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5E Players: Why Do You Want to Roll a d20?

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
My point is, I don't remember specifically what kind of breath weapon a dragon has. I think "what do I know about red dragons".
And in doing so, you draw upon the lore of the Monster Manual. Even if you are not consciously thinking about it, that is what you are doing. All the player is doing is letting the DM know where the knowledge came from.

But nobody has answered my question. If I ask "Do trolls have ranged attacks" (or whatever the proper phrasing would be) do I also know about their regen? Is it the same DC or automatic like the answer to my specific question?
Maybe. It all depends. And there is no "proper phrasing."
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yeah, it’s ignoring now, not blocking. The ignored user can still see your posts, you just can’t see theirs. Which is a little annoying, but at least we no longer have the problem where if someone blocks you it screws up redirects in any thread they’ve posted in.
Personally, I think this is the best way. I think people should be able to avoid my posts if that's what they want to do, but I don't block anyone, because everyone has something interesting to say at least sometimes, and I don't want to miss out on something good.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I think part of the issue might be how we see what is happening in the fiction when something like an Arcana check is called for and what the roll actually resolves. As far as I am concerned it is resolving what can I recall in this highly specific moment in time. It is not resolving what your character knows in the broad sense of what they have been exposed to in years of study. Given more time they would probably be able to piece together more and can try to do so over the course of a fight if need be.

I look at it like this. I am a software engineer. I have worked with a number of different technology stacks over the years. I broadly know a lot about a number of different technologies, programming techniques, databases, and the like. In the moment of coding a solution this is not all immediately available to me. I must exert mental effort to recall how to do things even if I have done so 100 times before.

I view skilled play of the fiction to be a crucial skill that new players should learn over time if they want to be good at the game. This includes things like investigating the right areas, choosing where to look for hidden enemies, use of divination spells, and use of knowledge skills. It also includes finding and exploiting leverage to convince NPCs to do the things you want them to. I try to guide new players through this process.

I know this might be contentious in some parts, but I want to foster an environment where skilled play of the fiction and mechanics of the game are rewarded. Moldvay B/X is one of my favorite versions of the game and I tend to hew pretty close to its advice on how to referee Dungeons and Dragons. I set up an environment meant to challenge the players and it is up to them to navigate it using their skills as players and the abilities of their characters.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
I will repeat. There is nothing wrong with learning by doing. "Look! The wound is closing"(doing). Followed by, "I draw upon the lore my grandfather taught me about his adventuring days and figure out how to prevent that from happening"(more doing). Followed by, DM: "You succeed!", "You fail!", or "Roll a d20 and let's see if you know.

And before we get more "magic words" crap, that's not even close to the only way a newbie could phrase it to find out. All without knowing a thing about the game.
so when he fails by calling on the lore his grandfather taught him, should he then try to lore his grandmother taught him? what about the lore he found out at the bar, should he try that next? etc etc etc...
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
so when he fails by calling on the lore his grandfather taught him, should he then try to lore his grandmother taught him? what about the lore he found out at the bar, should he try that next? etc etc etc...
The somewhat analogous situation in the “just invoke the mechanic” camp might be: I roll History... dang 8... let me try again... c’mon 15... good? No? ... ok I roll History again... 12... er... etc etc

One might say the straw men look much the same no matter which play style you prefer. Neither of these things are happening at the tables anyone here plays at. But I bet people are having fun at all those tables and the adjudication process is not nearly as awkward as these examples might try to suggest. At least that is some common ground.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
So can you answer the question. I ask about trolls and ranged attacks. Do I also know about regen at the same DC?

While I realize that not everyone plays the same, if asking for specific info grants you only that specific info and nothing more (or at a higher DC) then I think it's a game of 20 questions. If not, then why bother asking for specifics?
I think here you're mixing two (or maybe even three) play styles that don't mix well. If you want to "know if you know about their regen" then I think you're asking a metagaming question. It sounds like you DO know about their regen, and you want to know if it's ok to let your character know it. And that's totally up to you how you want to play it.

