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PallentisLunam
2016-05-02, 03:55 PM
So I realize that this might be a personal hang up but I keep running into this problem where players want to roll some kind of perception check (often without saying what they are looking for) instead of interacting with the environment. This same problem comes up in social situations, rather than role playing people just throw a d20 and give me a number.

What's even worse is when a player gives some eloquent speech or says something like "I pull all of the books off of the shelf looking for the fake one that opens the secret door" and then before I can say anything they roll a natural 1. At that point their actions should have succeeded but they insisted on rolling and did so poorly, so I feel stuck. Of course I can just ignore the roll but how do I quash this mindset in the first place?

Esprit15
2016-05-02, 04:03 PM
Rather than let them just roll, ask them what they do. "You're rolling search? Where are you searching, and what for?"

In the other case, give them a circumstance bonus, or if they did it right in the first place, don't bother with the roll. Most checks are to represent the semi-random results of what characters do, in the areas that they don't control. That bookshelf? The roll is more to see if they figure out which book activates the secret door without having to pull them all out. It's not different than having to roll a die to push a button, or even follow a list of instructions - non-sensical unless the player can still fail by their description of the event.

Keltest
2016-05-02, 04:05 PM
You tell them, up front and with no ambiguity, that rolling a spot check will not actually increase the effectiveness of their searching the room. That, should there be a possibility of spotting something (or any other circumstance that would require a check), you will prompt them for it.

Geddy2112
2016-05-02, 04:09 PM
I hate this as well. One player in my group is notorious for just rolling(not even announcing what) and then just shouting out "34 heal" or something. It is stupid, and if I were you as DM I would nip this in the bud-don't need to rip their heads off, but be firm that this is not allowed.

One easy fix is make taking ten and taking twenty mandatory for checks that don't matter, or when there is no active reason to roll. Players frequently rolling perception have usually been under "gotcha" Dm's who love to say "well you did not check" as random trees suddenly attack them or ghosts appear in walls for no reason. But a take 10 lets the player know their character is on the lookout for danger, and any obvious passive checks are accounted for. Hop a small rock, hear battle, notice the orcs are alive, whatever. Taking 10 when time does not matter is less rolling but the players still get to succeed.

The other is hard successes and hard fails- I don't care how high you rolled diplomacy, if your actions insult somebody they will at best forgive you, never like you. If a player does something that automatically succeeds, no roll is needed. Likewise, actions that require social interaction, particularly charisma skills have to be described and no roll is done unless the DM calls for one or the player asks. I won't require players to use perception to find things, but if they get a high score they will see a hint of where to look, but they still have to look(in the case of the books). You have to be careful not to abuse fiat powers, but they are needed to make the game smooth.

Rolls are most important when there is a time factor, and success can really mean life and death. Otherwise, I don't like them.

PallentisLunam
2016-05-02, 04:22 PM
I've dealt with the retroactive declaration of rolls too. I actually had one player when would roll until he got something good and then try to say all the others were just him playing with his dice.

I feel like part of the problem is that my players are used to video games with dialogue trees and whatnot so their response to the great question (what do you do) is "what are my options?" To which I respond "anything you can think of" which scares them so they hide behind a mechanic which they know means they either did well or poorly and then want me to fill in the blanks.

Thrawn4
2016-05-02, 04:41 PM
Skill checks are for situations where the outcome is unclear. If a character does something that is definitely going to work (or not), there is no roll necessary.

kyoryu
2016-05-02, 04:49 PM
One thing to do in that case is to modify what failure *means*. Instead of failure meaning "you don't throw all the books" (because that would be dumb), instead have it be used to figure out whether they break the mechanism, trigger the trap, take out the book that disables the mechanism, make so much noise they attract attention, etc.

Quertus
2016-05-02, 05:00 PM
Allow me to present the opposing point of view.

I personally hate it when the charismatic player trumps the chr-based character.

I view such things as a vector - what the player says determines the direction; the stats of the character determine the distance.

And, yes, you can insult someone and have them love you for it - see the roast in Liar, Liar. To do otherwise - to have role-playing be filled with "gotcha" moments that are lacking in vanilla rolls - is to encourage the behavior you hate. So adapt to serve your own best interests, and encourage your players to describe their actions more by making the numbers matter more than what is said.

To address your specific problem, I'd suggest picking a scenario - say, searching a room. Open the scenario by asking your players to put away their dice before you describe the scene. Then ask them to interact with the scene / ask them how they search the room. Afterward, get - and give, but mostly get - feedback.

If it didn't go too poorly, adapt based on their feedback, and plan another scenario. But do not just leave the mechanics behind - that unfairly bones the player whose character invested in these skills. Start training them what it sounds like to fail a check, so that they know when to try harder (roll again, or take a 20), or ask for assistance (aid another, or straight out have the guy with the high search skill check this area).

Do it right, and it should encourage players to roleplay the way you want, while still validating their choices.


and then want me to fill in the blanks.

This is a perfectly valid gaming style - the roll determines the effects, the DM narrates the finer points. Not usually my favorite, add I usually offer to narrate my own actions, but I've seen it done well (and done poorly, if course).

EnglishKitsune
2016-05-02, 05:02 PM
So I realize that this might be a personal hang up but I keep running into this problem where players want to roll some kind of perception check (often without saying what they are looking for) instead of interacting with the environment. This same problem comes up in social situations, rather than role playing people just throw a d20 and give me a number.

Generally in this situation I do one of two things. If it's the Perception Variation, where they are being broad, I will mentally add a +5 to the difficulty as they are looking for EVERYTHING. If they specify, and say "I am looking for any hidden treasures" Or "I search the walls for hidden doors or switches.) I will not add the +5.

For Social Situations I make it clear going into it that they are in a Roleplaying Segment, and not a Roll-playing one. However this is also balanced by who I'm playing with. Several of my players in the past haven't been good talkers, even though their characters theoretically should be. If I know I am dealing with such a player I generally give them a few hints as to what to say then let them piece it together into an epic speech. Same if they roll badly, I feed them a few things and let them figure out exactly how to stuff their foot into their mouths.



What's even worse is when a player gives some eloquent speech or says something like "I pull all of the books off of the shelf looking for the fake one that opens the secret door" and then before I can say anything they roll a natural 1. At that point their actions should have succeeded but because they insisted on rolling and did so poorly. Of course I can just ignore the roll but how do I quash this mindset in the first place?

As others had said, I would simply state they didn't need to roll for it due to their description/actions and move on with the story. This has the added advantage of discouraging your first problem, as players gradually learn to describe their actions to minimize chances of failure. Also as I mentioned above with the +5 to DC. Consider secretly dropping the DC a little if their description doesn't necessarily trigger the right thing, but definitely aids them in achieving it.

Comet
2016-05-02, 05:02 PM
Rolling the dice is playing the game. If the game has a skill called spot hidden, why would I be able to bypass that with sweet talking the GM? Are skills just there as a failsafe for bad players? When do you roll and when do you just describe what you do?

Players, especially new players, look for structure and mechanical if/thens because that's what makes this hobby make sense. Roleplaying and negotiation and collaboration are fine and cool but they are also potentially frustrating until you get on the same wave length with your group. The mechanics are there so that you can sit back and relax and not be on the spot for "good roleplaying" or whatever you're expected to do here.

Cut the players some slack, they're still getting used to things. Also, get rid of skills that you're not going to use. Having that diplomacy skill on your character sheet but not getting to use it is super frustrating.

Quertus
2016-05-02, 05:19 PM
Rolling the dice is playing the game. If the game has a skill called spot hidden, why would I be able to bypass that with sweet talking the GM? Are skills just there as a failsafe for bad players? When do you roll and when do you just describe what you do?

Players, especially new players, look for structure and mechanical if/thens because that's what makes this hobby make sense. Roleplaying and negotiation and collaboration are fine and cool but they are also potentially frustrating until you get on the same wave length with your group. The mechanics are there so that you can sit back and relax and not be on the spot for "good roleplaying" or whatever you're expected to do here.

Cut the players some slack, they're still getting used to things. Also, get rid of skills that you're not going to use. Having that diplomacy skill on your character sheet but not getting to use it is super frustrating.

This.

If you're not going to have them roll for diplomacy, give all characters a number of social "HP" equal to, say, 1 + an additional 1 per 5 ranks in diplomacy. Whenever they make a serious faux pas, they take social damage. If they have any social HP left, it turns out OK. So, for example, if they insult the duke, they take a point of social damage. If they have any social HP left, he laughs it off; if not, he is insulted and refuses to deal with them.

Validate their choices.

bulbaquil
2016-05-02, 05:44 PM
Having that diplomacy skill on your character sheet but not getting to use it is super frustrating.

Right. Particularly for social situations, over-emphasizing the roleplay over rolls simply makes it that there's no reason not to dump Charisma and/or never mechanically take social skills. If I, as the player, am a social butterfly who can charm and schmooze just about anyone under any circumstances, why shouldn't I dump CHA to 7, play a dwarf (further reducing it to 5) and not take any social skills? It doesn't matter if my Diplomacy check is a -3 if I never have to roll it. Conversely, if I as the player break out into a cold sweat even reading the word "interview", why should I bother trying to hike CHA or social skills? It doesn't matter if my Diplomacy check is a +23 if I never have to roll it.

JAL_1138
2016-05-02, 05:47 PM
Checks are kind of a double-edged sword. Some players simply aren't very charismatic, but want to play someone who is. A high stat and a good bonus to a check help emulate that for them. Likewise, some players aren't that good at puzzles or riddles, but want to play a character who is, and a good Int and bonus to it can help model that, so that the player can roll Int to have the character figure out what the player themselves can't.

But, by the same token, you end up with OP's problem as well.

I'd do what Espirit15 suggested, for the bookcase example given--the nat 1 neans that yes, they take out all the books. A roll that would pass the DC would have meant they spotted the right book to yoink straight away.

For Charisma, it'd be tougher. You never want to hold a player's own social awkwardness against their character, if you can help it. We're all geeks here, and many of us--not all, of course, but many--likely have our own issues with social interaction (which is ironic, considering TTRPGs are social activities by definition). It's much more circumstantial--the player might have no clue that what they're saying is likely to be insulting to the NPC, or might be a social faux pas; the player may not be trying so much to give an exact quote for their character as say something they think might plausibly work instead of just saying "I roll diploma(n)cy." So you might even say something like "Are you sure that's what you'd say? The NPC would take serious offense under normal circumstances because [insert reason here]..." and give them a do-over if they want, or let them fall back to the straight-up roll and just narrate that their character tries to charm the NPC if the player would rather do that.

By the same token, you don't want the supergenius, ultra-experienced player whose minaxed character is a half-blind, quasi-feral barbarian with the Int of a brain-damaged macaque, the Wis of a particularly-clueless turnip, and the Cha of a diseased turkey-buzzard being the one to old-school their way through the dungeon without a hitch in record time, solve the riddle that's based on both high-level calculus and a complex cipher applied to the Esperanto translation of a piece of scholarly commentary on the poetry of an obscure Greek writer in 470 BCE, or smooth-talk their way past the guards while simultaneously bamboozling the guards out of all their money without rolling, no matter how well they RP it. (Extreme example for illustrative purposes only.)

It's a difficult balancing act between letting the character's abilities be different than the player's, and encouraging interaction and clever play, and respecting the die roll results.

PallentisLunam
2016-05-02, 05:49 PM
Rolling the dice is playing the game. If the game has a skill called spot hidden, why would I be able to bypass that with sweet talking the GM? Are skills just there as a failsafe for bad players? When do you roll and when do you just describe what you do?

Players, especially new players, look for structure and mechanical if/thens because that's what makes this hobby make sense. Roleplaying and negotiation and collaboration are fine and cool but they are also potentially frustrating until you get on the same wave length with your group. The mechanics are there so that you can sit back and relax and not be on the spot for "good roleplaying" or whatever you're expected to do here.

Cut the players some slack, they're still getting used to things. Also, get rid of skills that you're not going to use. Having that diplomacy skill on your character sheet but not getting to use it is super frustrating.


This.

If you're not going to have them roll for diplomacy, give all characters a number of social "HP" equal to, say, 1 + an additional 1 per 5 ranks in diplomacy. Whenever they make a serious faux pas, they take social damage. If they have any social HP left, it turns out OK. So, for example, if they insult the duke, they take a point of social damage. If they have any social HP left, he laughs it off; if not, he is insulted and refuses to deal with them.

Validate their choices.

The problem with this is that the Diplomacy skill is for persuading people not talking to them. You don't walk up to the guard and roll a diplomacy check to say hi, which is what my players are doing. You walk up to the guard and say hi, hows it going? Say, would you mind letting me and my chaps pop into the ball for a quick second the we need to talk to the mayor it's really important and then roll a diplomacy check.

My issue isn't that the players are rolling dice to determine the outcome of their actions, my issue is that the players are throwing dice at the problem without truly understanding what they are doing or what they are trying to accomplish.

Comet
2016-05-02, 06:11 PM
The problem with this is that the Diplomacy skill is for persuading people not talking to them. You don't walk up to the guard and roll a diplomacy check to say hi, which is what my players are doing. You walk up to the guard and say hi, hows it going? Say, would you mind letting me and my chaps pop into the ball for a quick second the we need to talk to the mayor it's really important and then roll a diplomacy check.

My issue isn't that the players are rolling dice to determine the outcome of their actions, my issue is that the players are throwing dice at the problem without truly understanding what they are doing or what they are trying to accomplish.

Okay, I see what we're talking about now. The players think they need to initiate dice rolls, but they do not understand the specifics of it so they just keep throwing and throwing and throwing.

I would just straight up tell the players when to roll the dice. They have clearly misunderstood how the game works, so just say "dude, it's okay, I'll tell you when to roll and what to roll, just focus on telling me what your character wants to do" should hopefully do the trick. Maybe they'll eventually figure out the flow of the game, maybe they won't. In the meantime, just smile and tell them that they didn't need to roll that spot hidden and that you'll inform when they do.

Quertus
2016-05-02, 06:18 PM
The problem with this is that the Diplomacy skill is for persuading people not talking to them. You don't walk up to the guard and roll a diplomacy check to say hi, which is what my players are doing. You walk up to the guard and say hi, hows it going? Say, would you mind letting me and my chaps pop into the ball for a quick second the we need to talk to the mayor it's really important and then roll a diplomacy check.

My issue isn't that the players are rolling dice to determine the outcome of their actions, my issue is that the players are throwing dice at the problem without truly understanding what they are doing or what they are trying to accomplish.

Your "What's even worse.." scenarios sounded like players who understood full well what they were trying to accomplish... and sounded like the kind of player I'd like to have, actually, combining respect both for role-playing and for their stats. If you want to reduce the rolling, encourage them to tell you either their bonus, or the result of taking a 10 when they describe their actions to you. Ask for a roll if taking a 10 won't cut it.

As for the first group... "yeah, you described what everyone saw, now describe what I see" sounds perfectly valid to me, even without any additional qualifiers.

Responding to a social situation with, "23 on a diplomacy check" without any further explanation, though, only works in certain styles of play.

So, would you rather them roll, then you narrate, or have them put away their dice, and only roll when you ask for a roll? (I think those are the only ways mentioned so far - sorry if I missed someone's alternate solution). What path would you like to take to encourage them to role-play?

And what would your players rather do? Why?

Have you talked with them about your style preferences?

