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D&D 5E Rolling Without a Chance of Failure (I love it)

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Nope. 1) as DM I know what weapons my players have and use, 2) you're going to give me the damage and it's going to be one of the weapons on your sheet, why do I need to know which one it is before you attack? You aren't going to pull out the dagger and then switch it for the longsword, yelling gotcha to me. You're going to just use the longsword.
Well, there's a lot of times I need to know whether the weapon in use is enchanted or not; or sometimes which enchanted weapon you're using. Often this will come out when you're telling me your to-hit modifiers, but if the roll is 13 + 3 (Str) + 2 (magic) and all you say is "18 to hit!" I'll be asking "And how does that 18 get there?"
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
All of that could be covered by a skill roll.

The question is how much focus do you want to put on this encounter?
The same amount I put on any other. I run these things neutrally, as far as I can.

As a general principle I dislike substituting skill rolls for spoken-word roleplay, and as the bribe attempt can be roleplayed out then that's what I expect to happen.
An encounter that is resolved by a straightforward die roll is not a particularly good encounter. But sometimes it might be, for various reasons, a necessary one.
Perhaps, but given the number of ways bribing guards can go wrong - never mind the rather extreme range of possible consequences depending on the setting etc. - this is one type of encounter I'd want to play out in detail every time.
 

Mordhau

Adventurer
The same amount I put on any other. I run these things neutrally, as far as I can.
I think this is actually literally impossible. I think in practice this basically means that where you put focus is habitual. You put focus on certain forms of interaction because you have always done so.

And sometimes change is forced upon you. You can get away with searching rooms in detailed focus in an OD&D dungeon. If you're playing a modern game in which the players toss a house with a search warrant that's going to be excrutiating.

"You see a chest of drawers next to the bed. There are three drawers"
"Ok I open the first draw. What do I find?"
"Underwear"
"Ok what about the second"
"You find twelve pairs of socks and one odd sock".
"An odd sock eh? That's gotta be a clue".

You have to introduce some level of abstraction at this point.

As a general principle I dislike substituting skill rolls for spoken-word roleplay, and as the bribe attempt can be roleplayed out then that's what I expect to happen.

Perhaps, but given the number of ways bribing guards can go wrong - never mind the rather extreme range of possible consequences depending on the setting etc. - this is one type of encounter I'd want to play out in detail every time.
You can do it whichever way you like. Its not the only way to do it though.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Point of order:

"I bribe the guards" is not a skill check. It is the route chosen when a) you failed an real skill check, like persuade or intimidate, or b) you are forgoing any attempts at a skill check because you either lack confidence in your abilities, just don't want to risk failing the attempt, or you just want to fast forward the plot. It has more to do with knowing the motives of the guards, unless you just want the dice to make that call for you. Which is also ok, I guess.

Case 1 (persuade check): "Hey, guards! I know you're loyal and honor bound by duty, and all that. But could I interest you in some gold to look away for a moment?" <roll whatever and explain to me how you are so persuasive that you can change someone's morals regardless of the amount offered>

Case 2 (intimidate check): "Hey, guards! Take this coin or I'll beat you with it!" <sounds like a no-brainer to me. If they were ever open to bribes in the first place, I think they'll just go with option a>

Case 3 (no checks): "Hey, guards! Have some money!" <toss them any amount. If they were corruptible to begin with, the only thing that matters is how much they can get>
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Well, there's a lot of times I need to know whether the weapon in use is enchanted or not; or sometimes which enchanted weapon you're using. Often this will come out when you're telling me your to-hit modifiers, but if the roll is 13 + 3 (Str) + 2 (magic) and all you say is "18 to hit!" I'll be asking "And how does that 18 get there?"
Yeah, if it's a corner case where the longsword is not magical, but the +1 short sword is, then the player will usually say he's switching weapons in order to hit the creature. Otherwise, the PC will generally use the longsword anyway.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think this is actually literally impossible. I think in practice this basically means that where you put focus is habitual. You put focus on certain forms of interaction because you have always done so.

And sometimes change is forced upon you. You can get away with searching rooms in detailed focus in an OD&D dungeon. If you're playing a modern game in which the players toss a house with a search warrant that's going to be excrutiating.

"You see a chest of drawers next to the bed. There are three drawers"
"Ok I open the first draw. What do I find?"
"Underwear"
"Ok what about the second"
"You find twelve pairs of socks and one odd sock".
"An odd sock eh? That's gotta be a clue".

You have to introduce some level of abstraction at this point.
Perhaps, but as I don't play modern-setting games I don't have to worry about this. :)
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Perhaps, but as I don't play modern-setting games I don't have to worry about this. :)
Certainly even in D&D one could express tossing an entire house in a way that is reasonably specific and doesn't require the DM to establish, as it relates to the task, what the characters are doing and so the DM can fairly adjudicate.

I mean, the game requires the players to do one thing: Describe what they want to do so the DM can narrate the result of the adventurers' actions (sometimes with a roll, sometimes not). That can be both on the large and small scale. It's not hard. It doesn't seem like a big ask that they just hold up their end of the conversation.
 

Mordhau

Adventurer
Point of order:

"I bribe the guards" is not a skill check. It is the route chosen when a) you failed an real skill check, like persuade or intimidate, or b) you are forgoing any attempts at a skill check because you either lack confidence in your abilities, just don't want to risk failing the attempt, or you just want to fast forward the plot. It has more to do with knowing the motives of the guards, unless you just want the dice to make that call for you. Which is also ok, I guess.

Case 1 (persuade check): "Hey, guards! I know you're loyal and honor bound by duty, and all that. But could I interest you in some gold to look away for a moment?" <roll whatever and explain to me how you are so persuasive that you can change someone's morals regardless of the amount offered>

Case 2 (intimidate check): "Hey, guards! Take this coin or I'll beat you with it!" <sounds like a no-brainer to me. If they were ever open to bribes in the first place, I think they'll just go with option a>

Case 3 (no checks): "Hey, guards! Have some money!" <toss them any amount. If they were corruptible to begin with, the only thing that matters is how much they can get>
I have no idea what point you're making here. Lots of things happen in D&D on the basis of shared assumptions. If the Player want's to bribe the guards with persuasion and the GM calls for an intimidate roll the player can always back up and spell out what they're doing.

The same way that if I say "I search for traps" I would generally assume the GM to understand that I do it carefully and not by stomping down heavily on every flagstone to see if something happens.

This is why "the Player never calls for skill roles" in 5e is really a bit of a nothing. Of course they do, because the game has defined skills. It's just that they're not supposed to name the skills. The player says "I sneak up on the guards" and the GM decides to call for a Stealth roll rather than an Arcana roll.

Use the optional background variant and declaration becomes rather more meaningful.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Really? You wouldn’t need to know what weapon I was using?

I would say that 99% of the time I do not. I know my player's PC's primary weapon it's unusual if they switch to something else. Even then, I honestly don't care. If a creature is vulnerable to bludgeoning, I may clarify but other than that it's not my job to police character choices.

Why do you care? Honest question, I don't know why it would matter the vast majority of times.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well, there's a lot of times I need to know whether the weapon in use is enchanted or not; or sometimes which enchanted weapon you're using. Often this will come out when you're telling me your to-hit modifiers, but if the roll is 13 + 3 (Str) + 2 (magic) and all you say is "18 to hit!" I'll be asking "And how does that 18 get there?"
I guess I just trust my players to do the math right unless it's really out in left field. If the group don't all have magic weapons or occasionally use nonmagical ones I may clarify. That's where my 1% of the time I care comes from. 🤷‍♂️
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Wait, are you saying that if I was playing in your game and I said I tried to kill a goblin by sticking my tongue out at it, you would ask me to make an attack roll? If not, I think you may have misread my post.
That’s not even remotely the same thing. It is, at best, a straw man and a useless example.
What I don‘t do is tell someone their attempt fails because they described an honest attempt in a way I didn’t think was right for the situation I had in mind. I let their character’s skill and the die roll do the talking in these situations and assume the PC knows what they’re doing better than I do. If they describe their attempt, that’s gravy. It‘s a nice addition, but not strictly necessary - in combat or in specialist situations like trap-finding.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
I think I might see the disconnect here. There's two steps involved:

1 - find the pixel / find the trap
2 - click on the pixel / enact the solution

@Maxperson is trying to say, I think, that there's almost always multiple ways to do (1) above. You're saying there's only one way to do (2) above. You're both right, except in a few unusual corner-cases.
This is only distracting from the point I was making - in pixel-hunting, there is only one pixel, and you can’t make progress unless you find it. In my games, there is not only one “correct” approach that you can’t make progress unless you guess. Therefore pixel-hunting is not an accurate analogy for how I run my games.

