Skill challenges - who else likes them as the core non-combat sub-system?

pemerton

Legend
I'm less prone to tell the pcs what skills they can use and more prone to have them tell me what they're going to try.
Is there anyone who does tell the players what skills their PC's can use? That strikes me as a little strange, and I don't think it's what the rulebooks have in mind.

The PHB says (on pp 179 and 259):

Your DM sets the stage for a skill challenge by describing the obstacle you face and giving you some idea of the options you have in the encounter. Then you describe your actions and make checks until you either successfully complete the challenge or fail…

Whatever the details of a skill challenge, the basic structure of a skill challenge is straightforward. Your goal is to accumulate a specific number of victories (usually in the form of successful skill checks) before you get too many defeats (failed checks). It’s up to you to think of ways you can use your skills to meet the challenges you face.​

I guess that "giving some idea of the options" could be taken to mean indicating skills, but I've always taken it to mean describing the ingame situation in relation to the PCs and their capabilties (eg "the wall looks very hard for you to climb") rather than in purely metagame terms.

I do plan out my skill challenges to an extent (though typically not in as much detail as the rulebooks) but this is simply to help me - ie I will decide in advance how hard some fairly typical or predictable skill attempts are going to be.

But I never tell the players what their options are (unless they ask me for advice). I let them tackle the situation as they see fit, and adjudicate what they are attempting (just the same as I do for combat).
 

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