What is considered mundane?

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Hocus Smokus asked in a different thread an interesting question. 
Where do you draw the line on a mundane challange/obstacle?
When is a challange no longer mundane?

For the purposes of this discussion, mundane: so trivial that a hero should not roll to determine success.

This does not mean that all automatic success is equal, but that abject failure is not really possible.

An example of mundane is tying your shoe.  No thievery check required.  However a really good theif migh make a knot that could last for years.

IMO, i feel this is something that changes with every group, and it is somethign that rules should not explicitly state.  since I feel that climbing a ladder is mundane at all times, I think DC's for climbing a ladder are not only a waste of ink, but imply that I am wrong.  However others may feel that the ladder needs a base DC no matter how mundane, because extra circumstances (greased rungs, fualty rungs that break, barbs and electrical witing) may make it not mundane.  in that I agree, but I still feel that rules for climbing a ladder are excessive.

Also, I feel that anything that breaks your image of your character in failure is mundane.  leaping from crumbling platform to crumbling platform or doign a 15ft standing jump is heroic and failable.  Climbing out of a 1st story window or failing to jump 3 feat at a standstill is not, and should be mundane.

What are your thoughts?  is there something in a game that you felt should have been mundane that brought you dissatisfaction with a character/situation?

Are there things as a GM that you make mundane? 

What do we do as a community in our own games?
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I imagine that Majestic Moose plays a more "A team" type game than most of us. By that I mean he allows his players to make tanks out of a backyard playground set since the players have more "fun" that way.
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When I and my friends sit down we want a game of heroic fantasy. Rare is the moment when I have cried out in a video game or RPG "that's unrealistic." (Unless there is no jump button. Seriously makes me mad, single handedly ruined the N64 zelda series for me, but that's a digression of a digression.) I mean, we play games with the force in galaxies far, far away, with supernatural horrors, dragons and demi-gods, alternate cosmologies, etc. Reality and it's effects hold little sway to what makes a Heroic fantasy game fun IMO. Just repeat after me: You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are not how much you've spent on WotC products. You are not whatever RPG you play. You are one of tens of thousands of people that spend money on a hobby. You will not always get what you want
Not D&D, but driving checks.  Yes, driving is a skill.  But asking me to roll every few minutes so I don't crash disastrously during a casual drive is going too far.

For D&D, I'd change that to horse riding.  But nobody's made me run checks for that yet. 
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I'll paraphrase my prior answer...

I think that's a very difficult question which is bound to vary from player to player.  For me, the question I ask is will failure reasonably and negatively impact on a player's image of his character as a hero?

Not all failure diminishes a hero.  A hero who tries truly heroic things and fails is still heroic.  But there are things that, when failed, seem comical and not heroic.  I'd expect it in an Adam Sandler movie, not a Jason Staham movie. 

Now, Mand12 also asked about a Str-8 wizard.  Doesn't a character with an ability penalty render the failure to accomplish borderline heroic tasks heroic?  It's like someone with a handicap trying to overcome their disability.  That's a heroic struggle.  Again, I think reasonable people can differ, but I still say it doesn't.  In my opinion, the Ability penalty represents a lower chance of being able to accomplish heroic tasks, not a chance to fail to accomplish unheroic tasks.

The other problem with penalizing the Str-8 wizard is two-fold.  First, it's not possible to set a DC where only the wizard has a chance to fail.  Since the diffrence in modifiers between the Str-8 wizard and Str-18 barbarian (assuming for the moment that training and armor checks and the like are equal) is a mere ±5.  So if you want to give the wizard a mere 30% chance to fail, the barbarian still has a 5% chance to fail at something he shouldn't even have to worry about failing.  And those are the extremes.  Should the Str-14 rogue have a chance to fail?  Or the Str-10 druid?  Trying to draw a bright line when you're success is based on the a spectrum of the d20 is not going to work.

The solution is one of two things: First, set the DC at 0, so the Str-8 wizard has a 5% chance to fail and everyone else succeeds automatically, which seems hardly worth the space it would take to write the rule, much less taking time at the table to consult the rule and having the wizard roll.

Second, using Cook's Skill Tiers, put anybody with an Ability penalty into a specific tier of "Clumsy" and make them and only them roll for mundane things.  But this is a recipe for disaster.  It adds yet another layer of complexity to skills for very little benefit.  It opens up PCs with Ability scores of 8 or 9 to a lot of DM torture.  It makes the difference between Str-9 and Str-10 far greater than the difference between Str-11 and Str-12.  It places the -1 Ability check into its own category that is not commensurate with its cost.  You will only see negative Ability checks in campaigns with DMs who ignore the special category, in campaigns that require everyone to have a negative ability mod somewhere, and in campaigns that rewards comedy.  Everyone else will point buy themselves out of that hole.
When I DM, I only have the players make checks on mundane things like rideing a horse or climbing a ladder only when there are midiagting circumstances.  Recently we had a PC whose background indicated that he had never seen let alone rode a horse before.  So to add a bit of fun, I had him roll checks to see if he could even mount the horse, then ride it, then a check everytime the horse changed speeds.  It was fun and allowed for a lot of Roleplay chances, because the player failed the first 2 rolls to even mount it.

So I think that under the right conditions, it is fine to have checks for everyday things.  It can add a bit of fun to the game.
It is a murky line that probably every group draws differently.  As such, I feel the game should not try to make that distinction.  If I feel that climbing a ladder is mundane, the rules telling me that it is DC 10 is bothersome.  Therefore, I think most actions should be considered mundane by default by the rules, but with the caveat that the DM may call for an appropriate role if he feels the given action has crossed the line from being mundane.

To help the DM out though, it is good to have guidance on what easy/medium/hard DCs are for a given level to give them a rough idea of the challenge of overcoming a DC they come up with on the fly.

