D&D 5E Players Self-Assigning Rolls

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
one of the things I often wonder is if the amount of time playing with a group changes this.

I know that my Tuesday night game has run across 3 1/2 editions of the game and 17+ years. We had players come and go, but 3 of the ones that started in 3.0 also are playing now in 5e. We have also had other campaigns in other games over the years...Rifts, Big Eye Small Mouth, Deadlands, DC Superheroes (d6 west end games), Champions, Mutants and Masterminds, Star trek 2 different systems, star wars (d20), Vampire the Masq, Mage the ascension, 2 home brew games, and dozens of board/card games... and as such we can pretty much tell what we are doing.

I not only allow people to guess what I am about to do, sometimes I even let them guess about auto success... We also have standard assumptions from time to time.

Example: "Since my character is trained in Arcana and went to magic college, I identify the damage as hell fire"
yup that's right, the player just goes into it without rolling...if I want I can stop him and say "You have to roll," or "That's not what you think"

I also allow for the fact that some of the PCs need to work with skills they themselves can't describe... "I use my investigate to figure out what happened here I rolled 12 plus my 8 so 20" wont have me ask "So how are you investigating?" or If the player playing the 20 cha bard with skill prof and expertise in diplomacy might say "I calm the two people arguing" I will set a DC because the character is way better with words than he is...

Sometimes this even goes into short hand.

real life example:
Me (DM): you get to the old stone door and it looks like a dragon head.
(Rogue player): Is it trapped? My min roll on perception is 23...
Me: Nope
(Fighterplayer): do we set up the minis or can I just open the door?
Me: no need for minis here, you open the door and enter the main chamber, its just a big chamber full of statues and door. (Priest player name) can identify some statues of known iconic non deity celestials related to dragon gods, and (warlock player name) can see some arcane markings that he thinks are fey in nature. There are 4 doors, 3 heading deeper in, each with a gem stone dragon head over them, and the fourth to the side with a fey mark over it.
(Warlock player): Ok lets start with magic and traps them move to the first dragon door.
(Rogue player): DO I need to roll?
me: no, but if you go to a dragon door it's going to need minis...
(Fighter player): wait, but not the side one, lets do that first to get it out of the way...

No offense, but that sounds not at all fun to me. For me, it has nothing to do with familiarity with the group, and everything to do with the focus of the game. We (that is to say, my players and I) play roleplaying games to imagine ourselves as other people in other situations and make decisions as we think those people in those situations would do. Talking about the game in terms of “these are my stats, so I just succeed on this, right?” and “do I need to set up the minis or should we just keep going?” and “I make a [skill] check” would be entirely too abstract and removed from the fiction for us. If you have fun playing that way, that’s great, but it would be a mistake to attribute that to experience playing together. My players and I have been playing for a long time over multiple editions and across systems as well, we play the way we do because we enjoy it, not because we aren’t comfortable enough with each other to do it your way.
 

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guachi

Hero
One thing I don't think I've seen mentioned is that, yes, a player rolling the dice and declaring a result without the DM asking for a roll is disrespectful to the DM. I think, however, that it's more disrespectful to the other players at the table. It demands resolution of that player's actions before that of other players. It's especially bad if what the forcing player is doing would actually resolve after what another player would do, assuming he ever got the chance to declare an action.

In combat, players take turns. So a player picking up a d20 and damage dice and tossing them while declaring "I attack the ogre" isn't intruding upon anyone else.

After combat or in a location with no combat I'll describe the room and then ask players what they do. Sometimes the players know right away what they are doing - search the bodies, search the desk, search the whatever. No one, however, starts tossing dice. If there are players who haven't declared an action I'll go back to the hesitaters and do a quick recap - "A, B, C are doing 1, 2, 3. You can assist one of them or there is still X, Y, Z to look at." If I need to I then ask for clarification of approach and intent of actions and give a quick rundown on time to completion - "It will take 'A' 10 minutes to search for secret doors, two minutes for 'B' to loot, etc"

If something obvious comes up that might alter actions I'll then mention it - "You notice papers on the desk". "Oh, ok, then I'll look at those first". "It's in a language you can't read." "Hey, 'A', can you come here and cast Comprehend Languages?"

If 'A' had forced a resolution by saying "I search for secret doors; I got a 23!" then the above couldn't have happened.

