D&D 5E Soulknife Knack problems (Is it incredibly powerful?)

Valdier

Explorer
So reading through the Soulknife I noticed, the can use this, anytime they fail an ability check. If they succeed they spend the point, if they fail they don't.

As a DM, how will you handle this?

Some examples:
"I search for a secret door" "You don't find anything, but... you know you failed, do you want to spend a die?" (They now know there is a secret door they didn't find)
"I would like to roll insight to see if they are being truthful" "You aren't sure... but you know you failed, spend a die?"
Perception checks (they know something is hidden so now it's time to alert everyone that something is hidden nearby)
Social checks (they immediately know if their deception worked or they are caught), etc...

Does this ability interfere with any mystery since they automatically know if they succeeded or failed in a roll?

How will you handle this and/or am I reading this wrong?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

NotAYakk

Legend
Easy: Treat not finding anything when there is nothing to find as not a success.

"I search for a secret door", "You don't find anything". "I use my knack", ... "+4", "nope, still didn't find anything".

They keep their die, because they didn't succeed afterwards (or, they succeeded no more than they did before).

The die is not expended. The die only becomes expended if the die converts a failure into a success.

If you want a RAW: Rolling it when you have "already succeeded" is (a) against the rules, (b) doesn't consume any resources. The player tries to use their knack. The DM tells the player to roll the die, looks at the result, and says "no change". The character didn't actually use the knack (they where not allowed to), but the player doesn't know that.

"Roll a die pointlessly, no change" is no different than "use knack, no change" from the in-game fiction perspective.
 

Easy: Treat not finding anything when there is nothing to find as not a success.

"I search for a secret door", "You don't find anything". "I use my knack", ... "+4", "nope, still didn't find anything".

They keep their die, because they didn't succeed afterwards (or, they succeeded no more than they did before).

The die is not expended. The die only becomes expended if the die converts a failure into a success.

If you want a RAW: Rolling it when you have "already succeeded" is (a) against the rules, (b) doesn't consume any resources. The player tries to use their knack. The DM tells the player to roll the die, looks at the result, and says "no change". The character didn't actually use the knack (they where not allowed to), but the player doesn't know that.

"Roll a die pointlessly, no change" is no different than "use knack, no change" from the in-game fiction perspective.

Either this, or just set a high DC 20 or 25 to allow the soul knife to be sure that there is no secret door or trap to find. So a success. Expend the die. I do it for others characters too. A high roll that does nothing seems pointless, so make failure a success.
 

Valdier

Explorer
Easy: Treat not finding anything when there is nothing to find as not a success.

"I search for a secret door", "You don't find anything". "I use my knack", ... "+4", "nope, still didn't find anything".

They keep their die, because they didn't succeed afterwards (or, they succeeded no more than they did before).

The die is not expended. The die only becomes expended if the die converts a failure into a success.

If you want a RAW: Rolling it when you have "already succeeded" is (a) against the rules, (b) doesn't consume any resources. The player tries to use their knack. The DM tells the player to roll the die, looks at the result, and says "no change". The character didn't actually use the knack (they where not allowed to), but the player doesn't know that.

"Roll a die pointlessly, no change" is no different than "use knack, no change" from the in-game fiction perspective.
That is a way to handle it, except under the ability it specifically says, "you can spend a die when you fail a roll". So... they know when they failed and succeeded?
 

Iry

Hero
"Make an insight check."
"This is important to my character, so I use the knack if I fail."
"Got it. Go ahead and roll."
 

Valdier

Explorer
"Make an insight check."
"This is important to my character, so I use the knack if I fail."
"Got it. Go ahead and roll."
I get that as an option, but that isn't how it works. If you fail, you can spend a die, you don't declare it ahead of time, anymore than you declare shield ahead of time. You get to know before you try to spend it that you failed RAW.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
That is a way to handle it, except under the ability it specifically says, "you can spend a die when you fail a roll". So... they know when they failed and succeeded?
Again, it doesn't say "you know if you failed".

The basic game loop:
1) Player describes what the PC wants to do.
2) DM tells Player to roll dice. (optional)
3) DM describes results in the world.

1a) "I want to search for secret doors"
2a) "Roll a d20, add your intelligence(investigation) modifier" -- player rolls a 17.
3a) "You didn't find any doors".

Now, 2a can happen either if there is a 25 DC door there, or there is no door there at all. In one case they are searching for a DC 25. In the other, the DM is getting the player to roll some dice with no impact at all.

Or it was a DC 10 check to think there was no door there (on a 10 or under, you'll falsely think there is a secret door somewhere, but you will be wrong).

1b) "I want to use my knack on that search".
2b) "Ok; roll your psionic talent die" - player rolls a 4.
3b) "Your die is not expended. You still didn't find any doors."

Now, 2b can happen if either there is a DC 25 door there, or there is no door there at all. In one case the DM is getting the player to use a psi talent die to see if they hit DC 25 total, in the other they are getting the player to roll some dice with no impact at all.

Or it was a DC 10 check to think there was no door there (on a 10 or under, you'll falsely think there is a secret door somewhere, but you will be wrong). In this case, the psi die roll was again pointless; here, the DM told the player to roll the psi die, despite not being able to use the knack ability, because the player doesn't know if they can use the knack ability.

The in-world effects of "cannot use knack ability" and "knack ability isn't sufficient to generate a success" are indistinguishable in-world. The DM is free to tell the player information that isn't available in-world, but the DM is not obliged to do so.

Same stuff. Difference? die size.

If the DM doesn't want the player to know if they succeeded/failed on the first check, they just don't tell the player. They tell the player what the character learned.

Now, you are free to tell the player "that was a success", but that is up to you as a DM.

There is no "greyed out knack" button or a "beep" sound when you try to press the "use knack" and it doesn't work.
 
Last edited:

jgsugden

Legend
For every ability check, the DM decides which of the six abilities is relevant to the task at hand and the difficulty of the task, represented by a Difficulty Class. The more difficult a task, the higher its DC. The Typical Difficulty Classes table shows the most common DCs.... To make an ability check, roll a d20 and add the relevant ability modifier. As with other d20 rolls, apply bonuses and penalties, and compare the total to the DC. If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the ability check is a success — the creature overcomes the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it's a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback determined by the DM.
Under the RAW:

For every ability check there is a DC. The DM may allow a partial success if the DC is not met, but there is one DC that determines success.

After the ability check, the DM determines if it is a failure. There is no place where the DM tells the player it was a failure.

If the player is a Soulknife and has dice available, they can elect to roll a die when they have a failure. If the additional die makes it a success, then the die is used up. If not, the die is not used up.

This is how I see it all playing out.

Bob says he wants to look around to see if anything out of the ordinary is there. The DM asks for a Widsom (Perception) roll. Bob rolls and gets a 22 total.

The DM had set a DC 23 to see the invisible creature standing by the table. As he was very close, the DM gives Bob a hint that there is an invisible creature, there, but does not tell him he detected an invisible creature. "Bob, everything seems normal at first, but a flicker of movement catches your eye on the table. It looks like a piece of parchment on the table was blown by the wind... but there is no wind inside that you can feel."

Bob failed the roll because he did not meet the DC. He might think he made the roll because he saw something. He might think he failed because what he saw was not particularly revealing. Either way, he can ask to use his knack.

The DM will tell him to roll. In this instance, any roll will make it a success, and he'll be told of the invisible creature. The DM will tell him a die has been used and reveal the location of the invisible creature.

In a slightly different scenario, where there is no invisible creature in the room, but merely a breeze blowing into the room from under the table, a roll of 15 might be all that was necessary to note paper moving. Bob's 22 that tells him the paper is moving might be a total success. If Bob asks to use the die, the DM can tell him to roll the die, and then tell him he saw nothing additional and not to subtract a die.
 

Valdier

Explorer
Again, it doesn't say "you know if you failed".
Yes, it does. It literally says it in black and white.
The basic game loop:
1) Player describes what the PC wants to do.
2) DM tells Player to roll dice. (optional)
3) DM describes results in the world.
No, that's not what's written. They can only spend the di when they fail a check. The DM MUST tell them for them to spend the die.
1a) "I want to search for secret doors"
2a) "Roll a d20, add your intelligence(investigation) modifier" -- player rolls a 17.
3a) "You didn't find any doors".
And the DM has to tell them, right then, if they failed or not, so they can choose to then spend the die.
Now, 2a can happen either if there is a 25 DC door there, or there is no door there at all. In one case they are searching for a DC 25. In the other, the DM is getting the player to roll some dice with no impact at all.
So will you have the player continuously roll an infinite set of dice in every room just to "screw with their" power? Do you do this to every other skill in your game? That must be a fun game.
Or it was a DC 10 check to think there was no door there (on a 10 or under, you'll falsely think there is a secret door somewhere, but you will be wrong).

1b) "I want to use my knack on that search".
2b) "Ok; roll your psionic talent die" - player rolls a 4.
3b) "Your die is not expended. You still didn't find any doors."
That isn't what the rules say. I'm not sure you have read it at this point.
Now, 2b can happen if either there is a DC 25 door there, or there is no door there at all. In one case the DM is getting the player to use a psi talent die to see if they hit DC 25 total, in the other they are getting the player to roll some dice with no impact at all.
Nope, not how it works. Only if they fail.
Or it was a DC 10 check to think there was no door there (on a 10 or under, you'll falsely think there is a secret door somewhere, but you will be wrong). In this case, the psi die roll was again pointless; here, the DM told the player to roll the psi die, despite not being able to use the knack ability, because the player doesn't know if they can use the knack ability.
Yes they do.
If the DM doesn't want the player to know if they succeeded/failed on the first check, they just don't tell the player. They tell the player what the character learned.
Again, literally against the printed rules.
Now, you are free to tell the player "that was a success", but that is up to you as a DM.

There is no "greyed out knack" button or a "beep" sound when you try to press the "use knack" and it doesn't work.
But see, that isn't what the rules say happens. I get it that it makes a great house rule to fix it, but it isn't what the rules say like even a little.

Psi-Bolstered Knack. When your nonpsionic training fails you, your psionic power can help: if you fail an ability check using a skill or tool with
which you have proficiency, you can roll one Psionic Energy die and add the number rolled to the check, potentially turning failure into success. You expend
the die only if the roll succeeds.
This doesn't say "you spend a die every time a breeze goes by", it says, "If you fail an ability check using a skill or tool with which you have proficiency, you can roll a die".

The only means by which this triggers is when the DM says "You made a roll and failed the check". The player then has the choice to spend a die on that same ability check. They know if there roll was a success or failure, it's black and white in the rule for Knack. There is no room for interpretation around that unless, the DM is making a house rule to do so.

It is a binary switch. If X, then Z. If Y, then no Z.

If the player says "I want to search for a secret door" the DM sets a DC, the player rolls. The DM says if it was a success or failure. Period, because the player then gets to make a choice, WHEN the DM says they failed (the only time they can spend a psionic die by the rules).

This inherently tells them, there is a secret door present, or else the DM is saying there is a continual infinite DC for all walls without secret doors, to "NOT" find one. So, you are either creating a new rule specifically to stop this power, or, they know they failed the roll and something is likely there.

That is incredibly powerful.
 

Valdier

Explorer
Under the RAW:

For every ability check there is a DC. The DM may allow a partial success if the DC is not met, but there is one DC that determines success.

After the ability check, the DM determines if it is a failure. There is no place where the DM tells the player it was a failure.
Except factually under the Knack write up, it explicitly says it does.
 

So reading through the Soulknife I noticed, the can use this, anytime they fail an ability check. If they succeed they spend the point, if they fail they don't.

As a DM, how will you handle this?

Some examples:
"I search for a secret door" "You don't find anything, but... you know you failed, do you want to spend a die?" (They now know there is a secret door they didn't find)
"I would like to roll insight to see if they are being truthful" "You aren't sure... but you know you failed, spend a die?"
Perception checks (they know something is hidden so now it's time to alert everyone that something is hidden nearby)
Social checks (they immediately know if their deception worked or they are caught), etc...

Does this ability interfere with any mystery since they automatically know if they succeeded or failed in a roll?

How will you handle this and/or am I reading this wrong?

At our table, all the players know whether they succeed or fail at an ability check because I, as DM, tell them the DC and the stakes before they roll - the DC and stakes are based on what they said their PC is trying to accomplish and how they intend to accomplish it. Knack would just allow a Soulknife PC, if they went through with the proposed action and failed the ability check, to possibly turn a near failure into a success.
 

Dausuul

Legend
That is a way to handle it, except under the ability it specifically says, "you can spend a die when you fail a roll". So... they know when they failed and succeeded?
You are attempting to find a secret door. Success = you find a door. Failure = you don't find a door. There is no case here where you succeed but don't find a door.

So, if you don't find a door, you know that you failed. But you don't know why. Was it because there was a door and you didn't roll well enough to spot it? Or was it because there was no door, and you were doomed to fail before you even picked up a die?
 
Last edited:

NotAYakk

Legend
You made a roll and failed the check
The DM is never required to tell a player a DC or if they failed a check in 5e.

That rule you quote doesn't say what you think it says.

Your reading of the rule the way you read it leads to a problem. You choose to conclude "my reading is unquestionable, thus the problem is unavoidable".

You are wrong. The way of reading it can be questioned, and thus the problem you describe can be avoided.

The idea that each bit of rules text or english prose only gas one reading is simply wrong. If you believe that you'll suffer.

I am telling you that there isn't a rule in 5e that says "when you fail a check the DM must tell you". There is no way I can wuote a rule that says this, becuase I am claiming it is absent from the 5e rules, and the onky thing I can quote to prove that is the entire 5e ruleset.