Honest Tiefling
2016-05-02, 06:25 PM
I feel as if this link might help: The Angry DM's five simple rules for dating my teenaged skill system. (http://theangrygm.com/five-simple-rules-for-dating-my-teenaged-skill-system/) It's a bit...Well, it's a bit on the angry side, what can I say? And it's more geared for a DM having other types of problems. One piece of advice in it is that players announce actions and questions. They can get across what they want, but don't declare rules. Heck, if you think it won't offend them, send them the link. It might help if they can understand things on the other side of the screen.

PallentisLunam
2016-05-02, 06:28 PM
Your "What's even worse.." scenarios sounded like players who understood full well what they were trying to accomplish... and sounded like the kind of player I'd like to have, actually, combining respect both for role-playing and for their stats. If you want to reduce the rolling, encourage them to tell you either their bonus, or the result of taking a 10 when they describe their actions to you. Ask for a roll if taking a 10 won't cut it.

As for the first group... "yeah, you described what everyone saw, now describe what I see" sounds perfectly valid to me, even without any additional qualifiers.

Responding to a social situation with, "23 on a diplomacy check" without any further explanation, though, only works in certain styles of play.

So, would you rather them roll, then you narrate, or have them put away their dice, and only roll when you ask for a roll? (I think those are the only ways mentioned so far - sorry if I missed someone's alternate solution). What path would you like to take to encourage them to role-play?

And what would your players rather do? Why?

Have you talked with them about your style preferences?

Okay, the basic issue is throwing dice at the problem then sometimes they read the situation, nail it with exactly the right action, phrase, whathaveyou, and then roll poorly and I have a problem with the player doing everything right and then getting boned by RNG.

If everybody is standing in exactly the same place looking at exactly the same thing, unless there is something funny going on there's nothing else for someone to see unless they do something different. If there was I would have told them in the initial description everybody sees X but Jim you see Y.

I have discussed with my players that, "You meet the Queen" "I roll Diplomacy" is not proper etiquette at my table.

For most of my players these are their first games and they get dice fixation. I'm trying to draw them out of this and the few times I have managed it it has been more fun for everybody.

Jay R
2016-05-02, 06:39 PM
Role-playing does not replace die rolls. Die rolls do not replace role-playing.
I fiddle with dice all the time; so do many players. Rolls don't count at my table until I tell them to roll.

You can't decide to "roll for Diplomacy" separate from telling me what you say and what your goal is, just as you can't roll for combat without telling me what weapon you're using, what the target is, and what move you're attempting.

I don't require my players to be diplomats, but I do expect them to describe the talking points. And if they want a circumstance bonus, they need to justify it.

Example 1 (wrong):
Me: You are allowed into the throne room, and walk up to the throne.
PC: I rolled a 26 on Diplomacy on the king.
Me: Rolls don't count until I say so remember?
PC: OK, I want to roll diplomacy on the king.
Me: What are you telling him?
PC: I don't know. All that stuff that guy at the fort told us.
Me: What are you trying to get him to do?
PC: I don't remember. Whatever that guy wanted us to ask him, I guess.

Example 2 (right):
Me: You are allowed into the throne room, and walk up to the throne.
PC: I take off my hat, bow low, and say, "Your Majesty, I bring you a message from the John Canyon, commander of the North Fort. A large army of orcs is approaching, expected to lay siege in four days. He needs reinforcements."
Me: Make a Diplomacy skill check, with a +2 bonus for having the details correct and for showing him proper respect.
PC: I remind him that his daughter Princess Leda is in Swan Village to the north, and in danger if the fort is overrun.
Me: Excellent. No roll is needed - that fact will convince him in any case.

RazorChain
2016-05-02, 07:00 PM
So I realize that this might be a personal hang up but I keep running into this problem where players want to roll some kind of perception check (often without saying what they are looking for) instead of interacting with the environment. This same problem comes up in social situations, rather than role playing people just throw a d20 and give me a number.

What's even worse is when a player gives some eloquent speech or says something like "I pull all of the books off of the shelf looking for the fake one that opens the secret door" and then before I can say anything they roll a natural 1. At that point their actions should have succeeded but they insisted on rolling and did so poorly, so I feel stuck. Of course I can just ignore the roll but how do I quash this mindset in the first place?

This is simple. Rolls only matter when the GM asks for them. If a player in my game would ask to roll perception when he enters a room I would look at him in puzzlement and ask why? If he wants to roll something then he has to state that he searches the room where I would prompt him what he is searching for? Then we can start rolling some dice.

As for social interaction like fast talk or diplomacy which is often done in character then the roll represents how convincing the character is. A convincing lie or a good deal on the player part might warrant a bonus to the roll. This is so that the socially awkward roleplayer can play a silver tounged charmer and rely on rolls instead of his own social skills.

So in essence rolls only count when you ask for them.

Darth Ultron
2016-05-02, 08:03 PM
This is the old Role Play vs Roll Play.

Some players just don't like to role play, and they will go out of their way to roll play everything. You might want to note that ''rolling a check'' is ''interacting with the environment''.

A good trick that works is....just ignore it. Let the player make any dumb roll they want, and you the DM just ignore the roll and say whatever you want.

Sometimes...if there is a good player inside to save....just adding more detail can stop the dumb rolls.

Now, another good trick is to simply make the game more exciting. Sadly, A lot of DM's think it is lots of fun to say talk to a pig farmer. Now, most players don't see that as much fun. But if you change ''pig farmer'' to ''demon lord'', that will be a lot more fun for the players.

Now to squash the mindset, you just need to make them be careful. Like take the bookshelf. One book is the trigger to the trap door....but three books are alarm/trap books....to stop this very thing. And pulling them off the shelf sets off an alarm or trap. Now, I'm a killer DM, so I'd so straight for the poison gas trap and try and kill a character. It might take a player a dozen character deaths, but if they have half a brain they will start to be careful.

LudicSavant
2016-05-02, 08:44 PM
So I realize that this might be a personal hang up but I keep running into this problem where players want to roll some kind of perception check (often without saying what they are looking for) instead of interacting with the environment. This same problem comes up in social situations, rather than role playing people just throw a d20 and give me a number.

What's even worse is when a player gives some eloquent speech or says something like "I pull all of the books off of the shelf looking for the fake one that opens the secret door" and then before I can say anything they roll a natural 1. At that point their actions should have succeeded but they insisted on rolling and did so poorly, so I feel stuck. Of course I can just ignore the roll but how do I quash this mindset in the first place?

First you must quash your own mindset that roleplaying and rollplaying replace each other, and act as mutually exclusive categories.


Role-playing does not replace die rolls. Die rolls do not replace role-playing.

Quertus
2016-05-02, 09:00 PM
Okay, the basic issue is throwing dice at the problem then sometimes they read the situation, nail it with exactly the right action, phrase, whathaveyou, and then roll poorly and I have a problem with the player doing everything right and then getting boned by RNG.

Several ways to solve this. You might emphasize, "well, that roll would fail, but you described the exact right action. Which would you rather we go with?" Also, the DC to search the box I put a ring in is likely much lower than the DC to search my room for the same ring, so by declaring the correct action, they may well have reduced the DC. Also, remember that you do not auto fail on a 1 (in 3.x). Also, I reiterate the idea of asking for a skill bonus rather than a roll when they declare their actions.


If everybody is standing in exactly the same place looking at exactly the same thing, unless there is something funny going on there's nothing else for someone to see unless they do something different. If there was I would have told them in the initial description everybody sees X but Jim you see Y.

Sounds like you're doing this perfectly. Kudos! :smallbiggrin:


I have discussed with my players that, "You meet the Queen" "I roll Diplomacy" is not proper etiquette at my table.

For most of my players these are their first games and they get dice fixation. I'm trying to draw them out of this and the few times I have managed it it has been more fun for everybody.

If you've started drawing them out, and made it fun, it sounds like you're doing it right already. What do you need us for? :smallwink:


Role-playing does not replace die rolls. Die rolls do not replace role-playing.
I fiddle with dice all the time; so do many players. Rolls don't count at my table until I tell them to roll.

You can't decide to "roll for Diplomacy" separate from telling me what you say and what your goal is, just as you can't roll for combat without telling me what weapon you're using, what the target is, and what move you're attempting.

I don't require my players to be diplomats, but I do expect them to describe the talking points. And if they want a circumstance bonus, they need to justify it.

This sounds very reasonable.


Example 1 (wrong):
Me: You are allowed into the throne room, and walk up to the throne.
PC: I rolled a 26 on Diplomacy on the king.
Me: Rolls don't count until I say so remember?
PC: OK, I want to roll diplomacy on the king.
Me: What are you telling him?
PC: I don't know. All that stuff that guy at the fort told us.
Me: What are you trying to get him to do?
PC: I don't remember. Whatever that guy wanted us to ask him, I guess.

Example 2 (right):
Me: You are allowed into the throne room, and walk up to the throne.
PC: I take off my hat, bow low, and say, "Your Majesty, I bring you a message from the John Canyon, commander of the North Fort. A large army of orcs is approaching, expected to lay siege in four days. He needs reinforcements."
Me: Make a Diplomacy skill check, with a +2 bonus for having the details correct and for showing him proper respect.
PC: I remind him that his daughter Princess Leda is in Swan Village to the north, and in danger if the fort is overrun.
Me: Excellent. No roll is needed - that fact will convince him in any case.

You seem to have merged a few ideas here, which may obfuscate some of the underlying issues. Let's mix these examples up a bit...

Example 1 (wrong?):
Me: You are allowed into the throne room, and walk up to the throne.
PC: I rolled a 26 on Diplomacy on the king.
Me: Rolls don't count until I say so remember?
PC: OK, I want to roll diplomacy on the king.
Me: What are you telling him?
PC: I take off my hat, bow low, and say, "Your Majesty, I bring you a message from the John Canyon, commander of the North Fort. A large army of orcs is approaching, expected to lay siege in four days. He needs reinforcements."
Me: Make a Diplomacy skill check, with a +2 bonus for having the details correct and for showing him proper respect.
PC: I remind him that his daughter Princess Leda is in Swan Village to the north, and in danger if the fort is overrun.
Me: Excellent. No roll is needed - that fact will convince him in any case.

Example 2 (right?):
Me: You are allowed into the throne room, and walk up to the throne.
PC: I tell him all that stuff that guy at the fort told us.
Me: What are you trying to get him to do?
PC: I don't remember. Whatever that guy wanted us to ask him, I guess.
Me: Make a Diplomacy skill check.
PC: I rolled a 26 on Diplomacy.

I find it a little odd to give the character a bonus on diplomacy for the player remembering certain details correctly. I also find it odd to allow the player to metagame still needing a roll to determine whether or not to press the issue about the king's daughter. So, how about this example:

Me: You are allowed into the throne room, and walk up to the throne.
PC: I tell him all that stuff that guy at the fort told us.
Me: What are you trying to get him to do?
PC: I don't remember. Whatever that guy wanted us to ask him, I guess.
Mr: So, you tell the king that John Canyon, commander of the North Fort, has asked for reinforcements, because a large army of orcs is approaching, expected to lay siege in four days?
PC: Yeah. Oh, and I tell the king that stuff we learned.
Me: Which stuff?
PC: You know... the state of morale, the size of the army, how much food the fort has, the presence of his daughter at Swan Lake, the results of those divinations.
Me: Well, that would be a +6 circumstance bonus to the diplomacy roll to convince the king to send reinforcements, but pointing out the danger to his daughter is an auto-success.
PC: Cool. I would have gotten a 26... +6 is 32 on Diplomacy.

kyoryu
2016-05-02, 09:22 PM
Role-playing does not replace die rolls. Die rolls do not replace role-playing.
I fiddle with dice all the time; so do many players. Rolls don't count at my table until I tell them to roll.

You can't decide to "roll for Diplomacy" separate from telling me what you say and what your goal is, just as you can't roll for combat without telling me what weapon you're using, what the target is, and what move you're attempting.


This. It ain't a boardgame. You do things in character, and use rules to resolve them.

Also, as you've pointed out, what you say and what you ask for frames the results of success or failure. You're not just "Diplomacizing". You're trying to get a result. How purdy you talk shouldn't really impact the die roll (IMO). Getting details, etc., may impact it, but the die roll is the die roll. The point of roleplaying it out is to focus everyone on the imaginary scene, and also to ensure that the GM understands the intent of what you're trying to accomplish.



Me: You are allowed into the throne room, and walk up to the throne.
PC: I tell him all that stuff that guy at the fort told us.
Me: What are you trying to get him to do?
PC: I don't remember. Whatever that guy wanted us to ask him, I guess.
Mr: So, you tell the king that John Canyon, commander of the North Fort, has asked for reinforcements, because a large army of orcs is approaching, expected to lay siege in four days?
PC: Yeah. Oh, and I tell the king that stuff we learned.
Me: Which stuff?
PC: You know... the state of morale, the size of the army, how much food the fort has, the presence of his daughter at Swan Lake, the results of those divinations.
Me: Well, that would be a +6 circumstance bonus to the diplomacy roll to convince the king to send reinforcements, but pointing out the danger to his daughter is an auto-success.
PC: Cool. I would have gotten a 26... +6 is 32 on Diplomacy.

So the players are doing something that they don't care about, to someone they don't care about, for reasons they don't care about, to get a result they don't care about???

That tells me you've got either got a critical lack of interest in your game. I don't expect my characters to remember every detail, but if they don't even know *why* they're talking to someone, then I have to question what they're even doing, besides following a script that I've written out.

Enixon
2016-05-02, 10:28 PM
So the players are doing something that they don't care about, to someone they don't care about, for reasons they don't care about, to get a result they don't care about???

That tells me you've got either got a critical lack of interest in your game. I don't expect my characters to remember every detail, but if they don't even know *why* they're talking to someone, then I have to question what they're even doing, besides following a script that I've written out.

Or they're faliable human beings that don't have perfect memories, note that in the example after being given a bit of prompting and time to think the player was able to rember the details. People have "oh crap what was I supposed to be doing here?" moments in real life all the time after all.

kraftcheese
2016-05-02, 10:30 PM
I've dealt with the retroactive declaration of rolls too. I actually had one player when would roll until he got something good and then try to say all the others were just him playing with his dice.

I feel like part of the problem is that my players are used to video games with dialogue trees and whatnot so their response to the great question (what do you do) is "what are my options?" To which I respond "anything you can think of" which scares them so they hide behind a mechanic which they know means they either did well or poorly and then want me to fill in the blanks.

I feel like the idea of a "paradox of choice/analysis paralysis" also comes into it; it's harder to weigh up what to do or say if your option are "everything physically possible", and easier when you're bound to options (i.e. a pass/fail as is the case in the die roll).

It's not necessarily a GOOD thing to have completely railroaded Red, Green, Blue Button choices, or that many people find decisions on their own tough in roleplaying, but I feel like having trouble with the sheer amount of options RPGs happens a lot.

NichG
2016-05-02, 10:42 PM
Regardless of what you think about the role of rolls, these players are doing them wrong.
Rolling until you get a number you like and then calling it out with a skill without reference to what the system says about how to use that skill isn't how things work even if you embrace the skill aspects of the game fully.

I think you basically have two choices here - try to change the behavior or try to ground the behavior concretely.