I've noticed, now that I've actually started playing recently, that the dice rollers and resolution forcers really intrude on the input of others at the table. This despite the DM (who's new to DMing) being one of my players and knowing my mantra of "no ability checks outside of combat without the DM asking for them". I suspect most DMs just aren't willing to say "no" and come off as a jerk. I don't care because I think saying "no" actually makes the game better for the other players.
 

It's not unusual for a player to say his or her character believes something, but telling him or her "That's not what you think?" That's way out of bounds in our game.
yup we have done this dance before...we run very similar games but use different wording

At our game it would be no questions, more clear statements of goal and approach, no asking to make rolls or inquiring if rolls are necessary, and no assumption on the DM's part about what the characters are doing (e.g. "[you] enter the main chamber).
my approach is more 'what ever makes it fun in the moment'


No offense, but that sounds not at all fun to me.
you would be surprised, I have meet many people who say that but love our games...

For me, it has nothing to do with familiarity with the group, and everything to do with the focus of the game.

yup and different campaigns around here (or even ssytems) have slightly different focuses... but all some sort of story base...my group is like 80% story teller.

We (that is to say, my players and I) play roleplaying games to imagine ourselves as other people in other situations and make decisions as we think those people in those situations would do.
Us too...the most fun is when we realize that our characters would do something we don't normally do, and/or don't want to do and it completely takes the game in a new direction.
Talking about the game in terms of “these are my stats, so I just succeed on this, right?” and “do I need to set up the minis or should we just keep going?” and “I make a [skill] check” would be entirely too abstract and removed from the fiction for us.
we keep it separate. The fiction is the most important part after the fun, but we also all know each other and joke and work with each other out of game... (Most of the time we did have a blow up or two in the last 17 years... 22 if you count in school too)

If you have fun playing that way, that’s great, but it would be a mistake to attribute that to experience playing together.
I don't know why it took us years to get to where we are now...

My players and I have been playing for a long time over multiple editions and across systems as well, we play the way we do because we enjoy it, not because we aren’t comfortable enough with each other to do it your way.
so I assume you tried my way and have found some flaw with mixing character/audience improve rolls, putting the fun first and using out of game short hand for in game actions...
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
you would be surprised, I have meet many people who say that but love our games...
Not that surprised. It's easy to find fun in a game when you want to, and I'm sure if I played in your game I would enjoy myself well enough. Something gets lost when talking about these things in such theoretical terms.

yup and different campaigns around here (or even ssytems) have slightly different focuses... but all some sort of story base...my group is like 80% story teller.
Yeah. I'm not a fan of analyzing it in a way that separates story from mechanics. They are each an important part of the other, and statements like "80% story, 20% mechanics" or whatever set up a false narrative that story and mechanics are a zero sum equation. Rather, I like to put it in terms of the behaviors and thought processes that different approaches encourage.

Us too...the most fun is when we realize that our characters would do something we don't normally do, and/or don't want to do and it completely takes the game in a new direction.
Sounds like something we agree on.

we keep it separate. The fiction is the most important part after the fun, but we also all know each other and joke and work with each other out of game... (Most of the time we did have a blow up or two in the last 17 years... 22 if you count in school too)
Sure. It's not like we don't joke around during game, or no one ever breaks character or whatever. But when it comes to declaring and resolving actions, we've found it preferable for the players to communicate this in terms of in-fiction goal and approach, and to reserve dice and proficiency bonuses and what have you for resolving actions whose outcomes are uncertain.

I don't know why it took us years to get to where we are now...
Sure, I phrased that poorly. It may have been a matter of experience and familiarity for you, but in your initial that I was initially responding to, you said you wondered if this changes with familiarity and experience. The answer is no, at least not for me. Or rather, it did change, but in the opposite direction.

so I assume you tried my way and have found some flaw with mixing character/audience improve rolls, putting the fun first and using out of game short hand for in game actions...
I object the word choice "putting the fun first" here, as if my approach somehow puts fun second. In fact, since for me and my group the fun comes from making decisions based on in-character information, and the dice are an occasionally-necessary step to determining the results of those decisions, my approach does put the fun first for my group.

That dismissive phrase aside, the answer to your question is yes. Much like Ovinomancer, I ran the game allowing players to initiate rolls for a long time, and it led to a lot of problems, which were difficult for me to identify at first until I tried running it a different way. I've found that it lead to a lot of rolls that are disconnected from the fiction and created warped player incentives.
 


