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D&D 5E "OK, I try Skill A. Now Skill B. Well, in that case, how about Skill C?"

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Yeah, this is one of my gripes as well. I sometimes let them each try. In other cases, I just say, "OK, it looks like you're all working together. The person who rolled first can have advantage* on their check." Sometimes I might make it a group check instead. Depends on the circumstances.

*Or rather 'reroll, keep the better roll', which is generally how I use Inspiration in my games as well.
Yeah, that's how I previously have tackled this problem.

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Instead of, potentially, the wizard rolling every single intelligence skill when faced with a problem, would it make more sense to just give them advantage on their roll if they have relevant skills above a certain level?
I think so. Generally my main group insist on using Help actions wherever two characters have the same skill or tool proficiency and sometimes wanting to even if they don't, which helps speed things up a bit and means most of these rolls are made with Advantage.

I feel like this is one of the least-well-designed elements of 5E, like they really didn't think through just ripping Take 10 and Take 20 out of the system, nor PCs working together without structures like Skill Challenges (not that those were always perfect!), and bloody putting in a bloody cantrip to give +1d4 to an awful lot of Skill checks was not a genius move!

A couple of ideas:

1.Just make every check 10-12, so the players just auto get the information. Or just drop any check at all, and give the players whatever.

2.Try and see checks as a more fun part of the game. Have fun spending a whole hour as each character goes through lots of checks.

3.Try one check per character. The player rolls once and you take that roll for each check. Then in one response you can say "your character knows this history, this religion, and so on." all at once. You could also have them roll all the checks at the same time and just plug them into a set order.

4.The way I do it. Avoid such checks. Put all the information in the game for the players to find for real....not find by roll.

Tony Vargas

My gripe is the constant Player A failed, which sparks Player B to try and on failure Player C tries. With aid. And Guidance on everything. I've gotten to where I just let one person do the check, aid only from someone with proficiency and Guidance doesn't work on any task that takes longer than a minute to complete.
That always annoyed me. When Group Checks came out, I saw an answer. If I suspect a check might be vulnerable to 'piling on' I ask if they want to 'look to the expert' or hash it out and reach a 'consensus.' If the chosen expert fails, too bad. If they go for a consensus, it's a group check, and even if one player rolls a nat 20 and the rest 1s - too bad, you shouted down the guy who was right (like an internet echo chamber) ;)

Even if I don't, if piling on starts happening, I just "Ok, it's a group check, now" (which, isn't exactly getting away with anything, because group checks are lower difficulty, and that initial failure that makes them want to pile on counts...)

Daisy chaining knowledge checks is new to me.
In the real world we call it "brain storming".

Person A says the know Grognar started the Elf-Orc war (History). Person B Grognar was priest of Thud the Destroyer (Religion). Person C Thud's domain in Gehenna is full of Hellhounds (Arcana). Person D remembers Hellhounds didn't exist in the Green Wood before the war (Nature).

How much you care about this depends on your party. When all the lore skills have two people proficient (Or have a Lore Bard), you can give them Advantage so you can let dice do most of the work.

When a party is spread wide with no overlap, it gets messier. Sometimes I will call for 2 or 3 different checks and then figure out which facts go with which roll (i.e. the above) to show how different skills contributed.


With a little change of perspective, this problem goes away ... and a lot of us seem to be on the track there in this post. I think it just involves a slight change in perception.

When it is time for an ability check scenario, I ask if the players have skills, (tool or other) proficiencies, or background elements that would give them proficiency or expertise on the check. Well, it would be more accurate to say I ask new players this ... experienced players tend to just offer it up when it makes sense to them. In other situations, I check the character sheet on D&DBeyond or ask them questions to determine whether the ability check is normal, proficient or expertise based - as well as advantaged or disadvantaged.

And, sometimes, I don't even bother to figure it out in advance of the roll. I just have them roll and then determine if proficiency or expertise would make a difference. If it would, I ask a few followup questions or dig deeper into the character sheet to determine whether there should have been advantage on the roll.

This approach is faster and tends to reduce the amount of attempts to repeat rolls. You don't get the 6 Intelligence based ability checks to find out about a situation. You don't get someone trying to perceive and insight the same moment.


Excellent way of describing it. Filing that away for my use when this comes up next time.
This is what I came to say, but @Oofta (et al) beat me to it: A person can't really partition off their knowledge (but they can forget things). Just get them to roll with their highest bonus (advantage would work too if the subject really does have multiple skills that absolutely would be appropriate and the character is equally proficient in more than one of them). Then they roll. The roll answers if they know or remember based on all of their knowledge put together.

The same can be said for Persuasion/Intimidation. It's not like the latter isn't a style of attempting the former, right? You use all your best tricks to convince a subject to hand over something or some information. Roll once. You tried your best.
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As a DM, I hate this chain of players asking to do skill check after skill check.
One way of dealing with this is to enforce costs (including time) and consequences.

If a particular action takes 10 minutes to do and costs a resource then the players can have their characters attempt the skill as many times as they like, provided they spend the time and the resource.

GM: The wizard is going to study the runes and compare them to the notes from the library, right? That will take 20 minutes. What are the rest of you doing?
Wizard's player: I roll 18!
GM: Hold your horses, your twenty minutes isn't up yet, if a rol is need then I'll ask for it then. So, the rest of you? You have twenty minutes. Note that there will be a roll for wandering monsters at the 10 minute mark.

Also, sometimes repeated attempt just can't be made.

GM: The guard doesn't want to let you in.
Player: I try to convince him I'm a friend of the duke.
GM: after resolving He doesn't believe you.
Another player: I bribe him.
GM: He's not interested, you've already convinced him you are dodgy. He tells you if you don't go away he will arrest you.
Another player: I show him forged papers.
GM: That's done it. He yells for help and draws his sword. Initiative please.

Always remember the core game play loop.

1. Players state their goal, their methods for achieving them, and any resources used.
Player: Bêlit open the door by picking it using her lockpicks.

2. The GM resolves the actions. This may or may not involve dice or cards or other random number generators.

3. GM narrates the outcome and the consequences.
GM:"It takes half a minute for Bêlit to get the door open, but she does open it. However while she was opening it a guard rounds the corner. He sees you and yells out!"

And repeat.
GM: What do you do?


He / Him
I could see handling this in a couple different ways. Let's say we have this scenario:

Above the stone sarcophagus you see a portrait of a wizardy looking guy holding a staff with the symbol of Oghma.

(Things they might learn: this is Valusulav the Grand Mage of the Ziggurat of Knowledge. He had a passion for palindromes but was always paranoid that gnomes would steal his knowledge.)

Solution 1: When the PCs ask what they know about the guy, ask them how they would have that knowledge. Depending on what they describe, have them roll a History, Arcana, or Religion check. Whatever they roll is what they know, there's no way of them getting more info from skill checks.

Solution 2: Tell the PCs that there's a lot they might know through History, Arcana, or Religion. Have them roll their highest, but give them whatever information would apply to any of those skills.

Solution 3: Have everyone roll Intelligence checks, and allow the players to suggest a relevant skill to apply. You can offer them Advantage if they have two or more skills that would apply.

I'd be fine playing in campaigns that use any of these. No matter what, it cuts down on daisy-chain rolling and rewards players for investing in knowledge skills.

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