Party Wide Checks

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What do you do when you're facing a single skill check for a task that the entire party could attempt?  

The most common examples are:

breaking something
picking a lock
spotting something
searching
hearing something

Sometimes it seems appropriate to limit the PCs you permit to attempt the check.  It just doesn't make sense for a lucky role to allow the weak wizard to kick down a door right after the brawny fight has failed.  

So when the party faces something that they can all attempt, or all automatically attempt (like hearing something) how decide how to handle it?  Here are some options I see:

1.  allow everyone to roll and deal with any narrative absurdities
2.  only allow the player with the highest appropriate skill make the attempt
3.  only allow players with a certain minimum ability in the skill to make the attempt

When do you use these options? How do you decide?  Are there are 'solutions' you use at your table?

 
breaking something:
if time is not limited, then you can just break it.  The roll (if required) just show how long it took/how much noise you made/how damaged the door-frame is/etc.
if time is limited, let 1-2 people do aid-other checks for the PC that is going to do the actual breaking.  If the weak wizard wants to help the brawny fighter kick down a door, let them use arcana to magic-missile the door to weaken it or dungeonering to advise the fighter on technique.

picking a lock:
This is generally a trained-only task, so not such a problem.  Again, if you have unlimited time you can just open it, the skill check is to see if you set off the trap first.  Allow an aid-other if someone wants to help.

spotting something/hearing something:
Everyone rolls separately, inform those who pass about the information, encourage them to tell the others in-character

searching:
Again, do they have unlimited time?  Are they sure there is something to find or are they searching "just in case"?
Either everyone rolls separately, or split up and search parts of the room (they get a bonus as it's a target search, but only find hidden things if they are in the area they search)


For spot and listen checks:
I'll either roll for the PCs behind my screen if it is better to keep the players unaware that something is up (I keep a cheat sheet with each PCs saves, spot/listen/sense motive modifiers, hit points and characteristics).  If I want the players to be expecting trouble I'll call for them each to roll spot and listens. 

Searching:
If a PC is actively searching then they either roll their search check, use the take ten or the take twenty depending on how long/how thoroughly they want to search.  In the wrong location (like checking a large room in a dungeon) taking twenty can result in wandering monsters or something else coming into the room and attacking.  If other PCs have the search skill they might be able to assist with the aid another.

Picking a lock:
Effectively the same as searching in how I'll handle it.

Breaking the door:
Typically the strongest PC will roll to see if they can break down the door (or hack it apart).  Again others may be able to assist with aid another, although if it is a narrow hallway and all the PCs are medium sized  may limit it to one person assisting.

This would be in 3.0/3.5.
> picking a lock:
> This is generally a trained-only task, so not such a problem.

  In 3.xE, yes. In 4E, no.
A few things. 

  1. A 20 is not an auto success. If the door is so hard that the fighter needs to roll well to do it, it may well be impossible for the wizard, even if he does his best. Keeping this in mind may help reduce instances when the wizard gets lucky and breaks down doors the fighter can't. 

  2. Point out the "Take a 20" option for your players. If they have long enough, like picking a lock, the best person can take a 20, and get [very high] giving the best possible result. Why would the other pcs even want to make an attempt, when they know straight out "I am worse at this than him".

  3. Aid another option. Allow a DC X check to provide a bonus to the best person who then rolls. This is great when you have an awesome guy who invested a lot, and a guy who invested a little and wants to help out. He can aid another and give a bonus to the better guy. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"

"Your advice is the worst"

Thanks for the thoughts, much appreciated.  Here's the quandry that made me think of it: 

It seems generally like it's ok to limit the door breaking check to the strongest character, and allow the others to assist that PC.  say the DC is 19, so technically anyone 'could' pull it off with a lucky roll.  What hangs me up is why do this with a break check, but not with a listen check?  If the party could hear a noise with DC 19, why wouldn't a limit the check to the character with the best listening ability?  

I guess it seems like listening is a skill where you could be distracted, or by luck someone with a lot less skill could get lucky and hear a noise that the keen ranger misses, but I guess I was just thinking about how to define this distinction.  