As for the question in the title, I consider anything that doesn't have exciting negative consequences to be mundane.  Falling off a ladder when nothing else is going on is perhaps a negative consequence but not an exciting one.
As others have said, I think the line varies. Of course, with that out of the way, generally I just figure "anything a normal person could do with success repeatedly with no failure or prior specialized training" is automatically mundane enough to not require a roll. Opening an unlocked and well-greased door, for example. Or writing a letter/sending an email (depending on your generation or if you're playing D&D or not Tongue Out).

Then there's stuff that may or may not require a check depending on your bonuses. If you have +8 to athletics and I'm asking you to jump a 4 foot gap, you can pretty much just take a very long stride and make that jump with no problems - the DC would reasonably be much less than 9, which means that you have no incentive to roll. On the other hand, if you're the 8-str wizard and your athletics modifier is negative one? Then you might need to roll to clear the gap successfully.

In other words: I think that one can probably utilize the D20 to determine what is mundane or not. Do the heroes risk even a 5% chance of failure? If not, don't roll a D20! This is actually something that I think a dice pool handles much better than a D20 (general task resolution), because it has a bell curve of results. 3d6 only has a .5% chance of rolling its lowest value (3) whereas a D20 has a 5% chance of rolling its lowest value. With a dice pool you can have people roll dice for a much wider range of tasks (with a chance of failure starting at .5%), whereas with a D20 I think that more tasks would reasonably not require a roll since they don't meet the minimum failure amount (5%). For instance, if you had a rather large dice pool, you could roll to model your chance of death while driving (approximately .05% per 35,000 miles) by rolling, say, 7d6 and getting a result higher than 39 (give or take); of course, that roll would probably need to be made every two years, as the average driver only drives about half that far each year. With a D20? Death from driving almost any distance really shouldn't be modelled by rolling, since you'd need to drive literally 3,500,000 miles before you even have a chance that the D20 can model. You'd need to drive (as an average person) for 200 years before you would roll a D20 to determine if you died while driving or not!
Given the context of the question isn't it really a matter of considering when some specific type of situation will NEVER warrant some kind of chance of failure? Having the rules simply say "well, climbing slows you down but there's no mechanism specified for a check" seems like going overboard.

The fact of the matter is that deciding these things is simply an acquired skill that is part of learning how to build adventures, and since there's no hard and fast line that can be drawn for everyone it is going to be inevitably an area where DMs need to learn what works for them. The DMG absolutely can and should discuss the whole issue. It is fine to point out that for a given style of play there is a good case for "you just climb out of the pit" in specific circumstances the rules STILL need to go beyond that. I don't really care if the text is organized like "normally you can just do this kind of thing by default, and here's how you might decide to give it a DC based on these factors" or if it is phrased as "this activity requires a DC, and in these situations you may want to declare it to be trivial". In either case there's a need for mechanics for the non-trivial cases, and it is hard to imagine a game built along the traditional lines of D&D where you'd make all such situations trivial and not present any kind of mechanical procedure at all.
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The snarky-seeming answer is "when you still succeed on a 1" but I do think it has merit in that it depends on the character.

It's why I liked the idea behind a previous L&L column talking about 'tiers' of ability in relation to skill checks for climbing and the like.  A ladder isn't a challenge for anyone unless circumstances make it harder - high winds, someone shaking the ladder from below, the roc trying to claw your face off, etc.  Such conditions bump it up from the "not worth the die roll" category into the "well, maybe that's tricky now" category.  It still might not be challenging to the very strong barbarian who grew up free-climbing cliffs, though, and that's represented.

Personally, I believe the d20 is too wide a spectrum to represent most tasks that could potentially be mundane.  Hell, even in attacking, a 5% chance of failing miserably no matter what you're fighting (as a level 30 demigod against a level 1 kobold minion, as an example) is pretty absurd, but we accept it.  We also accept about a 25% failure rate even for the most highly trained, 'all-in' style skill masters.  The numeric spread of the d20 compared to the variance in bonuses I think is too high. 
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Is there some form of conflict here?
Will rolling the dice make things more interesting?

If not, don't roll.
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the thing is, we're not talking about an animal getting caught in a fish trap or tiger pit.

we're talking about heroic characters falling in pit traps.

if you're going to add a death pit that is there to kill the pc, why even put a DC to climb out?

PC falls in pit, dies. 

there are 2 points i need to stress: theme of the game and context for rolling.

for the first, theme, what a lot of people are trying to do is make a game of heroic characters conform to some form of "reality" which makes no damn sense to the tropes, genres and themes of the default game.

it would be like watching Indiana Jones and having him get squashed by the boulder or Die Hard where John jumps out a window, breaks a leg and gets put in bed for a month.

the reason the pit trap doesn't kill the PC is because the PC is a hero. this was true (or at least claimed to be true, in play however...) in 2nd edition when it used characters of myth like Hercules and Merlin as examples. 4th ed specifically calls out that your characters are heroes, or at least folks with innate heroic potential.

i might have missed the memo where Herc or Merlin falls into a 10ft pit, breaks their ankle and dies a slow death, but that scene doesn't invoke the heroic character the game claims you're playing.

traps in 4th ed serve the same purpose as they do in action/adventure litterature, movies and other media: pacing, and in game terms resource management.

even if your character can get out of a 10ft pit without rolling, he still needs to take the time to do so. every minute, every round he spends getting out is time the enemies have to setup in the next room over, bar doors or find ways to hamper PC movement. 

in game terms, it also serves as resource management: a pc that falls into a pit takes damage and dusts himself off. if he took enough damage he uses up a surge to stay fresh in the next encounter. this means his HP, his plot armor, has been reduced. if he falls in enough pits or takes too many close blows, he can die. 

