When is the skill check made?

Hriston

Adventurer
I would say that this is implicit in the way the game treats tasks the core resolution mechanic. A task isn't a check and the check is divorced from the fiction. The existence of a check means there is a task being performed that has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence for failure. You can have a task without a check, but not a check without a task.
Yeah, I think we're pretty much in agreement here.

Though those spells, feats, and features do affect the check and thereby possibly the outcome of the task, there is no way for a character to know at what point in the task the check is being made (since, again, a check doesn't exist in the game world). What's going on in the game world is that a cleric is offering guidance on a task, a bard is offering inspiration in general which may be applied to a task, and lucky is just the natural state of the character which has the benefit of affecting checks. Therefore, it makes sense that these things must be in effect at the start of and by the end of the task to affect the outcome.
To me, this just doesn't follow. What about the narrative of a character that's muddling through some task and is likely to fail, only to receive some burst of inspiration or divine guidance at a critical moment that allows him/her to succeed? That type of intercession can come at any moment.

When handling it like this, which I believe is perfectly in line with the core game mechanics, the problems commonly reported with spells like guidance simply go away without a need to change the spell at all. If the task takes longer than a minute, for example, guidance just isn't going to help and it needs to be cast before the task is undertaken. This immediately reduces the number of tasks for which guidance will be useful.
I'm not exactly sure what the common problems are, other than the report of "spamming" which started these threads. It seems to me that "spamming" is kind of what cantrips are made for, so I'm still not sure how it's a problem. I'm certainly not recommending any changes to the spell. As I posted in the other thread, I think transparently known DCs, coupled with no imposed restriction on casting after a check has been rolled, immediately reduces the number of ability checks for which guidance will be (perceived to be) useful.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
No, both the spell and the ability state that the additional die roll can be applied after the d20 has been rolled.
I am talking about use of the spell or ability. You are talking about applying the die that results form the use of the spell or ability.

The cleric or bard must use their mojo to grant a die. The target may then take an action that rolls a d20. Before the result of that d20 is announced, they may add the extra die. Technically, the order is: Mojo, then action declaration, then extra die, then resolution. If you want to be really kind, for an extended action you can have Action Declaration > Mojo > extra die > resolution without busting much of anything. But that extra die is explicitly used before the player knows what the d20 roll would yield

What you seem to be missing is that there’s a design space between the die roll and the DM’s narration of success or failure that these rules exploit.
No, I am saying there explicitly isn't such a space, in terms of the rules. You can narrate what you want, but the rules are clear on the order. If the GM says what the result of the d20 roll is, it is too late to add the extra die.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
I am talking about use of the spell or ability. You are talking about applying the die that results form the use of the spell or ability.
Okay, then what's the rule, in your opinion, that prevents the use of the spell or ability after the ability check has been rolled but before the outcome is known?

The cleric or bard must use their mojo to grant a die. The target may then take an action that rolls a d20. Before the result of that d20 is announced, they may add the extra die. Technically, the order is: Mojo, then action declaration, then extra die, then resolution. If you want to be really kind, for an extended action you can have Action Declaration > Mojo > extra die > resolution without busting much of anything. But that extra die is explicitly used before the player knows what the d20 roll would yield
You seem to be agreeing with me here, except maybe for this last bit. By "what the d20 roll would yield", do you mean whether the DM says the task succeeds or fails, in which case we are in complete agreement? Or do you mean the resulting number of the d20 roll, in which case you're disagreeing not only with me, but with what's explicitly written in the features under discussion?

