Gm Secret Rolls


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


So I am currently creating another sheet to be used for my games, this one for the gm instead of the players. It's keeps track of the PC's stats in various ways, so that the gm can roll some skill checks for the player (such as, say a linguistics check, where the player shouldn't know how well there interpretation was.) It also has a few other things, such as the players health point, you know, for tension building opportunities. Below is a list of all the things the list keeps track of, what else do you think I should add?

HP.total
HP.now
Strength
Dexterity
Constitution
Intelligence
Wisdom
Charisma
AC
Touch
Flatfoot
CMB
CMD
Initiative
Ref
Will
Fort
Appraise
Bluff
Disguise
K.Arcana
K.Dungeon
K.Engineering
K.Geography
K.History
K.Local
K.Nature
K.Nobility
K.Planes
K.Religion
Linguistics
Perception
Sense Motive
Sleight of Hand
Stealth
a "notes" section to keep track of less universal things like panache or ki or smites-per-day.


Alignment (useful if monsters want to smite or cast protection spells so you know if they are successful or not)

Known languages (so you know if they understand npc speech or if they can read something)

Maybe vision capacity (so you know who has darkvision, etc. )

Grand Lodge

Just photocopy the character sheet and be done with it...

Sarcasm aside, I agree with your reasoning. I make secret rolls based on character stats so they don't meta-game the roll to know how well they are stealthed or bluffing. I agree with your intent but question the implementation.

I believe you'll slow down the table maintaining all this data (much of it is situational due to feats, traits, ect...) Some classes have the option to use class abilities to augment these skills when needed (ex: investigator inspiration)

My advise:
1) Keep it simple (more simple than what you have). Ask to see a char sheet or ask for a relevant skill modifier when needed. It should be faster than skimming your notes.

2) Never make any roll on behalf of a player that can kill/maim a character. I won't roll a save or Perception (for surprise round) for a character, ever. If you make these rolls for them and it goes badly they will feel cheated, so why track them?

Part of my GM intro involves telling players to "put down their dice out of combat. They won't need them and they will learn to hate it when I ask them to make a roll outside combat".

Grand Lodge

Addendum for something to add:

I ask my players to specify their default hand load out. I assume that's what they are holding unless they state otherwise.

My pet peeve is when a potion "miraculously" appears in a off-hand exactly when needed, only to be explained, "I always carry it around".


At that level of detail I ask why you need other players. It seems you will be doing much more controlling of the characters than the players.


Grey_Mage wrote:


I believe you'll slow down the table maintaining all this data (much of it is situational dueactualts, traits, ect...) Some classes have the option to use class abilities to augment these skills when needed (ex: investigator inspiration)

Depends. IRL that's a lot to track and roll and will grind the game. If he plays on a virtual table top it will actually speed up the game.

I pretty much only roll the following hidden: appraise, bluff, Sense motive, perception, Disable device, disguise.


I'd recommend just rolling openly.
I know many prefer the control of info that hidden rolling provides but I find it fosters distrust.
No one wants you to fail their sense motive check for them.
If you want to keep a result secret,ask the player for his sheet,look at it,and then have him drop a d20 behind the screen...where you can see it but he can't.
Then hand them both back.


I use Hero Labs and keep a copy of every character on my laptop. I have a portfolio with all the PCs in it so I can look up anything I need. When combat breaks out I load any NPCs and, or monsters into the portfolio and use the tactical console. The console list most of the import details on screen, and if I need further details I simply look at the character directly. It also has a dice roller app built in so I can make any roll I need directly in the program.

This actually speeds up the game a lot. When the wizard cast a fireball on the group of 12 orcs it is a single click to see which ones save. It also means the players don’t realize when I am rolling a dice because it is just a mouse click. There is no way to tell if I am rolling a skill check, or just looking up something.

The only drawback is the cost. You do have to purchase each package and the cost does add up. The initial purchase will be the big thing. Spend a few bucks when something new comes out is not that big of a deal.

Grand Lodge Contributor

Players like rolling dice. If I had a character with all the Knowledge skills and the GM would never let me roll a Knowledge check, I'd be wondering why I bothered making the character at all.

Keeping track of some PC stats are often a good idea (hp, saves etc.) but I would advise against ever rolling on behalf of a character except for something like finding traps where failure has an immediate effect.


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Shared google docs are nice for this sort of thing.


If failure has an immediate effect there's absolutely no reason not to have the player roll the dice. Rolling secretly is a tool to prevent metagaming when the character would not know that anything has happened at all. With things like traps or ambushes, if the roll fails the consequences will occur immediately, so metagaming can't affect anything.

Of course, even if the player is rolling the dice, that doesn't mean you have to tell them the DC; just let them roll and describe what happens. It's also sometimes fun to just have the players roll a d20, then you quickly write something in your notes and continue with the game. Absolutely nothing was happening, but the player doesn't know that.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I've worked up these table tents that I use. They double as initiative trackers by hanging them on your GM screen.

table tent


I do let characters roll for their character unless asking for a roll would be a dead giveaway. Even then sometimes I will simply tell all characters to roll and ignore the ones that are irrelevant. Mostly I use the die roller for NPCs. By having a copy of the character accessible allows me to call for a roll without specifying what the roll is.


I've started using a map program, even though we still meet up in person. The characters have all their relevant stats, from attack bonuses, to skills on the token. Then I can just impersonate their character and roll whatever i need to the gm (me) and the player won't know that any roll is made. It also lets me whisper to just one player so I can tell them what they know.

For example if the player rolls a knowledge check I can tell them what they know in a whisper, then they can tell everyone what they know in their own words.

I don't do the whisper often, and I really should because I just give raw stats, and it lets the player play out what they know. "Its weak to fire" or "Don't use poision" etc.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

welp you did it, now i'm trying to program a console application to allow me to do this and make my life easier. character sheets are too big and separated too much usually on a computer to make looking up character stats easy for a GM. (having like 4-6 pdfs open all at once can get confusing)


Bandw2 wrote:
welp you did it, now i'm trying to program a console application to allow me to do this and make my life easier. character sheets are too big and separated too much usually on a computer to make looking up character stats easy for a GM. (having like 4-6 pdfs open all at once can get confusing)

www.Rptools.net

I use their maptool program, you just need to have a little understanding of java, but that is only if you want to make macros.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Idward Evanhand wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
welp you did it, now i'm trying to program a console application to allow me to do this and make my life easier. character sheets are too big and separated too much usually on a computer to make looking up character stats easy for a GM. (having like 4-6 pdfs open all at once can get confusing)

www.Rptools.net

I use their maptool program, you just need to have a little understanding of java, but that is only if you want to make macros.

i use r20, but still trying to keep everything together where i can swap between them with a button press isn't something you easily get. i still seem to be fumbling through which page i want.

if anyone cares, i'm almost done, the File IO is just being weird and not saving it in the same format it loads.


Roll20 is very weak compared to map tools. You can literally make one macro that's roll all players perceptions, and it pulls stats right from their tokens. Also much much easier to organize. Having multiple macros on Roll20 is difficult to manage to say the least, where map tools it's easy to have 1000s (quite literally, I probably have 2-3k all together just for pf, which is only one game I run on it.)


Shaun Hocking wrote:

Players like rolling dice. If I had a character with all the Knowledge skills and the GM would never let me roll a Knowledge check, I'd be wondering why I bothered making the character at all.

Keeping track of some PC stats are often a good idea (hp, saves etc.) but I would advise against ever rolling on behalf of a character except for something like finding traps where failure has an immediate effect.

There are some rolls that are supposed to be made in secret. I generally only do this for passive Perception, Sense Motive-vs.-Disguise, and the like, where failure nets a no-op but just knowing about the roll encourages "uh, I take 20 searching the buffet table for no particular reason."

Basically, when the player shouldn't even know that a roll took place unless they succeed, I roll it (or take-10 it, if we work that out beforehand). That comprises less than 5% of out-of-combat die rolls and less than 1% of in-combat die rolls--nearly always Perception or Sense Motive.

I've thought about doing this with saves versus poison/venom when the PCs have no knowledge that the weapon/creature was toxic, but the "gains" in that case aren't worth the loss of player autonomy.

That said, I never tell the DC or AC the PCs are aiming for unless we're just trying to speed thins along or unless we're chatting about rules after the adventure.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Under A Bleeding Sun wrote:
Roll20 is very weak compared to map tools. You can literally make one macro that's roll all players perceptions, and it pulls stats right from their tokens. Also much much easier to organize. Having multiple macros on Roll20 is difficult to manage to say the least, where map tools it's easy to have 1000s (quite literally, I probably have 2-3k all together just for pf, which is only one game I run on it.)

not so much if you type everything and have the macros organized by name.

The Exchange

Daspolo - Too much, too much! At this point you might as well take the character sheets away and maintain all the paperwork for all the PCs. (Just kidding, don't do that. You have more than enough paperwork to track already.)

Try to reduce 'secret' rolls to a minimum. Here's the player info I note for each character - and I've tried to make it minimal: Fortitude and Will saves (sometimes a condition will only be noticed if the character succeeds/fails), Appraise, Perception and Sense Motive. I also have a spot to note conditions that characters might have without the players noticing (cursed items, diseases during their incubation period, etc.) I know it's annoying to have characters "know" that they just rolled a 3 on the die, but the typical player really wouldn't want so much die rolling taken, literally, out of his hands.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

When I GM, I ask for a copy of everyone's character sheets. As mentioned above, google docs or dropbox is really handy for this. (I also have HeroLab, but haven't used it as a DM yet. It is one of the reasons I went with that product, though.) It's mostly so I know how to plan encounters, and come up with a few unique things for each character to apply their unique skill set to. But, it also helps to have it handy if someone is having issues running their character, or they keep whipping out items or spells or amazing bonuses that I want to check on. Yeah, it's a bit passive aggressive, but...whatever.

Also, as a DM, I have a habit of randomly rolling a die behind the screen occasionally. Then, maybe make a 'Hmmm' or make a note on a piece of paper. Just to keep the players guessing.

However, as also mentioned, hidden die rolls can really mess with the players in bad ways. About the only time I will actually make a hidden roll is if I decide a player missed something they shouldn't have. Kind of like a free re-roll. It's very rare, and I could probably count on one hand how many times I've actually done it. Well, that and those times when I have to, like a Fort Save that they won't know happens till they failed, etc. Players go all meta when you start asking for a Fort save during combat. ;)

Finally, I prefer to see everyone rolling in the open, so as DM, I also roll in the open (with the occasional random behind the screen roll as described.) But, combat and direct skill on skill contests, all rolled in the open by both DMs and Players at my table. (That does make it hard to hand-wave that crit against the already wounded character, but...that's how the dice roll, after all.)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Daspolo wrote:

So I am currently creating another sheet to be used for my games, this one for the gm instead of the players. It's keeps track of the PC's stats in various ways, so that the gm can roll some skill checks for the player (such as, say a linguistics check, where the player shouldn't know how well there interpretation was.) It also has a few other things, such as the players health point, you know, for tension building opportunities. Below is a list of all the things the list keeps track of, what else do you think I should add?

HP.total
HP.now
Strength
Dexterity
Constitution
Intelligence
Wisdom
Charisma
AC
Touch
Flatfoot
CMB
CMD
Initiative
Ref
Will
Fort
Appraise
Bluff
Disguise
K.Arcana
K.Dungeon
K.Engineering
K.Geography
K.History
K.Local
K.Nature
K.Nobility
K.Planes
K.Religion
Linguistics
Perception
Sense Motive
Sleight of Hand
Stealth
a "notes" section to keep track of less universal things like panache or ki or smites-per-day.

You sound like someone who could really benefit from having both Herolab and Realmsworks in your tool chest.


Under A Bleeding Sun wrote:
Roll20 is very weak compared to map tools. You can literally make one macro that's roll all players perceptions, and it pulls stats right from their tokens.

Roll20 can do this also. Well it actually pulls it from their journals, but that is close enough.

You just have to write the players name into the macro and the stat you want and it will handle it for you.


If you want an actual paper to write this stuff down and keep it on, Dyslexic Studeos has some GM tools to help keep track of party stuff, such as skills and saves. They also have highly detailed character sheets, that I personally like.

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