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

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That's the thing, right? There's basically nothing interesting or exciting or suspenseful about the occasional trap going off because nobody's passive Perception was high enough. What's interesting is knowing the trap is there, coming up with a plan to avoid/disarm it, and then crossing your fingers that it works. And the problem with just "rolling to disarm" is that you know you're doing the correct thing. The optimal strategy, for the "use a skill" crowd, is to pick the guy with the highest bonus and have him roll. You aren't left wondering, "Is this the right way to do it? Should we have tried something different? Wait...maybe I'm not ready yet." And it's that wondering while you wait for resolution, whether or not there's a die roll, that adds to the suspense. A.k.a. "immersion".
I don't know about "immersion" which I consider a laughable buzzword that gets thrown around like "metagaming," but depending on how a trap is presented and adjudicated by the DM, it can basically be just random number generation affected by whatever choices the player made during character creation. Whether anyone finds that fun is up to them.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Yeah, I was both clear in my first post, and then re-explained in my next post, why I included that as a possible outcome (because it is). But if it makes you feel better to get a "win" by continuing to misinterpret this point so that you can dismiss it as a strawman, then you got me, too. I guess.

But as long as we're on the topic, has anybody here (besides me) ever been in a game where the randomness of traps and secret doors led to essentially constant checks for traps (or secret doors), literally in every square along every wall and floor in an entire dungeon? Oofta apparently doesn't take my word for it, but maybe if somebody else raises their hand he'll publicly retract his 'strawman' assertion and apologize.

Hmm? Hmm?
If there is no telegraphing and the DM doesn't use passive checks, then what you propose is the smart play provided there are no disincentives for doing so. I've certainly observed games and played in them where that was the case. It's less common nowadays in my experience, but does come up in games where the DM doesn't like passive checks and with DMs for whom telegraphing is a foreign concept.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
I don't know about "immersion" which I consider a laughable buzzword that gets thrown around like "metagaming," but depending on how a trap is presented and adjudicated by the DM, it can basically be just random number generation affected by whatever choices the player made during character creation. Whether anyone finds that fun is up to them.
That's why I put "immersion" in quotes. Usually it used to mean, "My favorite form of realism is rigidly adhered to." As if the player is so absorbed in the game they forget that it's not reality, until somebody swims in plate armor or falls 100 feet without dying uses fire on trolls, or whatever. And then suddenly they find themselves sitting at a table covered in dice, minis, and empty mountain dew cans, going "WTF...I thought I was fighting the Lich King. Man, that totally blew my immersion."

No, I'm just using it to mean the player is feeling emotions that are something like what their imaginary character would be feeling. E.g., you are tense/nervous/stressed when you try to get past the trap.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
For me, a meaningful definition I like to use for "telegraphing" is as follows.


If a general statement of the circumstance would lead players and PCs to think "there are traps here" it's not telegraphing - its just established world consistency. "Going into the hidden crypt of lost king ehere thry ssy lots of loot is buried" is not "telegraphing traps any more than "got to the vault door" is or that "we are eating at La Pasta Georgino" counts as telegraphing we are eating Italian tonight.

If the general open for all boxed text (in module terms) of a scene or portion of a scene includes tells without PC checks involved that there are traps or dangers or hidden stuff - that ***is*** telegraphing because it comes down to specifics open yo all *players *.

If the non-open interactions with scene provide for PC checks to reveal there are traps, hidden stuff etc *if* they meet certain DCs and conditions, then that is *not* telegraphing. It requires PC related checks.

So, to me, telegraphing is in the middle of the spectrum, not so broadly inclusive as to become practically mesninhless.
 

