Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I'm Not Going to Roll, I'll Just Choose to Succeed!

So, I did some further thinking on Mike Mearls' latest post, which also led to me thinking about one of Monte's earlier posts, right before the announcement of D&D Doppleganger, which changes form to suit the designer / DM / players / etc. Why this desire to auto-adjudicate success?

As a side note, if we are going the auto-adjudicate success route, does it matter that thieves are better at skills than others? No one is rolling 95% of the time anyway.

(BTW, 95% is a number I pulled out of the Grumpy Dwarf's Ass - it may be 90%, it may be 99%, we won't know until the 24th)

I understand the desire to improve upon the starting thief's ability success chance at low levels. I'd even go so far as to double the starting success chance, and half the advancement rate. WotC won't do that, as it would require switching skills to a percentile roll as opposed to a D20 role. Still, I think it would go far to solve the problem (i may consider such in my ACKS campaign, but this houserule is not a priority at the moment.

Auto success arguably speeds up gameplay. But it does so at the expense of the game. What thrill, what edge of the seat excitement, is gained when the thief (rogue, whatever) can pick every lock, disarm every trap?

D&D is not an Endless Quest books. It more more than just a series of choices and decisions, it is also a game where some things are left to fate.

Unless Mike plans to auto-adjudicate combat too. Now that would certainly speed up gameplay, and that is the goal of D&D D, correct? Remove the dice rolling and that one hour game session is certainly more than doable. Assuming you can find players to sit down for the one hour game session.


  1. Well, come on, you must admit that there is some "auto-success" action in old-school gaming, right? It's called DM fiat, right? The only thing is, you don't get the benefit of DM fiat all the time. Players have to earn the "hand wave" through good, creative roleplaying/thinking. DM fiat is not earned through "character build," what skills/feats/powers/abilities your character has, etc. You should have to EARN those auto-successes, not just get them because of what's written on a piece of paper/what's in the rules.

  2. If locks have varying degrees of difficulty, why waste the time rolling for the trivial locks. Hand wave those. Save the rolling for when it really matters, not just to roll every time.

    Too often systems make a statement like "roll to open locks" and everyone does it that way no matter what is actually the challenge. There are times it's not worth the bother and hand waving is the better way to do it. But if hand waving is not an option then some DMs won't.

  3. I would agree with you.

    However, when Mike talks about removing luck from the equation the majority of the time, i cringe.

    The lock on a tavern room door should open easily for even the most inept thief.

    Most dungeon locks (and traps) are not going to be of such feeble quality. If they were, why bother with them (from a GM POV)?

    I can see a place for automatic resolution, but it should be the exception, not the rule

    if the thief goes into detail on the process (role play), takes extra time, uses extra light, etc - i may just rule in their favor - or givew a major bonus to their roll.

  4. They seem to forget a failed Open Locks roll leads to interesting strategic decisions: If the thief can't open the door, will the mage use his knock spell, or will the fighter kick in the door and risk an extra roll for a random encounter.

    Automatic resolution hurts this kind of gameplay. It removes challenges and interesting decisions from the game where it should provide more, and for the wrong reasons. Faster game play is nice, but not in those places that make the game.


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