How do you deal with everybody trying to take park in every check?
By - Bodongs
The easiest thing is just don't allow it. It's kind of harsh, but the dm calls for skill checks and if you say "Galfor already searched the room, you have little reason to try again" and don't ask for a roll, it doesn't happen.
The more wholesome thing is to talk to your players about etiquette and expectations at the table. Tell them you don't enjoy repeat skill checks and work out an understanding where players need to be more deliberate with their plans because 5 dice rolls are pretty much guaranteed to succeed at anything. Encouraging the help action while only allowing 1 check could be a good compromise.
The other thing is asking that they explain how their attempt is different. Perhaps the gnome investigated the room, but the context clues in the description made the hearth seem suspicious. If the orc wants to investigate the fireplace specifically they are welcome to do so, as it is not "search the room" again. If that fails and somebody wants to investigate something else, they can but remind them of any danger they might be facing if they wait too long.
In that vein, if there is a danger (spike ceiling, flooding room, poison gas, etc) it gives a timer and every failed attempt imperils the party further. Putting a fire under their belly can prompt more creative problem solving like spells or spur of the moment ideas that wouldn't seem reasonable in a quiet room.
As for the help action, it's usually fine. Like if you made a problem that 2 people shouldn't reasonably be able to solve together, is it a little too hard? But if you don't like it, here's some homebrew alternatives:
* Help requires an explanation. What are you doing that adds 25% chance at success to this action? Searching high while the other searches low? Appealing to the noble's ego to make her more likely to hear your friend out? Any help isn't valid without justifying how you are helping.
* Help requires a different, easy skill check. If you want to help a history check, you can roll a religion check on dc 10 - if you succeed your religious insight gives advantage on history. If you want to help investigation, a dc 10: history for bookish crime/trap/treasure knowledge, perception as you are scanning the room and listening for things, survival as you look for footprints and whatnot. Alternative rolls that are easy, but not guaranteed to give a tangible advantage on the roll. This doesn't really work with athletics, but it's s fine exception. By not including the same skill, you prevent a wasted nat 20 giving advantage that yields a 1 and 5.
* You cannot help in skills you aren't proficient in. While anyone can attempt any skill, you are no help to others if you aren't good to begin with. This makes bards and rogues a little more useful as they have more skills and can be useful to chime in for the assist. It makes the random animal handling you got from folk hero, or the survival you got from lizardfolk more useful, even if you never planned on building around those relevant stats.
This was a wonderful reply, thanks for taking the time to write this
I'm happy to have helped!
I've heard of your first and third bullet points before, but I *REALLY* like the second one! I'm stealing that for future games.
That's awesome, thanks! I think it adds a lot more team play and encourages rp'ing niche skills.
Man oh man do I love the options at the end! Very cool ideas.
>Galfor already searched the room, you have little reason to try again
Just ask the party for their passive skill in whatever they are doing. Passive's exist for this reason.
> If you say "Galfor already searched the room, you have little reason to try again" and don't ask for a roll, it doesn't happen.
I've never understood this logic. My 18 INT wizard, who uses his brilliant mind to wield lethal supernatural forces every day, is incapable of understanding that the rogue might have missed a trap? The concept that he might have missed one is too much to comprehend? For this professional tomb raider?
If you have to say no, say no. But not like this.
It's not foolproof but if repeat checks are a problem for the game and the dms enjoyment, it's a way to handle it. I gave like 5 better options in my post though.
With that logic then everyone is dogpiling skills and there is almost no chance of failure which at the end of the day is unfun.
Unless on this specific check, them finding something might be imperative for the plot to continue further.
True, but then why make a check if failure will 'block' story. I would argue that there should always be multiple ways of moving forward if possible.
In that case I encourage my party to take 20, it's a little "unprofessional" but we're all friends and it doesn't ruin anyones enjoyment.
Well there are times where dogpiling makes every kind of sense in the world.
OK, let's say the party is trying to get a treasure chest out of a niche in a cliff that's 25 feet up. No time pressure. Clearly, this situation *is* going to end with the party getting the chest. There's no reason on earth why only one person would ever try to climb, and if that roll fails, he can never try again and no one else can ever try at all. They can take 10. They can take 20. They can try to pull it down with a grappling hook. They'll fly up there with magic. They'll chop down some branches to build a ladder. A "dogpile" is exactly what's called for. The idea that the DM needs to bottleneck this through a one-skill-roll limit is so obnoxious.
There are plenty of situations where it's do or die. You can hear the pounding feet of the guards right behind you. You're making your closing argument in a trial. The walls of the Death Star trash compactor are closing in. There are plenty of times when there's no way to each have a go at it. One guy has to step up and sink or swim on the party's behalf, and then the consequences happen one way or another.
But artificial "no dogpiling" rules are so dumb. You have to follow the logic of each situation.
Making your players roll until they succeed is also dumb in my books.
It's not dumb if there are consequences for failure, or a limit on retries. If there's water pouring into the chamber, or every failed attempt to fix the mechanism activates more clockwork soldiers, then it's not dumb at all. And if there truly is no time pressure and no consequences for failure, that's what taking 10/20 is for.
