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GM hidden rolls?


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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So, obviously for skill checks where it is tremendously advantageous for players to see the result of a GM's roll, hidden rolls make sense. What about GMs who hide all their rolls in PFS play? Is that kosher. Just wondering...

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

It's totally legit to roll behind a screen for monsters/NPCs. I personally don't do it, as I'm short and have trouble working over/around a screen.

Also, sometimes a PC has an ability to force an enemy to re-roll something "before the result is revealed". If you're rolling behind a screen, make sure you have a workaround such that an ability like that functions properly. (Rolling a die behind a screen, saying nothing, and expecting them to decide whether to force a re-roll would not be cool.) So keep that in mind.

But in general, yes, rolling behind a screen is fine.

***

As far as I know GMs are free to roll as they see fit. As a general rule I roll in the open but I hide some rolls (sometimes even fake rolls) just to keep 'em guessing.

The Exchange ****

Allowed, sure.
I don't. But that's me. (and I kind of like to see the Judge rolls anyway, and who the heck knows what he needs anyway?)

edit: And I use oversized dice (the d6 is an inch cube), the table beside us could read my rolls.


Cool. I'm considering whether to hide rolls or not, so I appreciate the feedback.


It's Gm fiat. Although, what I don't like is "These dice are PC killers. Whenever I roll them for games, they suck." When the GM rolls "so well" so often.

I'm also not a big fan of "What's your AC? *roll roll roll*"

Liberty's Edge *****

It is up to each individual GM. I would wager that the majority of GM's do not reveal any of their rolls.

The Exchange ****

Yeah... or the
"I hit you twice, for XX - ah, what was your AC again?"
yeah. Really. sigh.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have actually been told "if I were rolling behind a screen, you'd be getting hit a lot more".

That would be an example of how NOT to do it.

The Exchange ****

Andrew Christian wrote:
It is up to each individual GM. I would wager that the majority of GM's do not reveal any of their rolls.

Different areas must be different I'd guess.

I'd say most (90%) of the judges I've played for in the last few months play without even using a judge screen. The last time I played for a judge using a screen with hidden rolls was 2 months ago when I played Temple of Emperial Enlightenment - and even then the judge said he was sorry for the screen, but the scenario required some hidden rolls. and all his combat rolls were in the open.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Mesa aka TriOmegaZero

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I waver back and forth between all hidden and all open. If my players have a preference I oblige them.

*** Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Kingsport , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka RainyDayNinja

My local VC told me that rolling behind a screen was not allowed for Society play, but I never saw anything in the rules. But I can see the point of it. It gets frustrating to roll a nat 20 on a stealth check, have the PCs roll bad perception, and then proceed to start declaring the buffs they're casting.

*****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Never saw a need to keep a roll secret. Of course there are often times I roll in advance while a player is going so the PCs don't exactly know why I'm rolling (and like Craig sometimes I'm just rolling to roll).

Liberty's Edge *****

RainyDayNinja wrote:
My local VC told me that rolling behind a screen was not allowed for Society play, but I never saw anything in the rules. But I can see the point of it. It gets frustrating to roll a nat 20 on a stealth check, have the PCs roll bad perception, and then proceed to start declaring the buffs they're casting.

Which VC was that? It may be their preference in their region, but it isn't a PFS rule.

Silver Crusade **

I use a few hidden rolls, where even knowing a roll is being made is advantageous. For example, perception checks to notice being followed. Even if they fail, they know something is up, so they act paranoid. Whoops.

Liberty's Edge *****

I used to hide my rolls. Mainly so that if I had to fudge a die roll to keep a PC alive, they weren't aware that's what I did.

However, I haven't used a screen in almost a year.

The players who play at my table would probably rather I use a screen though, because I tend to roll uncommonly well as a GM. I can mitigate that some with a screen. Not so much when the rolls are out in the open.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
I use a few hidden rolls, where even knowing a roll is being made is advantageous. For example, perception checks to notice being followed. Even if they fail, they know something is up, so they act paranoid. Whoops.

Wait, are you talking about rolling the players' checks? I think this thread was about rolling the GM's checks.

Lantern Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland— Baltimore aka dragonkitten

Andrew Christian wrote:

I used to hide my rolls. Mainly so that if I had to fudge a die roll to keep a PC alive, they weren't aware that's what I did.

However, I haven't used a screen in almost a year.