i also agree with Keithric: a pit trap would, and should, have rules for interacting with it; indicating both the time needed to climb out normally (ie: looking at the situation like a rational person and taking the needed time) and what to roll to "hurry up" would be fine in such a situation. a simple line like "to escape the pit requires 5 rounds (or whatever) if you take your time or you can try to do it as a move action with an athletics check of 12. failure means you fall down the pit again and take [effect]. "

for something like this, i don't mind a possible roll since the actual conditions as to why there is a roll required are stated as part of the hazard/trap, while still giving a player an "out" for when there is no external pressure

so simply "climbing up [object]" with nothing really stopping you? since we're talking about heroes, no roll required 

the other issue is necessity. in context. why are you asking the player to roll dice? all things concidered, in the greater scope of the session, adventure, campaign and the game what does that one dice roll add to it? it might seem like hyperbole or whatever, but i've never found that "roll for this generally unforgettable event" adds to any given situation, especially when it doesn't add to the main conflict the PCs are facing, i find doing so usually slows down the game, and when you have 3-4 hours a week to spend on your game, wasting time rolling pointless dice is annoying as both a GM and player.

i've never seen the point in forcing a character to roll for anything if there isn't an external pressure on him. 

@Mand
like i said in posts about the skill tier articles: that system adds nothing to the challenge since if the GM wants it to be trivial, he will give it a rank low enough that it's trivial. if he wants it to be a challenge he'll give it a challenging rank. it adds pointless complexity to something that the GM has already decided beforehand.
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the thing is, we're not talking about an animal getting caught in a fish trap or tiger pit.

we're talking about heroic characters falling in pit traps.

if you're going to add a death pit that is there to kill the pc, why even put a DC to climb out?

PC falls in pit, dies. 



The point of rolling is the uncertainty. A pit trap that has a DC to climb out would be "PC falls in pit, maybe dies, with the % chance of death being related to the DC to climb out." It would be there for those who want to purposefully add an element of chance to their game (as far as DCs work right now).

In fact, you have an example of this in your own post, though for some reason it doesn't click -

if he falls in enough pits or takes too many close blows, he can die.



This is exactly the point of rolling for anything. Something can happen, but it might not. Do you want your PC to maybe be able to do something? Make it a roll. There is the "you can either do it or you can't" dichotomy, but rolling a die is like Schrodinger's Cat: you don't know whether you have succeeded or failed until you know the number it gives you. 

the other issue is necessity. in context. why are you asking the player to roll dice? all things concidered, in the greater scope of the session, adventure, campaign and the game what does that one dice roll add to it? it might seem like hyperbole or whatever, but i've never found that "roll for this generally unforgettable event" adds to any given situation, especially when it doesn't add to the main conflict the PCs are facing, i find doing so usually slows down the game, and when you have 3-4 hours a week to spend on your game, wasting time rolling pointless dice is annoying as both a GM and player.



Yeah but along these same lines, can you remember the fifth-to-last time you rolled an at-will power attack? Probably not. We still roll those dice, and we always have, but by your definition they're probably pointless since it's generally pretty forgettable. Would you like to remove all attack rolls except for dailies, too?

i might have missed the memo where Herc or Merlin falls into a 10ft pit, breaks their ankle and dies a slow death, but that scene doesn't invoke the heroic character the game claims you're playing.


This makes the assumption that the heroes don't die from bad things happening, even minor bad things.  The fact that Merlin never died from it does not prevent your PC from dying to it, any more than it prevents your PC from dying to a lucky crit from one of the standard monsters.  You never saw Gandalf die to an orc, because the story demanded that he remain alive.

I don't know about your games, but in my games there is a chance of PC death.  I feel that not having that legitimate chance cheapens their heroic nature, because it's not heroic to triumph over things that were never a legitimate threat in the first place.

D&D is different from a novel or a movie.  Characters in novels and movies die in specific places as per the determination of the author.  In D&D, while the DM can have a general story progression, things can and do go awry and PCs can die.  Part of the point behind D&D is that it's a collective, progressing, current-event storytelling experience.  The unexpected can and does happen.
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@reaper
1) that doesn't take into consideration the themes and genres invoked by the game though. adding uncertainty to everything is a pointless endeavor that doesn't follow the fact that the game expects the PCs to be heroes. if anything, people who have a 5% or greater chance of failing everything, usually with some sort of negative cirumstance for failing, i wouldn't give these guys a sword & armor, i'd tie them to the wall to soften the blows of enemy catapults.

2) if the character falls in too many pits he dies.

that also says nothing about his ability to simply climb out of the ones he survives. the element of chance isn't "does the fighter get out of the pit" but "does the fighter fall into the pit". simply adding an element of chance doesn't add instant tension, for the most part it just adds extra frustration as your hero becomes a bumbler.

3) each attack roll is forgettable in itself, yes, but those are done within the context of the challenge, the fight, itself. you never remember each attack but you do remember that fight, along with the ups and down that come with the PCs interacting with the enemies.

the players are also far more likely to remember and talk fondly about falling and surviving the trap rather then how pathetic their hero was when he repeatedly failed to climb out. 

@mand 
you're right i do assume PCs don't die from minor bad things. something minor shouldn't, in itself, cause the PCs to die. 

yes D&D isn't a novel or movie, but it does borrow heavily from those media in form of tropes, themes and genres, even in the earlier editions. 

and yes there is chance of death in my games. there is, however, very little chance of pointless, random and stupid death. when a death does happen, it's the culmination of several bad rolls, bad planning and poor resource management on the part of the PCs. none of that silly "fall in a single trap, break neck, die". that's neither heroic nor is it a threat: it's just random chance, which in itself isn't heroic. 

you don't become a hero because you were randomly able to climb out of a pit.

you're a hero because you climbed out of the pit, dusted yourself off and moved onward undeterred.

most encounters i place are used for pacing and resource management until they hit "the big one", "the big one 2: electric boogaloo", "the big one 3, with a vengence"... in essence, the encounters that are important to the narrative that you yourself stated is created as a "collective, progressing, current-event storytelling experience".

so not every fight is meant to run the PCs ragged nor is every trap a death trap, but they do serve a very real purpose.

i mean, you don't run a D&D game expecting the Call of Cthulu result. when PCs see a monster, they're usually meant to run towards it swords drawn, not go mad, drop to the floor and babble incoherently as their mouths foam and their minds snap.

and you don't run a game of D&D as you would a World of Darkness game featuring mortals, where almost every hit sends your character into a death spiral of inefficency that worsens.

