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Skill checks involving multiple characters
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Author:  Zenmaster [ Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:43 am ]
Post subject:  Skill checks involving multiple characters

Hi,

sorry if this may be common knowledge, but I couldn't find any answers through a forum search, and my last fantasy RPG GMing experience was AD&D, so d20 rules and other rules conventions of the past 20 years have gone straight past me :-).

Without "spoiling" too much, in a DCC RPG 0-level adventure module I'll soon be running, there are several instances of skill checks of DC 20 or higher for opening doors/portals, lifting things etc. (using Strength modifier)
It seems reasonable for 2 or even 3 people (depending on size) to try joining forces to open a reasonably large door or lift an object more than one person can grip. The core rulebook and the module are silent on the topic, though in the module there is an instance where it says that up to 4 characters can succeed in lifting a specific object if their combined strength is above a certain number.

So what does a Judge do in this case? Having 2 characters joining forces to open a DC20 door both rolling d20s and adding them seems excessive... Add a modifier? Roll a d24 or a d30? Or is the intent that it is a DC20 task meant to be tried individually -- characters without negative strength modifiers can line up one by one to get their 5 to 20% chance? There are quite a few of these DC20 (or even higher DCs) strength skill checks which seem like they could have multiple participants, so I'm not sure what the intent of these DC20's is, or what the best course of action for the Judge is. I can't offhand think of any other situation where multiple characters might join forces in a single skill check, but the same question would arise.

Anyone with any useful thoughts, please feel free to chime in :-). I'm running the adventure next weekend, so I hope I can figure out something before then.

Thanks in advance.

Author:  finarvyn [ Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

I don't recall if this is addressed in the rulebook or not. I usually "wing it" for situations such as this. The simple solution would be to add a +2 to the die roll for each character helping the original.

Author:  GnomeBoy [ Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Hmm.

If you and I lift an object together, we're each essentially lifting half the weight, more or less (I'm sorry, I was tilting it more towards you to get the lighter load... won't happen again).

But cutting the DC to 10 for two and to 7 for three seems perhaps maybe almost too easy (ymmv). Of course, if everybody has to make a roll vs that DC, it might not be as easy as it sounds...

Reduce the DC by the number of 'extra' folk, and make one d20 roll adding all of their STR modifiers?

Author:  SavageRobby [ Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

I like the idea of increasing the die step if results are additive - so busting open a door, lifting a portcullis, etc, each additional character would be useful. I'd also include the appropriate ability modifiers as bonuses, if applicable (and almost always Strength in these cases) for each PC acting/helping.

There are other cases, tracking or alchemy, for example, where I wouldn't necessarily do it that way. In this case, its not about raw addition, but skilled addition. In this case, I like having a main character (whoever is doing the primary skill action) make a roll based on their level/abilities, plus getting bonuses from others helping who also successfully make a roll (that roll could be at a lower DC, too) - maybe +1 or +2, based on skill/roll/etc. (This is how Savage Worlds does cooperative rolls, and works pretty well.)

Alternately, another way to do cooperative rolls is to sum up everyone's applicable modifiers (usually just ability modifiers if appropriate), then let everyone roll, but only use the best single die.

Author:  Bilgewriggler [ Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

I think the mechanics of teaming up have to be figured out on a case by case basis. If there's a barred door to be broken down, it's much harder to effectively collaborate than if there's a stuck door to be pushed open. The barred door requires the simultaneous application of sudden force, whereas the stuck door requires simultaneous continuous force, which means that there's no issue of timing the mutual effort just right.

I'd let two characters push on a stuck door (of normal size), adding both their strength modifiers and a +1 for the second character's weight to a single d20. To break down a locked door, I'd allow one character per 5' of door, and require some kind of coordination, like everyone making a DC 12 agility check.

Author:  Pesky [ Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Zenmaster wrote:
Anyone with any useful thoughts, please feel free to chime in :-).

I will not go so far as to say my thoughts are useful, but I have no problem chiming in :). Like Bilgewriggler, I think the mechanics have to be situational. With that being said, I almost never allow players to "automatically" help. I have them make a relevant ability to check to successfully help, even if that means adding +2 to the skill check of primary person doing the task. It seems like having them roll to help rather than automatically help is more engaging, and the chance of failure adds tension :twisted:.