To change - you need a table rule that says that all rolls have to be declared vocally and acknowledged before the dice leave the player's hand, or the roll just doesn't count for anything, period. It'll slow down combat a bit, but it'll be useful in preventing the knee-jerk rolling response from getting rewarded by letting those rolls do things that someone playing properly would be denied (such as giving someone an extra action-free spot check when they shouldn't have one, or letting someone negotiate action details after getting an idea what the result looks like)

To ground the behavior - make a concrete rule about spontaneous rolling that costs a risk but could give a benefit. For example 'if you wish to add uncertainty to a sure thing, you may wager a roll. This is a flat d20 roll with no intrinsic modifiers. Rolls of 11+ cause something better than normal to happen, but rolls of 10- cause something bad to happen that otherwise wouldn't. Bothering the dice gods risks their wrath, so every additional randomizing roll made in a given scene suffers a -1 for all previous rolls in the same scene'. Here you allow the behavior to persist and even reward it, but make it an active decision on the part of the players rather than an unconscious habit. Make sure to ask 'did you want to make a Random Roll?' so players don't feel like it's a gotcha, especially at first.

Quertus
2016-05-02, 10:47 PM
So the players are doing something that they don't care about, to someone they don't care about, for reasons they don't care about, to get a result they don't care about???

That tells me you've got either got a critical lack of interest in your game. I don't expect my characters to remember every detail, but if they don't even know *why* they're talking to someone, then I have to question what they're even doing, besides following a script that I've written out.

Yeah, that was pretty bad, but not caring is only one possible reason for the player to be vague. There are plenty of other possible explanations:


The player has a bad memory.
The player missed a session.
It was 6 months ago.
The player is bad with names.
Real life.
The player gets stage fright.
Bad experiences with other DMs.
Random memory lapse.


But even if the player views the game as an excuse to hang out with his friends and doesn't really care about the game itself, or even if the player cares about the actions the party took, but doesn't really care about the plot itself, I see no reason to punish the party just because the party Face doesn't live up to my expectations for involvement. Just view it as an extension of your own statement, which I agree with wholeheartedly:


How purdy you talk shouldn't really impact the die roll (IMO).

kyoryu
2016-05-02, 10:58 PM
Or they're faliable human beings that don't have perfect memories, note that in the example after being given a bit of prompting and time to think the player was able to rember the details. People have "oh crap what was I supposed to be doing here?" moments in real life all the time after all.

Details, names, whatever? Sure. I get that. That's pretty damn normal.

But *why you're there*??? That strikes me as strange.

It might be normal, I guess, if it's a more railroady campaign with "roleplay" scenes between fights. But I typically play games where the players are enacting *their* plans, not being told to go from Quest NPC to Quest NPC. So in that view, I really can't see how the players wouldn't know what they're there for. Because what they're there for is *their plan*, not "the thing Quest NPC 128 told them three weeks ago."

Because, yeah, I can totally see players not caring about that.



But even if the player views the game as an excuse to hang out with his friends and doesn't really care about the game itself, or even if the player cares about the actions the party took, but doesn't really care about the plot itself, I see no reason to punish the party just because the party Face doesn't live up to my expectations for involvement. Just view it as an extension of your own statement, which I agree with wholeheartedly:

See above. When I play, the "plot" isn't "the cutscenes that happen between fights." It's *the game*. SO not even knowing why you're there is kind of strange.

I mean, if the reason they're there is "Sergeant Bob told them to go and tell the king that the flooflewaffles have deployed the snigglefurg, and the wobblewats may fall, so that the king will consult with the wiggywats and get them to yargleklum the zizzlemats", then... yeah. They won't care. It's not their plan, they're not invested in it. So, if that's the case, then yeah, expecting them to remember that trivia is pointless. I wouldn't expect them to care about anything but the die roll, because that's the only real agency they have.

I'm more assuming that the players that Bad Thing is about to happen, and their response to that is "um, let's tell the king so maybe he'll send reinforcements!" In that case, I'd expect them to know, because it's *their plan*. Not mine.

So I literally *can't* let them just roll the dice in that case, because I have *no idea* of what it is they're actually trying to do.

Mutazoia
2016-05-02, 11:36 PM
I've always dealt with ambiguous skill rolls with ambiguous results:

Player 1: (immediately after entering a room) I roll 25 on a spot check!
Me: Okay....you spot a bit of toilet paper that has stuck to the bottom of Player 2's boot, making him look like a total tool.

or

Me: The [NPC] stands up quickly.
Player 2: I sense motive....25!
Me: You sense that he didn't want to be seated any more for some reason.

or

Player 1: 25 heal!
Me: Okay....you stick close to Player 2's heel like a good doggy. You'll probably get a biscuit later.

Now, in some situations, I'm okay with making a roll in stead of a role. If Player 1 wants to sweet talk the bar-maid, I really don't think he needs to bust out with the corny pick up lines and try to chat me up IRL. If the character with the uber diplomacy skill wants to con the mid-level government functionary into waving the fee to license the party's war elephant, I'm going to expect at least a LITTLE role playing. Obviously, characters are going to have skills above that of the real person playing them, so you have to make a few allowances, but I (almost) never allow a player to simply roll, rather than role.

Quertus
2016-05-03, 01:11 AM
Details, names, whatever? Sure. I get that. That's pretty damn normal.

But *why you're there*??? That strikes me as strange.

It might be normal, I guess, if it's a more railroady campaign with "roleplay" scenes between fights. But I typically play games where the players are enacting *their* plans, not being told to go from Quest NPC to Quest NPC. So in that view, I really can't see how the players wouldn't know what they're there for. Because what they're there for is *their plan*, not "the thing Quest NPC 128 told them three weeks ago."

Because, yeah, I can totally see players not caring about that.



See above. When I play, the "plot" isn't "the cutscenes that happen between fights." It's *the game*. SO not even knowing why you're there is kind of strange.

I mean, if the reason they're there is "Sergeant Bob told them to go and tell the king that the flooflewaffles have deployed the snigglefurg, and the wobblewats may fall, so that the king will consult with the wiggywats and get them to yargleklum the zizzlemats", then... yeah. They won't care. It's not their plan, they're not invested in it. So, if that's the case, then yeah, expecting them to remember that trivia is pointless. I wouldn't expect them to care about anything but the die roll, because that's the only real agency they have.

I'm more assuming that the players that Bad Thing is about to happen, and their response to that is "um, let's tell the king so maybe he'll send reinforcements!" In that case, I'd expect them to know, because it's *their plan*. Not mine.

So I literally *can't* let them just roll the dice in that case, because I have *no idea* of what it is they're actually trying to do.

In the example I was quoting, the plan (get reinforcements) obviously came from the npc (John Canyon). Also, if the player missed the session where said npc gave the quest, or that session occurred 6 months ago, or their gf just broke up with them, they legitimately might not remember why they were there.

But meh. I didn't come up with this ridiculous example, I'm merely using it to facilitate discussion of... um... what were we talking about again? :smalltongue:

Takewo
2016-05-03, 01:27 AM
I feel like part of the problem is that my players are used to video games with dialogue trees and whatnot so their response to the great question (what do you do) is "what are my options?" To which I respond "anything you can think of" which scares them so they hide behind a mechanic which they know means they either did well or poorly and then want me to fill in the blanks.

One idea here is to actually give them some options without making it a closed list. If they really don't know what to do, some help in evaluating the situation might help. Something like, "What can we do?" "Well, you know that there is a city four miles towards the north, you could always go there and find Rodrick, or you can find a safe place to sleep, or you can explore this, whatever you want." Something like that, at least, would give them a place to start.

goto124
2016-05-03, 02:00 AM
I feel like part of the problem is that my players are used to video games with dialogue trees and whatnot so their response to the great question (what do you do) is "what are my options?" To which I respond "anything you can think of" which scares them so they hide behind a mechanic which they know means they either did well or poorly and then want me to fill in the blanks.

Doesn't help when stuff like Search checks and Diplomancy checks are designed such that they essentially say "doesn't matter what you say, the dice decides your fate".


If you're not going to have them roll for diplomacy, give all characters a number of social "HP" equal to, say, 1 + an additional 1 per 5 ranks in diplomacy. Whenever they make a serious faux pas, they take social damage. If they have any social HP left, it turns out OK. So, for example, if they insult the duke, they take a point of social damage. If they have any social HP left, he laughs it off; if not, he is insulted and refuses to deal with them.

Validate their choices.

Social mechanics in DnD aren't the best, because DnD isn't designed for anything more than duct tape over social situations. There are other game systems that do social skills better.

Esprit15
2016-05-03, 02:19 AM
Doesn't help when stuff like Search checks and Diplomancy checks are designed such that they essentially say "doesn't matter what you say, the dice decides your fate".



Social mechanics in DnD aren't the best, because DnD isn't designed for anything more than duct tape over social situations. There are other game systems that do social skills better.

Something I learned from my DM: Don't use the social mechanics for roleplay unless the player is kinda bad at social situations. If the awkward, stuttery guy who can't string two sentences together to save himself wants to play the charismatic bard, let him try to talk the NPC into something. If the situation is kinda getting awkward and he's not able to say what he needs to say, ask him to roll diplomacy instead, to represent his character knowing more than he would. Heck, it's the same with any of the more mental checks and skills - nobody here has a 30 INT. We forget things, we overlook certain details, while such a character would likely not. When the DM sees that happen, it might be helpful to ask for the appropriate skill or ability check.

Slipperychicken
2016-05-03, 02:33 AM
So I realize that this might be a personal hang up but I keep running into this problem where players want to roll some kind of perception check (often without saying what they are looking for) instead of interacting with the environment. This same problem comes up in social situations, rather than role playing people just throw a d20 and give me a number.

My DM usually does not accept rolls until it's clear what the PC is doing. If a player rolls before describing an action (i.e. "I roll perception"), he usually tells the player to describe the PC's action. We as players then usually give him something like "I carefully scan the room from where I'm standing", and then he narrates the outcome. If we roll before saying anything about what we're doing (i.e. roll repeatedly -> roll an 18 -> "I diplomacy the guard!"), then it doesn't count and we have to roll it again.


What's even worse is when a player gives some eloquent speech or says something like "I pull all of the books off of the shelf looking for the fake one that opens the secret door" and then before I can say anything they roll a natural 1. At that point their actions should have succeeded but they insisted on rolling and did so poorly, so I feel stuck. Of course I can just ignore the roll but how do I quash this mindset in the first place?

My DM would have said something like "you didn't need to roll for that, it would have worked anyway". And then we'd have had a brief (1-3 sentence) explanation that you don't need to roll for pulling books off a shelf. Like the dice are only supposed to be used when the outcome is uncertain, and in this case it's pretty clear that the action was certain to work anyway. Maybe he might have teased the player by saying the PC accidentally pulled too hard and dropped a book on his own head for no damage, but that's about it.

hifidelity2
2016-05-03, 03:02 AM
Role v Roll playing


The group I mainly play with has been playing together for some time so we know each otherís foibles / strengths & weaknesses
While each of us has our own style as GM broadly speaking
- Rolls donít count until the DM asks for them
- For Practical skills (Spot etc) the better the description the better the bonus (or the less the penalty) the person will have
- For Technical skills (pick locks, fix fusion generator) then its a simple roll Ė I donít expect them to know how to do these things
- For Social skills (esp as a couple of the players are of the more socially awkward / shy persuasion) then a description of what they are trying to achieve is enough with a roll. For those who like actually roleplaying the encounter they can chose (up front) if they want to Role play or Role paly with Dice rolls

DJ Yung Crunk
2016-05-03, 03:12 AM
I think there needs to be some understanding before the game begins exactly what game you're going to be running. Other than that, I just feel an open dialogue and honest conversation is helpful. Everyone needs to adapt, at least in some small way. Politely communicate that some adapting is required on their part.

Mystral
2016-05-03, 04:30 AM
So I realize that this might be a personal hang up but I keep running into this problem where players want to roll some kind of perception check (often without saying what they are looking for) instead of interacting with the environment. This same problem comes up in social situations, rather than role playing people just throw a d20 and give me a number.

What's even worse is when a player gives some eloquent speech or says something like "I pull all of the books off of the shelf looking for the fake one that opens the secret door" and then before I can say anything they roll a natural 1. At that point their actions should have succeeded but they insisted on rolling and did so poorly, so I feel stuck. Of course I can just ignore the roll but how do I quash this mindset in the first place?

Only perception checks yourself, in secret, assigning modifiers according to your PCs actions. Tell your players that this is so that they don't know if they rolled high or low, because their characters can't know that. Also tell them that any perception checks they make without you asking for them are invalid.

Also, pulling out all books to search for the fake one is the description of taking 20.

goto124
2016-05-03, 05:19 AM
"So who's going to clear up the mess of books?" :smalltongue:

Jay R
2016-05-03, 07:18 AM
It's worth remembering that the player has not gone through the experience that the character has. The character actually saw the person he's talking about, stayed with him for a couple of days, walked over the walls of the dilapidated fort, inspected the troops. The player heard you describe it, once, quickly, in the middle of four-six hours of hearing your voice.

The player's memory of it can't be as good as the character's would be. That's why, in my example, I gave a circumstance bonus for remembering the crucial details. It's a straightforward bribe to encourage paying attention.

Secondly, the debate going on here is forty years old. I argued about it in 1975 with original D&D. How do you make role-playing happen with the stats of the character instead of the player?

Many puzzles in early D&D modules required the players to come up with the solution, and you can't keep the intelligent player from solving it faster that the player with the high-INT character. It's the same issue as what to do when the player of a low-INT fighter comes up with a clever battle plan, and there is no solution. Clever players who study the rules are always at an advantage, in any game. But if you take away my ideas, I'm no longer part of the game at all.

So there is a continuum from the dice deciding everything, to players planning out every move without ever rolling. And the truth is that games are played all over the spectrum, and each game varies by situation.

You cannot prevent the clever player from being clever. You cannot prevent the slick talker from being slick. You cannot prevent the person who studies the rules from knowing more than the casual player.

So relax, and accept that the simulation isn't perfect, because you're playing a game.

The Insanity
2016-05-03, 07:20 AM
It's quite simple. Don't play games with dice.

Quertus
2016-05-03, 07:32 AM
It's worth remembering that the player has not gone through the experience that the character has. The character actually saw the person he's talking about, stayed with him for a couple of days, walked over the walls of the dilapidated fort, inspected the troops. The player heard you describe it, once, quickly, in the middle of four-six hours of hearing your voice.

You can say that again!


The player's memory of it can't be as good as the character's would be. That's why, in my example, I gave a circumstance bonus for remembering the crucial details. It's a straightforward bribe to encourage paying attention.


If the bonus for remembering is a blatant bribe, then I'm as fine with that as I am with other blatant bribes, like getting a bonus fate point for bringing snacks, or bonus xp for role-playing. Heck, my signature character wouldn't be what he is today if several DMs hadn't adjudicated wishes kindly based on the fact that I made my wishes in character, using IC knowledge, unlike the other players, who wished for more hit points, experience points, bonuses to saving throws, etc.


Secondly, the debate going on here is forty years old. I argued about it in 1975 with original D&D. How do you make role-playing happen with the stats of the character instead of the player?

Many puzzles in early D&D modules required the players to come up with the solution, and you can't keep the intelligent player from solving it faster that the player with the high-INT character. It's the same issue as what to do when the player of a low-INT fighter comes up with a clever battle plan, and there is no solution. Clever players who study the rules are always at an advantage, in any game. But if you take away my ideas, I'm no longer part of the game at all.