There are a couple common ways to handle it. One way is for the DM to rule that only characters with proficiency in the relevant skill can attempt the action. The other thing is the DM says any two players can roll, and they can either roll separately or one of them can roll with advantage (from the Help action).
I like this thank you
Yeah I'm a fan of the only 2 can roll and decide if it is both rolling or one with advantage. They will usually delegate it to the one with a better chance rolling with advantage and RP it out. The other 2-3 can be doing something else. As a player I personally like my characters personality to really come into play. With some characters they leave that stuff to the more proficient people. With time your group will hopefully learn who is good at what and become a good team.
If they don't really like that and all want to roll investigation still it might be time to have some baddies get a surprise round on them while they are all busy checking the walls. :)
Bingo bango bongo!
Depending on the roll you could also do it as a group check, where success is dependant on everyone's contribution.
Group Tasks- If a particular task is something that must be performed by the whole group to be successful (ex: stealth checks) then every participating player will roll and the group's overall success at the task is determined by an average of the rolls. Average is determined by number of failures vs number of successes.
This doesn't work as well for knowledge based checks, but for things like searching a room, jumping a gap, sneaking around and other activities like that it works great. It allows everyone to contribute without necessarily giving them a massive advantage by just spamming the checks.
Thanks for mentioning group checks. I really should have included that in my original reply. Group checks are an important part of play, and they're kind of a little bit buried in the rule book.
Please never require proficiency to attempt a thing. It is a scaling bonus for a reason. Requiring proficiency is analogous to treating the proficiency bonus as a +30 and then ramping up the DC accordingly
It’s not, though. Take a knowledge check for example: in real life if you don’t have proficiency in something there is no way for you to know the inner workings of it. You can use it as a barrier for entry, and it allows certain characters to shine. Ever been the guy with the proficiency that loses out to a guy with zero proficiency due to a bad roll? It sucks! This allows you to put the spotlight on somebody, and when they roll poorly it doesn’t feel as bad. Let individuals shine at times. This is also my argument for why point buy is the best system for rolling characters if you want a table where teamwork is necessary for success.
Exactly. Remember the rule: If there's no chance of success, don't roll the dice. It's reasonable to apply some common sense and say that the character who's got a -1 to Survival has no chance of succeeding in this particular Survival check, so no, sorry, you can't even try. Yes, I know the dice can do anything, but in this case you just can't do it.
I think Arcana's probably the best example. If you're not proficient in Arcana, you probably don't know *anything* about it at all; it's by definition an arcane subject. "You've never heard of this before" is a perfectly acceptable answer to a call for a knowledge or lore skill check.
(Contrariwise, it's also perfectly acceptable to skip the die roll and say "You would know about this, based on your studies/experience/background/whatever.")
Intelligent people in a world with magic probably do know things about magic, even if they arent specifically proficient in that. Sort of how intelligent people in the real world tend to have a grasp of science even if they arent scientists. I stand by the statement that this analogous to scaling the difficulty and proficiency bonuses way up. There is a reason proficiency bonuses are typically smaller than your primary stat bonus until the late late game.
You allow ONE check. If someone else wants to participate, they can give the help action. No other checks, unless it is something active. For instance, if multiple players search a room, sure, allow multiple perception checks. All of them have eyes, ears, etc. But an arcana check? History? Etc? Nah. They’re doing this as a party. One check, with a help action if you rule they can.
I shouldve read this and just gave a +1 before I wrote a novel saying this a lot less concisely
This. Basically I ask the party "Who is speaking for you guys?" and that one PC gets to roll to fast-talk a guard into letting them pass.
Depending on the circumstance I might or might not allow the help action or the use of Guidance.
In my example above, I would not allow either because it's a very brief exchange, not a half an hour back and forth negotiation.
Might not allow guidance? I'm sorry but if I cast that spell before the skill check comes up (not as a reaction to the dice, but rather as soon as we see the guard and realize deception or persuassion or stealth is likely to ensue, all of which that spell can affect slightly), then guidance works.
Now, if you try to cast in the presence of the guard, such as after the conversation has begun, that is another story, because the guard will react to you saying magic words like police react to seeing a gun, and persuassion is now autofailed
Precisely! I didn't articulate it clearly, but for social interactions it's just too weird to have a cleric casting Guidance.
Like, you're a guard on watch at the castle gate, it's midnight and you're standing there in the rain. Up pops a bard who smiles widely at you and starts trying to convince you to just let him and his friends in, y'know, just this once. And he's got some hysterical madman of a cleric of who-knows-what God, chanting and gesturing beside him.
No, Guidance, is not allowed there because casting in front of the guard is going to certainly start the fight you're trying to avoid.
Obviously, if the bard is trying to climb a long rope - or as you say, around the corner before the bard approaches the guard - that'd be a different story. The cleric can howl prayers all he wants, there
Makes sense, for some reason I was reading that differently, but I'm sure the fault lies in the ambiguity of english, not your articulation. In my mind, there is no check that guidance cant help with, but there are times that the action of casting it causes a separate reaction
That's a better way of saying it. You should get a job proofreading at WOTC.
