What are your biggest immersion breakers, rules wise?

You say here that the rule is one roll only unless the DM grants another (much like 1e does it; and my preference). Others are saying the rule is you can keep trying - and thus keep rolling* - until you either succeed or prove the task is beyond you, and that the DM is bound by this (much like 3e's Take-20).

Which is it?
There's the general rule that the player declares actions and the DM determines uncertainty, maybe calls for a check, and narrates the result.

So it's entirely up to the DM how any repeated declaration of the same action (or variations thereupon) might work out.
 

Sabathius42

Explorer
Per Jeremy Crawford's Sage Advice tweet....

"The DM says if an ability check is warranted, sets the DC & decides whether a check can be retried, using guidance in the DMG (p. 237) "
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Depends on the situation. If they have more time right then and there, why wasn’t that included in the roll I already asked for? If they said, “I’m only going to try for about an hour”, I’m going to probably hold them to that. We agreed on a resolution model, and they aren’t going to game it just because they failed a check. Next time, we can use a different model, if they didn't like how this one played out.

Now, if they go do something else that they were planning on doing anyway, and still have time to go back to the lock, say that evening, I’ll let them decide how long they spend working on it this time, and ask for a new roll. Depending on the task, I may even apply advantage on this check, because they’ve cleared their head and they know the task better than they did before. IRL, I often find such “after a break and completing some other task” attempts to inexplicably be trivially easy compared to the first attempt.

I’m not any other poster. I don’t insist on any sort of strict “must use a new approach” stuff.
So, this post is about a day old and I haven’t read everything after it, so apologies if you have already covered this, but I read this and had a thought I felt strongly about sharing.

It sounds like the way you run it, you take into account the amount of time spent on a task (let’s just roll with the lock picking example), set the DC accordingly, and abstract the whole process into one roll. Cool, I’m on board with you so far. When someone asks what happens when the player fails that check and asks to try again, you say that shouldn’t be possible, given that the amount of time being spend was already agreed upon, and immediately trying again would essentially mean they had spent more than the initial done on the task, which should have been accounted for in the one roll. You can’t just retroactively change how long you spent on the task. Ok, that makes sense.

My question is, what would you do if, instead of agreeing to spend a fixed amount of time on the task (let’s say a day, or something), the player said, “I want to keep trying until I get it. However long that takes”?
 
My question is, what would you do if, instead of agreeing to spend a fixed amount of time on the task (let’s say a day, or something), the player said, “I want to keep trying until I get it. However long that takes”?
Try to think, plausibly, how long it might take, at the most, and apply an improvised degree of success judgement. Roll very well, done quickly, roll very badly, takes a long time - possibly long enough that events intervene.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
If every game ran that way, then there would be very little point in manacles existing, given that anyone with at least a 10 in Strength or Dexterity would escape within a few minutes.

This is one of those areas where the rules just make zero sense, and no explanation is given.
For a check to be called for to resolve an action, the action requires a (reasonable) chance of success and a (reasonable) chance of failure. If you’re trying to break manacles by pulling really hard or wriggling around a bit, there is no roll called for. Manacles are built specifically to prevent that, so simply wriggling around or pulling does not have a reasonable chance of success and fails without a check. It is only if the approach could feasibly work (maybe you cover your hands in oil before trying to wriggle free, or you bash the manacles against a rock) that a check might be called for, if there is a cost or consequence for failure. If there is, the rules tell us the appropriate DC. If there isn’t, then yeah, the character escapes with a few minutes of work, because why not? They have a reasonable chance of failing and nothing preventing them from attempting to until they do.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Try to think, plausibly, how long it might take, at the most, and apply an improvised degree of success judgement. Roll very well, done quickly, roll very badly, takes a long time - possibly long enough that events intervene.
Ok, that makes sense to me. Now, let’s assume this task is being performed in a context where the amount of time it takes is immaterial. Maybe the character is trying to pick the lock on a chest that they safely recovered from a dungeon. They’ve brought it to their home, where they have ample food, water, shelter, and no threat of being attacked. Whether it takes an hour, a day, a week, a month, it doesn’t really matter. In such a context, do you still call for a roll to see how long it takes?
 
Ok, that makes sense to me. Now, let’s assume this task is being performed in a context where the amount of time it takes is immaterial.
I see no reason not to just narrate success.
Though, if there's anything that might interrupt - or even just bragging rights on the line - go with the above.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Since the original thread has been 100% derailed into a discussion about how and when you should get to re-roll for picking a lock...

Does anyone in this thread see these two scenarios as being different and would one but not the other occur at your table?

Scenario 1
P1: I want to pick the lock.
GM: OK, give me a Lockpick roll.
P1: I got a 7.
GM: The lock doesn't budge.
P1: I try again. I got an 18.
GM: OK, now its open.

Scenario 2
P1: I want to know if his religion is tied to Tiamat.
GM: OK, give me a Religion roll.
P1: I got a 7
GM: You don't remember anything like that.
P1: I try again. I got an 18.
GM: Yes it is.
Scenario 1 does happen quite often at my table, with the caveat that after each attempt, I place a d6 into a glass bowl in the middle of the table. When the sixth d6 is placed in the bowl, I roll them all, and if any come up a 1, a random encounter or other complication occurs. If the player is willing to keep paying that cost, they are able to keep trying.

Scenario 2 doesn’t happen at my table because I don’t call for checks to handle knowledge recollection.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
For a check to be called for to resolve an action, the action requires a (reasonable) chance of success and a (reasonable) chance of failure. If you’re trying to break manacles by pulling really hard or wriggling around a bit, there is no roll called for. Manacles are built specifically to prevent that, so simply wriggling around or pulling does not have a reasonable chance of success and fails without a check. It is only if the approach could feasibly work (maybe you cover your hands in oil before trying to wriggle free, or you bash the manacles against a rock) that a check might be called for, if there is a cost or consequence for failure. If there is, the rules tell us the appropriate DC. If there isn’t, then yeah, the character escapes with a few minutes of work, because why not? They have a reasonable chance of failing and nothing preventing them from attempting to until they do.
Standard Disclaimer: This edition is poorly written, and trying to find consistent answers will result in failure.

That being said, I don't like the way you would adjudicate that, because it seems contrary to the description in the book. The book says that the DC is 20 for trying to escape the manacles, and also 20 for trying to break them. To me, that's already telling us the methods that will be attempted. The DC of a check is always hardwired to the method; they couldn't tell us what the DC is, until they know what we're doing, and those DCs don't mention anything about oil or rocks.

The obvious interpretation (at least to me), is that they want an exceptionally slick character (like Houdini) to slip the manacles, and they want an exceptionally strong character (like Conan) to just break the manacles. They just set the DC far too low, because Bounded Accuracy is a bad design principal. The idea that anyone can attempt something - that you don't need to be an expert in order to have a reasonable chance of succeeding - is fundamentally at odds with a world that makes sense.
 

Amarik

Villager
I don't like the movement rules for rough terrain. Some people are good swimmers, others aren't. Very few people can swim in heavy armor, particularly for any length of time. Climbing should always require a check unless it's ladder-easy imo.

I've found that combat takes ages in upper levels of 5e as well because of the damage to hp ratio.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Standard Disclaimer: This edition is poorly written, and trying to find consistent answers will result in failure.
I agree. Some folks, who have similar adjudication styles to me, are pretty gung-ho about their interpretations being at least RAI if not RAW. Personally, I’m less sure how much clarity of intent the 5e devs had when designing the rules, but I’m really more interested in what practices produce the best results than in whether or not those practices are supported by the rules.

That being said, I don't like the way you would adjudicate that, because it seems contrary to the description in the book. The book says that the DC is 20 for trying to escape the manacles, and also 20 for trying to break them. To me, that's already telling us the methods that will be attempted.
I disagree. In my assessment, try to escape” and “try to break” are goals, not methods. I need a means by which the character tries to escape or break the manacles to properly adjudicate the action. When in doubt, “I try to _ by _” is a good format for action declaration, though I’m not picky about phrasing as long as I can tell both what the player wants and the means the character is using to try and achieve it without having to make assumptions.

The DC of a check is always hardwired to the method; they couldn't tell us what the DC is, until they know what we're doing, and those DCs don't mention anything about oil or rocks.
Again, I disagree. DCs are quite often given for achieving results, without much consideration given to what methods are used to bring those results about, especially in published adventures. However, I will concede that setting DCs without thought to both the goal and the approach is bad DMing practice, whether it is intended or not. And if your assertion is that the rules as written for escaping and/or breaking manacles in 5e kinda suck, I do agree with that.

The obvious interpretation (at least to me), is that they want an exceptionally slick character (like Houdini) to slip the manacles, and they want an exceptionally strong character (like Conan) to just break the manacles.
I don’t agree that this is the “obvious interpretation” of what the devs wanted, but again, I don’t much care if it’s what the devs wanted or not. I think the way I handle it leads to better gameplay.

They just set the DC far too low, because Bounded Accuracy is a bad design principal. The idea that anyone can attempt something - that you don't need to be an expert in order to have a reasonable chance of succeeding - is fundamentally at odds with a world that makes sense.
I don’t think that “you don’t need to be an expert in order to have a reasonable chance of succeeding” is a critique of Bounded Accuracy. Bounded Accuracy is just a design principle of keeping the bonus and target number math relatively flat. There’s no reason that, in a Bounded Accuracy system, you can’t require a certain level of expertise for there to be a reasonable chance of success. For example, you can’t attempt to pick a lock if you aren’t proficient with thieves’ tools (or, technically you can, you’ll just fail without a check.)
 
Climbing should always require a check unless it's ladder-easy imo.
Oh, don't underestimate the humble ladder.

I've found that combat takes ages in upper levels of 5e as well because of the damage to hp ratio.
Y'know, whenever someone complains about 5e, one of the first question is, "are you running enough combats per day?"
...are you maybe running too many?
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Ok, that makes sense to me. Now, let’s assume this task is being performed in a context where the amount of time it takes is immaterial. Maybe the character is trying to pick the lock on a chest that they safely recovered from a dungeon. They’ve brought it to their home, where they have ample food, water, shelter, and no threat of being attacked. Whether it takes an hour, a day, a week, a month, it doesn’t really matter. In such a context, do you still call for a roll to see how long it takes?
No, I call for a roll to see if they get it open at all.

Why?

Because it's always possible they'll fail badly enough that the lock becomes unopenable* - they break off a part of a thieving tool inside it, for example.

And because they may or may not know, or may or may not think they know, whether there's any traps present.

* - in which case they're on to a plan B, be it removing some hinges or taking an axe to the thing or whatever.

(that said, if they're home and cooled out and the lock still looks like putting up serious resistance, they'll either get their own wizard to drop a Knock on it or they'll go out and hire one)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Scenario 2 doesn’t happen at my table because I don’t call for checks to handle knowledge recollection.
So when it's uncertain whether a character knows or remembers something, how do you handle it - and just as importantly, how do you randomize it?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, this post is about a day old and I haven’t read everything after it, so apologies if you have already covered this, but I read this and had a thought I felt strongly about sharing.

It sounds like the way you run it, you take into account the amount of time spent on a task (let’s just roll with the lock picking example), set the DC accordingly, and abstract the whole process into one roll. Cool, I’m on board with you so far. When someone asks what happens when the player fails that check and asks to try again, you say that shouldn’t be possible, given that the amount of time being spend was already agreed upon, and immediately trying again would essentially mean they had spent more than the initial done on the task, which should have been accounted for in the one roll. You can’t just retroactively change how long you spent on the task. Ok, that makes sense.

My question is, what would you do if, instead of agreeing to spend a fixed amount of time on the task (let’s say a day, or something), the player said, “I want to keep trying until I get it. However long that takes”?
I’d either narrate success within a reasonable timeframe that both I and the player are happy with, or I ask for (usually) 1 roll to determine how long it takes.

Now, some tasks are inherently complex, and I’ll basically run a mini-skill-challenge for them, where you have to do multiple checks with multiple skills appropriate to the task, but for a straightforward task the above is usually how I run it.

Edit: Also, I’m assuming that this is occurring during time that is down time, but not Downtime. Like, if you have a month off and you’re trying to get a box open...unless I’m feeling whimsical and planning to use the complications from XGTE, I’m just gonna tell ya that it takes a “workday” or whatever, and move on to either asking what you do with the rest of your time, or do a quick scene wherein you find out what’s in the box.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So when it's uncertain whether a character knows or remembers something, how do you handle it
We’ve been over this a lot, so I don’t know what good reiterating it again will do, but here goes.

I look to the players’ proficiencies for what additional information they might know, and I include that information in my description of the environment. Characters with History proficiency get extra details about relevant historical objects, places, and events, characters with Nature proficiency get additional details about flora and fauna, characters with Arcana proficiency get additional details about magical creatures, objects, and effects, dwarves with stonecunning get extra details about stonework they come across, etc. etc. This has the effect of encouraging players to make sure they have a wide variety of proficiencies between them.

If the players want to know more about something in the environment than what was in the description, they can describe actions their characters perform with the goal of learning that information, which I will adjudicate as I would any other action.

In my experience, players asking if their character knows or remembers something (or more often, asking to “make a check to see if I know/remember” are usually asking for permission to act on knowledge they have as a player that they are unsure if they’re allowed to act on. The typical example of this is “do I know trolls are weak to fire?” but substitute whatever common piece of player knowledge that DMs typically don’t consider common character knowledge. In these events, I allow the player to decide if their character has that knowledge or not and how to act on it or not.

- and just as importantly, how do you randomize it?
I don’t see that as important at all.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I’d either narrate success within a reasonable timeframe that both I and the player are happy with, or I ask for (usually) 1 roll to determine how long it takes.
Ok, cool. I would say that I basically do the same. I assume as a baseline that a player is taking as much time to complete a task as they need, and if the amount of time it takes for them to complete it is relevant - for example, if there is a ticking clock, or a chance of random encounters after a certain amount of time, then the roll (and it is usually one roll, though there are exceptions) determines how long it takes, otherwise I narrate success and don’t really sweat how long it took specifically (because by definition if I’m using this option, how long it takes doesn’t actually matter). When I use multiple rolls is when each failure presents mounting tension.

The system I described in an earlier post with dropping d6s in a glass bowl and rolling them all when there are 6d6 in the bowl to determine if a complication occurs is how I measure that mounting tension, and also how I keep track of time. Each d10 dropped in the bowl represents roughly 10 minutes of time during moment-to-moment exploration and roughly 4 hours during travel. Actions that are inconspicuous but take time, such as picking a lock add a die. Actions that are quick but reckless, such as trying to break the door down, trigger a roll of however many dice are in the pool at the time. Actions that are both reckless and time-consuming do both. It turns otherwise mundane tasks like opening locked doors into minigames of push your luck.

Now, some tasks are inherently complex, and I’ll basically run a mini-skill-challenge for them, where you have to do multiple checks with multiple skills appropriate to the task, but for a straightforward task the above is usually how I run it.
Makes sense. The tension pool mechanic described above is basically a means of making these kinds of skill challenges an emergent property of play, rather than structured encounters like they were in 4e.

Edit: Also, I’m assuming that this is occurring during time that is down time, but not Downtime. Like, if you have a month off and you’re trying to get a box open...unless I’m feeling whimsical and planning to use the complications from XGTE, I’m just gonna tell ya that it takes a “workday” or whatever, and move on to either asking what you do with the rest of your time, or do a quick scene wherein you find out what’s in the box.
Yeah, same.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Ok, cool. I would say that I basically do the same. I assume as a baseline that a player is taking as much time to complete a task as they need, and if the amount of time it takes for them to complete it is relevant - for example, if there is a ticking clock, or a chance of random encounters after a certain amount of time, then the roll (and it is usually one roll, though there are exceptions) determines how long it takes, otherwise I narrate success and don’t really sweat how long it took specifically (because by definition if I’m using this option, how long it takes doesn’t actually matter). When I use multiple rolls is when each failure presents mounting tension.

The system I described in an earlier post with dropping d6s in a glass bowl and rolling them all when there are 6d6 in the bowl to determine if a complication occurs is how I measure that mounting tension, and also how I keep track of time. Each d10 dropped in the bowl represents roughly 10 minutes of time during moment-to-moment exploration and roughly 4 hours during travel. Actions that are inconspicuous but take time, such as picking a lock add a die. Actions that are quick but reckless, such as trying to break the door down, trigger a roll of however many dice are in the pool at the time. Actions that are both reckless and time-consuming do both. It turns otherwise mundane tasks like opening locked doors into minigames of push your luck.


Makes sense. The tension pool mechanic described above is basically a means of making these kinds of skill challenges an emergent property of play, rather than structured encounters like they were in 4e.


Yeah, same.
That tension mechanic is interesting. I may look into something like that next time I run a caper.
 

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