This is a problem that many a DM has faced, but only one I've run aground of recently. I'm running a campaign with a group of fairly new gamers, and as such they are playing to win. And I mean win at everything. They focus down every target, and considers the personal slaughter of every enemy they run across the utmost of victories. But that's just a normal murder-hobo party.

Their problem is that they cannot accept a failed check. If one fails their check (which happens rather often just from poor rolling), every player in order down the table that can rolls the check until one makes it. A perception check is made by everyone- a common exchange is

DM: Roll a perception check

Player 1: 8+3, so 11!

DM: Ok, nothing catches your eye. So as you're walkin-

Player 2: Actually, I'm going to take a look around too!

fails check

DM: Still nothing from you either. So again, you're wa-

Player 3: I'd like to as well!

Now, this happens many, many times, and chews up much of our time. Any time that I cut them off from making these checks, about half the group shuts down RP-wise, and the other half just double down on it.

Things I have tried

  • Cutting off the check after 1-3 (depending on the check)
  • Giving consequences immediately upon failure/success of check
  • Making them list marching order then giving checks according to that
  • Made a prereq for the check (must be proficient in X)
  • Talking to them (sort of session 0 mark 2)
  • Trying to show them that 'winning' the check won't always get them something

The two most effective so far are the second and last. The second worked because I threw them into an enormous combat afterwards, so they were too focused to become sullen. The last was effective because it demonstrated to them that, as a DM, I might be a bit trickier and might not always make every check important. I consider them effective because the behavior slackened slightly, or at least didn't intensify. Calling out the behavior actually sort of backfired, as it brought the behavior fully into their conscious minds rather than leaving it as subconscious. At one point they even began to plot out the order of taking the checks!

Side note- I accomplished the last one by making them perform checks when nothing was there. So even after a natural 19 on a perception check, they might not discover anything.

I really like this group, and it isn't any one player that is the problem, nor their common murder-hobo mindset. It is how they go about it. As I am used to DMing an experienced group, I am at a loss on how to proceed. In addition, I really like this campaign, so I'm not really looking for answers that would lead to dissolving either the specific group or the campaign.

What I am looking for is how to make this behavior cease while keeping that fresh enthusiasm found so often in new players, rather than them shutting down. Both gameplay and interpersonal solutions are acceptable.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What sort of checks does this happen with? Your examples are all Perception checks — is your question specifically about Perception checks, or do you have this problem with other checks? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 24, 2018 at 23:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie It's been a general problem. Those were the examples I chose because they come up a lot, but that has happened with everything from a performance check (where I guess it became a bit of an open mic with 4 PC's stepping up) to combat (all taking shots at one enemy, barely escaped TPK). \$\endgroup\$
    – Imperator
    Jul 24, 2018 at 23:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why don´t you introduce some consequences? So concentrated on listening? You trip an fall! Bad performance? There fly the rotten eggs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Daniel
    Jul 25, 2018 at 10:02

2 Answers 2


This is the situation teamwork rules and group checks were invented to solve. They can be found on page 125 of the PHB, but I will summarize here. You have two general options:

1. Teamwork: Someone rolls with Advantage

This uses the rules on helping. While in combat it costs an Action to help, it can be done almost freely outside of it, if the situation allows. Since they can usually choose the character with the best modifier to roll, they will rarely think that "I could've done better". It also technically represents the efforts of the whole group, thus everyone has already made their roll as part of it.

2. Group check: everyone rolls, majority decides

If everyone can or must contribute, ask all of them to roll. If at least half of them make it, the group has succeeded. Since the rolls are parallel and not sequential, it will resolve faster. And here everyone literally already made their roll, so it is less likely they demand another.

+1 Passive checks

This is a more specific option that is usually used for Perception and Investigation checks. You basically say that everyone rolls around average (10) and you compare those results (passive scores) to a fixed DC or an opposing roll. This may nip the problem in the bud as no player actually rolls. I would recommend to use it if no action has to be taken in-game to discover something, to represent you have a base chance to notice details of your surroundings. You should decide if in-game actions after such an evaluation can warrant a roll. I usually would allow it, but in your case you could ban it or fall back to one of the general solutions.

  • \$\begingroup\$ No mention of Passive Perception? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 24, 2018 at 22:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I don't think passive perception has much to do with this question or the answer. The question is specifically about active rolling of checks (and uses a perception check as an example), not about perception in general. \$\endgroup\$
    – Luke
    Jul 24, 2018 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Luke My read of the question is the opposite. Also, “Luke” != “Szega”. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 24, 2018 at 23:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I also took it that the question is asked more in general. A mention still has place here, though. I will include. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Jul 24, 2018 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’ve asked for clarification from the asker, so we should be able to ensure all readers are on the same page soon. :) (Though if it’s more general, it is almost certainly a duplicate.) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 24, 2018 at 23:17

Advance Time for Each Check and Create Player Urgency

My players were also bogging down the game by checking literally everything, just like yours. And like your party, they like to win, so they played quite methodically.

This change had a dramatic effect on the amount of "Me too!" Perception shenanigans by introducing penalties for each failed check in the form of time spent.

Here are some specific examples of how to apply this in generic situations:


Each perception check takes 5 minutes. A wandering monster table roll occurs every 30 minutes (17-20). The chance doubles if no monster has been encountered each consecutive 10 minutes after that. Players learned quickly not to mess around while in dungeons, and work efficiently.


Too many checks lead to random PCs coming up to them and asking them why they're loitering around or acting strangely. Add pressure to the situations by introducing dramatic elements that actively foil/ draw attention to the PC's bizarre behavior.

Urgency in All Situations

Ultimately, if your players like winning as much as they do, responding to their checks by adding in-game urgency will incentivize them to gear up and start heading to the objectives.

This strategy also allows players to continue roleplaying and increases dramatic interest (if done right) in most situations that at least move the session along.



If there really is nothing there and there are no stakes that the PCs are under, simply describe their actions and what they see without bias. Some of the most comedic moments I've experienced in a campaign are when I've described an area the PCs are scouring become progressively more disheveled by their OCD antics. If you can learn to have fun with the oddities of your group, the less annoying these behaviors become.


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