When a check can be done by the entire party, it seems nearly certain that someone will get lucky with a good roll . . . This is especially true in the current DDN playtest bounded accuracy system, which is what made me think about all this.  
Thats where the take 20 rules come in. 

If that doors DC is really only 19, then any player in the party should be able to break it down without a role. (barring a few weak level 1 wizards). I doub't I'd even ask for a check, it just happens easily. Someone says "I take a 20 and kick it in" and it shatters everywhere. 

Listen checks, no one can take a 20 because it is time sensitive. They don't have all day to make sure they square up on the door. They either heard something, or they didn't.  They can't take a 20, so you let everyone roll on those. Maybe someone hears something the others didn't. By and large, the ranger is hearing more than the wizard, but sometimes he gets lucky.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"

"Your advice is the worst"

Never roll for anything unless there is an interesting cost or consequence associated with both success and failure.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I do a house-rules version of "group" checks for some appropriate actions, because the RAW Assist action doesn't work very well in many situations:

Let's say we're doing a group Stealth check. I want to ensure that the character who has put a lot of points into Stealth really helps, but also that the character who sucks at Stealth doesn't completely destroy the check (otherwise, they would never bother to attempt it). Fluff it as one master sneaker going ahead a couple of steps, scouting the way, beckoning the others forward, holding up his hand to stop, etc.

The PCs choose one character as the leader for the roll. His roll will determine success or failure (or degree of success).

All of the other participating PCs BESIDES the  leader roll Stealth vs. the difficulty. Let's say it was 23 here.

Now the leader makes his critical roll. For every PC who succeeded, the leader gets +2 to the roll. For every PC who failed, -2.


For some checks, I alter this a bit. For example, they wanted to make a group Strength check to push a stone pillar off a door. I ruled that we'd do a group Strength check, but it doesn't make sense that more people who help could lead to penalties--even someone worthless helps just by their body weight.

So I changed it slightly. Only three characters could help without getting in each other's way (unless they came up with an idea such as using a lever or pully or whatever--in which case all could participate). The leader for the roll was chosen. All non-leader PCs made their rolls. Then the leader rolled the make-it-or-break it check. As usual, for every success the helpers got, the leader got +2 to his critical roll. However, failures didn't give -2 in this case. Instead, everyone who failed contributed nothing AND took 1d6 damage as the pillar shifted while they pushed.


I think good use of group rolls can really make everyone feel like they participated but also make players feel valued because they put a lot of points (feats, etc, you know what I mean) into that skill.
I started using the "If you fail aid another its -2" rule for a while, when my players would just all roll to help on everything. They didn't like the imagry of everyone surrounding anyone who attempts a skill and helping out a bit here or there. 

I think I also upped the DC on paragon and epic tasks by 5 for aid another. (As in if the task is a paragon tier task the DC is 15 to aid another. Regardless of PC level) 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"

"Your advice is the worst"

I started using the "If you fail aid another its -2" rule for a while, when my players would just all roll to help on everything. They didn't like the imagry of everyone surrounding anyone who attempts a skill and helping out a bit here or there.

Why didn't they just not do it?

Why don't people in stories and action movies all help out with a task? Do they all sit around waiting on that person, or do they have things that need doing?

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

When a check can be done by the entire party, it seems nearly certain that someone will get lucky with a good roll . . .





If the entire party is involved then it's a group check: everyone makes the check against the easy DC and if at least half of the group passes their checks, the group collectively succeeds at hearing the noise, sneaking past the ogre, or whatever else it is.
I started using the "If you fail aid another its -2" rule for a while, when my players would just all roll to help on everything. They didn't like the imagry of everyone surrounding anyone who attempts a skill and helping out a bit here or there.

Why didn't they just not do it?

Because most of them are fairly decent tactical optimizers, if they don't neccessicarily make the best characters. As such, they realized it was the best tactic and did it, even if they weren't thrilled with it. I'd assume.

Why don't people in stories and action movies all help out with a task? Do they all sit around waiting on that person, or do they have things that need doing?

Yes they do very often. If there are other things they will do that, but generally its as simple as "we stand over his shoulder and ask watch. Or sit around waiting for him to finish".

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"

"Your advice is the worst"

Why don't people in stories and action movies all help out with a task? Do they all sit around waiting on that person, or do they have things that need doing?

