Disable Device – When to say “No”?


Advice

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Rogue of some level comes across a large floor portion that with his trapfinding abilities he notices is very thin, and designed to crumble when walked on.

This is the problem. In similar situations I have had a Rogue player look me in the eyes, and call “Disable Device”. Looking for a DC.

Uhm... How? It's a thin floor. What does he plan to do? Haul in a gantry works and some wood, and lay a new floor over it with a single roll?

Recently the rogue on my group I am running for noticed a trap above the heads of the group in which a single short stick was tenuously holding up a dead fall, beyond said deadfall was a large pool of lava.

We had a minor argument over the matter about how he should be able to just roll “Disable Device” And have it stop the trap, entirely without any rhyme or reason on HOW he was doing it.

The trap was designed to be sprung by a crossbow bolt fired by the ambushers, not by any “Device”. The more or less some total of his argument was “It's in the books. I should be able to do it!”

We eventually agreed he was (Arcane Trickster) Able to lodge a rapier up there with the stick so that it would hold the dead fall if the stick were knocked out., but I could not see HOW a simple Disable Device roll was going to do the job without SOME explanation on how it was going to work.

Many times he has used the rules like this in ST'ing too. When MY rogue came up on a poison needle trapped door. When I wanted to do thing like destroy the door lock instead. Or in one case use a piece of cork to cover the needle location and then open the door (thus letting the piece of cork take the “needle”, insisting that if I meddle with the trap without disabling it first, it would go off and SOMEONE would get hit and need to roll saves or whatever.

At what point can I within rules look at him and say “That's just not going to work.”; and be in the right rules-wise?

The Exchange

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I am going to describe the inner working of a trap and you have to absorb that, visualize it perfectly, and figure out how to disarm it. Any breakdown in that equals you can't do it. If you can figure out how to do it now you can roll to try.
It is sometimes too difficult to have perfect dialog and cognization of an issue in the game. If you want to tell the PCs that a disable device won't work that is cool, but if it can work then just let them roll it.


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The problem is that this is exactly what the Disable Device skill is now.

It used to be separate skills, for each kind of circumstance.

In the case of the thin floor, there would either have to be a path across it for it to not stop friends as well as enemies(at which point perception or disable device should show the way), or all creatures crossing it would have to be flying or insubstantial(in which case there is either an item/spell they can use to bypass it) and you just tell him you can't disable it, you have to find another way to cross or have it collapse and climb down and back up.

In the case of the rigged ceiling, this is exactly what disable device is for again. To keep a mundane, mechanical trap from activating.

If you need something solid for your own imagination to process a rogue doing this, that's up to you. I would give a bonus if they came up with something clever that fit the description of the room, but even without it there wouldn't be a penalty.

The base skill does exactly what he wanted it to do. Allow him to bypass a mechanical trap without it going off.

It sounds like the player has a different idea for the level of immersion he needs in his playstyle than you do. This isn't a rules issue, it's a playstyle issue.


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As TGMaxMaxer said this is exactly what the disable device skill is for. It is very likely that none of your players is a mechanical engineer or the like so their ability to visualize what might stop a trap from functioning is limited. Also unless you yourself have a degree in engineering you probably can't think of every possible way that might exist to disable or bypass the trap you have set up. The rogue character, however, is an expert and knows what to do in any given situation to prevent the trap from functioning. Whether it is lodging something in the dead fall trap so it won't go off or finding the structurally strongest points of the thin floor to step on so it doesn't fall and marking them for his allies. It is all represented with a disable device roll. Also your own scenario with the poison needle and the cork is a perfect example of a disable device roll. If it succeeds you take the needle with the cork, if not then you messed it up and someone potentially takes the needle.


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A character can disable devices with Disable Device. How that works, and how hard it is, is up to the GM. As for exactly how the device is being disabled--that's up to the rogue. The skill represents both adeptness at manipulating devices and the cunning, knowledge, and instinct required to know what to manipulate. Encourage your player to come up with something clever (if not exactly accurate from an engineering standpoint) but otherwise don't penalize them for not being as good at disabling devices as their superhuman PC.

Liberty's Edge

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While I understand that you can certainly think of circumstances where disable device might not really be effective, the idea of needing to explain how the device is being disabled is a mindset out of prior editions in and old school vein. In older editions, there was a certain degree of expecting the player to come up with such solutions. On the 3e family, including PF, the idea of the skills is that the character is the one with the expertise, rather than the player.