I would take that job happily, unfortunately the "common english" goal to avoid technical language means they dont want the types of keywords and rephrasing I would suggest.
But yeah, the key is that neither guidance nor resistance has a "reaction" cast time. Guidance is WAY easier to use effectively because skill checks are things YOU initiate by making a choice, you just need to be thinking ahead. Resistance is tough to use well because saving throws are what happens when something is being done TO you, and thus you lack the ability to plan for it as often.
I have pondered a house rule where Resistance can be cast as reaction (but still range of touch), possibly with the caveat that it cannot be cast on self as reaction. Thoughts?
I do this, but with two players or one with advantage. So if the barbarian thinks to ask about the runes written on the wall, he can get a roll, and then the wizard can step in and take over. Fits thematically, I think.
but everyone searching the room in a party of 5 is super, super, super advantage. (best of 5 roles, one of them is going to be over 15 so why roll)
Advantage doesn't stack, so they can all be helping the "most investigative" but then it is advantage only (two rolls)
OK, but if the rules of skill checks say this is a task that 5 adventurers will almost always succeed at, are you so sure the rules are wrong? A full party can team up to do a lot.
If you put a kobold in the room with the full party, and combat started, they'd each get a swing at it, and they'd kill it in no time. That's how it's *supposed* to be when a party teams up and all applies their strengths to a task they can all help with. Replace the kobold with your trap, and it's no different. They can each help, so they probably get the job done. Is it so wrong?
This is known as "skill dogpiling". There are several ways to deal with it, but Matthew Colville goes over some good ones in his video 'Skill Dogpiling, Running the Game #87"
Thia pretty much wraps it up nicely. Id just add using passive perception more often, and definitely instead of just asking everyone to roll perception all the time.
My personal go-to is to describe the scene, and ask my players what, specifically, they want to do.
If they all want to focus their attention and roll Arcana on the mysterious relic glowing in the center of the dark room, that's fine. But that's time *not* spent:
* Checking the room for traps/divination
* Making an actual light source
* Ensuring the room was vacant before they arrived
* Looking at/searching anything else
* Ensuring they weren't followed
And any one of those things can have consequences. Maybe one of them made their Arcana check and learned what the relic does... and so did the Big Bad who bugged the room and eavesdropped on the party's banter.
Another thing to keep in mind: when player A says they want to explore the room, before you ask for a check and before they roll ask every other player what they are doing while A searches. If several other players also want to search, you can depending on the circumstances either give Player A advantage, or let them all roll.
Generally for knowledge checks I'll let everyone roll (since there isn't really a way to help) but for investigation, perception, etc, one player takes the lead and gets advantage if one or more players help. I will let multiple players help cancel out other sources of disadvantage, so if the roll would normally be at disadvantage (e.g. perception in dim light), if one player helps that is a straight roll but if two help it is with advantage.
If everyone wants to take part, it becomes a group check - if the party rolls more successes than failures, they succeed. Which means sometimes it's better to leave the talking to the bard.
This is table dependant and check dependant. Party rolls don't make sense in some cases, such as history because you either know something, or you don't
There is no one way that works for every situation. I try to keep it grounded in "reality." Quote unquote.
Sometimes, it makes every kind of sense that you can just... all keep trying. I lost my keys. I look for them. I fail the roll. I look again. Someone else comes and helps me look. Eventually one of us is gonna roll high enough. With passive skills and taking 10, there are situations where if anyone in the party *can* do it, they eventually *will.* Time pressure can certainly change this into a situation where each check matters. But without time pressure, it's repugnant to me that *one* person would get *one* chance to find the keys, and if you miss, you can never look again.
There are also those situations where it only makes sense for certain characters to ever get a roll. I will restrict it to who is qualified. But I as DM don't necessarily control how many qualified characters are in the party. If glowing ancient runes appear on the wall and I have a party of 5 wizards, it makes zero sense to say, "OK Gerndulf, you can roll, and Morlen can Help, but then no one else gets to roll ever." Of course they can each try to read the runes! How would they not?!
OK, but *then* there are those times when it's sink or swim, no second chances. You just walked into the barbarian camp and you need to impress 200 stinking, mad-eyed warriors. Maybe you have 5 bards in the party, but if that first roll fails, you're not going to be taking turns; you're going to be running for your life!
So yeah, sometimes who can try, and how many times, is very limited. But I try to keep the limits based on the logic of the situation and not dumb browbeating like, "Oh, well after Keef the Thief searched the room, none of you others see any reason to check his work. You're all automatically so confident in this level-1 rogue you literally just met today that you're willing to all place your lives in his hands without further confirmation." No. None of that. There are often limits, but not *stupid* limits.
There’s something RAW that I think you’re talking about. I think it’s in the DMG, about how certain tasks can be automatic successes.... but they take time. You can make a check to do it *right now*. If you fail the check, you can take the time to do it no matter what. For something like “I lost my keys”, I’d absolutely just tell the player “you can’t find them immediately, but if you take the time, you should find them.” And then they can choose to do it or not, and you can tell them how long it takes.