Author:  Rostranor [ Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

If you go by only the modifier than a character could actually hinder you by trying to lift with you. That doesnt really seem like it should work that way. What I did was I set a DC for the feat of strength and then a also annotated what combined STR score would be needed to get an auto success. I looked at from the point of view that the additional helpers reduced the DC down to something more routine. Another alternative would be to scale the total stength. so X str reduces the DC roll to Y etc. and then have the primary character make a skill check with thier modifier for the new roll. Many hands make light the work and all that.

Author:  Zenmaster [ Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Pesky wrote:
If you go by only the modifier than a character could actually hinder you by trying to lift with you. That doesnt really seem like it should work that way. What I did was I set a DC for the feat of strength and then a also annotated what combined STR score would be needed to get an auto success. I looked at from the point of view that the additional helpers reduced the DC down to something more routine. Another alternative would be to scale the total stength. so X str reduces the DC roll to Y etc. and then have the primary character make a skill check with thier modifier for the new roll. Many hands make light the work and all that.


SavageRobby wrote:
There are other cases, tracking or alchemy, for example, where I wouldn't necessarily do it that way. In this case, its not about raw addition, but skilled addition. In this case, I like having a main character (whoever is doing the primary skill action) make a roll based on their level/abilities, plus getting bonuses from others helping who also successfully make a roll (that roll could be at a lower DC, too) - maybe +1 or +2, based on skill/roll/etc. (This is how Savage Worlds does cooperative rolls, and works pretty well.)

Alternately, another way to do cooperative rolls is to sum up everyone's applicable modifiers (usually just ability modifiers if appropriate), then let everyone roll, but only use the best single die.


Ok, thanks all for the input so far. Pesky and Savage Robby's ideas above sound really good, and Bilgewriggler is right in that it depends on the exact situation. I also agree having helpers roll to see if they aid somehow is a great idea. I still want to work the dice chain in whenever possible (I have all these cool new dice; I want people to roll them!) so I'll throw all these ideas in the hopper and sleep on it. Will post later whatever I come up with.

Thanks again.

Author:  Pesky [ Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Hey Zenmaster, the quotation that you attributed to me actually came from Rostranor... :)

Author:  Zenmaster [ Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Weird, because when I quoted it with the forum quote tool, it put your name in there. I just saw that and assumed it was your quote. My apologies to Rostranor (maybe Rostranor should figure out why the forum software doesn't like him!?)

Author:  Pesky [ Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Zenmaster wrote:
Weird, because when I quoted it with the forum quote tool, it put your name in there.

It seems that "Pesky" is by no means a misnomer. :lol:

Author:  Rostranor [ Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

perhpas my commentary has been proscribed and I havent been notified yet.

Dice chain sounds like a good idea too. Maybe each supporting character with a positive str modifier could add +1D, characters with no mod or a negative one may help, but are to feeble really to make a difference. AS an example, no one really gets help from their Nanna to move a couch even if she is trying to move the coushin.

Author:  GnomeBoy [ Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

What about a blended approach?

Those with a positive modifier are automatically 'helpful', and bump the die type used for the roll up the dice chain.

Those with no modifier or a negative modifier can make their own roll vs. the DC to see if they push things up the dice chain or not -- i.e., Nana might help if she's had her Wheaties and happens to be making use of a fulcrum... :mrgreen:

Author:  Rostranor [ Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

thats possible. I like to keep things streamlined as much as possible. The players will know if their character can help or not with the skill check. There is also the common sense factor. The fighter with a aid of the halfling was able to dead lift the porculis. The fighter type wanted to hold it up over his head, I ruled that the halfling helped him dead lift it, but he would need another decreased DC roll to keep it at the level he wanted.

Another option to just make it quick and easy is that a solo character makes a roll against the DC. If he has helpers their combined strength needs to equal or exceed the DC and they open or roll again against the DC with a +1D

Author:  Vanguard [ Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

I have my players declare whether or not they are in primary or support roles. The one who is primary rolls a d20 normally. Anyone in a support rolls 1d20 and their result determines how much help they provide as follows:

1: -2 to check
5: +1 to check
10 +2 to check
15: +3 to check
20: +4 to check

Author:  Pesky [ Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Vanguard wrote:
I have my players declare whether or not they are in primary or support roles. The one who is primary rolls a d20 normally. Anyone in a support rolls 1d20 and their result determines how much help they provide as follows:

1: -2 to check
5: +1 to check
10 +2 to check
15: +3 to check
20: +4 to check

Nice...I like that. Do you let them modify the roll via ability mods or must it be au naturel?

