# Natural 1 on skill checks

### Rules Questions

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It's problematic looking at it as a sequential deal, since it's very possible the character may succeed with something less than a 20. If we're going by a strict sequential reading then Take 20 should say it takes 6 seconds times the required die roll to perform an action utilizing Take 20.

I don't think the designers wanted to do that and went with - just use the time it'd take to try 20 attempts, assume failure(low rolls) so can't be done on things that failure is bad, and say on the 20th attempt you get a 20 and call it a day.

If we're basing on 20 rolls it gets even worse as the statistical probability for rolling one of each result in order when rolling 20 times is nigh 0. Going into the actual statistical percentages and such would have been more accurate and even more of a nightmare, so they didn't roll with that either and again just kept it simple.

DM_Blake wrote:
bbangerter wrote:
I might be extra careful, taking extra time, failing 9 times then succeeding on the 10th. That would still qualify for the failing many times part of the text, while not, necessarily, implying that you try exactly 20 times on a take 20. e.g, a combination of 1 & 2 from my original example.

Perhaps. This seems to disregard the "takes 20x as long" part. There is no justification for 9 failures + 1 success = 20x as long as a single failure or a single success. Put another way, one climb attempt takes a move action regardless of whether it succeeds or fails. One Take-20 climb attempt takes 20 move actions, so why would it only include 9 fails (9 move actions) plus one success (1 move action) - what are we doing with those remaining 10 unused move actions?

While we could just handwaive that, I think the 20 attempts with increasing success from 1 to 20 explains it without handwaiving anything.

So what happens after you succeed in your version of doing it 20 times?

I need an 11 to do this (climb something). I'll take 20, after 10 failed attempts I succeed. Then I'll (teleport back to the bottom and) try some more and succeed some more even though I already succeeded. Gotta try 20 times doing better each time, even though I succeeded already on a portion of them.

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DM_Blake wrote:

While we could just handwaive that, I think the 20 attempts with increasing success from 1 to 20 explains it without handwaiving anything.

So if you have a skill of 5 and the DC is 10, and you are taking a 20, and you assume sequential rolls, why don't you stop after succeeding once you get to 5? there is no reason to continue with 15 more successes.

This would only take 5x as long so your idea of rolling 1..20 in order is not supported in the rules in any way.

So can you take 10? When?

Like if I have to Climb or Jump, can I do it?

Would you allow to take 10 on Stealth? What skills do you consider you can take 10 if you're not in combat.

Gully Dwarf and Toblakai both asked the same valid question, that you don't have to go all the way to 20 if your success threshold is lower. I agree. I just always assumed the Devs either didn't consider it or didn't add page count to put it in there.

Me, I've ruled that if you can succeed on a roll of X, then the time required is is exactly X increments of one attempt (instead of a flat 20 increments all the time). I assumed that was RAI.

If we take it literally that it's always 20x longer, then no interpretation makes sense anymore.

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thorin001 wrote:
So, people fail to tie their shoes 5% of the time in your games.

I take 10 when I tie my shoelaces.

If I ever had to tie my shoelaces in mid-combat, it's entirely possible I could have a 5% chance of messing it up due to distraction and danger.

Personally, I don't play by the '1 is an autofail' house-rule, but I've seen it done and it usually doesn't cause much trouble.

Letric wrote:

So can you take 10? When?

Like if I have to Climb or Jump, can I do it?

Would you allow to take 10 on Stealth? What skills do you consider you can take 10 if you're not in combat.

The rules are pretty clear on this.

Yes to Climb, yes to Jump, yes to Stealth. All skills unless the skill explicitly says otherwise (for example, UMD says you cannot Take-10). This is subject to the "danger or distractions" clause which is ultimately up to the GM, but unless the GM says you're in too much danger or too distracted, you should be able to Take-10 on everything but UMD (I think it's the only skill explicitly excepted; I didn't check them all).

Letric wrote:

So can you take 10? When?

Like if I have to Climb or Jump, can I do it?

Would you allow to take 10 on Stealth? What skills do you consider you can take 10 if you're not in combat.

You officially can take 10 on anything but UMD normally.

We also have an official "Non-FAQ" that states the GM is the sole decider of if you can or not based on the story he wants to tell.

Personally climb and jump are fine for take 10, even if failing would mean guaranteed death, as you are using the skill. But there is no rule or guidance of when the GM can say you can't take 10.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
TOZ writing in 2011 wrote:
Ah, 2011, when this thread seemed old, but had actually been around for no more than a year. How young it was! How young we all were! But did we appreciate it? We did not. Time makes fools of us all.
Hey, I need no time to make a fool of myself.

Good thing. If you did, it'd take twenty times as long to get it just right. Though I don't know what the penalty for failure would be.

DM_Blake wrote:

Gully Dwarf and Toblakai both asked the same valid question, that you don't have to go all the way to 20 if your success threshold is lower. I agree. I just always assumed the Devs either didn't consider it or didn't add page count to put it in there.

Me, I've ruled that if you can succeed on a roll of X, then the time required is is exactly X increments of one attempt (instead of a flat 20 increments all the time). I assumed that was RAI.

If we take it literally that it's always 20x longer, then no interpretation makes sense anymore.

Randomly rolling and hoping for a 20 will take on average 20x as long as rolling once. Like take 10, this lets you assume an average for the sake of simplicity. This was clearly the intention since they say it right there in the text that it takes 20x as long regardless of what DC you're trying to hit.

DM_Blake wrote:

Gully Dwarf and Toblakai both asked the same valid question, that you don't have to go all the way to 20 if your success threshold is lower. I agree. I just always assumed the Devs either didn't consider it or didn't add page count to put it in there.

Me, I've ruled that if you can succeed on a roll of X, then the time required is is exactly X increments of one attempt (instead of a flat 20 increments all the time). I assumed that was RAI.

If we take it literally that it's always 20x longer, then no interpretation makes sense anymore.

Randomly rolling and hoping for a 20 will take on average 20x as long as rolling once. Like take 10, this lets you assume an average for the sake of simplicity. This was clearly the intention since they say it right there in the text that it takes 20x as long regardless of what DC you're trying to hit.

Except random rolling has a chance that the 20 comes up on the first roll, or the second. Maybe the first roll is a 19 which might be good enough for what you're doing. Regardless of whether that takes 20x as long, it surely doesn't account for them stating right there in the text that you will have many failures before you get it right - that's a blanket guarantee that failures must happen before success, therefore, it cannot merely be random as random would mean that blanket statement would be wrong some of the time.

Nothing's stopping you from rolling X times normally if you want instead of ever deciding to invoke taking 20 in the first place, as long as the skill in question is retry-yes in your time frame. It is a purely optional simplification.

 RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Our group has always ruled that take 20 is similar to rolling 1 nineteen times followed by a 20. It seems to encapsulate the rules effects of T20 rather well, in time required, consequences for failure, and such.

Also nothing crushes verisimilitude like autofail/success on skill checks. Olympic swimmers do not fail to remain afloat in calm water 5% of the time. I can't successfully eavesdrop on a conversation miles away in a closed room 5% of the time. The d20 is far too granular to represent the true chances of these things happening so we neglect them.

Gullyble Dwarf - Lvl 7 DM wrote:

It's problematic looking at it as a sequential deal, since it's very possible the character may succeed with something less than a 20. If we're going by a strict sequential reading then Take 20 should say it takes 6 seconds times the required die roll to perform an action utilizing Take 20.

Taking 20 is designed to get you the best result, not to get you a number high enough to succeed, and if it is an opposed roll you may not know what that number.

Wow, not only necro'd, but now polymorphed into a thread about Take 10 and Take 20.

Chess Pwn wrote:

You officially can take 10 on anything but UMD normally.

We also have an official "Non-FAQ" that states the GM is the sole decider of if you can or not based on the story he wants to tell.
Personally climb and jump are fine for take 10, even if failing would mean guaranteed death, as you are using the skill. But there is no rule or guidance of when the GM can say you can't take 10.

I agree with this this. Even though almost every skill can allow a Take 10, one must understand it's only if you aren't in danger or distracted.

So for me, I typically rule that Disable Device cannot be used with Take 10 if you are disarming a trap or bomb etc. I consider this a sufficiently dangerous and distracting situation that requires concentration.

While Disable Device specifically can be used for taking 10, that applies only to some of its uses which don't have an inherent, unknown risk of danger to them. For instance, disabling a wagon wheel so a cart will fail can be done with Take 10, there's no chance the wheel is going to explode and be a danger to you if you fail.

I use another example of disarming a bomb (or a trap). No matter what your skill is, no disarmer (especially not a skilled one) will ever take that situation lighty would ever suggest you casually disarm anything with a risk of of detonation. It is always distracting and tense.

Some people might argue "Oh, but what if I have +50 Disable device. I shouldn't even be considering a snare trap." To which the logical answer is, "Yes, you do, because your character is smarter about this than you are." (See how we turn things around on those people who try and shirk role-play and problem solving by claiming their character is X.) If that's the basis of their concern, then it a moot argument for them since they aren't going to fail anyway. They might not pass as well as possible as if they had gotten an 20, a 15, or a 10 (assuming they roll lower than a 10) but they can't claim you are putting their character at any greater risk.

Basically I use this method for any credible threat that a PC doesn't have all the information on, even it's a simple Snare DC 20. Are there situations where disarming a trap could allow Take 10 in my game? Yes, if they PC had set/designed the trap themselves and knew every aspect or spent a reasonable time examining and studying the whole device. That doesn't just mean using the Perception skill to find a trigger of the trap or a hint that there may be a trap (like burn marks on a hinge). So some traps might logically be easier and others might logically be impractical, such as the difference between a snare and any trap that uses a mechanism behind a stone wall. If they didn't set it themselves, there's always an inherent, distracting chance of danger. It may not turn out to be a just a snare, for example.

This is different from Climbing or Jumping over a hole, which also has an inherent danger of failing, because it's assumed you can visibly see the condition of the cliff (rough, slick, etc.) and the distance of the gap to be jumped, and you can reasonably determine the difficulty of the task required.

Other people might claim that this is just wasting time and a die-roll on a trap which may (or may not) be trivial. That's true, but if you've put a bunch of trivial traps in your game that aren't a challenge anyone... you've really wasted your time and everyone's time already. That's unfortunately a product of traps being placed with little thought or poor execution over the years, and that will never change (DMs will improve but new DMs will always be stepping up and making their own mistakes). What is not tolerable is how traps and other devices have been trivialized into things that are just hand-waved away. Again, if you use an absurd example of someone with +75 skill against a DC 15 trap (which anyone can disarm) it's going to seem absurd, but realistically in a campaign, an appropriate CR will be within a 10 point threshold of a character's skill.

Again, just something I felt like sharing. Certainly not a method anyone else needs to ascribe to.

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Pizza Lord wrote:
I typically rule that Disable Device cannot be used with Take 10 if you are disarming a trap or bomb etc. I consider this a sufficiently dangerous and distracting situation that requires concentration.

Excellent reasons why I would want to Take 10 on Disable Device.

Taking 10 wrote:
In most cases, taking 10 is purely a safety measure—you know (or expect) that an average roll will succeed but fear that a poor roll might fail

Nefreet wrote:
Pizza Lord wrote:
I typically rule that Disable Device cannot be used with Take 10 if you are disarming a trap or bomb etc. I consider this a sufficiently dangerous and distracting situation that requires concentration.

Excellent reasons why I would want to Take 10 on Disable Device.

Taking 10 wrote:
In most cases, taking 10 is purely a safety measure—you know (or expect) that an average roll will succeed but fear that a poor roll might fail

Lets not make this a continue on the take 10 track.

Some feel that wanting to do an average check as a safety measure and thinking that the task at hand can't be a distraction from doing the task means that you should be able to take 10 almost all the time. I side with this.
Some feel that being able to do an average check as a safety measure takes the danger away from things you are most likely to succeed on, but could fail a small percentage of the time, and that potential danger of a failed check counts as immediate danger or a distraction from the task that determines if you'll have any danger. This one can get weird about whether you know there's danger to the fail or not.

And unfortunately we have the "Non-FAQ" that cleared up whether or not PDT would give us any more guidance or Rules as to how to handle this.

So lets not go into this more as we've been officially told there is no answer.

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ancientdm wrote:

I am having issues with the nat 1 on climb checks, I have players climbing 80 feet of rope, no tie offs or safety precautions. i stated that fine as long as they dont roll a 1, then it was referred to me you cant fail on a skill check by rolling a 1. I read it as its not an auto fail which means they dont automatically fall but get a chance (DM's description) to attempt to avoid falling by grabbing the rope or something similar but then if that fails they fall. Also if there is a dc attached to it then anything less than that would fail which would include a 1. Now some characters wind up with such high skill numbers that they can meet any dc presented to them, but even heroes and legends can die so a natural 1 to me IS a fail though not automatic. and that is the contention if there is no chance of failing then why present the risk?

anyone's thoughts on this or have you faced a similar problem. Old school DM

You created the problem by being vague in the first place. This is why it's worth taking the time to set an actual DC for every task that involves serious risk. If the characters are that good that they can auto-succeed, give it to them. There are far more interesting and entertaining ways to kill off characters than a failed Climb check.

Nefreet wrote:

Wrong Forum to necro this.

Natural 1s on skill checks are not a failure, unless otherwise stated so (such as some instances of UMD).

UMD doesn't say nat 1s always fail, it just says that IF a nat 1 fails, then consequences.

Chess Pwn wrote:
Some feel that being able to do an average check as a safety measure takes the danger away from things you are most likely to succeed on, but could fail a small percentage of the time, and that potential danger of a failed check counts as immediate danger or a distraction from the task that determines if you'll have any danger. This one can get weird about whether you know there's danger to the fail or not.

Yeah, but some of them are manufacturing said danger artificially, by adding in a "Nat 1s always fail" rule, so someone with a +23 Acrobatics, in their universe, still has to roll to jump across a 5' hole in the ground, and have a 5% chance of falling into said hole, even though they should be able to cross it even without a running start.

As a side note, you can Take 10 on anything but UMD, swimming in rough water, or when distracted, in immediate danger, or under time pressure.

Some people have weird ideas, IMO, about what immediate danger is, though.

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So basically, in a nutshell

'1' plus modifiers on skill checks = DC # or higher (Success)

'1' plus modifiers on skill checks = DC # -1 or lower (Failure).

kinevon wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

Wrong Forum to necro this.

Natural 1s on skill checks are not a failure, unless otherwise stated so (such as some instances of UMD).

UMD doesn't say nat 1s always fail, it just says that IF a nat 1 fails, then consequences.

Chess Pwn wrote:
Some feel that being able to do an average check as a safety measure takes the danger away from things you are most likely to succeed on, but could fail a small percentage of the time, and that potential danger of a failed check counts as immediate danger or a distraction from the task that determines if you'll have any danger. This one can get weird about whether you know there's danger to the fail or not.

Yeah, but some of them are manufacturing said danger artificially, by adding in a "Nat 1s always fail" rule, so someone with a +23 Acrobatics, in their universe, still has to roll to jump across a 5' hole in the ground, and have a 5% chance of falling into said hole, even though they should be able to cross it even without a running start.

As a side note, you can Take 10 on anything but UMD, swimming in rough water, or when distracted, in immediate danger, or under time pressure.

Some people have weird ideas, IMO, about what immediate danger is, though.

The rule of take 10 states that you "When a character or creature is not in immediate danger or distracted" and "Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible to take 10"

So while it's able to be done with all skills but UMD naturally, but you can't do it when distracted or in immediate danger.

kinevon wrote:

As a side note, you can Take 10 on anything but UMD, swimming in rough water, or when distracted, in immediate danger, or under time pressure.

Some people have weird ideas, IMO, about what immediate danger is, though.

"Distracted" is probably the most ambiguous one. Practically anything could be considered a distraction.

I consider distracted as earthquake, escaping from something during a chase.
I think taking 10 not only speeds up game but helps roleplay on certain situations, where decisions are more important than a d20

OK, three points: First, 1 has NEVER been an autofail, nor 20 an auto success on a skill check. In neither PF nor 3.x does a skill check have an auto success of fail condition. If you have a DC of 10, you have a bonus of 9 (level one: +5 stat bonus, 1 rank, 3 bonus psuedoranks from class skill or from Skill Focus), you *can not fail that check*. Period. You don't even need to roll, unless there is a bonus for a higher roll (5 or 10 above DC on craft checks using alternate time table cuts craft time by half or quarter).

2) A take-10 does not take 10x as long. A take-10 means that you are undistracted and have all the focus in the world. It take the same time as a standard roll, and uses the dice's average of (1+20)/2 = 10.5, truncate to whole number, which makes it 10. There is NO penalty to taking 10, but you cannot do so in combat (unless you have a special ability that let's you), while on a heavily rocking boat (without special ability), or any other condition where you could easily be swayed from your concentration. You cannot, under MOST circumstances.

3) Take 20 means that you're literally sacrificing time for success. You are taking twenty times as long to do something, but you're ensuring you do it as perfectly as possible. It literally assumes the first 19 checks are failures. RAW advises strongly against allowing a take 20 for ANYTHING that incurs penalties other than wasted time. Examples: A take 20 on a climb means that you fail the first 19 checks. You take 19d6 damage (assuming you have a base movement of 30, you are going up 15 feet before your check causes you to fall to the ground), and a lot of characters DIE from that. Crafting you fail 19 times, you've just shelled out 10.5 times the cost of the item (9.5 for 19 failures, plus the initial 100%), so I really hope you were making a dagger.

You realize that you are restating facts already known and discussed, in response to a discussion that has been over for nine months?

Java Man wrote:
You realize that you are restating facts already known and discussed, in response to a discussion that has been over for nine months?

Worse than that. The thread is from 2010, and has been resurrected multiple times now.

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And that's what happens when you roll a nat 1 on perception checks.

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