Chaosmancer

Villager
I think the finding of the trap is the least interesting part about them. It's figuring out how to bypass or disable them that is the real challenge.
That's the thing, right? There's basically nothing interesting or exciting or suspenseful about the occasional trap going off because nobody's passive Perception was high enough. What's interesting is knowing the trap is there, coming up with a plan to avoid/disarm it, and then crossing your fingers that it works. And the problem with just "rolling to disarm" is that you know you're doing the correct thing. The optimal strategy, for the "use a skill" crowd, is to pick the guy with the highest bonus and have him roll. You aren't left wondering, "Is this the right way to do it? Should we have tried something different? Wait...maybe I'm not ready yet." And it's that wondering while you wait for resolution, whether or not there's a die roll, that adds to the suspense. A.k.a. "immersion".
Sure, but unless they are pretty elaborate traps, it isn't terribly hard to figure out how to bypass or disable them. If I'm going to build a trap for someone to disable and deal with, I'm going to make it a whole thing. Otherwise, it just isn't worth the time.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Sure, but unless they are pretty elaborate traps, it isn't terribly hard to figure out how to bypass or disable them. If I'm going to build a trap for someone to disable and deal with, I'm going to make it a whole thing. Otherwise, it just isn't worth the time.
That sounds like an argument FOR "pretty elaborate traps" to me.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Sure, but unless they are pretty elaborate traps, it isn't terribly hard to figure out how to bypass or disable them. If I'm going to build a trap for someone to disable and deal with, I'm going to make it a whole thing. Otherwise, it just isn't worth the time.
Exactly.

I wouldn’t use a single orc as a combat encounter for a high level party. Likewise I wouldn’t bother putting a trap in their way that gets resolved by rolling one die without thinking.
 

pemerton

Legend
If some of us are questioning un-telegraphed traps, the question we are asking is "what is the point?" Your answer to that question seems to be "because in a real world traps would NOT be telegraphed, so it feels more realistic to have them be a total surprise."

Ok, fair enough. I (and I assume others) believe there are all sorts of 'realistic' things that don't actually add to the fun of a game. It would be realistic for sword wounds to leave a lot of adventurers crippled, for example, but I don't find that sort of realism to be a particularly fun way to play RPGs. Some do.

So maybe the question is why does this particular form of realism make the game more fun?

If using completely un-telegraphed, totally random traps, there seem to be a few ways (as I mentioned elsewhere) that this can unfold in play:
1) Players are rewarded for either constantly looking for traps, or randomly doing so and lucking out.
2) Players are rewarded for having a high passive Perception.
3) DM rolls in secret and players are rewarded for having high (normal) Perception.
4) Traps are random consumers of resources by causing damage in unavoidable ways.

Now, a lot of those options are pretty common in D&D, historically. Over the years I've played using all those mechanisms. But, since the "board game" insult has been used by others, those all feel a lot more board-gamey to me. You roll your dice, move your piece, and maybe you land on somebody else's Hotel. Or the lich's death-trap, as the case may be.

So really this comes back to the "player skill" or "challenging the player" thing: I'd just rather play (and DM) where the human players have to pay attention for hints and then use those hints to make meaningful decisions. And by "meaningful decisions" I mean informed decisions with risk:reward tradeoff that will impact the game state either way.
I think there's another possibility. To me, it seems to lie behind some of the posts in this thread (eg [MENTION=6801228]Chaosmancer[/MENTION], maybe [MENTION=6801845]Oofta[/MENTION]) although of course I could be drawing mistaken inferences from what they've said.

5) The presence from time-to-time of "random"/"untelegraphed" traps - some of which are triggered, some of which are narrated in advance by the GM to those players playing PCs with certain Passive Perception skills - reinforces the players' sense of setting and/or story.​

Used in this way, traps aren't about rewarding players for skilled play or skilled build, nor about consuming resources. Their function is about establishing a certain fiction/feeling, not about "beating the dungeon".
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
I think there's another possibility. To me, it seems to lie behind some of the posts in this thread (eg @Chaosmancer, maybe @Oofta) although of course I could be drawing mistaken inferences from what they've said.
5) The presence from time-to-time of "random"/"untelegraphed" traps - some of which are triggered, some of which are narrated in advance by the GM to those players playing PCs with certain Passive Perception skills - reinforces the players' sense of setting and/or story.​

Used in this way, traps aren't about rewarding players for skilled play or skilled build, nor about consuming resources. Their function is about establishing a certain fiction/feeling, not about "beating the dungeon".
EDIT: Wait, I mis-read what you were saying slightly. I missed the part about some of them getting triggered.

You're making a category error. You are proposing a new reason for putting in those traps, but my list was about the impact on gameplay. So, yeah, the purpose may be to establish mood, but how does it drive player behavior?

