If someone asks to stealthily open a door but rolls poorly, can they just choose not to do it, and let someone else open the door?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is like picking the horse to bet on after the race, and not before. \$\endgroup\$
    – EvilSnack
    Oct 4, 2019 at 0:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you can do this, just imagine all the stuff you can get away with! "I swing my sword"... "ok you missed, and..." "No, wait! Instead I use my shield and put my back to the wall!" "I cast Hold Person..." "He made the saving throw, so..." "Well never mind then I will save that spell for later and cast magic missile..." \$\endgroup\$ Oct 4, 2019 at 17:30

3 Answers 3


The roll represents an attempt to do something; the result of that roll, the result of that attempt. (See PHB p.6, "How to Play.")

As such, you can't choose not to attempt to open the door: you've already made the attempt.

I don't know how to say this without sounding snarky, but I do mean it in a helpful manner: there are plenty of roleplaying games where dice don't decide/influence the outcomes of characters' actions. If you don't want to live with dice deciding whether you're sneaky, maybe a different game is the right way to go?

[Reproduced here because, really, it should have been part of the answer and not a comment all along.]

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that failure does not necessarily mean you are detected acting stealthily, just that you are detected. The occupant's perception might play a role in detecting that, or you could act as if you accidentally opened the wrong door. "Sorry, I must have the wrong address." <succeed charisma roll> "No worries! Where are you headed?" \$\endgroup\$
    – MooseBoys
    Oct 3, 2019 at 4:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Lol, it did sound very snarky) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2021 at 15:47

No, and the DM can help weave this into the narrative by saying something like this:

A: "I stealthily open the door."
DM: "Okay, you stealthily open the door. There's an orc in there. Roll Stealth to see if you're stealthy enough that he doesn't notice you."

This is a good policy in general: you don't roll to "enter stealth mode", you roll when you're in stealth mode and you need to know if you evade detection.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is precisely why I tend to make my players hold of on rolling stealth rolls (specifically stealth rolls) until I say so (meaning after they've already snuck up on something that can perceive them). This way, they can't metagame with their stealth rolls if, say, the heavy armoured warrior happens to roll way better than the rogue by fluke. \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Oct 2, 2019 at 7:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS Or by using Secret rolls (a default for things like knowledge and stealth in PF2), though it does feel like a loss of player control. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 2, 2019 at 13:58

Action declaration -> Action taking -> Action resolution

All games (not just role playing games) have at a fundamental level the concept of the player declaring/deciding on an action then taking an action and then that action being resolved to change the state of the game.

There comes a point where there is a transition from declaring/deciding the action to when that action becomes irrevocable and resolution inevitably follows. In chess, it’s when you move a piece and take your hand off it, in soccer it’s when you strike the ball or are dispossessed, in most role-playing games it’s when you roll the dice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ (And then there's that beautiful pause while the dice are rolling and the Universe holds its breath....) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Oct 2, 2019 at 13:11

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