The players who play at my table would probably rather I use a screen though, because I tend to roll uncommonly well as a GM. I can mitigate that some with a screen. Not so much when the rolls are out in the open.

I roll behind screens a majority of the time. I have several reasons.

1. I do fudge rolls to keep PCs alive. "Oh no. The monster rolled a natural 1." When in truth they had just critted the PC for the third time.

2. The screen can hold up my initiative cards.

3. I often use the little cheat sheets printed on the back.

4. For some reason my dice are trying to escape me at all times. The often go flying all over the place as I roll. It makes me feel like I am a hazard to others. They are going to lose an eye because my dice dislike me.

Silver Crusade **

Jiggy wrote:
Alexander_Damocles wrote:
I use a few hidden rolls, where even knowing a roll is being made is advantageous. For example, perception checks to notice being followed. Even if they fail, they know something is up, so they act paranoid. Whoops.
Wait, are you talking about rolling the players' checks? I think this thread was about rolling the GM's checks.

In a very few situations, I do. Trapspotter checks (the rogue talent that gives an auto perception check for traps), perception checks to notice being followed. Things where just by making a check the party will know something is up. I try to limit those as much as possible, because I don't like using them. Otherwise? I make my rolls in the open.

The Exchange ****

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Alexander_Damocles wrote:
I use a few hidden rolls, where even knowing a roll is being made is advantageous. For example, perception checks to notice being followed. Even if they fail, they know something is up, so they act paranoid. Whoops.
Wait, are you talking about rolling the players' checks? I think this thread was about rolling the GM's checks.
In a very few situations, I do. Trapspotter checks (the rogue talent that gives an auto perception check for traps), perception checks to notice being followed. Things where just by making a check the party will know something is up. I try to limit those as much as possible, because I don't like using them. Otherwise? I make my rolls in the open.

I actually use Init cards that the players fill out for me at the start of the game. There are half a dozen d20 rolls on the bottom of the card that I use whenever I need a random roll from the players (the card also has thier Perception and Sense Motive bonus on it, and a note for if they T10 "most of the time") I tell the players what the roll is for, and that I also use it "to see who I shot at if I need a random target - the high dice get's it". I also use it as a kind of short hand to spot players who just seem to roll good all the time. (Average roll of 15+ on the 3rd time he has played with me? wow...).

**** Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco , Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Pirate Rob

As a GM I prefer to roll in the open so that the players know I'm not softballing them or making things extra difficult. (and so I'm not tempted to do so)

However I roll somethings hidden when I want to avoid metagaming information, especially for things like bluff checks for NPCs who have nothing to hide.

As a player, my preference would be to have a GM roll secretly but without any fudging. I find myself frequently slightly distracted from the action by figuring out how dangerous monsters are and realizing they aren't really a threat.

That said, the next time I GM I will try rolling all my dice hidden and see how that works out.

Silver Crusade **

nosig wrote:

I actually use Init cards that the players fill out for me at the start of the game. There are half a dozen d20 rolls on the bottom of the card that I use whenever I need a random roll from the players (the card also has thier Perception and Sense Motive bonus on it, and a note for if they T10 "most of the time") I tell the players what the roll is for, and that I also use it "to see who I shot at if I need a random target - the high dice get's it". I also use it as a kind of short hand to spot players who just seem to roll good all the time. (Average roll of 15+ on the 3rd time he has played with me? wow...).

I really like that idea, I'll have to start using it. Keeps control in the hands of the players, but avoids metagame knowledge. I really like it!

The Exchange ****

Last weekend at a Con I was playing for a Judge who and was making checks over and over (Diplomacy, Bluff, Perception, etc.). I explained that I always would take 10 (if allowed) and here were my numbers. so the only dice rolled were his. It was very refreshing to just PLAY and not have to worry if my dice were going to bite me. Did the NPC beleave me? roll a dice, and tell me. Sometimes he would ask me again, and I would give him the number again (hard to keep all the numbers strait). We were both happy with this.

Grand Lodge *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

Sometimes open roles really add adrenaline and you feel you got away.

I had one such roll today - my son - down to 20 hp - facing 10d6 acid damage. CON 16 - so I needed to roll average or below.

10 d6 go into the dice tray at the same time - moments of silence followed.

