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

Ashrym

Explorer
I invest in character options because they fit the over-all concept I had in mind and I want to play to that concept. So if I make Natasha Romanoff I want to use those abilities. Rolling the dice and adding those modifiers shows me I'm doing just that.

Plus, I'd roll dice in my sleep. They seem addictive. If Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) can simplify his life letting d20's make decisions for him so can I. :D
 

jayoungr

Explorer
I'm interested in hearing why you want to roll a d20? Or, if you don't, do you have other reasons why you don't?
I should start this by stating I would never ask to resolve a delicate social situation purely through a die roll. I would explain how I was approaching the situation and treat the die as just an expression of whether my approach was the right one or not.

That said: Whenever I ask to make an ability check, I'm prepared for either success or failure. It's my way of saying "Here's my plan--now let fate decide whether it works, and I'll go with the consequences."

Also, when it comes to things like Persuasion or Deception, I frankly don't trust the person who most often GMs for me to allow it to work. For a while I just quit taking Bluff-type skills because that person would usually decide my roleplaying attempts at bluffing weren't good enough and just tell me they didn't work. That actually discouraged me from playing out certain types of situations, rather than encouraging it. With a die, we both agree to abide by what it says.

And sometimes it's fun when the die says something unexpected. I have players who laugh to this day about how the cleric, four years ago, converted a Dragon Cultist to worshiping Bahamut with a mere Persuasion roll of 4, because the target's opposed wisdom roll was a 2. That would never have happened without the dice.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Strikes me as the sort of approach that @TwoSix mentioned above where environmental information is gated behind an ability check. I'm certain I did that as a D&D 3.Xe DM and probably D&D 4e, but in D&D 5e it annoys me to no end to get asked to make an ability check when I haven't described what I wanted to do. It's like, man, I'm trying to avoid making those, so unless you're hitting me with a saving throw, please just stop.

Of course, I try to be understanding about this because I don't imagine most people think too deeply about this stuff and just sort of go with what they know from other games or what they learned from watching other DMs.
Even during 4e that bugged me. I have a passive Perception for a reason, use that or let me take the initiative. But yeah, I try just to roll with it. Their game, their rules, even if it’s not how I would rule.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
And sometimes it's fun when the die says something unexpected. I have players who laugh to this day about how the cleric, four years ago, converted a Dragon Cultist to worshiping Bahamut with a mere Persuasion roll of 4, because the target's opposed wisdom roll was a 2. That would never have happened without the dice.
Perhaps I'm not a fun-loving DM or perhaps there is more context that wasn't presented, but that would have required much more effort in my games. I'd never let a PC persuade an NPC to change religions with a single die roll unless that NPC was already practically on the verge of it themselves.

That said, as a player I love it when I get to do crazy things in games if I roll well. Maybe I should loosen up a little as DM. :p
 

ccs

39th lv DM
Been to Vegas lots. My goal is winning, so I employ the best strategy possible (to the limits of my knowledge and skill).