In the case of the thin floor surface over the bit, it almost comes off to me as a concealed opening rather than a trap that can be defeated or disarmed. If you had an open pit with no concealment, the issue wouldn't come up. It becomes terrain rather than a trap. In such a circumstance, it might be reasonable to treat it simply as terrain once found. I see this as the exception rather than the rule with respect to traps.

There is a degree of abstraction in these editions. While either style is playable, the social contract implies that you're playing in the spirit of the ruleset unless its agreed otherwise.


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There's nothing wrong with your Rogue being able to use the one thing he's useful for.

There's ways around, through, and under traps you can't simply stop from going off in the first place. You're the GM, if your player can't think of it, you (as the trap designer) should be able to.

If you can't think of a way around said trap, then don't use that trap. It is a poorly designed trap if there's no way around it.


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For the other part: sometimes, it's just an obstacle. You can't Disable Device a brick wall.

Shadow Lodge

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Rynjin wrote:
If you can't think of a way around said trap, then don't use that trap. It is a poorly designed trap if there's no way around it.

Depending on your perspective, wouldn't that make it a BETTER designed trap?


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Note that the skill is "Disable Device," not "Bypass Hazard." For hazards, see the Game Mastery Guide for examples; these are more general dangers than traps.

A deadfall being propped up by a stick is a (crude) device. Prevent the deadfall from falling (or prevent the stick from being moved) and the "device" is "disabled."

A thin floor that breaks when more than a few pounds of weight is placed on it is not a device; it is a hazard. You can't "disable" a thin surface. You either need to avoid it (flying, climbing along the walls, etc.) or reinforce it.

For other traps, providing a reasonable description of how the trap could be disarmed or at least partially mitigated should (IMO) be worth a bonus to the Disable Device check (or reducing the DC, which is effectively the same thing). +1 to +5, depending on how suitable the action is and how well it's described sounds reasonable to me; however, the check still needs to be rolled to see how well the character put the theory in practice (holding the cork at just the right angle/position).


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Kthulhu wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
If you can't think of a way around said trap, then don't use that trap. It is a poorly designed trap if there's no way around it.
Depending on your perspective, wouldn't that make it a BETTER designed trap?

Not from a game design perspective, no.

From an in-universe perspective, yes, but the game would be awfully boring if traps were impassable.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Gwiber wrote:

Rogue of some level comes across a large floor portion that with his trapfinding abilities he notices is very thin, and designed to crumble when walked on.

This is the problem. In similar situations I have had a Rogue player look me in the eyes, and call “Disable Device”. Looking for a DC.

Uhm... How? It's a thin floor. What does he plan to do? Haul in a gantry works and some wood, and lay a new floor over it with a single roll?

Recently the rogue on my group I am running for noticed a trap above the heads of the group in which a single short stick was tenuously holding up a dead fall, beyond said deadfall was a large pool of lava.

We had a minor argument over the matter about how he should be able to just roll “Disable Device” And have it stop the trap, entirely without any rhyme or reason on HOW he was doing it.

The trap was designed to be sprung by a crossbow bolt fired by the ambushers, not by any “Device”. The more or less some total of his argument was “It's in the books. I should be able to do it!”

We eventually agreed he was (Arcane Trickster) Able to lodge a rapier up there with the stick so that it would hold the dead fall if the stick were knocked out., but I could not see HOW a simple Disable Device roll was going to do the job without SOME explanation on how it was going to work.

Many times he has used the rules like this in ST'ing too. When MY rogue came up on a poison needle trapped door. When I wanted to do thing like destroy the door lock instead. Or in one case use a piece of cork to cover the needle location and then open the door (thus letting the piece of cork take the “needle”, insisting that if I meddle with the trap without disabling it first, it would go off and SOMEONE would get hit and need to roll saves or whatever.

At what point can I within rules look at him and say “That's just not going to work.”; and be in the right rules-wise?

The problem lies in what things you're calling "traps". By definition, things called "traps" in Pathfinder have Disable Device DCs. So if you tell the player that X is a "trap", then you just told him he gets to use Disable Device to neutralize it.

So instead of looking at every non-monster threat and automatically calling it a trap, and THEN trying to figure out Disable Device, you should first be looking at what things can be disabled and only call THOSE "traps".

