GM or player responsible for clarifying save?


Rules Questions

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As a GM I have always had the player clarify their saves. For example the player says“is it versus fear?” or “I rolled an 18 or 20 if it’s a sonic affect”. I’ve always felt the players can make reasonable inferences from the encounter or the creature they’re fighting and give me the pertinent information on any bonuses their character may have versus my attack or spell

I was running an encounter today where a character was bit by a Linnorm and was asked to make a fort save. He gave me the result and I informed him that he was poisoned. His character has a plus versus poison and he felt I should have told him it was a save versus poison rather than just a fort save. His plus would not have mattered in this case. He was saying the GM should always tell you what you are saving against so that he, the player can make those adjustments himself. I disagreed and told him that I would not debate this in the middle of the game but that we could talk about it afterward.

In this case, the players did not know that the Linnorm had a poison attack. Telling him to save versus poison would have given the players k owledge that they dId not possess in game. I would like to hear others opinions as I always want to improve as a GM. .

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Every group I have gamed with it is the player's responsibility. The player does not always know exactly they are saving against. And some inference from the player is expected to cut down on spouting off a list of different results. Much like a high level ranger could read out 8 different perception checks results if they were completely unaware of what type of creature and terrain they were dealing with.


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If you don't know he has a bonus vs. poison, and he doesn't know if the PC is saving against poison, how is the player supposed to get the saving throw number right? Just announce that it's a Fort save vs. poison, because if he failed or succeeded he'd know that it has a poison bite under the rules of the game.


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roguerouge wrote:
If you don't know he has a bonus vs. poison, and he doesn't know if the PC is saving against poison, how is the player supposed to get the saving throw number right? Just announce that it's a Fort save vs. poison, because if he failed or succeeded he'd know that it has a poison bite under the rules of the game.

In my view, if a player who has a plus vs poison is bit by something, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to announce “16 or 20 if it’s vs poison”. Obviously if a player is new to the game my expectations will differ. This way if he passes you don’t have to give him any information other than “you’re ok”


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How can he infer it's a poison save until such a save has been done?

While a player can certainly infer you'd be annoyed at him if he said "16, 18 if enchantment or sonic effects" to a fort save, and yet that's why youre asking him to do when it could have been.

Work with your players not against them. It wouldn't be such a massive hassle to say "save vs poison" or "do you get a poison bonus" or even "Oh, right, well you make your save. Thanks for the heads up."

You're the one with the stats of what to save against not him. Help him out. If he happens to figure it's poison, all the better.


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I always just say "this is mind affecting" or "this is poison" or "this is a spell-like ability", since I see no reason to hide this information from my players. Making the player have to clarify what their number is in all the different potential cases (or answering their questions to narrow it down) seems to accomplish nothing except slowing the pace of games.

I mean, as a GM I want to make sure the players get their numbers right, and I'd like them to make sure I've got my numbers right so I don't see why we can't just work together to make this the simplest, easiest thing it can be.


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pogie wrote:
roguerouge wrote:
If you don't know he has a bonus vs. poison, and he doesn't know if the PC is saving against poison, how is the player supposed to get the saving throw number right? Just announce that it's a Fort save vs. poison, because if he failed or succeeded he'd know that it has a poison bite under the rules of the game.
In my view, if a player who has a plus vs poison is bit by something, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to announce “16 or 20 if it’s vs poison”. Obviously if a player is new to the game my expectations will differ. This way if he passes you don’t have to give him any information other than “you’re ok”

its generally faster for the gm to say its an x effect rather then the player reading out everything they get an additional bonus to, i had one character that i literally had to make note on a separate area then the normal save area for the extra bonuses vs x effects because there were so many then add in immunities on top of that you will be sitting there for several minutes trying to figure out what your save is vs a specific effect vs the few seconds it takes for a gm to call it out


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...if you tell the player immediately afterwards "you are poisoned" then why would you hide it at the "make a save" part? I don't think there's an explicit rule for this (nor do I think there should be) but I would not put it on the player to announce everything. I've got a half-elf with (I think) a +2 vs traps and hazards underground, a +2 versus enchantment, a +5 versus mind-affecting, and a +2 vs charms and compulsions. There's a lot of overlap but definitely some gaps and I don't want the player listing out 4 separate save results for every Will save. Way easier to say "this is a mind-affecting fear affect" and let them figure it out.


