I was recently working on something in Pathfinder and I was wondering about circumstances where it would be more favorable to automatically fail on the check then to have any success.

An example would be you somehow managed to steal the wizards overpower wand and you want to roll a nat 1 to prevent the item from being used for the next 24 hours. Yes, the UMD skill under retry does state "You cant try to activate it for the next 24 hours" but in the event that a DM rules that the item itself cant activate for 24 hours then its still helpful.

The final questions:

  1. If you roll better then what you need, are you allowed to choose a worse result for the skill check?
  2. Would there be some kind of reverse check (as in you need to roll well to do poorly)?
  3. Would they get some kind of counter check or save?
  4. How much would this depend on it being a DM ruling?

Command word activation questions This was what I was working on previously, in specific the activate someone elses magic items at range and failing (so they either explode, target someone else, or cant activate for 24 hours)


Can you intentionally fail a skill check? This question is very similar to mine but as it concerns Fly (3.x/PF) and mine focuses more on UMD (PF).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I VTC'd as duplicate. The other question gives a clear answer for both 3.X and PF, and I see no reason why UMD is different from Fly with respect to failing intentionally. If you refocus your question completely on the possibility to choose a worse result, this question would work. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrLemon
    May 28 '15 at 9:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "you want to roll a nat 1 to prevent the item from being used for the next 24 hours. " This is not possible. Rolling a natural 1 does not temporary break the item, it only means you cannot use it for 24 hours. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    May 28 '15 at 13:06

Personally, I see the being unable to activate it for 24 hours as a side-effect of the mishap you just suffered. And if you are trying to purposefully flub the skill check, well, there shouldn't be any reason why you couldn't. Maybe a DC 10 or 15 will save to actually overcome the natural tendency to not hurt yourself, but there's no realistic reason you shouldn't be able to.

I'm trying to think of a skill that you couldn't purposefully bodge, and I can't think of any.


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