only told us they failed. They don't tell us why. So, if I am confronted by failure, I don't just brush it off, I give them the reason in the narrative.

Players fail rolls. It happens in the game. Whether that particular roll should have been called for has nothing to do with the fact that as a DM I have to consider how I would narrate a failure, even one that on the surface seemed so unlikely that we didn't think it was going to happen.
Yes, and I took issue with the fact that your way of narrating that failure necessarily contradicted the player’s description of their character’s action. DMs narrating what the PCs do is something I find extremely distasteful, and in the example given, the only way to make the failure make sense was by narrating what the PC did. That would not have been necessary if the DM in the example had followed the goal and approach method of task resolution. That’s my point, and I’m 99% sure it was Elfcrusher’s point too: that the method of task resolution where the players accomplish things by succeeding on checks leads to situations where narrating failure requires the DM to narrate what the PC does. Avoiding this kind of scenario is one of the main reasons I prefer goal and approach.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
[MENTION=6801228]Chaosmancer[/MENTION], I think for a lot of people traps are a big part of the "exploration" leg of D&D. It certainly was in old-school dungeon crawls. For the most part it's not for me unless it makes sense for the enemy. Traps are more common with the "weaker" races such as goblins or especially kobolds. In my games, I just don't generally see the logic or justification for big complex traps very often. I enjoyed the first Indiana Jones movies, but the traps never made a lot of sense to me.

As far as the shopkeeper scenario it's just one minor turn of the story. As far as why they would they suspect the shopkeeper in the scenario, why would they not? The place is well protected, there's no sign of forced entry, the first thing I would think is that it's an inside job. In my game an insight check (whatever the result, however you get there) isn't going to be the end of the investigation, just the start. Just like every police procedural, you start with questioning likely suspects and witnesses and go from there. A big part of that questioning someone in this kind of scenario is trying to get a feel for possible motivation and other clues.

While we may not resolve the scene using the same mechanics, I assumed it was a generic enough scene that most games would include questioning the guy. I just don't broadcast intentions unless I think the NPC would broadcast their intentions.
 

pemerton

Legend
To add to this, let us say there is a massive bloodstain in front of a trapped door. A door that is still trapped.

That means no one has gotten through this door, because it is still trapped and the person who tried is dead.

So then, why would there be a bloodstain in front of the next trapped door in that dungeon? No one got through the first, the only indication you had was the previous adventurers failure, no hints from the trap itself, so how would you narrate the next door that was trapped in the same dungeon?
I wanted to second [MENTION=6801204]Satyrn[/MENTION]'s remark that it is possible to "telegraph" traps, to establish fiction that trap-interested players can pick up on, without introducing contradictions.

What those might actually look like - bloodstains, mismatched tiles, holes in the wall, etc (I'm just parroting [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] here) - would depend on mood, context, past narration, etc.

I'm also not sure how many of the "goal and approach" advocates are playing dungeons in the sense that you describe here. I think more than one poster has already suggested that traps are a distinctive rather than generic occurence in the adventures they are running. So it mayu be that this particular problem, of finding meaningful framing for multile geographically and temporally proximate traps, doesn't come up much for them.

What if you want to flag down the waitress? It could be seen as a DC 5 charisma check. But, considering how minor in importance that moment is, and the high likelihood of success, we choose not to roll the dice. There is little to no uncertainty and no stakes. But does that mean there is not an ability check that could be rolled?
I could be wrong, but you seem here to suggest that "an ability check" is an abstractly existing thing, or a latent element of the fiction. Whereas an ability check is clearly an event that occurs at the table in order to decide certain things about the fiction.

So the question is, Is flagging down the waitress as that possibility has arisen here-and-now in the play of the game the sort of moment in the fiction that, at our table and by the rules of our game, requires an ability check to resolve it? DIfferent tables might answer differently. But if one table answers no, then that's that - the fiction unfolds without any check being needed to determine how it unfolds. There's no (abstract, possible) check that's been "skipped over".

It is a single obstacle... why does it have to be interesting? The event of a goblin scout noticing the party is not, in and of itself, interesting. It is a relatively boring thing. The interest comes in the reactions after that.
I'm not across the shopkeeper example, but just picking up on this: I think what makes the fiction interesting, in adventure-oriented RPGing, is what is at stake. And in the example of being spotted by a goblin scout, it seems that quite a bit might be at stake. So I'm missing why is not interesting.

