Treat the Orcs as though they are an organized crime family.
If you murder a member of the Mafia, or one of the nefarious narco gangs of the modern age, do you think you'll get away with it? Will there be a bounty out on your head?
Make the party an offer they can't refuse (Movie ref: The Godfather)
A simple way to get your point across is an ambush/...
Don't punish your players for doing well.
A player having a +9 to Perception at an early level really isn't a problem. Sure, starting at level 1 with a 20 in Wisdom and Expertise in Perception is a little minmax-y, but that isn't an issue. The player obviously geared the character towards it, and punishing them by reducing their stats would be incredibly ...
The best advice I have seen on this issue is from Angry GM’s 5 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Skill System (warning: mild, censored swearing of the $^#% variety). That’s written for D&D 4e, but like you say, this is an issue that has perplexed GMs for ages, across a variety of systems.
His answer, which is his rule #2, is very simple:
Only roll if ...
Ask your DM whether it's supposed to be viable to decipher it, or whether you were supposed to find the clues in game.
Given that they used a genuine (even if simple) cipher and a proper script hiding an actual message, it seems likely that they meant for cracking it in real life to be an option. But it might just be that they never expected anyone to ...
Cast Off Your Double Standards, and Accept That People Are Different
The Double Standard
But how about not physical talents?
Any good GM would ask the player to be more specific about how he is actually planning to do this and if he can provide a reasonable plan of action, he would allow him to roll on his mechanical skills.
I sense a double ...
There is no automatic success for ability checks
Rolling a natural 20 only guarantees success when attempting an attack in 5e.
For skill checks, a natural 20 essentially means the pinnacle of what you are capable of doing naturally. So if the DC of a lock is 25, and your modifier on the roll is only +3, the lock is impossible for you to open without some ...
Does the Medicine skill have hidden uses you don't know about?
Doesn't every skill?
Remember that skills are abstractions of both knowledge, expertise and ability. So in addition to the mechanical benefits (that of stabilizing a character when a healing kit isn't available), it also has other benefits.
Things that would require a medicine check:
Only if you fail a dice roll
A character cannot "fail an ability check", because characters don't make ability checks. Ability checks are nothing but game mechanics, they are basically dice rolls. Characters take actions instead — these actions, not dice rolls, are the subject to be succeed or failed.
PHB page 6 "How to play" describes the basic gaming ...
The player doesn't decide that a persuasion check is called for: you do
If you are role playing and a player says "I make a persuasion check" it is perfectly sensible for you to say "The NPC watches you roll and says "I've no time for dice games now. Perhaps at the tavern after work?" Although this is a technique that should be used sparingly to educate, ...
The DMG, at "Multiple Ability Checks," is your friend.
Read p.237. Some highlights include:
No number of attempts make an impossible task possible
Failed attempts may make possible tasks impossible (like the hairpin breaking off in the lock!)
If repeated attempts are all it takes, dispatch with ability checks and figure out the time success should take
They don't actually need it.
I realize this is radical, but bear with me. We need to not expect them to be masters of wilderness survival --in all honesty, they aren't. Animals die in the wild all the time. They starve, they freeze, they get lost, they fall in caves and can't get out. That said, they're actually not awful at Survival and the way they're ...
Invert your perspective: Roll dice against passive perception!
I agree that passive perception seems odd when you consider that it's a fixed number against a fixed number. There's no chance. There's a hack you can do, however, to randomly determine success without the usability issues that you described.
In your example, you have a large party with various ...
This is how skills are supposed to work!
If you are in a situation where there is only one person doing something, and they are rolling a single skill check, then yes, this is how it's supposed to work. Giving help is a natural thing and should be used in situations like this. There is no reason to prevent it unless the task is clearly something that's not ...
Players Do Not Initiate Passive Checks
The operative word is passive. If a player is actively searching/examining/studying/watching, it's active, not passive. If a PC is actively using a skill, they roll for it instead of the DM using a secret passive check.
The only exception to that rule is the one you quoted: the DM can use a passive check to find the ...