I object the word choice "putting the fun first" here, as if my approach somehow puts fun second. In fact, since for me and my group the fun comes from making decisions based on in-character information, and the dice are an occasionally-necessary step to determining the results of those decisions, my approach does put the fun first for my group.

That dismissive phrase aside, the answer to your question is yes. Much like Ovinomancer, I ran the game allowing players to initiate rolls for a long time, and it led to a lot of problems, which were difficult for me to identify at first until I tried running it a different way. I've found that it lead to a lot of rolls that are disconnected from the fiction and created warped player incentives.
I don't think I've gone around with you on this before, so excuse me if my word choice was poor. over the last year or so I have gone over this with some of the others here and gotten into what I call 'word games' where I routenly tell them I'm not policeing how someone gets there desire across to me, I put the fun before the wording.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I don't think I've gone around with you on this before, so excuse me if my word choice was poor. over the last year or so I have gone over this with some of the others here and gotten into what I call 'word games' where I routenly tell them I'm not policeing how someone gets there desire across to me, I put the fun before the wording.

That's a very condescending way of describing it, as it implies that others who do care about the way players express their actions aren't doing so out of an interest to put the fun first.
 

Ristamar

Adventurer
Ew. People who roll out of combat without being asked. Gross.

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That's a very condescending way of describing it, as it implies that others who do care about the way players express their actions aren't doing so out of an interest to put the fun first.

If a player says "Is the door locked" and the DM says "How would you know without trying it?" I think that is putting wording before fun. If the player says "Does my arcana skill help here?" and the DM says "That isn't an action, please rephrase it as such" then yes that is putting wording before fun.

the worst though was about a year ago in one of these threads when someone said they wouldn't allow a player with a speech impediment and social anxiety disorder to play a bard or warlock trained in social skills (or heaven forbid expertise in case of the bard) if they could not role play the stat/skill for a high modifier...

Another poster even went so far as to say that he allows a young (I think late preteen or early teen) woman with special needs to just say "I use diplomacy" and the best answer was "Why don't you teach her to declare actions it might even help her out of game"

So yes it may sound condescending to you, but I don't know how else to explain it. If both the DM and Player know what the player is trying to convay, but the words don't line up exactly I don't see a reason to stop play to police wording...


just like when a funny word shows up on a text or facebook post, and you just know it was an auto correct error. You can laugh and still say "I get what you mean" or you can stop the conversation to say "Retype that the right way or I wont respond."

just like auto correct, I get sometimes you run into a moment where you say "What?" because the wording doesn't make sense to you. In that case asking what someone means is fine. However the examples I went back and forth with other posters was:

Is the door locked?
Is that an Arcane symbol?
Do I know about that person?

to witch (in order) I was told you need to take the following actions because you can't not use an action
"I check to see if the door is locked"
"I try to remember if that is something I have seen"
"I try to remember if I have any information about him/her"

even to the point were 'trying to remember' needs to be phrased as an action... I was also told I was a bad DM for answering "Is the door locked" with "The handle wont budge" because I assumed they touched the lock without them declaring an action...


then again on a related note I also got told "I took away player agency" with any description other than sight and smell... in the example a warlock who had a pact with a named demon 'got a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach' when he saw an artifact ment to slay said demon...I was told by the same posters "You can't tell him what he feels!!!!!"

I bring this up because even in this thread when my explained "No you don't think that" because the player with a high arcana rating in character would understand but out of character didn't someone in this very thread corrected me that I CANT as a DM tell them what there character thinks... although It seems to me to be a word game again because rolling a history or arcana (or most Int based skills) is exactly that...


edit: just to take this to the extreme to show a point... if everytime Jessy says "Vlarg" she means search, you may need her to explain it at least once, maybe even a few times...but after a couple of weeks you understand she is using the word "Vlarg" to convay the idea of searching. If everytime she says "I vlarg the desk" you stop and say "Vlarg isn't a word, nore is it an action in this game" you are putting wording in front of fun. SHe is convaying meaning to you, you understand the meaning but choose to stop play because you disagree with the wording even though you understand it.
 
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Ilbranteloth

Explorer
DM describes a scene, players say what they want to do and how they want to do it, and DM determines success or failure or if a roll is needed because something interesting can happen because of the roll. As much as I reiterate this flow, I still get experienced players who throw down some dice without being asked and announce "Survival 24 for doing blah blah" or whatever. Did I miss something between AD&D (which I played as a kid) and 5E (my return to D&D two years ago) that made this alright?