For instance, that thin floor is a structural issue that, according to the CRB, would be recognized with Knowledge (engineering), not Perception.

The answer to "When can a trap not be neutralized by Disable Device?" is "Never". Something that can't be neutralized by Disable Device isn't a trap in the first place (which can have some peripheral effects, such as not granting the Trapfinding bonus when detecting it - or being a different skill to detect altogether - and not triggering a Trap Spotter check).


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I see Disable Device as being three possibilities when a trap is discovered.

1- Bypass the trap completely, leaving it intact.
2- Sabotage the trap, making it unusable.
3- Spring the trap from a safe location.

Say for example you find some trapped tiles on the floor:
1- "Guys! Step over here, then over there and we'll be safe,"
2- "Guys! I'm gonna put a plank over these tiles so they won't trigger."
3a- "Guys! Hang me that 10ft pole, I'm going to poke these tiles from afar."
3b- "Yo wizard, summon a critter to walk on that spot while we step way back."

Different traps will have different methods to avoid them. A proper Disable Device roll will tell your options.


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Jiggy wrote:
For instance, that thin floor is a structural issue that, according to the CRB, would be recognized with Knowledge (engineering), not Perception.

Just wanted to make sure that line had its appropriate emphasis. A thin floor is exactly the sort of thing published adventures use Knowledge (engineering) for.


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The short version is if you do not ask your wizard player to describe how he casts Fireball you should not ask the rogue player how he disarms traps.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I really would avoid picking on the Rogue.

It's like finding the smallest, weakest, least academic kid in class, and beating up for because he did one thing well.

That's just mean.


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Gwiber wrote:

Rogue of some level comes across a large floor portion that with his trapfinding abilities he notices is very thin, and designed to crumble when walked on.

This is the problem. In similar situations I have had a Rogue player look me in the eyes, and call “Disable Device”. Looking for a DC.

Uhm... How? It's a thin floor. What does he plan to do? Haul in a gantry works and some wood, and lay a new floor over it with a single roll?

That to me sounds like less of a trap and more of an environmental obstacle.. There's clearly nothing to be disabled here, just as there wouldn't be anything to disable with rubble blocking your path.

As for the second one, this sounds like (it's hard for me to make a this judgement without seeing the floor layout), a situation where the disabling of the device would simply be causing the dead fall to, well, fall. Unless a trap has a reset mechanism, safely setting off a trap is a perfectly acceptable way for a character to disable it.

Liberty's Edge

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thorin001 wrote:
The short version is if you do not ask your wizard player to describe how he casts Fireball you should not ask the rogue player how he disarms traps.

That is a terrible thing to say. Each group is different and it is up to the GM and players to decide how they want to play. Some GMs will just hand wave Disable Device, some GMs will describe how the character disabled the trap, and sometimes a player will actually make a suggestion.

The rules do not cover every contingency. If you feel that some part of the rules don't feel right for the situation, you should feel comfortable in 'adjusting the rules' to fit the situation...but on the same note, you should let your players know ahead of time if there will be added guidelines for common situations (like traps).

When I prepare a trap for my players, I always try to have the following information ready:
1) If they detect the trap, how will I describe it (sight, smell, sound, etc)?
2) If they try to disable it, how could it be disabled?
3) If they fail to disable the trap, could anything unusual happen?
4) If they do not detect it, what happens?
I love it when a player makes up their own description for disabling a trap...and It make be completely different from what I may have thought of.

Can there be undetectable traps? Of course there can be. You could just make the trap Perception DC so high that the character just cannot detect it. The same goes for the Disable DC. Please do not make unbeatable traps unless you have experienced players who are ready to deal with them. Otherwise, it can bring down group morale.

Also keep in mind that sometimes the only obvious way to disable a trap is to set it off (he he, ninja'd)


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The solution to this problem, as mentioned above, is to offer circumstance bonuses for clever solutions to a trap. The more intricate it is and the more clever the solution the better the bonus. How high you set the DCs on traps is up to you, but for those where you really want to emphasize clever problem solving you can set the DCs higher.

Don't say no to disable device, or any skill, just use circumstance bonus to reward clever role play and tactics. I do the same the social skills while GMing and I believe it really enhances the game.


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RedDogMT wrote:
thorin001 wrote:
The short version is if you do not ask your wizard player to describe how he casts Fireball you should not ask the rogue player how he disarms traps.