The key here is not to lie. Don’t tell your player that you can take time to do something and then tell them they went three hours and still didn’t find their keys because actually they got stolen by the thieves in the market.
So yeah, this is generally what I do, but I don’t ask for more checks after the first one. I just tell them it’ll take a vague amount of time.
Exactly. Sometimes it's not "you find your keys now or you never find them;" it's "you find your keys now or in an hour." That's fine. You decide what success means; you decide what failure means. It doesn't have to be triumph vs. disaster. It can be shades of gray.
I think the reason some DMs kind of handle checks in a warped way is because they *want* their traps to go off. They *want* the rogue to check for traps, fail, walk forward, and get wrecked. The dogpile makes that increasingly unlikely to happen, and when it does happen, it's increasingly clear it only happened because the DM wanted to watch as a gnomish contraption blew your kneecaps into the next county.
The desire to spring traps on the party is what leads to skill checks becoming these butterfly wings that can only ever be touched once, and then they're ruined forever and can never be attempted again.
This literally happened to me with a new group yesterday. Someone rolled a perception check, someone offered to help. The roll was still crap. Someone asked if they could roll as well for the same thing. I said “no, you can’t roll for the same thing again. You could investigate something else or some other aspect around you if you like.”
And it was done. Painless experience. I’m a little shocked it went so well but I mean I was firm and decisive and they understood.
Whoever has the most skill checks, if he fails, it's done, if the best guy couldn't do it, the rest of you certainly won't. This only applies to situations where it's logical to have your best person forward. If its a history check and the historian couldn't figure it out, Grognak the half orc barbarian isn't gonna know the answer, nor would he have the knowledge required to even assist the historian.
At most, I allow 3 rolls. If that is 3 independants or an independant and a helped, it's the same. I only let my players roll when the approach and the goal is clear (outside of info based checks), if one person fails with one approach, to get another chance to roll, the approach has to change.
As far as rules/lore, I consider it the party putting forth their best effort.
And for conversation with players, when I first saw this happening at my table I talked about them trying to use the law of large numbers against me, which is the statistical way of saying they are trying to roll as many times as they can so one person eventually crits, which in my eyes is light cheating. Plus, I talk to my players about how I don't set things up so one bad roll will screw over the party. If it is important, there are multiple ways they can reach their goal, if I haven't planned them, then I'll come up with them before the next session
With the help action, asking how do you help does a lot. When it comes to lore, there's almost no way that they can help another PC remember something, but they could make their own check to remember. Sometimes I'll ask one PC, who would be more likely to know something based on backstory or character habits, to make the check first, they get a lower DC than I'd give anyone else.
Group check; if half fail, they all fail. Makes them think twice about going all in
Just say no. Or explain at the beginning of your next session that it ruins the point of a roll if you keep rolling till it succeeds.
What I do: when person rolls, the party can “Help” that person. It’s a legit action in the PHB that gives the player advantage.
I just only allow one to try.
9 times out of 10 I just have em all roll a check at the same time anyway. You’re playing a game with your friends, if they all wanna check out a room, let em.
I'm totally fine with this for most situations, I don't put secrets in my dungeons not to be found. I want my players to know the lore behind the Tower of Nathras, and I hope they find the secret treasure behind the hidden door in his chambers.
That being said, I definitely only allow a single check per person, and I always suggest if two people are interested in rolling the skill check, that one of them simply aid whoever has the higher bonus. But sometimes it's not as easy, and the players are determined. Let them be! No reason to lock them out of content that is meant to be found.
If you need to control it, which I would argue that you mostly don't. But if you need to control it,here are options:
1. Environment:. People can't make checks for things their characters can't see, or physically engage in.
2. Working together actually requires working together. So, recall of information, for example, isn't something you can work together in. Solving a problem (by discussing arcane laws for example) can be done together.
3. Make them work for it. Tell them how they are helping the other person. Sometimes this is pretty obvious (I'm also searching for secret doors). Sometimes not so much.
I get the sentiment, but as a player, I get annoyed at DM's trying to limit checks or Help unless they give a narrative reason why one person can search the room and everyone else is just standing there looking stupid.
It challenges logic, so much. Two dungeon delvers can search a room exactly as fast as five? Two dungeon delvers can do *anything* as fast as five? Ten, Twenty? *Any* task to be done, the third and all successive "helpers" just stand around? C'mon.
Id say just cap it at 3 tries wether that be for one person or for 3 then remind them that they can give each other advantange by offering to assist each other
Gonna go a little against the grain of what everyone else is saying here, but for a player, rolling dice is fun, and finding things out is fun. Especially for exploring stuff and investigating, chances are all the characters would be participating anyway. What I do is just have everyone roll at once. "You enter the dark room, and feel some sort of magical energy. Everyone roll an arcana check," or my players ask to ransack the abandoned office, "Sure, everyone roll an investigation check" it's faster than each person telling me individually one after another like you have the problem with, and then I tell the highest and lowest roller what they think of the situation.
With a party of 5 or 6, your method means that one of the party will always succeed at the roll. Which in my personal view, takes away something from the table. As some of the best plans, crazy and memorable things come from failing.