No, I am saying there explicitly isn't such a space, in terms of the rules. You can narrate what you want, but the rules are clear on the order. If the GM says what the result of the d20 roll is, it is too late to add the extra die.
See, this is weird. I've stated numerous times that my position is that the extra die can be used until the DM narrates success or failure and that the design space I'm talking about is that space between the die roll and the DM narrating success or failure. You deny there's such a space, but then you repeat back what I've been saying. 🤷‍♂️
 
Last edited:

Harzel

Explorer
To me, this just doesn't follow. What about the narrative of a character that's muddling through some task and is likely to fail, only to receive some burst of inspiration or divine guidance at a critical moment that allows him/her to succeed? That type of intercession can come at any moment.
There are two things bundled here that I would separate. One is the 'burst' of inspiration/guidance notion; that seems like a good narrative reason for allowing the inspiration/guidance to be applied regardless of the duration of the task. The other is the notion that when a character is 'likely to fail', they will be aware of that and that the player knowing the d20 roll is a good model for that.

Ok, now a weird thing has just happened to me. When I started the last sentence of the previous paragraph, I thought I was about to argue against, e.g., the bard being allowed to grant inspiration after the d20 roll. However, if one embraces the 'burst of inspiration' notion and justifies the RAW 'player can see the d20 roll before using inspiration' as 'character suspects they are failing and seeks extraordinary assistance', then disallowing the bard granting inspiration after the d20 roll would mean drawing a distinction between the character doing the task suspecting they were failing and the bard suspecting they were failing. Provided that the fictional situation is such that the bard and the other character can communicate, that seems like a fine line to be drawing (particularly in a cooperative, group-oriented game).

I'm not exactly sure what the common problems are, other than the report of "spamming" which started these threads. It seems to me that "spamming" is kind of what cantrips are made for, so I'm still not sure how it's a problem. I'm certainly not recommending any changes to the spell. As I posted in the other thread, I think transparently known DCs, coupled with no imposed restriction on casting after a check has been rolled, immediately reduces the number of ability checks for which guidance will be (perceived to be) useful.
Two things here. First, the PH says this about Bardic Inspiration.

PH said:
The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the Bardic Inspiration die, but must decide before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails.
Disclosing DCs renders the second clause moot, which to me means this contravenes RAW. That's fine, but seems like it should be acknowledged.

Second, your 'solution' to guidance spamming shows misunderstanding of the dislike for it (in a way that, frankly, seems almost willful). The issue is not the image of the cleric wandering about constantly muttering under their breath requesting a minor divine intercession (although that's eye-rolling by itself), nor is it the actual rolling of d4s; it's having a d4 added to every. single. ability. check. Being able to check whether you actually needed the boost before rolling the extra die is completely irrelevant (and actually probably just complicates the process by adding a decision point).
 
There are two things bundled here that I would separate. One is the 'burst' of inspiration/guidance notion; that seems like a good narrative reason for allowing the inspiration/guidance to be applied regardless of the duration of the task. The other is the notion that when a character is 'likely to fail', they will be aware of that and that the player knowing the d20 roll is a good model for that.

Ok, now a weird thing has just happened to me. When I started the last sentence of the previous paragraph, I thought I was about to argue against, e.g., the bard being allowed to grant inspiration after the d20 roll. However, if one embraces the 'burst of inspiration' notion and justifies the RAW 'player can see the d20 roll before using inspiration' as 'character suspects they are failing and seeks extraordinary assistance', then disallowing the bard granting inspiration after the d20 roll would mean drawing a distinction between the character doing the task suspecting they were failing and the bard suspecting they were failing. Provided that the fictional situation is such that the bard and the other character can communicate, that seems like a fine line to be drawing (particularly in a cooperative, group-oriented game).



Two things here. First, the PH says this about Bardic Inspiration.



Disclosing DCs renders the second clause moot, which to me means this contravenes RAW. That's fine, but seems like it should be acknowledged.

Second, your 'solution' to guidance spamming shows misunderstanding of the dislike for it (in a way that, frankly, seems almost willful). The issue is not the image of the cleric wandering about constantly muttering under their breath requesting a minor divine intercession (although that's eye-rolling by itself), nor is it the actual rolling of d4s; it's having a d4 added to every. single. ability. check. Being able to check whether you actually needed the boost before rolling the extra die is completely irrelevant (and actually probably just complicates the process by adding a decision point).
If the complaint is merely that a d4 gets added to every ability check then adding one only to those that need it added does get around the direct issue.