That is a terrible thing to say. Each group is different and it is up to the GM and players to decide how they want to play. Some GMs will just hand wave Disable Device, some GMs will describe how the character disabled the trap, and sometimes a player will actually make a suggestion.

The rules do not cover every contingency. If you feel that some part of the rules don't feel right for the situation, you should feel comfortable in 'adjusting the rules' to fit the situation...but on the same note, you should let your players know ahead of time if there will be added guidelines for common situations (like traps).

When I prepare a trap for my players, I always try to have the following information ready:
1) If they detect the trap, how will I describe it (sight, smell, sound, etc)?
2) If they try to disable it, how could it be disabled?
3) If they fail to disable the trap, could anything unusual happen?
4) If they do not detect it, what happens?
I love it when a player makes up their own description for disabling a trap...and It make be completely different from what I may have thought of.

Can there be undetectable traps? Of course there can be. You could just make the trap Perception DC so high that the character just cannot detect it. The same goes for the Disable DC. Please do not make unbeatable traps unless you have experienced players who are ready to deal with them. Otherwise, it can bring down group morale.

Also keep in mind that sometimes the only obvious way to disable a trap is to set it off (he he, ninja'd)

It is hardly a terrible thing to say. It is entirely unfair to have only one type of character have to justify his abilities. It is a terrible thing to neuter martials when anyone else can say " it just works that way."


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Ironically, I never had much issue with this going for the 'mechanical' traps. There's something in there that makes it work... I do something to make it not work.

It's really trying to focus on the difference between Player knowledge and character knowledge. I'll agree with the 'that's not really fair' attitude. There are a LOT of things that my character knows that I do not... Sometimes the mechanics DO have to take over. If my character put 10 ranks in Disable device... then he KNOWS how to do this better then "I" do....

But again, the mechanical ones never really stumped me. It was the MAGICAL traps. Just this idea that there is some explosive rune or magical ward that the rogue can 'remove'... WITHOUT using magic... and WITHOUT setting it off...

THAT one I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Sometimes it just boils down to 'Because Reasons' and let him do what he's designed to do...


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phantom1592 wrote:

Ironically, I never had much issue with this going for the 'mechanical' traps. There's something in there that makes it work... I do something to make it not work.

It's really trying to focus on the difference between Player knowledge and character knowledge. I'll agree with the 'that's not really fair' attitude. There are a LOT of things that my character knows that I do not... Sometimes the mechanics DO have to take over. If my character put 10 ranks in Disable device... then he KNOWS how to do this better then "I" do....

But again, the mechanical ones never really stumped me. It was the MAGICAL traps. Just this idea that there is some explosive rune or magical ward that the rogue can 'remove'... WITHOUT using magic... and WITHOUT setting it off...

THAT one I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Sometimes it just boils down to 'Because Reasons' and let him do what he's designed to do...

My rogue, apart from being willfully illiterate, is self-trained to keep his eyes somewhat unfocused so as to better notice magical runes and such without accidentally reading them. After that, it's all peripheral vision or working blind. The last time he dealt with explosive runes, he held one hand over his eyes, and the other held a lump of rubber over the nearest two runes. "Okay, was it the red rune or the blue rune? Hmm, red it is... Here goes, guys.... No, wait, it was blue! I think...." *lunges haphazardly with eraser*

Sczarni

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Hazards can't be disabled. Devices can. HOWEVER, that said, one must have an accessible way to disable the device. Either "Thief of Legend" (trigger and stop it mid firing) or actually have access to the mechanism. There are traps in PFS adventure paths (Council of Thieves, guillotine trap comes to mind) which cannot be disabled unless you get to the other side of them. Which makes them hazards that you would have to block somehow to cross. So don't feel to bad if you don't want to give someone a chance to disable something they can't get to.

Example, you can't disable a 10' spiked pit... you gotta go around. Sure it is a "trap"... but it isn't really disabled any way short of filling it with bodies. Note that if it were covered, the Disable Device roll would be to trigger the cover, without falling in, showing the hazard.


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Jehova starts with an I ought to cut it.

