D&D 5E Some thoughts on skills.

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
An advice we can give to beginner DM is that if you ask for a check, then a PC may fail or succeed it. So be ready to handle both success and failure. If you can’t handle both, better don’t ask a check, and decide the outcome of the action.
Setting the DC don’t matter much, choosing 5, 10, 15 or 20 and even more won’t break the game. Make a reasonable evaluation and be comfortable with your choice, but be ready for a success or a failure.
It's not about single checks,

A DM who calls for DC 10 often will have PCs who succeed often and look like super heroes.
A DM who calls for DC 15 often will have PCs who fail often and look like amatuers.
A DM who calls for DC 20 often will have PCs who almost always fail and look like incompetents.

So if a DM makes a dungeon with 2 DC 15 traps, 1 DC 10 hazard, 1 DC 20 hazard, 3 DC lore checks, 1 DC 20 secret, a DC 15 Hidden door, a DC 15 obstacle.... the party of 4 will look like bumbling goofs.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
My point is the 50/50 isn't what I consider to be easy. And some others might think so to.

So against is it supposed to be easy for a person with a 10 and no ability score.
Or is DC 10 supposed to be easy for a person with a 15 and proficiency in the roll?

Because here is the main rub.

A +2 does not have a significant change in the outcomes with a d20 roll. A +4 with advantage might, but a raw +2 doesn't. It takes a lot of rolls for a +2 to feel and be effective. But D&D pretends it does and uses language like it does. And this creates the meme of the cleric who doesn't know his own religion or the thief who can't pick locks.

This math and bonuses don't have to change. However at some point D&D has to man up an admit that a +2 doesn't matter as much as the big swings of the d20 or the 5 point gaps between DCs. And just picking stuff can have a DM pick the wrong DM for them.

That to me is missing to, how to choose. D&D tell the DM that they can choose and what they can choose. It doesn't inform them how to make the choice. Because picking a DC 10 vs a DC 20 is a big choice if failure or success is impactful.
Not to focus too much on your examples, but sometimes thieves can't pick locks. That's not really a problem in and of itself. (Plus, they could just take 10 times the normal amount of time to do it to automatically succeed, provided the task is not impossible.) Further, why is the DM asking the cleric to make a check to recall lore about their own religion? That seems like it shouldn't come up much at all.

I think you also underestimate how much players can and will boost their ability checks on the spot with Help, Working Together, guidance, Inspiration, bardic inspiration, and other sources of advantages and bonuses to which they have access. That they may sometimes have to reach to hit a higher DC is fine - that's just more incentive to spend their resources and come up with better approaches to goals.

The game works fine with DCs of 10, 15, or 20, and the DMG says as much. So leave the spreadsheets and graphs in math class and go with your gut, assigning advantage when appropriate. The DM won't always calibrate that exactly right, but there really is no "right" here and expecting a DM to make a perfect call every time is folly even if the DMG came with a statistical calculator.

What's more important in my view are not the DCs, but whether a DM should call for a roll at all and what impact that has on the game. The DMG explains this in The Role of the Dice, showing the upsides and downsides of each approach. Your examples remind me of a DM who may simply be asking for too many rolls, and the drawback here is that roleplaying can diminish if the players feel their decision matter less than what the dice say.
 

It's not about single checks,

A DM who calls for DC 10 often will have PCs who succeed often and look like super heroes.
A DM who calls for DC 15 often will have PCs who fail often and look like amatuers.
A DM who calls for DC 20 often will have PCs who almost always fail and look like incompetents.

So if a DM makes a dungeon with 2 DC 15 traps, 1 DC 10 hazard, 1 DC 20 hazard, 3 DC lore checks, 1 DC 20 secret, a DC 15 Hidden door, a DC 15 obstacle.... the party of 4 will look like bumbling goofs.
PCs looking like amateurs, incompetents or goofs depend mainly on how the DM describe the action and the failure. At our table the DM often ask the players to describe himself how his PC fail the check, which often result in hilarious and funny moments. Players may choose to look goofy, but usually they prefer a better way to show their PCs.

PCs looking like super heroes, is often happening when the DM don’t make the difference between « nearly impossible » and « impossible ». For such super heroic action the DM may also consider luck to explain success.
Some soldier have survived fall from airplane during war, and in DnD Supernatural help, or other weird effects can change the nature of a check.
But the DM need to handle the success of a DC 30 check.

Again in both case the DM can choose to not ask a check. If the DM ask a check and hope deeply for an given result he should not ask a check.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Not to focus too much on your examples, but sometimes thieves can't pick locks. That's not really a problem in and of itself. (Plus, they could just take 10 times the normal amount of time to do it to automatically succeed, provided the task is not impossible.) Further, why is the DM asking the cleric to make a check to recall lore about their own religion? That seems like it shouldn't come up much at all.

