Advice on players doing rolls that don't really effect anything


Advice


I need help with how to deal with this. Probably just to make myself feel better so that I don't give the players confused looks when their doing something that really just didn't needed to be done.

Example is the group just got done with their first encounter fighting some unstable people trying to burn the town down and the town guard shows up and ask what happened. The face of the group tells them what happened and rolls diplomacy to get on their good side. That was needed to see how the guards react to their side of the story and what the guards thought happened. They pass and the guards start acting more friendly to the group explaining who they are and what group they belong to. Then one of the players rolls sense motive when I didn't even roll a bluff or anything that called for a sense motive?

What do you do with that? I'm starting to think I should of had the guards react to the player giving them a critical look or what ever she did that caused her to roll sense motive but that probably would of hurt the group as a whole.


I guess, try not telling them that they passed their diplomacy roll. Just simply say 'The guards seem to relax as you talk' or words to that effect. That way, their sense motive roll has more weight.

You said they are acting more friendly towards them, which is enough info. They were probably just being overly cautious by trying to confirm that what you told them is true, and they aren't putting on a facade.

-Crag


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Quote:

Sense Motive

Hunch (DC 20): This use of the skill involves making a gut assessment of the social situation. You can get the feeling from another's behavior that something is wrong, such as when you're talking to an impostor. Alternatively, you can get the feeling that someone is trustworthy.

So if they decide to roll Sense Motive and get a decent score in a situation like this, you can just say, "The guard seems sincere."

Sovereign Court

Let them? It doesn't hurt anything to let them know, in this circumstance, that they read no deception from the guard.

It could provide a moment for ad-hoc roleplay and open an avenue for an adventure hook. If it won't lead anywhere let the players know then they can move on to more important things.


I see Roleplaying as collaborative storytelling, which necessarily involves improvisation. In improv, a no-no is "blocking". Blocking happens when one participant puts forth an idea and another doesn't accept the idea.

To keep things flowing and to continually make participants feel like they are making worthy contributions, try to say 'yes' to whatever the players offer. (There are obvious exceptions, like when they want to contravene a major rule).

In your case, the PC is offering you the opportunity to reveal more about an NPC. They are also imagining what their character might be curious about. Those are good things. If you punish them by giving a critical look, you're moving in a direction towards having players that don't feel like they are contributing to the story.

I'd actually suggest that you reward the player by giving them a little info.


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If a player rolls something and you didn't call for it ask them what they're trying to do.

In this example a player rolled sense motive on the guards. Directly ask them why, "What are you trying to learn?" If the player doesn't know then nothing happens.

However, a good thing in this scenario would be to say that:

Quote:
Hunch: This use of the skill involves making a gut assessment of the social situation. You can get the feeling from another's behavior that something is wrong, such as when you're talking to an impostor. Alternatively, you can get the feeling that someone is trustworthy.


I will go with the others and give the standard answer for your standard NPC that isnt trying to cheat the party , "you think he is sincere".

Yes you can vastly develop on this , but i find it tricky since it is important to keep it consistent , so that the player dont just find out when they failed the check and you say "you think he is sincere".

Too much variation only when they fail or only when they pass might give it away , so make a patern and stick to it.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Thought this was gonna be a "Roll to see if I'm getting drunk" thread. It's not unreasonable for adventurers to be wary of the town guard; especially if they don't have a relationship with them.

In this case I'd tell the person rolling his read on the guard. They seem to be at ease with your party and believe your story of what happened (assuming he got a reasonable Sense Motive result (>15)) or if you havea roleplay heavy group even going into further detail like the guard in charge seems very comfortable with you and looks like he's seen this kind of thing before and with what you're saying and the attitude of your party it seems like he thinks things add up and you are trustworthy individuals. It seems his counterparts are less so and seem a little unsure and are just trying to follow the lead of their superior.

If the roll is sub that you just give them the nothing seems amiss version of things.