So, if the Rogue's Reliable Talent is an ability check, which is must be since that ability only works on an ability check, even if we do not roll the dice... then why must flagging down the waitress not be an ability check? Why is there a division between these two events, where they are both situations where no roll is made for speed of play
One answer would be that the rules force a division between the GM deciding that no check is called for and the GM deciding to call for a check, and setting a DC, which the player of the rogue can't miss. This happens in my 4e game quite a bit, because the Sage of Ages epic destiny somewhat breaks the maths of skill checks, with the result that most knowledge skills are auto-succcesses for the player of that character; but the skill challenge rules still require me to call for checks from that player: which means I have to distinguish between events which are unfolding fiction with no need for a check (eg because nothing is at stake) and events which involve stakes in respect of the unfolding fiction, and hence do call for a check (even if it's an auto-success).

I think this could also work in 5e, although if a GM is using PC capabilities as an element in determining whether or not a check is requred then it could be that sometimes Reliable Talent factors into adjudication at that point, rather than affecting the resolution of a check.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Okay, I find myself somewhat confused here Ovinomancer.

Why do you think finding out if the shopkeeper lied or not is the end of the conflict?
Okay, so, to be clear, your confusion is because I said that the shopkeeper lying is the conflict?

I say this because it's treated with importance in the examples. A successful check to see if the shopkeep is lying leaves the uncertainty intact -- some hint is provided, but it's been clearly stated that an answer isn't going to be provided. The only way I see this being useful is if the shopkeeper lying is a key part of the mystery (which has also been said) such that a quick answer will disrupt the GM's plans. If it's not that important, I really don't understand why the uncertainty isn't being resolved on a success, much less what might happen on a failure.

In other words, it appears to be the crux of the situation because of the level of protection provided to the truth of the shopkeeper lying. I don't understand why you would do this if it wasn't the important part.

As I understand things (and I abandoned the shopkeep lying discussion a while ago) it was a discussion a single moment. IF they are lying then that puts forth on set of events. If not, the players are going in a different direction.

It is a single obstacle... why does it have to be interesting? The event of a goblin scout noticing the party is not, in and of itself, interesting. It is a relatively boring thing. The interest comes in the reactions after that. So why is it that we must investigate the shopkeep and turn his love for his daughter against him for him to tell us he lied.... if we don't know he lied.
Again, if I put an obstacle into the game, it will be of interest. I mean, if it's uninteresting, why not just narrate past it and get to the interesting bits?

As I've said above, I think that the inclusion of obstacles that aren't interesting is a big driver in the playstyle of letting players ask for rolls to get past these obstacles quickly.

If we suspect he lied, then went back to get the truth, I see it. But, why do we suspect he lied? Are you just going to tell your players that the shopkeep is lying to them about what is going on? If we don't come out and say it, and or you strongly hint through clues and roadsigns that are impossible to miss, then why would the players investigate him for leverage to get the truth. They have the "truth" and don't suspect anything else.
If it's not an interesting obstacle, then, yes, I will just tell them this in narration. If it's an interesting obstacle, then the lying shopkeep will be an avenue to what they actually want to accomplish. In that scenario, in my game the theft as a whole would be part of a larger goal for the party. Perhaps they're trying to gain influence, or they're paying off a debt. I couldn't say without the actual game. But, the shopkeeper lying would be a facet for which the resolution of the lying question would be something to move that goal forward (on a success) or backward (on a failure), but it would be interesting and the uncertainty would be conclusively resolved, one way or the other.

There's still this framing of the situation as if it's occurring in your games, with your style and your design. I can't seem to say it enough that using the goal and approach, or, more specifically, always consequence on failure, means that how the game is set-up changes a great deal. Now, if you ask for a roll, you have to be prepared to have a bad thing happen on a failure and also be prepared to conclusively resolve the uncertainty in the character's favor on a success. There's no more punting the uncertainty down the line by soft-peddling a success to keep the uncertainty but provide a vague feeling one way or the other. You have to close the deal on a success. Or, if it's a big goal, move decisively closer to resolution on a success. Thinking of the challenges this way is very different from the methods of running that are very common in older editions. You have to acknowledge the play. This is a weird thing to say, but really think about your last session -- how many times did you answer a roll vaguely versus how many times did you let a roll change the fiction (one way or the other) decisively? My game is the latter, where rolls change the fiction decisively, and that means that I have to set up challenges in a very different way than what you seem used to. Frex, there's no obstacles that aren't interesting because any failure on a roll means that things get worse, and that's something that's definitely interesting.

This is where the roll comes in. Can they tell if he is lying? If they can, then they can work to get the truth, if they can't they will assume he is not lying and that changes the nature of their investigation until they get the truth.
Personally, I see no point in a roll to let the players know that it's okay for their characters to think a thing about an NPC. If the players think the NPC is lying, they can declare actions based on that thought, and I'll adjudicate them. This may involve an Insight check, depending on the approach provided. But a roll to see if someone is lying? Meh, nope, boring. And, please note, this is my interpretation, others of the middle path do it differently.
 

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