D&D has, since at least 2nd ed, focused on (at the very least attempting to) allowing the players to play heroic characters. random deaths or seemingly inescapeable 10ft pits is not a heroic challenge.

surviving a fall is heroic. defeating the dragon is heroic. climbing out of a pit isn't.
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
Is there some form of conflict here?
Will rolling the dice make things more interesting?

If not, don't roll.

Although crude in its simplification, I feel this best characterizes my approach to it as well.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
It may be the snarky-seeming answer, but 'when you succeed on a 1' is my answer, by definition.


If you have at least a 5% chance of failure, that's not a trivial task.  I have much lower than a 5% chance of failing to tie my shoes or walking at normal speed on a flat surface, therefore these are trivial tasks. 

I have a 5% or higher chance of failing to tie my shoes while I'm being shot at and my shoes are on fire, therefore that is a nontrivial task.


Note, however, that I'm also a huge fan of the 'take 10' method, which allows you to separate doing it slowly and carefully from trying to rush it (and also take 20 where there's no penalties for failure).  Thus, climbing out of the 10-foot pit, when you're taking your time, you're not rushing to save your friends, no one's attacking you, etc, requires no roll because you can take 10.  Doing it in combat, all those other things are true, therefore your chance of failure is higher, and this is represented by making you roll.


The reason I use dice (and therefore play D&D) in the first place, rather than playing a diceless system, is to include an element of randomness to the story.  That means that yes, sometimes characters will fail when they had a reasonable expectation of success; because a reasonable expectation is not a guarantee, and making them roll for it reflects that.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
If you have at least a 5% chance of failure, that's not a trivial task.  I have much lower than a 5% chance of failing to tie my shoes or walking at normal speed on a flat surface, therefore these are trivial tasks. 

I have a 5% or higher chance of failing to tie my shoes while I'm being shot at and my shoes are on fire, therefore that is a nontrivial task.

If we don't need to roll for mundane tasks, and something that has a 5% or greater chance of failure is "not mundane", the question remains:
How do you determine what is deserving of being treated as mundane? How do you decide when an action is more like tying your shoes (mundane) and when is it more like tying your shoes when you're being shot at (not mundane)?

For me, it's mundane if it is not interesting.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Just tossing it out...are any actions mundane of they're taking place during a combat encounter?
Jumping out of a 5' pit is mundane. Jumping out of a 5' pit while being attacked is not mundane.
Climbing a ladder is mundane. Climbing a ladder while being shot at is not mundane.
Something like this?
It satisfies the "it must be interesting to warrant a roll" crowd, at least.
If we don't need to roll for mundane tasks, and something that has a 5% or greater chance of failure is "not mundane", the question remains:
How do you determine what is deserving of being treated as mundane? How do you decide when an action is more like tying your shoes (mundane) and when is it more like tying your shoes when you're being shot at (not mundane)?

For me, it's mundane if it is not interesting.



I mean, you answered the question in your response Tongue Out

If your character's chance of failure is below 5%, it's mundane.  I usually determine this through skill check modifiers and DCs.  In cases where no skill applies, you take a guess.  Those are pretty rare and any system would require the DM to use his judgment anyway.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
I don't believe that the point of rolling is to simulate uncertainty.  I believe the point of rolling is to create tension by taking certain aspects out of the control of the players (including the DM).  This loss of control is fun... but only if the tension is meaningful.  If I am rolling to determine if I grabbed a pair of black socks from my sock drawer in the dark, it's not tense, even if there's only a 10% chance of me managing it, because if I fail, all I'm going to do is pull out another pair.  And I somehow doubt that ankiyavon would make his players randomly roll in the morning to see which pair of knickers the characters pull out of their packs.  I think this constitutes a mundane action despite it's likelihood being greater than 5%

So one factor in establishing when we roll has to be consequence.  You don't roll for things that are inconsequential.

But establishing that something has consequence is insufficient.  As ankiyavon said, it also has to meet a threshold of likelihood.  Anything less than 5% is simply too remote to both with.  That's why d20 makes a nice polyhedral to use.  So, in addition to consequence, the activity has to be likely.

But even that's not enough.  The game of D&D is to simulate heroic fantasy.  So, in my opinion, the action also has to be heroic.  And when I look at heorism, I don't look at a successful attempt, but at a failed attempt.

Failure can be heroic, if you are attempting something heroic.  Fighting an evil marauder is heroic, even if you die trying.  Leaping from a building to stop a fleeing thief is heroic (if foolhardy), even if you break your neck.  If I can describe the failure of an action in a heroic manner, then it is worth attempting.

The action must be consequential, likely, and heroic.
@reaper
1) that doesn't take into consideration the themes and genres invoked by the game though. adding uncertainty to everything is a pointless endeavor that doesn't follow the fact that the game expects the PCs to be heroes. if anything, people who have a 5% or greater chance of failing everything, usually with some sort of negative cirumstance for failing, i wouldn't give these guys a sword & armor, i'd tie them to the wall to soften the blows of enemy catapults.



