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 When will you guys figure skills out?

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PostSubject: When will you guys figure skills out?   Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:31 am

Spot checks are PASSIVE. The DM rolls them to see if you notice the blue bird with the camera flying overhead. You can't "look" for the blue bird with the camera flying overhead, because you don't know it's there. Instead, the DM checks on his own personal roll to see if you notice it. Spot checks are influenced by your WISDOM score, which represents your awareness and alertness.

Search checks are ACTIVE. YOU roll them when you specifically decide to look for something useful. You can't look for "THE long, blue shaft in the far corner of the room with the carving of 'Grumlorg,' the ogre mage's face," because if you haven't found it, you don't know that the specific object exists. But you CAN look for "A switch." Search checks are influenced by your INTELLIGENCE score, which represents the coordination and resourcefulness of your mind.

A brilliant person is more likely to find something he's looking for. An alert person is more likely to notice something he wasn't looking for.

This goes for several other skills - You can't suddenly choose to be "sensitive to others' motives;" sense motive is not a spell that can be activated to help you discover if someone is lying; it is, instead, a passive skill, forever ongoing, made for you by the DM in cases where there is an opposing bluff check.

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PostSubject: Re: When will you guys figure skills out?   Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:01 pm

this is something i believe many of us already know, but we continue to do it this way because that's what everyone who hasn't read the dm guide is used to and it's just been easiest to not change.

some other things that we have been doing that the dm is supposed to do for us include attack rolls and damage rolls so that we don't actually know the numbers ourselves.
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PostSubject: Re: When will you guys figure skills out?   Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:58 pm

Ya, but if I had to roll the checks for the players, I'd have to roll a lot more, plus I'd have to have access to the players' modifiers and keep track of those as well. I find it much easier to just let them roll and if they don't get it then they don't. Since I told them to roll, they will know they missed something, so it does make the characters a little more curious, but I think that players generally like rolling dice a lot. Also, I don't interpret these spontaneous rolls as a character suddenly choosing to do something. They are generally always doing something. Just like people in real life are always noticing things. But when the player makes the roll, the culmination of the PC's concentration has come to a head, and the roll shows the result of all that effort.

Plus, if I make the rolls, it feels more like I'm playing the PCs. I don't think anyone likes being told they didn't succeed. They like it even less when it wasn't them that rolled the dice. I know that's a silly, minute detail, but the psychology of the game and the amount of fun anyone is having at any one time has to be respected. In a horror game like Call of Cthulhu I might be more inclined to roll for the characters, because that game is all about the characters losing control. That's what horror is, and it's the fun of being scared. But in a power trip game like D&D, more control is generally better.

The whole idea of spot and search (AKA perception) checks has never really sat well with me. In 1st edition, if you want to look for something, you just say that you look. Then the DM tells you what happens. Then you begin to look some more. It might bog games down a little, but I think it's much more interesting than the video game style of 3rd and 4th edition.
I've been debating for a little while whether or not to get rid of skills in 3.5 all together.

Finally, the Dungeon Master's Guide says I can run the game however I want, as has been written since the very first incarnation of the game. The core rules have never been anything more than guidelines. Tournament players are, no doubt, bound by the core rules. But my game is completely up to me and everyone else at the table. And it will always be that way.
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PostSubject: Re: When will you guys figure skills out?   Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:25 pm

This has nothing to do with trading control, it's about "making sense." It does mean the DM needs to make more rolls, but it takes nothing from the players. But as long as you're taking notes on where these passive checks need to be made, it shouldn't be a problem. If you've marked an elf crouching down there, include the spot check necessary to see him.

The DM doesn't need to know all the skills - but it's important to know the passive ones, like Spot, Listen, and Sense motive.

The players SHOULD roll dice on actions they choose to do; they would logically know if they performed something to the best of their abilities (rolled an 18), or if their attempt was a fluke (a 2), so they should be the ones to roll in those cases. Players should roll attack/damge rolls. Players should roll bluff checks, diplomacy checks, appraise checks, intimidate checks.

The passive ones should be rolled by the DM, because players do not choose to be passive. They just are. They don't know how well they did at being passive, they just know that they failed or succeeded (or not even that, in some cases). DMs should roll spot checks, listen checks, and sense motive checks.

This would only include a few more rolls of the die for a DM. Think of how much more time we spend in combat than we do adventuring. If any at all, adventurers will usually encounter only one event that requires a passive check between battles.

You do plenty of passive checks already - Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saves - do you think that's a problem? Since you don't choose to resist a poison, jump away from an explosion, or resist a spell against your mind, those passive checks should be rolled by the DM. It's not YOU performing the action, it's your body.

It sounds daunting at first, but then think of how often you would need to roll those passive checks per game session. I'd say five, tops.

It's important to make sense in a game based heavily upon realism.

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PostSubject: Re: When will you guys figure skills out?   Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:13 am

Especially since their is such a distinct difference between Wisdom and Intelligence. If I rolled my ability scores banking on being an alert person, I don't want to get half-way through a session only to find out that all those points I put into Wisdom are worthless. This example carries through every facet of the game. I remember rolling a rogue hoping that my "disable device" or "pick lock" abilities would be of any use, but of course, those points were squashed by merely "roll a d20, and if you roll an 8 or higher, anyone can do it."

Everyone, just learn the game. None of us are new anymore; we can play the game logically, so none of us are surprised by unwelcome house rules that make us feel less special. *sniff*

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