2
\$\begingroup\$

D&D Beyond: Advantage and Disadvantage:

Sometimes a special ability or spell tells you that you have advantage or disadvantage on an ability check, a saving throw, or an attack roll. When that happens, you roll a second d20 when you make the roll.

  1. If a player is to 'make a roll', does that mean they physically roll the die themselves and observe the result?
  2. Does this apply to all rolls that a player is to make, or only the listed ability check, saving throw, and attack roll?
  3. Do players know the result of the roll?

I am asking only about RAW/RAI. I include this statement because when researching this question I came across countless threads without any kind of official sourcing claiming that players do not always roll their own die.

For example here are some threads that discusses the problem:

There are dozens of examples without anyone quoting rules.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I might be mistaken, but all the three questions here can be boiled down to "are players supposed to always know the result of their rolls". \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Oct 16 at 10:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm starting to wonder if this is too broad of a question based on the reddit links. There are cases for different situations, but asking about ALL situations seems too broad. If there's a specific situation you are really wanting to know - it's better to ask that directly. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 16 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I think the quote from the first page of the PHB fairly well covers the idea that players roll dice and observe the result. It establishes a baseline that the DM can then modify as per the DMG. \$\endgroup\$ – jgn Oct 16 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, but the links you provide cover some specific situations and using them in your question suggests you're also asking about individual cases and that's where I think it's too broad. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 16 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I included the links to show the scope of confusion around this issue and demonstrate that I have researched the topic and that a solid answer would be useful. I came across this issue when researching if you should know the result of an attempted Hide check - the answer I believe is "no", but several people brought up that they didn't think you should know the result of any of your own rolls. I didn't think that was the case, and it begs the question if my character even knows it is trying to be stealthy which is crazy to me. \$\endgroup\$ – jgn Oct 16 at 13:42
28
\$\begingroup\$

It's on the first page of the Player's Handbook and the free Basic Rules

Unlike a game of make-believe, D&D gives structure to the stories, a way of determining the consequences of the adventurers’ action. Players roll dice to resolve whether their attacks hit or miss or whether their adventurers can scale a cliff, roll away from the strike of a magical lightning bolt, or pull off some other dangerous task. Anything is possible, but the dice make some outcomes more probable than others.

Players roll the dice to determine success and failure of their character.

There are exceptions, but generally if the character is trying to accomplish something, the player will roll the die/dice.

As for the exceptions: in the DMG (p. 235) it talks about rolling dice behind the screen to preserve secrecy and a sense of "not sure". The DM has the option to roll dice for a player so they cannot metagame.

\$\endgroup\$
12
\$\begingroup\$

Usually players make all of the rolls for their characters, and the DM makes rolls for NPCs (including the monsters the PCs are fighting against). The DM is also in charge of setting difficulty targets and interpreting the results of rolls, which might include saying if they were successful or not, but might be left a little more ambiguous in some cases.

The introductory chapter of the Player's handbook (and the free basic rules) has a general description of how a roll works:

In cases where the outcome of an action is uncertain, the Dungeons & Dragons game relies on rolls of a 20-sided die, a d20, to determine success or failure. [...] Roll a d20 and add the relevant modifier. [...] If the total equals or exceeds the target number, the ability check, attack roll, or saving throw is a success. Otherwise, it’s a failure. The DM is usually the one who determines target numbers and tells players whether their ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws succeed or fail.

This section doesn't explicitly say who makes the rolls, but generally "you" in the player-facing books is the player, so the players make the rolls for their character. But there can be exceptions, sometimes. The Dungeon Master's Guide has the following passage on page 235, in a section titled Dice Rolling, which describes how in some situations, gameplay might be better if the DM makes some rolls on behalf of a player character (note that "you" here is the DM):

You might choose to make a roll for a player because you don't want the player to know how good the check total is. For example, if a player suspects a baroness might be charmed and wants to make a Wisdom (Insight) check, you could make the roll in secret for the player. If the player rolled and got a high number but didn't sense anything amiss, the player would be confident that the baroness wasn't charmed. With a low roll, a negative answer wouldn't mean much. A hidden roll allows uncertainty.

