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D&D 5E Players Self-Assigning Rolls

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Sure, in which case they didn't ask me if the door was unlocked. They told me that they cast thaumaturgy. ;)

That wouldn’t be my instinct as a player. Thaumaturgy doesn’t open locked doors, so “is the door locked?” could easily be the player trying to establish if Thaumaturgy will work before casting it, if the expectation isn’t already that a question will be interpreted as a declaration of action with intent to find the answer to the question.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.

Here's what I think is the disconnect between you and the others. The bolded portion is really darn obvious and wouldn't require a check in our games. We'd just describe that. The investigation roll would be for less obvious stuff, which requires a bit more interaction and information on the part of the players about how they go about investigating.

Given your description, my players would probably tell me that they move closer to the alter, but don't touch it, looking closer at the runes to see if they can determine some meaning. Perhaps they would look for smaller straight lines in the ash indicating that there might be a compartment there. THEN I'd ask for the investigation check, or since they were clever in asking if the ash dipped into any lines, I might just give them an auto success if there was such a compartment under the ash.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Like "anti-jeopardy"

Please express your questions in the form of an action.
I guess that's one way to put it. It makes the game flow more organically than stopping to ask questions every few seconds does. The back and forth between player and DM is smoother in my experience.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That wouldn’t be my instinct as a player. Thaumaturgy doesn’t open locked doors, so “is the door locked?” could easily be the player trying to establish if Thaumaturgy will work before casting it, if the expectation isn’t already that a question will be interpreted as a declaration of action with intent to find the answer to the question.

Why would you think that you can just see if a door is unlocked, though?
 

redrick

First Post
I guess that's one way to put it. It makes the game flow more organically than stopping to ask questions every few seconds does. The back and forth between player and DM is smoother in my experience.

I'm going to give this a shot with my beginner's group next month. In my mind, anything I can do to help keep the focus of the players on their own character and the world they inhabit, the better.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Why would you think that you can just see if a door is unlocked, though?

It depends on the expectation at the table. There are a few ways I can see this scenario playing out. For example,

Player: Is the door locked?
DM: Nope.
Player: I open it.

Or,

Player: Is the door locked?
DM: Can you rephrase that as an action with a goal and approach?
Player: Oh, right. I try to open the door with my... Oh, actually with Thaumaturgy just to be safe.

Basically, the thought that I might want to open the door with magic mighrbnor have occurred to me before the DM prompted me to be more specific about how I go about trying to find out if it’s locked. If the expectation at the table is that questions are normal and not necessary equivalent to a declaration of action, then “is the door locked?” might just be something I as a player am wondering, not yet having resolved to try to open the door by one means or another. Sure, I wouldn’t know without trying to open it (unless it had an obvious padlock or something), but I might not have thought through the implications of that line of questioning. I’d be a little miffed if the DM just assumed that by asking that question I was declaring intent to open the door with my hand, rather than asking for clarification on how I was going to try to find out whether or not it was locked.
 

5ekyu

Hero
Here's what I think is the disconnect between you and the others. The bolded portion is really darn obvious and wouldn't require a check in our games. We'd just describe that. The investigation roll would be for less obvious stuff, which requires a bit more interaction and information on the part of the players about how they go about investigating.

Given your description, my players would probably tell me that they move closer to the alter, but don't touch it, looking closer at the runes to see if they can determine some meaning. Perhaps they would look for smaller straight lines in the ash indicating that there might be a compartment there. THEN I'd ask for the investigation check, or since they were clever in asking if the ash dipped into any lines, I might just give them an auto success if there was such a compartment under the ash.
First, you are right. I dont consider bugs and small animal bones on a dust and debris covered altar to be obvious to everyone even those with net negative "bonuses" because of things like roots or such. As someone with bad eyesight myself, esp in not the best lighting, i can definitely say "most of that would escape my notice.

Is it going to be obvious to a trainer individual with good eyes or even maybe an averge person on a good day, probably and thats what a check tells me.

I would have some of those at easy, some medium myself.

If you look at it, dusty surfaces with bugs, small bones, etc not all that different from the types of signs "tracking" notices and follows, but tracking is not normally a thing untraineed folks get auto- success on in this game, or maybe it is.

One of the posters observed that it is kind of contrary to sensible that there will always be clues and signs... But to me the more accurate point is it wont always be clues and hints so obvious to everybody that regardless of skill or knowledge or experience of the character, its always going to be obvious enough to get to that "if the player even then still chooses..." level of incredulity.

But thats me and not the same for everybody.

My descriptions often vary greatly by character based on what their aptitudes are. It provides very tangible and observable rewards to those who sunk their chargen options not into the more heavily mechanical combat side.



Sent from my VS995 using EN World mobile app
 

redrick

First Post
First, you are right. I dont consider bugs and small animal bones on a dust and debris covered altar to be obvious to everyone even those with net negative "bonuses" because of things like roots or such. As someone with bad eyesight myself, esp in not the best lighting, i can definitely say "most of that would escape my notice.

Is it going to be obvious to a trainer individual with good eyes or even maybe an averge person on a good day, probably and thats what a check tells me.

I would have some of those at easy, some medium myself.

If you look at it, dusty surfaces with bugs, small bones, etc not all that different from the types of signs "tracking" notices and follows, but tracking is not normally a thing untraineed folks get auto- success on in this game, or maybe it is.

One of the posters observed that it is kind of contrary to sensible that there will always be clues and signs... But to me the more accurate point is it wont always be clues and hints so obvious to everybody that regardless of skill or knowledge or experience of the character, its always going to be obvious enough to get to that "if the player even then still chooses..." level of incredulity.

But thats me and not the same for everybody.

My descriptions often vary greatly by character based on what their aptitudes are. It provides very tangible and observable rewards to those who sunk their chargen options not into the more heavily mechanical combat side.

This is all totally legit. Every DM has to find their balance of how much they require rolls for actions. I tend to err on the side of calling for too few rolls, and I have had a player before say, "I would like to roll more than we rolled tonight."

I think you can do all of the above and still grumble about players who insist on just declaring their skill checks instead of describing their actions and intentions. I think knowing what the characters are trying to do, and how they are trying to do it, can lead to better adjudication of actions, and also help to keep the players more grounded in the fiction. I played a great session (not of D&D), where the GM kept us in turns the whole game. Not combat length, of course. Every "turn", the player described an action (possibly with some movement and minor free actions), and every turn ended with a roll and an outcome. The GM just made sure to keep us moving so one player didn't wax poetic on their turn. It was fun, it was immersive, but it was also gamey, and we got to enjoy the outcomes of our failed and succeeded die rolling.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'm going to give this a shot with my beginner's group next month. In my mind, anything I can do to help keep the focus of the players on their own character and the world they inhabit, the better.

There will be... an adjustment period. :D
 

that they aren't requiring "magic wording" and the other negative points you've brought up.

I know this wasn't directed at me, but since I keep calling it 'word games' my problem isn't "Hey in my games I like people to try to explain in game what they do" that's cool, even if it isn't my way to run, I wouldn't mind playing in that game...

my problem is when someone says "The person sitting across from me told me what he wants, but I want him to rephrase it before we go on"

example:
player "Is the door locked"
DM "How would your character know that"
or
DM "You have to describe an action to find out"
 

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