Grand Lodge ****

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
nosig wrote:

I actually use Init cards that the players fill out for me at the start of the game. There are half a dozen d20 rolls on the bottom of the card that I use whenever I need a random roll from the players (the card also has thier Perception and Sense Motive bonus on it, and a note for if they T10 "most of the time") I tell the players what the roll is for, and that I also use it "to see who I shot at if I need a random target - the high dice get's it". I also use it as a kind of short hand to spot players who just seem to roll good all the time. (Average roll of 15+ on the 3rd time he has played with me? wow...).

I really like that idea, I'll have to start using it. Keeps control in the hands of the players, but avoids metagame knowledge. I really like it!

I'm hoping a GM never asks me to do this personally.

*****

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Why? You like watching roll a nat 20 or 1 on a sense motive, appraise or will save vs. a not-so-obvious effect?

Player: I sense motive! *rolls a 20* That's a 25!
GM: You get the feeling that not everything he's saying has been true. It's as if..blah blah blah.
Other players: Since he's obviously lying, I do X.

Player: I sense motive! *rolls a 1* That's a 6!
GM: You get the feeling..[cut off]
Other players: I want to sense motive too!

(replace sense motive with appraise or most other out of combat skills w/o obvious success/failures)

At my table, you can roll your own sense motive checks and place them on your initiative card or I can roll them for you behind a screen. Your choice.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Kyle Baird wrote:

Why? You like watching roll a nat 20 or 1 on a sense motive, appraise or will save vs. a not-so-obvious effect?

Player: I sense motive! *rolls a 20* That's a 25!
GM: You get the feeling that not everything he's saying has been true. It's as if..blah blah blah.
Other players: Since he's obviously lying, I do X.

Player: I sense motive! *rolls a 1* That's a 6!
GM: You get the feeling..[cut off]
Other players: I want to sense motive too!

(replace sense motive with appraise or most other out of combat skills w/o obvious success/failures)

At my table, you can roll your own sense motive checks and place them on your initiative card or I can roll them for you behind a screen. Your choice.

Perfect sense.

* Star Voter 2013

I used to hide all of my roles, but I don't like screens that separate me from my players. Now I have a 2 inch tall screen that I can use to hide secret rolls (like Kyle mentioned above).

It's a good idea to never hide saving throw rolls for monsters. Spellcasters are so paranoid. :)

***

Kyle Baird wrote:


At my table, you can roll your own sense motive checks and place them on your initiative card or I can roll them for you behind a screen. Your choice.

I never thought of doing this but I like it. So you get players, if they choose, to roll 'X' number of rolls at the start of the session? Are they just for sense motive or do you draw from that pool for other skill checks as well?

*****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

my standard initiative cards ask for name, init modifier (so i can figure out how the ties break down), 3 sense motive rolls, 3 perception rolls, and 3 will saves (nothing like having some random outsider dominate someone w/o anyone knowing until that person's turn).

Liberty's Edge ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I roll almost everything in the open in front of the players. Attacks and damage I always roll in view. Every now and again a skill check in secret but not often. I am unaware of any rule about where the GM rolls. It is easier for a player to see you roll the 20's right in front of them so they know it is legit.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Kyle Baird wrote:
and 3 will saves (nothing like having some random outsider dominate someone w/o anyone knowing until that person's turn).

Okay, I am immediately adopting that for my campaigns. I never thought of that, and it's a great idea. Especially with a bunch of serpent folk around.

Kyle, how do you pick which one of their will saves to use? At random, or in order?

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

random. if you do it in order, i've found players often write the best one first. Also, I often roll and circle which ones before the scenario even gets going so i'm ready and can just transition into what happens. I use the perceptions for traps and such if the players don't specifically say they're looking. I've put a "take 10" for perception on the card before too doing the same thing. Also, for certain scenarios i ask for different things, like one certain scenario by an awesome author where I ask for the name and value of each player's most expensive magic item. ;-)

Of course the down side of this happened last weekend. I rolled randomly and selected the only will save that would fail on three different init cards. All 6 players were affected by a harpy's song. It didn't end well. :(

(thankfully i failed my UMD on a scroll and only a pregen was coup de graced)

if any of this doesn't make sense, sorry. the vodka is taking over on a Friday night.

Grand Lodge ****

Kyle Baird wrote:

Why? You like watching roll a nat 20 or 1 on a sense motive, appraise or will save vs. a not-so-obvious effect?