Something you can do when you fail a check does not mean the DM has to tell you if you can do it. Really.

Yes, if you assume this also adds a hidden rule that the DM has to tell you if you can use this ability, then your conclusions are valid. But that is making up a hidden rule. More power to you, go ahead, add rules!

The idea that the rules you add are the only possible way to interpret the official rules is your error. And that belief makes you wrong. It is nearly impossoble to write rules that can be interpreted in only one narrow way, and 5e doesn't even try. This is just one of many examples in the 5e rules.

Stop believing that your interpretation is the only valid one.

Your interpretation is a reasonable one, but there are going to be dozens of other ones.

If your interpretation leads to problems with game-play, consider looking for other interpretations.

If you don't look for other interpretations when you notice a problem, then the problem is your problem, not the rules.
 
Last edited:

That is a way to handle it, except under the ability it specifically says, "you can spend a die when you fail a roll". So... they know when they failed and succeeded?
No, they don't. The ability says nothing about the player receiving any extra knowledge.

As already stated, if you tell a player "you fail to find a secret door" they can choose to roll the dice and try and add it on. This is irrespective of if there is a secret door there or not. Whether you interpret it as a failed roll or a dummy roll is irrelevant, what happens in the game is the same. A difference that makes no difference is no difference.
 
Last edited:

Horwath

Hero
No, they don't. The ability says nothing about the player receiving any extra knowledge.

As already stated, if you tell a player "you fail to find a secret door" they can choose to roll the dice and try and add it on. This is irrespective of if there is a secret door their or not. Whether you interpret it as a failed roll or a dummy roll is irrelevant, what happens in the game is the same. A difference that makes no difference is no difference.
I would agree with this.

Maybe wording of this ability should have been written that you can only use it on clear and evident failure.

I.E. you leap across a ravine, roll an Athletics for jump and mid-air you see that you are just a bit short to grab onto ledge so you use your kinetic ability to push yourself forward.
Same could be with failure on thief tools, trap springs but you block the mechanism in an instant with your mind and finnish the disable.

maybe I would drop all proficient ability checks and keep just ALL Str and Dex ability checks and saves. might even add attacks to this.
That you use your mind for phisical manipulation only, not mental
 

Iry

Hero
I get that as an option, but that isn't how it works. If you fail, you can spend a die, you don't declare it ahead of time, anymore than you declare shield ahead of time. You get to know before you try to spend it that you failed RAW.
No, you don't get to know if you failed an ability check. How you square that with your DM will vary. The only advantage you have is that you can apply the knack if you failed, which implies that the DM might narrate what seems to be a failure to you and you may then ask to apply the knack. That's pretty clunky, but that's the best you're going to get RAW.

Now, a DM might tell you that you failed. That's a kindness available to him. He might tell you the DC ahead of time. That's also a kindness. But he doesn't have to. So it behooves you to talk to your DM about how you can cooperate when it comes to this knack, to ensure both parties are having fun..
 


The player can try and use an ability any time they like. They do not need to know if it's conditions are fulfilled. If they try to use an ability and the conditions are not fulfilled the player will be told the ability fails, they won't be told why.

A different example would be a magic item that recharges at dawn. The party are underground and have no way to tell the time. They try to use the magic item and it doesn't work. Is it not dawn yet? Or have they blundered into the lair of a beholder?
 

Valdier

Explorer
No, you don't get to know if you failed an ability check. How you square that with your DM will vary. The only advantage you have is that you can apply the knack if you failed, which implies that the DM might narrate what seems to be a failure to you and you may then ask to apply the knack. That's pretty clunky, but that's the best you're going to get RAW.

Now, a DM might tell you that you failed. That's a kindness available to him. He might tell you the DC ahead of time. That's also a kindness. But he doesn't have to. So it behooves you to talk to your DM about how you can cooperate when it comes to this knack, to ensure both parties are having fun..
That is certainly a house rule your group can play with, but does not pair up with the rules as written. I think it's a good way to handle it at your table though.

My concern though is rules as written, especially for environments like AL.
 

Valdier

Explorer
The player can try and use an ability any time they like. They do not need to know if it's conditions are fulfilled. If they try to use an ability and the conditions are not fulfilled the player will be told the ability fails, they won't be told why.

A different example would be a magic item that recharges at dawn. The party are underground and have no way to tell the time. They try to use the magic item and it doesn't work. Is it not dawn yet? Or have they blundered into the lair of a beholder?
That isn't even "kinda" correct. It's in black and white when the condition can trigger. I copied the relevant text directly from the book above.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top