I have looked at the Lost Mine of Phandelver and see many times where a skill check for wisdom is vital, I want to get my group to work together, like everyone contributing and cooperating, instead of having the guy with the highest skill mod take the lead every time.

Thus, I come to the conclusion that I want to put in a group skill check system of some kind. I saw a few people mentioning in past editions about their way:

All PC rolls, person with highest value will be the one to pass that check.

This seems alright, but I didn't know if it fits with this edition.

I also thought it would make sense if another character could help with the search and give him an advantage on the check. 2 is better than one right? Thematically, everyone would help search.

The problem I have is that many traps, among other things require the PC to actively search. Unless, I am allowed to yell at them to make a wisdom check prior to the trap?

So how does DnD 5e handle group skill checks? Are there rules for this kind of thing already? Or does anyone have any tried and tested house rules that they've implemented?

The reason I'm asking is because the 5 PC in my campaigns have pretty low Wis, max of 12.


3 Answers 3


Rules for group checks in DnD 5e can be found on page 59 of the player's basic rules or page 175 of the PHB and are as follows:

To make a group ability check, everyone in the group makes the ability check. If at least half the group succeeds, the whole group succeeds. Otherwise, the group fails.


Someone has posted the group check rule. You can certainly use this if you want everyone involved in a check.

I think group checks are not great for spotting traps though - if one person gets a high roll but the group fails then they may be annoyed that they are not allowed to spot it, since one would expect that only one character needs to see the trap for the group to become aware of it. Group checks are best where everyone needs to do something, like sneak past a guardroom or climb around the edge of a (known) pit trap, so individual success does not matter much and characters can help each other. Group checks are also slower since you have to wait for everyone to roll & add up; the rule book suggests that you do few group checks.

Remember that DnD is a group game where each character specializes, so it is expected that one character might handle all the scouting - characters have roles, they shine in some areas and take a back seat in others.

Alternatives for traps:

  • Traps do not require people to actively search; if they do not say that they are searching, use everyone's passive perception. (I sometimes do a sleight of hand or stealth check by the monster setting the trap to determine the DC, to introduce randomness.)
  • Or don't introduce randomness. If the party's passive perception is high enough to see every trap, that can be fine: it can be more interesting to have the party work out a way to safely open the trapped chest than it is to have the trap go off (which often just causes some easily-healed damage). You can even (house rule) have them always see the trap if you think it will play better.
  • If someone chooses to actively look for traps, they make the check - with advantage if one or more other party members help. As you described.
  • (house rule) Take the first two perception rolls from the party. This is roughly equivalent to giving one person advantage, but lets the party choose who participates (and is faster than a group check, as you just take the first two).

Rather than group-check rules, encouraged less-skilled characters to assist on checks made by characters with better modifiers, and offer the results of success to them from time to time instead of the player making the rolls (such as if the 1st roll is bad). Even a ham-fisted fighter is a second set of hands for a rogue disarming a trap.

In a party of four, that's two possible checks made with advantage using the parties better modifiers, rather than two rolls with good modifiers and two rolls with poor modifiers. This can encourage high skilled characters getting idle characters (and possibly bored players) engaged with an obstacle encounter. This is great for traps, locked doors, perception/survival/investigation checks, or even athletic checks to climb surfaces.

It can be amusing when the party barbarian finds an important document stuck to his hand because he leaned on the wax seal, or the wizard asking the rogue if he needs some extra light when a locked door bars the party's path.


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