I thoroughly search the entire room/cave/clearing/etc, carefully inspecting everything therein.

I hate pixel searching and I'm not going to let the game slow down to a crawl so I'm thinking that the thread title is going to be my standard line once combat is over.  Does this cover everything and is there a way to say it better/more concisely?
I hate pixel searching and I'm not going to let the game slow down to a crawl so I'm thinking that the thread title is going to be my standard line once combat is over.  Does this cover everything and is there a way to say it better/more concisely?



As long as you don't mind your DM replying, "Okay, that search takes you 1 hour" or more, quite often. Let's hope there's never a time crunch in the adventure.

"And why the simple mechanics? Two reasons: First, complex mechanics invariably channel and limit the imagination; second, my neurons have better things to do than calculate numbers and refer to charts all evening." -Over the Edge

What's the point of search checks, if they don't represent searching? Is it meant to represent the chance of your ocular nerves spontaneously failing when you say 'I look under the table'?

I always figured 'pixel hunting' was supposed to be the backup you used if you blew your initial search check. Having to do it every time you enter any room, ever, lest you be impaled by traps, seems needlessly tedious. 
If finding the item is an important plot point, then it makes sense to me to make the players role-play it out a bit. If you want to say that you just tear the room apart, that would be fine to me. It takes more time, makes more noise, and leaves evidence of the search behind. If none of those things matter, then sure, go for it. If any of them do matter, then a finer touch should be required. Dealing with that would be part of the fun, for me.

If the item you're looking for isn't very important, just some treasure or whatever, then as a DM I wouldn't bother with a check in the first place. I think that is in line with what the rules are saying.
If finding the item is an important plot point, then it makes sense to me to make the players role-play it out a bit. If you want to say that you just tear the room apart, that would be fine to me. It takes more time, makes more noise, and leaves evidence of the search behind. If none of those things matter, then sure, go for it. If any of them do matter, then a finer touch should be required. Dealing with that would be part of the fun, for me.

If the item you're looking for isn't very important, just some treasure or whatever, then as a DM I wouldn't bother with a check in the first place. I think that is in line with what the rules are saying.


At what point do search checks enter into this though? If the item the player is looking for is in a drawer, and he opens the drawer, does he have to make a search check to successfully look at the item? I just can't see what the point of the check is, if it's not to search an entire room.
If finding the item is an important plot point, then it makes sense to me to make the players role-play it out a bit. If you want to say that you just tear the room apart, that would be fine to me. It takes more time, makes more noise, and leaves evidence of the search behind. If none of those things matter, then sure, go for it. If any of them do matter, then a finer touch should be required. Dealing with that would be part of the fun, for me.

If the item you're looking for isn't very important, just some treasure or whatever, then as a DM I wouldn't bother with a check in the first place. I think that is in line with what the rules are saying.


At what point do search checks enter into this though? If the item the player is looking for is in a drawer, and he opens the drawer, does he have to make a search check to successfully look at the item? I just can't see what the point of the check is, if it's not to search an entire room.



I think the point jaelis is trying to make is that if something is truly hidden then it deserves a skill check.  But if something like a money pouch is the goal that's most likely just going to be sitting on a desk, or in a drawer, somewhere obvious and simple to find so there's no point in searching.

The thing is, yeah search can and will still be used to search a room.  If the party walks into the room and says "We're going to search the room for anything suspicious" then they should roll because they're just vaguely looking.  So if they roll well then they come up with something like finding the secret door behind the tapestry.  But if that same party came into the room and say the DM describes the room as a bedroom with a large canopy bed, desk, dresser, and a tapestry on the far wall and a player says they're going to go to the tapestry and pull it aside and look for any secret passage than unless the passage was meant to be very well disguised there's no point in rolling.

So using your desk example if the players go into a room and are looking for a key and the DM knows he put it in the desk drawer and a player says they go to the desk and open the drawers they'll find it, no search needed.  But if maybe the key was put into a drawer full of misc junk then at least some kind of search check would be needed to pick through the stuff for the key.  It's all about how you describe things as the DM and also what the players chose to do.  Makes sense really.   
If finding the item is an important plot point, then it makes sense to me to make the players role-play it out a bit. If you want to say that you just tear the room apart, that would be fine to me. It takes more time, makes more noise, and leaves evidence of the search behind. If none of those things matter, then sure, go for it. If any of them do matter, then a finer touch should be required. Dealing with that would be part of the fun, for me.

If the item you're looking for isn't very important, just some treasure or whatever, then as a DM I wouldn't bother with a check in the first place. I think that is in line with what the rules are saying.


At what point do search checks enter into this though? If the item the player is looking for is in a drawer, and he opens the drawer, does he have to make a search check to successfully look at the item? I just can't see what the point of the check is, if it's not to search an entire room.



Depends.

I use a general search check under normal situations for basic things like loot on a corpse.  You want to find the secret compartment inside that drawer that contains the key to the hidden chest several rooms away?  Better give more more details in your search other than "I look around".