Yes they do very often. If there are other things they will do that, but generally its as simple as "we stand over his shoulder and ask watch. Or sit around waiting for him to finish".

The point is, it doesn't have to be. It's easy enough to have other things going on. In general, if combat isn't happening, it's just as reasonable to assume they accomplish whatever it is and move on. Only when there's something else going on is it worth focusing on the risk of failing a task, or the cost (in action or HP or whatever) associated with even attempting the task.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I think that every time you have the PCs make a roll like that, you should have clear success and failure options in your mind, or (if they can't fail it due to a plot thing) degrees of success. It should be meaningful if they succeeded or failed.

In the example I gave above, failing to move the stone pillar off the door didn't mean the adventure was over. They had to try until they succeeded. The reason I didn't just say "yeah you'll succeed someday, don't roll" is because failures accrued damage onto the party and alerted the grell a short distance beyond the door so it could set up an ambush. If there's no difference between them succeeding or failing on rolls...don't make them roll. Adding consequences is my preference rather than skipping all rolls because it helps people who have good skills feel useful. 
When a check can be done by the entire party, it seems nearly certain that someone will get lucky with a good roll . . .



If the entire party is involved then it's a group check: everyone makes the check against the easy DC and if at least half of the group passes their checks, the group collectively succeeds at hearing the noise, sneaking past the ogre, or whatever else it is.



Bingo.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I think that every time you have the PCs make a roll like that, you should have clear success and failure options in your mind, or (if they can't fail it due to a plot thing) degrees of success. It should be meaningful if they succeeded or failed.

In the example I gave above, failing to move the stone pillar off the door didn't mean the adventure was over. They had to try until they succeeded. The reason I didn't just say "yeah you'll succeed someday, don't roll" is because failures accrued damage onto the party and alerted the grell a short distance beyond the door so it could set up an ambush. If there's no difference between them succeeding or failing on rolls...don't make them roll. Adding consequences is my preference rather than skipping all rolls because it helps people who have good skills feel useful. 

Good, good.

Some skills... I simply go with who has the highest ability in the skill.... or the lowest....


If Pindrop Rabbit-Ears the Nosy can't hear a whisper across the room.... I doubt Loudmouth Bill can either. One check for Pindrop. If he can't hear it, no one can.

If they were sneaking past the dragon, it doesn't matter if Softfoot the Halfling makes it past quietly... Tankard Rattlepot's incessant rattling gives the party away.

Depends on circumstance, as most things.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I do a house-rules version of "group" checks for some appropriate actions, because the RAW Assist action doesn't work very well in many situations:

Let's say we're doing a group Stealth check. I want to ensure that the character who has put a lot of points into Stealth really helps, but also that the character who sucks at Stealth doesn't completely destroy the check (otherwise, they would never bother to attempt it). Fluff it as one master sneaker going ahead a couple of steps, scouting the way, beckoning the others forward, holding up his hand to stop, etc.

The PCs choose one character as the leader for the roll. His roll will determine success or failure (or degree of success).

All of the other participating PCs BESIDES the  leader roll Stealth vs. the difficulty. Let's say it was 23 here.

Now the leader makes his critical roll. For every PC who succeeded, the leader gets +2 to the roll. For every PC who failed, -2.


For some checks, I alter this a bit. For example, they wanted to make a group Strength check to push a stone pillar off a door. I ruled that we'd do a group Strength check, but it doesn't make sense that more people who help could lead to penalties--even someone worthless helps just by their body weight.

So I changed it slightly. Only three characters could help without getting in each other's way (unless they came up with an idea such as using a lever or pully or whatever--in which case all could participate). The leader for the roll was chosen. All non-leader PCs made their rolls. Then the leader rolled the make-it-or-break it check. As usual, for every success the helpers got, the leader got +2 to his critical roll. However, failures didn't give -2 in this case. Instead, everyone who failed contributed nothing AND took 1d6 damage as the pillar shifted while they pushed.


I think good use of group rolls can really make everyone feel like they participated but also make players feel valued because they put a lot of points (feats, etc, you know what I mean) into that skill.

Interesting approach... I think I can find some variation of this to use.