Liberty's Edge

maouse wrote:

Hazards can't be disabled. Devices can. HOWEVER, that said, one must have an accessible way to disable the device. Either "Thief of Legend" (trigger and stop it mid firing) or actually have access to the mechanism. There are traps in PFS adventure paths (Council of Thieves, guillotine trap comes to mind) which cannot be disabled unless you get to the other side of them. Which makes them hazards that you would have to block somehow to cross. So don't feel to bad if you don't want to give someone a chance to disable something they can't get to.

Example, you can't disable a 10' spiked pit... you gotta go around. Sure it is a "trap"... but it isn't really disabled any way short of filling it with bodies. Note that if it were covered, the Disable Device roll would be to trigger the cover, without falling in, showing the hazard.

Well said. I think this is one of the best replies to the OP.

Shadow Lodge

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I think the GM is right here. It's not unfair to ask the player for some description, even a weak description of how the rogue is disabling it.

If there's a mechanism, the rogue can say "I tamper with the mechanism". That's enough.

If it's a floor like this one, the rogue can't just say "I get to roll Disable Device because that's what it's for". The player still has to know what exactly the character is doing in the context of the game world. Rolling to use a skill is what the player is doing, not what the character is doing.

The fireball example isn't the same thing; there are rules for how spells are cast, and that can be described as well. I agree as much as anyone that rogues shouldn't be hampered, but that's not what's happening here.


The thin floor trap is simple. The Rogue pulls out some chalk and marks around the edge of the trap. The party simply does not walk inside the chalked box. If the entire floor is thin, then he marks the chalk across the entry hallway and the party simply does not enter the room (unless they are idiots).


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The problem was that the floor being too thin to cross isn't really a trap, unless there's a drop mechanism or a path across. If there is, Disable Device should disable the drop mechanism, or perception should show a path.

If the whole floor is just unstable and can't be crossed without falling in, it's not a trap, it's a terrain problem, so that should have just been disclosed after the weak floor is discovered, so that Disable Device was taken out of the discussion.

Like I said before, this seems like an immersion/playstyle conflict, not a rules issue. The GM seems to want more descriptive interactions, the rogue player seems to just want to let his skill check answer the problem once it's discovered.

Having only one side, I'm not for sure that's it, but that's what I get from the posting. Neither person is "wrong", it just seems they have different expectations.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

You are the GM. You set the DC of disabling a trap. You can say that a trap can't be disabled or that disabling it require specific equipment and that without that equipment or something similar the DC is 20 or 40 points higher.

As others have said those "traps" are more obstacles or hazards than traps but you can call them trap to give the Rogue the trapfinding bonus in noticing them.
I would give him the trapfinding bonus for the non perception based skill checks needed to discover environmental hazards that double as traps (the cited unsafe floor).

The reverse is true too, if the rogue or some other character can find a way to bypass a traps without the need to use disable device they can do it.
If near the room with the weak floor there are several planks of wood that can be used to cover the floor and spread the character weight over a larger surface or to make a impromptu bridge the caracter can use them to bypass the hazard without the need to make a disable device roll. Maybe they need to make a Knowledge (engineering) roll to evaluate if the trick will work or a Craft (carpentry) check to make a workable bridge, but the disable device roll isn't the only available solution.


For covered pit traps, I allow Disable Device to:
1. discern the perimeter of the pit, and make it known to everyone, usually by dropping the covering
2. find a way to brace the covering so that it can support the weight of those you wish to cross it
3. identify a safe path across it

For something like your dead fall example, finding a way to reinforce the weak support is EXACTLY what DD should do in that situation--the trap is designed such that a little force will knock out the brace and drop the weight, but a skillful technician can wedge something in place to prevent the brace from moving, supplement it, prevent the weight from dropping, or change the weight's trajectory making their passage safe.

Think about magical traps: obviously DD is supposed to be able to handle those, but how? It's no more obvious than dealing with the above mechanical traps, yet it's doable. So I've had instances where the trap is made up off hard to detect arcane marking that, if erased or altered in specific ways will prevent the magic from coalescing (doing this incorrectly will trigger the spell), others where a pass phrase can be discerned, and still others where the magical trap is actually "hooked up" to some magical item (for instance, a pressure plate that descends upon a wand of spell X, triggering the wand with specially wrought arcane runes), and can be disabled by removing, breaking, or otherwise altering that item or its connection to the trap. At other times, it means knowing just how to set the trap off in a way to not harm yourself, so that it may be bypassed after it has expended its energy.