However, the real issue is that adding a d4 to a significant number of ability checks is too strong.

My concern is that the d4 doesn't actually come up nearly as often in my games that it does in the OP's. That tells me it's how his games are ran that's causing the issue with guidance. So he can either change how he runs his games and have guidance work just fine in them - or he can greatly modify or remove guidance from his games.

The thing is if he refuses to change his game or explain how his games are working then we really can't evaluate his proposed fixes or propose fixes to him.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
To me, this just doesn't follow. What about the narrative of a character that's muddling through some task and is likely to fail, only to receive some burst of inspiration or divine guidance at a critical moment that allows him/her to succeed? That type of intercession can come at any moment.
Any moment within the duration of the spell, provided the spell was cast at the start of the task in my view and doesn't run out before the task is complete. Again, the check isn't a thing in the fiction. In order to get the benefit of the spell, the task must take place within the duration of the spell. A 10-minute task won't benefit from a 1-minute duration guidance spell, even if the caster spams it 10 times.

I'm not exactly sure what the common problems are, other than the report of "spamming" which started these threads. It seems to me that "spamming" is kind of what cantrips are made for, so I'm still not sure how it's a problem. I'm certainly not recommending any changes to the spell. As I posted in the other thread, I think transparently known DCs, coupled with no imposed restriction on casting after a check has been rolled, immediately reduces the number of ability checks for which guidance will be (perceived to be) useful.
If I understand you correctly, casting after the roll would still be a house rule though, on par with making the spell a 1st-level slot or otherwise altering it. I believe my take is not a house rule. It's how the game is meant to work. Not that I'm opposed necessarily to house ruling. It's just that I find concerns about this spell in particular is always a clue to me as to how people run their games. If people have problems with it, I can figure out pretty easily how they think of tasks and checks, generally speaking, and whether players are asking to make or declaring they are making ability checks.

The spamming issue comes from not assigning a time to the task and, usually in my experience, thinking of tasks as checks.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Disclosing DCs renders the second clause moot, which to me means this contravenes RAW. That's fine, but seems like it should be acknowledged.
Yeah, I disclose the DC at the time I ask for a roll, so the "you must declare you're using the die before the outcome" bit is kind of pointless in my games. In truth, I prefer players to spend resources from an informed position, so I like them knowing if the DC is even achievable or how likely it is to hit if they spend the resource before they make the decision.

The issue is not the image of the cleric wandering about constantly muttering under their breath requesting a minor divine intercession (although that's eye-rolling by itself), nor is it the actual rolling of d4s; it's having a d4 added to every. single. ability. check. Being able to check whether you actually needed the boost before rolling the extra die is completely irrelevant (and actually probably just complicates the process by adding a decision point).
Right, while I don't particularly care if players are adding d4s to every check (good for them), some DMs do and that's usually because they are not taking the time the task takes to complete into consideration in relation to the duration of the spell or feature. Once they do, then this goes away and guidance only gets put on tasks that take 1 minute or less, greatly reducing the problem they are reporting.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
For tasks that take time, when is the skill check made? Is it made over that whole duration? Or at the end? Or...?

One reason I ask is that in another thread, a few posters suggested that a spell like guidance should not work on a task that takes longer than one minute. Implying that the check is made over the duration of the task, rather than at the end. (Because, were it at the end, then couldn't the guidance caster wait until just before the end?)

I think this interpretation leads to imagining that guidance is in operation over the whole 1 minute; but how about bardic inspiration? With inspiration, one has 10 minutes to use the die. I think this interpretation means something like - the task would need to start and resolve completely inside that 10 minutes. Looking then at Lucky, I think this interpretation means that the feat is used at the last possible moment - the instant of task completion. Because, to be consistent, I think we want all the buffs and re-rolls to be occurring inside the task duration.

