D&D General Should players be aware of their own high and low rolls?

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't really know what your goal is here with talking about referencing a book during play. The fact is, if the DM changes even one monster, you can't be sure if any other monsters have been changed, which disincentivizes the very thing you say you don't like. In that environment, it becomes more optimal to verify your assumptions before acting on them. That doesn't mean players won't "metagame," but in effect it makes it an unreliable tactic and, in my experience, players prefer tactics with more reliability than not.
I disagree. If the DM is changing 1 monster out of 8, metagaming is very much incentivized because it's still far superior to have advantage in 7 fights than it is to maybe have bad luck in the 8th.

If you aren't changing most of the monsters, it's still superior to have an advantage in most of the fights.
 

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As far as "awareness of monster abilities" is concerned, I've always been slightly amused by how unrealistic D&D style systems are in how little they expect you to know. I don't know how many times I've been playing an intelligent character who has "killing monsters" as a major component of their daily life, and yet I have to roll to remember details even of common monsters.

From a realism point of view, if you are an INT 16+ adventurer, it would be entirely realistic for you to know the entire monster manual. It's your profession and your life. Why wouldn't you visit libraries, chat to other adventurers -- do whatever it takes to know all you can about what is going to kill you if you fail to remember? Unique or named monsters might be hard to find out about, but the general realism assumption should be that the monster manual is known by all.

It's a purely gamist mechanic to assume that some sort go check is needed to know a golem's weakness or that vampires can turn into mist. It allows the character knowledge to be limited by the player knowledge, so rewards players' game mastery. If you're talking about realism, any D&D character who has a class that isn't "commoner" or the equivalent should know far, far more than the player does!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I disagree. If the DM is changing 1 monster out of 8, metagaming is very much incentivized because it's still far superior to have advantage in 7 fights than it is to maybe have bad luck in the 8th.

If you aren't changing most of the monsters, it's still superior to have an advantage in most of the fights.
I think the proper comparison is that you can have an advantage in 8 out of 8 fights instead of 7 out of 8 fights by simply taking a step to verify your assumptions before acting on them. And you can't really know if it's truly 1 out of 8 monsters that were changed anyway. The smart play is to never assume here. If the players go for the smart play, then the "metagaming" you're concerned about isn't much of a concern anymore because the characters are drawing upon their knowledge or powers of deduction to figure out the monster.
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
Does it? @iserith said it doesn't matter to him if they metagame. His changes are just for the sake of doing something differently. How would I as the player be able to tell the difference between his position and one where the DM is changing monsters as some sort of adversarial metagame arms race?
I mean using custom monsters.
 

Because it's the 1-in-8 in your blind spot that could kill you, and the cost to figuring it out is often very low.

As an example, I put a special troll in one of my games that was not only immune to fire, but would cause flames cast at them to blow up in a radius around them. The players saw the troll, ignored my telegraphing, didn't take the necessary steps to do verify their assumptions, and the wizard (who even had those skills!) blasted it with a burning hands spell. The resulting inferno (which happened the next round too due to a burning web spell) jacked up the party and dropped an important NPC who they now had to scramble to save. Suffice it to say, they check now, years later.
this reminds me of the old underdark trolls (2e) they were purple instead of green, and immune to 1 of the 2 (I can't remember if it is fire or acid) and resistant to the other... BUT they had a big weakness to (negative energy) necrotic damage... it didn't only turn of there regen like fire or acid on a regular but weakened them too...

I got 2 first times with them... I was playing in a game where the DM used them, and then I used them in a game and none of my players were in the game that I played in... now I made sure to forshadow it more then that DM did, and I will never forget the feel of running both ways... but you know what, once we figured it out they were just a varriant troll.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Considering I run Dungeon World, where the only dice I ever roll are monster damage dice....

Yeah, I'd say they should know. It isn't always the easiest thing to manage, but in this case, I think it's worth the effort.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
From a realism point of view, if you are an INT 16+ adventurer, it would be entirely realistic for you to know the entire monster manual.
Why would knowledge spontaneously poof into your head just because you're smart.
It's your profession and your life. Why wouldn't you visit libraries, chat to other adventurers -- do whatever it takes to know all you can about what is going to kill you if you fail to remember?
Not everything in the MM is known or even well known. It's not all written about. And it would take decades to learn it all like it does in real life. The professors with doctorates and research papers specialize in very narrow knowledges over a lifetime to become as knowledgeable as you're saying the average 16 int adventurer would be.

