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I'm relatively new to DMing and I'm struggling to manage the flow of the game when there's an "obvious" skill or ability check, such as a barred door.

If, for example, the wizard confidently walks up to the door and fails a strength check to open it, then every other player wants to queue up behind them to try the same thing.

This clearly isn't great fun, so what's the best way to steer the group away from doing this?

It also feels wrong to rob the strength based player from a chance to accomplish something if for example the wizard has gone right up and failed the task, or vice-versa for other skills and abilities.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What game are you playing? I’m pretty sure we’ve had this question asked before, still looking for it though. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2023 at 10:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov try rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/22902/… ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Toby Y.
    Mar 18, 2023 at 10:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TobyY. Yeah, that looks like a good one. Stern, does the question linked in Toby’s comment answer your question here? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2023 at 10:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TobyY. Thanks, I tried searching a few times but didn't find that question, that's very helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eterm
    Mar 18, 2023 at 13:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov We're doing d&d 5e. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eterm
    Mar 18, 2023 at 13:40

2 Answers 2

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Either don't make them roll or don't care about the door unless there's a challenge

If the door is something that they expect to be able to get through, it doesn't matter if they all do it.

There's no barrier to all of them trying, no time pressure, no enemy. As such, you can just let them autosucceed since they'll eventually manage to get the door down, or just let them roll so they can compare their luck for fun. It is often fun for each of them to roll and see who is lucky.

Make doors matter to the narrative to remove this issue

Suppose instead there was some time pressure. An enemy beyond might be able to flee, prepare weapons, or prep a trap if they take long enough. If they fail, they might trigger a trap. The room is unstable, and might come down if they smash it wrong. They are being chased and will be attacked each round they fail to knock down the door.

Add in some purpose to a skill roll for the door to make it more interesting. This means if one of them fails a skill check, the situation will get worse for them.

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so this is a problem whith multiple "solutions".

There was the option of "Let it Ride" given in the comments above. I for one like to give ingame reason and flavour as to why they can't kick it open.

They kicked the door and in their kick they felt stern resistance as if the door were barred by something more than a lock. If however queues like that are not working, here are a few ideas and scenarios. Hope they help!

Question Why

Another technique is to ask why. If a player was investigating a room, yes they may have heard the door being kicked but the character has no idea if it was successful or not. You are essentially calling out the metagaming for all to see. You want the player to argue their metagaming so you can show them how that is metagaming without being overly scornful.

Direct Response

Alternatively, say No. If everyone is all lined and crawling the dungeon when they come across the door, after a check (or 2) you could pipe up and say "Maybe they require some help". It's always nice to have advantage and it builds teamwork. In a game I am a player in, one of the other players always gives the help action with any check being done. I also offer up a guidance Nothing better than 2d20 keep the highest + 1d4 + modifiers.

Or you could describe it by saying "after a few attempts you feel that trying to kick this door in is a fruitless effort and requires an alternative approach"

A Genuine Misunderstanding

Yes, there is the joke that a D&D party's biggest enemy is a locked door but where does it end?

Well you could have someone "answer" the door. A random guard or enemy (if possible) just answers the door. Be that a voice from inside or a peep hole. Maybe this guard believes your players are otehr guards who lost their key or forgot that "This door is broken" and they should "use the other one". Where brute force fails, charisma might win.

Confrontation

A final resort - and pray you never have to do it - is having a discussion about it. If you are unable to influence the behaviour indirectly, then you may have to sit down with the group and say "Hey, all 6 of yous taking a shot at every locked door - horrible for pacing".

Sometimes as a DM you need to have hard conversations - it's not pretty but it has to be done.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your contribution, but I feel it doesn't quite apply because the locked door (or other skill check) is supposed to be something they'll be able to get through, so the option of not letting them through at all doesn't feel like an appropriate response for me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eterm
    Mar 18, 2023 at 13:44

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