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maouse wrote:

Hazards can't be disabled. Devices can. HOWEVER, that said, one must have an accessible way to disable the device. Either "Thief of Legend" (trigger and stop it mid firing) or actually have access to the mechanism. There are traps in PFS adventure paths (Council of Thieves, guillotine trap comes to mind) which cannot be disabled unless you get to the other side of them. Which makes them hazards that you would have to block somehow to cross. So don't feel to bad if you don't want to give someone a chance to disable something they can't get to.

Example, you can't disable a 10' spiked pit... you gotta go around. Sure it is a "trap"... but it isn't really disabled any way short of filling it with bodies. Note that if it were covered, the Disable Device roll would be to trigger the cover, without falling in, showing the hazard.

The rules disagree with you..

Quote:

PIT TRAP CR 1

Type mechanical; Perception DC 20; Disable Device DC 20
EFFECTS
Trigger location; Reset manual
Effect 20-ft.-deep pit (2d6 falling damage); DC 20 Reflex avoids; multiple targets (all targets in a 10-ft.-square area)

Now how this is done is not up for me to make figure out. My rogue/ranger/bard/etc handles that. I just roll the dice.


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Avatar-1 wrote:

I think the GM is right here. It's not unfair to ask the player for some description, even a weak description of how the rogue is disabling it.

If there's a mechanism, the rogue can say "I tamper with the mechanism". That's enough.

If it's a floor like this one, the rogue can't just say "I get to roll Disable Device because that's what it's for". The player still has to know what exactly the character is doing in the context of the game world. Rolling to use a skill is what the player is doing, not what the character is doing.

The fireball example isn't the same thing; there are rules for how spells are cast, and that can be described as well. I agree as much as anyone that rogues shouldn't be hampered, but that's not what's happening here.

By your logic a more creative player is getting an advantage on something that the character is doing. A player is not their character. I might know the creature is a medusa, but my character may not, and by the same token my character might know how to disable magical traps, but I don't. The player gives general intent and then the dice come in. I don't see fighters explaining how they are going to let their armor take a blow from huge creatures and survive the impact. The armor would not save them in real life, nor do most gamers know enough about weapons to describe the actual methods needed to land the attack.


To answer the opening question I am not saying not if it is an actual trap, and if it can not be disabled then it is not a trap per the game rules. It is an obstacle, and in that case having the party figure out a way to bypass it is fair.


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wraithstrike wrote:
maouse wrote:

you can't disable a 10' spiked pit

The rules disagree with you..

PIT TRAP CR 1
Type mechanical; Perception DC 20; Disable Device DC 20

Now how this is done is not up for me to make figure out. My rogue/ranger/bard/etc handles that. I just roll the dice.

Put a plank over it.


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wraithstrike wrote:
By your logic a more creative player is getting an advantage on something that the character is doing. A player is not their character. I might know the creature is a medusa, but my character may not, and by the same token my character might know how to disable magical traps, but I don't. The player gives general intent and then the dice come in.

This seems like a legitimate difference of play style. In some groups diplomacy is handled by speaking in character and what you say matters. In others, you roll Diplomacy and that's the only thing that counts.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
By your logic a more creative player is getting an advantage on something that the character is doing. A player is not their character. I might know the creature is a medusa, but my character may not, and by the same token my character might know how to disable magical traps, but I don't. The player gives general intent and then the dice come in.
This seems like a legitimate difference of play style. In some groups diplomacy is handled by speaking in character and what you say matters. In others, you roll Diplomacy and that's the only thing that counts.

The rules go by the dice. Now if you say something crazy a GM is well within his rights to give you a penalty or even ask you to use a different skill, but if I say "I want to convince ____ to help me", I(the player) should not need to put on an Oscar winning performance. That is what rolling high on the dice does.


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Yeah but some groups prefer roleplay to rollplay.


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Jaçinto wrote:
Yeah but some groups prefer roleplay to rollplay.

And if you're doing that, great.

Just warn me beforehand so I don't waste precious skill ranks on a skill that is entirely useless in your game since I can just "roleplay" it out.

Scarab Sages

I usually abstract it out, just say: "there's a magical trap," or "there's a crossbow trap.". Anything more detailed I find and you just get problems. While you bring up some valid points, I've had players do the opposite before:

*pc without trapfinding notices a mundane trap*
Gm(me): you notice a pressure plate that spans the width of a corridor.
Pc(without disable device): cool, I wedge a dagger into the sides to prevent it from going off.
Gm: you sure? That's an untrained disable device check.
PC: what? That's BS! In real life I could totally do that and I'm not a rogue.
Gm: which is why I'm letting you try it untrained.
PC: this is stupid! I hate your game!

However, for things like an eminent tunnel collapse (either intentional or unintentional) you can use the hazard system (as stated above.) basically you use knowledge-dungeonerring to identify, and there may not be a way to 'disarm' the hazard without some creative thinking (like summoning an earth elemental to hold up the passageway.


The way I run my games, and I warn people ahead of time about this, is the skill points do matter but if you are not telling me really what you are doing/saying with an active skill, then I am slapping a big penalty on. Like "I roll diplomacy to get info from this guy." I will say "Ok, tell me what you say to him as if you were talking to a real person." Disable device and traps though, yeah gonna go with if you can't disable it, call it a hazard or something. However there is still, depending on the trap, items needed to disable. Like "disabling" a pit trap. I would say no if you don't have a plank of wood or something to cross it. In streamlining some skills, I think they kinda messed some up.

Grand Lodge

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Avatar-1 wrote:

I think the GM is right here. It's not unfair to ask the player for some description, even a weak description of how the rogue is disabling it.

If there's a mechanism, the rogue can say "I tamper with the mechanism". That's enough.

If it's a floor like this one, the rogue can't just say "I get to roll Disable Device because that's what it's for". The player still has to know what exactly the character is doing in the context of the game world. Rolling to use a skill is what the player is doing, not what the character is doing.

The fireball example isn't the same thing; there are rules for how spells are cast, and that can be described as well. I agree as much as anyone that rogues shouldn't be hampered, but that's not what's happening here.

If the floor is as trap, there is a way to disable it as a trap, pure and simple. If the floor is a hazard, as has been mentioned, there is no way to disable, although a clever party may be able to figure out a way to bypass it.

And the fireball thing is the exact same thing, there are rules on how skills work. Do you have your wizard player tell you how he uses spellcraft to decipher that scroll or do you just have him roll the skill check?

If youi make him have to come up with a way to do it, then you can ask the player for how to do a disable device. If you handwave getting detailed descriptions on how to use any skill, you should not be asking for detailed descriptions on any skill, then.

Now, if a player goes above-and-beyond, and gives you a fair idea of what his PC is doing when using X skill for Y purpose, you can give him a circumstance bonus, if appropriate.

For diplomacy, do you want, "I try to convince Kevin to help us out." or do you want, "I carefully spend ten minutes schmoozing Kevin, asking him friendly questions on his friends and family, commiserating about problems, congratulating him on his new grandkid, yadda yadda yadda, slowly leading into his providing us assistance on Y matter."?


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Jaçinto wrote:
Yeah but some groups prefer roleplay to rollplay.

Personally I love Roleplaying 110% more then rollplay.

However, I prefer my ideas and personality to ENHANCE the game... not cripple it. There's little more annoying then trying to play a super smart character or a Suave ladies man... and have to rely on MY inferior charisma or intelligence in order to complete the mission.

Sometimes the king gets to roll diplomacy and the gambler gets to roll bluff... That's what the stats are for.

on a good day I may be able to act it out... at the drop of a hat, sometimes I just have to give an overview of what he's trying to accomplish... the details need to be glossed over to make sense.


Beginning it think it will be simpler to just have the rogue roll disable device when appropriate and tell them how the trap is set off, if its something they can do right here, then they do it. If it's something where the act of disabling sets it off I will tell them that, and let them decide.

Sometimes disable device tells you that it can't be disabled without setting it off.

“If the floor is as trap, there is a way to disable it as a trap, pure and simple. If the floor is a hazard, as has been mentioned, there is no way to disable, although a clever party may be able to figure out a way to bypass it. “

And yes a purposely thin floor IS a trap, not entirely sure where one would get of saying it isn't. It was designed to be that way by someone and isn't just a natural phenomenon.

I guarantee if I had them crossing it and it collapsed under them, the rogue player would HOWL because I ruled it only a Knowledge (Engineering) roll to notice it.

Letting people with Trapfiding and Knowledge (Engineering) notice it (Maybe with Knowledge (Engineering) being easier) seems like a smarter move.