A residual question is, is it that only one cast of guidance and one inspiration die can be used for a given task? What I mean is, could a magical initiate cast guidance at the start of a 2 minute task, and then recast it 30 seconds in, and then again after another 30 seconds, and then again. Thus with four casts spanning the whole 2 minutes.
In my game, if a task takes longer than z minute I use an e tended check race to three successes and fails, similar to death saves. Fails not only count against the three but provide a setback that either forces a change or gives disad on subsequent checks. So, that means 3-5 checks over the course of the activity (generally I use 1/4 the expected total time) and Guidance can be used during each check but its individual casting.

I have zero problem with Guidance on longer tasks because often hold-up and succes are determined by one right or wrong decision followed by a period of work... I dont see guidance as much as physical help with the work but as an inspiration or nudge in the right directions.

So, even if I just regarded an hour long effort as one roll instead of 3-5 rolls made every 15m - no cognitive problem with guidance working.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
There are two things bundled here that I would separate. One is the 'burst' of inspiration/guidance notion; that seems like a good narrative reason for allowing the inspiration/guidance to be applied regardless of the duration of the task. The other is the notion that when a character is 'likely to fail', they will be aware of that and that the player knowing the d20 roll is a good model for that.

Ok, now a weird thing has just happened to me. When I started the last sentence of the previous paragraph, I thought I was about to argue against, e.g., the bard being allowed to grant inspiration after the d20 roll. However, if one embraces the 'burst of inspiration' notion and justifies the RAW 'player can see the d20 roll before using inspiration' as 'character suspects they are failing and seeks extraordinary assistance', then disallowing the bard granting inspiration after the d20 roll would mean drawing a distinction between the character doing the task suspecting they were failing and the bard suspecting they were failing. Provided that the fictional situation is such that the bard and the other character can communicate, that seems like a fine line to be drawing (particularly in a cooperative, group-oriented game).
I agree with all of this, and I appreciate your willingness to think about this with an open mind.

Two things here. First, the PH says this about Bardic Inspiration.



Disclosing DCs renders the second clause moot, which to me means this contravenes RAW. That's fine, but seems like it should be acknowledged.
I don’t think keeping DCs secret is the default. The DM saying whether the check succeeds or fails in this case is merely the completion of the basic pattern of play with the DM performing his/her role of narrating the outcome. It means the player’s action has been resolved. I don’t think it’s necessarily supposed to be a guessing game.

Second, your 'solution' to guidance spamming shows misunderstanding of the dislike for it (in a way that, frankly, seems almost willful). The issue is not the image of the cleric wandering about constantly muttering under their breath requesting a minor divine intercession (although that's eye-rolling by itself), nor is it the actual rolling of d4s; it's having a d4 added to every. single. ability. check. Being able to check whether you actually needed the boost before rolling the extra die is completely irrelevant (and actually probably just complicates the process by adding a decision point).
There are many ability checks that can’t be helped by guidance or don’t need help. That takes a big chunk out of every single ability check right there. Then even in the subset of checks where it can make a difference, it won’t always succeed. If the DM thinks it’s making things too easy, s/he could always increase the difficulty.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
My concern is that the d4 doesn't actually come up nearly as often in my games that it does in the OP's. That tells me it's how his games are ran that's causing the issue with guidance. So he can either change how he runs his games and have guidance work just fine in them - or he can greatly modify or remove guidance from his games.

The thing is if he refuses to change his game or explain how his games are working then we really can't evaluate his proposed fixes or propose fixes to him.
I wonder if it also comes down to players? As I've stated before, mine are crunch-focused and if they have a thing, they will use that thing. So the way I run it is that if a player with guidance says they use guidance, and it is applicable per RAW, then I allow it to be applicable. I have two players with the cantrip, and they are different in their behaviour. One always applies it if permitted, the other applies it to checks they care about on a character level.
If the task takes longer than a minute, for example, guidance just isn't going to help and it needs to be cast before the task is undertaken. This immediately reduces the number of tasks for which guidance will be useful.
If guidance is cast and they roll a skill check within 1 minute of the cast they get the benefit. If not they don't. It has nothing to do with whether they just started their action or just finished it.
Is there anything in RAW that clearly states when a check occurs in relation to the in-world acts needed to complete a task? And, same question, about whether guidance couldn't be recast repeatedly to span the duration (which, if the check occurs at some point, means that some instance of guidance should be running at that point)?

Reflecting on how I run the game, I have inclined toward supposing that a check happens at a single point in time, at the end of the necessary acts. That is because say a task requires acts A, B, C and D. If a character does A, B and C, I would rule that they do not get a check, because they failed to carry out D. For me then, that implies that a check is made at a point in time - at the completion of D.
 
I wonder if it also comes down to players? As I've stated before, mine are crunch-focused and if they have a thing, they will use that thing. So the way I run it is that if a player with guidance says they use guidance, and it is applicable per RAW, then I allow it to be applicable. I have two players with the cantrip, and they are different in their behaviour. One always applies it if permitted, the other applies it to checks they care about on a character level.
I'm pretty crunch focused and I played a cleric with my group and it didn't come up nearly all the time that I imagined it would.

Is there anything in RAW that clearly states when a check occurs in relation to the in-world acts needed to complete a task? And, same question, about whether guidance couldn't be recast repeatedly to span the duration (which, if the check occurs at some point, means that some instance of guidance should be running at that point)?
Raw doesn't say when skill checks occur in relation to the in game task. Guidance can be cast repeatedly. Keep in mind you are the one that calls for the check. My advice is don't shoehorn yourself into any specific - checks occur at beginning or checks occur at ending of tasks - there will inevitably be times you discover that work better one way or the other and you need the freedom to specify how it works for each individual task IMO.

Reflecting on how I run the game, I have inclined toward supposing that a check happens at a single point in time, at the end of the necessary acts. That is because say a task requires acts A, B, C and D. If a character does A, B and C, I would rule that they do not get a check, because they failed to carry out D. For me then, that implies that a check is made at a point in time - at the completion of D.
Let's consider a simple example of a room in a dungeon with a 4 player party. Fighter, Rogue, Cleric Wizard

Let's say the points of interest in the room are a desk in the room with some papers on it and some runes on the wall and no other doors.

In my game,

The rogue goes to investigate the desk. The wizard goes to investigate the runes. The fighter watches the door they came through for danger. The cleric casts guidance on one of them. There's no chance for him to cast guidance on all 3.

In your game,

I imagine it's everyone stands around while the rogue (or wizard) sequentially investigates the runes and then the desk. Guidance gets cast on each action and someone helps each action. Then when enemies come wandering by you give the one closest to the door a perception check but you let the cleric retroactively cast guidance on him.

Conclusion

That's what I think the difference is. What prevents my players from playing like yours? Find a way to make in-game time important or at least have the players feel like it might be important. What prevents your players from playing like mine and still getting guidance on everything? Because they sequentially work through areas having the person with the highest check do something and even if they concurrently instead of sequentially performed checks in a scene - you aren't forcing the checks to be resolved in such a way that guidance can only be cast on one.

I believe that you are allowing your players to sequentially work through tasks in a scene in such a way that each task where applicable can always get both the help action and guidance used on it with absolutely no repercussions for the extra time spent by going through all tasks sequentially.
 
Last edited:

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
I imagine it's everyone stands around while the rogue (or wizard) sequentially investigates the runes and then the desk. Guidance gets cast on each action and someone helps each action. Then when enemies come wandering by you give the one closest to the door a perception check but you let the cleric retroactively cast guidance on him.
There are six player characters. Two with guidance. Yes, when possible they perform their tasks sequentially, rather than in parallel. I don't allow retroactive casts.
 
There are six player characters. Two with guidance. Yes, when possible they perform their tasks sequentially, rather than in parallel. I don't allow retroactive casts.
And there's no penalty for sequential task resolution taking longer than parallel task resolution?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
For tasks that take time, when is the skill check made? Is it made over that whole duration? Or at the end? Or...?