It's not a chance to fail everything, it's a chance to fail something. The point you made is if a character falls in a pit, he should never roll to climb out - he should either be able to climb out, or he should not be able to climb out. But how do you determine if they can climb out or not? In the current system you generally roll for it. Being unable to climb out of a pit, however, does not equal instant death. Your point of view is very assuming of seemingly arbitrary black-white dichotomies. You can decide as a DM "I just want them to be able to get out of this pit" or "I just don't want them to be able to get out", but most of the time you want to give them a chance to get out. This is what a climb DC is for. If you remove climb DCs you remove the idea of having a chance of success or failure rather than a guarantee of success or failure. In other words, you turn the game into a much more dictated experience with fewer twists and turns - and random chance is something that unilaterally appeals to the human psyche. You can see this idea elucidated at approximately 14 minutes of this TED talk - www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/kathryn_schul...

"We need these moments of surprise, and reversal, and wrongness to make the story work. [...] We love plot twists, and red herrings, and surprise endings."

Furthermore, I am fairly certain that the "a 1 is automatic failure" mechanic was removed from 4e (thereby not necessarily guaranteeing that any task has a 5% chance of failure), it's just a 1 now. I could be wrong, though.

2) if the character falls in too many pits he dies.

that also says nothing about his ability to simply climb out of the ones he survives. the element of chance isn't "does the fighter get out of the pit" but "does the fighter fall into the pit". simply adding an element of chance doesn't add instant tension, for the most part it just adds extra frustration as your hero becomes a bumbler.



So then why add a pit at all? If falling in is the element of chance, and adding an element of chance doesn't necessarily add tension, why would you put a pit? Presumably you would use a chance to escape the pit once you fell in for the same reason you have a chance to fall in the pit in the first place - because it adds to the drama of the game. If you're a bumbler because you can't climb out of the pit you're just as much a bumbler because you fell in.

3) each attack roll is forgettable in itself, yes, but those are done within the context of the challenge, the fight, itself. you never remember each attack but you do remember that fight, along with the ups and down that come with the PCs interacting with the enemies.

the players are also far more likely to remember and talk fondly about falling and surviving the trap rather then how pathetic their hero was when he repeatedly failed to climb out. 



This statement is logically inconsistent.

If the PCs remember the fight, and therefore the attack rolls being too boring to remember is unimportant to that fact, then why is the climbing out of a pit roll suddenly very important to remembering the time that one of them fell in a pit? You can bumble just as hard trying to hit the Orc as you can bumble climbing out the pit thanks to using the D20 mechanic for both - so why is bumbling at the Orc okay while bumbling at the pit is not? And it's not because of some contrast where the PCs win most fights but whenever they fall down pits and bungle the roll to free-climb up the sides they starve to death - I have never seen a PC die from falling in a pit in all of my years playing 4th edition. So, why is one okay but not the other? This is very hypocritical.
I mean, you answered the question in your response

I answered the question with my answer in my response. I am asking what your answer might be.
If your character's chance of failure is below 5%, it's mundane.  I usually determine this through skill check modifiers and DCs.  In cases where no skill applies, you take a guess.  Those are pretty rare and any system would require the DM to use his judgment anyway.

I know what I would do. I'm asking you what your judgment would be.

How would you:


  • determine a skill check DC if it isn't already listed?

  • decide that the action is mundane, and therefore has no skill modifier?


Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
I mean, you answered the question in your response

I answered the question with my answer in my response. I am asking what your answer might be.
If your character's chance of failure is below 5%, it's mundane.  I usually determine this through skill check modifiers and DCs.  In cases where no skill applies, you take a guess.  Those are pretty rare and any system would require the DM to use his judgment anyway.

I know what I would do. I'm asking you what your judgment would be.

How would you:


  • determine a skill check DC if it isn't already listed?

  • decide that the action is mundane, and therefore has no skill modifier?





I think in deciding if an action is mundane or not, depends on a few things.  How often have you done this in your life?  Is there anything hindering you from doing this?  Is there a large chance for humor if you fail?  Depending on the answers to all of these questions, is when I decide if a check is needed.

When putting a DC on something that I do not already have a number for, can be a bit harder.  I start with a base of 10, and the more difficult I think the task is I start adding to it.  My thought process would go something like this:

Climbing a ladder -- No DC
Climbing a ladder that has grease on it -- DC 10, meaning that if you are careful and take your time you will get it
Climbing a ladder that has grease on it and you are pressed for time -- DC 15  we are uping the stakes, but it can still be done
Climbing a ladder that has grease on, you are pressed for time, and someone is shooting arrows at you --  DC 20 just for climbing with all that going on and make Dc vs 25 everytime you are hit

This is just how I would personaly handle the situation.  Other DMs would do things diffrently.  It realy depends on the group and what works for their style of play.

1) why don't i flip the question for you reaper: why should there be a roll? you seem adamant that there should be one, but you don't really say you point as to why.

from what i can tell, you say you want to add an element of chance, but for what reason? i don't see adding arbitrary points of chance as appealing in any way.

read the post above yours (wrecan's) and you'll see exactly what i'm talking about:
I believe the point of rolling is to create tension by taking certain aspects out of the control of the players (including the DM).  This loss of control is fun... but only if the tension is meaningful.



there is no meaningful tension in "is Fighter Joe going to climb out of the pit now? or next turn? maybe... the one after that!?" when that is the only thing happening at the time. what meaningful tension, exactly, is there to be gained by removing the control from the player in this situation?

wrecan has made it pretty clear when he (and i at least) think rolling is appropriate: when there is meaningful tension to be added by removing control from the player.

as for the 5% thing, by that i meant that if it can be bypassed automatically due to high character skill... why are you making them roll for it? or if it's so low naturally, why waste anyone's time with rolling?

2) to follow your train of thought, i'm guessing you randomly put pits in games only to see if players can roll their way out? what purpose do you have for putting pits in your game?

as i stated in the thread that originated this one: i put traps where they should be in the game for pacing and resource management purposes.

i'm far more interesting in seeing how the players will out maneuver the trap rather then how well they'll roll to escape it. i see little to be gained in putting an obstacle in their (the party's) way that they have to interact with, but can't be overcome. the only time i do put insurmountable obstacles like that in the game is when interacting with them isn't required and the whole point of the scenario is to locate the way around it.

if a PC runs through a trap, activates it and takes damage, it serves it's purpose to manage chararacter resources: either the PC will use up a surge to heal himself or he'll start the next encounter hurt, potentially running into a monster or another trap.

if a PC takes the time to disable it, then it's it serves it's purpose for pacing: it gives the enemies time to regroup and setup their own traps or strategy.