But if you're encountering a new creature...a Gru, let's say...and you know nothing about it, and you state, "I'm going to wrack my brains for anything my Patron might have told me during our late night telepathic bull sessions", and the DM says, "Ha. But I like that...give me a nature check" and you roll well, how much of the Gru's special abilities is simply up to your DM. There's no deterministic rule for how well, or how often, you need to roll.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
The somewhat analogous situation in the “just invoke the mechanic” camp might be: I roll History... dang 8... let me try again... c’mon 15... good? No? ... ok I roll History again... 12... er... etc etc

One might say the straw men look much the same no matter which play style you prefer. Neither of these things are happening at the tables anyone here plays at. But I bet people are having fun at all those tables and the adjudication process is not nearly as awkward as these examples might try to suggest. At least that is some common ground.
Not really analogous - attempting the same goal with a different approach is a sensible thing to try.

Attempting the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is not sensible.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So can you answer the question. I ask about trolls and ranged attacks. Do I also know about regen at the same DC?

While I realize that not everyone plays the same, if asking for specific info grants you only that specific info and nothing more (or at a higher DC) then I think it's a game of 20 questions. If not, then why bother asking for specifics?
I think the “not everyone plays the same” part is playing a huge part in the lack of direct answers that you’re experiencing. Like, the more specific we’re getting into how to handle a player wanting to know about certain monsters or whatever, the more the small differences in our DMing styles are muddling the issue. We seem to be treating the way Iserith handles... I’ll call them “recall actions” ...as representative of the “middle path” DMing style, but a lot of people who aren’t Iserith are weighing in on how they would do it, and I’m sitting here like... This line of questioning no longer bears any resemblance to what actually happens in my games.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
so when he fails by calling on the lore his grandfather taught him, should he then try to lore his grandmother taught him? what about the lore he found out at the bar, should he try that next? etc etc etc...
You are missing that calling on the lore his grandfather taught him is not a conscious thing. That's just to inform the DM. Once fails to remember or he never knew(failed roll or outright no), he is done. There is no grandmother lore to call on.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Not really analogous - attempting the same goal with a different approach is a sensible thing to try.

Attempting the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is not sensible.
Worth noting, the “middle path” style has no restriction around repeated actions. In fact, that’s a big part of the “meaningful consequence for failure” requirement for a roll - if there’s nothing stopping you from trying repeatedly until you succeed, you succeed.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
Not really analogous - attempting the same goal with a different approach is a sensible thing to try.

Attempting the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is not sensible.
Wait, are you arguing FOR @iserith’s play style now? 😀

For serious, it’s all about the adjudication, right? In your example, the DM will simply say that the PC did not learn that piece of lore ever from grandfather or anywhere else. See? We’re done adjudicating. In my example, the first roll would be adjudicated as the PC never having learned the lore from anywhere. Same endpoint. The joy in the journey of getting there will vary, I suppose, depending on your preferred play style and if the table uses that play style.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Wait, are you arguing FOR @iserith’s play style now? 😀

For serious, it’s all about the adjudication, right? In your example, the DM will simply say that the PC did not learn that piece of lore ever from grandfather or anywhere else. See? We’re done adjudicating. In my example, the first roll would be adjudicated as the PC never having learned the lore from anywhere. Same endpoint. The joy in the journey of getting there will vary, I suppose, depending on your preferred play style and if the table uses that play style.
But there is a presupposition to that style (or at least I thought there was). That, it was about the fiction and so you have a goal and a fictional approach and the outcome to that is what the DM determines. If you didn't have a goal and approach of your grandmothers lore then that outcomes wasn't determined.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think here you're mixing two (or maybe even three) play styles that don't mix well. If you want to "know if you know about their regen" then I think you're asking a metagaming question. It sounds like you DO know about their regen, and you want to know if it's ok to let your character know it. And that's totally up to you how you want to play it.

But if you're encountering a new creature...a Gru, let's say...and you know nothing about it, and you state, "I'm going to wrack my brains for anything my Patron might have told me during our late night telepathic bull sessions", and the DM says, "Ha. But I like that...give me a nature check" and you roll well, how much of the Gru's special abilities is simply up to your DM. There's no deterministic rule for how well, or how often, you need to roll.
Which is basically what I do without requiring any fluff. If you want to provide fluff and don't get carried away, great. Some people are good at making up stuff like that on the spot and some are not. If they're not good at making up new stuff on the spot they'll just figure out a standard phrase and repeat it.

I don't want to penalize people for not being spontaneous and not being able to come up with detailed background info.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
But there is a presupposition to that style (or at least I thought there was). That, it was about the fiction and so you have a goal and a fictional approach and the outcome to that is what the DM determines. If you didn't have a goal and approach of your grandmothers lore then that outcomes wasn't determined.
The presupposition to both styles is that if a task is impossible, no approach or number of invoked mechanics is going to change that.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think the “not everyone plays the same” part is playing a huge part in the lack of direct answers that you’re experiencing. Like, the more specific we’re getting into how to handle a player wanting to know about certain monsters or whatever, the more the small differences in our DMing styles are muddling the issue. We seem to be treating the way Iserith handles... I’ll call them “recall actions” ...as representative of the “middle path” DMing style, but a lot of people who aren’t Iserith are weighing in on how they would do it, and I’m sitting here like... This line of questioning no longer bears any resemblance to what actually happens in my games.
Fair enough. Doesn't help that iserith ignores me; he seems to be the biggest proponent of doing everything in a very structured manner. That was probably my biggest beef with him: he'd make statements but then could never give examples.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The internet and forums distort people's actual play style. I would assume most people are on a spectrum. I don't resolve every challenge with the roll of a die, you don't skip telling people about Stabby the Clown because they were only looking for rats.

But some people do seem to be resistant to "tell me what I know about grus" and will not tell you they automatically eat you if the lights go out if you asked if they had any weaknesses.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
But there is a presupposition to that style (or at least I thought there was). That, it was about the fiction and so you have a goal and a fictional approach and the outcome to that is what the DM determines. If you didn't have a goal and approach of your grandmothers lore then that outcomes wasn't determined.
Yeah, back to punching smoke as someone called it.

Let me stare something straight up, if a player in one of my games never called for a "skill check" and always stated his character's efforts by goal and approach, waiting for me to tell him when to and what to roll - that would be OK. I am sure if his "reflections on which relatives stories" for every "do I know" after 30 sessions might get a bit tedious.

But if he was just a stickler for it and kept his pace up that would be fine.

Our problem would be if he came to the table with the expectations that he should be succeeding more often because of the difference in how he described actions and the other guys who just said more skill checks things.

My issue is not with how one describes the actions - not with goal and approach - but with coming at adjudicating GNA with the pre-conception that's its gonna be more successful because of it.

Most of my issue with GNA here is the associated "adjudication baggage" that keeps getting paired with it.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
From my perspective the approach is the thing you are actually doing, not the background details that support it. Attempting to recall something from memory is attempting to recall something from memory. If you bring up something that has already been established about your character's background that was not at the top of my GM brain it could impact the DC, but bringing up some other piece of background info does not change what your character was fundamentally trying to do.

I care about what you are actually doing right here and now. For me a difference in approach would require something like consulting an in world bestiary or an active discussion with your patron or academic in the field. These would obviously take more time than a simple attempt to recall information.

Tell me everything I know about grus is not something I would accept as a goal because that could potentially be a massive info dump that I have no real way to resolve. What is this thing or what is a gru is something that is very doable.
 

Hussar

Legend
I used to feel this way, before I adopted goal and approach resolution. If you have to make a successful check to accomplish anything, then a d20 is far too swingy without unwieldy-large bonuses. With +5 from ability and +6 from proficiency, the highest level of skill you can achieve without being a rogue or a bard, you still have a 15% chance of failing at a medium difficulty task and a 40% chance of failing at a hard task. In my opinion, that’s way too unreliable if you need to roll every time you attempt something. I’d much rather have the consistency of a 3d6 bell curve.

On the other hand, if you only need to make a check when your action has a logical chance of and meaningful consequence for failure, then some swingyness is much more desirable. In my opinion.
Heh. Took a bit of time away to take a deep breath. This was annoying me far more than it should have. :p

I think this is a part of the issue that isn't being discussed actually. How much swing are we talking about? How does your DM determine DC's? For example, I know that @Maxperson (in another thread) said that it was a DC 20 to determine 2 facts about a monster and that it was possible that neither fact would be useful to the player in the context of the situation. That that it had to be, but, that it could be.

I would not do this.

To me, I look to the bounded accuracy of 5e. How many monsters have an AC over 20 for example? Not very many. Most of them are pretty legendary encounters. So, I apply that to the skill system as well. Any DC of 20 or higher is something of legend - this is something that even a highly trained expert will fail most of the time, so, it's pretty darn hard and it's something you'll likely only see a couple of times in a given adventure. Over 20? Couple of times in a campaign. The vast majority of checks, in my view, are between DC 5 and 15.

Which means that now, asking for checks,isn't anywhere near as swingy as it might be supposed. For an unskilled character, an easy check succeeds about 2 out of 3 times. For a skilled character, that becomes a Moderate (15) skill check.

So, to answer the original question of the thread, "Why do you want to roll a d20?" Well, I know that if I roll, barring unforseen complications, I'm going to succeed about twice as often as I fail and I can spend character resources to improve those odds even more. So, why shouldn't I roll? I'm losing out on those character resources if I don't roll and rolling will get me what I want most of the time.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Fair enough. Doesn't help that iserith ignores me; he seems to be the biggest proponent of doing everything in a very structured manner. That was probably my biggest beef with him: he'd make statements but then could never give examples.
He’s pretty transparent about not liking to give specific examples because in his experience they are too lacking in context to effectively illustrate his point, and only serve to give people something to pick apart. Can’t say I blame him.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The internet and forums distort people's actual play style. I would assume most people are on a spectrum. I don't resolve every challenge with the roll of a die, you don't skip telling people about Stabby the Clown because they were only looking for rats.

But some people do seem to be resistant to "tell me what I know about grus" and will not tell you they automatically eat you if the lights go out if you asked if they had any weaknesses.
I think for many of us who use the “middle path” style, “tell me what I know about” anything feels wrong, because we generally don’t consider it within the DM’s role to decide what a PC does or doesn’t know. The instinct is either to say “I don’t know, you tell me,” or “what do you want to know about them?”
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Heh. Took a bit of time away to take a deep breath. This was annoying me far more than it should have. :p

I think this is a part of the issue that isn't being discussed actually. How much swing are we talking about? How does your DM determine DC's? For example, I know that @Maxperson (in another thread) said that it was a DC 20 to determine 2 facts about a monster and that it was possible that neither fact would be useful to the player in the context of the situation. That that it had to be, but, that it could be.

I would not do this.

To me, I look to the bounded accuracy of 5e. How many monsters have an AC over 20 for example? Not very many. Most of them are pretty legendary encounters. So, I apply that to the skill system as well. Any DC of 20 or higher is something of legend - this is something that even a highly trained expert will fail most of the time, so, it's pretty darn hard and it's something you'll likely only see a couple of times in a given adventure. Over 20? Couple of times in a campaign. The vast majority of checks, in my view, are between DC 5 and 15.

Which means that now, asking for checks,isn't anywhere near as swingy as it might be supposed. For an unskilled character, an easy check succeeds about 2 out of 3 times. For a skilled character, that becomes a Moderate (15) skill check.

So, to answer the original question of the thread, "Why do you want to roll a d20?" Well, I know that if I roll, barring unforseen complications, I'm going to succeed about twice as often as I fail and I can spend character resources to improve those odds even more. So, why shouldn't I roll? I'm losing out on those character resources if I don't roll and rolling will get me what I want most of the time.
Well, I know you’re not fond of us folks who use the “middle path” quoting the books to explain our reasons for things, but... the rules do define DC 5 as “very easy”, DC 10 as “easy,” DC 15 as “hard”, and DC 20 as “very hard.” Personally, I almost never call for “very easy” checks because it’s pretty rare that a task that could be reasonably defined as “very easy” meets my standards for requiring a check at all. Most of my DCs fall in the 10-15 range as well, though I wouldn’t call DC 20 “legendary” in difficulty.
 

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