Player: I sense motive! *rolls a 20* That's a 25!
GM: You get the feeling that not everything he's saying has been true. It's as if..blah blah blah.
Other players: Since he's obviously lying, I do X.

Player: I sense motive! *rolls a 1* That's a 6!
GM: You get the feeling..[cut off]
Other players: I want to sense motive too!

(replace sense motive with appraise or most other out of combat skills w/o obvious success/failures)

At my table, you can roll your own sense motive checks and place them on your initiative card or I can roll them for you behind a screen. Your choice.

I take all that shiz down as well and roll for the players. Mostly for will and sense motive checks.

Pre-rolling initiative and perception makes no sense to me and would annoy me as a player.

Shadow Lodge *****

Stealths
Bluffs
Sense Motives
spellcrafts
sleight of hands
Disguise
SOME perceptions

I use hidden rolls ... everything else if in them open for me

***

Kyle Baird wrote:
my standard initiative cards ask for name, init modifier (so i can figure out how the ties break down), 3 sense motive rolls, 3 perception rolls, and 3 will saves (nothing like having some random outsider dominate someone w/o anyone knowing until that person's turn).

I've been using index cards with just name and init modifier....but I really like this and am going to borrow your ideas. I'll print some out this weekend on card stock and give 'em a try next weekend at my next event. :-)

I really like the idea of keeping the players guessing (and NOT metagaming) when potential situations come up.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

That's one of the biggest challenges I think we face as GMs, the atmosphere-killing tendency of players to metagame. I use the index card system as well, and record pre-rolled checks so I can use them randomly to keep the veil of mystery hung. Unfortunately many players react negatively because they think the GM is "out to get them" while the GM believes they are enhancing the game. What GMs see as meta-gaming, players might see as "keeping the GM honest". It's just a sad fact that there are adversarial GMs & players out there, and trust is not universal from table to table.

*

I would like to add my two cents in. My only problem is there are many ways for players to force re-rolls or roll two dice then pick. I have a lucky halfling and was at a table where the GM was using prerolled numbers and would not let me use my feat because he would not tell me what number was rolled. After one PC was killed outright by a failed save I stopped the table and forced him to read the rules for the feat. It became a huge fight until I told him that players get to roll their own dice for all checks, saves, and such I until I see it in the rules that I don't get to roll my own dice GMs are not rolling for me.


lilpoppe wrote:
I would like to add my two cents in. My only problem is there are many ways for players to force re-rolls or roll two dice then pick. I have a lucky halfling and was at a table where the GM was using prerolled numbers and would not let me use my feat because he would not tell me what number was rolled. After one PC was killed outright by a failed save I stopped the table and forced him to read the rules for the feat. It became a huge fight until I told him that players get to roll their own dice for all checks, saves, and such I until I see it in the rules that I don't get to roll my own dice GMs are not rolling for me.

Sometimes you run accross GM's that are hellbent on being the almighty at the table. Those gm's need to be reported.

Sczarni *** Venture-Lieutenant, Connecticut—Manchester aka Cpt_kirstov

I swear, my d20s turn in d5s repeated 4 times when I dm. Havnt critically threated yet. I roll in the open so that when things hit on a roll of 2 and do lots of dice worth of damage the players know to be careful... because just maybe my dice will wake up, and then they would be in trouble

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't make them roll initiative checks. The pre-rolled perceptions are used when the PCs aren't specifically asking me to roll perception.

When characters have special modifiers I ask them to jot them down (like trapsense or elven resistances). If you're worried about not getting to use your t-shirt reroll or your lucky halfling for these, please see Doug's post above. It's hard for me to stomach the trust issues people bring to the table. Trust in your GM to have your best interests in mind. If you can't do that, you need to find a different GM.

*flashes back to a good memory*

Gen Con 2007. Iron GM. Steven Helt's table. He asks to make 10th(?) level characters. We get started. He asks the table, "Do you trust me?" Each and every person he asked individually. We all look at each other and say yes... He then proceeds to kill us all. We each had our own fabulous death scenes**. All our characters met in Hell where the story began. :-)

**For those interested I was playing a dwarven cleric in a deep vertical shaft beneath the earth with an army of goblins washing over me. After my connection to Moradin gets cut off, I died by grabbing two of them and jumping off the cliff hitting over a dozen goblins on the way down.


lilpoppe wrote:
It became a huge fight until I told him that players get to roll their own dice for all checks, saves, and such I until I see it in the rules that I don't get to roll my own dice GMs are not rolling for me.