The Run a Game Blog has a nice piece on this:
www.runagame.net/2017/10/players-self-assigning-rolls.html


I guess I'm looking for ways that other DMs deal with situations where players roll the dice for skills without being asked to do so. What say you?

So this is specifically in response to "Did I miss something between AD&D and 5e?" Although his blog post hits on a few reasons why, mostly it's why not to do it. I don't agree with all of his assessment, and I'll address that subject separately.

What changed? Player enablement.

In AD&D, the players were expected to have control of their PC, and that was it. The rules, including combat, were in the domain of the DM. The 2e AD&D PHB contained more of the rules, but I think the real shift started with TSR realized that there are more players than DM's and that if they produced books for players, they'd sell more copies. During the 2e years, especially the earlier releases, the books all had very prominent disclaimers that adoption of any of these rules were up to the DM. You can buy the book, but you can't use it unless your DM says it's OK.

Of course, over time that really doesn't go over well, and hinders sales of books to players. Why buy it if you can't use it.

The second part of it, in my opinion, is really the increase in rules in general. From 2e to 4e, the rules grew exponentially, to the point where the DM really couldn't easily know everything. A player would know more about what the rules said regarding their character and the choices they made, and this became even more evident with the internet and the build guides, and books about D&D Mastery, which focused on making "the right" choices with regards to the rules. That is, the focus is on the rules.

In addition, I think that it's a question of how people approach and learn games. In AD&D days, you tended to learn how to play the game by finding (or being invited) to play by folks that already knew how to play, that learned from somebody else. That is, your introduction was usually as a player, and you knew little to nothing about the rules. This is the approach I still use. We bring in somebody new, have them roll some stats (in order) and walk them through how to make a character (actually, we make 3 at a time). The process is as close to AD&D as it could be, and is very quick. Then the only rule they need to know is tell me what you want to do, and we'll tell you how to do it. As we work through the process, they learn where and why we put all those numbers and notes on their character sheet, and they learn to play the game.

But players nowadays come from all different backgrounds. Video games, other complex games like the more challenging board games, or MtG, etc. So they have whatever expectations they have. Then they are pointed to the free basic rules, or given a PHB and they build their character. Often on their own time. Or a group decides they want to play, and just pick up the books (or use the basic rules), and go from there.

Furthermore, instead of coming into an established campaign, where the DM has already established their setting, races, classes, variant rules, and which rules to use or not, it's often a group of new players that are learning together, so they make those decisions together (assuming they make decisions to do anything beyond what's published. There's also a lot of guidance and online discussion about "player agency" and "don't say no" and "DM fiat" and other things that often make an authoritarian-style DM unacceptable and equate authoritarian with adversarial.

I think all of these combine to produce that scenario. It makes sense, right? To play a game you read the rules, they tell you how to play the game, and then you follow the rules. This style of play was very evident in later 3/5e and 4e because the rules (especially around combat) virtually required a lot of mechanical rules to play, and the better everybody understands the rules, the faster things go. Your turn is much more defined, and you had x number of steps (movement, action, free action, etc.), and you want to maximize each of your turns.

So the focus is often on the rules, and the "master of the rules" became spread out among everybody. While the DMG has a chapter called "Master of Rules" and there are still disclaimers that indicate the DM makes certain decisions, or asks you to make an ability check, etc. there are a lot of players that learned to play from earlier editions. Combine that with another piece of the puzzle - the Adventure Path. With the current rules (which makes perfect sense for a mass published game), you can get the basic rules/basic set, or PHB and MM, and an AP, and the DM isn't really responsible for making any significant decisions. They don't have to create any setting information, the options in play are what's published, and the DM is closer to being a referee than the creator of the setting and campaign. This is great for the game, since it makes it much easier to be a DM for that style of game.

I think 5e is pushing back a bit on that play style, or at least making it a more viable option, but the publications still point to a relatively narrow style of play. Again, I'm not surprised that a certain playstyle is implied, it's the right approach to sell more product. And it's definitely not wrong to play any of these styles. But I do think that the combination of these elements have increased this approach to play considerably.