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For things like sense motive and stuff, the player really shouldn't roll anyway, since if they roll a "1" they'll "know" they blew it. So what I do is I just randomly roll dice all throughout the session.

Then when something like this happens, I can just say "I rolled your sense motive and..."

It's also fun to just every now and then roll your d20 two or three times, raise your eyebrows and then roll a bunch of d6s.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
It's also fun to just every now and then roll your d20 two or three times, raise your eyebrows and then roll a bunch of d6s.

Be sure to throw in a few looks of sympathy at your more gullible players.


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Adamantine Dragon wrote:

For things like sense motive and stuff, the player really shouldn't roll anyway, since if they roll a "1" they'll "know" they blew it. So what I do is I just randomly roll dice all throughout the session.

Then when something like this happens, I can just say "I rolled your sense motive and..."

It's also fun to just every now and then roll your d20 two or three times, raise your eyebrows and then roll a bunch of d6s.

That's a good point. It's often good for you as a GM to roll many types of skill checks in secret, sense motive being one of them. Especially when used against a bluff where a player might use meta-knowledge of the rolls value to decide whether the succeeded or failed.

Other examples are perception, disguise, bluff, diplomacy, and knowledge checks. I ask my players to write down those skill values for me and any situational modifiers so I can roll these at the appropriate times.


Claxon wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

For things like sense motive and stuff, the player really shouldn't roll anyway, since if they roll a "1" they'll "know" they blew it. So what I do is I just randomly roll dice all throughout the session.

Then when something like this happens, I can just say "I rolled your sense motive and..."

It's also fun to just every now and then roll your d20 two or three times, raise your eyebrows and then roll a bunch of d6s.

That's a good point. It's often good for you as a GM to roll many types of skill checks in secret, sense motive being one of them. Especially when used against a bluff where a player might use meta-knowledge of the rolls value to decide whether the succeeded or failed.

Other examples are perception, disguise, bluff, diplomacy, and knowledge checks. I ask my players to write down those skill values for me and any situational modifiers so I can roll these at the appropriate times.

I admit i like to allow the player to roll the most they can , but i will agree here most likely you guys are having a better result by rolling these checks yourselves.

Vigilant Seal

one thing to be careful with when making secret checks for the players is their involvement with the game. I agree that sense motive and bluff, etc should be made in secret to avoid players meta-gaming. but these checks should be offset with stuff that the PC can do (additional rolls).

I've seen lots of players get frustrated when the GM is the only person making rolls outside of combat and everyone's just sitting around listening or occasionally talking. The best games are ones that keep everyone interacting and feeling a sense of contribution.


If you're telling your players when an NPC makes a Bluff check, it doesn't matter what their Sense Motive is, they're not going to trust the NPC anyway.


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Renata, and that is a major reason I roll random dice. My players get used to me rolling dice, and eventually, after so many times that I roll the dice and nothing happens, it just becomes background to the game, so when a truly important roll happens, they don't notice.


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Rockblood wrote:
I'm starting to think I should of had the guards react to the player giving them a critical look or what ever she did that caused her to roll sense motive

Are your players paranoid if you really are out to get them?


Renata Maclean wrote:
If you're telling your players when an NPC makes a Bluff check, it doesn't matter what their Sense Motive is, they're not going to trust the NPC anyway.

Yes, which is avoidable by having their sense motive check so you can roll it if the ask whether the NPC is telling the truth. Also, you just shouldn't ever tell your players that you're rolling a bluff check against them.


Thank you all for your advice. No I never tell them what I'm rolling though I have been telling them what to roll from time to time. Don't know if this group would be to happy if I started rolling anything that is on their character sheet so I wouldn't know how to go around doing the hiding thing other then telling them to make so and so check but don't tell them what their rolling against.


Sense motive checks are made when the players ask for them at our table. I don't see any point in rolling for the PCs I prefer for them to at least have some idea of how well they rolled. It is hard enough describing what is happening without deliberately hiding information from the players. I don't mind if players metagame, it often makes the game run more smoothly, mature players know when it is appropriate to metagame, new players or immature players already have a major disadvantage versus the experienced gamers so I don't care if they metagame to get an advantage from time to time.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

For things like sense motive and stuff, the player really shouldn't roll anyway, since if they roll a "1" they'll "know" they blew it. So what I do is I just randomly roll dice all throughout the session.

Depends on the players I guess... We're notoriously suspicious group around these parts and roll Sense motive ALL THE TIME without being prodded.

If I roll a one... I believe what he's saying. It doesn't mean that he's telling the truth... it doesn't mean he's lying.. Frankly it means my character believes him and should be played as such.

Besides, as a skill check, 1 doesn't mean Auto-fail. My paladin rolls a one now, and he gets around a 31 ;)


Also, from following a whole bunch of PbPs, in PbP/PbEM players (and in some cases GM) have to roll things preemptively just to speed gameplay along, because otherwise turnaround time would bog everything down.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
...that is a major reason I roll random dice. My players get used to me rolling dice, and eventually, after so many times that I roll the dice and nothing happens, it just becomes background to the game, so when a truly important roll happens, they don't notice.

Same here. Random perception/sense motive checks, even occasional saving throws to avoid forgetfulness or tripping on minor things. It does wonders to minimize the times where you really need to roll checks for PCs, and anything that lets me do less work running a game is good.


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Eh, if you can't trust the people you're gaming with not to have their characters draw weapons when they fail a perception check or some such, then either you're not gaming with friends, or they can't be bothered roleplaying. Either way those latter 2 are the problems to be fixed.

Different if you're playing in PFS I guess.

Silver Crusade

Dave Justus wrote:
Rockblood wrote:
I'm starting to think I should of had the guards react to the player giving them a critical look or what ever she did that caused her to roll sense motive
Are your players paranoid if you really are out to get them?

I find interesting that the PC make a "critial look" to the guards, there is no information in the sense motive description that states that when you roll a sense motive you go all "flat eyes analist" to the people you are sensing.

If you really want to go that extra mile with that, then you should make your PC make a bluff check to disguise their attempt to make the sense motive, which is overly complicated.

In general, I allow every dice roll related to the situation, but if there is no information resulting from the dice roll, then that is it, no info for them.


As a DM I actually often call for rolls that have no purpose, like calling for a group perception for a flying bird, or insisting that they make a check everytime they say "I give a look around". This help against the classic metagame situation "the DM just called for a roll, quick, everybody draw their weapons!!".
I just love make them roll for intuition when somebody talk and then let them decide if there was actually no lie or they just didn't roll high enaugh. Sometimes I evem fake a roll behind the screen to meke it more "realistic". It really helps.


Another tip is to have some info ready to give them if they fail a roll that actual matters. Such as failing to spot an ambush, but noticing that bird overhead.

avr wrote:

Eh, if you can't trust the people you're gaming with not to have their characters draw weapons when they fail a perception check or some such, then either you're not gaming with friends, or they can't be bothered roleplaying. Either way those latter 2 are the problems to be fixed.

Different if you're playing in PFS I guess.

It also helps some people with immersion. As a player, I appreciate not having to separate player vs character knowledge, even though I can if I have to.


When players start rolling sense motive checks, then that is the time you start rolling bluff checks, not before. Or you never roll anything and have NPCs take 10 on their bluffing, or use a mixture of these two methods. Either way, you don't need to roll bluff checks before a sense motive because it will either never get challenged or tell the players to start rolling sense motive.

You should also roll "bluff checks" if the NPCs are telling the truth, since if you usually roll a bluff chck when they are lying, the lack of rolling will indicate truth through metagaming.

I think that you should actually ask for a sense motive checks in those same situations that you specifically afford the players a perception check: To avoid a sneak attack, or when when the situation is super friendly, or if you have a new player who doesn't realize they can do a thing. In this case, to intercept a secret message "attack out guests", or "McClardy is clearly smitten with Grognar". But not to see hidden compartments or traps, and not to get extra nuggets of information.

Having the guards react to the player's incredulity can give you material to work off for improvised dialogue, but doesn't actually need to hurt the party. You can have the guards say things like "Look, I know everyone is on edge, but..." or "I know you have little reason to trust us, but hear us out." NPCs don't actually need to suddenly hate the party for that, and don't need to drop down a diplomacy level, but can be narratively valuable.

If I am barding it up, and in full detective mode, I don't want to be told when to make Sense Motive Checks, because then I know I am missing something. It is very fun to go through the rollercoaster of being betrayed and thinking "Old Man McClardy?! I never suspected! But it makes so much sense..." but even if I am given the metagame knowledge and told something is up, and even if I am a mature person who separates in game and out of game knowledge, it sort of takes something out of the experience. It also makes me, nemophles the detective, feel more engaged when I need to do some actual puzzle solving and if I am the one to think 'this guy might be lying', then I the player feel more reward for getting the extra information.

Other things that sense motive can be used to get that aren't specifically anti-bluff:

  • The person's primary or underlying emotional motivation. This comes up a lot more when the GM isn't a budding Thespian. Is the NPC look jealous, envious or covetous? Disguisted, afraid or peturbed? Loving, or Lustful? There are subtleties that rolling a sense motive check allows you to get clearer info on, and can be fun or useful knowledge to have
  • Specific avenues that a NPC might find more compelling, such as "Willing to listen to a religious argument" or "Clearly cares a lot about displays of personal wealth" or "Is irate and will listen more to intimidation that argumentation". Often it is good to roll prior to bluffing so you can come up with something that doesn't make the table go why...
  • What does the NPC seem to really want out of the situation, safety, money, prestige, a warm bed?
  • How do these NPCs really feel about me. Are they suspicious, are they relieved, or are they opportunistic?.

I suppose in many ways sense motive is used to get plain language descriptions in those times when the GM doesn't have the full acting range and the player is not a mind reader.


I've always felt that a player's cue to roll Sense Motive is any time they feel like it. YOU know the guards were on the up and up. WE know that. The players could probably make a safe assumption of that, but for all they really knew, these guards could have been Demons in disguise, come to investigate why their plan to make some unstable townsfolk burn their own town down had failed. Many have suggested the Hunch rule for Sense Motive, which is definitely a good route to take.

Personally, if any of my players decide to roll Sense Motive on one of my NPC's, I ALWAYS pick up my d20 and give it a roll. In cases like these, there's no reason to (roll...pretend to consult result with imaginary Bluff skill..."he doesn't seem to be acting suspicious"), but like I said - THEY don't know that. It helps add a little justification for the player. For me to shrug and say "uh, he's a guard. He's not trying to trick you", I'm removing all roleplaying possibilities of the PC's treating this guard like a unique character. This way, as players, they never REALLY know if my NPC's are telling the truth or not, which makes them rely on rollplaying the result of their characters' Sense Motive rolls for how to behave.


A lot of good advice above.

I play in a group with time constraints, therefore in order to keep the game moving I pre-roll many checks before game (Monster/NPC Initiative, Perception, etc.) and note the result in my notebook. For simple interactions that wouldn't impact the story, I would just ask for the PCs' Diplomacy/Sense Motive/Bluff and apply it to the next check on my list and then describe the result.

Still, there are times when you would want the PCs to be more involved, such as with NPCs important to the setting and NPCs critical to the story, and for those situations we roll, but I usually keep the DC secret. It works for my group and keeps the session moving along.


Even using the idea of pre-rolled player perception/ sense motive checks, I was still under the impression that the player could roll either whenever they feel like it. I agree with Cuup; always roll a Bluff roll whenever the players ask for a sense motive check, even if the NPC is on the up and up. Otherwise, it's a faint form of railroading, because you, the GM, are heavily implying that players should be reacting in certain ways ("Believe the guards because I said so!" as opposed to, "The guard is believable and this is why," and letting the PCs make their own judgements.)

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