D&D 5E When do you hide and when do you reveal DCs?

So this came up at my game this week and it has me thinking.

When do you reveal the DC for a roll made by the PCs? Do you tell them say AC or the DC for a saving throw or skill check before the roll? After the roll? Wait until after the encounter is over? Not reveal at all, just success or failure?

I habitually hide DCs for the most part, and when I recently put it to my players if I should just reveal all, there was pushback.

Thoughts?
 

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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I always reveal the DC of a rolled check (and disclose the consequence of failure as much as possible) because I enjoy the tension it brings to the game.

I never reveal the DC of a passive check.

I keep monster stats secret, including AC.
 

Usually, I don't tell my players a creature's armor or HP during combat, but I'll give them hints or descriptions that evoke such things without explicitly saying them. For example:

Battle Master: "Alright, I'm going to lunge forward at the one Spellslinger just shot at--changing tactics to Hammer-and-Anvil." [He rolls: success!] "I'm going all out on this guy, he's clearly tough and needs to go down, and I've got Bard's buff on."
Me, the DM: "Sounds like a solid strategy. Roll that beautiful dice footage."
BM: [He rolls: partial success!] "Hmm. I'll take the hit, I could use another point of Gambit." [Damage roll: very high!] "Oh, and that's with +2 piercing." [AN: this is Dungeon World, so armor is DR, and piercing lets you ignore some amount of armor.]
Me: "Wow, that was a SOLID hit, like that hurt a LOT, your sword cleaves through the outer layers of the monster's carapace. Once you withdraw the blade, you can already see the blood coagulating, but it's a BIG wound. Another hit like that and it's definitely toast--and I think Fighter over there is looking ready to kick some butt. What do you do?"
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
I reveal as much as possible. Some things have to remain hidden (like a DC to tell the mayor is lying gives away the mayor's lie) but things like combat DCs, most skill checks, or really anything is open to the players.

In practice I may forget sometimes, but my aim is to be open about info.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This literally came up in a discussion yesterday for me.

When the character can make a reasonable assessment, I give them the DC. "How hard will it be to run across the tightrope?" or "how hard is it to track three men and a donkey in this terrain?".

When the character doesn't have information about how hard it is, I don't give them the DC. "Is the [just met NPC] bluffing or will he light the hostage on fire with his torch?" or "Can I find the recipe for making a Luckblade in the Infinite Library?"
 

I almost never actually state the DC, with the exception of saving throws. We play in Roll20, and the macros show the save type and DC by default. I could fix it, but then I'd have to repeat myself for AOEs, so I don't bother.
 

I don't bother sharing AC and saving throws. Process of elimination during a battle and hints like what armor they are wearing is usually enough.

For skill check DCs or saving throws that are not in a battle I will sometimes give them the exact number if I feel they've done enough to earn that level of information. Otherwise I'll just say easy, medium, or hard. Easy means close 10, medium is close to 15, hard is close to 20. Anything in the 25+ range and I'll bust out a thesaurus.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I always announce the DC of any ability check I call for. Every time.

I also make all my rolls in the open, no matter what I’m rolling for.

With ACs, I don’t necessarily announce it, but I don’t try to keep it secret. It’s only a matter of time till they figure it out, so I just share it. “17? Oh not quite, he’s got an 18.” That kind of thing.

I prefer to be open with all this as I find any advantage gained by keeping it secret not to be worth sacrificing being open about all the math.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So this came up at my game this week and it has me thinking.

When do you reveal the DC for a roll made by the PCs? Do you tell them say AC or the DC for a saving throw or skill check before the roll? After the roll? Wait until after the encounter is over? Not reveal at all, just success or failure?

I habitually hide DCs for the most part, and when I recently put it to my players if I should just reveal all, there was pushback.

Thoughts?
I never hide them anymore. If I don’t say the DC it’s just that I forgot to say it.
 

I give em the AC of the enemies to avoid being asked every turn if a 13 hits or not. I’ll give DC’s for saving throws and ask the group who got under the DC. I’ll then tell those who failed the roll the consequences of their poor life choices. I keep trap DC’s and the like hidden and will sometimes roll their perception and stealth checks for them so they don’t know if something is there or not.
 

aco175

Legend
I generally just tell them. I used to make them do the dance of guessing all the time and it became tiring for everyone. Although I usually just ask for a Perception check or Investigation check while searching and the players roll before I say, "Anyone roll above 18?"
 

Depends on how many rolls need to be made against the DC or AC.

One roll? Roll and I'll tell you if it works. You need the whole party, including pets and sidekicks to save against a fireball? "Roll Dex saves, DC is 18." Break point is around four d20s.

I don't announce ACs, but the players usually know by round 3 anyways.
 

Oofta

Legend
Some DCs I'll give a general idea based on what the PCs can observe using passive values in most cases. Other times they simply don't know. Depending what the check is (i.e. insight) they may not know if they succeeded or failed.

For ACs, again I'll give a general idea, after a round or two I'll just yell them. I also give general idea of remaining HP, but not specifics.

If they need to make a save I just let them know the number.
 



Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
When do I tell the player the DC (or AC)? After I call for the player to roll and before I tell them what’s at stake if they fail.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So this came up at my game this week and it has me thinking.

When do you reveal the DC for a roll made by the PCs? Do you tell them say AC or the DC for a saving throw or skill check before the roll? After the roll? Wait until after the encounter is over? Not reveal at all, just success or failure?

I habitually hide DCs for the most part, and when I recently put it to my players if I should just reveal all, there was pushback.

Thoughts?
Depends. If it’s something that’s easily handled and a one-off, I’ll keep it to myself. So the DC on an out-of-combat skill check, secret. In combat, I typically set a scene DC, tell the players, and let them roll against that. With the proviso that boss monsters and the like will be tougher. No reason to keep it a secret. In a round or two they’ll know all the ACs involved anyway.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So this came up at my game this week and it has me thinking.

When do you reveal the DC for a roll made by the PCs? Do you tell them say AC or the DC for a saving throw or skill check before the roll? After the roll? Wait until after the encounter is over? Not reveal at all, just success or failure?

I habitually hide DCs for the most part, and when I recently put it to my players if I should just reveal all, there was pushback.

Thoughts?
I will occasionally reveal a DC during a particularly important roll if it will raise the drama tension. Nothing like everyone at the table standing up and bending over the table to see what the roll is as it happens, rather than waiting for the one rolling to announce the number.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Whilst I don‘t like to reveal the number (at least initially) I like to give guidance: “the creature looks hard to hit”, “that should be easy to accomplish”, as going straight to numbers is a bit jarring in the narrative for me.
 

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