So there is a continuum from the dice deciding everything, to players planning out every move without ever rolling. And the truth is that games are played all over the spectrum, and each game varies by situation.

This is a problem.

Things that you want to be solved exclusively by the player probably shouldn't be represented on the character sheet. Happily, I don't think I ever had to try to solve puzzles while playing a character with the intelligence of a brain-damaged turnip.

However, I remember this one time, where the first half (~4 hours) of the last season in a campaign was spent strategizing with the army generals, preparing for a final assault on an enemy stronghold. I love this kind of thing! But I was running a character with a well-established lack of tactical sense. So I basically sat out for half of the final season. IMO, that's part of what good role-playing is all about.



You cannot prevent the clever player from being clever. You cannot prevent the slick talker from being slick. You cannot prevent the person who studies the rules from knowing more than the casual player.

Just as you can call someone out for acting on OOC knowledge, you can also have NPCs respond to the slick talker's character's social stats, rather than the player's stats. Happily, there is no stat that strictly governs coming up with clever ideas (in most systems), although it is probably bad role-playing to consistently be ingenious with all sub-par mental stats.


"So who's going to clear up the mess of books?" :smalltongue:

I dunno, let me search for someone - oops, I rolled a 1.

Knaight
2016-05-03, 04:38 PM
Something I learned from my DM: Don't use the social mechanics for roleplay unless the player is kinda bad at social situations. If the awkward, stuttery guy who can't string two sentences together to save himself wants to play the charismatic bard, let him try to talk the NPC into something. If the situation is kinda getting awkward and he's not able to say what he needs to say, ask him to roll diplomacy instead, to represent his character knowing more than he would. Heck, it's the same with any of the more mental checks and skills - nobody here has a 30 INT. We forget things, we overlook certain details, while such a character would likely not. When the DM sees that happen, it might be helpful to ask for the appropriate skill or ability check.

There's also the matter of time. There are plenty of situations where a character might end up giving a three hour speech or similar, and nobody wants to actually hear the entirely of said speech. Having a skill to gloss that tedium over is a godsend.

Ghost49X
2016-05-03, 06:12 PM
I ran into 2 different situations lately
The first, I was playing with a group of fairly well established players. We have been playing various games together for the last 7 or so and last weekend we were playing a relatively new system to us. During the session one of my players (which I'll name Abbey) wanted to accept the big bad's offer to let them live if they let him leave. Her intention was to try and ambush him as he was leaving, since Abbey's player had a good sized dice pool for charm she said "I want to roll charm to get him to believe me" and before she rolled I stopped her and had her roleplay the parley. What she said was much more like a negotiation than a charm or deceit check so I told her to roll a negotiation check in which she had a noticeably smaller dice pool (not that it was horrible, it was only average compared to her high dice pool for charm). While she failed the check, it still led to an epic fight with the big bad and I'm quite satisfied of my decision.

The second, I was talking with a friend about the nWoD system, we were supposed to make a character for an upcoming LARP event and he was adamant that all the social stats, were dump stats with the only exception if you needed it for the dice pool of a supernatural power you wanted. He adamantly called me out for making a social character when I as the player don't have the social skills to back this up. Further more he as one of the people running the event I was supposed to be attending gave my character full riot gear and when I mentioned concerned at it not only being out of character for me and also not willing to go to great lengths to add this to my costume he said that EVERYONE at the event had this and he designed combat encounters (and event non-combat encounters that have a chance at turning sour) assuming all character had this full riot gear ALL THE TIME, including scantly clothed courtesan Daeva vampires.


There's also the matter of time. There are plenty of situations where a character might end up giving a three hour speech or similar, and nobody wants to actually hear the entirely of said speech. Having a skill to gloss that tedium over is a godsend.
Yes, thank the game designers for that one.

Ruslan
2016-05-03, 06:38 PM
So I realize that this might be a personal hang up but I keep running into this problem where players want to roll some kind of perception check (often without saying what they are looking for) instead of interacting with the environment. This same problem comes up in social situations, rather than role playing people just throw a d20 and give me a number.

What's even worse is when a player gives some eloquent speech or says something like "I pull all of the books off of the shelf looking for the fake one that opens the secret door" and then before I can say anything they roll a natural 1. At that point their actions should have succeeded but they insisted on rolling and did so poorly, so I feel stuck. Of course I can just ignore the roll but how do I quash this mindset in the first place?

You need to set ground rules and protocol for such cases. Luckily, the rules-as-written pretty much cover it. The algorithm is simple.

Step 1: DM describes the scene
Step 2: Players describe their characters' actions.
Step 2a, optional: DM requests a die roll. (some actions, such as walking a tightrope, require rolls; some, like walking across level floor, do not)
Step 3: Based on the action, and if applicable, the die roll, the DM narrates the result.

(Players Handbook, "How to Play" section)

If this is the kind of game you want to run, clarify to the players that they're not expected to roll dice unless specifically prompted by you. The rules are kind of on your side here.

kyoryu
2016-05-03, 06:58 PM
You need to set ground rules and protocol for such cases. Luckily, the rules-as-written pretty much cover it. The algorithm is simple.

Step 1: DM describes the scene
Step 2: Players describe their characters' actions.
Step 2a, optional: DM requests a die roll. (some actions, such as walking a tightrope, require rolls; some, like walking across level floor, do not)
Step 3: Based on the action, and if applicable, the die roll, the DM narrates the result.

(Players Handbook, "How to Play" section)

If this is the kind of game you want to run, clarify to the players that they're not expected to roll dice unless specifically prompted by you. The rules are kind of on your side here.

Yes, exactly.

90sMusic
2016-05-03, 08:53 PM
So I realize that this might be a personal hang up but I keep running into this problem where players want to roll some kind of perception check (often without saying what they are looking for) instead of interacting with the environment. This same problem comes up in social situations, rather than role playing people just throw a d20 and give me a number.

What's even worse is when a player gives some eloquent speech or says something like "I pull all of the books off of the shelf looking for the fake one that opens the secret door" and then before I can say anything they roll a natural 1. At that point their actions should have succeeded but they insisted on rolling and did so poorly, so I feel stuck. Of course I can just ignore the roll but how do I quash this mindset in the first place?

I mean, I guess I can understand where you're coming from, but I don't really agree. Sometimes you just want to look around. You aren't particularly looking for anything specific, you just want to see what is there. Maybe there is something that looks like a trap, or perhaps there is some fancy artwork on the wall with a clue or otherwise useful information, maybe there is a tiny crack in the wall, could be some scratched marks on the floor where a secret door has been opening and closing. You don't always know WHAT you are looking for, sometimes you just want to look around in general.

The DM also helps this situation a bit. If they are very descriptive about their environments, you get less of this kind of thing and more specific searches, but if it is vague (whether deliberately or not) you will get more vague searches.

I mean imagine you just walked into an old castle ruin in ireland on vacation. Are you looking for one or two specific things when you're sight seeing or are you soaking up everything you can? You also might notice things you weren't looking for. That is why stores like Wal-mart like to move their products around from time to time so you will see something you didn't even know you wanted/needed.

In other words, I don't really have a problem with it. It makes sense to me.

I've never had much problem with players in my games relying a little more on rolls than what they say or do. You have to remember this is a game, you are playing characters that are not you and they are doing things that you might not can. Just like your fighter might be able to hack the head off a dragon with his axe, maybe you are a bard that can sing beautifully. Are you really going to force your player to sing a song every time they want to do a bardic performance? Some players who can actually sing well (or at least like to sing badly) will do this anyway because it adds to their enjoyment, but sometimes you'll get someone who cant sing and doesnt want to because they know they cant do it well, and you'd just be putting them on the spot and humiliating them to satisfy your own need for things to be exactly as you want them to be. Sometimes players can't come up with grand speeches to inspire their allies. Etc.

As long as the game doesnt become entirely about the dice with no roleplay, I think it's fine to allow some things to slide and use the dice as long as players are still roleplaying and more importantly, having fun.

Otherwise you run into a situation where some players can just literally NEVER play a certain kind of class or character simply because they lack the ability IRL to more accurately portray that, and I think limiting players like that is quite frankly wrong and also mean.

icefractal
2016-05-04, 12:54 AM
The problem with this is that the Diplomacy skill is for persuading people not talking to them. You don't walk up to the guard and roll a diplomacy check to say hi, which is what my players are doing. You walk up to the guard and say hi, hows it going? Say, would you mind letting me and my chaps pop into the ball for a quick second the we need to talk to the mayor it's really important and then roll a diplomacy check.Everyone seems to think this for some reason, perhaps because it's how many other skills work. But in fact, you don't roll Diplomacy to convince the target of a given thing. You roll it to change the target's attitude. At which point you can ask them for things in accordance with the new attitude, bargain, or whatever.

Incidentally, this solves your issue somewhat - just rolling a die alone does nothing by itself; you've made the target Friendly, great - now what did you want to ask them?

goto124
2016-05-04, 04:14 AM
I stopped her and had her roleplay the parley. What she said was much more like a negotiation than a charm or deceit check so I told her to roll a negotiation check

Did she agree to making it a negotiation check? Personally, I would state the main points of the speech, and say my character presents them in a charming way.

That's what those social skills are for - to let the character use their skills, instead of me having to use my own social skills.

Socratov
2016-05-04, 06:11 AM
I'm seeing a lot of absolutes thrown around here...

My 2cp is to give a bit and take a bit:

I'll make the distinction between active rolls and reactive rolls.

if the DM asks for a roll, chances are that s/he is asking for a reactive roll. things like saves, spotchecks to check ambushes, etc.

If the player asks to roll something, chances are that he wants to take an active role to things and cruch it up as it were. Examples include spot (again to gian more details), attack rolls, skill checks etc.

Give the player too much agency by allowing them to choose the passive rolls and the DM will have a hard task.

Give the DM the power to go full "Heisenberg" by claiming that he will decide when the players get to make active rolls makes for a railroady campaign.

a bit in the middle should be ideal: both DM and PC have agency over what happens to them (as it should)

But Socratov you charismatic stallion, that won't solve the 'I roll to resolve the situation' situation.

Well, here comes the trick: as we have just started to approach things like adults (going for a situation where everyone gets to have fun), let's take it a step further and go for a root cause analysis. You see, the fact that the players aren't motivated enough to roleplay them talking ot the king is not a problem in of itself, but a symptom of another effect. Maybe person is influenced by real world events that have impacted the way they think and are kept busy in their heads. Maybe the playe rin question has been shoehorned into playing something s/he doesn't want (this happens a lot to people who show up late and thus are designated as the healbot). Real life does have a way of sneaking up on people. Maybe the player in question isn't enjoying this particular bit of dnd and wants to get back to the hacking ans slashing. Maybe he just forgot or missed a bit and is too embarrassed to talk about it for fear of ridicule or retribution. While we are at it, why don't you find the reason why this behaviour bothers you so much.

When you have your answer figured out, talk to your players. Tell them what you expect of them and what makes this game fun for you. then tell them what they may expect form you in return and wether they think is fair (regardless of it actually being fair). Create some common ground here. Ask them in return if they understand your point and what makes the game fun for them. Ask them why they'd like to roll before trying or what kinds of things they expect in the campaign. Find out what drives them, what challenges them and what leaves them cold.

for instance, you might think the players talkin got the king makes for a great and dramatic scene while the players think it's unneccessary exposition and would like to get back to the battlefield already. Until you talk to each other, however, the game is just not going to work.

TTRPG's have the potential to from so fun that your players will talk about it for years to come, all the way down to horrible and awful, almost turning people away form the hobby dreadful. To stay on the good game side people engaged in the game should all have fun. If someone is not having fun then right there is your problem.

Anyway, these are just my 2cp...

*tosses 2 copper pieces into the thread*

Gtdead
2016-05-04, 08:06 AM
If you allow your players to make statements like "I persuade the guard to let me pass", then it's only natural that they will roll everything. And it doesn't stop there.

This is one of the most obvious ways to game the system and why we have concepts like "the diplomancer".
It makes everyone pick diplomacy over bluff and intimidation for example, because diplomacy is more widely applicable and carries less risk.

In my experience, if you make your players roleplay the persuasion attempt, they will most likely try to bluff their way in instead or offer a trade. It's easier. Anything else than deception requires more thought and intimidation has a big chance of backfiring. This is especially true for players that aren't very well versed in roleplaying. It's more likely that the only thing they can come up with is "I'm an important/helpful/nice person let me pass".

It's not easy to start a conversation, show interest for a completely random DM creation that you know pretty much nothing about, talk about random stuff and create sympathy, making the guard think that you aren't a threat, so there isn't any harm to let you pass, which is probably how a silver tongued person would act.

And the funniest part is that sometimes, the persuasion attempt can be so good that the DM doesn't even need a roll. He just assumes that your attempt was succesful based on the guard's personality.
You said the right things so you win.

If you want your players to stop gaming the system and roleplay instead, it's entirely up to you to enforce it. Don't accept statements like "I'm going to look for traps" for actions.

Ask them to be specific and talk in the present tense, making it "I'm now checking the passage for triggers".
Describe to him what he sees, like "It's dark, you can see about 20 feet in front of you", "what do you do?"
He responds "I look for any uneven floor parts or trip wires"

If there are any camouflaged loose floor parts, or some tripwire, ask him to roll search.
He rolls 13 against a DC of 15.

"You think you see some uneven floor at about 15 feet in front of you", what do you do?
"I'm moving there, trying to disarm it"
"Roll reflex, you missed the trap that was 10 feet in front of you"

Next time he will be prepared, he will consider that perhaps there is a pattern here. Perhaps there is always a more visible trap next to a better camouflaged one as bait. And this will give you the chance to create more elaborate traps. Now of course this can become tedious, and you can instead use something more interesting than pressure plates.

Trebloc
2016-05-04, 10:43 AM
Example 2 (right):
Me: You are allowed into the throne room, and walk up to the throne.
PC: I take off my hat, bow low, and say, "Your Majesty, I bring you a message from the John Canyon, commander of the North Fort. A large army of orcs is approaching, expected to lay siege in four days. He needs reinforcements."
Me: Make a Diplomacy skill check, with a +2 bonus for having the details correct and for showing him proper respect.
PC: I remind him that his daughter Princess Leda is in Swan Village to the north, and in danger if the fort is overrun.
Me: Excellent. No roll is needed - that fact will convince him in any case.

I'm curious, in Example 2, which is "right", what happens if the PC totally flubs their diplomacy roll (assuming you didn't hand out an auto-pass)? You lathered the PC up with praise for getting the details right and showing respect, the PC has already said what they had to say and gave the king a tip of his hat.

I agree social skill rolling is a bit awkward. How we handle it is we'll give the DM a general idea what we want to do, then roll the die, then attempt to RP the results. That way, the PC has a general idea if they nailed their social roll and can act all proper and respectful, or if they tanked it will say a few unwise things.

As for using skill generally, we use this more as a way to speed up the game. Do you really want to go into every room, having the PCs describe to you time and time again how they prod every chair, tap every brick, search for every false bottom, flip through every book...etc. A search check speeds that up immensely. Also, saying something like a PC specifically looking for something and automatically finding it, all I have to do is ask how many of you men have had to find something in a woman's purse? Sure it's in there, but half the time I can't find it (darn my search check being too low).

Jay R
2016-05-04, 11:37 AM
I'm curious, in Example 2, which is "right", what happens if the PC totally flubs their diplomacy roll (assuming you didn't hand out an auto-pass)? You lathered the PC up with praise for getting the details right and showing respect, the PC has already said what they had to say and gave the king a tip of his hat.