Maybe as simple as a mass-assist, or perhaps average the lowest check with the highest check. That could even cut it down to a single dice roll... which I'm all about cutting out dice rolls when possible.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I think that every time you have the PCs make a roll like that, you should have clear success and failure options in your mind, or (if they can't fail it due to a plot thing) degrees of success. It should be meaningful if they succeeded or failed.

In the example I gave above, failing to move the stone pillar off the door didn't mean the adventure was over. They had to try until they succeeded. The reason I didn't just say "yeah you'll succeed someday, don't roll" is because failures accrued damage onto the party and alerted the grell a short distance beyond the door so it could set up an ambush. If there's no difference between them succeeding or failing on rolls...don't make them roll. Adding consequences is my preference rather than skipping all rolls because it helps people who have good skills feel useful. 

Good, good.

Some skills... I simply go with who has the highest ability in the skill.... or the lowest....


If Pindrop Rabbit-Ears the Nosy can't hear a whisper across the room.... I doubt Loudmouth Bill can either. One check for Pindrop. If he can't hear it, no one can.

If they were sneaking past the dragon, it doesn't matter if Softfoot the Halfling makes it past quietly... Tankard Rattlepot's incessant rattling gives the party away.

Depends on circumstance, as most things.



thanks, this is exactly what I was thinking of.  When an entire party is rolling, sometimes Loudmouth Bill will roll better than Pindrop Rabbit-Ears, and that often doesn't make any sense in context. 
thanks, this is exactly what I was thinking of.  When an entire party is rolling, sometimes Loudmouth Bill will roll better than Pindrop Rabbit-Ears, and that often doesn't make any sense in context. 

Depends on the context you give it. If it's just everyone taking turns, or rolling at the same time, excusing it as a "lucky break" will get old after a while. If it's the second (or last) stringer stepping up to make a necessary check in a stressful situation because the expert isn't in a position to make it, then it's simply an awesome, heroic scene.

The game is often about characters being awesome and the expert getting the job done with a flourish, but that is only part of the fantasy adventure trope. In a "real" fantasy adventure, skill is often neutralized and success depends on other factors: amazing luck, desperate leaps, teamwork, taking a different angle, and even a string of earlier failures. So, sometimes it makes sense for the skilled person to be unable to make the check, and for the unskilled character to step up.

I agree that in the case of everyone just standing around, it doesn't make sense, and the game tries to mitigate this with some skills requiring training, but in general the problem is due to calling for checks while everyone is just standing around.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy



thanks, this is exactly what I was thinking of.  When an entire party is rolling, sometimes Loudmouth Bill will roll better than Pindrop Rabbit-Ears, and that often doesn't make any sense in context. 



That's usually when I let the players decide what happened.  It's always amusing.

"Dude, how did you not hear that?"
"I ... was distracted, thinking about that elven barmaid back in town.  You know, the one with the huge ... ears ..."
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
For things like perception I just use the players passive score, unless the player is taking action and being proactive about looking/listening.  If it is part of a skill challenge then it might be everyone rolls and if half or more succeed then it is a success and the party is aware.

For other skills I usually will have one primary roller and the others aiding if there are more than one player trying to make the roll.

I do this because I dont really like the chance of success based of 5 rolls that might succeed.
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
I do this because I dont really like the chance of success based of 5 rolls that might succeed.

Yes, at that point you might as well allow them to succeed automatically.

Hmm....

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I do a house-rules version of "group" checks for some appropriate actions, because the RAW Assist action doesn't work very well in many situations:

Let's say we're doing a group Stealth check. I want to ensure that the character who has put a lot of points into Stealth really helps, but also that the character who sucks at Stealth doesn't completely destroy the check (otherwise, they would never bother to attempt it). Fluff it as one master sneaker going ahead a couple of steps, scouting the way, beckoning the others forward, holding up his hand to stop, etc.

...

I think good use of group rolls can really make everyone feel like they participated but also make players feel valued because they put a lot of points (feats, etc, you know what I mean) into that skill.



I like this idea, I think I might houserule something similar:


  • Only applicable when two or more players attempt skill-check for some specific actions AT THE SAME TIME (stealth, heal, nature (foraging), ...) and they can communicate with each other.