As for rolling the dice, sometimes that's unavoidable as I mention above. If you make an attack and the enemy is defending, you're going to roll. When the villain successfully lobs a fireball at you, you're going to roll. If there are elements of the situation that you can't control that gives your task an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure, you're going to roll. So even with this strategy you can't avoid all dice rolling, even if you really wanted to. But, if the group is operating in the parameters the rules set forth, you'll roll a bit less and that has some big benefits in my experience.
Well I'm not playing D&D as if I were in Vegas. I'm not afraid to roll the dice & maybe roll low. Especially if I'm not in combat/making a Save....
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Well I'm not playing D&D as if I were in Vegas. I'm not afraid to roll the dice & maybe roll low. Especially if I'm not in combat/making a Save....
Yeah, sometimes really fun things happen on bad rolls in 5e.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
And sometimes it's fun when the die says something unexpected. I have players who laugh to this day about how the cleric, four years ago, converted a Dragon Cultist to worshiping Bahamut with a mere Persuasion roll of 4, because the target's opposed wisdom roll was a 2. That would never have happened without the dice.
Those situations are funny and memorable, sure, and they come up in games that I play in and DM. That sort of thing happens even if the player is trying to avoid dice wherever possible. I offer the best approach I can to converting that dragon cultist ("C'mon, bro, Bahamut's the best of all dragons, don't you know..."), the DM decides there's a roll (dang) and the DC, I decide if it's worth spending resources on it, then we roll. Which, in the case of your example, is that my approach actually succeeded because the DC was 2. As a player, I don't actually have to ask for a roll for that outcome to occur.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Even during 4e that bugged me. I have a passive Perception for a reason, use that or let me take the initiative. But yeah, I try just to roll with it. Their game, their rules, even if it’s not how I would rule.
For sure. I'm actually very easy to DM for. I don't question rulings and only chime in on rules if I'm asked. I make my goal and approach clear, then wait. And in terms of enjoying the game, I have two criteria to determine if I'm interested in future games, outside of the normal goals of play - it must be funny and we must get stuff done. And then it only needs to be one of those two (though preferably both). I'm willing to let all other rough edges slide.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Well I'm not playing D&D as if I were in Vegas. I'm not afraid to roll the dice & maybe roll low. Especially if I'm not in combat/making a Save....
I would say it's not really fear of rolling low, but rather the desire to be more successful than not successful. That sounds like a very reasonable player behavior to me. To that end, I'd rather take the dice out of the equation if I am able or at least greatly mitigate the impact of their swing.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
My players are often confused and sometimes annoyed when they describe what they want to do, and I begin describing the results before they even roll the dice (99% of the time in their favor). They are used to the idea that everything they do must have a roll attached to it, despite my insistence that rolls are only for when the outcome is in doubt (this is especially important in my game, since I never allow re-tries of any kind).

If anyone hasn't seen "The Gamers 2," there are two fantastic scenes where a player insists on rolling a die to perform an act the DM explicitly says he can succeed on without a die roll. In both cases, he rolls a 1 and randomly dies (the player has over 100 variations of the same character ready, as his bard dies... a lot).

because in some player's minds it removes the decision from the arbitrary whims of the GM and frames it into perspective. You roll a 20 or a 1 and it will "force" the GM into an answer that gets confirmed.

its also "forces" the GM during any begging and pleading when the players want to do something and the GM says no "Well let me just roll a d20" really means "let me see if I roll a nat 20 then you have to let me get what I want."
Sadly, I think this a major factor as well. In the past, I've had players that have wanted to do something that I felt was fairly ridiculous, but insist that if they rolled high enough, they MUST succeed. Best example was a hostage situation, where the bad guy is holding the hostage completely between himself and the PCs (complete cover); player decides to shoot a crossbow, and is angry that he critically hit the hostage, killing her (I had told them prior that the bad guy was completely protected by her).
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Often different people will see the fiction in a different light. I believe it is the GM's duty to convey the situation as honestly as possible. One technique I have picked up when a player states what their character is doing is to state something like that will be a DC 23 Athletics check and explain the consequences if they could meaningfully know them. This gives them a chance to either reconsider or highlight something about the situation I might have missed.
 

Hussar

Legend
Honestly, for us, it's simply a time saver. We've gamed together long enough, and every single one of us bar one has spent time behind the DM's screen, that we know the drill. We know when those checks are going to be asked for anyway and we're right 99% of the time. So, why bother doing the hoop jumping of state goal, wait for the DM to ask for a roll that we know is coming, roll, wait for the DM to tell us what happened?

Just state and roll. It works for us because, well, we're not a new group of players who've never gamed before and never gamed together before. I imagine that if I was put into a new group, I'd probably go more the @iserith route, but, for my established group? It would drive me to distraction if I had to ask the players to make rolls every single time I thought they should roll. Just roll the damn dice and I'll let you know if you didn't have to roll.

Again, it's mostly just a result of the familiarity we have with each other.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
I'd never let a PC persuade an NPC to change religions with a single die roll unless that NPC was already practically on the verge of it themselves.
It wasn't a weighty dramatic scene or an important NPC. If you've ever played Hoard of the Dragon Queen, it was the random hung-over cultist who was left behind in the dragon hatchery. The players didn't really want to kill him, since he hadn't harmed them, but they also didn't want to just let him go. So the player of the cleric got the idea of trying to convert him.