I think you also underestimate how much players can and will boost their ability checks on the spot with Help, Working Together, guidance, Inspiration, bardic inspiration, and other sources of advantages and bonuses to which they have access. That they may sometimes have to reach to hit a higher DC is fine - that's just more incentive to spend their resources and come up with better approaches to goals.

The game works fine with DCs of 10, 15, or 20, and the DMG says as much. So leave the spreadsheets and graphs in math class and go with your gut, assigning advantage when appropriate. The DM won't always calibrate that exactly right, but there really is no "right" here and expecting a DM to make a perfect call every time is folly even if the DMG came with a statistical calculator.

What's more important in my view are not the DCs, but whether a DM should call for a roll at all and what impact that has on the game. The DMG explains this in The Role of the Dice, showing the upsides and downsides of each approach. Your examples remind me of a DM who may simply be asking for too many rolls, and the drawback here is that roleplaying can diminish if the players feel their decision matter less than what the dice say.
I've tried to explain the issue many times and you seems to be missing it. So I'm gonna quit here on that point.

And go back to Powertlifting being its own skill. Because POWAH!
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
D&D 5e DMG page 238: "If the only DCs you ever use are 10, 15, and 20, your game will run just fine."

So if for some reason that eludes me the DM is mystified about which DC to use for a given task with an uncertain outcome, they can stick with just those three, ignoring all others, and everything will work out.
And yet the DMG lists other DCs, because it is confus8ng and does not help DMs as much as it could.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
And yet the DMG lists other DCs, because it is confus8ng and does not help DMs as much as it could.
Yes, it lists other DCs in case you want to use them, thereby supporting DMs who choose to use DCs beyond the 10 to 20 range. It even tells them how characters of various levels would do with those DCs. What else do you want?
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
Yes, it lists other DCs in case you want to use them, thereby supporting DMs who choose to use DCs beyond the 10 to 20 range. It even tells them how characters of various levels would do with those DCs. What else do you want?


“The Typical Difficulty Classes table shows the most common DCs.”

That’s in the SRD as well as in the basic rules.

What the paragraph that quote is from does not include (in either location, or in the DMG) is text warning DMs that stuff gets weird if they use some of the DCs the text just presented as most common.

If the system requires combing through the entirely of the DMG to look for a sentence that alters how the table of most common DCs is to be interpreted, that is a poorly put together guide for dungeons masters.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Yes it does and his argument is relevant to the reason why 5e's skills fail, they intentionally & willfully ignore the needs of a skill system along with basic logic. Without things like individual niches there is less room for drama & story. It's simply rote "I'm proficient clatter ☦dice roll☦ me too clatter ☦dice roll☦ and me clatter ☦dice roll☦ I'll help Can I cast guidance? You get to add ☦dice roll☦" and you get the equivalent of a lock & load montage but lacking any value because it's the equivalent of a single frame in a 24fps so the GM just gets pressured to skip it entirely or block some PCs the option of even trying. Sorry none of y'all are special enough to identify wood by smell.

Earlier in the thread someone even suggested simply denying all but an expertise player the option to use a skill as a reasonable solution to an overly broad skill made too valuable
Sorry, not interested in debating this one with you. Your "players are out to get me" perception of the social dynamics of play is simply not worth discussing.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
“The Typical Difficulty Classes table shows the most common DCs.”

That’s in the SRD as well as in the basic rules.

What the paragraph that quote is from does not include (in either location, or in the DMG) is text warning DMs that stuff gets weird if they use some of the DCs the text just presented as most common.

If the system requires combing through the entirely of the DMG to look for a sentence that alters how the table of most common DCs is to be interpreted, that is a poorly put together guide for dungeons masters.
You're right, after all why would anyone wanting to run a game of D&D 5e read the chapter of the D&D 5e DMG entitled "Running the Game" which contains the very information that helps them run games?
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
You're right, after all why would anyone wanting to run a game of D&D 5e read the chapter of the D&D 5e DMG entitled "Running the Game" which contains the very information that helps them run games?
I don't think that actually addresses the concern presented. "This book is here to guide you" is good; "this book has one INCREDIBLY CRITICAL sentence which is buried 250 pages in" is not. Even if it's in a chapter entitled, "Running the Game," a single ultra-critical sentence changing many if not most instances of a common DMing interaction reflects poorly on that book and its ability to "guide."

If it's important, it's worth saying more than once, or worth at least highlighting. If it's genuinely critical to a large portion of the experience, it absolutely should be said more than once or highlighted. That it isn't is bad organization. Especially when the thing that sentence modifies is actually in a different section altogether.
 

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