Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

When to Roll for the Players as the GM


Beginner Box


Question first:

What are some examples of situations that you as the GM would make a roll for the player(s)?

I remember reading somewhere that the GM will make checks for players sometimes. Such as stealth, perception, etc. I also remember not being able to find anything that would expand on these type of situations and how they would work. Do you ask the player what bonuses they have for the check? Should I have copies of everyone's character sheets?

Fluff:

I really want to thank Paizo for this awesome Beginner's Box package. Our group started playing back in March, we're all 21-27 years old and none of us have ever played a tabletop RPG of any kind. In fact half of our players are wives, as we have 4 couples that we cycle in for games.

The Beginner's Box books are really well done visually. There's enough color and artwork to really get you in the right mindset and not overload your brain with text. I've now bought the Core/GM/Beastiary combo just to get myself ready for moving to the full game and, while I love reading them and very excited to play, I miss the flow and organization of the Beginner Box books. I know that's a tough nut to crack but there ya go. You guys are doing awesome work.

And I really love seeing the amount of input and feedback that the Paizo team delivers straight to these message boards. I really like that you are involved directly with the community beyond generic and sterile sounding public announcements.

Cheers!


Keep in mind this is coming from and "old-school" D&D guy...

As a general rule, as a GM I will roll if it's a case of the PCs not really knowing if they succeeded or not. They check for traps and don't find any - did they fail the roll or are there none to find? Trying to be stealthy - they think they are being quiet, but are they really or have they been seen/heard? That sort of thing.

Welcome to the wonderful world of tabletop RPGs!


Some examples.

Your players are trying to be stealthy. You have told them there are guards on duty. You can roll their stealth so that they don't know if they've been spotted or not.

Or you simply roll their perception for them if you roll high you tell them that someone is hiding in the bush behind them if you roll low you don't. You do this because asking them to do a perception check and then telling them they saw nothing because they all rolled 4s is going to change the actions they take.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for the replies,

And in both of your examples, how do I factor in the bonuses they would get to those checks? Every player is going to have a bonus to stealth and perception.

Sovereign Court

I keep a chart of stuff on each character and update it at the beginning of the night. Stuff like perception,CMD, AC. Stuff like that. Can be helpful when you want to roll a save for the player without them knowing.


*writes down idea*

What's everyone else have?


glio wrote:

Thank you for the replies,

And in both of your examples, how do I factor in the bonuses they would get to those checks? Every player is going to have a bonus to stealth and perception.

You don't need full, up-to-date copies of everyone's character sheets, but you should have a reference sheet with the basics noted for cases just like these.

Scarab Sages

Sense motive, possibly opposed stealth, definitely perception if you don't want them to know there is something there to find if they fail, like secret doors, traps, etc. Appraise is another one I do not let players roll.

Basically you let them roll as much as possible, except those things they can metagame if they roll bad, meaning they know they sucked at it and probably want to try again, or are pretty sure their result is a false positive.

Scarab Sages

We use initiative cards, where each player has a notecard with their name, ac, CMD, saves, languages, and skills written down. In addition, any regular buffs or supernatural abilities I usually add. When we start combat they roll initiative and I organize the cards in the right order and it keeps things moving fast.

The added bonus to this method is their vital info is recorded on the card so I don't have to ask something like "Does anyone hear speak Infernal?".


Having the players hand in a character sheet is something my old dm used to do. It was just an easy way for him to keep track of this kind of stuff. I use combat manager. It's a free program created by a fellow member on these boards it's super easy to use and very helpful.


Mage Evolving wrote:
Or you simply roll their perception for them if you roll high you tell them that someone is hiding in the bush behind them if you roll low you don't. You do this because asking them to do a perception check and then telling them they saw nothing because they all rolled 4s is going to change the actions they take.

Alternatively, you can simply call for perception checks often. 8 out of 10 times when I call for a perception check, there's nothing to see. That way, if they fail one of those 2 out of 10 times, then they don't know if it's because they didn't roll well enough or because there simply wasn't anything there.


I let players roll a d20 3 to 5 times before each session and record them. They know these will be used for perception and other checks that may come up. This way they feel involved that the rolls for their characters were made by them and yet, the DM can keep the results of missed checks quiet.


I roll for situations like traps, where obvious failure could provoke metagaming, and for cases like knowledge checks where the type of skill rolled could tell them all they need to know, even if they fail it (i.e. ask the PCs to roll knowledge religion to identify a monster and everyone now knows that it's an undead, even if the check is failed).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Since I do roll for the characters for many of the above mentioned situations, I've also learned to just randomly roll the dice every now and then, just to keep the party from automatically assuming that every time I roll the dice, something is either happening to them, or is about to happen to them.

I roll the dice so much that it becomes background noise and the players tend to ignore it.


I don't roll anything for the players anymore, as a general rule. If I had a new group with questionable players I might change that. On the flip side, if I decide to make an exception to that general rule I have absolutely no problem making their sense rolls for them. I guess anything with an opposed roll could qualify.

Silver Crusade

I do DM rolls for many of the situations noted in the thread. I feel the sense of mystery is lost a bit if they roll.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I also know GMs that have the players roll a dozen d20s at the start of the game and uses those when a secret roll is needed. This way, the players are still responsible for the luck of the roll and the GM doesn't even give away a "secret roll = something bad" feel that can come up.


Nothing really to be quite honest. It's just faster for them to roll and presume they won't metagame than it is to roll nearly everything for them and keep track of their skill bonuses.


The other option in many cases is just to assume a take 10.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

You roll as a GM anytime where you don't want the player to know whether they failed or not. For example, a rogue is looking at a locked door to see if it is trapped. You don't want the rogue to know if he fails, just succeeds. So you roll and tell him, yes the door is trapped or no, the door isn't trapped.

But in certain situations like having everyone in the group needing to roll Perception to notice an ambush, it is just easier to let everyone roll themselves.

The Exchange

The problem is rerolls and abilities to pump up the roll. If the player doesn't know, how can he use them?


The difference is active vs passive. An active check is one the player chooses to make, such as searching a door for traps or picking a lock. Even if the GM rolls it, the player still knows of the check and can use a skill bonus ability/spell.

In passive checks such as noticing something sneaking up, there is usually no using such abilities/spells because the player is not choosing to do the action at that time.

The tricky situation comes from active checks combined with some "reroll" ability, like "once a day, reroll a skill check that you fail". The GM may know about it, and the player may say he wants to use it if he fails, but then the player knows he succeeded if the GM rolls only one die.

If the GM feels it is absolutely necessary to keep certain active checks hidden, then the best case is for the player to say he wants to use it. Then the GM rolls two d20s, noting which is the first. If the first fails, he then uses the second d20's value. If the first passes, he ignores the second. After the results of event (like the trap going off or the stealthed creature jumping the party), he can tell the player that the once a day ability has been used up.

Or in other words, overkill, heh. Tell your players that you trust them to not meta-game. That is, to not use out of game knowledge for character knowledge (like knowing they rolled a 3 on trying to find a trap and acting like there is still a trap, even though you said they did not find it). It takes some getting use to, but most players can manage it.

The Exchange

MurphysParadox wrote:

Or in other words, overkill, heh. Tell your players that you trust them to not meta-game. That is, to not use out of game knowledge for character knowledge (like knowing they rolled a 3 on trying to find a trap and acting like there is still a trap, even though you said they did not find it). It takes some getting use to, but most players can manage it.

Exactly, it helps if they know about take 10 or 20.

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder RPG / Beginner Box / When to Roll for the Players as the GM All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.