Passive perception is exactly that, passive. It's what the PCs are always using when not actively searching for something and doesn't use a roll of the die.
To determine if you should use passive perception or allow a player to roll, listen to what they say their PCs are doing. If they say they are standing watch, keeping an eye out or something similar, ...
The Player's Handbook and Player's Basic Rules state you just take the skill of your choice in place of the duplicate:
If a character would gain the same proficiency from two different sources, he or she can choose a different proficiency of the same kind (skill or tool) instead. (PBR, p. 36; PHB, p. 126)
There is no set skill for seduction. It's going to fall back to a discussion between you and your DM on which ones you feel appropriate, with the DM having the final say.
Personally, I don't think it's actually tied to any one skill, it's going to be the overall nature of what you're trying to do.
Trying to seduce someone you have zero actual interest in, ...
Yes, it's a pretty obvious secret door.
As you say, passive Wisdom (Perception) is 10 + WIS, so anyone with a non-negative WIS modifier will passively notice it.
But that doesn't mean you definitely see it.
The interesting exception I see is if your party is rushing through the area. Per Travel Pace moving 400'/minute or 4mi/hour will earn you a -5 to ...
The Rules deal with this
The DM calls for an ability check when a character or
monster attempts an action (other than an attack) that
has a chance of failure. When the outcome is uncertain,
the dice determine the results.
The outcome is not uncertain - the orcs know the party is guilty and nothing the party says will change their ...
Though it is not as clear as in previous editions, I believe that you would use the various intelligence skills based on what creature you are trying to learn about.
PHB, page 177 - 178, Intelligence Checks
Your Intelligence (Arcana) check measures your ability to recall lore about ... the inhabitants of planes
Your Intelligence (Nature) check ...
Broadly speaking, manipulation-related skill check shouldn't be used on players. One of the important tenets of D&D is the idea of player agency, where you always have control of what your character thinks, feels, and does. There are some exceptions to this rule (like mind-altering magic), but the only time your character should feel intimidated is ...
Hold the phone...
The 20 is a failure. Gricks are not “Animals.”
A grick is of the type monstrosity and thus is not an animal. Animals have the type beast.
Monstrosities are monsters in the strictest sense — frightening creatures that are not ordinary, not truly natural
MM, p. 7
Beasts include all varieties of ordinary animals.
MM, p. 6
10 yes (sort of), 20 no.
Taking 20 was not a thing in 4th edition, and is similarly absent from 5th. Taking 10 however is sort of a thing in 5th, but it's not implemented the way you might think it should be.
Basically, the way "taking 10" works in 5e is that every ability (And by extension, skill), has a "passive" score (Basic Rules v2 page 59). This is ...
Two options, but first, something to understand...
Acquiring Stealth in combat means your opponent lost track of where you are right now, it does not mean that your previous location was erased from their mind. Nor does Stealth make you invisible.
Physically Go Looking For Them
Remember that Stealth stops working if it makes sense that it stopped working. ...
Do you like your rpg old or new school?
You have asked a question that lies at the heart of the debate between "old-school" and "new-school" rpg. If you don't know what that is, then there are plenty of places on the net where you can have your brain bashed by intensely partisan views on both sides. I don't think its useful to go into this here.
At the ...
If there is no time pressure, rerolling is probably OK. The penalty for failure in this case is that you spend extra time doing it. The more important question is "Was the roll even necessary?"
This actually brings us back to one of the key points in the advice for DM in the game manual. It looks like a throw away line, but it's a good guide for when to ...
The Ability Check is a DM decision
Page 174 of the PHB covers Ability Checks and how they work (emphasis mine):
The DM calls for an ability check when a character or monster attempts an action (other than an attack) that has a chance of failure. When the outcome is uncertain, the dice determine the results.
The player comes up with the narration of what ...
Yes, RAW allows you to investigate the same room twice
Multiple Ability Checks (DMG 237)
Sometimes a character fails an ability check and wants to try again.
In some cases, a character is free to do so; the only real cost is the
time it takes. With enough attempts and enough time, a character
should eventually succeed at the task.
It then goes ...