The same thing that happens when I praise a player for a clever attack plan and he flubs the roll. The clever plan fails.

Kings aren't vending machines that always give you candy if you insert money and pull the right lever. They are proud, haughty men with great power and many more concerns than you know about.

Never let a player roll a die unless it is acceptable for the roll to succeed, and acceptable for the roll to fail.


I agree social skill rolling is a bit awkward. How we handle it is we'll give the DM a general idea what we want to do, then roll the die, then attempt to RP the results. That way, the PC has a general idea if they nailed their social roll and can act all proper and respectful, or if they tanked it will say a few unwise things.

I won't tell you there's anything wrong with what you do. For one thing, whatever you do is probably far more complicated and detailed than a couple of sentences can handle.

But I will tell you why I won't follow your example. It's based on the notion that a success in a social situation is always tied to acting "all proper and respectful", and a failure is always tied to saying "a few unwise things." That's just not how human behavior works.


As for using skill generally, we use this more as a way to speed up the game. Do you really want to go into every room, having the PCs describe to you time and time again how they prod every chair, tap every brick, search for every false bottom, flip through every book...etc.

In one game, we got to saying, "We follow our usual search procedure." That doesn't take that more time. And having established a standard procedure shows engagement with the process. Our night watch is also established in advance, and I know that my Ranger will always be on first watch. Also, he's always in the front in marching order, unless we are expecting undead, in which case the cleric and paladin are in front.


A search check speeds that up immensely. Also, saying something like a PC specifically looking for something and automatically finding it, all I have to do is ask how many of you men have had to find something in a woman's purse? Sure it's in there, but half the time I can't find it (darn my search check being too low).

If I take 20, I can find always something in my wife's purse. (Of course, she will have to re-pack it herself.)

As I said, the actual procedure is more complicated than any line or two can describe. Most DMs' full procedure works for that group.

But the core principle remains - Never let a player roll a die unless it is acceptable for the roll to succeed, and acceptable for the roll to fail.

Trebloc
2016-05-04, 12:14 PM
I won't tell you there's anything wrong with what you do. For one thing, whatever you do is probably far more complicated and detailed than a couple of sentences can handle.

But I will tell you why I won't follow your example. It's based on the notion that a success in a social situation is always tied to acting "all proper and respectful", and a failure is always tied to saying "a few unwise things." That's just not how human behavior works.

Success should be based on being "proper", though proper varies greatly with who you're interacting with. And failure should also be acting "unwise", also varying depending on the situation.


In one game, we got to saying, "We follow our usual search procedure." That doesn't take that more time. And having established a standard procedure shows engagement with the process.

You see, I see this as no different than saying "I make a search roll". Actually, you're method is more "fool proof" since there is apparently no dice being rolled, and instead you have a list of things to look for. And I'm guessing that if you encounter something new, that too would be added to the list. Basically, how is there more engagement between you saying to the DM "Yep, standard search procedure for this room too." and "I searched the room and got a 28 on my search check." Your standard procedure is just as mechanical, since you're not doing any roleplaying, but fast forwarding through what you've defined as a standard search of a room.

Quertus
2016-05-04, 01:38 PM
As for using skill generally, we use this more as a way to speed up the game. Do you really want to go into every room, having the PCs describe to you time and time again how they prod every chair, tap every brick, search for every false bottom, flip through every book...etc. A search check speeds that up immensely.

Um... yes? Kids these days, and their instant gratification. Back in my day, tapping on every brick, flipping through every book, investigating every set piece was the game. :smallwink:


Also, saying something like a PC specifically looking for something and automatically finding it, all I have to do is ask how many of you men have had to find something in a woman's purse? Sure it's in there, but half the time I can't find it (darn my search check being too low).

Hmmm, good point. I may need to implement more rolls.


Never let a player roll a die unless it is acceptable for the roll to succeed, and acceptable for the roll to fail.

In one game, we got to saying, "We follow our usual search procedure." That doesn't take that more time. And having established a standard procedure shows engagement with the process. Our night watch is also established in advance, and I know that my Ranger will always be on first watch. Also, he's always in the front in marching order, unless we are expecting undead, in which case the cleric and paladin are in front.

But the core principle remains - Never let a player roll a die unless it is acceptable for the roll to succeed, and acceptable for the roll to fail.

Definitely don't have players roll for something if only one result is acceptable.

Oh, man, talking about standard procedures and never leaving parts of the story you want predetermined up to the dice reminds me...

This one time, we were running... kind of a level 0 pre adventure (WoD Mage, pre awakening).

Anyway, my character got into a life or death situation (OK, more of a death or death situation - he was having a drug-fueled agama, and it went south). The storyteller had me roll... what basically amounted to a save vs death... and I got a triple botch. :smalleek:

So, the game hasn't even started yet, and I'm already dead. :smallfrown: While we were just sitting there, starting at each other, trying to figure out what to do now, I remembered that my character had the Strong Willed merit. And that I had stated a standard procedure: whenever the DC of a roll is 6 or higher, unless I say otherwise, I'm spending willpower.

So I remind the storyteller of this fact. Happily, we were playing a version of WoD where it's only a botch if you have no successes, and that willpower point counted as a success.

So we both learned an important lesson that day.

Jay R
2016-05-04, 01:55 PM
Success should be based on being "proper", though proper varies greatly with who you're interacting with. And failure should also be acting "unwise", also varying depending on the situation.

Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if every time you treated somebody properly they did exactly what you wanted?

This is simply not the case. Quite often, no matter how well you behave, your request gets turned down. It is NOT TRUE that kings always do the bidding of their polite petitioners.


Basically, how is there more engagement between you saying to the DM "Yep, standard search procedure for this room too." and "I searched the room and got a 28 on my search check."

There is more engagement in that we established a search procedure, of course. And as you said, we modify it according to new situations. The first time we searched a room with shelves on it, we announced that we were searching the bottoms of the shelves, the area under the bottom shelf, and moving the shelf away from the wall to search that wall.

Similarly, the fact that I know that my character Gustave will always be on first watch means that we don't have to spend time setting watches - not because don't care and aren't engaged, but because we do and are.

TheIronGolem
2016-05-04, 02:54 PM
Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if every time you treated somebody properly they did exactly what you wanted?

This is simply not the case. Quite often, no matter how well you behave, your request gets turned down. It is NOT TRUE that kings always do the bidding of their polite petitioners.


This is why I don't always frame a failed roll as a screwup on the character's part. If you blow a Diplomacy roll with the king but are the kind of character who would know how not to insult royalty, I'll probably decide that some perfectly innocent thing you said rubbed him the wrong way for reasons you couldn't have known (you used a turn of phrase that one of his enemies says a lot), or that there are external factors as to why he can't fulfill your request (the funding you asked for has been earmarked for some other project, and he can't just break that commitment on a whim). Note how these explanations also provide possible new story hooks (Who's that enemy and what grief is he causing the king? What's that other project and can/should we stop it?).

That can apply in more than just social situations, too. Rogue failed to open the locked door? It doesn't mean he's suddenly bad at lockpicking, it means the mechanism has been jammed. How? Looks like there are bits of metal lodged in it: broken pieces of tools from some previous attempt to open this lock. And the scratches here look fresh. Heads up guys, there may be other adventurers in this dungeon!

NichG
2016-05-04, 07:19 PM
Its not only that you should only roll when both outcomes are acceptable, but also when the difference between the outcomes matters. If you're rolling to search a room for something you know is there, and you're just going to roll again if you fail the first roll, then you shouldn't be rolling dice in the first place to be doing that because even if either outcome is acceptable to the DM, the player is just going to keep rolling until they succeed or determine that success is impossible.

With the books-off-the-shelf example, it might be acceptable to the DM for the player to fail to find the secret door or for them to succeed in finding the secret door, but no matter what they roll their actions should have opened the secret door, so since the roll doesn't matter they shouldn't roll.

goto124
2016-05-04, 10:20 PM
For the books off the shelf example:

Maybe there's a race against the clock? Maybe if the PC succeeds the first Search check, 3 minutes were spent searching the room. But if this first Search check was failed, 5 minutes were spent searching without any result. The more you roll, the more time spent.

NichG
2016-05-05, 06:04 AM
For the books off the shelf example:

Maybe there's a race against the clock? Maybe if the PC succeeds the first Search check, 3 minutes were spent searching the room. But if this first Search check was failed, 5 minutes were spent searching without any result. The more you roll, the more time spent.

But if there isn't, its silly to create a race against the clock just because the player decided to roll. You could of course have situations where a roll is called for, but the issue here is when the player spontaneously decides to roll when it isn't called for.

Cluedrew
2016-05-05, 07:45 AM
You know, when I first saw the title of this thread I knew what it was getting at. Yet it seems kind of odd that we need to put down the dice (the core of almost every RPGs resolution system) to play the game.

I think it is because D&D's non-combat resolution is actually just bad. Compare it with combat, is their ever any doubt about when you need to role the dice then? No, not that I have ever encountered. (There are other questions that come up yes.) But out of combat... I'm actually going to use search as my example because diplomacy has that extra wrinkle that it doesn't do what people use it for.

So you search a room. Sure there is the search check that you can just roll for it, but that lacks flavour. So let's try the more proper describe the attempt. "I take all the books off the book shelf." This can be a problem either way, say they roll well, do they autofall if the safe was behind the painting? Say they roll low but what happens if removing a book opens the safe? And deciding just from the description also has problems that has been mentioned.

I was going to try and say something profound here but I just spent ten minutes staring at the screen while being completely unsure of what that is. There is some disconnect between the set up, the resolution and the result but I'm not sure how do describe it.

HP has a similar problem. Everyone knows what 0 HP means, it means you are down/dead. But what about 1 HP?

goto124
2016-05-05, 08:08 AM
HP has a similar problem. Everyone knows what 0 HP means, it means you are down/dead. But what about 1 HP?

There are other games with a Wounds system, that models this sort of thing. As it turns out, such a 'death spiral' makes games more lethal, which is not for every playstyle.

Sometimes it's more fun to abstract than to inch closer and closer to realism.

Jay R
2016-05-05, 08:29 AM
Its not only that you should only roll when both outcomes are acceptable, but also when the difference between the outcomes matters. If you're rolling to search a room for something you know is there, and you're just going to roll again if you fail the first roll, then you shouldn't be rolling dice in the first place to be doing that because even if either outcome is acceptable to the DM, the player is just going to keep rolling until they succeed or determine that success is impossible.

Of course. Mechanically, this is "taking 20".

kyoryu
2016-05-05, 08:36 AM
But if there isn't, its silly to create a race against the clock just because the player decided to roll. You could of course have situations where a roll is called for, but the issue here is when the player spontaneously decides to roll when it isn't called for.

Just ignore random rolls.

My general procedure for skill rolls (across systems) is something like this:

"Hrm. Given infinite time and resources, the player will certainly succeed at this. So what is the limit? At what point does some sort of Bad Thing happen if the player doesn't succeed by then?"

Then figure out if the Bad Thing is actually reasonably likely to happen, and if so, roll for that. Otherwise, let them succeed.



I think it is because D&D's non-combat resolution is actually just bad. Compare it with combat, is their ever any doubt about when you need to role the dice then? No, not that I have ever encountered.

And the reason is that the stakes in combat are *obvious*.

As far as the search goes - well, it depends on what's going on. I might just allow "search the room" if it's a more-or-less standard room, they're trying to find a document, and they're trained in searching rooms. I mean "it's hidden under the bed!" isn't very entertaining and it's kinda pixel-bitching.

Trying to find a secret trigger for a hallway? That's a lot more interesting, so you can probably play that out. (though a general Search might put them in the right direction...)

I wouldn't have people roll if there's no chance of success, and I don't worry about "giving away info" on a roll, because, again, if they fail the roll I won't just tell them "nope". Instead, (as per above) some sort of Bad Thing will have happened. Otherwise, I'd just let them find it.

Elderand
2016-05-05, 09:33 AM
I ask my players to roll only when success or failure are in doubt and would lead to something interesting happening. If they gave a particularly good description of what they did and how they did it, I'll generaly give them either a bonus on the roll or extra xp (or equivalent) at the end of the session.

Mr.Moron
2016-05-05, 09:47 AM
I feel like part of the problem is that my players are used to video games with dialogue trees and whatnot so their response to the great question (what do you do) is "what are my options?" To which I respond "anything you can think of" which scares them so they hide behind a mechanic which they know means they either did well or poorly and then want me to fill in the blanks.

Have you tried playing into this at all? When they ask their options are, give them some options. You don't gotta box them in exactly but you can think of one or two things you might try with the information they might have and say

"Well anything. But in your situation I might <X or Y> because of <this> and <that>"

Trebloc
2016-05-05, 10:57 AM
Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if every time you treated somebody properly they did exactly what you wanted?

This is simply not the case. Quite often, no matter how well you behave, your request gets turned down. It is NOT TRUE that kings always do the bidding of their polite petitioners.

Fair enough, but you haven't said yet what happens in your example if there's a failure? I'm actually kind of confused why there's a roll at all if they're simply passing along information. Or is the king going to execute the messenger after they delivered the message but botched their Diplomacy?


There is more engagement in that we established a search procedure, of course. And as you said, we modify it according to new situations. The first time we searched a room with shelves on it, we announced that we were searching the bottoms of the shelves, the area under the bottom shelf, and moving the shelf away from the wall to search that wall.

Still, declaring you search the shelves once, then it will forever be in the "Standard Searching Protocols", really isn't that interactive or less mechanical than a Search check. And still, simply saying "I search the shelves...etc", shouldn't mean you'll automatically find whatever it is you're looking for. Heck, I can't be the only person who's looked for the TV remote a dozen times and failed to see it on the coffee table in front of me, or misplaced my keys and looked all over the house, checking each room 3 times before finally finding them...etc. Those are very easy, real life examples of me simply failing a Search/Spot check. By your logic, everything, everywhere, will be found 100% of the time on the first try.

Also, once a new nuisance is found to add to the Searching Protocol, doesn't that mean the DM can never utilize it again, because your Protocols will always find that nuisance from there on out. Unless I'm missing something? Because that seems extremely boring to me, and an enormous headache to the DM.

What exactly does your group use the Search skill for then, or any skill really?


Similarly, the fact that I know that my character Gustave will always be on first watch means that we don't have to spend time setting watches - not because don't care and aren't engaged, but because we do and are.

This is very different, as there is no skill check, no potential for any dice being rolled.

Ruslan
2016-05-05, 11:07 AM
So you search a room. Sure there is the search check that you can just roll for it, but that lacks flavour. So let's try the more proper describe the attempt. "I take all the books off the book shelf." This can be a problem either way, say they roll well, do they autofall if the safe was behind the painting? Say they roll low but what happens if removing a book opens the safe? And deciding just from the description also has problems that has been mentioned.

I was going to try and say something profound here but I just spent ten minutes staring at the screen while being completely unsure of what that is. There is some disconnect between the set up, the resolution and the result but I'm not sure how do describe it.
Which is why the algorithm should be: DM describes setup -> Player describes action -> Optionally, DM asks for die roll -> DM narrates result. The narration in that case is based both on the die roll AND the player action. Also, if the player action is such that makes the roll superfluous, the DM can decide to skip the roll and go to the (obvious) resolution. This is why, in fact, that we have a human DM to run the game, to make those decisions.