Except they don't - for spotting traps, perceptions, sense motive etc.

Grand Lodge

RAW, GMs have say over whether they roll dice out in the open, or behind the screen. Look at page 403 of the Core Rulebook.

Since PFS follows RAW, and since RAW says hidden rolls by the GM behind the screen are allowed, then hidden rolls behind the screen are allowed in PFS.

I suggest you try both out, and see which one works for you. It's up to each individual GM to decide.

The Exchange ****

Kyle Baird wrote:
my standard initiative cards ask for name, init modifier (so i can figure out how the ties break down), 3 sense motive rolls, 3 perception rolls, and 3 will saves (nothing like having some random outsider dominate someone w/o anyone knowing until that person's turn).

would you allow me to Take 10 on the sense motive and perception checks? -

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
nosig wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
my standard initiative cards ask for name, init modifier (so i can figure out how the ties break down), 3 sense motive rolls, 3 perception rolls, and 3 will saves (nothing like having some random outsider dominate someone w/o anyone knowing until that person's turn).
would you allow me to Take 10 on the sense motive and perception checks? -

Of course not. You're always considered under a threat at my table .

Ignoring your fascination with never rolling during a game originally designed around rolling dice, I don't need you to take 10 on those skill checks. Just write down your modifier next to your three rolls and I'll use a take 10 whenever you actually can. Just like I make the assumption that if you're crawling through a dungeon, you're always taking 10 unless you're actively looking for something (at which case it's your choice to switch to take 20, roll for it, or continue taking 10)

* Star Voter 2013

I have a screen, but I mainly use it to place the scenario behind. I will roll hidden out-of-combat rolls for things like perception, stealth or sense motive checks, but generally roll all in-combat stuff(or at least things which can kill players) in the open.

I like the initiative card idea.

****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
RainyDayNinja wrote:
My local VC told me that rolling behind a screen was not allowed for Society play, but I never saw anything in the rules. But I can see the point of it. It gets frustrating to roll a nat 20 on a stealth check, have the PCs roll bad perception, and then proceed to start declaring the buffs they're casting.

Just dont have the creature attack them then.. Let those buffs wear off

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Mesa aka TriOmegaZero

Hakken wrote:
RainyDayNinja wrote:
My local VC told me that rolling behind a screen was not allowed for Society play, but I never saw anything in the rules. But I can see the point of it. It gets frustrating to roll a nat 20 on a stealth check, have the PCs roll bad perception, and then proceed to start declaring the buffs they're casting.
Just dont have the creature attack them then.. Let those buffs wear off

Oh yeah. Players casting buffs after failed Perception checks is a good way to drain party resources.

Shadow Lodge **

I generally do opposed rolls behind a screen, although I use the scenario sheets as a temporary screen rather than having an actual screen.

It's really good fun when players want to sense motive the guy that's telling the truth so I roll a die and tell them they think he's telling the truth. Works best when the players roll low on the sense motive.

Other fun mind games include asking players for watch shifts, rolling some dice, have them roll some perceptions, then having nothing happen to them. When asked what just happened, just say, with a smile, "Oh, you'll find out"

The more I see players metaing the more I'll do this to them.

The Exchange ****

Kyle Baird wrote:
nosig wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
my standard initiative cards ask for name, init modifier (so i can figure out how the ties break down), 3 sense motive rolls, 3 perception rolls, and 3 will saves (nothing like having some random outsider dominate someone w/o anyone knowing until that person's turn).
would you allow me to Take 10 on the sense motive and perception checks? -

Of course not. You're always considered under a threat at my table .

Ignoring your fascination with never rolling during a game originally designed around rolling dice, I don't need you to take 10 on those skill checks. Just write down your modifier next to your three rolls and I'll use a take 10 whenever you actually can. Just like I make the assumption that if you're crawling through a dungeon, you're always taking 10 unless you're actively looking for something (at which case it's your choice to switch to take 20, roll for it, or continue taking 10)

(bolding mine.)

thanks! The characters bonus on those two skills is on my Table Tent. And I'll roll it if that's what you want on the card, I just would like to T10 whenever I can. Some people like to roll dice, I'm just not one of them.

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