D&D 5E Reliable Talent. What the what?


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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Again with the butter pecan design flavor heads on a pin thing... No the whole point of bounded accuracy is that logic is a flower that smells bad and looks pretty.

This sounds less like a "problem" now in play as it does a constructed conundrum where if you take this add that theory and throw in that mechanic we construct a arguing point.

As others have said, practically speaking, your drama and story excitement and challenges at that point are going to have to be different for 12th than 3rd etc.

The "point" of reliable talent is... That very fact. At 11th, rogue can reliably overcome a small number (prof skills) of mundane level tasks and a smaller number of hard ones (expertise skills).

Just like many other abilities have given other characters similar "new challenges needed" capability.

Think of it this way, we all know tasks too easy to have a chance of fail require no roll as per the book... Well RT says the same thing but raises that bar for a few tasks.




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At the point the rogue gets reliable talent, it's not mundane tasks or hard tasks, it's medium tasks and hard tasks. A few levels later it's hard tasks and very hard tasks (at proficiency +5). With a few common magic items. some skills turn into no chance of failure at DC 30 tasks (gloves of thievery, I'm looking at you).

I get where you're coming from, and you've a cogent argument, but it's not helping that you're consistently attempting to diminish the argument unfairly.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
Low skill DC's?

Let's assume he's got a 20 Dex, so that's +5. He's 11th level, so that's a proficiency bonus of +4. Then he takes expertise in, say, Sleight of Hand, which doubles that prof bonus to +8 for a total of +13. So now he's disarming any trap and picking any lock with a DC 23 or lower automatically. Yeah, it's supposed to be, "reliable" but good grief! And I don't even really mind him having such high chances to beat those DC's; I mean, like you said, he's supposed to be a skill monkey. But to have absolutely no chance of failure seems really weird.

And on the whole I'd much rather deal with permanent advantage to a feature than to have it be automatically successful 100% of the time (on 23 or lower DC's). That is just so... anticlimactic. If there's zero element of danger, what's the point?

I'm not so worried about it in a dungeon delving situation since difficulties will ramp up as they get into higher levels. But the potential for abuse on a more mundane scale is almost too good to pass up.

Small bit of pedantic checking here, but you seem to be complaining about the PC picking locks automatically but have no mention of Thieves' Tools. A rogue must have expertise in Thieves' Tools to hit that auto success on a DC 23 lock or trap.

My previous campaign ran to level 20 with a rogue who had a minimum roll for Dexterity (Thieves' Tools) of 32 against locks with expertise and gloves of thievery. The player's catchphrase became, "Do I need to roll for that?" We had a good chuckle and moved on. Unlocking locks became a story element rather than a challenge as the PC was one of the best at her craft in the world. Even locks that had been magically enhanced with arcane lock clicked open more often than not. This led to a good laugh when the wizard decided that he would magically open a set of magically locked chests. After a few abysmal dispel magic rolls, the diminutive halfling rogue reached around him and said, "May I try?" *click* *click* *click* *click* They all opened.

As DMs, one of our biggest requirements is to adjust to how the situation of the game deviates from how we expected it would go. In this case, your rogue is much better at picking locks than you anticipated. There are many ways to handle this:
1. Narrate any locks that the rogue cannot fail to unlock rather than asking for a die roll. Use this as an opportunity to avoid breaking the narrative of the game.
2. Look at other ways to challenge the party around locks. Maybe there is a devious trap. Maybe there is a scrye-based security system that has a serious of sensors sending back to a room with a guard watching a series of crystal balls. Maybe there is an invisible guard or golems that are activated when an unauthorized user mucks with the lock.
3. Introduce a house rule that says it takes a number of seconds to unlock a lock equal to the DC of the lock. So a DC 30 lock would take 30 seconds or 5 rounds.

Enjoy when the rogue gets their auto success on any 1 d20 roll!
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I can't think of many (or any, off the top of my head) things that the PC's might attempt in the game that they can simply succeed at without limit or use of some kind of resource. And it's only going to get worse as he levels up. As it currently stands, I can see no reason why he couldn't tell me he's going to go out on the town on a thieving spree and my whole job would be to just hand him a list of loot as long as he isn't breaking into the local thieves guild or the kings castle.

This seems wholly at odds with cooperative story telling. With no chance of failing there is no drama.
This is D&D. There isn't supposed to be any drama when a high level Rogue wastes his time cleaning out his local town.

Besides, just because locks can't stop him doesn't mean people can't discover he's the thief.

The bigger point, though, is the word "wastes". Just like your level 12 fighter can kill as many rats or commoners as he likes doesn't mean the game is broken. Instead: welcome to Dungeons & Dragons! This is a levelled game :)

If you don't like that I'm afraid just nerfing Reliable Talent isn't going to solve things for you. There's a whole host of things that high level characters no longer find challenging: foraging for food, crossing rivers, surviving the environment etc, pick-pocketing everyone in a small city, escaping confinement etc. So, instead of getting into details about this particular case, maybe you just need to play a game without levels?

If your Rogue character goes on a thieving spree just because he can, the game already supplies the perfect antidote: the other player characters. Taking down a level 12 Rogue (ideally without killing him) is definitely within the capabilities of a level 12 party (even one member short)... Have the Mayor approach one of the other characters (when the Rogue isn't there) and have her lay out her plight. (And have her apologize the town can't pay any reward, since they're all broke)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
And yes, sure, I could raise DC's through the roof, but that seems cheap. As they take on tougher and tougher challenges, DC's will rise, but they need to make sense. I'm not going to counter his thieving spree with every house having DC 25-30 security measures.
I'm relieved. Regular citizens would have DC 15 locks. There would have to be very special circumstances for me to add in a lock above DC 20.