Very valid, I normally only play with groups of 3 or 4, and even then do often have moments of party split, so they still fail those rolls. In addition, it's generally only perception/investigstion that those group rolls occur, things like acrobatics/athletics/sleight of hand/stealth etc. all have chances of failing with as you say crazy and memorable bits.
I guess for me, it's strange to only have one person be "searching" a place when in character I assume everyone will be doing it unless someone is standing guard, and even then they should roll a perception check to see how well they do that
What I try to avoid, is having one person roll, when the other players see a low number, they want to roll too. This is the metagaming component.
I totally agree, which is why I prefer to just have everyone roll at the same time - they're all searching concurrently
I don’t worry about it and don’t do anything to stop it. Why wouldn’t everyone get a chance to try?
Because on most tables that's meta-gaming which some DMs don't allow.
You could only have one roll per check (unless of course, in situations you want someone to find something or it’s something everyone needs to roll), or you don’t tell them they fail, tell them false information because they are pretty sure this cursed wand is a wand of fairie fire or something. Another great trick I like is have the most interested/best fit character who can see whatever it is make the roll (like wizard with high intelligence or arcana, you make the check seeing it in the bards hands) and just leave it at that, if they fail, it’s a mystery that the party gets to find out later if they take it! This is a great opportunity to let the characters who are built for this feel special and shine! And if someone else steps in and starts to get really headstrong about something you can always ask the glorious question of “What’s a solid reason your character would know that information just by looking at it”. No is always an option, however (as I’m learning in my own group with friends I’ve played with for years), COMMUNICATION IS KEY, have a talk with your players and voice the concerns, maybe try to come to a vote or a compromise that works for your group that helps streamline the process, and if not, sometimes you gotta be that DM who says “look guys, we are gonna do it this way from now on” and explain why. Hope this helps! Good luck!
RAW, there are no reasons not to do this.
A house rule to reduce the effectiveness of the help action would be to rule that helping requires the helper to have the proficiency being checked.
I have a custom rule for check dogpiling, but it's a little complicated. I ask who's making the check. Everyone interested rolls. I put each score into a spreadsheet, which looks like this:
DC 17 check:
Category | Player A | Player B | Player C | Player D
Net Roll | 19 | 17 | 15 | 8
Success Bonus | 2 | 2 | 0 | 0
CHA mod | 0 | 0 | 2 | 0
Weighted Roll | 19 | 19 | 19 | 8
I then roll a random number between 1 and the sum of the weighted rolls (65.) If that number is 1-19, the party is convinced to use Player A's check result of 19. If that number is 20-38, the party is convinced to use Player B's check result of 17, etc. In this case the random number comes up 32, Player B's check, which is still a pass. If it was above 38, though, one of the unsuccessful party members would've convinced the rest that their wrong opinion on the subject was correct.
Hidden rolling checks players don't know they've failed is another way I discourage parties from trying to spam checks after a failure. The party doesn't know the party wizard's Arcana check was a 5, they only hear me tell the party wizard the runes are unfamiliar.
So I’ve been using group checks quite a lot, you just let the player with the highest modifier in the skill roll at advantage, effectively the same thing as someone in the party using the help action.
However there are situations where I’d let everyone check individually, for example if someone is sneaking up on them, or everyone is searching a room. In the first case they’re probably not paying attention, so I check everyone’s passive perception, in the same way if it’s not a check to see if the party knows something but instead to see if a single person out of all five can pull it of I let all five check if they can, for example, find the piece of paper hidden in the room.
When I add a roll to my notes, I consider whether or not each party member could attempt it in succession until one succeeds. If they could, a singular player could also technically do the same. I usually change it to something that is not a roll in that case.
The approach I've used for this is part preemptive and part reactive.
Preemptively, I implemented a rule which restricts helping on skill checks to those proficient in the skill (as an aside, this also helps give value to PCs who take skill proficiencies multiple times within a group). I also use a "dungeon round" system where I ask each PC what they're doing for the round (10 min rounds), which can include Help, and then I tell them what check to make. This means no one knows what anyone else has rolled until they've also decided their activity for the same timeframe.
Reactively, the PCs can then decide if they want to try again (and spend another 10 min) or move on. If they reattempt, they have to describe how they're attempting it differently enough from the first person to warrant a separate skill check. This also puts some emphasis on flavorful roleplay; another aspect my tables really enjoy.
Session one I always approach this is I call roll cascades.
I usually say before any check a player can assist but they have to mention they are doing it before the roll happens - once the roll hits the table it’s set in stone and you can’t have multiple characters roll.
The only exception is when someone can justify or RP a legitimate reason they would doubt their party member’s ability.
If the rogue is looking for traps and says it’s clear, why would the fumbling barbarian second guess them?
Honestly for me as a DM it depends. If they are searching for a secret door and no one is actively trying to kill them, I allow the check-a-thon. If they are trying to determine if an NPC is lying to them (or another type of “immediate” pass/fail check) they get one shot and they know who in the party should make the check.
Our party stole from Warhammer 4e. When the party wants to roll on a heal check then the players are asked who has heal as a skill. They then discuss who will do it without revealing any their exact skill bonuses. Then anyone who has it as a skill can add +2 to the check and the elected skill checker rolls with the bonuses. Unless it is perception entering a room, then everyone gets to roll.
My rule of thumb is to always have consequences to failure.
If player A tried to explore a dark room, I call for a check, and they roll a 5, something bad will happen. Maybe they spring a trap. Maybe they step on a valuable piece of treasure and break it. Low rolls mean something bad happens.
If there is nothing bad that can happen from a low roll, I don’t call for a roll.
If it’s a knowledge check, generally I will require proficiency to even try. Sorry, Gorg the Barbarian, you can’t even try to decipher the ancient text.
You can always base it on perception, either a roll or passive, and only allow those who have noticed some clue in the first place to roll. Works for trying to 'help' at least.
In the scenario you're describing, never allow more than two rolls. And let each player use their own character stats when helping. That way the -2 int barbarian can't effectively roll a +8 arcana check.
When doing multi-character checks, include the possibility of negative consequences would and of the roll low. A low arcana check might set of the glyph or just take up a lot of time making the party miss some opportunity.
Steal from pathfinder 2e.
Aid action goes something a long the lines of attempt to help your ally. Roll an appropriate roll(DMs choice)
Crit succes: ally gets +2
Succes: Ally gets +1
Crit failure: Aly gets -1
The bonus can't be stacked
(Pathfinder 2e have crits if you are 10 off the DC)
Now, anybody can try to help, but they need to declare who is doing the check beforehand, and who is helping
Another tip is to only let players try some tasks if they are proficient in a relevant skill. Like, you can't identify how the body was killed without medecin
For things like knowledge and finding things, the goal is more or less for the players to know or find the thing, so I don't often get in the way of that. It's fun to find things and information, and there's rarely any justification for NOT giving everyone a shot.
For the knowledge-based skills, I basically base it on how obscure I think the knowledge is. If it's something really really rare, I might require proficiency. If it's fairly rare or something that a layman on the subject would almost certainly not know, I will give anyone without proficiency disadvantage. In many cases, if not most, I just let everyone roll at once.
If it's searching, I ask them which part of the room they search. The desk? The bookshelves? The bed? Others can attempt to search those areas, too, but at disadvantage, because they're searching under the auspice that someone already searched that area and found nothing. Another thing I will do with searching stuff is that if the player can explain to me a really good reason why they think something will be there, like recalling some bit of information or even just a hunch, I will sometimes give them advantage.
Also don't be afraid to let players search without using the Perception or Investigation skills at all. Unless something is hidden, they should reasonably find it in many cases. If you're going to hide something important or exciting, always make sure you have a reason. Like I said, the best reason to hide something is specifically so players can find it.
With Helping, the player has to justify specifically how they're helping. And I mean specifically. And I mean every time (Aside from helping with an attack or with a skill that's obvious how to help with, like say they're trying to pull something tied to a rope). This usually deters players from cheesing Helping.
I handle it in a few ways:
1. Only someone proficient in a skill can attempt the check. Stops the meek wizard from out muscling the barbarian, and helps players feel special when they get to do something *only they* can do.
2. To give advantage, you need to be both proficient and make a DC 12 skill check. If you don't beat the DC, your assistance isn't beneficial enough to the activity and you're pretty much just getting in the way.
3. Most importantly, the skill check is often not a matter of whether or not something *will* be achieved, but *how* it's achieved. Fail the Athletics check to scale the cliff? It's going to take you a while, and you'll probably have some more trouble to worry about - disturbing nests, or if it's low enough, a saving throw to avoid slipping/dodge some debris.
I always set the rule that if they each want to role it has to be stated at the same time and they all have to roll at the same time.
Let's them all participate if they want, but keeps the role times down. Of course it also eats through game time, after all each character just did nothing but examine an item or whatever.
It does sound really wack naratively. One moment everyone is doing their own thing and then everyone is looking at the stick that was on the night stand. I would just remind the players that they where doing something else so they can't roll for it.
I usually do two things at my table to deal with this. First, a player can only roll a check someone has already attempted if their character has a reason to also be doing this thing. Second, and I established this as a rule with my players early on, every time you retry a check or someone else tries after you failed, the DC increases.
I only let 2 people try it. After that unless it’s a characters area of expertise like decoding a wizards spell book or disarming a trap no one can try it again
I think it's best to let 2 people try the check. That way the person who took the initiative and had the idea gets a chance, and then ideally the group can agree on who specialist is in thay area to try the second attempt, eg. The wizard for an investigation check, or ranger for survival.
Use passives. If the party wants to spend time searching for things after someone has failed an active skill check, that is when you use a passive skill check.
I don't allow it, because it's metagaming. Especially when it's clear that they are rolling because they saw the dice.
Failure is part of the game, make sure that the adventures you are playing don't get stuck.
> Especially when it's clear that they are rolling because they saw the dice.
Yes, and that's how D&D works. Sitting around the table, I see the roll of the dice. My character doesn't, but he almost always learns the result in his own way. I see a low number; he sees the wizard's scrying spell fail. I see a low number; he watches the barbarian's sword swing miss. I see a low number; he laughs as the bard trips over his words and gets a drink thrown in his face.
Other things could be subject to the same logic. I see a low number; my character frowns as the rogue fumbles around the tomb door with a distinct lack of confidence. There aren't all that many skill failures that should really be treated as top-secret player knowledge that must not be passed on to the characters. Almost always, when I see a bad roll, my character is seeing an in-game equivalent.
I just interpret the first roll (usually done by the most proficient PC present) as "the best the party can achieve".
If the inquisitive rogue fails their investigation check, it doesn't mean that they failed to apply their full intellect and the Barbarian can try their luck, too - it means that the party just doesn't have enough data to connect the dots (yet).
If the situation has changed sufficiently (i.e. new data or a fundamentally new approach to the problem), I might allow a new check.
If the party applies a buff, they get to try their hand at seeing if that lifts them into success (add a d4 to the previous result for *guidance*, roll a second time for *enhance ability* etc.).
If they can plausibly tell me how multiple people working on the problem would increase the chance of success or how they meaningfully support the main actor's attempt, they get to apply advantage.
Group skill checks
I think it is important to consider the context of the check. If they are searching a room, they should probably roll individually, since more people searching increases the chance of finding something by a huge margin.
On the other hand, if there is a persuassion check, really only one person should roll, possibly with advantage if his allies are supporting his argument. Or if someone is using survival skill to harvest something of value from a kill, then a failed roll could logically result in damaging said thing of value.
Then of course there are the athletic things, like climbing a rock cliff or jumping over a hedge. In this case, each person should rolls separately unless the first person to complete the task can make it arbitrarily easy for the others, such as securing pitons and rope on the way up. In the case of jumping over a hedge or jumping/climbing up a 10 foot wall, maybe one person offers to "boost" their allies over the wall, and thus everyone who goes before him has advantage.
One thing to consider is whether party size is a boon or detriment in a particular case, and perhaps adjust the DC accordingly. Make those secret panels and hidden treasures higher DC and let every person search. You can speed up the process in-game by saying things like, while the wizard searches this room, what is everyone else up to. 9 times out of 10 you'll get a chorus of "i am also searching the room" and you can just ask everyone to roll.
Might also be worth mentioning that a typical search is done with perception, and then if something interesting is found, followed by an investigation/arcana/history/religion
Also, you CAN just make searching a group activity. I was just offering some advice on ways to match up what is happening in game vs what is happening with the dice.
The rule at our table is two people can try individually, or one person can try with advantage (if someone else is helping). The narrative reason is basically 'You don't know that they rolled badly, your two most perceptive friends just checked it out, so why do you assume they missed something?'
Only let the first person make the check, don't tell anyone afterwards they CANT make the check if they want to, but you don't have to consider it having changed the images.
A bad check does not mean they are stupid, it means that the situation was too difficult for someone with a reasonable amount of skill to do.
Any check that can be made more than once isn't a check, it's just a thing that the player does. Don't bother rolling for these.
Also, I think that help and advantage isn't a great rule, I run "+ their proficiency" to any check. But they both have to be proficient to do that.
How about the entire party makes a roll and then take the average to determine the actual score?
Couple of things I do:
Help action requires the same or higher level of expertise as the one that is helped.
Attempting the same thing the second time increases the DC to make it almost impossible.
I often treat the result of rolls as the result of rolling on a random table, so if someone rolls bad and finds nothing in the room, there is nothing in the room.
Agree with your players in session 0 that metagaming is bad, and remind them that if your character rolled a 2 on an insight check and thinks the other other party is telling the truth, it is his opinion and he’s as convinced of him being true as the one who rolled a nat 20 and thinks the other party is lying.
Agree with your players that searching every room for at least 10 min is boring and should therefore be avoided.
EDIT: There’s also the Easter egg problem, in that if your players don’t trust you to foreshadow properly and give enough clues for them to know when they are supposed to search, they will search every room in fear of missing good loot.
> I often treat the result of rolls as the result of rolling on a random table, so if someone rolls bad and finds nothing in the room, there is nothing in the room.
Checks take time. If they're all busy Investigating, who knows WHAT else is happening outside the room? Maybe a monster hears them and brings buddies......
I make sure they know that it's taking time, and anyone who doesn't participate, I ask "Ok, what are you doing for the X minutes while they're investigating?" My players very quickly learn when they can most effectively choose to take their own actions and when working together on something is most beneficial.
When I was running my large group, I was upfront with them: "There are 8 of you - realistically, if I allow all of you to roll a skill check then at least one of you is probably going to succeed." So on things where failure had to be an option, the rule was no more than 2 and both had to be proficient in the skill called for - if no one was proficient (rare, but possible), then whoever was making the check had to do so unassisted. If it was a situation where success was inevitable (breaking down a mundane door, searching the room/bodies for loot, etc.) the roll I called for would dictate *how long* it took the party to succeed. I know, a lot of people say "if there's no chance of failure, don't call for a roll!" Great. If that's the case, my players are almost never rolling outside of combat - I need to keep them involved somehow, and that's the best way I knew how to do it.
I've told my guys that only 1or2 people can do the the check or 1 can give advantage to the other because it would slow everything down.
TL;DR The DM calls for rolls, the players don't just decide to roll, make sure you tell then that.
For the most part I'd say just don't allow it. That is to say for things like Perception Checks, History Checks, etc., not only do the characters not know that their friend just failed a check (they don't think in those terms and would have no reason to think that way), they may not even know a check was made (History or Arcana checks aren't really something you DO per say, they're more just flashes of insight).
That being said, checks that are both obviously being made AND obviously failed (athletics and acrobatics mostly) I see no reason to limit, especially if there is consequences for failure. Another rule of thumb I use sometime is that either 2 people can make a roll, or 1 person can do it at advantage, nothing more.
All that being said, the rules are nothing if not to be broken. Sometimes you might decide that 3 or more people would all have equal and separate reasons to know something and ask them all to make checks. The one thing you should always remember is that the DM calls for rolls, the players don't just decide to roll, make sure you tell then that.
Before anyone rolls checks, I make sure I get a sense of what everyone is doing in the room. It really clarifies which characters are doing things on their own, and which are doing things together. "I'm searching for arcane writing!" "I'm searching for gold," "I'm watching the door," "I'll help Kira look for gold," etc etc.Then people can start rolling... And, as other people mentioned, one skill check, possibly with help giving an advantage. That's it.
Just do not allow it, knowledge skills are only allowed if proffecient or backstory related. General checks I allow two people independently or using the help action. If it doesn't work, they need to change the situation to try again. It's streamline, makes sense to players, and it creates choices. If you like your barbarian making arcana checks, that's your choice, but the guy who can barely spell knowing the intricacies of magic just ruins immersion for me.
1: limit some checks to those who are proficient with the Skill.
2: let them know that the DC increases will each failure.... whether it actually increases or not doesn't matter.
If someone wants to try immediatly after I let the first person roll again (advantage die via help). If they fair they glean that there isn't much the group can get from what they have here and now available. Perhaps take a tracing of the glyphs and find an expert.
I prefer only allowing checks from PCs that are proficient in circumstances like that
Depending on what I'm asking I do one of three things.
1) Ask everyone before the roles who wants to attempt. After the numbers are know, no changes can be made.
2) I ask what everyone wants to attempt and have them lock in their choices almost like actions. This is a bit more extreme if the party is spending excessive time in areas with no gain. Player 1 and 2 want to loot, player 3 wants to investigate the puzzle, and player 4 is going to look for hidden doors/traps.
3) I ask for specific proficiencies to exist before asking. This keeps role to a minimum and has come in clutch in some cases for checks that don't get as much love.
You could also add a fourth I just thought, have them do the same check for unique areas. Player 1 looting the floor, player 2 the graves, player 3 the bodies, etc. This could work for perception too, have each player check a different part of the are. Eyes on the left, right, forward, and back.
I hope this helps find some way that helps you.
How I usually do it is if the check requires someone to be knowledgeable in it, or to have some experience in a skill, I say that anyone who is proficient in that skill may make a check. Afterall how would a Barbarian with a -1 to Intelligence be able to figure out how a supernaturally advanced arcane trap works.
Stuff like perception I am fine with everyone rolling, and then use the highest roll as the party roll, as I would assume that person would just point out everything that they have found.
An easy solution is to, for some checks, only allow the ones that are proficient with that skill to try or that due their background they might know/be able of doing that.
Other people have already talked about "only two people can try" and I like that.
But at my table I generally let everyone roll. When the first person says "I search the room," I invite everyone to make a roll, and I take the highest one. This is especially double true if I *want* them to succeed. If it's a case of getting information that I want them to have, I'll just ask for everyone to make a roll, and the highest one gets the information.
I also generally say that you have to spend 10x more time to try again. If you spent a minute picking a lock and failed your next attempt takes 10 minutes. Then an hour. Etc.
What I do personally is specifically ask a member of the party to perform a check. We’ll use the example of catching a falling rock
DM: Barbarian roll strength to catch the rock
Barbarian: Rolls a 10
Now at this point that’s a failure. I only ever allow a single person with proficiency in that skill to take the help action
Fighter: I wanna help barbarian
DM: Roll with advantage
Barbarian: Rolls a nat20
The main thing you wanna remember is that you run the game. If you say “only one person will be allowed to help” then they kinda have to deal with it
If someone wants to do something, or I want a specific player to check, I’ll say “(PC) roll perception/investigate/notice/etc.” if anyone else asks I just laugh a little and say no- not only does it make them feel like something’s gonna happen, it makes them think whatever they’re looking at is important to the plot
What about a somewhat forgiving "3 strikes" rule? If you have more than a few players, of course.
This is so easy! Just need more stuff to do. "Make an arcana check. Who wants to help? (Everyone volunteers)
-Everyone who doesn't help can make a perception check to not get surprised if there is an ambush.
-Or an investigation check for hidden treasure, potential traps, or secret doors, but you must pick." (Many people un-volunteer to help wizard)