  • Each character can choose to use another party member's skill value for the check, not counting: +5/+3 for training/focus, bonuses from equipment (potentially forgetting some things, it's a work in progress)

  • Example: Stealth: A level 10 rogue with 22 dex has 5 (1/2 level) + 6 (mod) + 5 (training) + 1 (footpads) = 17 sneak, if the party attempts a stealth-check to sneak by a room each character must succeed the skill roll, but all characters may choose to use a stealth skill value of 5+6 instead of their own.

  • Similarly, when a cleric and a fighter are attempting to stabilize two different targets at the same time (same round in combat) the fighter can use the unmodified heal value of the cleric instead of his own.


What is your opionion on this system?
What do you do when you're facing a single skill check for a task that the entire party could attempt?  

The most common examples are:

breaking something
picking a lock
spotting something
searching
hearing something

Sometimes it seems appropriate to limit the PCs you permit to attempt the check.  It just doesn't make sense for a lucky role to allow the weak wizard to kick down a door right after the brawny fight has failed.  

So when the party faces something that they can all attempt, or all automatically attempt (like hearing something) how decide how to handle it?  Here are some options I see:

1.  allow everyone to roll and deal with any narrative absurdities
2.  only allow the player with the highest appropriate skill make the attempt
3.  only allow players with a certain minimum ability in the skill to make the attempt

When do you use these options? How do you decide?  Are there are 'solutions' you use at your table?

 



when I DM I use what I call "Roger Rabbit Rules" where seemingly impossible things can happen but "only when it was funny"
these isn't meant to be abused, just to explain away these sort of lucky breaks

so when the wizard rolled a natural 20 strength check to snap the restraints holding the captured priestess, I allowed it because it was funny
and then he had a meek maiden following him around only for her to be constantly disappointed by his weakness and failure, plus with the disposition of my friend playing the wizard, having a priestess following him around hiding behind him really embarassed him, for even more amusement down the road

but thats just me playing "the more things you allow, the greater potential for amusing payoff" card

I agree with the people who advocate using group checks to help shore up the weaknesses of others, but IMHO this game is made for the random hilarity of natural 20 success* so I don't think group checks should be used to bring down people with lucky rolls, those are the silly things the players keep talking about long after the session is over. In my case the DC to break the restraint was 20, obviously you could set it higher if it made no sense for the wizard to be able to do it, but I figured if the wizard luckily picked up the weakest link and it easily pulled apart in his hand it could explain his roll. Sorry this was a mechanical discussion and I got carried away with the philosophical approach :P


*I house rule natural 20success/1failure because the impossibility of success or failure seems boring to me
but thats just me playing "the more things you allow, the greater potential for amusing payoff" card

That's also called "Yes, and...." It's an acknowledgement that the fewer things are allowed to happen, then the fewer things happen. Find a way for things to happen, and then more things can happen. In my games I call it "Do Something Cool," and everyone, even the monsters has an extra encounter power that covers this sort of thing.

The issue is when a DM or group isn't prepared to allow things, due to some preconceived ideas. If that occurs, it's generally worth taking  few moments of game time to brainstorm ideas for how it can work, and proceed from there.

I agree with the people who advocate using group checks to help shore up the weaknesses of others, but IMHO this game is made for the random hilarity of natural 20 success* so I don't think group checks should be used to bring down people with lucky rolls, those are the silly things the players keep talking about long after the session is over. In my case the DC to break the restraint was 20, obviously you could set it higher if it made no sense for the wizard to be able to do it, but I figured if the wizard luckily picked up the weakest link and it easily pulled apart in his hand it could explain his roll. Sorry this was a mechanical discussion and I got carried away with the philosophical approach :P

I doubt the game was meant to include silliness, and a lot people dislike it. Many of those who do like it, I suspect of doing so as a means of coping with it. I can understand that, as there are things about the game I'm prepared to just cope with, to just change my approach, rather than changing any mechanics.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

For spot and listen checks:
I'll either roll for the PCs behind my screen if it is better to keep the players unaware that something is up (I keep a cheat sheet with each PCs saves, spot/listen/sense motive modifiers, hit points and characteristics).  If I want the players to be expecting trouble I'll call for them each to roll spot and listens. 