My response to how to deal with it will be separate, and quite different from the Run a Game blog.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
If a player says "Is the door locked" and the DM says "How would you know without trying it?" I think that is putting wording before fun. If the player says "Does my arcana skill help here?" and the DM says "That isn't an action, please rephrase it as such" then yes that is putting wording before fun.
Good for you, but phrasing it as “putting the words before the fun” when other DMs do prefer players to use specific phrasing is dismissive because it implies that their motivation for doing so isn’t fun. You could just as easily call it “putting the form before the message” or “focusing on the phrasing” or something if you need a pithy label for the concept. Or you could just focus on personal taste and say that you find it more fun not to put too much importance on phrasing, instead of treating “fun” as an objective value that phrasing diminishes.

the worst though was about a year ago in one of these threads when someone said they wouldn't allow a player with a speech impediment and social anxiety disorder to play a bard or warlock trained in social skills (or heaven forbid expertise in case of the bard) if they could not role play the stat/skill for a high modifier...
Sounds like those people were jerks, but not directly relevant here.

Another poster even went so far as to say that he allows a young (I think late preteen or early teen) woman with special needs to just say "I use diplomacy" and the best answer was "Why don't you teach her to declare actions it might even help her out of game"
This is starting to sound more like a different issue entirely - more one of people being unwilling to make exceptions to their processss to accomodate for their players’ needs.

So yes it may sound condescending to you, but I don't know how else to explain it. If both the DM and Player know what the player is trying to convay, but the words don't line up exactly I don't see a reason to stop play to police wording...
It’s not hard to find a way to express this concept that doesn’t demean other play styles; I gave a few suggestions earlier in my post.

just like when a funny word shows up on a text or facebook post, and you just know it was an auto correct error. You can laugh and still say "I get what you mean" or you can stop the conversation to say "Retype that the right way or I wont respond."
Yeah, I get what you mean, but I object to presenting it in a way that implies your way of handling it is objectively more fun.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
yup we have done this dance before...we run very similar games but use different wording

I've seen you talk a lot about your games, even providing "real life examples" like upthread, and I wouldn't say yours and mine are "very similar."

I don't assume or establish what the players in my game are doing, for example, because that's their role not mine. Players don't push to make ability checks because it's my role, not theirs, to decide if one is needed. There seems to be a lot fewer questions since asking a question isn't describing what they want to do, which is the player's role. Those are pretty big differences in my view that contribute directly to the play experience that is produced at the table.

That's not a judgment, by the way, on how you choose to play. You do you. But I think the assertion that our games are "very similar" is unfounded.
 

5ekyu

Hero
In AD&D, the players were expected to have control of their PC, and that was it. The rules, including combat, were in the domain of the DM. The 2e AD&D PHB contained more of the rules, but I think the real shift started with TSR realized that there are more players than DM's and that if they produced books for players, they'd sell more copies. During the 2e years, especially the earlier releases, the books all had very prominent disclaimers that adoption of any of these rules were up to the DM. You can buy the book, but you can't use it unless your DM says it's OK.

This is a odd note of history and more an aside than anything else but...

While i do not recall the text within the 2e core rulebooks verbatim for their initial release, i do very explicitly clearly remember the add campaign and posters that came out with the 2e first release...

"Real GMs go by the book."

That was full bold mega-print on many of the posters and other promotional materials for their core rule books initial 2e release. I recall it right there at the bookstore when i bought my first 2e books. I also remember thinking they misspelled "buy".

The reason for it was that leading up to that 1e had become so diverse, so scrambled and so riddled through with house rules for most every game that you found it rather difficult to go from one game to another without a tome of house rules to go thru. (Obviously that is slight hyperbole.)

A specific strategic objective for 2e was to reset to a standard that *was* used to bring together the gameplay across the sprectrum.

Now, of course, it was more a marketing and design approach than a truly achievable objective so its less like rule of law than a nod to trying to herd their cats, but it was there, it was very prominent and it was also (in my experience) very welcome by many.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If a player says "Is the door locked" and the DM says "How would you know without trying it?" I think that is putting wording before fun. If the player says "Does my arcana skill help here?" and the DM says "That isn't an action, please rephrase it as such" then yes that is putting wording before fun.

I would say it's an attempt (however effective) at getting the player to describe what he or she wants to do, which is his or her role in the game.

So yes it may sound condescending to you, but I don't know how else to explain it. If both the DM and Player know what the player is trying to convay, but the words don't line up exactly I don't see a reason to stop play to police wording...

I don't think anyone is asserting that the words must "line up exactly." But at a minimum, I need to hear a goal and an approach to properly adjudicate the result without making undue and possibly wrongful assumptions about what the character is actually doing and trying to accomplish.

just like auto correct, I get sometimes you run into a moment where you say "What?" because the wording doesn't make sense to you. In that case asking what someone means is fine. However the examples I went back and forth with other posters was:

Is the door locked?
Is that an Arcane symbol?
Do I know about that person?

to witch (in order) I was told you need to take the following actions because you can't not use an action
"I check to see if the door is locked"
"I try to remember if that is something I have seen"
"I try to remember if I have any information about him/her"

even to the point were 'trying to remember' needs to be phrased as an action... I was also told I was a bad DM for answering "Is the door locked" with "The handle wont budge" because I assumed they touched the lock without them declaring an action...

I doubt anyone told you that you were a bad DM, even if they pointed out that you may sometimes be acting outside of the prescribed role of the DM. But in any case, "Is the door locked" is not describing what you want to do, which is the player's role in the game. "I check to see if the door is locked" is better, though it still lacks reasonable specificity as to how in my view. That might well matter if the door is trapped, for example. And to be clear, we're not talking about "using actions" here in any mechanical sense.

then again on a related note I also got told "I took away player agency" with any description other than sight and smell... in the example a warlock who had a pact with a named demon 'got a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach' when he saw an artifact ment to slay said demon...I was told by the same posters "You can't tell him what he feels!!!!!"

Yes, that does not seem advisable. I prefer to describe the environment and leave it to the player to describe how his or her character feels about it.

I bring this up because even in this thread when my explained "No you don't think that" because the player with a high arcana rating in character would understand but out of character didn't someone in this very thread corrected me that I CANT as a DM tell them what there character thinks... although It seems to me to be a word game again because rolling a history or arcana (or most Int based skills) is exactly that...

I didn't say you can't do that. I said I don't do it. It is out of bounds for our game. A player making an assumption, perhaps based on metagame thinking, is taking a risk by choice. That's on the player and not for the DM to correct in my view.

edit: just to take this to the extreme to show a point... if everytime Jessy says "Vlarg" she means search, you may need her to explain it at least once, maybe even a few times...but after a couple of weeks you understand she is using the word "Vlarg" to convay the idea of searching. If everytime she says "I vlarg the desk" you stop and say "Vlarg isn't a word, nore is it an action in this game" you are putting wording in front of fun. SHe is convaying meaning to you, you understand the meaning but choose to stop play because you disagree with the wording even though you understand it.

"How do you go about vlarging that desk, Jessy? How thorough is your vlarg? How much time to do you spend vlarging it? Wandering monsters want to know."
 
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5ekyu

Hero
"How do you go about vlarging that desk, Jessy? How thorough is your vlarg? How much time to do you spend vlarging it? Wandering monsters want to know."

[PLAYER] I have no idea how long it takes to search a desk of this type but my character does. How long would my character think it should take?

or alternatively...

[PLAYER] Isn't how long a task takes often a factor of skill and luck as opposed to a default decision made before a task begins?
 

I've seen you talk a lot about your games, even providing "real life examples" like upthread, and I wouldn't say yours and mine are "very similar."

I don't assume or establish what the players in my game are doing, for example, because that's their role not mine. Players don't push to make ability checks because it's my role, not theirs, to decide if one is needed. There seems to be a lot fewer questions since asking a question isn't describing what they want to do, which is the player's role. Those are pretty big differences in my view that contribute directly to the play experience that is produced at the table.

That's not a judgment, by the way, on how you choose to play. You do you. But I think the assertion that our games are "very similar" is unfounded.

when we compaired out come and desire our games matched like 85%, and we even want the same from our DM/Player roles most times (Me thinking that some feelings are senses other than sight sound and smell is the only big one) we just use words differently... so yes our games (at least by what you have said before) are very similar...just not exact.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
So this is specifically in response to "Did I miss something between AD&D and 5e?" Although his blog post hits on a few reasons why, mostly it's why not to do it. I don't agree with all of his assessment, and I'll address that subject separately.

What changed? Player enablement.

I know in D&D 4e, players are encouraged to ask if a skill check applies to an action they established and the DM is encouraged to say "Yes." It's right in the rules. So if we were talking about D&D 4e, I would not hold the same position as I do in this thread regarding D&D 5e. In fact, I ran some D&D 4e for a group a few months back - 5e players who never played 4e - and I told them straight up to feel free to ask to make skill checks because that's the expectation of that game, but to also make sure their goal and approach was clear.

Lots of folks, however, bring ways of doing things from one game into another game. I do not. I treat each game as a separate thing.
 