That section mentions some other die-rolling conventions that a gaming group should discuss and set rules for at their table. For instance, will the DM roll their dice behind a screen, or in front of the players? Some DMs like to roll secretly at least some of the time, both to hide information from the players (like an enemy's attack modifier), and to preserve their ability to fudge rolls to keep things fun (knocking somebody out with back to back critical hits, for instance, is probably not a fun way to start a fight that you only expected to be a minor bump in the road, not a major dramatic moment).

\$\endgroup\$
6
\$\begingroup\$

The DM has the option to make some rolls in secret.

As other answers on this question have well cited, the player, rules-as-written, normally rolls the d20 for their own attacks, saves, and checks. However, the Dungeon Master's Guide suggests that in cases where the player should not know whether their roll succeded or failed, the DM might roll for them.

Dungeon Master's Guide, p.235, "Dice Rolling":

You might choose to make a roll for a player because you don't want the player to know how good the check total is. For example, if a player suspects a baroness might be charmed and wants to make a Wisdom (Insight) check, you could make the roll in secret for the player. If the player rolled and got a high number but didn't sense anything amiss, the player would be confident that the baroness wasn't charmed. With a low roll, a negative answer wouldn't mean much. A hidden roll allows uncertainty.

The DM also rules-as-written makes certain rolls on behalf of the player regarding certain divination spells, such as augury, commune, and divination.

\$\endgroup\$
3
\$\begingroup\$
  1. If a player is to 'make a roll', does that mean they physically roll the die themselves and observe the result?
  2. Does this apply to all rolls that a player is to make, or only the listed ability check, saving throw, and attack roll?
  3. Do players know the result of the roll?

1) Usually, yes; although a player can use any substitute they want (a diceroller app, a random number generator app or website, a computer macro...)

2) Yes; a player, by default, rolls the dice for actions his character makes himself (attacks, saves, skill checks, ...). This does not only apply to D20 rolls, but also to other dice (for example: damage dice for your attack)

There are, of course, exceptions, especially when the result has actual gameplay effects; for example, gathering information can be rolled by the DM, so the player won't know if they got true information or not (rolling a total of 5 will prety much guarentee that the information you get is incorrect, for example)

3) Yes, they do. As per 1), a player has physically observed the result of their 'roll' (or equivalent), and their character sheet lists all bonuses they can add to that, so the player indeed knows what the final result of their roll is.

Now, whether they succeeded with that result, that is another point, as only the DM knows what the result should have been. Of course, players can figure out an enemies AC after a few rounds in combat, and a few other situations have preset DCs, which are listed in the DMG, PHB, or online.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you answered 2 when someone had changed the thread title. Question 2 means "Does ['make a roll' mean that players get to roll the die themselves] apply to all rolls, or just the listed ability check, saving throw, and attack roll?" It was not meant to be understood to mean "Does [advantage or disadvantage] apply to all die?" Otherwise, good answer but lacking the support of any official source which is what I'm after. \$\endgroup\$ – jgn Oct 16 at 8:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jgn; I indeed misunderstood that question; i will change that bit. As for official rulings on players rolling their own dice; i do not think there actually is any that can be linked to, but i will hunt for them anyway \$\endgroup\$ – ThisIsMe Oct 16 at 9:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ surprisingly I think MivaScott above found one! \$\endgroup\$ – jgn Oct 16 at 9:39
1
\$\begingroup\$

The other answers cover the question on who rolls dice and common exceptions, but here I talk a bit more about when the die rolls are actually done, which I think is part of the confusion (as mentioned in your first link).

Part of the confusion here I think is that when an ability check is called for is usually done so by the DM. Meaning, players roll their dice for their rolls, but in unstructured situations (non combat), the DM is the one that calls for the ability check.

For an example, a player would ask "Can I tell if they are lying?", and the DM would call for an insight check, which the player would then roll, total up, and the DM would use the total to decide if the player can tell if an NPC is lying to them.

This comes in contrast to a common beginner mistake of trying to explicitly "use" their abilities. For example, saying they are doing an insight check in the above scenario, and rolling, without asking their DM. As a DM, in my games I vastly prefer calling for rolls as described as it helps immensely with immersion, and helps prevent players from unfairly "choosing" which ability they use to solve a problem.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Oct 17 at 6:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.