At what point do search checks enter into this though? If the item the player is looking for is in a drawer, and he opens the drawer, does he have to make a search check to successfully look at the item? I just can't see what the point of the check is, if it's not to search an entire room.



How I would probably play it:

DM: "OK, you've broken into the baron's bed chamber. There's a big bed with a fancy canopy, a writing desk with drawers, a wardrobe, a dresser, and a full-length mirror on the wall. You think that you've got about 10 minutes before a guard is due to check the room."

Rogue: "OK, I take a quick scan and look for likely hiding places."

DM: "Give me a Search check" (Planning a moderate DC to rule out some places as unlikely)

Rogue: "I got a 17 with my bonus."

DM: "Great! It looks to you like the dresser and the desk are the only obvious places to hide a key."

Rogue: "OK, I'll search the desk."

DM: "I better roll for you this time... (fake roll)... you don't find anything."

Rogue: "Fine, let me check the dresser."

DM: (Rolls a 3) "Nothing obvious there either."

Rogue: "Crap, I'll rifle through the desk again, paying particular attention for any secret compartments."

DM: (Fake roll) "Still nothing."

Rogue: "OK, same deal with the dresser... pull out all the clothes, check the back for compartments."

DM: (No roll, he checked the clothes) "OK, you find the key between the folds of a shirt. You took about 5 minutes to find it, altogether. It will take another two minutes to clean up if you don't want it to be obvious someone was here."

Edit: surprisingly close to Alitian's take, isn't it?
I think the issue that I have with this is that it seems inconsistent with other rules.  Taking your rogue-DM exchange, it needs to be explicit when a player is allowed to call for a reroll of his check.  To me, the failed roll when he opened the drawer should stand, as I think the roll means he did rifle through the clothes a bit.   Otherwise, you literally checked him opening the drawer, looking at the stack of clothes, and then closing the drawer, which wouldn't usually call for a roll.  



I know that this is only one example, but I'm guessing that the rules are this way to bring back the old school Tomb of Horrors lethality, "I stand just outside of the room, and poke each square of the floor with my gnomish-engineered-extending/bending pole."  

I think inclusion of this in the rules necessitates a very good "DMing searches" section of the DMG though.  I feel that there are a lot of pitfalls to this approach, not limited to,
1) only the character with the highest search skill is encouraged to narrate their search;  everyone else's narration will take more time, and the searchy character will just have to repeat that narration to double-check their work (obviously, as mentioned above, in a time crunch these other characters become vital).
2) Players getting hung up on details the DM did not mean to carry significance.  

I haven't played that way since I learned to play in 2e, so I'm willing to give it a shot; I've certainly never DMed this way.  I'll make sure I pay particular attention to this when my group playtests it.

Update:  Reading through the DM section, it explicitly says that unless there is a penalty for failure (eg: falling, getting caught in a lie, etc), characters are allowed to retry rolls as often as they like.  It takes 1 minute to search a 5x5 area, and they suggest that the "take 20" (though this language is not used), is to multiply that time by 20.  This I think makes the above posters suggestions much more favorable.
Yeah, search rules need to be fixed up a bit, they seem to have combined 3.x searching and old school searching to make something worse than either.
Page 1 of the Guidelines may be relevant to this discussion:

"When a player wants to take an action, it’s often appropriate to just let the action succeed. ...

Only call for a roll if you think it’s worth taking the time for the rules to come into the flow of the game. ...

Is the action being taken so easy, so free of stress or conflict, or so appropriate to the situation that there should be no chance of failure?"


Finding the chest of gold after the fight is, IMO, automatic.

Noticing the secret door while you were walking over to the chest should probably be a passive check (and if their aren't going to be passive checks, they should add that back ).

Looking for a secret door on the north wall because someone told you there is a secret door on the north wall or you suspect there is a secret door on the north wall is an active search.

Am I missing something here? DDN Searching doesn't seem that much different than 4e Perception checks.

 


 
 
"At a certain point, one simply has to accept that some folks will see what they want to see..." Dragon 387
It's likely just that they weren't very clear. They are encouraging the DM to inject more roleplay before instead of it becoming a game of 'we search the room' each time.

In order to work, the DM needs to actually give a good description of the room (mostly, you have to tell the player where they should look, and give a few other places that could be useful to look at as well).

If the hidden thing isn't obvious, you can have an initial Wisdom/Notice check to point out an 'extra' place to look, like some of the stones that make up the wall being miscolored. If the players aren't sure what to look, they might make some kind of Intelligence/Logic check to narrow things down. 

The 'goal' is to make searching a room more than just a chore. If it is STILL just a chore, then either the DM should just not require it, or let it just be a single roll. Instead, it can be fun, espeically if each of the party member tries to be the first person to find something, etc. Since this edition is supposed to make exploration AND interaction more important ... well, one of the main exploration things is looking for stuff, whether it's searching for hidden doors, looking for hidden treasure, or trying to find hidden traps. Just as they want to encourage DMs to roleplay the interaction stuff, they want the DM to engage the players more with the exploration stuff. Just like with the gridless "theater of the mind" combat, it does require the DM give the players the relevant details in the room.           
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