As a player, I don't actually have to ask for a roll for that outcome to occur.
No, of course not, and in that specific case I was the DM anyway. But it's an example of why I'm regularly willing to let the dice decide the outcome of my character's actions--because the results can be surprising and fun. I don't go in with the mentality that the most important thing is to succeed at all times. I'm open to the possibility of failing because that can be fun too. Or the flip side is that I'm willing to roll for something crazy that I want to try, just in case it actually works.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
I recently joined my first PbP game over in dndbeyond’s forums, and this seems to be the general practice over there from what I’m experiencing. So far I haven’t given in, but it’s a little frustrating because I keep getting the feeling that the DM is going to ignore my character’s actions unless I attach a roll. So far, the only roll I’ve been asked for was a Survival check to find some tracks for which I hadn’t even said I was looking.
I can't claim any experience with PbP, but I can see when gaming in a format that has a long response lag trying to be proactive in providing details and rolls as a courtesy to keep things moving. Just like how movies and novels have different strengths.

"With practiced ease I look through the desk, checking the drawers including pulling them out and looking for anything attached underneath. I also keep any eye out for measurements that don't add up that could indicate a secret compartment. If it matters, I'm going top down, starting from the top left, and will skip any locked/stuck drawers, calling over Brandar to take a look at them while I continue.

"If you need a roll, it is [embedded die roller]. For reference, my INT (Investigate) is +5 and my WIS (Perception) is +1."
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
No, of course not, and in that specific case I was the DM anyway. But it's an example of why I'm regularly willing to let the dice decide the outcome of my character's actions--because the results can be surprising and fun. I don't go in with the mentality that the most important thing is to succeed at all times. I'm open to the possibility of failing because that can be fun too. Or the flip side is that I'm willing to roll for something crazy that I want to try, just in case it actually works.
I cover that the original post: "An interesting side effect is that this efficiency also permits me to sometimes be even bolder than usual and take extreme risks when it will have the biggest dramatic impact since I have plenty of resources in reserve to get myself out of trouble. It allows me to do that One Cool Thing in the session that will be memorable."

I'm still not asking to roll though. I'm taking an action that has a lot of uncertainty in it and a meaningful consequence for failure for which I expect to roll, but have some resources to spare to modify the roll and have a greater chance of success.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
And sometimes it's fun when the die says something unexpected. I have players who laugh to this day about how the cleric, four years ago, converted a Dragon Cultist to worshiping Bahamut with a mere Persuasion roll of 4, because the target's opposed wisdom roll was a 2. That would never have happened without the dice.
Yep, this is the kind of thing I was thinking of when I said I just improvised stuff and the player offers of ideas and the die rolls helped determine what I improvised.

Running that hatchery dungeon, I'm not a DM who has thought of every permutation of every NPC's personality and what they like/hate/believe etc. etc. I'd never waste my time doing that because who knows if/when any of those ideas I spent going through would ever actually come up? But once the game is playing and what the players did resulted in a situation such as what you mentioned above (with the one lone cultist remaining)... THAT is the point where my reactions as the NPC to what the PCs say/do/offer to me will "create" the NPC in the moment. So at that point... a bit of RP followed by a Religion & Persuasion check to "convert" this cultist, and the cultist rolls poorly on his Insight? Then sure! The guy converts! Why not? Maybe now the party has an NPC ally that can feed them information about the cult going forward. Or maybe they go in an entirely different direction than they might have based upon the NPC's information?

All this is stuff I never would have planned for prior to this hatchery encounter, it all comes out of improvisation based off of dice rolls and skill checks. So for me... anyone and everyone who wants to roll checks with their skills will go a long way in determining what happens and the directions the party ends up going.