If folks don’t like that there are approaches you can take that will fail without a check, fine. That is a thing that’s true of my games, so if you don’t like it, you probably won’t like my games. But calling it pixel hunting is inaccurate and insulting. Please stop doing that.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Nope. 1) as DM I know what weapons my players have and use, 2) you're going to give me the damage and it's going to be one of the weapons on your sheet, why do I need to know which one it is before you attack?
So you can accurately visualize what’s occurring in the fiction? So you can take it into account for your narration? In case the monster has weaknesses or resistances that are relevant? Any number of reasons.
You aren't going to pull out the dagger and then switch it for the longsword, yelling gotcha to me. You're going to just use the longsword.
I could do. That would be my prerogative as a player.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Point of order:

"I bribe the guards" is not a skill check. It is the route chosen when a) you failed an real skill check, like persuade or intimidate, or b) you are forgoing any attempts at a skill check because you either lack confidence in your abilities, just don't want to risk failing the attempt, or you just want to fast forward the plot. It has more to do with knowing the motives of the guards, unless you just want the dice to make that call for you. Which is also ok, I guess.
Any action can require a skill check to succeed, if the DM determines the outcome is uncertain. What you describe is one reasonable way to rule on various attempts to get NPCs to do what you want, but it is not the only valid way.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
I would say that 99% of the time I do not. I know my player's PC's primary weapon it's unusual if they switch to something else. Even then, I honestly don't care. If a creature is vulnerable to bludgeoning, I may clarify but other than that it's not my job to police character choices.

Why do you care? Honest question, I don't know why it would matter the vast majority of times.
Because I don’t want to make assumptions about what action a player intends to take when they can just tell me.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
That’s not even remotely the same thing. It is, at best, a straw man and a useless example.
It’s exactly the same thing - judging that the approach has no reasonable chance of succeeding at the goal and accordingly ruling that it fails without a roll.
What I don‘t do is tell someone their attempt fails because they described an honest attempt in a way I didn’t think was right for the situation I had in mind.
The description isn’t at issue. The approach is.
I let their character’s skill and the die roll do the talking in these situations and assume the PC knows what they’re doing better than I do. If they describe their attempt, that’s gravy. It‘s a nice addition, but not strictly necessary - in combat or in specialist situations like trap-finding.
And that’s fine, you can run your game any way you want. My point is simply that ruling an action can’t succeed based on the approach not matching the goal is not pixel hunting.
 

Mordhau

Adventurer
It seems there are always going to be situations in which the players might reasonably expect to succeed, when in fact they can't, but revealing that upfront in itself provides too much information.

In effect they might get this information anyway, for example if they roll really well (especially a natural 20), and still fail. In practice, there's no reason not to reveal this in character, you feel you did as well as you reasonable could but you still didn't succeed.

So in effect rolling a success on a roll that had no chance to succeed is not necessarily pointless. It can at least reveal the players have made a flaw in their underlying approach to a situation.

It also has a pychological impact, that often gets ignored. If they just ask a lot of questions and the GM gives straight answers because there is no possibility of success ("Can I look for a secret door? You look there is no secret door." ) then it can lead to frustration, but if they're rolling the dice and actually ruling something out, it can at least feel like progress.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
It seems there are always going to be situations in which the players might reasonably expect to succeed, when in fact they can't, but revealing that upfront in itself provides too much information.
Too much information for what?
In effect they might get this information anyway, for example if they roll really well (especially a natural 20), and still fail. In practice, there's no reason not to reveal this in character, you feel you did as well as you reasonable could but you still didn't succeed.
Why are you trying to hide this information in the first place?
So in effect rolling a success on a roll that had no chance to succeed is not necessarily pointless. It can at least reveal the players have made a flaw in their underlying approach to a situation.
Not asking for a roll at all could also reveal that to the players.
 

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