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If it is something the player will know if he fails or succeeds his save either way just say what it is. It saves time rather than having them announce every save bonus they have


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pogie wrote:

]

In my view, if a player who has a plus vs poison is bit by something, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to announce “16 or 20 if it’s vs poison”.

and what if they have +2 vs poison +1 vs mind effecting +1 vs illusions and +2 vs shapeshifters....

PCs have some weird modifiers. Announcing them all takes time.

Against that you're not announcing the poison because... why? Its hardly metagaming if you look down at a wound and see gunk sticking out it and feel searing pain creeping into the surrounding areas to figure out what happened.

I don't see why you can't reverse the effects? Its not like once you call it out it's set in stone.

What you have is something that isn't a convention, that you're insisting is a convention, that the player has no way of thinking you consider a convention. There's no reason for you to insist on it being done your way


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Here are some ways it could play out:
(a)
GM: Fort save v poison.
Player: 24.

(b)
GM: You feel a sickness coursing through your veins. The Linnorm's bite was poisonous! Make a Fortitude saving throw.
Player: 24.
GM: By drawing upon your inner reserves of heroism, you manage to shake off the effects.

(c)
GM: Make a Fortitude throw.
Player: 20.
GM: You are poisoned.
Player: Oh, it was poison? In that case, 24.
GM: You are not poisoned.

(d)
GM: Make a Fortitude save.
Player: 20. Or 24 if it's poison. Or 22 if it's a spell or spell-like ability. Or 26 if it's both.
GM: OK. Nothing happens.

I don't think the last one is better. Many players know that a Linnorm's bite is poisonous, from reading the Bestiary or whatever, and this metagame knowledge does not ruin the game. And if the character learns right away (as in example b), that doesn't break things either.


I personally keep track of my players fort and will saves and relevant modifiers for this reason so I can tell them if there's anything relevant (and partially because they struggle not to metagame diseases or I don't necessarily want to reveal that they've needed a save).

Using the good examples above, I feel like (B) is the option I prefer, with bits of (D). Mostly there's no reason to conceal what the effect is because either they (or another party member) are going to immediately suffer it or they'll make the save and it'll be irrelevant. Don't think you're likely to risk people going "Oh, this thing has a poisonous bite! Quick everyone, drink your anti-venom to protect yourselves!" and then everyone actually doing that. But hey, it's an extra round the monster gets to go if they do.


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I always describe special effects like these with a few seconds of extra detail. You feel ‘waves of heat radiating down your arm from the bite’, or ‘the wound burns like ice’. You can then ask for the save and describe the effect.

If it’s an effect you don’t want them to know about - an assassin has poisoned their meal with a slow acting toxin - then find a way to get their save bonuses and abilities in advance. For instance by having an unimportant save vs poison somewhere else in the adventure and ask what their modifier are.

I think if you want to keep mechanical knowledge from players it’s better to put that extra bit of prep - rather than the players feel they’re being jerked around on a string.


Kind of a weird question but now that I think about it. I personally will give what kind if I can remember someone has a bonus to it but my players will ask every time. "I have bravery" "its not fear" "ok!"


i know one character i had if i had to ask for each thing it would take forever, immune disease, +4 vs poison +3 vs traps, immune fear, +4 vs magic, +2 vs divination +2 vs death effects +2 vs negative energy +2 vs necromancy +4 vs environment effects +2 vs fire, +2 vs energy drain, and a few other pluses to various other effects that i cant remember off the top of my head right now


Eh, don't be stick in the mud. That goes for everyone.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

No one is responsible for it. It's up to the table to decide how they want to handle it.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

What TriOmegaZero said.