I would totally be down with simply narrating that the best trap-finder in the party finds some traps, without even setting a DC or comparing to a passive score. Just for establishing a mood (or, better yet, for telegraphing the tougher traps ahead...but that's something else.)

But if some of those random traps get triggered, what kind of incentive does that create for the players? Maybe they don't start searching literally every 5 feet, but aren't they going to revert to board game mentality and start calling out "I search for traps!" at every likely spot?
 
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pemerton

Legend
You're making a category error. You are proposing a new reason for putting in those traps, but my list was about the impact on gameplay. So, yeah, the purpose may be to establish mood, but how does it drive player behavior?

I would totally be down with simply narrating that the best trap-finder in the party finds some traps, without even setting a DC or comparing to a passive score. Just for establishing a mood (or, better yet, for telegraphing the tougher traps ahead...but that's something else.)

But if some of those random traps get triggered, what kind of incentive does that create for the players? Maybe they don't start searching literally every 5 feet, but aren't they going to revert to board game mentality and start calling out "I search for traps!" at every likely spot?
I dunno - I don't play games in which "establishing mood" is an important part of play. But there are a number of posters for whom this seems very important, perhaps even the principal goal of play.

Maybe they don't declare searches every 5 feet because (i) that would spoil the mood, and (ii) they rely on the GM to regulate the number and effect of traps. But really, you'd have to ask them.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I dunno - I don't play games in which "establishing mood" is an important part of play. But there are a number of posters for whom this seems very important, perhaps even the principal goal of play.

Maybe they don't declare searches every 5 feet because (i) that would spoil the mood, and (ii) they rely on the GM to regulate the number and effect of traps. But really, you'd have to ask them.
Man, if you're putting untelegraphed traps in your dungeons to establish a mood, and the optimal player strategy for safely dealing with these untelegraphed traps spoils the mood... I dunno, doesn't seem like a very effective approach to the stated goal.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I can only speak for myself, sometimes traps are set dressing sometimes they're a a threat. In most cases it's a background feature that reinforces the fiction of the campaign world.

For example, kobolds (and to a slightly lesser degree goblins) are known for using traps. If the PCs are low enough level that detecting and removing the traps is uncertain, I rely on passive perceptions or investigation to detect them and they need to be disarmed or bypassed. As stated, this primarily means telling me they're moving slowly and cautiously. At a certain point if the party's skills are high enough this could become automatic unless the party is trying to move quickly.

On the other hand ogres don't do traps. They smash.

Traps are rarely a focus of my game, they're basically flavor text. Flavor text that could blow you up if you're not careful or unlucky but flavor text nonetheless.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
One other thing that keeps seeming to come up is that using skills to overcome an obstacle is "boring". Do you ever have people use survival to track? Athletics to climb a wall or force open a door? Maybe an acrobatics check to walk along a narrow ledge or walk quickly across ice?

I don't see finding and removing traps any different. I use a mix of challenges, with a mix of solutions. Everything from a straight die roll based on PC stats to challenges that have little to do with the PC. Most fall somewhere in between.
 

Ristamar

Explorer
One other thing that keeps seeming to come up is that using skills to overcome an obstacle is "boring".
If meaningful choices don't often preclude the die roll, the act of simply rolling can become tedious. No different than fights with foregone conclusions that drag out far too long.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If meaningful choices don't often preclude the die roll, the act of simply rolling can become tedious. No different than fights with foregone conclusions that drag out far too long.
If combat is just a slog vs a bag of hit points, that's a problem. No different than out of combat challenges.

I don't see a difference, and what is enjoyable for one group or individual may not be for another. Die rolls for resolving out of combat challenges is just one tool in the box. I use a variety.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
If combat is just a slog vs a bag of hit points, that's a problem. No different than out of combat challenges.

I don't see a difference, and what is enjoyable for one group or individual may not be for another. Die rolls for resolving out of combat challenges is just one tool in the box. I use a variety.
Yeah this last exchangexwas confusing to me. I dont get the linkage between rolling skill checks to resolve a challenge or obstacle and combats with foregone conclusions, particularly as regards to 5e.

