Disable Device – When to say “No”?


Advice

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JoeJ wrote:

I think we've just pinpointed the fundamental area of disagreement in this thread. Role playing is a form of shared storytelling, but some players are mostly interesting in the "story" part while others are at least as interested in the "telling".

That is part of it. Some of it is just that too much verbiage makes things cumbersome and slows down play. Just like GMs are encouraged not to place traps in random areas because that results in the players searching every 10' and slowing the game to a crawl. Same with looting a room. Having to describe each item that you search, like false bottoms for each drawer, the bedposts, under the bed, etc just slows the game down. A level of detail that works for a 3 player group is generally not manageable for a 6 player group.


Chess Pwn wrote:
shroudb wrote:

but saying:

you see a string of twine trailing back towards the hallway
and be replying:
i try to find a way to keep this twine stretched

is NOT excessive detail imo.

and again, describing the action of ONE roll and it's effects is vastly different that describing the rolls of a 5-6pc combat with 2-3attacks each and another 4-5creatures that they fight.

it requires no time at all to do so, no more than what the actual roll takes.

Now if you allow them to roll the disable device with no penalty for "try to keep twine stretched", taking that phrase to mean they are using their skill, then sure sounds great.

If keeping the twine stretched doesn't "disable the device" and so them trying to keep it stretched is going to do nothing or penalize them. Then I see it as a bad thing, as it would be safer to just say I use my skill.

^This, very much this.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

i still say that social combat/encounters take place over hours where combat takes place over turns.

you roll to hit an enemy in the same way you roll to diplomacy as guard blocking your way.

the positioning of your fight is, i 5-foot step up and full attack the bloke next to me.

the positioning of your social encounter is, I approach the guard just a bit after the night watch begins and try to talk my way past him.


The big thing that separates Pathfinder from board games is the interactions with the world, based on your interaction the game options change. If diplomacy is reduced to only rolls then your group really doesn't need a GM.

Just read down the book and ask all your players to roll when necessary

Everyone roll perception
-We found the trap door
Everyone roll trap perception
-We see the trap
Someone roll disable device
-Sorry we failed, everyone take 1d6 damage
There's an npc he's angry, everyone roll diplomacy
-We can move on


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Deadalready wrote:

The big thing that separates Pathfinder from board games is the interactions with the world, based on your interaction the game options change. If diplomacy is reduced to only rolls then your group really doesn't need a GM.

Just read down the book and ask all your players to roll when necessary

Everyone roll perception
-We found the trap door
Everyone roll trap perception
-We see the trap
Someone roll disable device
-Sorry we failed, everyone take 1d6 damage
There's an npc he's angry, everyone roll diplomacy
-We can move on

except usually the game is a story with rolls wrapped on top, but you do no need to clarify by RAW(we're in the rules section, yo) what or how you diplomacy. just that you are attempting to make some one your friend.


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shroudb wrote:

so:

player: i roll perception
dm: you see a trap
player:cool, i roll disable device, 23
dm: you avoid the trap

is boring compared to:
player: i examine the door (rolling perception)
dm: you see through the keyhole a piece of twine that stretches towards the end of a hallway, you are not certain where to, but from the tension you think that it will pull something when you open the door.
player: hmm, can i somehow keep it in place while i open the door? (rolls disable)
dm: you insert your tools through the crack of the door as you slowly open it, and with your pincers you keep it tight. At the end of the corridor you see a crossbow that is fixed to the twine, and would probably have fired if the twine got cut or loose.

If you're just saying that a little description adds a lot to the scene and can make the game much more fun then I agree. With the caveat that, as others have said since, too much can drag the game down more then liven it up.

OTOH, if your intent is that your description and what the player describes as his disable attempt affect or determine the result, then I'm not so happy with it. From your first line, I probably would have tried to cut the twine. Would that have set off the trap or would it have worked just as well, but with a different description. Assuming the same, successful roll, of course.


RDM42 wrote:
Saying what the generic thrust of your argument is doesn't require you to be elegant with words, you could say. "MY character talk to King man. Me try to bring up daughter. Me say we rescue she. Me say need money to do this." Is not elegant. What your character really said? Was an elegant version of that. Very few people who play a role playing game aren't capable of that General level of description. The description is what you are trying, the roll translates that into results, or how it came off. If you have an absurdly high diplomacy, you can presume you portrayed the above in a very convincing and elegant manner. But having some other content than "I diplomacize" lets you put things in context and actually continue an interaction at some level beyond rolling dice at eachother.

Some GM's punish you for not being elegant, just like some punish you for not knowing how to disable a trap. That was the point of my statement.

In both cases you should not have to go into detail.

Both should be sufficient:
I want to try to convince the king to lend me 10 soldiers so that I can save the kingdom.

I want to disable the trap that I found.
------------------------------------------------------
I am going to check the crevice bewtween the wall and the door with my magnifying glass to be sure to not set off the trap, should not be needed.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I find comparing physical skills, like Disable Device, to social skills, like Diplomacy, a bad idea.

They are both skills, but, in their own way, very different beasts.

If we want to compare Disable Device, to non-physical skills, then let's go with knowledge.

The PC wants to see if they know something, they make a Knowledge check, they succeed, and then the DM tells them what their PC knows.

No demanding the player have knowledge of the subject, to make the check.

This is nearly identical to:

The PC wants to see if they can disable something, they make a Disable Device check, they succeed, and the DM tells them how they disabled the trap/lock.

No demanding the player have knowledge of how the trap/lock can be disabled, to make the check.

Scarab Sages

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Lincoln Hills wrote:
Wheldrake wrote:
Although it is nowhere specified in the rules, the most logical way for a rogue to disable a magical trap is to set it off while remaining unaffected... Maybe he throws a still-living rat he handily scooped up on the way in and throws it at the symbol...

You'd be surprised how many 'inescapable deathtraps' a guy can bypass with a cage full of gerbils* and a good pitching arm!

* Not hamsters. Minsc would find you and kill you.

I am firmly against harming helpless animals of any kind.

Use the prisoners from your previous fight.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This thread is full of people on all sides posting relatively reasonable examples, and then having people on the opposing sides altering the example to its most absurd extreme in the vain attempt to make a point.

All sides appear to be doing this.

Whatever happened to simply discussing things sincerely and respectfully?


blackbloodtroll wrote:

I find comparing physical skills, like Disable Device, to social skills, like Diplomacy, a bad idea.

They are both skills, but, in their own way, very different beasts.

If we want to compare Disable Device, to non-physical skills, then let's go with knowledge.

The PC wants to see if they know something, they make a Knowledge check, they succeed, and then the DM tells them what their PC knows.

No demanding the player have knowledge of the subject, to make the check.

Actually one of the common approaches to knowledge checks for monster identification works pretty much that way. If the GM has you ask questions to learn useful info about the creature, you get much better data if you the player already know what you want your character to know.

Scarab Sages

Ravingdork wrote:
Whatever happened to simply discussing things sincerely and respectfully?

WAAC


Anguish wrote:


There's a third category... HAZARDS.

In the original post, there was a very thin floor designed to not support a person's weight. That's not necessarily a trap. An aptly-named trap door... that's a trap. But a large segment of floor that simply can't be walked on? That's a hazard.

If the guards, etc have a way to get across it, or if it was designed that way-then it's a trap.

Scarab Sages

Artanthos wrote:
Lincoln Hills wrote:
Wheldrake wrote:
Although it is nowhere specified in the rules, the most logical way for a rogue to disable a magical trap is to set it off while remaining unaffected... Maybe he throws a still-living rat he handily scooped up on the way in and throws it at the symbol...

You'd be surprised how many 'inescapable deathtraps' a guy can bypass with a cage full of gerbils* and a good pitching arm!

* Not hamsters. Minsc would find you and kill you.

I am firmly against harming helpless animals of any kind.

Use the prisoners from your previous fight.

Especially since if the prisoner is aware of the deathtrap, enlightened self interest might persuade them to disable the trap. Of course, if you have a fanatic, they might trigger it to try to take you with them.


One problem, from a narrativist point of view, is when a PC does something that the GM can't imagine. For example, in the original post, the GM can't imagine how you'd disable a collapsing floor equipped only with a dagger and a lockpick. (Which doesn't necessarily mean it's impossible - how are we supposed to know what a master thief is capable of?) If you do something by making a skill check, but the group can't imagine how it was done, then the game has failed at producing a story. Or at least, has failed at producing a good story - the prose equivalent would be if Tolkien had written, "And then Bilbo did something clever, I'm not sure what, and it somehow got the door open."

Similarly, with Diplomacy, if a player passes a DC 45 skill check, and therefore persuades the king's elite guards to give him and his friends unfettered access to the treasury, but no-one knows how the PCs did it, the story isn't satisfying.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
One problem, from a narrativist point of view, is when a PC does something that the GM can't imagine. For example, in the original post, the GM can't imagine how you'd disable a collapsing floor equipped only with a dagger and a lockpick. (Which doesn't necessarily mean it's impossible - how are we supposed to know what a master thief is capable of?) If you do something by making a skill check, but the group can't imagine how it was done, then the game has failed at producing a story. Or at least, has failed at producing a good story - the prose equivalent would be if Tolkien had written, "And then Bilbo did something clever, I'm not sure what, and it somehow got the door open."

Which probably happens every time a rogue disarms a magic trap.

Scarab Sages

thejeff wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
One problem, from a narrativist point of view, is when a PC does something that the GM can't imagine. For example, in the original post, the GM can't imagine how you'd disable a collapsing floor equipped only with a dagger and a lockpick. (Which doesn't necessarily mean it's impossible - how are we supposed to know what a master thief is capable of?) If you do something by making a skill check, but the group can't imagine how it was done, then the game has failed at producing a story. Or at least, has failed at producing a good story - the prose equivalent would be if Tolkien had written, "And then Bilbo did something clever, I'm not sure what, and it somehow got the door open."
Which probably happens every time a rogue disarms a magic trap.

/mutters under his breath about damned wizards while carefully arranging fine lines of bat guano and cold iron powder to temporarily disrupt the arcane weave of the trap.


thorin001 wrote:
JoeJ wrote:

I think we've just pinpointed the fundamental area of disagreement in this thread. Role playing is a form of shared storytelling, but some players are mostly interesting in the "story" part while others are at least as interested in the "telling".

That is part of it. Some of it is just that too much verbiage makes things cumbersome and slows down play. Just like GMs are encouraged not to place traps in random areas because that results in the players searching every 10' and slowing the game to a crawl. Same with looting a room. Having to describe each item that you search, like false bottoms for each drawer, the bedposts, under the bed, etc just slows the game down. A level of detail that works for a 3 player group is generally not manageable for a 6 player group.

One mans "slowing the game to a crawl" is another man's "playing the game". In other words, this little debate isn't going to be solved here because it's a matter of table style.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

This thread is full of people on all sides posting relatively reasonable examples, and then having people on the opposing sides altering the example to its most absurd extreme in the vain attempt to make a point.

All sides appear to be doing this.

Whatever happened to simply discussing things sincerely and respectfully?

Welcome to the Internet, Ravingdork!

Joking aside, this whole discussion is basically invalidated by one simple rule that we should all be following: if you're having fun while playing, you're doing it right.

Sometimes it's fun to describe every little detail. Sometimes it's not.
The rules are silent on how much detail you "should" be providing, because every table is going to be different.