Also, frankly as a player it gets tiresome handing out potentially multiple different answers every time you make a save. "Is it an enchantment? Spell-like ability? Mind-effecting? Is the creature an outsider? Is it evil? Does it have an even number of legs? Is its mother facing in a generally Eastern direction right now? Was it born on Thursday?"

Teach - then trust - your players to not metagame. That's my advice. But mostly what TriOmegaZero said.


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pogie wrote:

As a GM I have always had the player clarify their saves. For example the player says“is it versus fear?” or “I rolled an 18 or 20 if it’s a sonic affect”. I’ve always felt the players can make reasonable inferences from the encounter or the creature they’re fighting and give me the pertinent information on any bonuses their character may have versus my attack or spell

I was running an encounter today where a character was bit by a Linnorm and was asked to make a fort save. He gave me the result and I informed him that he was poisoned. His character has a plus versus poison and he felt I should have told him it was a save versus poison rather than just a fort save. His plus would not have mattered in this case. He was saying the GM should always tell you what you are saving against so that he, the player can make those adjustments himself. I disagreed and told him that I would not debate this in the middle of the game but that we could talk about it afterward.

In this case, the players did not know that the Linnorm had a poison attack. Telling him to save versus poison would have given the players k owledge that they dId not possess in game. I would like to hear others opinions as I always want to improve as a GM. .

The table is a team. Everyone shares responsibility.

That said, that level of protecting information is not helpful. Because it is everyone's responsibility, everyone needs information in order to back each other up. Yes, if you say, "Make a save against poison," the party knows it has a poison attack. This is not a problem. This does not inhibit play. If you are so afraid of metagaming that you cannot have even this minimal level of trust, you're at a point so extreme that your GM/player relationship has become dysfunctional.

Openness of information streamlines play. Your group is a team. Work together.


Shared responsibility can be a bad idea. Is it the job of the attacker to add 4 to an attack against a prone enemy, or is it up to the defender to subtract 4 from AC? Either way is fine, but if you try to share responsibility, you might find both do it, or neither.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
No one is responsible for it. It's up to the table to decide how they want to handle it.

I think that’s the most reasonable advice. When this happened at the table I was not consciously trying to hide this from the player due to a failed knowledge check. It was on the drive home that I was thinking it through that I realized that the players did not have this information.

I think that most of the players I play with are quite experienced and I am used to them making the logical leap on their own as to what may be trying to affect them . In this case I think it is reasonable that if you get bit by something and asked for a fort save you might be getting poisoned.

To be clear I’m not talking about denying a player a bonus. Had this players bonus allowed him to save I would not deny this.

While I have definitely had GMs ask me to save versus poison or better yet describe an effect that sounds like you’re being poisoned I dont believe I’ve experienced the same for spell effects. I don’t ever recall a GM ask me for a save versus a mind affecting effect. Typically it’s a spellcraft check to identify the spell which gives the players the info they need or, if they fail the spellcraft check the unknown spell goes off and with a failed dc sometimes a “oh wait, I have a bonus vs fear”.

Their is some good advice in the thread. I like the idea of describing the effects to help the player along as I personally think it removes some mystery to say “make a save vs charm” I want to try things like “as the fangs pierce your arm, your arm tingles as your body tries to fight something off” or “terror starts to creep into the edges of your mind, make a save”


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

As a player, it’s my responsibility to remember my bonuses. If I think it’s relevant or important, I’ll add a quick note when I say my roll. I use common sense so as not to be “that guy.”

As a GM, I expect players to know their character’s bonuses and trust them to tell me if they think it’s relevant. I don’t always identify the type of save (if it’s not obvious from observable effects), because even the best players can struggle with metagaming sometimes.


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I'm just confused about what sort of terrible metagaming even can happen if you say, "Make a save versus poison."


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Omnius wrote:
I'm just confused about what sort of terrible metagaming even can happen if you say, "Make a save versus poison."

I think the concern is that if the save is failed the players will then know how to get rid of the effect.

That said I'm personally in the tell-the-player-what-type-of-effect-he's-saving-against camp. Too many times I've seen a GM fail to give the player enough information with the result that the player ends up failing a save he should have made or, worse, being affected by an effect he's immune to.

If the GM is going to withhold info for fear of metagaming consequences he needs to know the PCs well enough to apply any additional modifiers himself.


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I'm curious how someone would use Plague rat belt without the player knowing there was a poison save involved.


BigNorseWolf wrote:


What you have is something that isn't a convention, that you're insisting is a convention, that the player has no way of thinking you consider a convention. There's no reason for you to insist on it being done your way

I’m not insisting that things are done my way or that my way is a convention. I’m saying that that is the way I have done things. The only thing I insisted on was that I was unwilling to have a debate about this topic mid combat and that the player and I discuss the topic after the game if he desired. I will debate rules mid game as typically someone is demonstrably right or wrong and I always want the rules to be followed. I don’t want to subject the table, particularly in the middle of an encounter, to a debate about GM style. I’m willing to change how I do things if it results in a better experience for everyone. For me, changing up something I do as to how the game is run will not occur mid game as I need to think about it absorb the opinions I’ve heard.

Conversely it was the player stating that I was breaking convention by not telling him at the outset that it was a save v poison. As I viewed this as a grey area not really covered by the rules per se, I elected to move on. So yes I guess I was insisting that it be done my way for that encounter, the last of the scenario.


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Per the rules, the person has a save that applies against poison. There is nothing in the rules that hints or suggests that the person has to announce it or activate it, it is simply there. That isn't gray at all.


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Omnius wrote:
I'm just confused about what sort of terrible metagaming even can happen if you say, "Make a save versus poison."

None, most likely. The player was not arguing what is best he was arguing that I was obligated to to tell him it was a poison affect.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

Per the rules, the person has a save that applies against poison. There is nothing in the rules that hints or suggests that the person has to announce it or activate it, it is simply there. That isn't gray at all.

I’m not saying a save vs poison is a grey area. I’m saying it’s not covered in the rules as to what’s better. “You just got bit by a monster, make a fort save” “is it poison? I have a bonus for that” or “you got bit by a monster, make a fort save versus poison”

Again, I am not talking about denying a player a bonus under any circumstances. If a player fails a save and I tell him he is poisoned and he alerts me to a bonus vs that affect, the bonus is applied.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I tell my players what type of save they’re trying to make in order to keep things running smoothly (in PBP so questions back and forth after the fact could takes hours or a whole day), and retconning could lead to confusions as other players and NPCs might react differently (healers having to redo actions because “Oh, I don’t actually have to cure that affliction they don’t have”). I do read over my player’s character sheets but I don’t keep encyclopedic knowledge of them

I allow Spellcraft/Knowledge checks to identify the exact ability causing the effect though.


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This seems like an advice thread and not a rules one. This all has to do with GM style, and while I rest heavily in the camp of "Tell the player" because if they get it or not, I don't particularly care. My players know if something like that happens, OOC knowledge isn't IC knowledge. And they play it well. Asking if they can roll a heal, arcana, or so on to notice the effects is fine. And I typically give it to players that want it as a Not An Action just to speed things along. The goal isn't to inhibit the players or slow down gameplay, but to make it more fun. But, the goal of your group is to figure out what you all prefer. Is it better/faster to have the GM say "Fort save VS Poison" or if it is faster for the player to list off all results of the die he/she might have had depending on the effect. In my experience, people prefer the former. Your experience may differ.


TrinitysEnd wrote:
This seems like an advice thread and not a rules one. r.

You’re right. Wrong forum. I’m looking for advice not a ruling.


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I think the problem here is less about your policy on when you tell someone they might have been poisoned (a minor stylistic issue) and more about a personality clash with a player who interrupts what ought to be a dramatic battle with a linnorm to tell you you're doing it wrong.


This seems like silly petulance from the player. What difference does it make if you told him before or after the roll that it was poison when the added bonus would not have changed the result of the roll? “It’s poison so I rolled a 17” is absolutely no different than “I rolled a 15 or a 17 if it’s poison” when the character needs a 20 to succeed.

FWIW, we tend to roll and then list all the bonuses that would alter the roll. Knowing it’s a fort save doesn’t necessarily tell you what specific type of fort save you were rolling against. There are other mechanics to give you that information, a heal check or spellcraft check, that sort of thing. Just giving the information out whenever a saving throw is rolled devalues those other skills for those that have invested in them and discourages future investment. It could even encourage metagaming, something rookies often struggle greatly with and even veteran players must remain vigilant against at all times.

Liberty's Edge

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I disagree with the OP. The character has a bonus versus poison. It is not something that has to be activated. If you choose to hold back information that results in a player not being able to utilize an inherent ability, then YOU as a GM need to come up with a solution so that situations such as this do not happen. The only way I can see it is that you have a cheat sheet of the player's situational modifiers that you must reference any time they may come into play.


RedDogMT wrote:
I disagree with the OP. The character has a bonus versus poison. It is not something that has to be activated. If you choose to hold back information that results in a player not being able to utilize an inherent ability, then YOU as a GM need to come up with a solution so that situations such as this do not happen. The only way I can see it is that you have a cheat sheet of the player's situational modifiers that you must reference any time they may come into play.

I did not negate his bonus. After I declared he was poisoned he stated that he had a bonus versus poison but he did not make the dc with the bonus applied.


Matthew Downie wrote:
I think the problem here is less about your policy on when you tell someone they might have been poisoned (a minor stylistic issue) and more about a personality clash with a player who interrupts what ought to be a dramatic battle with a linnorm to tell you you're doing it wrong.

This is probably the most insightful post in the thread. I think the player was not happy with me not allowing him to retcon his turn during another players turn. He then ate a big crit and was feeling charged emotionally.

Having read through all of these comments I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really care if it is GM or player driven to arrive at the correct outcome. Either way may work better under certain circumstances but ultimately as long as it is correct players and GMs should be able to live with it.


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Omnius wrote:
I'm just confused about what sort of terrible metagaming even can happen if you say, "Make a save versus poison."

"Ah, it's poison and not petrification, so I can just stay in the monster's reach and get myself hit with it's seven attacks each round!"


I like the solution used by some of our local PFS GMs : initiative tracking cards which also include AC, saving throws, save modifiers, perception, sense motive, and other useful things. Then the GM can take a quick glance at your card and say, "You're fine, but you think anyone less hardy than a dwarf with the blood of the Five Kings Mountains in his veins would be in poor shape," or, "You fill a momentary chill in your heart, but your faith in Iomodae allows you to shake it off," for a dwarf saving vs poison or a paladin vs a fear effect.


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Derklord wrote:
"Ah, it's poison and not petrification, so I can just stay in the monster's reach and get myself hit with it's seven attacks each round!"

It seems like acting on the possibility that the fortitude save might be a petrification effect without evidence in or out of character would be the greater display of metagaming than continuing to fight a poisonous thing that you gotta fight anyways.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Omnius wrote:
I'm just confused about what sort of terrible metagaming even can happen if you say, "Make a save versus poison."

Oh, it's real. Assume for a moment that there's no established way for players to know a thing. Say... a monster with a mind-controlling supernatural aura. Nothing that Spellcraft or Perception can identify, and assume that any Knowledge check failed to inform the players that said aura is on the table.

Here's one version of metagaming...

