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A player needs to hide the fact they are speaking, have the puppet act in a crowd pleasing manner, and fool children into believing the puppet is alive/the source of the sound.

How do I handle this mixture of stealth, performance, and deception? Do multi-skill checks exist?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As an alternative to a purely skill based performance, "Minor Illusion" can create voices anywhere in range without requiring a verbal component. \$\endgroup\$ – DqwertyC Nov 7 at 0:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DqwertyC You should work that into an answer (include a quote of the spell description highlighting the sound bit and I'd say that ought to be a well received answer, better still if you can mention skills too). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Nov 7 at 0:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it also matters, why the character is doing this. So, why? Is it a ventriloquism performance, some convoluted scam or other act of deception, actually trying to stay hidden while the puppet speaks, or something else? \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Nov 7 at 15:27
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You're really asking two very distinct questions, so we'll tackle them one at a time.

We'll start with

Do Multi skill checks exist?

Yes, and in multiple combinations.

Sometimes the skill work in sequence; you need to successfully perform one check in order for the opportunity to perform the second. For instance a caber toss. You would first do an Athletics check, to see if you can even lift the caber. Then you would do a second Athletics to see if you can hurl it correctly (end over end). Or maybe you're trying to pick pocket someone. First you would do a Performance check to get their attention and be your "volunteer", and then a Slight-of-hand check to see if you can lift their purse while distracted.

More often, at least at my table, they are synergistic; one helps another. An example I gave in another question is fishing. You would roll a Survival check to fish or stalk wildlife. But if you did a successful nature check first, I would give advantage (or a better result) to the Survival check. Why? Because Survival says you can hunt, but if you're familiar with the environment (Nature) you know more about your prey. Like what bait to use, the best places to look for a certain plant, and so on. Another example would be bull fighting. Use an Athletics check to dodge a charging bull, but a successful Animal Handling would give you advantage as you can "read" the bull better and be prepared.

Another example would be putting on a show for the Clerics of Northhaven. Sure, it's a Performance check. But if you didn't know that their religion forbids wind instruments in their temples, you could be in for a nasty reception! Good thing you did well on the Religion check.

There are also cases where its an either/or. When you're climbing a tree, you can either Athletics up (bear hug and shimmy up) or Acrobatics up (leap from branch to branch). And they do not need to save the same DC! One can be easier/harder than the other.

Given that

Which skill is ventriloquism?

The quick answer is it would be a Performance check.

However, I would give advantage to that roll if they first did a successful Constitution check. Why Constitution?

  • Persuasion and Deception are using words and possibly body language, but you're not trying to tell a story by not moving your lips.
  • Stealth and Slight-of-hand are manual dexterity. You're not trying to twist or contort yourself. Quite the opposite; you're trying to remain still!

But per the Basic Rules:

Constitution checks are uncommon, and no skills apply to Constitution checks, because the endurance this ability represents is largely passive rather than involving a specific effort on the part of a character or monster. A Constitution check can model your attempt to push beyond normal limits, however.

You are trying to resist the temptation to move your lips, to hide your breathing, and be as still as possible while making a puppet come alive.

Or just use Thaumaturgy and Minor Illusion and be done with it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ventriloquism can be more about misdirection than about staying truly still. At least, that's how I've seen one of the world's most famous ventriloquists do it... \$\endgroup\$ – Jasper Nov 7 at 9:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Facial self control and voice projection don't really fall under Constitution. Charisma, or more specifically Performance, is accurate. Normally for this I'd use a spell (Minor Illusion, as indicated above) or a custom feat (I'd add a half ASI like the other "half feats" since ventriloquism is weaker than a cantrip, and the Magic Initiate feat would've given you even more than a cantrip.). \$\endgroup\$ – Sandra Nov 7 at 10:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ You forgot to highlight "rather than involving" in you quote. The point is that it is not a specific effort. This quote does not support your point. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Nov 7 at 10:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ You seem to be penalizing basic skill by making them more complex, why require two rolls for slight of hand when pickpocketing is explicitly covered by slight of hand, you completely ignored the obvious performance, which includes things anything done to entertain a crowd, including things that require deception and self control like acting. \$\endgroup\$ – John Nov 7 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @John, it sounds like the answerer is describing a system where the final check is equivalent to the single-roll check (this is the ultimate goal you are achieving), but the other ones may lower the DC if you are being clever about how you prepare. (If the DC could be raised, then yes, it could be a penalty.) More importantly, failing an early check doesn't prevent rolling the final one. But, yes, I generally agree that Performance alone makes the most sense without additional information on the character's goal. \$\endgroup\$ – Phlarx Nov 7 at 17:13
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It would be the Performance skill since you are trying to perform for a crowd.

Deception wouldn't really be applicable since you aren't really trying to convince someone of something that isn't true using words. ie. You are deceiving people, but not by using speaking lies to them.

Sleight of hand doesn't cover it since you aren't using your hands to make the deception per se.

Stealth doesn't cover it since you aren't trying to hide yourself from sight.

A DM could call for multiple skill checks of different types. For example, if you are trying to run through an obstacle course you could use both Athletics and Acrobatics. It is up to them on how to deal with the different roll results.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't stealth include trying to do things quietly? You are hiding the fact you are speaking. \$\endgroup\$ – kent Nov 7 at 0:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kent a large goal/conceit of ventriloquism is that the lips do still move. The difficulty is in making them move very little \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 7 at 1:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 So if ventriloquism is more about distracting from the speaker's moving lips than preventing the lips from moving at all, I suppose that's another point in favor of making it a performance check? \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan C. Thompson Nov 7 at 1:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting the consequence of requiring multiple checks to succeed at something - if failing even one causes you to fail at doing the thing, then making it involve multiple checks causes increases the chance of failure. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 7 at 4:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @kent I'd probably make it performance (dex) and performance (cha). Sleight of hand is really all about keeping the audience distracted with something else while you do whatever you are trying to do. A stage magician would rely on that skill. What you are talking about is trying to keep the audience focused on your performance and not on the fact that your lips are moving. You could make it just one or the other - charisma to captivate the audience's attention on the doll or dexterity to cover up the fact that you are speaking. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Nov 7 at 4:47

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