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

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So people in your world cannot change their mind mid-task? Hunches only come up at pre-determined times?
If the character is impatient and you-as-player want to play it as impatient, don't tell me up-front you're waiting for an hour. Tell me up-front you're waiting for 15 minutes, or however long you think your character can last without doing something rash.

Because yes, once you declare your action you're committed to seeing it through barring external interruption. For example, in the scout situation I might get the party to tell me how long they're waiting (let's say an hour) then go and play out the scouting. Let's say the scouting goes well and the scout would return in 45 minutes. Before the scout's player comes back, I return to the main group and see if anything has interrupted their waiting. Look, a wandering monster or patrol came by at the half-hour point, what would you do? And I play that out. Now that I know what happened there, I can go back to the scout player and tell her what she sees on returning to the party.
Why is breath weapon "fairly common knowledge"? Has that been decided in some way ahead of time? Has it already been established?

This is my point... why require that players pretend to not know what they know when it comes to this stuff? It actively highlights the metagame aspect rather than avoiding it.

If someone in my game said "Disperse, don't group up!" I'd assume they'd heard about a dragon's breath weapon, or otherwise intuited the risk, and we'd move on without any disruption at all.
"Disperse, don't group up!" implies knowledge of how the breath weapon works; knowledge the PCs may or may not have. "Don't stand in front of it!" implies knowledge that it likely has a breath weapon of some sort, which is common knowledge even among peasants thanks to far too many Bards telling stories for coppers. :)
And nothing would have been different if one of the players was familiar with arakocra.
Ah, but yes it would. That player would have knowledge of them that the character would not, and be caught in the trap of either metagaming to use that knowledge or metagaming to not use it. Either way, the purity of in-character decision-making would be reduced.
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Zhentarim are bad as an organization, not at the basic level. It's the leadership you need to worry about. Also, they are a country/city state, so they don't just betray every time they talk to someone. That's dumb and successful evil isn't stupid. You only betray when you can get away with it and it's going to be to your significant advantage. Talking to some adventuring shmoes is not usually going to be such an opportunity, so you won't usually be betrayed.
More people need to play Diplomacy. See how far you get when you randomly stab everyone.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
My experience indicates this may not always be the case, particularly with players who optimize builds and strategy. Because of the low cost or risk associated with trying to recall lore about a monster, it's more optimal to take those skills and attempt the task than it is to just assume you know that this troll is going to be harmed by fire. (More optimal still to take personal characteristics about being nerdy or inquisitive to earn Inspiration when doing this.)

That's absolutely true if they A: Have the skill, and B: succeeded at it. Depending on situation neither of those may be true (I'm thinking of PF2e here where there's around 4-5 different Lore's that apply depending on the monster, but you can get similar results outside the D&D sphere). If one or the other isn't, however, I don't doubt for a moment they're going to go with their D&D-culture or reading assumptions, because there's so little downside to doing so, generally.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
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.

I think that's a different situation than just "changing something". To be honest, a lot of people would view that as a gotcha, and while it might work to do what you want there, it'd probably have other consequences with many people you wouldn't find as pleasing.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So choosing to not be as effective as possible when you have that knowledge is metagaming.

But the wizard's not taking comprehend languages because he knows that's this bard's whole thing, and he doesn't want to step on that player's fun.

But the game is more fun when they don't rest constantly, so they don't do the cautious safe thing as if they're actually concerned about their lives.

No, obviously not. But the player who knows who Zhentarim are explicitly leaning into the fact that they will likely be betrayed because that's fun and interesting is.

But choosing to do so because he's who the module is about when we agreed to play this one, is, even if you justify it in fiction after the fact.

If you're portraying someone who is abjectly selfish and amoral, and tried to steal from the party, but retconned your actions the second the another player said they don't want to play that sort of game, it is.

So, I disagree. All of these can have considerations that come from non in-game knowledge. I've seen these choices play out because the players are concerned with what makes the game the best form of it, and I thoroughly appreciate that metagaming.
I agree with all of this post except the last little bit: while you might appreciate that type of metagaming, I see it as almost as bad as any other metagaming in that the characters are, for out-of-character reasons, not doing what they would otherwise do.
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
That's truly terrible game theory.

You are leaving out a critical component: the number of times your assumed but incorrect knowledge left you worse off. For example, exploding trolls. And even if there's isn't a negative consequence, in a game based on action economy, wasting a turn on an ineffective strategy is a cost.

As I noted, only if you already do or easily can know a more effective one. After all, if you don't know the special vulnerability of a monster, using what you think it might be is a net-zero; its no worse than anything else you can do. Its only in cases where the GM has played gotcha that its a bad idea.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That's absolutely true if they A: Have the skill, and B: succeeded at it. Depending on situation neither of those may be true (I'm thinking of PF2e here where there's around 4-5 different Lore's that apply depending on the monster, but you can get similar results outside the D&D sphere). If one or the other isn't, however, I don't doubt for a moment they're going to go with their D&D-culture or reading assumptions, because there's so little downside to doing so, generally.
In D&D 5e, you don't actually need the skill but it obviously helps increase the chances of success.

I think that's a different situation than just "changing something". To be honest, a lot of people would view that as a gotcha, and while it might work to do what you want there, it'd probably have other consequences with many people you wouldn't find as pleasing.
Telegraphing mitigates the chances something is seen as a gotcha, be it new monsters, traps, or anything else where someone might feel their lack of knowledge (or inability to act) was used against them.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
As I noted, only if you already do or easily can know a more effective one. After all, if you don't know the special vulnerability of a monster, using what you think it might be is a net-zero; its no worse than anything else you can do. Its only in cases where the GM has played gotcha that its a bad idea.

Well, if you're defining the difference between a neutral and a negative outcome as a "gotcha" then, yes, that is in fact a tautology.

So if you think an enemy is vulnerable to radiant, and it turns out that it isn't, that's not a very negative outcome. But if it turns out they are actually immune to radiant, and you cast Guiding Bolt, it's a wasted spell slot and a wasted turn. Is that a gotcha?

How about a monster that usually has a really low intelligence, but yours has a high intelligence, and the player (missing the telegraph that this monster isn't stupid) mistakenly targets it with an Int save, and then does so again because they can't believe the monster actually saved. Is that a gotcha?

Trying to pin down the DM on "gotchas" is, to me, not much different than trying to differentiate between "metagaming" motivations and "legitimate" motivations with players.

EDIT: Also, if the result is to keep players on their toes so that they are genuinely on edge/worried about what a monster can do, instead of yawning and saying, "Oh, another one of these", then call it a gotcha if you want but I think it's a good thing.
 

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