'The dice are neutral arbiters. They come into play when success and failure are far from clear.'

"The dice are neutral arbiters. They come into play when success and failure are far from clear."

Jeez I hate this sort of wishy washy stuff.

But moving past that - okay, there's a massive ambiguity here - and for a company that seems to try and be so very particular about all sorts of rules of for physical stuff in the game, it seems glaring.

To take the example, the thing is, what if half the group think Rachel gave a great speach.

But the GM didn't.

Nor did Bob the player.

'Far from clear' to whom? Just one person? Or everyone and have a vote system, putting the DC up or down with every positive or negative vote?

There's really no point with this 'neutral arbiter' if you put control of whether the neutral arbiter is used in the hands of someone who is not neutral, is there?

But if you're gunna go with traditional design anyway - why not just say 'When things aren't clear to the GM' - and perhaps even further 'Although things may be clear to one, several or all players, it's a matter of whether it's clear to the GM'

If you're designing that way, make it explicit who calls this.

Don't kinda implicitly leave it in the GM's hands, but be afraid to explicitly say it's in the GM's hands because hey, if that sucks for a group then the product will get the blame because it'd clearly be the product handing this power to the GM (not just some big bad old GM being a bully or anything).

TL;DR: Everyones idea of 'what isn't clear' does not match up. Individuals, yadda yadda yadda. Designs that refer to one singular notion of 'what's clear' are naive. Make designs that manage different expectations of 'what's clear'

Or hey, everyone thinks exactly the same way on what's clear, so it'll all work out fine - sure, whatever.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

They don't make it vary clear do they, one might even say theyre far from clear on what far from clear means. maybe roll a dice to determine if you should roll a dice...
Lapsing into poetry is an interesting responce!

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

It seems you answered your own question. Not everyone thinks it was a great speech? To me, that sounds like it isn't clear. I want to walk through town. Do I need to roll, or is it clear my character knows how to walk? 

Not every table plays the same way. Some tables require rolls for everything. Some do mostly role playing and only occasionally roll. The point is that when it isn't clear to your table, then you should be rolling. 
I don't even get why this got to the point where you needed to post of a forum.  The answer should be clear from context.

The quote is from a document called "DM Guidelines."  All instances of the word "you" in the document are referring to "you, the DM."  The implication on the part of Wizards (and it authors) is that if you're reading a document titled "DM Guidelines," then you're a DM, and you need guidelines.

In fact, since I'm analyzing the context of the quote, why don't I show you the paragraphs around the paragraph you quoted.  Both the prior paragraph and the subsequent paragraph start "As a DM."  It's a safe assumption that the paragraph you're reading from is also giving advice "As a DM."  They just didn't want to start three paragraphs in a row the same way.

Moreover, in the prior paragraph, it says specifically "At any time, you can decide that a player's action is automatically successful, even if the Difficulty Class, or DC, would normally be somewhere above 20."  Again, remember that this paragraph starts with the words "As a DM."  Meaning, a DM can decide when dice are not necessary.  The DM can choose to ignore them.  Because the DM is "the one in charge of the game."
Moreover, in the prior paragraph, it says specifically "At any time, you can decide that a player's action is automatically successful, even if the Difficulty Class, or DC, would normally be somewhere above 20."  Again, remember that this paragraph starts with the words "As a DM."  Meaning, a DM can decide when dice are not necessary.  The DM can choose to ignore them.  Because the DM is "the one in charge of the game."



100x this.

D&D Next embraces the idea that every DM is going to run their game a bit differently.

You like Rachel's speech, you let it pass without a roll.

I like Rachel's speech, but think it's out of character, so I force her to roll and give her a high DC. She fails ... and her speech becomes an internal monologue of what she meant to say, but not at all what she said.

chimerstry likes Rachel's speech and thinks it's out of character, but he let's it slide and gives her a pass.

All are valid rulings in D&D Next. It's okay that different DMs would rule differently.


No, just as much as you get this thread, you're gunna get people who argue that it's not just the GM's idea of whether it's clear. Even MaimonidesVII idea of it doesn't match your idea of it, chimerstry.

If you really think people wont find it ambiguous, okay.

But if folk come to very different interpretations of it (ie, it's ambiguous), would you agree it needs rewording to say what it actually means?

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

What type of clarification are you looking for?  Do you want the rules to explicitly handle any DM-player dispute that arises concerning rolls? As it stands (and has always stood), the DM calls for a check when they deem it appropriate.  Players can argue all they want, and they may even be persuasive, but it is always ultimately up to the DM. If the DM thinks the situation deserves a roll, it deserves a roll.  If the DM thinks it doesn't, it doesn't.

As was pointed out, the quote you are talking about is just an instruction to the DM, from the document specifically devoted to DM instructions. All it is doing is reminding the DM that not everything needs to be rolled for, and that they have the discretion about what does and doesn't need a roll.
What type of clarification are you looking for?


As I posted above already: "Although things may be clear to one, several or all players, it's a matter of whether it's clear to the GM"

Do you want the rules to explicitly handle any DM-player dispute that arises concerning rolls? As it stands (and has always stood), the DM calls for a check when they deem it appropriate.  Players can argue all they want, and they may even be persuasive, but it is always ultimately up to the DM.


I don't think alot of players actually believe this. Feel free to explode at them for not believing it, but it doesn't help much to do so here. And I don't want to have to bother arguing it with them when a simple extra sentence could solve that.

There's no point trying to argue to me it's up to the DM, unless you're gunna turn up at my games when some player thinks their idea of it not being clear matters and argue it for me? As convincing as you are here in text, your text isn't going to be in the book - so it doesn't solve the problem.

As was pointed out, the quote you are talking about is just an instruction to the DM, from the document specifically devoted to DM instructions. All it is doing is reminding the DM that not everything needs to be rolled for, and that they have the discretion about what does and doesn't need a roll.


Pretty much everyone I've ever played with will have read such DM instructions - and they will try and come to their own conclusion as to the DM's job.

When ambiguous text makes them come to a conclusion that's different from the DM's, it's a real pain.

I guess everyone thinks everyone else will read those GM instructions the same way - even as the link shows a stray word or two causes confusion. And I guarantee that wording will get fixed. But I dunno, for some reason dig your heals in on an extra sentence to clarify this.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

From the DM Guidelines document, literally at the beginning of the document (bolding = my emphasis):

"The first rule of being a good DM is to remember that the rules are a tool that you and the players use to have a good time. The rules aren’t in charge. You, the DM, are the one in charge of the game. Guide the play experience and the use of the rules so that as many of your players have a good time as possible"

In the next paragraph:

"The second rule is to remember that the DM’s power comes with responsibility. Be fair and impartial with the players. Don’t force your story upon them or give them a game where their choices don’t matter."

In the paragraph after that (under the section Resolving Tasks):

"The rules for ability checks, saving throws, and attacks form the basis of the D&D® game. As a DM, your most important responsibility when it comes to these rules is determining how to use them and, just as important, when to use them."

I don't know how they could be any more clear in saying that it is entirely up to the DM to determine when to roll.
Unless you're trying to argue these people who read it another way don't exist, don't just highlight text at me. I know it's there and no, it doesn't make the subject matter clear - in fact "Don’t force your story upon them or give them a game where their choices don’t matter." just makes matter worse, because suddenly players (who are sometimes DM's themselves) think they know when their choices are being stood on or they are having a story forced upon them and can argue the GM is going against that very text.

Seriously, do you even buy 'You, the DM, are the one in charge of the game.'? If the DM, five minutes after play start says rocks fall, everyone dies, you'd just quietly shrug cause 'he's in charge of the game'.

But lets pull it all back to just the subject I raised, instead of getting into all the other stuff.

Yeah, some people will think their idea of 'what isn't clear', when they are just a player, matters.

And I can't grok why people are digging in their heels at adding a sentence that says no, only the GM's notion of it matters.

If you think no one will read the DM rules like that, okay, just say that - but don't quote bomb. It doesn't convince the people who need convincing. It's not some self evident truth that if you just bang me over the head with quotes enough it'll just osmotically convince the people who would read that text another way to read it your way.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

I'm honestly confused here.  The argument you are trying to make is that there is an ambiguity in the quote "The dice are neutral arbiters. They come into play when success and failure are far from clear."  This ambiguity, you claim, is that it doesn't cover when there is a disagreement between the DM and players over what is "clear".

You've been told that the context of the quote makes it clear that the instruction is directed at the DM, and thus that "clear" means "clear to the DM".  You've been told that the rules explicitly state that the DM is the final arbiter when it comes to resolving disputes. I don't see where you are finding the ambiguity? The only reason I "quote bombed" was because I thought you were looking for a sentence in the rules that explicity explained that the DM is in charge, so if a player argued about it, you could point to the rule and say "nope!" I'm not "digging in [my] heels about adding a sentence that says no, only the GM's notion of it matters."  I'm giving you that sentence.

Whether or not it is "fair" in any concievable instance, there is a mechanism for dispute resolution in DnD: the DM makes the call. I don't know how else to explain that if you aren't understanding that point. The whole reason for the DM Guidelines, and for the quote you are taking execption to, is to instruct the DM about how to best approach dispute resolution so that the only choices aren't "Do what I say, or I'll drop rocks on the party and leave."
If a section of the rules gives anyone grief, then its a good thing this is a play test. I sugest that you could provide a full detailed rewrite the offending section and post it for comunity review.
vacthok, it's a quote bomb because you don't ask if the quoted text solves it, you just drop the quotes in as if that's it.

Communication isn't just a case of one party saying 'oh, we already communicated our meaning fully already'.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

I think a roll should happen anytime the DM thinks a roll is needed.
Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"
What exactly are we even talking about in this thread?
There's no point trying to argue to me it's up to the DM, unless you're gunna turn up at my games when some player thinks their idea of it not being clear matters and argue it for me.

...

Pretty much everyone I've ever played with will have read such DM instructions - and they will try and come to their own conclusion as to the DM's job.

...

Seriously, do you even buy 'You, the DM, are the one in charge of the game.'? If the DM, five minutes after play start says rocks fall, everyone dies, you'd just quietly shrug cause 'he's in charge of the game'

....

Yeah, some people will think their idea of 'what isn't clear', when they are just a player, matters.




Please don't think I'm quoting you to be passive aggressive.  I'm doing it to elucidate a point.  Or more precisely, a theme.

A lot of what I hear you saying is that your table has a lot of player-DM arguments.  It seems like that's a concern of yours.  I speculate that it might be the reason behind you asking this question.  People can have strong opinions.  To some extent, that's natural.  People want to play a game that's fun and comfortable for them.  They have to find the right fit.

There also comes a point where you have to insert non-rules considerations into your discussions of rules.  There are plenty of bad DMs out there.  There are control-freak DMs who do create situations where the players' decisions don't matter.  There are talentless DMs who railroad your campaign because they can't handle branching narratives.  There are spitful DMs who drop rocks on your head when you argue with them.  There are also plenty of bad players, who disrupt the table in all sorts of ways.

In those situations, the solution is not in the rules.  The solution is to behave in a mature way.  Talk to the person in question.  And then maybe think about alternative situations.

I had two DMs just insta-kill a PC or two.  One guy had a flaming gold brick dropped on his head.  Another two fell into an inescapable whirlpool.  In both of those campaigns, the rest of the table played out the session with some grumbles, then began discussing who was going to start DMing.  The implication is that those DMs were being forced to stop.  Effectively, they had lost their jobs.

The reverse point is that as a DM, if all of your players constantly argue with your DM rulings, you should take a step back and look at the situation.  Maybe the players want a new DM.  Maybe they just want the opportunity to DM for a short period of time, to experiment with how they would handle similar situations.  You can offer to give them a chance to DM.

Failing that, there comes a point when player jerkishness is overwhelming.  Each DM is going to have their own tolerance for that sort of behavior.  That's another thing that's specific to your table.  As you implied, no one on this forum is going to come to your table and argue for you.  You have to decide whether you want to argue at all.

We've told you several times that say that the DM should be the one making the decisions on dice rolls.  The DM guidelines outline the role of the DM as decider in chief.  If your players continue to object to that, no amount of additional rules or sentences are going to help you.  To repeat: The solution is not a rule.  The solution is talking to your players outside of play.
"The dice are neutral arbiters. They come into play when success and failure are far from clear."

Jeez I hate this sort of wishy washy stuff.

But moving past that - okay, there's a massive ambiguity here - and for a company that seems to try and be so very particular about all sorts of rules of for physical stuff in the game, it seems glaring.

To take the example, the thing is, what if half the group think Rachel gave a great speach.

But the GM didn't.

Nor did Bob the player.

'Far from clear' to whom? Just one person? Or everyone and have a vote system, putting the DC up or down with every positive or negative vote?

There's really no point with this 'neutral arbiter' if you put control of whether the neutral arbiter is used in the hands of someone who is not neutral, is there?

But if you're gunna go with traditional design anyway - why not just say 'When things aren't clear to the GM' - and perhaps even further 'Although things may be clear to one, several or all players, it's a matter of whether it's clear to the GM'

If you're designing that way, make it explicit who calls this.

Don't kinda implicitly leave it in the GM's hands, but be afraid to explicitly say it's in the GM's hands because hey, if that sucks for a group then the product will get the blame because it'd clearly be the product handing this power to the GM (not just some big bad old GM being a bully or anything).

TL;DR: Everyones idea of 'what isn't clear' does not match up. Individuals, yadda yadda yadda. Designs that refer to one singular notion of 'what's clear' are naive. Make designs that manage different expectations of 'what's clear'

Or hey, everyone thinks exactly the same way on what's clear, so it'll all work out fine - sure, whatever.

Roll play vs Role Play and rule interperitation are up to the GM because he's the one running the game, not the players. The GM is god and may do anything he wishes in the game whenever he feels like it.

If the players in his game don't like this, he can change his behavior or they can play in a different game. The RAW should not allow for players to overrule the GM.
I feel that the being able to oust a bad dm extends to being able to oust a bad player. One time, I as the DM, had decided that a homebrew quest reward would function a certain way. One of the players wanted his to function diffently than the others (basically being better than everyone elses). Everyone else was fine with what I proposed. However, after arguing with the player for at least an hour if not two, and giving him several options, he finally decided to take the first option. Ultimitaley, he wanted the quest reward t straight up increase his damage. To conclude the story, I was so fed up with his disrespect that I never invited him back to play D&D.

If the players feel like they need to argue with my decisions, I have no problems with them finding another group or being the DM. I don't want to spend time preparing and have them tell me how to do my job and what is in my liberty to rule.

I do let them chose their characters actions. That is the contract. They chose their actions and how they want to progress with the story and the world and I decide whether or not the succeed and what the objects and creatures there are for them to find and interact with. 
In those situations, the solution is not in the rules.


Why not? If the authors of the game intend for only the GM's sense of whether it's clear to matter, then having a text that says "Although things may be clear to one, several or all players, it's a matter of whether it's clear to the GM" can simply clear that up for a player who thought everyones sense of whats clear matters.

If your players continue to object to that, no amount of additional rules or sentences are going to help you.  To repeat: The solution is not a rule.  The solution is talking to your players outside of play.


The solution is a rule, in as much when I know the text says only the GM's opinion of whether it's clear matters, then I know people who said they'd play by the games rules are failing to live up to their promise.

It does help me to know if someones just failed to live up to following the rules - but when I don't know who the situations supposed to be clear to...then I don't know if that players dropped the ball or what.

It's not like I'm asking for eight pages of text - just one sentence "Although things may be clear to one, several or all players, it's a matter of whether it's clear to the GM" or some such (if indeed the game designers only want it that its a matter of whether things are clear to the GM or not). Some people already argue that the rules say this - while you don't seem to acknowledge such - which I think both proves how unclear it is now and how people can get two entirely different and incompatable ideas from the text as it is.

