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

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Remember that D&D 5e specifically says that the DM first determines automatic success/failure, and only if it is "uncertain", and there are consequences for failure, should an ability check be called for.

So, sure, sometimes the DM should listen to that silver-tongued BS artist and still say, "Ok, give me a Charisma check, DC 15."

I mean, ultimately it comes down to whether your trust your DM to make good calls, or if you think he/she is going to let Frankie always get his way, while penalizing Susie for not being as glib. And if that's what you think of your DM, find a different one.
Indeed. And played who are good at the improv and interaction are going to find cases where the approach they take is SO reasonable that the success/failure isn't really uncertain, just like the player who's good at tactical combat is going to work their feats and abilities that synergize with other players' abilities and spells to make combat easier.
But in both cases, when there's uncertainty, they are going to roll no matter how glib Frankie is compared Susie.

The fact is, if someone like Frankie is a lot better at those aspects of the game than Susie, if I just valued skills and adjudicated based on player skill, he IS going to be a lot more successful than Susie in uncertain situations. And that's why I don't do that and, instead, tend to rely more often on the die roll in those cases - and thus the character's assets more than the players.
 

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Pedantic

Legend
I have two thoughts, one is my standard big game design complaint: skills should say what the do and do what they say, so that a player calling for a skill check is using a specific action, and is only incentivized to declare other actions if they are trying to push forward a given strategy.

That being largely outside the question: have you considered leaning more heavily into passive knowledge skills and/or making them a more automatic part of scene presentation? I found the advice here around "Presenting the Situation" to provide a pretty reasonable model.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
Different strokes and all, but I don't want to play "Convince the DM". Been there, done that, didn't even want the crummy t-shirt.
"Convince the DM" (lately I've heard "DM may I?") was a big part of the classic game in the TSR era. It looked like WotC had gone a different direction for a while, with more identifiable RaW in 3e that was even moderately balanced in 4e, but with 5e they very much returned to the TSR/EGG way, and the role of DM was restored to its former omnipotent glory.

Thus, the basic 5e play loop really already addresses the OP's issue, in precisely that way:
The DM describes the situation
The player declares an action
The DM narrates the results, possibly calling for a check first if there is deemed to be 'uncertainty.'

Players don't call out skill checks, DMs call for them - if they don't want to just narrate success or failure, but want the dice's input, first.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The player doesn't ever call for a check, the DM does.

So a "Hey, do I know anything about that sigil on the wall?" can be answered (with the same or different info) with a history check, a religion check, and an arcana check, the DM should be calling for all three. I'll go as far as saying it is the DM's responsibility to be calling for all of them, and a DM who doesn't is doing it wrong. And a DM who asks the player what skill to use, as if a character forgets everything else they know and can only look at one facet of a problem at a time is also doing it wrong.

And yes, I know this will break how some DMs want to do rolls, that all rolls require consequences to failure. Since that's not a required part of the game, but calling for a roll to resolve uncertainty is part of the basic play loop of the game, that doesn't phase me.
 

Reynard

Legend
The player doesn't ever call for a check, the DM does.

So a "Hey, do I know anything about that sigil on the wall?" can be answered (with the same or different info) with a history check, a religion check, and an arcana check, the DM should be calling for all three. I'll go as far as saying it is the DM's responsibility to be calling for all of them, and a DM who doesn't is doing it wrong. And a DM who asks the player what skill to use, as if a character forgets everything else they know and can only look at one facet of a problem at a time is also doing it wrong.

And yes, I know this will break how some DMs want to do rolls, that all rolls require consequences to failure. Since that's not a required part of the game, but calling for a roll to resolve uncertainty is part of the basic play loop of the game, that doesn't phase me.
I call for informative rolls all the time. I don't have the time or bandwidth to develop every little detail ahead of time, and even if I did I wouldn't have the inclination. Sometimes I want the dice to decide, and IME players like it when they get to roll those dice.

"Do I know anything about the guy that might help deal with his unquiet spirit."

"Give me a history check."

::rolls:: "I got a 17!"

"Yes, you do!"

"Cool, what?"

"You tell me."

Then I let the player come up with so.e bit of lore and decide how that might help them.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I call for informative rolls all the time. I don't have the time or bandwidth to develop every little detail ahead of time, and even if I did I wouldn't have the inclination. Sometimes I want the dice to decide, and IME players like it when they get to roll those dice.

"Do I know anything about the guy that might help deal with his unquiet spirit."

"Give me a history check."

::rolls:: "I got a 17!"

"Yes, you do!"

"Cool, what?"

"You tell me."

Then I let the player come up with so.e bit of lore and decide how that might help them.
Sure, that all works. I applaud that approach actually.

It doesn't vary from what I said - the DM calls for the appropriate check(s). You called for history. This is part of the basic play loop, it's in the PHB even before anything about characters because it's more foundational and important to play than them.
 

Reynard

Legend
Sure, that all works. I applaud that approach actually.

It doesn't vary from what I said - the DM calls for the appropriate check(s). You called for history. This is part of the basic play loop, it's in the PHB even before anything about characters because it's more foundational and important to play than them.
I was agreeing with you, for the record.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
This strikes me as, "the DM doesn't tell us anything, so we have to keep asking questions." I hope that's not the case.
No. If anything, getting me to shut up is the bigger problem.

I think my players have figured out that I typically do have answers to lore questions in my games, and that if they're curious about something, there is more information available.
 

Oofta

Legend
No. If anything, getting me to shut up is the bigger problem.

I think my players have figured out that I typically do have answers to lore questions in my games, and that if they're curious about something, there is more information available.

I just tell the people that they gave it their best shot. If someone asks about history and I don't think it's relevant I may tell them it doesn't apply and that an arcana check would make more sense. For that matter, if I was thinking something would be a religion check and they ask for history I may ask if they're proficient in religion. If they aren't then there may still be some related info and historical context, just not the same things that would be available for a religion check.
 

Pedantic

Legend
No. If anything, getting me to shut up is the bigger problem.

I think my players have figured out that I typically do have answers to lore questions in my games, and that if they're curious about something, there is more information available.

I should have called out the suggestion I put above in more detail, but the specific advice I was proposing was "assign an obscurity bonus to each fact associated to a knowledge skill (DC-10) and then roll against the player's passive knowledge skills (History, Arcana, Insight, etc.)." The real goal here is as a DM to view your job as making sure the players know all the IC information they could know from both description of the physical space and check results. Ideally, if that becomes a known standard operating procedure each time your players move to a new situation (dungeon room, wilderness leg, village, etc.) then they'll come to understand that all IC information they can know is presented upfront for them to work from.

Then try to make further lore digging a background activity, something that doesn't happen in the moment at the table, but outside because they're interested in the setting material.
 

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