Find a balance that works for your group, and go with the flow. And if anyone tells you that you're doing it wrong (unless it's someone actually at the table), spit in their eye. If it is someone at the table, you need to re-address the balance.


Chemlak wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

This thread is full of people on all sides posting relatively reasonable examples, and then having people on the opposing sides altering the example to its most absurd extreme in the vain attempt to make a point.

All sides appear to be doing this.

Whatever happened to simply discussing things sincerely and respectfully?

Welcome to the Internet, Ravingdork!

Joking aside, this whole discussion is basically invalidated by one simple rule that we should all be following: if you're having fun while playing, you're doing it right.

Sometimes it's fun to describe every little detail. Sometimes it's not.
The rules are silent on how much detail you "should" be providing, because every table is going to be different.

Find a balance that works for your group, and go with the flow. And if anyone tells you that you're doing it wrong (unless it's someone actually at the table), spit in their eye. If it is someone at the table, you need to re-address the balance.

There is an interesting principle. Tell a player s/he has to come up with a phoney-baloney explanation for how the rogue macgyver's a method of disarming a trap to even try (or try without a -10) you'll get push back and you'll be fought on it. Increase the DC of all traps by 5 and give the player the OPTION of making up phoney-baloney explanations for how every trap is macgyver'd past to get a +2 and they'll do it happily.

I mean that's a slight exaggeration, but you know it's true. Less stick, more carrot.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Artanthos wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Whatever happened to simply discussing things sincerely and respectfully?
WAAC

Winning at all costs is not an excuse for poor manners or for acting like children. I blame the parents. ;P

Chemlak wrote:

Welcome to the Internet, Ravingdork!

Joking aside, this whole discussion is basically invalidated by one simple rule that we should all be following: if you're having fun while playing, you're doing it right.

Sometimes it's fun to describe every little detail. Sometimes it's not.
The rules are silent on how much detail you "should" be providing, because every table is going to be different.

Find a balance that works for your group, and go with the flow. And if anyone tells you that you're doing it wrong (unless it's someone actually at the table), spit in their eye. If it is someone at the table, you need to re-address the balance.

So true! You win one internet. :D


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Yes, we make players describe their choices about combat actions in more detail, because the game has more detailed rules for those actions. Disable device, there's no such rules. So demanding that people explain how specifically they would disable a trap is unfair; there's nothing in the rules to let them do so, at which point, you're imposing a special penalty on some skills, which is that the player has to be able to describe how to achieve their results in a way the GM appreciates.

The correct comparison, really, isn't between "I roll disable device" and "I take a five foot step then full attack". It's between "I roll disable device" and, once we've established that you're making a to-hit roll, "I roll to hit". If you're going to make people describe specifically how you want them to disable traps, you should make them describe specifically how they're attacking.

If you want to get the same effect that we see from all the hidden GM gotchas I see in trap threads, it should be something like:

Player: I roll to hit.
GM: How are you attacking?
Player: I think I'll swing my sword at him.
GM: He has a shield, so that doesn't work.
Player: Don't I get to roll for the attack?
GM: You have to describe an attack which would actually work before you can make the roll. He has a shield, so swinging a sword won't work.


Rynjin wrote:
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.

Not only that, but as a GM you need to bear in mind that the trap setter needed to have a way past it yes? That is what disable device is, you find the catch or keyhole or whatever that allowed the person who set the trap to bypass it. Unless the one setting the trap to use the first example could fly then you are allowing the roll to figure out and accomplish how they set up there ability to no trigger. It is mighty stupid to set a trap that you will set off everything you walk by.

If you have truely set up a trap you want to make everyone figure out as a puzzle that is a fine approach In certain situations....but I would still say you should then allow a check to use disable device as a knowledge skill and provide insight that a rogue character would have over others. This way you can give that one character a hint on how to solve the puzzle because he is an expert at these things.

It shouldn't be how do you disarm this trap? It should be, yes this can't be disarmed conventionally...but you do know that this is how to go about circumvention.

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