help on a fair ruling/situation (3.5ed)

14 posts / 0 new
Last post
short hand explanation.  i have a Gnome Warlock in our group.   we have no thief to check for traps and disable them. or to open locks. 

the player (playing the gnome warlock) said he's taking two professions:  Locksmith and Trapsmith.   says he'll have a bit of help in searching for traps and disabiling them and opening locks since he's got some familiarity in them (cuz no one wanted to play a thief and that he is a gnome)  

i've been trying to think of a fair way of ruling on the traps and locks and disabiling them at a fair rate for the guy.   or how can i break it gently to him that he cant disable/find locks/traps with out putting skill points into search/disable device skills? 
 
Those would let him craft locks and traps, but they are not skills focused on thievery. Locksmithing is a lot of intricate metalwork, those skills would give him a working knowledge and maybe a +2 on open lock checks or something but making a lock is not training with lockpicks. You could make it that for every five ranks he puts in each one he gets a +2 on DD and OL checks and maybe trap related search checks but there's a reason those skills are there, they are very specific skills. If he wants to be able to utilise them he has to put ranks in them.

The synergy would be a good way for him to not have just burned those ranks but I would offer him the choice to re-allocate those ranks into the specific skills. If he wants to have his gnome have a background in locks and traps then he can roleplay that, it would make sense for someone from that background to have ranks in those skills so it wouldn't be out of character. If you're feeling particularly kind you could even make them class skills for him based on his background.

I usually do things like that for my players based on their character's backgrounds, small tweaks that make their characters a little more organic and it seems to go down well.

 
Anyone can find a trap since they have eyes and a brain. It's just that usually they find them the hard way. And anyone with a crowbar and some luck might be able to disarm them. Skills specific to that task usually fall in the realm of the rogue as this is a form of niche protection in the game design. It's the game saying, "Rogues do this. Warlocks do something else." But that's not a particularly good reason to deny someone who really wants to the opportunity to try. While my opinion in general is that Craft/Profession skills are dumb, he did forego those ranks in something else that might have been more useful to himself or the party. So you may as well let him give it a shot.

I might however, ask him a series of questions to establish why he has these skills, how he got them, and what specific kinds of locks and traps he's worked with in the past, narrowing it down to a specific category - say, mundane locks and clockwork traps. If the traps or locks in the adventure could be described in those broad terms, let him make the roll against the normal DC. If it's outside the scope of those specific specialties, then maybe the DC is higher. Point is, let him try. It takes nothing away from the game.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools

I'm Recruiting Players for a D&D 5e Game: Interested?  |  Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

It's simple, you tell him he need the appropriate skills to find and disable traps.  He can either multiclass into Rogue or spend points for to obtain a skill he doesn't have. 


Alternatevely you could create a feat that he can take due to being a gnome allowing him to get the proper skills.


In the end you are the DM you say is final.  My advice is that if this one player is trying to help the party out don't punish him too much.  He's trying to make a balance to the party when nobody else is.


I was in a campaign where we had two rogues, I was playing a Charismatic Guildmaster and another player was playing an assassain.  Neither of us had really good open locks skills and our party would complain about it time and time again.        
TBH, I'd just toss the cross-class thing out the window and let him take ranks in Open Locks and Disable Device as if they were class skills. It suits the character and the group.

 Agreed with N_D - without a rogue in the group he's not stepping on anybody's toes if you come up with some sort of either background or in-game RP justification for him having those skills.

 This is one of the things I liked about the Backgrounds in 4E - there were many of them that allowed you to add a "cross-class" skill to your class' skill list.

 If the character has any sort of gadgetry/tinkering/trapsmithing/thievery elements in his background, you can simply rule this sufficient to add the skills he wants to his class list.
Alternately, you could fluff it as the warlock's dark magic giving him a mystical sense for impending violence or danger and a malevolent knack for destroying things - being a creature of dark magic, the warlock feels the malicious intent of the traps, and is able to use their sinister power to cause the traps or locks to fail by inflicting "bad luck" on them, or something to that effect.

 As an aside, just to be fair you may also want to offer your other players the chance to add one or two additional skills to their class list if they have a background that might suggest they've had the chance to acquire those particular skills...


 Alternately, you could allow the warlock to acquire a custom magic item that allows him to add those skills to his class list and perhaps gives him a small bonus to them.

Show

I am the Magic Man.

(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

 

I am the Lawnmower Man.

(I AM GOD HERE!)

 

I am the Skull God.

(Koo Koo Ka Choo)

 

There are reasons they call me Mad...

...he did forego those ranks in something else that might have been more useful to himself or the party. So you may as well let him give it a shot....



TBH, I'd just toss the cross-class thing out the window and let him take ranks in Open Locks and Disable Device as if they were class skills. It suits the character and the group.



It seems fair enough to me to do let the PC take ranks in Open Locks and Disable Device, as long as the other players are on board with it.

I can't really imagine they'd object very much, unless the PC were already hogging a lot of spotlight time, were noticeably better-optimized than everyone else, or something like that. 

If the Warlock character is instead low-key and sort of a "fifth wheel" for the group, that's even better - it gives that character a chance to shine a little.  I've never DM'd for a Warlock character, but from what I've heard, Warlocks are underpowered compared to other spell-casters and considered something of a one-trick pony, so I'm inclined to say this won't unbalance the class very much.