GM: "Okay, Thog, I need a Will save against a sort of domination effect."
Player1: "Great, I get to use my bonus. I've got... 18."
GM: "You feel like something happened but you shrugged it off."
Player2: "Hey guys, better cast magic circle against evil."

Basically, it's information the players "shouldn't" have, RAW. Sure, I imagine most of us DMs describe things because... we like to... but it's not in the rules. I know when I ask for poison saves, I describe that the PC can feel something nasty pumping into their bloodstream, but not quite hurting them. And so on. But that's STILL a GM providing information they shouldn't have.

Bottom line, if you know about the nature of an opponent's abilities, you can (possibly) mitigate it. That's metagaming if you don't have the knowledge in-game.

As I said before, learning to recognize it and playing the game as a team works well for us. Nobody in my groups would think to cast a mitigating spell in reaction to "mechanical" knowledge.


Meh still not that big of a deal.


pogie wrote:

As a GM I have always had the player clarify their saves. For example the player says“is it versus fear?” or “I rolled an 18 or 20 if it’s a sonic affect”. I’ve always felt the players can make reasonable inferences from the encounter or the creature they’re fighting and give me the pertinent information on any bonuses their character may have versus my attack or spell

-------
In this case, the players did not know that the Linnorm had a poison attack. Telling him to save versus poison would have given the players k owledge that they dId not possess in game. I would like to hear others opinions as I always want to improve as a GM. .

On the rare occasion when I don't think it's appropriate for a Player to know what they are saving against or what skill they are rolling on I ask them to roll and then ask to look at their character sheet.

Anything that is kicking in straight away I just tell them.
In the case of a poison bite that will affect them straight away they are going to know they have been poisoned so there is no point to not say "make a Fort save vs poison.
I know most poisons have no play effect if you make the save but in reality even with a successful save you are going to have a pretty good idea that you were poisoned on any instant effect poison. The wound will burn/sting, you'll feel woozy for a few secs.


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Anguish wrote:
Omnius wrote:
I'm just confused about what sort of terrible metagaming even can happen if you say, "Make a save versus poison."

Oh, it's real. Assume for a moment that there's no established way for players to know a thing. Say... a monster with a mind-controlling supernatural aura. Nothing that Spellcraft or Perception can identify, and assume that any Knowledge check failed to inform the players that said aura is on the table.

Here's one version of metagaming...

GM: "Okay, Thog, I need a Will save against a sort of domination effect."
Player1: "Great, I get to use my bonus. I've got... 18."
GM: "You feel like something happened but you shrugged it off."
Player2: "Hey guys, better cast magic circle against evil."

"You feel like something tried to thrust itself into your mind but you resisted"

"Hey guys. Something just tried to take over my mind. Crack out the Prot form evil."


Jokes on you It was a LG outsider trying to mind control you! (SHHH I know I know. Is joke. )


I mean, if you wanted to run a scene where a player might get mind-controlled without tipping off the party immediately, you know this is coming so you can plan for this and ask for things like "your stealth modifier, your perception modifier, your will save vs. mind-affecting, etc." at the beginning of the session and roll for them in private.

There's *way* more metagaming to be had from "I rolled a 1 on perception, so I know I didn't see whatever it is" than "attempt a fort save vs. poison."


Vidmaster7 wrote:
Jokes on you It was a LG outsider trying to mind control you! (SHHH I know I know. Is joke. )

jokes on it then immunity to mind effecting effects


Whenever I GM, I get the players to give me a list of situational bonuses/penalties so I can apply them, but I think as long as everyone is aware what the expectations are, it's fine whatever way the group wants to handle it.


Lady-J wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Jokes on you It was a LG outsider trying to mind control you! (SHHH I know I know. Is joke. )
jokes on it then immunity to mind effecting effects

That was in fact the.. eh nvm.


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Omnius wrote:
I'm just confused about what sort of terrible metagaming even can happen if you say, "Make a save versus poison."

What if it was "Make a save versus illusions?"

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