When fights look to the participants like foregone conclusions, that easily time or past time that things should be changing... right? One side or the other tries other solutions like flight, surrender, bargaining, evasion and delay for help, etc etc etc.

Similarly, I suppose maybe superficially to a check where (with fails open to progress with setback) a lot of different outcomes are possible.

Nothing really "foregone" there.

Beyond "anything can be boring if you choose to make it so" these foregones and so on seem less like most rpg play I have experienced.
 

Satyrn

Villager
One other thing that keeps seeming to come up is that using skills to overcome an obstacle is "boring".
It's not that using skills to overcome an obstacle is boring.

What's boring is the DM laying out the obstacle and asking for the skill check to overcome it, with the players major involvement in the scene being to roll some dice. *Sigh* I've done that before:"As you head along the cliff, you come across narrow ledge. Give me a balance check" and "those of you entering the passage, give me a Spot check . . . you notice a tripwire that connects to a crossbow."

There just wasn't enough player input in those scenes to be exciting or worth bothering with at all. And yes, those are real examples from my time DMing 3e, examples I remember because they remind me that I should do better.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It's not that using skills to overcome an obstacle is boring.

What's boring is the DM laying out the obstacle and asking for the skill check to overcome it, with the players major involvement in the scene being to roll some dice. *Sigh* I've done that before:"As you head along the cliff, you come across narrow ledge. Give me a balance check" and "those of you entering the passage, give me a Spot check . . . you notice a tripwire that connects to a crossbow."

There just wasn't enough player input in those scenes to be exciting or worth bothering with at all. And yes, those are real examples from my time DMing 3e, examples I remember because they remind me that I should do better.
This reminds me of the DMs who out of nowhere go "Uhhhh, give me a.... Perception check..." without an action declaration by the player preceding the request. It's like the DM is asking permission of the dice to describe the environment. Super common in my experience.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
If combat is just a slog vs a bag of hit points, that's a problem. No different than out of combat challenges.

I don't see a difference, and what is enjoyable for one group or individual may not be for another. Die rolls for resolving out of combat challenges is just one tool in the box. I use a variety.
The bold part is absolutely true, and perhaps I should be prefacing a lot of my statements with "in my opinion". But, yes, definitely: when I say something is boring and uninteresting I mean for me. YMMV.

Anyway, back to the dice rolling...

What I don't like is a situation where there's an obstacle (a trap, a lock, a wall, a ledge) that is clearly meant to be solved one and only one way, and that involves a win or lose dice roll.

I prefer trade-offs. Two different options, each of which may or may not require some kind of roll, with different benefits/risks. An example would be the "pick the lock and take time, or smash the door and alert the ogre" example previously. I like that.

If there's a ledge to be crossed with Acrobatics, I want to know what the other option is. Can I go around the long way and make a Stealth check to avoid waking something up? Or maybe it will cost me time?

What I find uninspired and uninteresting, mostly because it doesn't require me to make any decisions, are pure skill check/resource consumption obstacles. The DM could just save time by saying, "Ok, everybody with less than +5 in Acrobatics, take 7 damage. Everybody else is fine." And it honestly wouldn't be any more or less engaging for me. If rolling the die isn't a calculated risk, I'm not invested in it.

I played in an adventure last night and we had a choice of two paths. We chose one, and stumbled into a trap (involving some grease, a ramp, a pit, and bad guys, so it wasn't just a single roll). Before we made the choice we looked around, but there were no clues as to which path we should take, or what the trade-off might be in taking them. And I guess we failed passive Perception checks or something, because the trap was just sprung on us and we all had to make Dex saving throws. But it felt like something that was done to us, rather than something we got ourselves into to, because we only had one decision to make along the way, and it was made randomly because we had no information. We were just along for the ride.

Once we were actually in the pit (I failed my save) we could start making decisions again, and from there on I was engaged again. It was a fun fight.
 

Satyrn

Villager
This reminds me of the DMs who out of nowhere go "Uhhhh, give me a.... Perception check..." without an action declaration by the player preceding the request. It's like the DM is asking permission of the dice to describe the environment. Super common in my experience.
That was me for most of 3e!
 

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