If the players go for: DM describes setup -> Player rolls die, they have only themselves to blame for any inconsistencies that arise.

Jay R
2016-05-05, 09:27 PM
If the DM doesn't know how it's hidden, and has just defined it as requiring a Search DC of 20, then it can only be a roll.

But if the DM knows that it's been stuck to the underside of one of the shelves, then the search pattern needs to be described.

Both are legitimate ways to play. I have a preference, but my preference does not make the other way bad.

The crucial thing is that the players need to know how the DM plays.

The most important skill in any game of D&D is Knowledge(the DM).

goto124
2016-05-05, 11:52 PM
Heck, I can't be the only person who's looked for the TV remote a dozen times and failed to see it on the coffee table in front of me, or misplaced my keys and looked all over the house, checking each room 3 times before finally finding them...etc. Those are very easy, real life examples of me simply failing a Search/Spot check. By your logic, everything, everywhere, will be found 100% of the time on the first try.

Step 1) Hide TV remote in living room.
Step 2) Invite players for a game.
Step 3) When it's time to roll a Search check, make the players search for the TV remote IRL.
Step 4) PROFIT!


If the DM doesn't know how it's hidden, and has just defined it as requiring a Search DC of 20, then it can only be a roll.

But if the DM knows that it's been stuck to the underside of one of the shelves, then the search pattern needs to be described.

Both are legitimate ways to play. I have a preference, but my preference does not make the other way bad.

That is unusual. How does a GM not know where an item is hidden, especially one important enough for the PCs to go searching for it? Besides, shouldn't a GM be able to at least stick the item somewhere reasonable even if it wasn't planned for?

NichG
2016-05-06, 03:50 AM
That is unusual. How does a GM not know where an item is hidden, especially one important enough for the PCs to go searching for it? Besides, shouldn't a GM be able to at least stick the item somewhere reasonable even if it wasn't planned for?

This doesn't follow. The PCs decide what's important enough to go searching for, so why should the DM necessarily have anticipated them? 'I search for some tracks', 'I try to find a board with a nail in it so I can hit this guy', 'are there any incriminating documents in this guy's office?', etc.

If the DM's response is 'I didn't think of that, but I guess it should be there', then it has to be followed up with whatever the resolution method of choice is.

Mutazoia
2016-05-06, 06:12 AM
This doesn't follow. The PCs decide what's important enough to go searching for, so why should the DM necessarily have anticipated them? 'I search for some tracks', 'I try to find a board with a nail in it so I can hit this guy', 'are there any incriminating documents in this guy's office?', etc.

If the DM's response is 'I didn't think of that, but I guess it should be there', then it has to be followed up with whatever the resolution method of choice is.

There's a difference between an item and an "item".

One is a thing that is suppose do be there, i.e. the magical, mystical, munchkin mcguffin needed to kill the BBEG
One is a random thing the player(s) thought up on the spur of the moment.

Quertus
2016-05-06, 08:35 AM
Still, declaring you search the shelves once, then it will forever be in the "Standard Searching Protocols", really isn't that interactive or less mechanical than a Search check. And still, simply saying "I search the shelves...etc", shouldn't mean you'll automatically find whatever it is you're looking for. Heck, I can't be the only person who's looked for the TV remote a dozen times and failed to see it on the coffee table in front of me, or misplaced my keys and looked all over the house, checking each room 3 times before finally finding them...etc. Those are very easy, real life examples of me simply failing a Search/Spot check. By your logic, everything, everywhere, will be found 100% of the time on the first try.

Also, once a new nuisance is found to add to the Searching Protocol, doesn't that mean the DM can never utilize it again, because your Protocols will always find that nuisance from there on out. Unless I'm missing something? Because that seems extremely boring to me, and an enormous headache to the DM.

What exactly does your group use the Search skill for then, or any skill really?

True, a DM could make every new hidden item be located somewhere that the players search pattern is blind to, but this feels like an antagonistic, "gotcha" style that I wouldn't want to advocate.

I prefer to think of it as playing the game the way the players want to, whether that's describing their actions each time, having a set protocol, or just rolling the dice. And rewarding the things the players do right.

It also adds flavor to the world, when the GM describes where this particular person hid this particular item.

When you're running through a module, or building the world independent of the PCs, having protocols works just fine.

Now, sure, they'll never find the things hidden inside the shelves, but, until they are searching for something specific, and can't find it, they get the illusion of competence, and the DM gets to secretly laugh at their blind spots. So, it's a win/win scenario.

There probably is engagement, in that the party probably states which things they search, rather than simply, "we search the room using our standard protocols." But, if they really want to, what's wrong with the players saying, "now that we've cleared it, we search the entire dungeon using our standard protocols", or, "now that we've cleared it, we take a 20 on searching the entire dungeon"? Heck, or even, set their skeletal minions to take 20 searching the entire dungeon, then take the dungeon apart brick by brick? Give them an order like, "carefully search, then disassemble the dungeon", put up signs indicating where different things go, and you could release control of your undead, and come back later to check on their progress.


If the DM doesn't know how it's hidden, and has just defined it as requiring a Search DC of 20, then it can only be a roll.

But if the DM knows that it's been stuck to the underside of one of the shelves, then the search pattern needs to be described.

Both are legitimate ways to play. I have a preference, but my preference does not make the other way bad.

The crucial thing is that the players need to know how the DM plays.

The most important skill in any game of D&D is Knowledge(the DM).

I think Knowledge(the Players) probably pushes Knowledge(DM) into second place :smallwink:

Now I'm imagining a world where some items aren't hidden anywhere in particular, and so can only be found by making a roll - no protocol can find them. :smalltongue:

Really, though, there's "only located somewhere", "only hidden behind a search DC", and "hidden somewhere with a search DC". Only one of those is adaptable; the other two, the DM may have to improvise if his limited data doesn't match the players' style of searching.

If I'm running a character who can search a 5' square as a free action with a +42 bonus to the roll, I certainly don't want to be limited to what I can come up with on the fly to determine whether or not I can make this DC 10 search check. So saying that the player needs to describe how they search feels a bit limiting. Almost like letting the silver-tongued player ignore social stats and skills.


That is unusual. How does a GM not know where an item is hidden, especially one important enough for the PCs to go searching for it? Besides, shouldn't a GM be able to at least stick the item somewhere reasonable even if it wasn't planned for?

Because the module only says, "a DC 20 search check --> loot", without specifying where said loot was located (or, in some cases, even the features of the room in which said loot could have been hidden in the first place:smallannoyed:). Or because they made their knowledge(players) roll, and knew that the search DC was all that would matter to them.

goto124
2016-05-06, 09:22 AM
Because the module only says, "a DC 20 search check --> loot", without specifying where said loot was located (or, in some cases, even the features of the room in which said loot could have been hidden in the first place:smallannoyed:).

Does the module give any interesting consequences to follow through if the PCs fail the check? If not, once the PCs say "we search for this specific loot", reply with "after some searching, you find that specific loot".

More of these shenanigans in the module and the GM would probably tear it up to play something different.

Quertus
2016-05-06, 09:53 AM
Does the module give any interesting consequences to follow through if the PCs fail the check? If not, once the PCs say "we search for this specific loot", reply with "after some searching, you find that specific loot".

More of these shenanigans in the module and the GM would probably tear it up to play something different.

It's worse than that! It's Schrodinger's treasure.

In the random module I grabbed off the shelf, there are about 10 rooms, in any 6 of which the party makes a DC 20 search check, they get one treasure at random from the list. And it's not specific loot that the party is searching for, it's just random treasure.

Yeah.

goto124
2016-05-06, 11:24 AM
I can see how it would work in a video game (very common in video games even), but in an RPG where stuff like realism and verisimilitude are important, not really.

kyoryu
2016-05-06, 11:28 AM
I can see how it would work in a video game (very common in video games even), but in an RPG where stuff like realism and verisimilitude are important, not really.

Well, it was kind of a big part of old-school D&D.... random treasure tables and the like.

Douche
2016-05-06, 12:04 PM
I've dealt with the retroactive declaration of rolls too. I actually had one player when would roll until he got something good and then try to say all the others were just him playing with his dice.

I feel like part of the problem is that my players are used to video games with dialogue trees and whatnot so their response to the great question (what do you do) is "what are my options?" To which I respond "anything you can think of" which scares them so they hide behind a mechanic which they know means they either did well or poorly and then want me to fill in the blanks.

I'm often guilty of that, but not to that extent. I'll roll before I say what I'm doing, and then get a poor roll so I just won't say anything.

Usually it's because the DM is in the middle of talking, but I already know how I'm going to react... Guards are approaching, I take cover and attempt to hide. Rolled a 1. Oops, guess I'm not hidden, won't even bother wasting time mentioning it. It's really on my honor to not attempt to do the same thing 5 seconds later, but I really don't... I wouldn't want to embarrass myself if someone asks "What was that last roll for then, when you didn't say anything?"

Although I really should break that habit. When I do make a good roll, it should be clear what I'm attempting before I say how well I did on it.

Cluedrew
2016-05-07, 08:25 AM
I was going to try and say something profound here but I just spent ten minutes staring at the screen while being completely unsure of what that is.Well it is not as profound as I was hoping but I think I figured out how to say what I wanted.

The issue is translation and how some results don't really translate very well back into the story world. For instance at its basic level a skill check means success if you equal or beat the DC. Well what does success mean? Individual skills are supposed to define what it means a little more, but sometimes they don't very well. Or they get misinterpreted.

My favourite example is the "20 succeeds, every time" where characters can succeed on any possible action on a 20. Even if it something like jumping and landing on the moon. (I actually have seen people use this rule, usually for comedy.)

Similarly it generally makes sense that someone at low HP would be heavily injured or at least existed if you go by the ability to avoid damage. But the rules done really explain that very clearly so there are all these different interpretations of what 1HP means. Because it doesn't really mean anything mechanically, but logically it should mean something narratively.

Trebloc
2016-05-10, 10:59 AM
I prefer to think of it as playing the game the way the players want to, whether that's describing their actions each time, having a set protocol, or just rolling the dice. And rewarding the things the players do right.

It also adds flavor to the world, when the GM describes where this particular person hid this particular item.

When you're running through a module, or building the world independent of the PCs, having protocols works just fine.

Then what purpose are the skills a PC takes? If Master Thief Timmy and Bob the Barbarian both RP how they search an area, I'm hearing that both will have the same amount of success. That doesn't sound right to me at all. Adjust this to any skill and however (un)skilled a PC is at it.


Now, sure, they'll never find the things hidden inside the shelves, but, until they are searching for something specific, and can't find it, they get the illusion of competence, and the DM gets to secretly laugh at their blind spots. So, it's a win/win scenario.

If it's outside of their protocols, you're correct. And here is where I'd say why in the world hasn't a Search check been made, since that is exactly what it's built for. Also, once the hidden thing inside the shelves is found, it will never, ever be able to be used again, since the "Super Protocols of Searching Awesomeness" will now have this caveat added to it.


There probably is engagement, in that the party probably states which things they search, rather than simply, "we search the room using our standard protocols." But, if they really want to, what's wrong with the players saying, "now that we've cleared it, we search the entire dungeon using our standard protocols", or, "now that we've cleared it, we take a 20 on searching the entire dungeon"? Heck, or even, set their skeletal minions to take 20 searching the entire dungeon, then take the dungeon apart brick by brick? Give them an order like, "carefully search, then disassemble the dungeon", put up signs indicating where different things go, and you could release control of your undead, and come back later to check on their progress.

Either the group says "We use our Standard Protocols", or the group whips out a piece of paper, and goes one-by-one, mechanically through the protocols, every....single....room. I wouldn't call it engaging if you're just repeating the same 1000 searching nuisances over and over again.

I'm not quite understanding why it matters when the searching is done. Searching is searching, whether they do it on their first pass through, or after they think the dungeon is cleared out, or a month later. As soon as there is a "magical" 100% protocol added to the process, then doesn't that mean the skills of a PC become 100% meaningless?

kyoryu
2016-05-10, 11:05 AM
In any case, the dice are used where the results are not obvious.

So if you're searching a desk for a hidden latch? It's not immediately clear whether your character would see that latch or not. So you roll.

Rolling can be used in other cases, too. But no matter what resolution you're doing things at, it would be used in that scenario.

Keltest
2016-05-10, 11:11 AM
In any case, the dice are used where the results are not obvious.

So if you're searching a desk for a hidden latch? It's not immediately clear whether your character would see that latch or not. So you roll.

Rolling can be used in other cases, too. But no matter what resolution you're doing things at, it would be used in that scenario.

I agree.

"We search the room" = dice roll.

"We start pulling all the books off the shelves" = no dice roll.

The counter to Standard Search Protocol: Dismantle Room is to add time constraints and/or penalties for doing so. Maybe they trigger a trap because the rogue didn't check for them first. Maybe some monsters come in while they take nine hours to search. Maybe they get hungry and pass out because they spend two weeks in a dungeon that was supposed to take two days and they didn't bring enough food.

As an example, lets say theres a room with a wooden floor, stone walls, a bed, a bookshelf, two chairs and some torches on the wall. One torch is a lever that opens a trap door in the floor.

"we search the room" has a fairly high DC. Theres a fair amount of ground to cover and theyre trying to be time efficient about it.

"we examine the torches" has a lower check, though still non trivial, because theyre focusing on the right area.

"We hop on the floor to see if the boards sound differently in one area" is even lower, because theyre specifically looking for something that is there, coincidentally or not.

"We tear off the floorboards" has no check. it automatically finds it, but there is a strong possibility someone will find them making an awful racket.

X3r4ph
2016-05-10, 11:19 AM
What's even worse is when a player gives some eloquent speech or says something like "I pull all of the books off of the shelf looking for the fake one that opens the secret door" and then before I can say anything they roll a natural 1.
First of all, if there is no time factor, or damage factor, involved in the challenge, most PC's auto succeed after awhile in my book. He should not have had to roll at all. However, I won't mind playing along if a player is too excited and rolls regardless of what I say. Here is a few ways to handle this:

DM "As you rummage the books for the trigger, you stumble upon some beautiful elven poetry. You stop your search midway through to delve further into the wonderful world of the Starlight Enclave's Wedding Ritual Songs."

DM "Your eagerness at finding the trigger brushes up more dust than necessary, and you get some in your eyes. You have to stop the search midway through."

DM "As you start ripping books from the shelves you fail to notice a needle trap. A dart springs from a small hole at the opposite side of the big volume you just threw down. Roll a Dexterity Saving throw."

DM "You fail to find the trigger, but pull at it accidently. As monsters storm from the secret passage way you are caught flatfooted."

Hecuba
2016-05-10, 11:27 AM
General comment: it sounds like much of this issue could be solved by telling your players that they need to summarize - using in game terms - what they are attempting to achieve via a skill check before they can roll.

Compare:
You meet the queen
I roll diplomacy

to
You meet the queen.
Royals are useful: I want to schmooze her so that she likes me. Diplomacy check?
Yep, go ahead and roll.



"We search the room" = dice roll.
I agree.


"We start pulling all the books off the shelves" = no dice roll.
I agree, but not because there isn't a check: this seems like a good description of what taking 20 on search should look like. There should still be a check, even if there isn't a roll

Quertus
2016-05-10, 11:59 AM
Then what purpose are the skills a PC takes? If Master Thief Timmy and Bob the Barbarian both RP how they search an area, I'm hearing that both will have the same amount of success. That doesn't sound right to me at all. Adjust this to any skill and however (un)skilled a PC is at it.