I really think many people, when they hear 'when success and failure are far from clear.' they'll think their sense of what is clear matters, whether they are a player or GM.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

If the authors of the game intend for only the GM's sense of whether it's clear to matter, then having a text that says "Although things may be clear to one, several or all players, it's a matter of whether it's clear to the GM" can simply clear that up for a player who thought everyones sense of whats clear matters.



As both Vacthok and I have already told you, the information you're seeking is already there.  The whole document addresses the role of the DM.  I understand that you feel that it's not, and that more is necessary.  Rather than rehash this debate, I want you to try something.  Maybe it will help, maybe it won't.

Read the document from start to finish, except skip over the box about "Ignoring the Dice."  Forget about the example for the time being.  Read over all of the paragraphs and rules, with all of the headings for those paragraphs in mind.  Then, mark down the portions that you think are relevant to this discussion.  Print it out and make check marks if you need to. Or copy and paste into a text program like Word.  Or C&P directly to this forum.

In doing so, you should find at least one paragraph that addresses this topic and answers your question.  There's more than one place that covers these situations.  In fact, there's more than one, even above and beyond what Vacthok and I have already quoted to you.  If you don't find it, then tell us where you would put this clarification if you were the author.  Again remember, I'm asking you to ignore the box about "Ignoring the Dice."
So is this how it should read?

The dice are neutral arbiters. They come into play when success and failure are far from clear. Although, things may be clear to one, several or all players, it's a matter of whether it's clear to the GM. Think of them as impartial judges, ready to dispense a yes or no answer based on a character’s bonus and the DC you have selected. The dice don’t run the game. You do.
If the authors of the game intend for only the GM's sense of whether it's clear to matter, then having a text that says "Although things may be clear to one, several or all players, it's a matter of whether it's clear to the GM" can simply clear that up for a player who thought everyones sense of whats clear matters.



As both Vacthok and I have already told you, the information you're seeking is already there.  The whole document addresses the role of the DM.  I understand that you feel that it's not, and that more is necessary.  Rather than rehash this debate, I want you to try something.  Maybe it will help, maybe it won't.

Read the document from start to finish, except skip over the box about "Ignoring the Dice."  Forget about the example for the time being.  Read over all of the paragraphs and rules, with all of the headings for those paragraphs in mind.  Then, mark down the portions that you think are relevant to this discussion.  Print it out and make check marks if you need to. Or copy and paste into a text program like Word.  Or C&P directly to this forum.

In doing so, you should find at least one paragraph that addresses this topic and answers your question.  There's more than one place that covers these situations.  In fact, there's more than one, even above and beyond what Vacthok and I have already quoted to you.  If you don't find it, then tell us where you would put this clarification if you were the author.  Again remember, I'm asking you to ignore the box about "Ignoring the Dice."


Again, you're trying to convince me.

Okay, I'm going to read your post as posing an experiment - where I'll GM, I'll work from the premise that it's a matter of whether it's clear to me - then I'll see if at any point players argue, or argue briefly then fold their arms and sit back in their chairs, eyes a little glazed, enthusiasm sapped (ie, they don't think the text says that).

If that arguing does occur (maybe it wont, who knows?), will that prove something about what I'm saying, or what would it take to prove to you that the players thought their idea of 'what's clear' matters and the text does not educate them on their mistake at all?

If there's no method by which you'd agree my point is actually the case, well then you just aren't listening to begin with. Hopefully there is some method you'd agree to. Anyway, I'll do the experiment when running 5E in future.


ssdrax, yeah, that'd make the fact of it nice and clear.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

That's not really a good judge of this, though.  Players get huffy over DM rulings all the time.  That is not a good measure of this instance.

What is a good measure is if you don't mention this rule at all to your players, and then make a ruling.  If one of your players brings up this specific rule, then that would be evidence of your point about this rule being ambiguous.

So, don't bring your players' attentions to it - just rule it.  If they argue it, and bring up this rule saying that they believe their opinion matters, then that is a good measure of the efficacy of its wording. 
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