D&D 5E Players Self-Assigning Rolls

5ekyu

Hero
I don't see how any of the examples, at least as summarized above, describe a "catch the player" or "magic word" situation. In fact, I think the approach described by [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] is the opposite to a "magic word" gotcha, because he is trying to clarify character actions in the description of what the character does.

If a player says, "I roll [ability] on it," the player is not really describing the actions of his player. If the DM simply takes that 'action' and adjudicates it, without clarification, they're deciding what the character actually did. So, assume we have a cursed altar that reacts on contact with human flesh.

PLAYER: I roll investigation on that altar. Umm ... 11.
DM: As run your hand across the strange grooves of the altar, you suddenly feel an ancient, terrible evil moving up into your hands —
PLAYER: Wait, what? I didn't say I touched it.
DM: You rolled investigation. I described the oddly textured symbols. 11 didn't hit the DC.
PLAYER: ...
DM: Roll a wisdom save. You're being possessed by an ancient evil.

Compare to.

PLAYER: I want to investigate that altar.
DM: How are you investigating it?
PLAYER: Well, I'm going to look at those strange grooves and see what they mean.
DM: They're have a rough, uneven texture, and cut deep into the stone of the altar. You think you can see something brown and rusty in there.
PLAYER: I'm going to see if I can scrape it out with my fingernail.
PLAYER 2: Wait, what?
PLAYER: Yeah, I want to scrape those flakes out with my finger and see what they are.
DM: Ok, when you touch the stone of the altar with your bare finger ...

your example is EXACTLY what i am pointing out... thank you for listing it so i can point out...

In your example, the altar trap as presented is keyed on "does the player say they touch it".

you see it as, and they often portray it as a binary option - either the Gm assumes and the player gets got or the GM waits to see if the player makes a key statement and then the player gets got.

Compare that to a previous example of how i said i would use the SKILL OF THE CHARACTER as opposed to the WORDS OF THE PLAYER to adjudicate this same event.

PLAYER: I roll investigation on that altar. Umm ... 11.
DM: Hmmm... your investigation gets going and you seem some runes, obscured, hard to make out and as you work around the altar an infernal effect manifests and...
PLAYER: uh oh.

and proceed with the effects.

Now again, within the context of the campaign they have alrerady seen cases where they made that check and we got scenes like this...

PLAYER: I roll investigation on that altar. Umm ... 19.
DM: You see the altar is covered in dust and ash with plenty of various runes, some giving you a bad feeling. you notice a lot of dead bugs on the altar and even some bones and skeletons of small varmints that look like they died right there at the base of the altar, the bones piled against it. You see other bits of debris on the altar and resting against the altar too, seemingly unblemished. It has a smell about it, like you have seen at poisoned waterholes or plague houses.
PLAYER: Definitely going to not get up close and personal. Hey, Lou, you recognize these symbols and runes?

See, in this case, its not "you said you touched it" or "you didn't say you touched it" or any key player speak catch phrase or condition that determines whether the good or bad happens, its the skill of the character at doing what was asked - examining the altar and making good choices about how that is done.

If a player has seen both of those outcomes, the fail and zap and the succeed and avoid, they are taught to not get focused on "wish-proofing" their casual play time dialog with the Gm and other players but on making sure their character is being driven in the right directions.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
your example is EXACTLY what i am pointing out... thank you for listing it so i can point out...

In your example, the altar trap as presented is keyed on "does the player say they touch it".

you see it as, and they often portray it as a binary option - either the Gm assumes and the player gets got or the GM waits to see if the player makes a key statement and then the player gets got.

Compare that to a previous example of how i said i would use the SKILL OF THE CHARACTER as opposed to the WORDS OF THE PLAYER to adjudicate this same event.

You seem to be forgetting all of the foreshadowing about how bad that altar is as suggested by [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION], even if [MENTION=6777696]redrick[/MENTION] didn't include it in his actual play example. Remember what I said about reading people's posts with charity?
 

5ekyu

Hero
But they're telling you it's not happening at their tables.

They'll telling you they their players aren't using that defensive wording. Don't you want to understand why it's working for them even though you predict it won't?

i suggest you look back at the points made about how letting players roll checks keeps getting tied to interruptions or lack of descriptions etc etc by some of those who advocate the GM calls for all checks position and go ask them whether they want to know why it doesn't at my table or some of those others?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
i suggest you look back at the points made about how letting players roll checks keeps getting tied to interruptions or lack of descriptions etc etc by some of those who advocate the GM calls for all checks position and go ask them whether they want to know why it doesn't at my table or some of those others?

I specifically say in my post about "lack of descriptions" that it doesn't apply to groups where players make unprompted rolls in addition to stating a goal and approach.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
i suggest you look back at the points made about how letting players roll checks keeps getting tied to interruptions or lack of descriptions etc etc by some of those who advocate the GM calls for all checks position and go ask them whether they want to know why it doesn't at my table or some of those others?

I described what I felt wasn't working with allowing player assigned rolls at my table, and have gone from there. No one here has told you you're doing it wrong, or having a bad play experience. I've gone out of my way to do the opposite: I'm sincerely glad your method works for you. I'm not interested in telling you why it shouldn't work for you; I can only tell you why it didn't work for me. Past that I am, yes, advocating for my method. The reasons for this are two-fold: 1) I learned a good deal from reading how others play, so I'm sharing for that and 2) I like sharing things that work for me.

Making light of your playstyle, which I understand fully and also understand that the things that bothered me about it don't see to bother you (and I'm really okay with that!), is not what I or @iserth or [MENTION=6801204]Satyrn[/MENTION] or [MENTION=6777696]redrick[/MENTION] are trying to do.

You seem to keep having questions about how we do things, but also seem to be approaching the discussion from a point where you're trying to find problems with it rather than understand it. Could be an error in communications, going both ways. I'd be glad to continue to help understand why we play -- and, in that, we don't all do the same things and there's still some large variance* -- but I'm less interested if you're looking to win something from an argument.

*For instance, despite my love of silly examples on these boards, my games contain little intentional silliness on my part as DM. The players bring some, for certain, but I rarely add silliness to the level that, say, @iserth enjoys (although his naming conventions are definitely worth a chuckle). I also don't run the kind of campaigns he runs. We share a number of similarities, one of which is a converging method for how to effect player actions, but we still have a number differences. And that's absolutely fantastic!
 

5ekyu

Hero
The reason it isn't is because, when I initially describe the altar, I'm going to describe it as faintly anti-glowing -- seeming to suck in all the light and heat nearby -- and marked with runes that look scratched in by a massive claw rather than carved. A cold and greasy feel to the air seems to emanate from the altar. What looks like dried blood covers the top and pools in the runes. You recall that Bob the Questgiver told you that the Cult of Horribly Bad Things and Lots of Negative Energy often builds secret compartments into their altars to protect the things they value. What do you do?

If, at that point, the players declare they're running their hands over the altar that's sucking in nearby light and heat and is covered in blood and scratched in runes, well, I figure I warned them enough already.

And that's that key point that you keep ignoring: those of us that use this technique compliment it by 1) not being dicks looking for gotchas and 2) by providing enough information that any gotchas that happen have been well telegraphed beforehand, so they aren't actually gotchas at all. If you foreshadow well enough, then it's now on the players to actually use that information. Rash actions can have bad consequences, and I'm not going to pull the punch on them.

Now, if I ask 'what do you do?' and the player says 'I run my hands over the altar to look for a secret compartment' and I suddenly realize I screwed up and failed to mention the light and heat sucking, the dried blood, and the scratched in runes then I'll either put in a pause, apologize, and redescribe the scene or, more likely, I'll say, "oops, okay, you find a secret compartment in the altar." I'm not going to use my failure to punish players.


So, if i read this right...

you provided enough info to your players upfront before the issue is a question and then if the player decides to touch the altar or not is (unless you or they misspoke or misunderstood in which case you may do a "whoa wait" sort of thing...) a fair "player decides to" or "player decides not to" sort of result?

that is an honest attempt to understand what you said above and the one issue i have to wonder about is where did the character's skill play a role at all in this event or question of "touch or not touch" the altar?

How would the approach you describe above be different for a character with perception, arcana, lore, investigate (and so on) at non-proficient and -3 penalty than one with non-proficient with scores at +0 than one with proficient with scores+3 than one with proficient with scores at expertise +9?
 
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Satyrn

First Post
i suggest you look back at the points made about how letting players roll checks keeps getting tied to interruptions or lack of descriptions etc etc by some of those who advocate the GM calls for all checks position and go ask them whether they want to know why it doesn't at my table or some of those others?