3) before saying my statements are "logically inconsistent" please take time to actually read what i said.

i said players don't remember the individual rolls of a fight but they do remember the situation and the tension of the fight itself. same with the trap, they remember springing it and the tension it caused when the character fell into the trap or bypassed it.

i'm sorry if that doesn't make sense to you, but to me neither does rolling for something that should be a given.

a heroic character should simply be able to climb out of normal a pit. if he's a bumbler, let that characterization be in the player's hands, NOT the dice while stalling the game as the players rolls several times to see if Joe the Fighter manages to climb out the Inconsequential Pit
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
I know what I would do. I'm asking you what your judgment would be.

How would you:


  • determine a skill check DC if it isn't already listed?

  • decide that the action is mundane, and therefore has no skill modifier?





For the first:  I'd either base it off the DC of attempting a similar action (or actions) that is listed, modified for how it differs from the listed ones, or just do a DC by level.  Either are good ways.

For example, if tying your shoes in combat is DC 0, and tying your shoes while you're being shot at is DC 5, and tying your shoes while they're on fire is DC 10, I would say that tying your shoes that are on fire while you're being shot at is probably around DC 15.  Or I might decide that it's a Hard check for your level and give you that DC.  To be honest it depends what game I'm playing.  Since 4E has no real modifiers or listed DCs for almost any action, I'd just go with DC by level; in 3E I'd go with DC by simulation.  (The reason I mention this and even include DC by simulation is because I'm currently in a houserule-rework sideproject of 3.5 where I'm converting everything to use the vit/wound system from Star Wars d20 after I realized it can be used to fix many of the major problems with 3.5, so I have 3rd ed on my mind).

For the second, as I said, any action that a PC can succeed at with a roll of 1 (in combat/special circumstances/stress) or 10 (out of combat/no stress/no special circumstances) is mundane.  Having read Wrecan's post, I basically use the same criteria he does, minus 'heroic'.  If a PC wants to try something that's stupid and not heroic, I have no problem with letting them do it and fail.

Note that my definiton of 'mundane' means that the answer to the first part is completely unrelated to the second part.  My preferred method of calculating DCs is math because I'm good at math, that's what I do.  As long as you can calculate a DC, you can use my method to decide if it's mundane, and the way you arrived at that DC is not relevant.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
Humerously, I actually have my books with me here tonight but I'm not going to consult them for how I would determine something like climbing a ladder as the number is unimportant, its how I generate the number that is and I would have my table for generating it open in front of me when running.

Climbing a stable ladder held by a party member to reach the top of a solid wall: no roll
Climbing a ladder haphazardly placed against a solid wall while your party holds off the town guard: Easy
Climbing a rickety ladder leaning on a solid wall without breaking it so your party can follow: Moderate
Climbing up a bookcase to get the journal holding the secret plans of the evil sorceror while in the midst of a swirling melee: Hard

Note that almost all of the latter examples require me to be prepared for failure so that it doesn't bring the ongoing adventure to a screeching halt.
mundane also shifts with level im my opinion.

personaly i don't require any roll for tasks that would be less then 5+half level, if i know the character is trained in the skill i won't bother with rolls for dificulties lower then 10 + half level.

climbing a perfectly good ladder might have a dc like 5 or even less so need to bother with it.

a rotten/ band quality/slippery  ladder might have a dc of 10 so lower level character would need to make a roll, while characters of lvl 10+ don't have to bother with roling for such a task neither would characters with training in the opropriate skill


Humerously, I actually have my books with me here tonight but I'm not going to consult them for how I would determine something like climbing a ladder as the number is unimportant, its how I generate the number that is and I would have my table for generating it open in front of me when running.

Climbing a stable ladder held by a party member to reach the top of a solid wall: no roll


agreed.
Climbing a ladder haphazardly placed against a solid wall while your party holds off the town guard: Easy


disagreed.  Should still be automatic success.  However, if the guard was firing arrows at you AND hitting or you were trying to exceed your normal climbing speed then yes, checks would be appropriate.
Climbing a rickety ladder leaning on a solid wall without breaking it so your party can follow: Moderate


agreed, but with the caveat that there needs to be a reason/consequence for the ladder being this flimsy.
Climbing up a bookcase to get the journal holding the secret plans of the evil sorceror while in the midst of a swirling melee: Hard


disagree.  Climbing with one free hand should possibly cause added difficulty (but they're plans, not a solid metal object or something truly unbalancing) but the sorceror flinging spells should only matter if the sorceror actually affects you with his spells.  Simply being present doesn't/shouldn't increase the difficulty IMO.

Note that almost all of the latter examples require me to be prepared for failure so that it doesn't bring the ongoing adventure to a screeching halt.


not really, not to me.  The only one that seems to allow you to prepare for failure is the rickety easily broken ladder.  That one has a real consequence.  the others jsut seem to be a delay tactic.  Of course these are examples out of context so it's a tough call.

This isn't to bash your play style.  Just that mundane things IMO should be the base point.  All things being equal, [blank] activity should automatically succeed to [blank] degree.  Then additions can be tacked on.

for climbing:
You may climb at half your speed.  While doing so you grant combat advantage.
If you take damage you must make a climb check.
You may make a climb check to climb at your full speed.  Failure means only being able to climb one space/square/5 ft...
Some surfaces are more difficult to climb.  These count as difficult terrain.
Some surfaces are unstable or slick, and require a climb check to maintain a hold.
Some surfaces can not be climbed.