If it's outside of their protocols, you're correct. And here is where I'd say why in the world hasn't a Search check been made, since that is exactly what it's built for. Also, once the hidden thing inside the shelves is found, it will never, ever be able to be used again, since the "Super Protocols of Searching Awesomeness" will now have this caveat added to it.



Either the group says "We use our Standard Protocols", or the group whips out a piece of paper, and goes one-by-one, mechanically through the protocols, every....single....room. I wouldn't call it engaging if you're just repeating the same 1000 searching nuisances over and over again.

I'm not quite understanding why it matters when the searching is done. Searching is searching, whether they do it on their first pass through, or after they think the dungeon is cleared out, or a month later. As soon as there is a "magical" 100% protocol added to the process, then doesn't that mean the skills of a PC become 100% meaningless?

Personally, if the game has a search skill, I like making rolls on that skill, not describing actions or using a protocol. But that's a style thing, and I'm not trying to say that my way is the only right way to play the game.

But my point was, whether you use skills or protocols, nothing (other than the DM being a ****) keeps the pc's from saving all the search rolls searching until the end, after the dungeon is already cleared. That is, if y'all don't care for the search minigame, whether you use protocols or skill rolls, you can just save the searching for loot until the end. The protocols will never find things outside the protocols (like things hidden inside shelves, which will therefore never be added to the protocol), just as the search skill will never find things with a DC of 21 or more higher than the skill bonus.

And if it takes X hours to clear the place, and Y hours to search the place, it doesn't matter in which order you do it - either you have the time, or you don't. Changing the order in which you do them does not change this fact, it just changes how much of your precious session time is spent on the search minigame. But, if you don't have the time to do both, just leave your undead minions behind to finish the looting for you. Or let the world end. Because looting is far more important than saving the world. :smalltongue:


Maybe they trigger a trap because the rogue didn't check for them first.

You would have the pc's trigger a trap when searching a room... because they didn't search the room? Ummm...

Keltest
2016-05-10, 12:17 PM
You would have the pc's trigger a trap when searching a room... because they didn't search the room? Ummm...

Sure. Having a team of people come in and dismantle the room is quite different from having the rogue with max ranks in all the searching skills sweep it for traps. That's why you have the rogue search BEFORE everyone else moves in, not while theyre in the middle of it.

kyoryu
2016-05-10, 12:28 PM
General comment: it sounds like much of this issue could be solved by telling your players that they need to summarize - using in game terms - what they are attempting to achieve via a skill check before they can roll.

Compare:
You meet the queen
I roll diplomacy

to
You meet the queen.
Royals are useful: I want to schmooze her so that she likes me. Diplomacy check?
Yep, go ahead and roll.




Yup. It's also worth noting that by stating what you're trying to get - your intent - it ensures that the GM and you are on the same page about what a success should mean, which can get rid of a lot of misunderstandings.

Velaryon
2016-05-10, 12:30 PM
The issue as I understood from the OP was players making rolls before the DM calls for them, and indeed often in situations where the DM wasn't going to call for a roll at all. This happens in my group sometimes, even though the players are all veterans with 10+ years of experience and they all (with one notable exception) know the game pretty well. Usually it's for simple things that I don't think call for a roll, but as they're telling me what they're going to do they're already rolling. Most commonly it's a perception check but on at least a few occasions it's been something else making an attack roll against an unattended stationary object that isn't particularly durable, for example).

On the spot I see two ways to handle it. Either the DM ignores the roll and lets the action proceed as intended, or the DM goes with the roll after all and accepts the possibility of overwhelming success (you notice all the minute details/you smash the clay pot into dust) or embarrassing failure (you don't see the low-hanging beam and crack your skull against it/you miss the clay pot and drop your sword).

It seems like a communication problem between the DM and the players that stems from different expectations. The question is, is it a big enough deal to address or should the DM just roll with it when it comes up?

Quertus
2016-05-10, 05:07 PM
Sure. Having a team of people come in and dismantle the room is quite different from having the rogue with max ranks in all the searching skills sweep it for traps. That's why you have the rogue search BEFORE everyone else moves in, not while theyre in the middle of it.

Ah, OK.

1) "the party searches the dungeon" = knowledge(DM) roll to determine best of {rogue searches dungeon, party uses aid another while rogue searches dungeon}

2) "dismantling the dungeon", while it could be done by the PCs, was more intended to be done by their tireless undead.

3) in either case, this (looting the place) was done after the party had already cleared the dungeon, and paid the "HP tax" / spell tax / undead minion tax of setting off all the traps.

NichG
2016-05-10, 10:20 PM
The above is why standalone traps rarely make sense - if a standalone trap injures an invader in a way they can just get back up from and return to full fighting force, it didn't really do anything. So traps either have to be accompanied (so that they represent a combat advantage for the defender), have to permanently alter access (if you set off this trap, this section of the dungeon collapses/the contents of the treasure chest are destroyed/etc), alert the defenders (if you set off this trap, suddenly you're fighting two or three encounters all at once in a single room), or they have to be able to permanently take out or disadvantage the ones who set them off without any additional martial assistance (1ed style one-shot-kill traps, teleport traps, disjunction traps, etc).

Out of those options, some of them make sense but make for bad gameplay experiences (you failed a Search check, so you die with no saving throw...).

But yeah, if you can represent the interaction of the party and the trap just as a 'tax' you probably shouldn't be using a trap there in that way.

Quertus
2016-05-11, 12:23 AM
But yeah, if you can represent the interaction of the party and the trap just as a 'tax' you probably shouldn't be using a trap there in that way.

Are there any published 3.x modules where traps are more than just a tax?

NichG
2016-05-11, 12:33 AM
Are there any published 3.x modules where traps are more than just a tax?

Heck if I know, I haven't used modules since 2ed. That said, I recall this being a major design point of 4ed to remove standalone traps.

Mutazoia
2016-05-11, 01:32 AM
The above is why standalone traps rarely make sense - if a standalone trap injures an invader in a way they can just get back up from and return to full fighting force, it didn't really do anything. So traps either have to be accompanied (so that they represent a combat advantage for the defender), have to permanently alter access (if you set off this trap, this section of the dungeon collapses/the contents of the treasure chest are destroyed/etc), alert the defenders (if you set off this trap, suddenly you're fighting two or three encounters all at once in a single room), or they have to be able to permanently take out or disadvantage the ones who set them off without any additional martial assistance (1ed style one-shot-kill traps, teleport traps, disjunction traps, etc).

Out of those options, some of them make sense but make for bad gameplay experiences (you failed a Search check, so you die with no saving throw...).

But yeah, if you can represent the interaction of the party and the trap just as a 'tax' you probably shouldn't be using a trap there in that way.


Well, if you think of game world terms, a trap will definitely kill your stardard tomb robber. Remember, 99.999999% of the people in the world are actually considered zero level, with 1-3 HP...ever. PC's are a cut above the rank and file, so they will be more likely to survive a trap. Building every trap with the capability to take down a determined team of adventurers is costly and time consuming, even when you use magic.

If you look at it in comic book terms, imagine the cost of building every bank vault in the world to be able to withstand a break in attempt by the Hulk. Or why, even with all their wealth and resources, Hydra was unable to stop the Avengers from tearing apart their bases.

Basically, you can put a bunch of traps all over that will stop your average person, and hopefully whittle down a stronger class of tomb raider (PC's), or you can build one or two really strong traps, hope they don't get sprung early by the rank and file nobodies.

This is why mad wizards fill their towers, not only with traps, but monsters. The idea is that the traps wound, or at least delay, the adventurers, force them to use resources (healing potions/spells per day) and the monsters finish them off.

There are other traps that don't do damage, but do set off alarms, as you suggest. There are also traps designed to separate the party or, at the very least, force them to take a different rout, such as a trap on a false door that causes a section of the floor several feet back down the corridor to fall away, so anyone standing out of the way while the thief attempts to open the door falls into another part of the dungeon, or a part of the hallway rotates, closing off one path and forces the PC's down another....

Lorsa
2016-05-11, 02:01 AM
I am sure it has been brought up earlier in the thread, but isn't the simple solution to have a rule that says:

"All requests for dice rolling as action resolution are made exclusively by the DM"?

That is, the only time they are allowed to roll, is if the DM asks them to. This is the way it usually happens in my groups. The players will state actions, and if the outcome is ambiguous, the GM will ask for rolls. Many times, the outcome is indeed NOT ambiguous, so no roll is needed.

Quertus
2016-05-11, 08:30 AM
I am sure it has been brought up earlier in the thread, but isn't the simple solution to have a rule that says:

"All requests for dice rolling as action resolution are made exclusively by the DM"?

That is, the only time they are allowed to roll, is if the DM asks them to. This is the way it usually happens in my groups. The players will state actions, and if the outcome is ambiguous, the GM will ask for rolls. Many times, the outcome is indeed NOT ambiguous, so no roll is needed.


The issue as I understood from the OP was players making rolls before the DM calls for them, and indeed often in situations where the DM wasn't going to call for a roll at all. This happens in my group sometimes, even though the players are all veterans with 10+ years of experience and they all (with one notable exception) know the game pretty well. Usually it's for simple things that I don't think call for a roll, but as they're telling me what they're going to do they're already rolling. Most commonly it's a perception check but on at least a few occasions it's been something else making an attack roll against an unattended stationary object that isn't particularly durable, for example).

On the spot I see two ways to handle it. Either the DM ignores the roll and lets the action proceed as intended, or the DM goes with the roll after all and accepts the possibility of overwhelming success (you notice all the minute details/you smash the clay pot into dust) or embarrassing failure (you don't see the low-hanging beam and crack your skull against it/you miss the clay pot and drop your sword).

It seems like a communication problem between the DM and the players that stems from different expectations. The question is, is it a big enough deal to address or should the DM just roll with it when it comes up?

The more I think about this, the more I feel like, if I don't know the DM's style, I would probably find simultaneously describing my action and giving a roll result to be the right answer.

Session time is precious. If I don't know whether a DM is looking for a die roll or an action description, what do I do? Should I guess, and give him just one? No, must people seem to deride "I roll diplomacy" without a description. And I, personally, want my stats to matter, so I'm not just going to rely on a description - especially when adding in the check result takes almost no time (thus the OP being unable to respond before the die was rolled).

It works the same way in programming. If you're given a clear request with specific parameters, you pass back exactly what was requested. If the desired result is not specified, you pass back a larger object, with all your findings, and let the calling program sort out what it needs.

So... can we train players to give both, and DMs to parse out what they need? Or train DMs to communicate what they need, and players to respond accordingly? Or is that asking to much?

Lorsa
2016-05-11, 09:17 AM
So... can we train players to give both, and DMs to parse out what they need? Or train DMs to communicate what they need, and players to respond accordingly? Or is that asking to much?

Yes of course. Clear communication at the beginning of play is extremely important in roleplaying.

Trebloc
2016-05-11, 10:12 AM
But my point was, whether you use skills or protocols, nothing (other than the DM being a ****) keeps the pc's from saving all the search rolls searching until the end, after the dungeon is already cleared. That is, if y'all don't care for the search minigame, whether you use protocols or skill rolls, you can just save the searching for loot until the end. The protocols will never find things outside the protocols (like things hidden inside shelves, which will therefore never be added to the protocol), just as the search skill will never find things with a DC of 21 or more higher than the skill bonus.

And if it takes X hours to clear the place, and Y hours to search the place, it doesn't matter in which order you do it - either you have the time, or you don't. Changing the order in which you do them does not change this fact, it just changes how much of your precious session time is spent on the search minigame. But, if you don't have the time to do both, just leave your undead minions behind to finish the looting for you. Or let the world end. Because looting is far more important than saving the world. :smalltongue:

Sure, some things can be made impossible to find. Either the DC is too high or the DM hides something outside of the search protocol.

However, I disagree with you saying that there's nothing stopping the group from waiting until the end to search. There could be literally 1000s of reasons to wait until after. Do you like springing traps and alarms? Maybe you just want to sneak in, find the hidden McGuffin, and sneak out? Ever find a secret door useful? Ever need to find the gold key to open the gold door that you cannot open otherwise? What about the bad guy's hidden diary that has their world domination plans written in it? Or as you say, the End of the World is just around the corner, so you might want to do a quick search now instead of a tedious search later.

And why are undead minions going to magically find everything? I guess I'm missing some trick that my group has never done.

However, none of this relates to the original question at all regarding needing to make die rolls for your skill checks and how specific you want/need to be.

Eisirt
2016-05-11, 11:20 AM
Sometimes as a player I roll dice for myself to make a decision for my character. Especially when I have come up with two option that are both in character and both fun to play with.

Besides that I never roll for results unless the GM asks for it. Also, when being the GM myself I ignore any roll-result I did not ask for.

And when I ask for a result, you better roll on the table where all the players can see it, and not somewhere on a sidetable and then declare your miraculous critical success.

NichG
2016-05-11, 11:23 AM
Well, if you think of game world terms, a trap will definitely kill your stardard tomb robber. Remember, 99.999999% of the people in the world are actually considered zero level, with 1-3 HP...ever. PC's are a cut above the rank and file, so they will be more likely to survive a trap. Building every trap with the capability to take down a determined team of adventurers is costly and time consuming, even when you use magic.

If you look at it in comic book terms, imagine the cost of building every bank vault in the world to be able to withstand a break in attempt by the Hulk. Or why, even with all their wealth and resources, Hydra was unable to stop the Avengers from tearing apart their bases.

But lets look at the other side of this - given the resources that the Hulk possesses as a comic book character of his power level, breaking into banks isn't worth his time. Banks don't need to be protected from the Hulk because (now switching to game terms), a bank robbery against a random town bank is a Lv1 to Lv3 adventure and the Hulk is Lv12. But now lets say its the dungeon crafted by the ancients to secure the map which leads to the Infinity Gauntlet. If they have a trap that can't really do anything to the Hulk, then that trap is not really worth putting there at all.

So in general, I'm assuming that PCs aren't dealing with things way below their pay grade, I'm assuming that they're dealing with things that are supposed to provide enough push-back to be worth running. If there's a group of Lv12 PCs raiding the Lv1 kobold dungeon, then probably you should do the entire thing narratively because basically there's no actual possibility of failure.

Knaight
2016-05-11, 12:01 PM
But lets look at the other side of this - given the resources that the Hulk possesses as a comic book character of his power level, breaking into banks isn't worth his time. Banks don't need to be protected from the Hulk because (now switching to game terms), a bank robbery against a random town bank is a Lv1 to Lv3 adventure and the Hulk is Lv12. But now lets say its the dungeon crafted by the ancients to secure the map which leads to the Infinity Gauntlet. If they have a trap that can't really do anything to the Hulk, then that trap is not really worth putting there at all.
The traps do do something to the PCs though - they force them to burn resources, or soften them up for active opposition later. They just don't do as much as the trap builders were probably hoping for.


So in general, I'm assuming that PCs aren't dealing with things way below their pay grade, I'm assuming that they're dealing with things that are supposed to provide enough push-back to be worth running. If there's a group of Lv12 PCs raiding the Lv1 kobold dungeon, then probably you should do the entire thing narratively because basically there's no actual possibility of failure.
Sure, but we aren't talking about things way below their pay grade, just things which hurt the PCs instead of killing them outright. There is absolutely a point where just describing the traps and how they are dealt with is part of the narration*, but there's also room for resource draining ones in between.