And, it's not like the Open Locks and Disable Devices skills being available in this situaiton would be total game-breakers, anyway. 

If the rest of the players are OK with it, there's really no sense in punishing the group for not fielding a straight Rogue.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
One of the other people that DMs our group continually points something out to me: Specific beats General.  In this case the rules clearly state that only a Rogue can disable a Trap or Device with a CR greater than 20.  Now as a DM I would state that if he would be allowed a choice: a) use a feat to learn Disable Device and another for Open lock, then he can disable as a rogue (aka has taken the time to actually study and learn the abilities) OR b) take a level in rogue and get the abilities that way.  Now if he takes a level in rogue he would also take penalties because of multiclassing in non-prefered race classes.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

In this case the rules clearly state that only a Rogue can disable a Trap or Device with a CR greater than 20.


Rogues get the ability to search for traps with a dc higher than 20 and to disarm MAGIC traps.  It says nothing about bypassing magic traps.  Spells can work around these limitations.
Frankly, the rule is pretty bogus and forces one of the party to roll a rogue.  If you really want to make it a choice for the player and not just allow it outright, make a feat that allows him to find and disarm traps as if he was a rogue.
Rogues don't have any special abilities for opening locks though.  Anybody can do that if they can meet the skill requirement. 

It sounds like one of your players is trying to dictate how another player can act in your game.  Tell him that you appreciate his opinion, but unless he wants to make a rogue instead of his character, you are going to do things your way.  That's the reason for Rule 0 in the first place.
In this case the rules clearly state that only a Rogue can disable a Trap or Device with a CR greater than 20.


Rogues get the ability to search for traps with a dc higher than 20 and to disarm MAGIC traps.  It says nothing about bypassing magic traps.  Spells can work around these limitations.
Frankly, the rule is pretty bogus and forces one of the party to roll a rogue.  If you really want to make it a choice for the player and not just allow it outright, make a feat that allows him to find and disarm traps as if he was a rogue.
Rogues don't have any special abilities for opening locks though.  Anybody can do that if they can meet the skill requirement. 

It sounds like one of your players is trying to dictate how another player can act in your game.  Tell him that you appreciate his opinion, but unless he wants to make a rogue instead of his character, you are going to do things your way.  That's the reason for Rule 0 in the first place.

Sorry you are correct, it's not the disabling it's the finding.  
From the 3.5 PHB:



Trapfinding: Rogues (and only rogues) can use the Search skill
to locate traps when the task has a Difficulty Class higher than 20.
Finding a nonmagical trap has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is
well hidden. Finding a magic trap has a DC of 25 + the level of the
spell used to create it.
Rogues (and only rogues) can use the Disable Device skill to
disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level
of the spell used to create it.
A rogue who beats a trap’s DC by 10 or more
with a Disable Device check can study a
trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it
(with her party) without disarming it.


 

So a simple mechanical trap anyone can locate with a Search of 20. If the DC is higher, regardless how good their skill is they aren't going to find it.

The rule is no different than many other of the rules in D&D.  Only a fighter can get weapon specialization or get greater weapon focus, because that what a fighter does.  Finding traps and unlocking things is what a rogue does.  They don't have magic, they aren't melee fighters, they are skilled individules.  Thats why they are the only class that has 8+int skill points per level.
 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

I still say, let it slide, unless the rest of the group have any objections.

The PC is just a Warlock, it's not like you are allowing additional power for a Cleric, Druid, or Wizard (the 3.5E classes that have a reputation for being much stronger than other classes, especially at higher levels), and it's only Open Lock and Disarm Trap, so it's not like this will be a game-breaker.

If in doubt, just downplay the role of traps in your game, and just bring one in from time to time to give the Warlock a chance to feel good about spending skill points on Rogue skills that he could have put into something more traditionally useful for a spellcaster.

As long as the Warlock isn't significantly stronger than the rest of the party already, it shouldn't be a problem.  There's no sense in punishing the group for not fielding a full-fledged Rogue.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
The rule is no different than many other of the rules in D&D.  Only a fighter can get weapon specialization or get greater weapon focus, because that what a fighter does.  Finding traps and unlocking things is what a rogue does.  They don't have magic, they aren't melee fighters, they are skilled individules.  Thats why they are the only class that has 8+int skill points per level. 


Except that you don't need a fighter, ever in this game.  For rogues however, if you don't have someone who can deal with traps, the party takes unavoidable damage.  It is in fact punishing the party.  THAT part is wrong.  Sure, a rogue gets lots of skill points, but they don't want to roll a rogue.  They shouldn't be punished for that.
well one of the other guys said he was gonna be taking a few levels in rogue to compensate for the traps and such, so that all worked out.  

the warlock opted to change his professions to jeweler and taxidermy lmfao.   it actually worked out better than i thought! the backstories on them were great! :D  so just thought i would give you guys an update :p hehe thanx everyone  
Thanks, Timmy!

Sounds like your group's alright.

Find an occasional good excuse to put that Taxidermy skill to use - it's quirky, off-beat, and different; I like it
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Sign In to post comments