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

5ekyu

Adventurer
That was me for most of 3e!
It was me last night.

Group was moving thru a crowd when someone sneaky in the crowd got close enough to whisper to one of them. The others who made a certain degree of perception were close enough or looking in the right direction and not next to someone else bring loud in the chaotic scene to notice it and maybe hear what was whispered.

The die roll covered the uncertainty in the scene and their own perception scores (and languages) made a difference.

Now, whether or not those who heard it, saw the speaker or understood the Message choose to share it is up to them, but at the table, those who made it saw meaning in having done so.
 

Satyrn

Villager
Quoting Myself For Great Justice!

That was me for most of 3e!
I meant to also say that I started DMing so much better when I adopted what I think of as the AD&D mindset. I didn't change the rules of 3e, I just started asking the players "whaddya do?" instead of n telling them whatta do.

And then 5e came along doing the same! I wasn't even part of the playtest . . . I'm glad you were, though, @iserith. :p
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
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.
Ugh, no choice, just a random number generator to determine the starting position for the fight. DM could have just rolled on a chart, put your characters where he or she wanted, and asked for initiative. The Dex saves and possibly passive Perception check is just a thin veneer that some choice you made during character creation or advancement mattered to the situation. And who knows if going left instead of right would have resulted in a different outcome in the first place.

I do have sympathy for some DMs though. The DMG has some decent rules for presenting and resolving traps, but as is clear from these discussions, it doesn't seem like anyone actually reads the book that tells the DM how to perform his or her role. Xanathar's has even better stuff for traps, but not every group uses that book and, if they do, it's typically just skimmed for PC options from what I see. So taken together, DMs are really kind of left to their own devices on how to present and resolve traps and many end up exactly with what you experienced above. Many don't even know that there's another way where player choice during play actually matters.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I do have sympathy for some DMs though. The DMG has some decent rules for presenting and resolving traps, but as is clear from these discussions, it doesn't seem like anyone actually reads the book that tells the DM how to perform his or her role. Xanathar's has even better stuff for traps, but not every group uses that book and, if they do, it's typically just skimmed for PC options from what I see. So taken together, DMs are really kind of left to their own devices on how to present and resolve traps and many end up exactly with what you experienced above. Many don't even know that there's another way where player choice during play actually matters.
Hmmmm.

IME, most DMs learn not from reading the DMG (or any particular book) but from:

1. Playing and observing the DM; and then-

2. DMing themselves (trial and error), hopefully with a good table to give them positive feedback while they are learning.


Maybe we can toss in some youtube watching in as well for that newfangled approach. ;)

IOW, I don't think that many (any?) DMs ever really learn from reading, as opposed to doing. Not that they can't pick up tips here and there, but it's very much a skill learned in practice.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
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.
My favorite is when the DM does this, the player gets a really low roll, and the DM goes “Uhh... Well, I guess you’d still be able to notice [whatever], but you almost missed it!” That was a thing I used to do a lot, when the PCs really needed to find a particular detail of the environment to make progress, like a hidden door or tracks or something. I remember in the 3e era it was a sort of hobbywide in-joke that there was no point investing in tracking abilities because of it matters to the adventure, you’ll find the tracks no matter what, and if it doesn’t, there won’t be tracks to find.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
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.
Taking the narrow ledge as an example, how else would you deal with it? I'd set the scene something like: "The trail ahead turns treacherous. It looks like an avalanche took out about 20 feet of trail. There's a narrow ledge that goes down to a few inches in a few places for the entire section. There are no hand-holds in the otherwise smooth rocks, you're going to have to rely on your balance to get across. If you fall, it's going to be at least 50 feet down to the trail below. What do you do?"

At this point they may send someone ahead, perhaps using a climber's kit to anchor them. Maybe someone misty steps or uses some other spell. Hopefully they figure out some way to get that tank character with an 8 dex across. What I wouldn't do is tell them how to overcome the obstacle, although if they climb along it I will call for a dexterity (acrobatics) check. If I repeatedly throw this, that would be boring so I won't.

Having to do this is quite a common trope in fiction. I can't remember the last time I did this specific scenario but I'm sure I've done this or similar. I don't know how else you would do it if you've decided as a DM that it makes sense.

To put it another way, I want people who invested in acrobatics to shine now and then. This is just one.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Hmmmm.

IME, most DMs learn not from reading the DMG (or any particular book) but from:

1. Playing and observing the DM; and then-

2. DMing themselves (trial and error), hopefully with a good table to give them positive feedback while they are learning.


Maybe we can toss in some youtube watching in as well for that newfangled approach. ;)

IOW, I don't think that many (any?) DMs ever really learn from reading, as opposed to doing. Not that they can't pick up tips here and there, but it's very much a skill learned in practice.
It shows.

Reading and doing is my approach to the goal. Plus arguing on enworld.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
My favorite is when the DM does this, the player gets a really low roll, and the DM goes “Uhh... Well, I guess you’d still be able to notice [whatever], but you almost missed it!”
Yes! I've seen that a lot, too. Probably did it myself back in the day. Modules as I recall often presented information this way ahead of the boxed text (if I remember correctly). Make some rolls to determine what everyone knows and sees, then describe the environment accordingly.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
It shows.

Reading and doing is my approach to the goal. Plus arguing on enworld.
Oh, c'mon.

I don't argue on enworld to be a better DM.

I argue on enworld for the same reason as everyone else- to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women!
 