Grand Lodge

Gwiber wrote:

Beginning it think it will be simpler to just have the rogue roll disable device when appropriate and tell them how the trap is set off, if its something they can do right here, then they do it. If it's something where the act of disabling sets it off I will tell them that, and let them decide.

Sometimes disable device tells you that it can't be disabled without setting it off.

“If the floor is as trap, there is a way to disable it as a trap, pure and simple. If the floor is a hazard, as has been mentioned, there is no way to disable, although a clever party may be able to figure out a way to bypass it. “

And yes a purposely thin floor IS a trap, not entirely sure where one would get of saying it isn't. It was designed to be that way by someone and isn't just a natural phenomenon.

I guarantee if I had them crossing it and it collapsed under them, the rogue player would HOWL because I ruled it only a Knowledge (Engineering) roll to notice it.

Letting people with Trapfiding and Knowledge (Engineering) notice it (Maybe with Knowledge (Engineering) being easier) seems like a smarter move.

Note Bene: IF it is a TRAP, it CAN be disabled. If it is an environmental hazard, it might be bypassable, with the appropriate knowledge skill, or craft skill.

TRAPS are something which has a TRIGGER. Disable Device is a skill that is used to diactivate triggers. If there is no trigger, it cannot be a trap.

To an earlier poster: If you ever build a trap that cannot be disabled, how can you, as the trapper, get by it? If you trap your front door so well, that it cannot be disabled, that front door is, for all eternity, unusable. Have a nice time, until your food runs out, being stuck eternally in your home.

If, on the other hand, you set up some way for you to get by the trap, then someone with sufficient skill at bypassing traps (i.e. Disable Device) can also bypass the trap in some fashion.


In one dungeon I played through, "how you get through it yourself" was "when constraining magic in your pocket dimension, allow yourself to teleport, just not other people."


Rynjin wrote:
Jaçinto wrote:
Yeah but some groups prefer roleplay to rollplay.

And if you're doing that, great.

Just warn me beforehand so I don't waste precious skill ranks on a skill that is entirely useless in your game since I can just "roleplay" it out.

Happened to me in a game where I was the rogue. Wasted so much skill point in a lot of skills, just to discover that diplomacy rules weren't applied (and I get less ease with words than my friends), intimidation was always counter-productive, and other sutff like stealth session disapproved (You know, it's boring for people to wait the sneaky guy doing his job, why not just rush ? >.>). This plus other stuff and bad stats rolls... Never felt so useless.

Anyway, D&D/Pathfinder are not the best PRPG for pure roleplay enthusiast IMO.


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blahpers wrote:
For the other part: sometimes, it's just an obstacle. You can't Disable Device a brick wall.
It's a bit of a stretch to call a wall a "device", but why not allow PCs to "disable" it?
  • You can scrape away mortar in between the bricks.
  • You can pour salt into cracks in the stone, and then add water to make that expand.
  • You can spike wedges into the bricks.
Walls, floors and other parts of the environment are not immutable obstacles. They can be destroyed, bypassed or rendered irrelevant, just like any other opposition. The GM's job is to assign a reasonable DC, determine what tools and how much time the PCs' actions would require and then let the dice roll where they may.
There's no need to facilitate every stupid plan the players may come up with. But allowing (and when appropriate: rewarding) innovative, lateral thinking can enhance the game as a whole.


Walls have hardness, hit points and even break DC, see the environment section of the CRB.


How to 'disable' a pit trap: Lay a plank across it.


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Regarding the 'roleplay' comments

Does my eloquent attack description and out of character knowledge of the monster's anatomy that tells me there is a large vulnerable portion under the left shoulder mean I don't need to worry about attack rolls or damage right? Its 'roleplaying' after all. Why should I worry about my to hit stat and base attack when I can just describe what I want to happen?

I know some groups hand wave those sort of things, but it really irks me because its almost universally applied to the mundane out of combat things exclusively. These skills and stats are part of the game. Giving bonuses for detailed descriptions or creative use is one thing, but it shouldn't replace entire swaths of the rules. Part of good 'roleplaying' is accurately representing the capabilities of the character. In Pathfinder those capabilities are represented by skills, feats, class abilities and ability scores. Ragekill the orc barbarian is not going to charm all the royals at court when he is packing an 8 in all his mentals and negative social skill modifiers no matter how suave his player is; nor should he try.

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