The problem is that 1) PCs aren't that old, 2) they haven't devoted the years and decades to learn it, 3) they aren't specializing in monster knowledge, they are specializing in their class, and 4) knowledge isn't accumulated in D&D as it is in the modern world.

There's no way that a PC could be that good. So no, your claim is not correct from a realism point of view unless the PC is some sort of non-combat sage class and doesn't adventure, but rather just studies at libraries and/or colleges, talks to peers and writes papers on the subject.
 

I've seen it too often. 🤷‍♂️ DM's buddy knows how the DM thinks and knows how to say it so it happens.
I call it word games and magic words and I have plenty of bad stories about it... but I too as a DM am a little guilty of it. My long running players know my style and can make an educated guess what tropes I am going for...

then again my longest oldest friend (from '93) not only can do that with DMs he knows but has a reputation of being able to pick up quick... I saw it twice when we went to Gen Con and he 'got into the mind' of DMs who we didn't know and it was only a 4 hour game
 

As we all know, humans (and demihumans et al in D&D) are pattern-finding machines. As expertise and experience (particularly that employed and garnered under duress) increases, mental models typically increase in effectiveness (unless there is an inherent problem with the model that cascades, especially early in the formulation) and always increase in usage rate.

Expert martial combatants are going to (a) know things broadly due to exposure to various styles and their clashing over the historical record, (b) be able evaluate opponents immediately based on their movement skills, technical prowess, weight distribution, sequencing attacks and defenses + (a) above, (c) they're going to spend the early clashes probing and feinting while circling and controlling distance in order to elicit responses of their opposition so they can further build out their mental models.

D&D barely engages with this fundamental, and paramount, aspect of martial combat. Where it does, its not really part of the core mechanics (which it is in actual martial combat) but it does so as part of niche PC build features/feats etc. If it did engage with this? It would engage with this via players sussing out useful (if not essential) information from GMs via low rolls and high rolls which are the D&D-equivalent to (a) + (b) + (c) above (particularly the latter two, but the first intersects with them).

On the Troll vs fire situation?

How often are these encounters taking place in broad daylight? I would think a hefty chunk of them would be in twilight or outright darkness where the PCs are toting torches or lanterns or their magical equivalent. If somehow the information on fire hasn't found its way via word-of-mouth and spread like wildfire through civilization (doubtful imo), then we have to consider your average troll would reflexively cringe from the flickering flame and heat of an oil-fueled lantern or an outright torch right? Cringe, shrink, perhaps audibly whimper in a subtle mewl or something. That is a tell! That is a tell that expert martial combatants faced with death around every corner are going to perceive and pick up on to build out their mental model! That is a tell that is likely to make an expert martial combatant raise their torch/lantern higher or step forward while brandishing it to probe for response (in order to build out their mental model)!

Does this (what should be pretty rote social transaction between adventurers and Trolls in all the instantiations of this D&D trope ever) back-and-forth always-and-ever happen at tables where this sort of metagaming is verboten? At what point does the ignorance-cosplaying player get to implicitly declare "I've built out my mental model enough to understand the aversion to fire happening here" with an actual declaration of using their torches/lanterns vs trolls (or escalating to magic or better alchemical nukes) like a tenured martial combatant/adventurer that hasn't succumbed to Darwin's Law long ago (precisely because their mental modeling didn't suck like those that perished)?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think the proper comparison is that you can have an advantage in 8 out of 8 fights instead of 7 out of 8 fights by simply taking a step to verify your assumptions before acting on them. And you can't really know if it's truly 1 out of 8 monsters that were changed anyway. The smart play is to never assume here. If the players go for the smart play, then the "metagaming" you're concerned about isn't much of a concern anymore because the characters are drawing upon their knowledge or powers of deduction to figure out the monster.
What are those assumptions, though? They're the metagaming from the book and would be confirmed by the telegraphing, so metagaming will be advantageous in those 7 fights. In the 8th fight the telegraphing should clue us in, so why would we not metagame?
 

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