Satyrn

Villager
Taking the narrow ledge as an example, how else would you deal with it? I'd set the scene something like: "The trail ahead turns treacherous. It looks like an avalanche took out about 20 feet of trail. There's a narrow ledge that goes down to a few inches in a few places for the entire section. There are no hand-holds in the otherwise smooth rocks, you're going to have to rely on your balance to get across. If you fall, it's going to be at least 50 feet down to the trail below. What do you do?"
Yeah that's way better than what I did. And it's not at all what I described myself doing in the post you quoted. I mean, I did what I said: described a narrow ledge, and asked for a skill check.


Do you realize what you've described is a good example of what the "other side" is talking about? Telegraphing, scene setting, challenging the player, making the players' choices matter, however we've been describing it.

Edit: and the rest of your quote for context:

At this point they may send someone ahead, perhaps using a climber's kit to anchor them. Maybe someone misty steps or uses some other spell. Hopefully they figure out some way to get that tank character with an 8 dex across. What I wouldn't do is tell them how to overcome the obstacle, although if they climb along it I will call for a dexterity (acrobatics) check. If I repeatedly throw this, that would be boring so I won't.

Having to do this is quite a common trope in fiction. I can't remember the last time I did this specific scenario but I'm sure I've done this or similar. I don't know how else you would do it if you've decided as a DM that it makes sense.


To put it another way, I want people who invested in acrobatics to shine now and then. This is just one.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Do you realize what you've described is a good example of what the "other side" is talking about? Telegraphing, scene setting, challenging the player, making the players' choices matter, however we've been describing it.
I would say that there's a lot of gray areas. The ledge example may play out much the same other than I'd be okay if the response to my "what do you do" is "I make an acrobatics check 15 to get across".

I would also say that sometimes I do call for specific checks if it is called for by an external event or one that is not "telegraphed". Let's say the group is walking down a staircase in an abandoned building and it starts to collapse. I may call for acrobatics checks to avoid going prone and potentially falling. Event then the wizard could cast feather fall to avoid making an acrobatics check.

I don't do that often, but sometimes the unexpected happens. I see it the same as the party getting surprised by a fireball and everybody needs to make dex saves because the enemy wizard was invisible when they entered the room and the enemy got the drop on the party. Or like that time my friend had a goose commit suicide-by-car by dive bombing them as they drove down the highway. Nobody advertised kamikaze goose, it just happened. Now she did have a choice afterwards and could have stopped by a car wash and been late for her appointment rather than having to deal with goose smear that had been baking on a hot black car all day. But that was after the fact.
 
I don't know about "immersion" which I consider a laughable buzzword that gets thrown around like "metagaming."
Hey, that is totally unfair!

… to the word "metagaming."

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?
There were old-school campaigns that /weren't/ like that?

You're not pulling my leg, are you?

Of course, that was the olden days, when paranoia was rife (and not it's own RPG yet).


Then again, I saw that sort of thing come back with 3e, and it's Search skill and take 20 rules...

… "Do you even realize how long taking 20 on every 5x5 surface in the room is going to take?"

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.
The Simulationist Mystique …


One other thing that keeps seeming to come up is that using skills to overcome an obstacle is "boring".
It is a single binary check. Imagine how riveting combat would be if, instead of fighters, armor, weapons & hps, we had a Fighting Skill, that you rolled to determine which side won a given battle.


… actually, that'd at least put the poor Fighter class out of its misery.
 
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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
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.
Yeah I’m guilty of that, trying to wean myself off it.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Yeah I’m guilty of that, trying to wean myself off it.
Yeah man, probably most of us have done that. Some likely still do it and don't have a problem with it.

It's a habit people pick up from other DMs or from other games.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm a bit confused. Why is it wrong to ask the players for a perception check without them declaring an action? I mean, things happen in the world that the PCs may or may not notice, right? :confused:
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
I'm a bit confused. Why is it wrong to ask the players for a perception check without them declaring an action? I mean, things happen in the world that the PCs may or may not notice, right? :confused:
I was trying to figure out how it's possible to not understand why so many people have moved away from that DMing style (not that it's "wrong"...but perhaps "weak" would be an appropriate adjective.)

Then it occurred to me: if you belong to the RPG school of thought that the epitome of fine roleplaying is pretending your character doesn't know what you know, then a DM asking for Perception checks and then saying "huh" and doing nothing is handing the players a golden opportunity for roleplaying. Right? The person who does the best job acting as if that didn't just happen is the best roleplayer!
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I was trying to figure out how it's possible to not understand why so many people have moved away from that DMing style (not that it's "wrong"...but perhaps "weak" would be an appropriate adjective.)

Then it occurred to me: if you belong to the RPG school of thought that the epitome of fine roleplaying is pretending your character doesn't know what you know, then a DM asking for Perception checks and then saying "huh" and doing nothing is handing the players a golden opportunity for roleplaying. Right? The person who does the best job acting as if that didn't just happen is the best roleplayer!
Wow.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I was trying to figure out how it's possible to not understand why so many people have moved away from that DMing style (not that it's "wrong"...but perhaps "weak" would be an appropriate adjective.)

Then it occurred to me: if you belong to the RPG school of thought that the epitome of fine roleplaying is pretending your character doesn't know what you know, then a DM asking for Perception checks and then saying "huh" and doing nothing is handing the players a golden opportunity for roleplaying. Right? The person who does the best job acting as if that didn't just happen is the best roleplayer!
I’mma be honest, even I as a staunch defender of the goal and approach style find this a little unfair to the non goal and approach folks.
 

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