Or some such thing of this nature. 

It is interesting reading everyone's ideas and little shades of gray though.
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57304548 wrote:
I imagine that Majestic Moose plays a more "A team" type game than most of us. By that I mean he allows his players to make tanks out of a backyard playground set since the players have more "fun" that way.
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When I and my friends sit down we want a game of heroic fantasy. Rare is the moment when I have cried out in a video game or RPG "that's unrealistic." (Unless there is no jump button. Seriously makes me mad, single handedly ruined the N64 zelda series for me, but that's a digression of a digression.) I mean, we play games with the force in galaxies far, far away, with supernatural horrors, dragons and demi-gods, alternate cosmologies, etc. Reality and it's effects hold little sway to what makes a Heroic fantasy game fun IMO. Just repeat after me: You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are not how much you've spent on WotC products. You are not whatever RPG you play. You are one of tens of thousands of people that spend money on a hobby. You will not always get what you want
[Remainder snipped for brevity]
This is just how I would personaly handle the situation.  Other DMs would do things diffrently.  It realy depends on the group and what works for their style of play.

Thank you. I appreciate the detail and the insights.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
It is interesting reading everyone's ideas and little shades of gray though.

THis is the reason I read these threads. Through the process of seeing others' takes, my shades of grey tend to become a little bit more black and white, and my blacks and whites tend to get a little more grey. (I become more confident and defined in areas I was not, and I become more flexible in areas I thought I was solid on.)
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
1) why don't i flip the question for you reaper: why should there be a roll? you seem adamant that there should be one, but you don't really say you point as to why.

from what i can tell, you say you want to add an element of chance, but for what reason? i don't see adding arbitrary points of chance as appealing in any way.

read the post above yours (wrecan's) and you'll see exactly what i'm talking about:
I believe the point of rolling is to create tension by taking certain aspects out of the control of the players (including the DM).  This loss of control is fun... but only if the tension is meaningful.



there is no meaningful tension in "is Fighter Joe going to climb out of the pit now? or next turn? maybe... the one after that!?" when that is the only thing happening at the time. what meaningful tension, exactly, is there to be gained by removing the control from the player in this situation?

wrecan has made it pretty clear when he (and i at least) think rolling is appropriate: when there is meaningful tension to be added by removing control from the player.

as for the 5% thing, by that i meant that if it can be bypassed automatically due to high character skill... why are you making them roll for it? or if it's so low naturally, why waste anyone's time with rolling?

2) to follow your train of thought, i'm guessing you randomly put pits in games only to see if players can roll their way out? what purpose do you have for putting pits in your game?

as i stated in the thread that originated this one: i put traps where they should be in the game for pacing and resource management purposes.

i'm far more interesting in seeing how the players will out maneuver the trap rather then how well they'll roll to escape it. i see little to be gained in putting an obstacle in their (the party's) way that they have to interact with, but can't be overcome. the only time i do put insurmountable obstacles like that in the game is when interacting with them isn't required and the whole point of the scenario is to locate the way around it.

if a PC runs through a trap, activates it and takes damage, it serves it's purpose to manage chararacter resources: either the PC will use up a surge to heal himself or he'll start the next encounter hurt, potentially running into a monster or another trap.

if a PC takes the time to disable it, then it's it serves it's purpose for pacing: it gives the enemies time to regroup and setup their own traps or strategy.

3) before saying my statements are "logically inconsistent" please take time to actually read what i said.

i said players don't remember the individual rolls of a fight but they do remember the situation and the tension of the fight itself. same with the trap, they remember springing it and the tension it caused when the character fell into the trap or bypassed it.

i'm sorry if that doesn't make sense to you, but to me neither does rolling for something that should be a given.

a heroic character should simply be able to climb out of normal a pit. if he's a bumbler, let that characterization be in the player's hands, NOT the dice while stalling the game as the players rolls several times to see if Joe the Fighter manages to climb out the Inconsequential Pit



Here's the problem Oxybe. Suppose you automatically can climb out of the trivial mundane pit? Now, what about the NON-TRIVIAL pit-o-death? The converse answer is you can't climb out of that at all! If you now answer "well, maybe THAT one has a DC" then you've just done nothing but move the line a little bit and SOME pits are trivial, but other ones have all the disadvantages you and Wrecan are complaining about. It doesn't end up being a very viable overall big-picture answer. It works FINE if the players now have some limited resource they use to "just do stuff, no roll" (IE you create a narratively based story-telling kind of system with plot coupons). That's where the no checks thing INEVITABLY has to lead by simply following the logic. No matter what arguments you make you eventually end up at that point. There has to be SOME mechanism in the game to mediate what you can and can't climb out of. It is either a die roll or it is some kind of resource. Take your pick.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
What is mundane? an exmaple of the hero doing what they've trained to do in a relaxed setting. Anything an average peasant can complete with low difficulty and minimal training

As others have said it certainly falls to the party and the DM in how they choose  to run or play the game. I won't offer to tell you why I agree or disagree with the previous statements but I will offer what has worked well for my DM experiance, as well as my friends.

Remember you can Take a 10 if it isn't in combat, stressful situations etc, (for more detail check the DMG).

As a practical application of this is, if a Cleric is delivering a Sermon at a Temple I wont make them roll a check (but I'll permit it if they want the risk of success/failure) and they can just 'take 10'. If the same Cleric is delivering a Sermon mid-battle while fighting off Devils/Demons/Angry Kittens then there would be compelling factors that would change the situation so a roll would be required but would get modifiers for the situation at hand and the topic of the message.