One reason I ask is that in another thread, a few posters suggested that a spell like guidance should not work on a task that takes longer than one minute. Implying that the check is made over the duration of the task, rather than at the end. (Because, were it at the end, then couldn't the guidance caster wait until just before the end?)
It's both in my opinion. You are performing the skill over the entire duration, but only roll at the end. If you are interrupted in the middle of longer tasks, you may never get to that roll. However, if you do get to that roll, a guidance cast at any point will make the result better.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
And there's no penalty for sequential task resolution taking longer than parallel task resolution?
That depends what else is going on. I'm not generally running dungeons, but rather open world campaigns. It often happens that things that are okay in the compressed setting of the dungeon become problematic when the time frame expands. Maybe that is what is happening here.

In any kind of campaign I dislike placing artificial pressures on players. Stuff is going on in the background, of course, yet it is very often the case that it feels implausible for a few minutes more to matter. Clearly YMMV. Still, it is worth thinking about that context.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
Any moment within the duration of the spell, provided the spell was cast at the start of the task in my view and doesn't run out before the task is complete.
I realize you've called out the bolded part as your personal opinion, but, to be clear, it's something you're adding to the requirement for using the extra die stated in the spell itself, which is only that the extra die must be rolled and added within a minute after casting, as long as the caster maintains concentration.

Again, the check isn't a thing in the fiction. In order to get the benefit of the spell, the task must take place within the duration of the spell. A 10-minute task won't benefit from a 1-minute duration guidance spell, even if the caster spams it 10 times.
Why? The duration only applies to rolling and adding the extra die, not to performing a task or even making an ability check.

Your prohibition against spamming having an effect also seems forced to me. Why wouldn't continuously casting guidance on a creature benefit the resolution of any task undertaken by the creature as long as the spell is up, provided the extra die is added under the duration of one of the castings?

If I understand you correctly, casting after the roll would still be a house rule though, on par with making the spell a 1st-level slot or otherwise altering it. I believe my take is not a house rule. It's how the game is meant to work. Not that I'm opposed necessarily to house ruling. It's just that I find concerns about this spell in particular is always a clue to me as to how people run their games. If people have problems with it, I can figure out pretty easily how they think of tasks and checks, generally speaking, and whether players are asking to make or declaring they are making ability checks.

The spamming issue comes from not assigning a time to the task and, usually in my experience, thinking of tasks as checks.
I'm still not seeing any prohibition against a declaration to cast guidance immediately following an ability check being rolled. Remember, we're still in step 2 of the basic pattern of play, "The players describe what they want to do." Step 3 is "The DM narrates the results of the adventurers' actions." We haven't gotten there yet. The ability check is part of step 2. The player of the caster is then describing his/her character casting guidance at the critical moment. I don't see any reason why that declaration shouldn't feed into the resolution mechanic which then informs the DM's resulting narration when we eventually arrive at step 3.
 
That depends what else is going on. I'm not generally running dungeons, but rather open world campaigns. It often happens that things that are okay in the compressed setting of the dungeon become problematic when the time frame expands. Maybe that is what is happening here.

In any kind of campaign I dislike placing artificial pressures on players. Stuff is going on in the background, of course, yet it is very often the case that it feels implausible for a few minutes more to matter. Clearly YMMV. Still, it is worth thinking about that context.
That's fair. I'm curious do you allow auto success on certain tasks if the PC's put enough time into them?

If you are doing an overworld campaign then how do you handle overland travel and checks that come up during it? Because in my campaigns those are still parallel.

Is it reasonable that checks are only taking a few minutes? Especially investigation? Or should they typically take quite a bit longer depending on the ask?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The buff just has to be used before the roll is made. That’s all that matters in terms of rules.

In fiction, there is no particular reason that you can’t provide guidance at the beginning of a task regardless of how long it will take.
 
The buff just has to be used before the roll is made. That’s all that matters in terms of rules.

In fiction, there is no particular reason that you can’t provide guidance at the beginning of a task regardless of how long it will take.
But the buff can't come 10 minutes before the roll is made - as guidance only lasts 1 minute.
 

Advertisement

Top