Yeah, if another DM has very specific scenarios written out and knows going in what the goals are and the approaches that would work best to achieve them... waiting for the players to offer up their movement in that way probably works for their games more effectively. But I'm not one who has things that figured out. I'm just flying by the seat of my pants, and a Nat 20 goes a long way in pointing me in the direction my improv should go.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
I'm still not asking to roll though. I'm taking an action that has a lot of uncertainty in it and a meaningful consequence for failure for which I expect to roll, but have some resources to spare to modify the roll and have a greater chance of success.
I think this just boils down to the attitude we each have when we roll. What I'm hearing from you is that you feel like you're doing something weighty and maybe a little scary when you roll--something you'd rather not be doing if you can avoid it. While for others on the thread, it's less of a big deal.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Yep, this is the kind of thing I was thinking of when I said I just improvised stuff and the player offers of ideas and the die rolls helped determine what I improvised.

Running that hatchery dungeon, I'm not a DM who has thought of every permutation of every NPC's personality and what they like/hate/believe etc. etc. I'd never waste my time doing that because who knows if/when any of those ideas I spent going through would ever actually come up? But once the game is playing and what the players did resulted in a situation such as what you mentioned above (with the one lone cultist remaining)... THAT is the point where my reactions as the NPC to what the PCs say/do/offer to me will "create" the NPC in the moment. So at that point... a bit of RP followed by a Religion & Persuasion check to "convert" this cultist, and the cultist rolls poorly on his Insight? Then sure! The guy converts! Why not? Maybe now the party has an NPC ally that can feed them information about the cult going forward. Or maybe they go in an entirely different direction than they might have based upon the NPC's information?

All this is stuff I never would have planned for prior to this hatchery encounter, it all comes out of improvisation based off of dice rolls and skill checks. So for me... anyone and everyone who wants to roll checks with their skills will go a long way in determining what happens and the directions the party ends up going.

Yeah, if another DM has very specific scenarios written out and knows going in what the goals are and the approaches that would work best to achieve them... waiting for the players to offer up their movement in that way probably works for their games more effectively. But I'm not one who has things that figured out. I'm just flying by the seat of my pants, and a Nat 20 goes a long way in pointing me in the direction my improv should go.
To be clear, my position isn't that you shouldn't roll. It's that, as a player, trying to roll isn't a great strategy for success because it means you're undertaking tasks that have an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence for failure. And when you're out there boldly confronting deadly perils, that can be a recipe for disaster. Some rolls are unavoidable. But I am going to try to avoid them or, failing that, try to mitigate the swing on the die.

I still submit, as I did upthread, that this specific example is perfectly achievable with the player not asking to make a roll. The player describes what he or she wants to do. The DM considers it and asks for a roll, using a contest for some reason to come up with a DC. The player succeeds. The outcome in this case was the same. But from the player's perspective, why would I want to roll in that situation? I'd rather my action just succeed. The meaningful consequence that followed my failure on that roll might not have been good.

As for planned challenges, I think it's good to flesh some challenges out, but doing so for every interaction with a random NPC seems like a waste of prep time. I also don't think it's a good idea as DM to decide ahead of time which goals and approaches work best. The better thing, in my view, is to just come up with a situation and its moving parts, but not any solutions. That's the player's role and I would hope those solutions don't include asking to make checks.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I think this just boils down to the attitude we each have when we roll. What I'm hearing from you is that you feel like you're doing something weighty and maybe a little scary when you roll--something you'd rather not be doing if you can avoid it. While for others on the thread, it's less of a big deal.
I mean, the prerequisite for there being a roll at all is that there is a meaningful consequence if you fail. Certainly that is something the character may wish to avoid even if the player might think failure in a specific instance could be fun and contribute to an exciting, memorable story. In general, it seems like a reasonable player behavior to want to succeed more often than fail and that's all this is really about: Asking to roll more dice is asking for a higher chance of meaningful consequences for failure. That does not strike me as a good strategy for long-term success.

If the DM is asking for rolls when there is no meaningful consequence for failure, well, that's not really what we're supposed to be doing according to the rules. And that's fine - people can play how they want. But as my original post lays out, I am taking this position based on a rules-based approach. If there really aren't any meaningful consequences to bear, then it makes sense players are asking to roll. There's hardly any downside.
 

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