This is D&D. Mundane barriers (like locks and doors and walls and guard dogs and stuff) simply don't work against high-level intrusion.

You would be better served by changing mindset, and embracing the nature of high-level play. Perhaps the Guild Master has commissioned a Demiplane (as per the spell) to store his stuff?

Now you're working with, rather than against, the grain of D&D. Even a skill result of 50(!) doesn't give a Rogue access to another dimension.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
So now he's disarming any trap and picking any lock with a DC 23 or lower automatically.
First off: there's nothing wrong with your math. It's expected that any Rogue will get a +10 bonus and so auto-succeed at DC 20, which really is the highest DC you will see in a published module barring very special circumstances.

Contrast to spellcasters and their spell save DC. A good rule of thumb is to set the DC to what the spell save DC would have been (if the guild master were a wizard).

One elephant in the room:

You don't need Reliable Talent to utterly wreck the DCs used in published modules. In some instances, a secret door is even DC 10!

If you use the rule for passive perception, even a Commoner will autodetect that one. So much for a "secret" door. To me, a DC 10 "secret" door is just a regular door but somebody has dragged a book-shelf in front of it. It isn't immediately visible, but anyone looking would find it.
 


kbrakke

First Post
I'm pretty firmly in the camp of "I don't find it to be a concern" both from a mechanical and from a storytelling perspective. My main lack of concern comes from the part where most of the dramatic storytelling comes from playing as a group. I had a level 11+ rogue in a Princes of the Apocalypse game, he was great at sneaking around, picking locks, and hiding things. He wasn't great at going toe to toe with Fire Giants and dealing with Flying Dragons. Furthermore, him being great at sneaking didn't give the party any great advantage. So you can imagine the tension when he's already snuck in to position and now the rest of the party has to make it there, including our heavy armor wearing fighter and non-proficient bard. Often, if they really wanted to follow him, they would have to use spells to become invisible or use teleportation to try and bypass their weaknesses. It gave the rogue a niche among the party.

As far as solo missions go and dealing with the "rob a whole town" problem, it becomes a world building exercise. You have many great options. First and foremost, the loot of a town, probably not amazing. Perhaps when he was Tier 1 getting a few hundred gold by robbing a town blind would have been appealing, but that's not really anything noteworthy at level 11. Furthermore, you can determine at this point what on earth other high level thieves are doing in your world. Everyone that got to level 11 has this ability. Are they also just going to small villages and stealing chump change? Or perhaps is it time to introduce an expert level Thieves' guild. If they all have reliable stealth, it's obvious why no one has heard of them before. They can perhaps go on real heists, steal the crown jewels, or ancient scrolls and the like.

I understand that in order to build tension there needs to be a risk of failure, but unless your whole game is about a group of rogues robbing mundane villages this ability doesn't remove all tension. What it instead does is give the rogue a clear role and place to shine. You can then use this ability to expand your story in new and hopefully interesting ways. Remember that level 11 is a whole new tier. At tier 3 they are equipped to handle problems of multi-national importance. When I watch a James Bond movie I don't worry how he'll sneak past or deal with mooks, I wonder how he'll handle the villains right hand man. And that's the position that your rogue is in.

I would first think about world implications of reliable talent and how that changes the narrative focus first before making any changes. And then if the implications of this are too great, I would consider scaling everyone back E10 style. I would rate the ability to always succeed on hard stealth and lock picking checks as roughly the same as being able to summon angels to your side or create an army of ghouls.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
This has never registered as a problem to me because so many tasks are already automatic passes or fails anyway. I never ask for a roll unless the task has a reasonable chance of success, a reasonable chance of failure, and a consequence for failure. If your rogue didn’t have reliable talent, but still had his 20 Dexterity, +4 Proficiency Bonus, and Expertise with Thieves’ Tools, what’s stopping him from picking every lock with a DC 23 or below anyway? Do you not allow players to take 10 when they have no time pressure? Heck, even 33 or below, unless there’s something preventing him from trying over and over again until he succeeds, he’ll eventually roll what ever target number he needs. During uptime there are usually complicating factors that prevent characters from taking as much time as they need on tasks, but if you’re handwaving that away on the basis of “what if he wants to rob a town blind during downtime?” then what was stopping him from doing that before? And anyway, at level 12, this rogue should be a grey mouser type legendary thief. He should be able to rob entire towns in his downtime, that’s the fantasy people play rouges for.

At the end of the day, Reliable Talent just allows high level rogues to take 10 even under pressure. That’s nice, but it’s not game-Breaking by any means.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
They're not fighting dragons every day. There is down time. It's not that he needs to break into houses, it's that he WILL. And that's totally ok. There just needs to be some small element of danger. Otherwise it's just me handing him a list of loot.
Well, I'd say the bigger problem is that a level 12 character should not play level 1 adventures. Give him the loot - it should be entirely trivial for him. Then focus on the repercussions.

Or, talk to the player outside of the game. Tell him you don't want to spend any more game time on shenanigans like that than you have to. Tell him 5th edition is more of a drama engine than a world simulator, and if he persists in stealing the welfare checks of old people he will have to create a new character. Things like that.

Don't focus on the "OMG he can't NOT break into a house". He's 12th level, it's okay to not be able to fail at mundane tasks at tier III.
 

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