*This can be a lot of fun too. The party monk steps on a dart trap, casually catches the dart, and moves on. The super strong barbarian triggers a rolling boulder, then nonchalantly lifts it and throws it over the group before it hits, a wall-spear trap attacks the fighter and they cut off several spear heads in an instant and walk right through, etc.

Max_Killjoy
2016-05-11, 12:06 PM
When it comes to traps, I strongly favor to limiting them to exactly the places where they make sense beyond a meta "put here to challenge PCs as game units" level.

Knaight
2016-05-11, 12:10 PM
When it comes to traps, I strongly favor to limiting them to exactly the places where they make sense beyond a meta "put here to challenge PCs as game units" level.

Absolutely.

NichG
2016-05-11, 01:33 PM
The traps do do something to the PCs though - they force them to burn resources, or soften them up for active opposition later. They just don't do as much as the trap builders were probably hoping for.

Even if this feels like it fits the fiction, it goes against the realities imposed by the game system. That is to say, hitpoint damage is not actually a source of immediate attrition in D&D 3.5. It pretends to be, but there are so many means by which hitpoint damage can be bought off with gold, healed rapidly for free or almost-free, etc, that beyond the first few levels it's not actually softening up someone to do any amount of hitpoint damage short of killing them, if you don't immediately follow or accompany it with active threats. Anything that just drains gold doesn't actually help protect the location - sure, it exhausts the party's resources at a longer-term strategic level, but it won't actually increase the site defenders' chances of winning right then and there.

And certainly in a deserted tomb with no defenders at all, hitpoint damage is totally irrelevant if it doesn't kill.



Sure, but we aren't talking about things way below their pay grade, just things which hurt the PCs instead of killing them outright. There is absolutely a point where just describing the traps and how they are dealt with is part of the narration*, but there's also room for resource draining ones in between.

I'd argue that for a trap to be 'at someone's paygrade', it can't just wound someone and let them go and heal themselves, because there is no change in the eventual outcome regardless of what that person does to interact with the trap. If they carefully search for it and disarm it, they get through to the next room at full HP. If they walk through and spring it, they get wounded, burn 500gp of CLW wand charges, and get through to the next room at full HP. In that sense, it didn't actually do anything relevant to the situation at hand - it wasn't a credible threat.

If something does not force or induce the PCs to change their actions on the basis of its presence, its not actually at their paygrade - its something they are free to ignore, to 'autopilot' their way through as other posters have been describing.

Keltest
2016-05-11, 02:36 PM
Even if this feels like it fits the fiction, it goes against the realities imposed by the game system. That is to say, hitpoint damage is not actually a source of immediate attrition in D&D 3.5. It pretends to be, but there are so many means by which hitpoint damage can be bought off with gold, healed rapidly for free or almost-free, etc, that beyond the first few levels it's not actually softening up someone to do any amount of hitpoint damage short of killing them, if you don't immediately follow or accompany it with active threats. Anything that just drains gold doesn't actually help protect the location - sure, it exhausts the party's resources at a longer-term strategic level, but it won't actually increase the site defenders' chances of winning right then and there.

And certainly in a deserted tomb with no defenders at all, hitpoint damage is totally irrelevant if it doesn't kill.

Sure it does. If theyre forced to quaff a healing potion, or an antidote or whatever, or cast a spell, that's one less resource they have to actually fight any defenders. And if theyre in a totally empty dungeon with no monsters, theyre not adventurers, theyre archaeologists or tomb raiders.




I'd argue that for a trap to be 'at someone's paygrade', it can't just wound someone and let them go and heal themselves, because there is no change in the eventual outcome regardless of what that person does to interact with the trap. If they carefully search for it and disarm it, they get through to the next room at full HP. If they walk through and spring it, they get wounded, burn 500gp of CLW wand charges, and get through to the next room at full HP. In that sense, it didn't actually do anything relevant to the situation at hand - it wasn't a credible threat.

If something does not force or induce the PCs to change their actions on the basis of its presence, its not actually at their paygrade - its something they are free to ignore, to 'autopilot' their way through as other posters have been describing.

Sure it did. It burned 500 gp of CLW wand charges, which is fewer charges to get them through the dungeon. On an individual level that isn't a whole lot, but over time it could easily be the difference between them going into the final fight at full health or half health because they ran out of healing from the traps.

NichG
2016-05-11, 08:09 PM
No one is going to actually run out of healing from traps. Healing is not a strongly limited resource in 3.5. Not only is finite healing super-cheap, there are plenty of sources of infinite healing in the system - reserve feats, crusader maneuvers, dragon shaman auras, any source of Fast Healing, etc.

goto124
2016-05-11, 08:14 PM
I suspect this is a fault of the DnD system.

Anyway, I suppose actions go Announce what you are trying to achieve and how you're doing it -> Roll dice -> DM describes results based on dice rolls?

Amphetryon
2016-05-11, 10:35 PM
But yeah, if you can represent the interaction of the party and the trap just as a 'tax' you probably shouldn't be using a trap there in that way.

I think that at a certain level, you can represent the interaction of the party and any feature of the game world where interaction requires the game's mechanics as a 'tax.' Eliminating all such taxes would basically eliminate most TTRPGs I am familiar with.

NichG
2016-05-11, 11:15 PM
I think that at a certain level, you can represent the interaction of the party and any feature of the game world where interaction requires the game's mechanics as a 'tax.' Eliminating all such taxes would basically eliminate most TTRPGs I am familiar with.

I'd say you can have many situations in TTRPGs where a fixed action policy will result in failure, but actively choosing actions based on the details will result in success. 3.5 is pretty build-dominated, but not entirely so.

Eisirt
2016-05-13, 10:05 AM
I'd argue that for a trap to be 'at someone's paygrade'.

People still do or try to do it if it makes some kind of profit.

I remember people buying a ladder in D&D; taking it apart and selling them as 2 10ft poles and a stack of firewood.

The only was of course that the GM allowed it.

Ruslan
2016-05-13, 10:40 AM
It works the same way in programming. If you're given a clear request with specific parameters, you pass back exactly what was requested. If the desired result is not specified, you pass back a larger object, with all your findings, and let the calling program sort out what it needs.

So... can we train players to give both, and DMs to parse out what they need? Or train DMs to communicate what they need, and players to respond accordingly? Or is that asking to much?
I think you're making it more complicated than it needs to be.

"Tell me what your character is doing, then I'll tell you which check, if any, to make" is a very simple sentence in the English language. It's very easy to utter, and very easy to understand.

Raimun
2016-05-13, 11:03 AM
Of course the player should announce before a roll what they are attempting and how, where and when.

... But don't ever suggest that one should stop rolling dice. That way lies madness, ie. a life with no roleplaying games or freeform roleplaying.

icefractal
2016-05-13, 02:19 PM
I'm in favor of presenting both the in-world action and the mechanics used at once. For example:
"I rush forward and shove the table, using it to push the high priest into the sacrifice pit. Bull rush check of 21."
For one thing, it often makes it immediately apparent if there's a communication gap between how the GM and player are imagining the scene. And it means the players are more free to vary their descriptions without becoming ineffective as a result.

To elaborate on the second one - last year, I was playing a Con game where the GM took the "describe your action and I'll determine the mechanics" approach. I had a very nimble character and was having pretty good success by dodging and rolling around, getting the foes all tangled up so they were off-guard for attacks. Then I described something in a somewhat more "forceful" sounding way, and the GM ruled it as a different stat which I was terrible at. Which then resulted in my failing and almost dying. After that, I felt constrained to always describe my actions in a very stereotypical/repetitive way so that they would be unambiguous. That doesn't seem like a win for anyone.

NichG
2016-05-13, 09:00 PM
I tend to prefer using a negotiation layer to resolve that problem. That is, maybe you want to nimbly move your target into position. You might say first 'I quickly get behind his leg and push, so he goes to the left'. The GM says 'that would probably be a strength check since you're pushing him.' You then say 'oh, I was trying to do this with dexterity rather than strength. Is there a way to do that/there's a mechanic I have that lets me do that.' Then the GM might say 'no, you can't do that/you can only do that if you wait for him to move/sure, you can do that/oh, you have a mechanic for it so go ahead' and at that point you can go forward or change your action.

Most cases won't require a negotiation, but in cases where there is some mismatch it can resolve it. And of course if you do have a mechanic for something, this is largely unnecessary - it's more for when you're stunting at the edges of the rules (your example of using a table in a bullrush made it a bit unclear to me whether it was a standard bullrush or if the table was e.g. in the way or giving you extra reach or some other nonstandard thing)

kyoryu
2016-05-14, 04:49 PM
NichG is wise.

Amphetryon
2016-05-14, 06:10 PM
I tend to prefer using a negotiation layer to resolve that problem. That is, maybe you want to nimbly move your target into position. You might say first 'I quickly get behind his leg and push, so he goes to the left'. The GM says 'that would probably be a strength check since you're pushing him.' You then say 'oh, I was trying to do this with dexterity rather than strength. Is there a way to do that/there's a mechanic I have that lets me do that.' Then the GM might say 'no, you can't do that/you can only do that if you wait for him to move/sure, you can do that/oh, you have a mechanic for it so go ahead' and at that point you can go forward or change your action.

Most cases won't require a negotiation, but in cases where there is some mismatch it can resolve it. And of course if you do have a mechanic for something, this is largely unnecessary - it's more for when you're stunting at the edges of the rules (your example of using a table in a bullrush made it a bit unclear to me whether it was a standard bullrush or if the table was e.g. in the way or giving you extra reach or some other nonstandard thing)

So the Player's ability to interact with the game world is dependent upon that Player's RL Charisma score?

Roughishguy86
2016-05-14, 06:22 PM
Beats the hell out of the characters ability to interact with the world is limited to exactly what this page in this book says and anything outside of that is just insanity?

Keltest
2016-05-14, 06:24 PM
So the Player's ability to interact with the game world is dependent upon that Player's RL Charisma score?

You don't really need to be particularly persuasive to tell the DM that you were intending to make a dex based attack, not a str based attack. Miscommunications happen sometimes.

NichG
2016-05-14, 10:15 PM
So the Player's ability to interact with the game world is dependent upon that Player's RL Charisma score?

Well, as long as they can take 10 and hit a DC 5 check...

Amphetryon
2016-05-14, 10:58 PM
You don't really need to be particularly persuasive to tell the DM that you were intending to make a dex based attack, not a str based attack. Miscommunications happen sometimes.

Having seen that particular CHA check fail more than a few times, at more than a few tables, I'll just chalk that up to 'opinions vary.'

NichG
2016-05-14, 11:21 PM
At the risk of being too meta, the default is that a player's interaction with the world is limited by their Wis check to know what they should do, followed by their Int check to know what rules they should use to do it. Adding negotiation means that the player can make a low DC Cha check to add the DM's Wis and Int mods to those checks (or a high DC Cha check to cheat). It's a backup to reduce a failure mode.

You never get away from the influence of real world abilities, period. But the goal is to function well as a gaming group and have fun, not to 100% erase all possibility of outside advantage. So giving people different ways to try to function is more important than preventing the silver-tongued guy from getting away with stuff once in awhile.

goto124
2016-05-14, 11:41 PM
At the risk of baeing too meta, the default is that a player's interaction with the world is limited by their Wis check to know what they should do, followed by their Int check to know what rules they should use to do it. Adding negotiation means that the player can make a low DC Cha check to add the DM's Wis and Int mods to those checks (or a high DC Cha check to cheat). It's a backup to reduce a failure mode.

You never get away from the influence of real world abilities, period. But the goal is to function well as a gaming group and have fun, not to 100% erase all possibility of outside advantage. So giving people different ways to try to function is more important than preventing the silver-tongued guy from getting away with stuff once in awhile.

Agreed! If you want to 100% erase all possibilities of GM bias, play a video game. Computers are completely fair arbiters without human errors.

The point of a TTRPG is to have the flexibility to work slightly outside what the rules cover. Going 'all or nothing' when it comes to rules interpretation will not help in a tabletop.

Knaight
2016-05-14, 11:43 PM
Agreed! If you want to 100% erase all possibilities of GM bias, play a video game. Computers are completely fair arbiters without human errors.

That's not even GM bias, that's people bringing their skills into the game. That still happens with video games, it's just a different set.

Amphetryon
2016-05-14, 11:44 PM
So giving people different ways to try to function is more important than preventing the silver-tongued guy from getting away with stuff once in awhile.

That's rather the opposite of the problem I was noting; gamers are stereotyped as not the most silver-tongued folks around, after all. For example, I've seen real-life shouting matches because Gamer A understood the actions of Terry the Thief differently than Gamer B and neither could articulate precisely what they envisioned in a way the other grokked.

NichG
2016-05-15, 12:07 AM
That's rather the opposite of the problem I was noting; gamers are stereotyped as not the most silver-tongued folks around, after all. For example, I've seen real-life shouting matches because Gamer A understood the actions of Terry the Thief differently than Gamer B and neither could articulate precisely what they envisioned in a way the other grokked.

Well yeah, that does happen. But if Gamer B is the DM, isn't actually exposing that confusion better than the alternative of Gamer B going along assuming that Gamer A meant one thing when they actually meant something very different?

The argument you'd get once there's actually consequences on the line is going to be a lot worse than the argument you'd get before committing to what happens in the game. If the action hasn't happened yet, then at worst the DM can always say something like 'you know, we seem to not really be seeing eye to eye here on what you're trying to do, so lets just fall back to the mechanics on this one'. But if the player has already committed to a plan with the assumption that the DM did understand and agree with the idea, the DM can't as easily justify 'okay, lets go back to the mechanics' because that's probably going to punish the player pretty severely.

Eisirt
2016-05-15, 04:59 AM
I remember this instance where a player was out of idea's so he just rolled a die, added his int-bonus, proudly informed the GM of his result and asked what idea his character had just come up with....

JoeJ
2016-05-15, 01:44 PM
So the Player's ability to interact with the game world is dependent upon that Player's RL Charisma score?

Yes. That's how it works in every non-computer RPG, always. Gaming is a social activity, and the most important player skill, bar none, is the ability to interact positively with the other players.

Jay R
2016-05-15, 02:54 PM
So the Player's ability to interact with the game world is dependent upon that Player's RL Charisma score?

Far more often it's the player's real life INT score. A clever use of the rules mechanics, or a clever use of something not covered by the mechanics, is likely to be far more effective than an average use of either one.

It is simply impossible to both let the player decide what the character does without letting the results depend on how good the the player's decisions are.

But yes: the ability to get along with people well helps in any social activity, including games. If you wish to apply the unrealistic D&D model to the real world and pretend that the sum total of social activities can be modeled with a single metric called CHA, then you can unrealistically portray it as "that Player's RL Charisma score".

kyoryu
2016-05-15, 09:11 PM
Also, a good GM mitigates that to a great extent, helping less socially capable players communicate what they're trying to do better. So long as *one* side of the interaction is fairly socially adept, it works out okay.

And a GM with poor social skills is likely to be a bad time, no matter what.

2D8HP
2016-05-16, 09:22 AM
Far more often it's the player's real life INT score. A clever use of the rules mechanics, or a clever use of something not covered by the mechanics, is likely to be far more effective than an average use of either one.
That's why with point buy I "dump" INT. I simply don't know how to play a character smarter than I am, but stupid I know how to do very well!:smalltongue: