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

ClaytonCross

Kinder reader Inflection wanted
But ... but I rolled a 20! The odds of that are like ... 1 in 20! An' I had a pet name (Rexie!) picked out and everything. Ah, what could have been ...
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What Rexie? Your a demigod and your agreement made that player your warlock pet? Oh and you want him to kill the rest of the pary…. ok Rexie, when your right your right... players roll initiative The T-Rex and your former party member are the enemies … look just now out of the woods Turok the dinosaur hunter has at last found his pray and will being helping the remaining party members." I don't recommend trying to "power roleplay" the GM.... its completely independent from style and you will not win. lol
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
So it sounds like you don't understand us. No progress can in fact be a meaningful failure if it's meaningful. If you are trying to climb out of reach of a hydra and get no progress, that has some very, very significant meaning. If you are trying to climb to the top of a 6 foot wall to sit on top and enjoy a sunset, failure has no meaning, because you can try again and again until you succeed at reaching up, grabbing the top and pulling yourself up, and a failure is just a few second lost out of the many minutes you have to pull yourself up. There should be a roll for the former, but not the latter.

The same goes for no progress with a setback. That automatically includes meaningful failure, since a setback is always a penalty and setbacks only matter if something important is going on. In the above sunset example, a setback wouldn't have any meaning.

So yes, the rules are, and I will quote them so you can see that it's not just an interpretation, "Only call for a roll if there's a meaningful consequence for failure." DMG page 237. That an unambiguous, absolute statement.
"So yes, the rules are, and I will quote them so you can see that it's not just an interpretation, "Only call for a roll if there's a meaningful consequence for failure." DMG page 237. That an unambiguous, absolute statement."

Wow, that's about as obvious a case of bad actor as I have seen. You actually cut from my quote the rest of the sections where I discussed that very part of the DMG and the paragraph it is in and the context that brings thst makes it far from unambiguous and then went with that statement.

Literally the next sentence, the first you cut was started with "In the DMG on ability checks..."

That is incredible.

Just to add to save anyone the need to look that up, that rule applies to cases like walking across a floor or ordering an ale where there is no reason to call for a check of reference to character stats - as the paragraph it is in is talking about.

The actual broader rule for when to call for l a check is in the next paragraph on page 237 and is that there is a chance of failure and a chance to succeed. No "meaningful consequence" required.
 
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Agamon

Adventurer
I prefer to just say skill check should have consequence, one way or the other, rather than associate any negative terms with it.

A rogue skilled in lock picking, with the right tools, that has all day to pick a lock, will do so, no roll required (assuming it is pickable in the first place, of course). However, if she hears a guard approaching around the corner, now the roll has meaning.

A bard known for his charms can make a good impression with courtesans at the ball, no problem, no rolling, that's what he does. However, if the party is really trying hard to curry favor with the king, either a rousing good joke or a mistimed faux pas when speaking with him could make things more interesting, so that makes a good time to roll.

That's why I don't like players rolling their own checks. Sometimes it feels like when you're doing a thing, and said thing is marked on your sheet with a modifier beside it, said thing needs to be rolled for. But if the character is good at the thing, and especially trained in the thing, then I like to assume they are good at what they are good at. Chance comes into play when the pressure is on.

As for the last 20+ pages of this thread, I think I fall somewhere in the middle of this debate. While I prefer the players just tell what they are doing, I don't mind if they ask if a roll is appropriate. Sometimes I'll just tell them it's not, they succeed in what they're trying to do, sometimes I'll agree that it's needed. Sometimes I'll ask what they're doing to necessitate the roll, sometimes it's just really obvious from context. But mostly, my players realize by now that I'll let them know if a roll is needed during the course of play.

Also, perusing this thread, I realized that I really should write something in bold. That felt good. :)
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Personally I like to give examples. But I do find that trying to nail down people is nearly impossible. Give an example of how "I grapple the orc" is acceptable? Suddenly it becomes 8 orcs ... and the DM is suddenly incapable of uttering the words "Which one?" Carefully exploring and using passive perception to spot traps becomes "Taking all the time in the world to examine every trap".

If an initial example was hasty, spend a minute or five and come up with a real example.

But I get the same thing at work sometimes (I'm a software developer). I like to draw things out on a whiteboard, test things out, work through pros and cons, discuss alternatives. Other people come along and it's like "Well, Bob's blog says to do it this way and his blog is really well written so he must be right. No further thought or examples are needed."

I don't have a problem with people using different approaches. GAO may work for them, but like you I dislike the fact that it's the players resolving problems, not the PCs. I use it sometimes in my games, but 100%? Nope. If someone invested a lot of resources into being really good at spotting traps, I'm going to reward that.

To use a geeky software design term, I want to discuss use cases. Pick common sample scenarios, what are the different actors going to do and what's the result? What are the options and their pros and cons? Discuss specifics, not generalities, and stay on one story at a time. Discussing using a skill to disarm traps? Don't bring in that one time when you had a "gotcha" DM that had your PC walking off the edge of a cliff because you didn't specifically state that you stopped at the edge.

Oh well. If wishes were horses and all that.
Sigh.

The example was hasty, but it wasn't ill conceived. It's a very reasonable look at how different goals make a difference in the resolution mechanics employed. What was "hasty" is more that I followed the example given in the post I responded to and built examples for that. This meant that I was more interested in displaying how a high risk check would look rather than presenting how I might actually run that situation. The DC was considered, and based on a deep understanding of the maths of checks in 5e. I intended for it to be a very risky try, because I was providing an example of a risky goal with the example approach. And, because the goal was risky, the stakes were high. Again, with intent. The arguments against, as far as I can discern, are that the DC was so high that it betrayed a failure of understanding of the game's maths -- this is incorrect, it was set intentionally with those maths in mind. And that the consequence for failure wasn't commensurate with the reward for success, which is really a matter of opinion and doesn't hold much weight when considering the method used.

Long story short, it wasn't an example of how I play, but it was a valid example of how a risky goal with a given approach might look.

Now, can we please stop talking about how much we like or dislike the example DCs or the chosen consequences and rewards? It's just navel-gazing while everyone keeps their preconceptions safe.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Do I need to paste the rules again? Point out how they don't say what you think they say? Paste in the words from page 174 of the PHB where it states that a failed check "means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback"? Meh. Why bother.

But if you're saying that not gaining information or simply not succeeding at what you attempted to do can be it's own penalty then I agree.
You're quoting that as if it were mutually exclusive with what I'm saying, when the reality is that all three work together.

No progress, when no progress is not meaningful can't happen from a failed roll, because there is no roll. The same with progress with a setback, and a simple failed roll. That's why a failed roll is rarely meaningful in and of itself.

If you make an athletics check and fail, how is that meaningful in and of itself? If you make a lore check and fail it, how is that failure meaningful in and of itself? If you make a perception check and fail it, how is that meaningful in and of itself?

The answer is that none of those things have any meaning whatsoever. Only the context of the situation the PC is in and the consequences that flow from a failed check under those circumstances can determine if a check has meaning or not, which means that meaning comes from those things outside of the check.
 

Hussar

Legend
One would think that after stating their skills and educational background in mathematics, a better example could be forthcoming.

But, it never is. Because, while we all understand what you folks are doing, you never can explain clearly how you are doing it. Multiple calls for concrete examples of how to do something are brushed off an ignored. Examples that are posted are shown to be very poor.

But, apparently it's all "navel gazing" and bad faith on our part for not immediately jumping up and down to pat you on the head for such a wonderful explanation that just clears up all the criticisms. :erm:

Yup, another thread unwatched.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
You're quoting that as if it were mutually exclusive with what I'm saying, when the reality is that all three work together.

No progress, when no progress is not meaningful can't happen from a failed roll, because there is no roll. The same with progress with a setback, and a simple failed roll. That's why a failed roll is rarely meaningful in and of itself.

If you make an athletics check and fail, how is that meaningful in and of itself? If you make a lore check and fail it, how is that failure meaningful in and of itself? If you make a perception check and fail it, how is that meaningful in and of itself?

The answer is that none of those things have any meaning whatsoever. Only the context of the situation the PC is in and the consequences that flow from a failed check under those circumstances can determine if a check has meaning or not, which means that meaning comes from those things outside of the check.
I'll let the actual rules, not your opinion, speak for themselves.
To make an ability check, roll a d20 and add the relevant ability modifier. As with other d20 rolls, apply bonuses and penalties, and compare the total to the DC. If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the ability check is a success — the creature overcomes the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it's a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback determined by the DM.​

Roll the dice, compare to the DC, roll lower and there is no progress. It's about as simple as can be.

Or is this just another case of "sloppy writing" because it contradicts your opinion like the section on traps?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'll let the actual rules, not your opinion, speak for themselves.
To make an ability check, roll a d20 and add the relevant ability modifier. As with other d20 rolls, apply bonuses and penalties, and compare the total to the DC. If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the ability check is a success — the creature overcomes the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it's a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback determined by the DM.​

Roll the dice, compare to the DC, roll lower and there is no progress. It's about as simple as can be.

Or is this just another case of "sloppy writing" because it contradicts your opinion like the section on traps?
So now the DMG doesn't have rules?
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
I'll let the actual rules, not your opinion, speak for themselves.
To make an ability check, roll a d20 and add the relevant ability modifier. As with other d20 rolls, apply bonuses and penalties, and compare the total to the DC. If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the ability check is a success — the creature overcomes the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it's a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback determined by the DM.​

Roll the dice, compare to the DC, roll lower and there is no progress. It's about as simple as can be.

Or is this just another case of "sloppy writing" because it contradicts your opinion like the section on traps?
So now the DMG doesn't have rules?
DMG p237
When a player wants to do something, it's often appropriate to let the attempt succeed without a roll or a reference to the character's ability scores. For example, a character doesn't normally need to make a Dexterity check to walk across an empty room or a Charisma check to order a mug of ale. Only call for a roll if there is a meaningful consequence for failure.​
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
DMG p237
When a player wants to do something, it's often appropriate to let the attempt succeed without a roll or a reference to the character's ability scores. For example, a character doesn't normally need to make a Dexterity check to walk across an empty room or a Charisma check to order a mug of ale. Only call for a roll if there is a meaningful consequence for failure.
Exactly. That's every bit as much of a rule as what @Oofta quoted.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Here @Oofta, this may help you understand the process better.

Step 1: Is the ability check impossible? If yes, player fails. If no, go to step 2.

Step 2: Is the task so easy that it's an auto success? If yes, player succeeds without a roll. If no, go to step 3.

Step 3: Is there a meaningful consequence for failure? If yes, go to step 4. If no, player succeeds without a roll.

Step 4: Set a DC and have the player roll the die, then go to step 5.

Step 5: Did the player succeed? If yes, player succeeds. If no, go to step 6.

Step 6: Have the PC make no progress towards the goal along with the meaningful consequence failure, or make progress with a setback along with the meaningful consequence for failure.

You see how all the rules work together and don't fight each other?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
So now the DMG doesn't have rules?
So either
A) the "consequence of failure" is talking about mundane tasks such as ordering a drink and it's being taken out of context.
or
B) The sections where it states that failing to hit the DC can mean you just don't make progress and the section where is says don't call for a roll if you answer no to the questions (no chance of failure, clearly impossible) are just meaningless drivel to be ignored.

I choose A. Words have meaning based on their context.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So either
A) the "consequence of failure" is talking about mundane tasks such as ordering a drink and it's being taken out of context.
or
B) The sections where it states that failing to hit the DC can mean you just don't make progress and the section where is says don't call for a roll if you answer no to the questions (no chance of failure, clearly impossible) are just meaningless drivel to be ignored.

I choose A. Words have meaning based on their context.
That's a blatant False Dichotomy. Refer to the post where I lay out the steps. It's really easy to understand if you make even a modicum of effort.
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
I choose A. Words have meaning based on their context.
Yeah but "Only call for a roll if there is a meaningful consequence for failure. " is a pretty general rule, that shouldn't apply only to mundane tasks. Whenever the DM asks for a roll, that means:

-there's a chance to succeed
-there's a meaningful consequence for failure

If one of those two doesn't apply, then a roll is a waste of everyone's time.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The point of rolling the dice is that there is meaningful tension and we all want to see what is about to happen. If that's not the case what's the point of rolling?
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Yeah but "Only call for a roll if there is a meaningful consequence for failure. " is a pretty general rule, that shouldn't apply only to mundane tasks. Whenever the DM asks for a roll, that means:

-there's a chance to succeed
-there's a meaningful consequence for failure

If one of those two doesn't apply, then a roll is a waste of everyone's time.
No, it's not a general rule. It's a specific rule given context by the examples in the paragraph it is a part of.

The general rule in the DMG follows it in the very next sentence and following list, that starts to answer how to decide whether to use a roll or not.

It keys on two things - can it succeed and can it fail.

Obvioudly one can take a sentence, divorce it from the paragraph it is in, the context it is given and the examples it was paired with.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
That's a blatant False Dichotomy. Refer to the post where I lay out the steps. It's really easy to understand if you make even a modicum of effort.
Or - and I know this is hard to believe - I simply disagree. I'm using Occam's Razor. Maybe Occam's dull butter knife. Either the rules directly contradict themselves and leave out your all important "cost" in 2 out of 3 mentions of how to handle checks or my interpretation of the rule is correct.

You have a right to disagree. Just like I have the right to point out that your interpretation of the rules is not "The rules". Have a good one!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The point of rolling the dice is that there is meaningful tension and we all want to see what is about to happen. If that's not the case what's the point of rolling?
They can also be used to resolve uncertainty. See "The Role of Dice" in the DMG. How much you use them is up to you.
 

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