But I'm not trying to argue that with you. I get that players initiating rolls isn't an interruption for you.

On the last few pages of this thread you've been saying that iserith and ovinomancer are playing "gotcha" with their players. When I read what they're saying it doesn't look that way to me. They've spent a lot of time describing their styles in a good faith effort to illustrate why they do what they do and why it works for them. You just seem to be arguing that what they're doing doesn't work.

So I'm suggesting you look at their posts in a different light - start from the assumption that they aren't playing gotcha, that they aren't requiring "magic wording" and the other negative points you've brought up.

And then maybe you'll get that what they're doing works for them, like I get that what you're doing works for you.
 

5ekyu

Hero
But I'm not trying to argue that with you. I get that players initiating rolls isn't an interruption for you.

On the last few pages of this thread you've been saying that iserith and ovinomancer are playing "gotcha" with their players. When I read what they're saying it doesn't look that way to me. They've spent a lot of time describing their styles in a good faith effort to illustrate why they do what they do and why it works for them. You just seem to be arguing that what they're doing doesn't work.

So I'm suggesting you look at their posts in a different light - start from the assumption that they aren't playing gotcha, that they aren't requiring "magic wording" and the other negative points you've brought up.

And then maybe you'll get that what they're doing works for them, like I get that what you're doing works for you.

I do not dispute that what they are doing works for them and do not think i ever have.

again, if you look back thru this thread you will find plenty of references to "what these playstyles can lead to" sometimes expressed as correlation, if not causation.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
So, if i read this right...

you provided enough info to your players upfront before the issue is a question

"1. The DM describes the environment."

and then if the player decides to touch the altar or not is (unless you or they misspoke or misunderstood in which case you may do a "whoa wait" sort of thing...) a fair "player decides to" or "player decides not to" sort of result?

"2. The players describe what they want to do..."

that is an honest attempt to understand what you said above and the one issue i have to wonder about is where did the character's skill play a role at all in this event or question of "touch or not touch" the altar?

"...sometimes, resolving a task is easy... some other circumstance might make it challenging for an adventure to complete a task. In those cases, the DM decides what happens, often relying on the roll of a die to determine the results of an action."

So the character's proficiency may play a role after the player describes what he or she wants to do. After that's determined and the appropriate mechanics applied (if any), then "3. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers' actions."

How would the approach you describe above be different for a character with perception, arcana, lore, investigate (and so on) at non-proficient and -3 penalty than one with non-proficient with scores at +0 than one with proficient with scores+3 than one with proficient with scores at expertise +9?

I wouldn't describe the environment any differently in most cases.
 

redrick

First Post
How would the approach you describe above be different for a character with perception, arcana, lore, investigate (and so on) at non-proficient and -3 penalty than one with non-proficient with scores at +0 than one with proficient with scores+3 than one with proficient with scores at expertise +9?

For myself, an evil glowing altar in an evil temple is not meant to be a puzzle to be solved by the players. My goal would be to make sure that everybody at the table understood, as a player, that touching the altar is going to carry a lot of risks. I would then put the burden on the players to play their characters as they see fit. So, a character with no knowledge of Arcana and a low intelligence might say, "huh, I wonder what this big glowing thing is, I guess I'll touch it and find out!" Or they might say, "Umm, I don't know what that is, but I'm scared! Ugg no like glowing altars!" A wizard with high arcana might say, "Yep, definitely a cursed altar. Best stay clear." Or they might say, "Hmm, altar in evil temple. Arcane, infernal engravings. Brown, rusty flakes, most likely dried blood. I'm going to conduct a series of tests, first of all by tapping on it with my fingers."

That's how that encounter would be run. As a challenge to the imp of the perverse. And who knows, maybe the altar is actually a captured, converted good altar, just waiting for the touch of an innocent soul to free it from its cursed enchantment?

D&D doesn't really have an "Idea" roll like some games. The, "Umm, I'm stuck, what do I do?" A player might say, "Hmm, does my knowledge of arcana or religion give me any ideas about how best to behave around a glowing altar in an evil temple?" In which case I might let them roll the check and them give them some advice. I dunno.

My experience, as a player and a DM, is that many players like to play stupid.
 
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