Author:  Vanguard [ Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Pesky wrote:
Vanguard wrote:
I have my players declare whether or not they are in primary or support roles. The one who is primary rolls a d20 normally. Anyone in a support rolls 1d20 and their result determines how much help they provide as follows:

1: -2 to check
5: +1 to check
10 +2 to check
15: +3 to check
20: +4 to check

Nice...I like that. Do you let them modify the roll via ability mods or must it be au naturel?


I let them modify it normally. I mean, getting a +1 or +2 to this roll means far less as these goalposts are set in stone.

Author:  Raven_Crowking [ Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Vanguard wrote:
I have my players declare whether or not they are in primary or support roles. The one who is primary rolls a d20 normally. Anyone in a support rolls 1d20 and their result determines how much help they provide as follows:

1: -2 to check
5: +1 to check
10 +2 to check
15: +3 to check
20: +4 to check


Cool system. I would tweak it so that the would-be helper rolls an appropriate die, not necessarily 1d20. Which would mean that, for some skills, untrained "helpers" get in the way more often than not. I.e., where 1d10 is rolled!

Author:  Vanguard [ Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Raven_Crowking wrote:
Vanguard wrote:
I have my players declare whether or not they are in primary or support roles. The one who is primary rolls a d20 normally. Anyone in a support rolls 1d20 and their result determines how much help they provide as follows:

1: -2 to check
5: +1 to check
10 +2 to check
15: +3 to check
20: +4 to check


Cool system. I would tweak it so that the would-be helper rolls an appropriate die, not necessarily 1d20. Which would mean that, for some skills, untrained "helpers" get in the way more often than not. I.e., where 1d10 is rolled!


I should add I already do this. For simple things like Strength checks though? Everyone can try, despite how strong (or weak!) they are.

Author:  Raven_Crowking [ Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Vanguard wrote:
Raven_Crowking wrote:
Vanguard wrote:
I have my players declare whether or not they are in primary or support roles. The one who is primary rolls a d20 normally. Anyone in a support rolls 1d20 and their result determines how much help they provide as follows:

1: -2 to check
5: +1 to check
10 +2 to check
15: +3 to check
20: +4 to check


Cool system. I would tweak it so that the would-be helper rolls an appropriate die, not necessarily 1d20. Which would mean that, for some skills, untrained "helpers" get in the way more often than not. I.e., where 1d10 is rolled!


I should add I already do this. For simple things like Strength checks though? Everyone can try, despite how strong (or weak!) they are.



Yup.

Consider this Yoinked!

Author:  GnomeBoy [ Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Vanguard wrote:
Raven_Crowking wrote:
Vanguard wrote:
I have my players declare whether or not they are in primary or support roles. The one who is primary rolls a d20 normally. Anyone in a support rolls 1d20 and their result determines how much help they provide as follows:

1: -2 to check
5: +1 to check
10 +2 to check
15: +3 to check
20: +4 to check


Cool system. I would tweak it so that the would-be helper rolls an appropriate die, not necessarily 1d20. Which would mean that, for some skills, untrained "helpers" get in the way more often than not. I.e., where 1d10 is rolled!


I should add I already do this. For simple things like Strength checks though? Everyone can try, despite how strong (or weak!) they are.

This seems Crawl!able.

Author:  Vanguard [ Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

Hmmm, good idea, but I think I'll save my Crawl submissions for something bigger. I'm pretty involved in this once game I'm running, which is making it hard to get these other projects done, but I have new patrons, classes, and mechanics in the works.

This will, however, go on my blog.

Author:  Gizrond [ Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Skill checks involving multiple characters

This came up back in the days of 2nd Ed. D&D. I just made a house rule that each person helping added their relevant attribute bonus to the roll.

If you aren't strong/smart enough to get a bonus? Why are you helping then? Step back and let the capable people handle this.

It adds the bonus flavor of someone truly incompetent actually hurting your chances by helping out.

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