Personally, I dislike taking the dice out of the players' hands.  Therefore I have them roll random spot and listen checks.  Sometimes, those checks result in random "flavor" events i.e. they are traveling through woods I have them make a random spot check and they see a deer on the side of the road.  Sometimes, I just smile and say something like, "hrm...OK."  The point is that the players do not know when a spot or listen check is important or not and this minimizes meta-gaming ("Oh no something's about to happen because th DM asked us if we see/hear something").

Thanks for the thoughts, much appreciated.  Here's the quandry that made me think of it: 

It seems generally like it's ok to limit the door breaking check to the strongest character, and allow the others to assist that PC.  say the DC is 19, so technically anyone 'could' pull it off with a lucky roll.  What hangs me up is why do this with a break check, but not with a listen check?  If the party could hear a noise with DC 19, why wouldn't a limit the check to the character with the best listening ability?  

I guess it seems like listening is a skill where you could be distracted, or by luck someone with a lot less skill could get lucky and hear a noise that the keen ranger misses, but I guess I was just thinking about how to define this distinction.  

When a check can be done by the entire party, it seems nearly certain that someone will get lucky with a good roll . . . This is especially true in the current DDN playtest bounded accuracy system, which is what made me think about all this.  



In all cases, there are ways of explaining/describing how a weak character breaks down a door that the strongest player could not (maybe the weak player - the super intelligent wizard for example - sees that the hinge pins are loose and simply pulls them out and the door falls down); or how the great "listener" did not hear something the poor one heard (maybe the strong listener was distracted or was daydreaming and the weak listener happened to be highly aware due to nervousness).

Lastly, as the DM, with the factor of "inevitable success" you mention, you can simply decide randomly that player X hears/sees something.  But then you have the group where one or more party members do not always share what they see and/or hear.

Never roll for anything unless there is an interesting cost or consequence associated with both success and failure.



I disagree with regard to spot and listen checks, as I pointed out above, for the simple fact that players will meta-game.  If you as the DM only tell them to roll when something interesting or of consequence is about to happen then the players will invariably tense up, prepare spells, ready weapons, etc.  By doing the exact opposite, as I do with random checks, the players have no idea what is important and what is not.

I do agree with checks like breaking down a door.  If breaking down the door has consequences then make the roll, if not then they just do it.

*I house rule natural 20success/1failure because the impossibility of success or failure seems boring to me



Heck I houserule breakaway 20success/1failure because of the hilarity and imagining the possibilities - not every ability/skill check boils down to that raw ability/skill.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
Never roll for anything unless there is an interesting cost or consequence associated with both success and failure.

I disagree with regard to spot and listen checks, as I pointed out above, for the simple fact that players will meta-game.  If you as the DM only tell them to roll when something interesting or of consequence is about to happen then the players will invariably tense up, prepare spells, ready weapons, etc.

Ok. I don't see a problem with that. Just as there can be plausible reasons why a wizard might be able to open a door when a fighter can't, there are plausible reasons why a group might have their abilities at the ready. A hunch, lucky timing, paranoia, being in the middle of a lethal dungeon, etc.

By the way, was that just an example, or do we still honestly believe that a stuck door makes an interesting challenge?

By doing the exact opposite, as I do with random checks, the players have no idea what is important and what is not.

But look at what you've had to resort to: taking actions that don't do anything. How long will you let players check for traps in an untrapped hallway, before it's no longer worth the time?

Do you also call for knowledge checks for things that don't have any interesting knowledge about them?

I do agree with checks like breaking down a door.  If breaking down the door has consequences then make the roll, if not then they just do it.

Won't they prep their weapons and ready their spells if you make them roll to break down a door?

Let's face something: if we're having to bluff our players to the point of calling for ultimately pointless rolls, just so they'll fall for our "tricks," then I think we're missing something pretty fundamental. Maybe I'm just not seeing where effort to quell metagaming ends, or why it's necessary to prevent metagaming, rather than putting it to good use. Maybe I'm just a bad liar, whose players would still know something was going on. And maybe there's another way.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

By the way, was that just an example, or do we still honestly believe that a stuck door makes an interesting challenge?

