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

pemerton

Legend
One could assume that their judgement call would be based off of the information they have been provided by the DM, including descriptions of the environment so far, the general tone of the campaign, and their basic understanding of the world
The description of the environment was simply that the building is decrepit.

How is "judging" whether or not the GM will decide that the chandelier in a decrepit house might fall if leapt on any different from guessing that same thing?

And if the answer is that the possiblity is implict in the situation and the player's knowledge of the GM's taste and table practices, then it no longer serves an example of the consequences not being known to the player! Which is what it was presented as (by [MENTION=6801845]Oofta[/MENTION]).

I believe the reference to coddling was in the idea of telling the player the consequences for all challenges or actions taken by their character.
So it's "coddling" to tell it to the players, but it's not "coddling" to wink it to them (by way of descriptions of the environment so far, the general tone of the campaign, and their basic understanding of the world)? That's not a contrast I find easy to follow. Particularly in the context of interpreting a poster who was making a big deal of not telegraphing traps.

Let's look at it another way:

The player knows chandeliers, in general, may fall under human weight. The player also knows (because the GM said so) that this building is run down. That increases the prospect that the chandelier might fall when leapt on.

The player, knowing all this, declares that his/her PC wants to leap onto the chandelier and swing across the room to pursue the assassin. The GM calls for a check, which gives rise to a chance of failure.

How is it coddling the player to tell them that, on a failed check, they will bring down the chandelier? What advantage is being ceded? The player already is uncertain as to the outcome of the action, because the check is required. What additional challenge is created by keeping the player uncertain as to what the GM thinks the result of failure should be? It's just adding more guessing on top of an already uncertain resolution process. I don't see that it makes things any harder (less coddled) for the player.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
You are right I could.

My answer is that labeling player approaches as "good" or "bad" is tone deaf at best and a practice I refuse to engage in. If I ever tell a player "That was a bad approach, so now X" in response to their declared actions, then I will have hit my lowest point as a DM.
Whether or not we're asked to say whether a thing is good or bad, we're tasked as DMs by the rules of D&D 5e to judge whether a player's approach to a goal makes the task trivial or impossible and, if neither and accompanied by a meaningful consequence of failure, to call for a roll of some kind. Do we agree on that point?
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
I'll admit I'm perplexed why there is resistance to telling the player the consequences of failure.

If helping them making an informed decision is "coddling" then I'm all for it: I'd rather have them know the stakes, so that when they decide to roll that die they know what they're rolling for. As Charlaquin says, and supports with the Hitchcock quote, the suspense is so much more delicious when you know what that stakes are.

Now, you don't have to give away every nuance of the consequence. "Sure, you can try to chop the door down, but it's going to make a lot of noise. Are you sure...?" But they don't have to know exactly what sort of creature is going to be alerted.
 
I'll admit I'm perplexed why there is resistance to telling the player the consequences of failure.
Because it's frequently not apparent.

Consider this: a pit appears bottomless, but is actually an illusion - it's really on 3 feet deep. What do you do, tell them the truth: "if you fail this roll nothing bad will happen", blatantly lie to them "you will fall to your death", or tell them nothing, thus letting them know there is something fishy about the pit, because you normally tell them what will happen?
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
Because it's frequently not apparent.

Consider this: a pit appears bottomless, but is actually an illusion - it's really on 3 feet deep. What do you do, tell them the truth: "if you fail this roll nothing bad will happen", blatantly lie to them "you will fall to your death", or tell them nothing, thus letting them know there is something fishy about the pit, because you normally tell them what will happen?
@Elfcrusher already answered this before your post:

Now, you don't have to give away every nuance of the consequence. "Sure, you can try to chop the door down, but it's going to make a lot of noise. Are you sure...?" But they don't have to know exactly what sort of creature is going to be alerted.
"If you fail, you fall into the pit". No more detail necessary. The players can be terrified until they make it across safely and then perhaps laugh at the clumsy wizard who screamed as he fell three feet, reveling the illusion.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'll admit I'm perplexed why there is resistance to telling the player the consequences of failure.

If helping them making an informed decision is "coddling" then I'm all for it: I'd rather have them know the stakes, so that when they decide to roll that die they know what they're rolling for. As Charlaquin says, and supports with the Hitchcock quote, the suspense is so much more delicious when you know what that stakes are.

Now, you don't have to give away every nuance of the consequence. "Sure, you can try to chop the door down, but it's going to make a lot of noise. Are you sure...?" But they don't have to know exactly what sort of creature is going to be alerted.
Why would they know? Much like telegraphing traps, I give my players the same information I think the PCs would know. In addition, it takes away the element of surprise.

I remember an old TV show "Kung Fu" with David Carradine back in the 70s about this guy who was a raised as a monk and went around beating up bad guys in the American old west because he was a man of peace. In any case, there was a flashback scene to his training where he had to walk a balance beam across what he was told was acid. He fell in, only to find the tank was just filled with water and the bones were fake.

My point is that (a) I'm old and (b) sometimes the consequence of failure is not what you expect. Sometimes it's not as bad, sometimes it's worse. Trying to disarm a trap and fail? Who knows what's going to happen. Maybe an alarm, maybe poison gas, maybe nothing because the acid that was supposed to spray you in the face dried up long ago but it turns your face purple for the next week.

Most people I play with enjoy that moment of wondering "what happens if I fail" and "oh, crap, a 1. What happens?" I know I do.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
Why would they know? Much like telegraphing traps, I give my players the same information I think the PCs would know. In addition, it takes away the element of surprise.

I remember an old TV show "Kung Fu" with David Carradine back in the 70s about this guy who was a raised as a monk and went around beating up bad guys in the American old west because he was a man of peace. In any case, there was a flashback scene to his training where he had to walk a balance beam across what he was told was acid. He fell in, only to find the tank was just filled with water and the bones were fake.

My point is that (a) I'm old and (b) sometimes the consequence of failure is not what you expect. Sometimes it's not as bad, sometimes it's worse. Trying to disarm a trap and fail? Who knows what's going to happen. Maybe an alarm, maybe poison gas, maybe nothing because the acid that was supposed to spray you in the face dried up long ago but it turns your face purple for the next week.

Most people I play with enjoy that moment of wondering "what happens if I fail" and "oh, crap, a 1. What happens?" I know I do.
And again:

Now, you don't have to give away every nuance of the consequence. "Sure, you can try to chop the door down, but it's going to make a lot of noise. Are you sure...?" But they don't have to know exactly what sort of creature is going to be alerted.
"If you fail, you are going to fall into the vat." or maybe "if you fail by 5 or more, you are going to fall into the vat, if you fail by less than 5, I'll give you a chance to grab the beam as you fall."
The contents of the vat have been telegraphed and the player is now aware of the failure consequence. The player can still have their moment of wondering what happens at "splash!".
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
And again:



"If you fail, you are going to fall into the vat." or maybe "if you fail you are going to fail by 5 or more, you are going to fall into the vat, if you fail by less than 5, I'll give you a chance to grab the beam as you fall."
The contents of the vat have been telegraphed and the player is now aware of the failure consequence. The player can still have their moment of wondering what happens at "splash!".
Sometimes the apparent consequence of failure will be apparent, sometimes it won't. Sometimes there's no way of knowing, sometimes it's complex with varying degrees of complete and utter failure up to a stunning success.

I'm going to communicate everything pertinent to the scene that I think the PCs would know, What the consequences of failure or success are is up to the players to figure out from that information. I don't play D&D the Board Game, I don't tell them things their PCs would not know.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
Sometimes the apparent consequence of failure will be apparent, sometimes it won't. Sometimes there's no way of knowing, sometimes it's complex with varying degrees of complete and utter failure up to a stunning success.
Mostly agreed, except for the "no way of knowing" part. In our games, experienced adventurers have some sense of the consequences of failure in their actions. Might be just a completely vague sense, but it is there.

I'm going to communicate everything pertinent to the scene that I think the PCs would know,
Same here.

What the consequences of failure or success are is up to the players to figure out from that information.
Now, I know you don't play a "gotcha" style as I believe you've stated as much before and you've mentioned that you've been a highly sought after DM for over a decade (paraphrasing here - can't find the actual quote), so that wouldn't jive with "gotcha" DMing. But, if the players don't truly don't know the consequences of their actions - or at least have some sense of them - then one is treading that dangerous ground of being accused of "gotcha" DMing.

I don't play D&D the Board Game, I don't tell them things their PCs would not know.
Same here.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
And again:



"If you fail, you are going to fall into the vat." or maybe "if you fail by 5 or more, you are going to fall into the vat, if you fail by less than 5, I'll give you a chance to grab the beam as you fall."
The contents of the vat have been telegraphed and the player is now aware of the failure consequence. The player can still have their moment of wondering what happens at "splash!".
Since the character would see a cat, see a beam and reasonably obvious to them that falling off would have a chance to fall into said , it seems like this is challenging the assertion with an example that fits the category of "what character would know."

Seems odd.

This is a far very much different thing from blanket statements like "all traps are telegraphed" and the like.

I too am in the camp of the scene and what is "seen" being the basis for the info the character and player gets. ("Seen" being not just sight, obviously.)

Unlike movies, the player is a participant, not just a viewer. So, I dont need to hand them outside info to ramp up drama. I want the drama to come thru and from the character and that perspective, I find the lore of a skew that exists between what a player knows about the immediate perils and what the character knows about them, the more speed bumps one creates for that whole "being a character" bit.

It cznt be completely eliminated, but I sure dont have to go full hog the other way and script every trap to be telegraphed or an explicit statement of odds and results like fail by 5 and... etc.

Unless it's something mysterious or unknown they should get an idea from the scene just like their characters do.

I manage to achieve that without the extremes.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Mostly agreed, except for the "no way of knowing" part. In our games, experienced adventurers have some sense of the consequences of failure in their actions. Might be just a completely vague sense, but it is there.



Same here.



Now, I know you don't play a "gotcha" style as I believe you've stated as much before and you've mentioned that you've been a highly sought after DM for over a decade (paraphrasing here - can't find the actual quote), so that wouldn't jive with "gotcha" DMing. But, if the players don't truly don't know the consequences of their actions - or at least have some sense of them - then one is treading that dangerous ground of being accused of "gotcha" DMing.



Same here.
A player can always ask "can I tell what happens if..." and I will make sure the the scene is clear and possibly give an appropriate skill check which reflects their experience as an adventurer. However, they don't get "spidey sense" unless there's a rules justification for it. I don't do this to play "gotcha", but sometimes the unexpected happens.

Sometimes there's just no way to know what's going to happen if you push that big red button. To me, that's part of the tension, and the drama, of the game.
 
@Elfcrusher already answered this before your post:



"If you fail, you fall into the pit". No more detail necessary. The players can be terrified until they make it across safely and then perhaps laugh at the clumsy wizard who screamed as he fell three feet, reveling the illusion.

But it's blindingly obvious if the player is making a skill roll to jump across a pit that they will fall if they fail, there is no need to state it, and quite frankly it's an insult to the player's intelligence to do so.

So there are two possibilities: either the consequence of failure is obvious, or the consequence of failure will only be revealed if it happens. In either case, there is no reason for the DM to say anything until it actually happens.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
A player can always ask "can I tell what happens if..." and I will make sure the the scene is clear and possibly give an appropriate skill check which reflects their experience as an adventurer. However, they don't get "spidey sense" unless there's a rules justification for it. I don't do this to play "gotcha", but sometimes the unexpected happens.
Agreed. All I am saying is that, in our game, the player gets to have a sense of what happens upon failure. Maybe not the full picture, but enough to allow them to determine if they really want to try the action or not. The tension and drama occur when they risk it anyway (which they almost always do) or regroup to figure out another way.

Sometimes there's just no way to know what's going to happen if you push that big red button. To me, that's part of the tension, and the drama, of the game.
Perhaps the "big red button" is just a metaphor, but pushing a button is not in the same ability check category as these other challenges we are describing - smashing down a door, leaping across a pit, or getting across a beam. The PC either pushes the button or they don't. I don't think any style of play is going to makes someone roll for that and there's no need to provide a consequence of failure. What happens after the PC pushes the button certainly could be a mystery assuming, for example, there's no label near the button and/or an NPC who could tell them what happens. But, we're kinda off topic here.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
But it's blindingly obvious if the player is making a skill roll to jump across a pit that they will fall if they fail, there is no need to state it, and quite frankly it's an insult to the player's intelligence to do so.

So there are two possibilities: either the consequence of failure is obvious, or the consequence of failure will only be revealed if it happens. In either case, there is no reason for the DM to say anything until it actually happens.
Not disagreeing with you but... the third possibility is that the consequence is not obvious **but** there are ways the PCs can try and determine it or mitigate it. Some of these efforts may have their own consequences in time, resources, risks of their own (noise, tracks, etc)

Net result is not just two cases but a spectrum, none of which require a GM to Player declaration be explicit, especially by default.

I myself get quickly turned off of RPGs or systems where every resolution brings the GM up front with a sort of negotiation to set the stage for the resolution. The more we need to overtly spend time on out of scene stuff to get thru events, the more I get driven away from a scene and the less I enjoy it. I have left aside more than a few rpg systems for this very reason.

But, this is a statement of preference and experience. Others will vary.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
But it's blindingly obvious if the player is making a skill roll to jump across a pit that they will fall if they fail, there is no need to state it, and quite frankly it's an insult to the player's intelligence to do so.

So there are two possibilities: either the consequence of failure is obvious, or the consequence of failure will only be revealed if it happens. In either case, there is no reason for the DM to say anything until it actually happens.
The scenario is perhaps over-simplified. A consequence of failure might not be blindingly obvious: if you fail, you make it across the pit but hit your head on the low tunnel ceiling taking 1d6 bludgeoning damage. Or if you fail, you make it across just barely and will be hanging onto the lip of the pit. The consequence of failure need not be obvious nor only revealed if it happens.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I frequently comment that IMO many or most GMs should run a few diceless games. My experience is it helps them get perspective, experiences and techniques that carry over into diced games and may make them better.

That has some applicability here.

I am sure it's very efficient to have before every check a formal statement of success/fail/stakes and/or negotiation to set those. I am sure it after a while becomes quick. For those who value getting a lot done in a session of preventing any lack of clarity, that's great, I am sure.

But, I am also sure that in many cases it risks *becoming* the important part because you are not needing to rely on all that scene description to convey the info, the real info is in the stakes-fu dialog. It's just not as important to create the living and robust scene and depict it in detail when the **actual decisions** will be defined and made in the stakes-fu dialog.

In my diceless games, the systems and play taught me to look at the scene, its setup and descriptions as not just atmosphere but as meaningful. In some games, the emphasis is tone and flavor and using scenery for that. In some the scenery spices up things but is mostly just setting.

In diceless games, choice is the randomizer and the focus on scenery is its meaningful use to shift the outcome. So, you get used to thinking in terms of how scenery matters to the play, how it can be used, etc and especially in how to convey that sufficiently by description. Its important to make the scene and scenery you describe as "vital" to the outcomes.

That followed me into my diced games and so I took how we depict the scene, what the character sees etc as "vital" not just tone or setting.

If instead we all know there will be an explicit stakes-fu dialog where the scenery, scene or choices get boiled down to "the actual facts and choices "buy" the numbers" in a stakes negotiation before a choice is ever made, then that descriptive stuff becomes far less critical. It becomes akin to the campaign speech waiting before the actual policy in writing.

To me, and my players, i have seen things like that detract from the overall enjoyment more than they add.

So we rely on the in-character stuff for the choices, the drama, the expectations and all that scenery and description over more meta-game stakes and solutions.

But that us, not for everyone.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
But it's blindingly obvious if the player is making a skill roll to jump across a pit that they will fall if they fail, there is no need to state it, and quite frankly it's an insult to the player's intelligence to do so.

So there are two possibilities: either the consequence of failure is obvious, or the consequence of failure will only be revealed if it happens. In either case, there is no reason for the DM to say anything until it actually happens.
I disagree. The assumed consequence would be falling in the vat, but maybe there's some other complication here. I would think it's unfair to the players to let them think that a failure means falling into the pit, but then when they fail you spring some other surprise consequence on them. So if the consequence is falling, just tell them. As DM Dave said, they don't have to know what's in the pit. Maybe it's illusory? (But if there's some trick it should also be discoverable.)

I dunno, I just think it's more suspenseful and immersive (in the sense of emotional investment, not in the "perfect simulation" sense) to drop ominous hints. Done right it both raises the dramatic tension and avoids players feeling like they've been gotcha'd.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Agreed. All I am saying is that, in our game, the player gets to have a sense of what happens upon failure. Maybe not the full picture, but enough to allow them to determine if they really want to try the action or not. The tension and drama occur when they risk it anyway (which they almost always do) or regroup to figure out another way.



Perhaps the "big red button" is just a metaphor, but pushing a button is not in the same ability check category as these other challenges we are describing - smashing down a door, leaping across a pit, or getting across a beam. The PC either pushes the button or they don't. I don't think any style of play is going to makes someone roll for that and there's no need to provide a consequence of failure. What happens after the PC pushes the button certainly could be a mystery assuming, for example, there's no label near the button and/or an NPC who could tell them what happens. But, we're kinda off topic here.
Yeah maybe I should have put [METAPHOR]big red button[/METAPHOR]. ;)

In a lot of my campaigns there are frequently numerous [METAPHOR]big red buttons[/METAPHOR], and not just related to skill challenges. Whom do you trust? What do you believe when there's conflicting evidence? Who's really behind the metaphorical curtain pulling the levers?

But it really depends on the campaign and the players. Basically it's just one technique I try to use to make the game fun for everyone.

As far as knowing all possible consequences even though my PC would not, no thanks. Just not the kind of game I would want to play.
 
I disagree. The assumed consequence would be falling in the vat, but maybe there's some other complication here. I would think it's unfair to the players to let them think that a failure means falling into the pit, but then when they fail you spring some other surprise consequence on them. So if the consequence is falling, just tell them. As DM Dave said, they don't have to know what's in the pit. Maybe it's illusory? (But if there's some trick it should also be discoverable.)

I dunno, I just think it's more suspenseful and immersive (in the sense of emotional investment, not in the "perfect simulation" sense) to drop ominous hints. Done right it both raises the dramatic tension and avoids players feeling like they've been gotcha'd.
That's the point of not telling them: let them assume. If they assumed wrong, that's their fault. Life aint predictable, and sometimes failing might lead to a better outcome than success.

The only exception is when something would be apparent to the characters that might not be apparent to the players. For example a low overhead beam. Even then, only tell them what their characters notice, not the outcome.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Because it's frequently not apparent.

Consider this: a pit appears bottomless, but is actually an illusion - it's really on 3 feet deep. What do you do, tell them the truth: "if you fail this roll nothing bad will happen", blatantly lie to them "you will fall to your death", or tell them nothing, thus letting them know there is something fishy about the pit, because you normally tell them what will happen?
I don’t call for a roll, because there is no consequence for failure.
 

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