I would say it's an attempt (however effective) at getting the player to describe what he or she wants to do, which is his or her role in the game.



I don't think anyone is asserting that the words must "line up exactly." But at a minimum, I need to hear a goal and an approach to properly adjudicate the result without making undue and possibly wrongful assumptions about what the character is actually doing and trying to accomplish.



I doubt anyone told you that you were a bad DM, even if they pointed out that you may sometimes be acting outside of the prescribed role of the DM. But in any case, "Is the door locked" is not describing what you want to do, which is the player's role in the game. "I check to see if the door is locked" is better, though it still lacks reasonable specificity as to how in my view. That might well matter if the door is trapped, for example. And to be clear, we're not talking about "using actions" here in any mechanical sense.



Yes, that does not seem advisable. I prefer to describe the environment and leave it to the player to describe how his or her character feels about it.



I didn't say you can't do that. I said I don't do it. It is out of bounds for our game. A player making an assumption, perhaps based on metagame thinking, is taking a risk by choice. That's on the player and not for the DM to correct in my view.



"How do you go about vlarging that desk, Jessy? How thorough is your vlarg? How much time to do you spend vlarging it? Wandering monsters want to know."

"How do you go about vlarging that desk, Jessy? How thorough is your vlarg? How much time to do you spend vlarging it? Wandering monsters want to know."

[PLAYER] I have no idea how long it takes to search a desk of this type but my character does. How long would my character think it should take?

or alternatively...

[PLAYER] Isn't how long a task takes often a factor of skill and luck as opposed to a default decision made before a task begins?

yea, that is my whole thing too. now search is a personal pet peive since my now roommate and I got into this whole thing back in 3.5:

we knew the room had a boat load (literally taken from a boat) of treasure, and we knew it was hidden. I 'searched' the closet with my rogue with a huge modifier...I got like a forty something...he asked how I said "I look for hidden features, and go through pockets and everything my well trained thief could think of... I got nothing. After over an hour out of game of doing this, each person having to describe there search, and it not mattering if they got a 5 or a forty the player of the cleric 'thought' to pull the bar off the closet that the cloths were in...it was lead (so our Detect magic didn't penetrate) but was hollow and had a portable hole rolled up in it...

I literally turned red as I tried to stay calm and say "I searched there first...we wasted half the night on this?" and his answer was "But you never said you checked the bar in the closet"... to this day I think the in the 40's search check should come with something
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
"How do you go about vlarging that desk, Jessy? How thorough is your vlarg? How much time to do you spend vlarging it? Wandering monsters want to know."

[PLAYER] I have no idea how long it takes to search a desk of this type but my character does. How long would my character think it should take?

or alternatively...

[PLAYER] Isn't how long a task takes often a factor of skill and luck as opposed to a default decision made before a task begins?

Reasonable specificity is required by the rules to have a chance at finding a hidden object. The rules also say that if a player chooses to have the character spend 10x the amount of time on a task than usual, the DM can just rule automatic success on the task (if it makes sense).

So a player at my table might say "I take as much time as is needed so nothing is overlooked..." or "We can't afford to attract a wandering monster right now - I make it a cursory search..." The former is automatic success at the cost of the DM making a wandering monster check. The latter may be an ability check, if what the player described has an uncertain outcome.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
yea, that is my whole thing too. now search is a personal pet peive since my now roommate and I got into this whole thing back in 3.5:

we knew the room had a boat load (literally taken from a boat) of treasure, and we knew it was hidden. I 'searched' the closet with my rogue with a huge modifier...I got like a forty something...he asked how I said "I look for hidden features, and go through pockets and everything my well trained thief could think of... I got nothing. After over an hour out of game of doing this, each person having to describe there search, and it not mattering if they got a 5 or a forty the player of the cleric 'thought' to pull the bar off the closet that the cloths were in...it was lead (so our Detect magic didn't penetrate) but was hollow and had a portable hole rolled up in it...

I literally turned red as I tried to stay calm and say "I searched there first...we wasted half the night on this?" and his answer was "But you never said you checked the bar in the closet"... to this day I think the in the 40's search check should come with something

That's unfortunate, but not reflective of how I do things, for what it's worth. I don't precisely recall the rules for searching in D&D 3.5e or exactly what the expectation was in terms of adjudication by the DM. So it's possible the DM was correct here. It doesn't sound like it though and the play experience doesn't sound very fun, even if he was correct.
 

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