Some players have balked when I've used phrases like "You have an Explorer Pathfinder in the party. I wont make you roll for the nature check to find the road." or "You have an Ordained Priest Pacifist Cleric, you're able to tend his wounds without issue." This is typically because someone wanted to show up the 'specialist' in the field with a better roll or such. Part of it is my desire to reward players for building a class well. Part of it is not wanting to drag down the speed or tempo of the game and get lost in the minutia. Another final part is giving the edge to an RP benefit of a class over raw numbers, or for these examples another character would have a higher Nature or Heal check than the Ranger/Cleric but unless they've explored the RP side of how they got it I'll give the nod to the Classes and Features that support it over the raw math.

1) why don't i flip the question for you reaper: why should there be a roll? you seem adamant that there should be one, but you don't really say you point as to why.



Not in all cases, but you seem to believe that there should be a roll to get out of the pit in no cases. I disagree that there is never a reason to roll to climb out of a pit as an example.

from what i can tell, you say you want to add an element of chance, but for what reason? i don't see adding arbitrary points of chance as appealing in any way.


there is no meaningful tension in "is Fighter Joe going to climb out of the pit now? or next turn? maybe... the one after that!?" when that is the only thing happening at the time. what meaningful tension, exactly, is there to be gained by removing the control from the player in this situation?

wrecan has made it pretty clear when he (and i at least) think rolling is appropriate: when there is meaningful tension to be added by removing control from the player.



So you've removed the arbitrary chance to miss in a combat from your game as well? Because it sounds like you haven't.

as for the 5% thing, by that i meant that if it can be bypassed automatically due to high character skill... why are you making them roll for it? or if it's so low naturally, why waste anyone's time with rolling?



That assumes that people are making players roll for everything, even when they have no chance of failure - this is precisely the opposite of my point.

2) to follow your train of thought, i'm guessing you randomly put pits in games only to see if players can roll their way out?



This is not following my train of thought at all. 

Presumably you would use a chance to escape the pit once you fell in for the same reason you have a chance to fall in the pit in the first place - because it adds to the drama of the game.



This is my train of thought. You have completely not read anything I've written so far, that is very disrespectful of you to put words in my mouth...


 
3) before saying my statements are "logically inconsistent" please take time to actually read what i said.



The irony here is ****ing manifest given how you have completely ignored everything I wrote and then claim I say the opposite.

i said players don't remember the individual rolls of a fight but they do remember the situation and the tension of the fight itself. same with the trap, they remember springing it and the tension it caused when the character fell into the trap or bypassed it.



So I ask you again: why is it ok if the attack roll is inconsequential and forgotten while the escape pit roll is inconsequential and forgotten is taboo? Why is one of these okay and not the other when they are identical?
@abdul

actually, yes, that Pit-O-Death does have a DC as opposed to the Mundane Pit of Mediocrity.

the first is supposed to be a hazard/challenge so escaping it would be in the description of the pit. the second is a speedbump at best and not a hazard/challenge in itself. 

is the pit supposed to be an actual challenge meant to be interacted with?

if yes, then you would have all the rules for interacting with that pit self-contained in it's description including how to escape it. if no, then it's an annoying hole you take a few seconds to simply climb out of.
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2

wrecan has made it pretty clear when he (and i at least) think rolling is appropriate: when there is meaningful tension to be added by removing control from the player.


So you've removed the arbitrary chance to miss in a combat from your game as well?



Combat is the quintessence of "meaningful tension".  How on earth did your question follow from what was quoted?
Humerously, I actually have my books with me here tonight but I'm not going to consult them for how I would determine something like climbing a ladder as the number is unimportant, its how I generate the number that is and I would have my table for generating it open in front of me when running.

Climbing a stable ladder held by a party member to reach the top of a solid wall: no roll


agreed.
Climbing a ladder haphazardly placed against a solid wall while your party holds off the town guard: Easy


disagreed.  Should still be automatic success.  However, if the guard was firing arrows at you AND hitting or you were trying to exceed your normal climbing speed then yes, checks would be appropriate.
Climbing a rickety ladder leaning on a solid wall without breaking it so your party can follow: Moderate


agreed, but with the caveat that there needs to be a reason/consequence for the ladder being this flimsy.
Climbing up a bookcase to get the journal holding the secret plans of the evil sorceror while in the midst of a swirling melee: Hard


disagree.  Climbing with one free hand should possibly cause added difficulty (but they're plans, not a solid metal object or something truly unbalancing) but the sorceror flinging spells should only matter if the sorceror actually affects you with his spells.  Simply being present doesn't/shouldn't increase the difficulty IMO.

Note that almost all of the latter examples require me to be prepared for failure so that it doesn't bring the ongoing adventure to a screeching halt.


not really, not to me.  The only one that seems to allow you to prepare for failure is the rickety easily broken ladder.  That one has a real consequence.  the others jsut seem to be a delay tactic.  Of course these are examples out of context so it's a tough call.

This isn't to bash your play style.  Just that mundane things IMO should be the base point.  All things being equal, [blank] activity should automatically succeed to [blank] degree.  Then additions can be tacked on.

for climbing:
You may climb at half your speed.  While doing so you grant combat advantage.
If you take damage you must make a climb check.
You may make a climb check to climb at your full speed.  Failure means only being able to climb one space/square/5 ft...
Some surfaces are more difficult to climb.  These count as difficult terrain.
Some surfaces are unstable or slick, and require a climb check to maintain a hold.
Some surfaces can not be climbed.

Or some such thing of this nature. 

It is interesting reading everyone's ideas and little shades of gray though.



I think the issue is this: he is figuring that having spells thrown at you, or having to fend off the guards, or on of a dozen other things can and will distract a character enough that there is a chance of failure.  Not every "heroic" character has nerves of steel, and a loud din below or spells wizzing past one's head or what have you have a high probability to distract.  Thus the chance of failure, at least assuming that the heroes do not have complete and total concentration, is higher.

Not saying it is correct or incorrect.  Merely stating what I think his point is. ;)

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Pretty much.

Although my main point (I thought) was that I can quickly assign a number for any situation based on subjective criteria and the DC for level chart.
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