Just an example.  And even when I use a "stuck door" I use it as a shortcut.  If they can't get the door open there is at least one other way around to their destination.

Do you also call for knowledge checks for things that don't have any interesting knowledge about them?

No.  I let the players ask me, "what do I know about X?"  I then give them the appropriate knowledge skill to roll (and BTW in my games all knowledge skills are untrained - anyone can roll the DC is just harder to achieve when you do not have any training) and based on the result I give them information.

Won't they prep their weapons and ready their spells if you make them roll to break down a door?

Let's face something: if we're having to bluff our players to the point of calling for ultimately pointless rolls, just so they'll fall for our "tricks," then I think we're missing something pretty fundamental. Maybe I'm just not seeing where effort to quell metagaming ends, or why it's necessary to prevent metagaming, rather than putting it to good use. Maybe I'm just a bad liar, whose players would still know something was going on. And maybe there's another way.

But the rolls are not necessarily pointless.  My example of a spot check to see a deer in the woods indicates that the forest is alive - it has critters.  I think that indicating this is just as important as the band of Ogres stomping through that forest.  In fact, because my groups are used to me asking for random checks, when I don't is when they get paranoid.

And those random checks sometimes turn into interesting side trips.  Like one time, a scout decided to hunt down the deer he saw.  He ended up springing and getting caught in a bear trap and making a friend in the bear hunter.  That hunter's lodge became a frequent waypoint.

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RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
No.  I let the players ask me, "what do I know about X?"  I then give them the appropriate knowledge skill to roll (and BTW in my games all knowledge skills are untrained - anyone can roll the DC is just harder to achieve when you do not have any training) and based on the result I give them information.

In the core rules, knowledge checks are untrained.

But it sounds like you'd still have them roll, even if what they were asking about had no significance.

But the rolls are not necessarily pointless.  My example of a spot check to see a deer in the woods indicates that the forest is alive - it has critters.

But that's easily delivered as description. One doesn't need to make a check to conclude that deer live in the forest, or for the DM to describe them seeing one to make that point.

  I think that indicating this is just as important as the band of Ogres stomping through that forest.

I don't see how. One is atmosphere, the other is adventure.

And those random checks sometimes turn into interesting side trips.

  So, what you've done is made it so even for your "fake" Perception checks they should be on their guard.

But my question stands: Why would it be a problem if they go on their guard when Perception is asked for? If it's plausible for a wizard to out strength a fighter, it's plausible for characters to be on guard when they need to be.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I have stopped worrying about meta-gaming some time ago. Personally I find randomly rolling perception like checks just to hide the real ones more irritating then players who "might" meta-game the check. In fact, last L5R* session there was a check about knowing whether somebody was not telling the truth. The check failed, which resulted in a longer discussion about metagaming *between* the players (I immediately said I did not care, but the players apparently did) then when I never had asked for the check and let the players decide how their characters would react to the lie ;) (The real check was trying to get the NPC reveal the truth through asking the right questions and/or making the right Diplomacy check.)

* No D&D, but when it comes to metagaming and senseless skill checks all games are the same ;)
I have stopped worrying about meta-gaming some time ago. Personally I find randomly rolling perception like checks just to hide the real ones more irritating then players who "might" meta-game the check. In fact, last L5R* session there was a check about knowing whether somebody was not telling the truth. The check failed, which resulted in a longer discussion about metagaming *between* the players (I immediately said I did not care, but the players apparently did) then when I never had asked for the check and let the players decide how their characters would react to the lie ;) (The real check was trying to get the NPC reveal the truth through asking the right questions and/or making the right Diplomacy check.)

Yeah, Insight's a real culprit too.

DM: (rolls hidden check) "He says to go left, and you think he's telling the truth."
PC: "Hm. I still don't trust him. I'm going to go the other way."
DM: "No, you can't...."

* No D&D, but when it comes to metagaming and senseless skill checks all games are the same ;)

Not as much anymore. More and more games are coming out in which success on a die roll means that players are actually entitled to create the information they were rolling for. This can be easily incorporated in to D&D, but I doubt it will ever even become an optional suggestion in the rules.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy