Searching the Room

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Sir Robilar
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Searching the Room

Post by Sir Robilar » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:56 am

When one or more character search a room, how do you play this out? The DCC Core Rules have the following to say:

"Skill checks are designed for use when a system of abstract rules is necessary to adjudicate a situation. Only make a skill check when practical descriptions by the players will not suffice."


Ok, but what is when the players don't want to make practical descriptions of each of their search actions? I've experienced that some players don't enjoy to play it this way. Either because they're too impatient or too comfortable. They believe it slows down the pace and everyone get bored, especially in big dungeons with lots of rooms. Maybe it's because they're used to years of playing 3.5 and Pathfinder, where usually all it comes down to is "I search the room" - "Make a Search check".

I enjoy the immersion of playing it out the DCC way, but have to agree that it is sometimes too time-costly. That's why we usually handle it like this: The Players tell me "We thoroughly search the room for x turns". For each turn they search, I make one search check for any one hidden thing. They all add their Int modifiers to the roll and every participant gives a further +1 to the roll. So if there are 6 characters with an added total of +2 Int modifier searching a room with two hidden objects (DC 14 and DC 18) for one turn, I'll roll twice with a +8 bonus against the DCs.
Exception: If a player does describe his search actions and looks in the right place, he can still find the hidden thing at any time, even after a failed group search, as per DCC skill rules. So the normal rules aren't absent, we've just added an abstract system for quicker play. I'm not completely happy but it works alright for us.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Rostranor » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:28 pm

Hmmm, I'll think a little on your technique. I think I might add in the search for X turns part.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Gameogre » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:20 pm

If the pc's role play the search---lower DC,if not higher DC. Either one is a one shot deal,no failed roll=search again.

I also rarely hide stuff that needs to be searched for and when I do almost always give clues to that fact.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by beermotor » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:03 am

I'm a stickler about this. Because it forces people to act in character. "I search the room" is not an in-character action, it's a mechanic. (A dumb one, at that...)

This has spillover effects to every part of the game, from Mighty Deeds to spellcasting to just regular ol' arrpee. The whole thrust of the game is to focus on the specific, instead of general mechanics. I read something about Dave Arneson playing some pre-D&D spy game once and if you search for it you might find it, but it was really on point.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by cjoepar » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:15 am

I'm sure there are people who feel that it's somehow "wrong" to skip the deep detailed narrative about their characters' actions, but I think you have a perfectly good system for moving things along, Robilar.

And of course you are right: the main idea of any system should be to settle into doing things in a way that everyone finds enjoyable. Some people would love to focus on nothing but detailed descriptions of characters' actions, some people enjoy a storyline that moves along at a quicker pace so they can focus their imagination on the bigger picture. The real point of this hobby is to get together with a group of friends and play a game that everyone enjoys.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Skyscraper » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:15 am

I like to play in games where there is some measure of logic, and by that I mean that creatures act in ways that follow some logic (maybe not mine!), and items are hidden in ways that follow some logic (maybe not mine!) also.

As a player, when I enter a kitchen or a dining room, unless I'm looking for food, I will not search the room since who the heck hides anything in a kitchen? Likewise, I'll skip searching corridors and empty rooms because I can't imagine my PC going over large areas, stone by stone, to see if there is a secret door somewhere; I'll only search rare areas that I feel might hide something. However, if I enter a wizards's study or a leader's sleeping room, I'll of course search it for interesting items, asking specific questions to the DM if no info is provided, so that I may target my search. Of course, I'll probably not find a few things that are hidden due to my segregation. So what? Again, if you were your PC, would you really search each and every place you enter for concealed items and hidden compartments? This would take hours! I see no hero doing that in any reference I can think of, be that appendix N or movies.

So in response to the OP, I think that the answer is to be circumspect about the areas players decide to have their PCs search. As a player, this requires some restraint. As a DM, I think this means being suggestive to the players: "you really want to search a kitchen for secret doors?" If the player insists, you have him roll and reply immediately when he rolls (i.e. withouth bothering to consider his result) "after spending 20 minutes, you end up with greasy fingers but your time was not uselessly spent: you find a rotten chicken egg that was dropped under the stove. You now stink." If the players want to inspect long empty castle corridors: "you spend an hour searching the corridor for secret doors, find nothing, but you are surprised by orcs that perhaps heard you hitting on the walls when looking for hollow panels". Normally, after but a couple of occurences of this treatment and a few meaningful looks, the players will catch on.

In summary, I believe that the problem arises when searching becomes mindlessly systematic. I think that RPG groups should hopefully avoid that. IMHO, it makes no sense from a PC's perspective, and it makes no sense from a player's perspective either, i.e. wouldn't you rather spend your gaming time doing something else than useless searches? It is possible to avoid searching becomging boring and a useless loss of gaming time. Our group has for a long time now avoided doing that and I think our gaming time is well spent on doing something else. The result is that searching can once again include some significant RP, i.e. descriptions by the DM can be much more detailed, and descriptions by the player can match that level, and rolling for search results can be more rare because of that level of description.
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Re: Searching the Room

Post by GnomeBoy » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:38 am

As a GM, I never took the "what/how are you searching?" out of the Search skill roll. If the explanation was apt, the DC went progressively downward all the way to "you found it" automatically, based on the description (similar approach for disabling traps). If the player is disinclined to describe things, the DC stayed fixed.

But I've always found it problematic to do these things solely by description. The GM must provide more detail to interact with, that can tend to make it obvious that there's something to find, turning things often into a "guess what I'm thinking" situation, instead of exploration. Or else everything needs that same high level of description, and I didn't sign up for a guided tour -- I came for the Adventure™.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a *perfect* example of hidden objects/doors/traps that were handled "naturally" other than by blundering into them... It was usually a gimme, or a long drawn-out process of guesswork, or "we walked right past, never knowing", or merely a roll with GM explanation -- and the worst of these is the drawn-out guesswork that still lead to nothing whatsoever and felt like a waste of time (especially when there was nothing to find, anyway).

The 'cleanest' situation is knowing something is hidden and having some clue where it might be... If players know in advance that the key they need is hidden in a glass object of some sort, then we mostly have to deal with searching things that involve glass, focusing the whole process nicely.
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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Raven_Crowking » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:03 am

GnomeBoy wrote:As a GM, I never took the "what/how are you searching?" out of the Search skill roll. If the explanation was apt, the DC went progressively downward all the way to "you found it" automatically, based on the description (similar approach for disabling traps). If the player is disinclined to describe things, the DC stayed fixed.
Pretty much this.
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Re: Searching the Room

Post by JRR » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:17 pm

If the Macguffin is under the bed, and a pc specifically says he looks under the bed, he finds it. If he says "I search the room" He gets a search check, but I mark off the time taken to search a room, usually 10 minutes, longer if it's especially cluttered. Which means more wandering monsters checks.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by GnomeBoy » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:35 pm

JRR wrote:If the Macguffin is under the bed, and a pc specifically says he looks under the bed, he finds it. If he says "I search the room" He gets a search check, but I mark off the time taken to search a room, usually 10 minutes, longer if it's especially cluttered. Which means more wandering monsters checks.
Yes, and yes.
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bygrinstow.com

Kuruz, Mendicant, N • AC 8, 4 hp • R-1, F0, W0 • S9 A8 S9 P11 I16 L8
Zend, Grave Digger, L • AC 9, 3 hp • R-1, F0, W1 • S14 A6 S9 P13 I13 L6
Mercer, Outlaw, N • AC 12, 2 hp • R0, F-1, W1 • S7 A9 S6 P13 I8 L13
Dejah, Ropemaker, C • AC 10, 2 hp • R0, F1, W-1 • S8 A12 S15 P7 I11 L7

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by beermotor » Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:36 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:
GnomeBoy wrote:As a GM, I never took the "what/how are you searching?" out of the Search skill roll. If the explanation was apt, the DC went progressively downward all the way to "you found it" automatically, based on the description (similar approach for disabling traps). If the player is disinclined to describe things, the DC stayed fixed.
Pretty much this.
Yeah this is how I roll, too, although I definitely slant towards wanting people to say exactly what they're doing/looking at/for... also it's much more likely you're going to randomly hit the trap if you're just "searching the room" versus something specific, heh.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Gameogre » Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:52 am

Haha Played a 2 hour DCC game this morning and decided to mess around with my players when one of them just started full on meta-gaming.

"I search the corpses for treasure then the room"

"19 gold,3 silver,22 copper and a bucket of sand"

Surprised they shrugged and wrote it down.

"We continue"

"Hall"

"Huh? How big is it? What does it lead to?"

"Rooms,doors,monsters"

"Roll initiative!"

"Wait what? We are being attacked?"

"Initiative for the monster is 11"

"Well crap! ok, we rolled a 7 and 4"

"Take 8 points of damage"

"What is it? What did we get hit with? Dude WTF?"

"Make a perception check to see if you can tell anything about it"

"I rolled a 3,Crap!"

"Take 6 points of damage"

"Dude! Come on this isn't fun!We don't even know what we are doing,who is killing me? I didn't even get to roll to attack!"

"You didn't attack, you wanted to drop combat and use a skill,Take 5 points of damage"

"Ugggg! I'm dead! Run Bob!"

"I run away from this B******* encounter!"

"Make a perception check and a Int Check"

"For what??"

"What way do you run?"

"Aw come on I don't need a check for that! I just run back the way I came"

"Take 13 damage"

"WTF WHY?"

"make a perception check to see if you can figure out where the damage came from"

"s***"

"Take 10 damage"

"ok man,we get it! No more just rolling! We will explain what we are doing. You my friend are a arsehat before coffee"

"Once again you stand over the corpses of the strange blue skinned creatures you vanquished. As the mental fog lifts you see that one of the dying creatures had smashed a hollowed out potato that released some sort of toxin into the air. It's effects seem to be waning.What do you do?"

"We turn the corpses over and begin a search of there clothing and armor being careful and on the look out for any more of those f***bombs......"




As it turns out I am a arsehat before coffee.

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beermotor
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Re: Searching the Room

Post by beermotor » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:11 am

Is it gay if I want to kiss you on the mouth for that? Because that was awesome.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Eyeball360 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:07 am

:roll:
Fortunately I haven't ever really had to deal with this problem, or maybe I should say that I never turned it into a problem. Sometimes the people I play with spend more detail on describling their actions, and sometimes a little bit less. <shrug>

We play rpg's for mutual enjoyment, and I am mature enough that I can be a little flexible if the party is more interested in getting through more encounters than agonizing over every detail of their actions and only getting three or four encounters into a gaming session as a result. I think most people enjoy themselves more if you have a group where everyone's enjoyment is taken into consideration instead of trying to force everyone to play exactly like I want them to play.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Ravenheart87 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:07 pm

beermotor wrote:Is it gay if I want to kiss you on the mouth for that? Because that was awesome.
It's okay to have a man crush. Most men have one. It's usually Nathan Fillion.
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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Sir Robilar » Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:20 pm

beermotor wrote:This has spillover effects to every part of the game, from Mighty Deeds to spellcasting to just regular ol' arrpee. The whole thrust of the game is to focus on the specific, instead of general mechanics. I read something about Dave Arneson playing some pre-D&D spy game once and if you search for it you might find it, but it was really on point.
Really like your radical ways, sir! But my google wouldn't help me find anything about the Arneson game.

One thing that I forgot about in my post, but that works very well in my experience: When the players insist on a search check and they succeed, don't flat out tell them what they find. Merely tell them that they have observed something that is out of the ordinary, forcing more interaction. For example, instead of saying "you find a secret door" say "strangely, the stone on this part of the wall is a little darker", instead of "inside the statue you find a hidden compartment" say "oddly enough, it seems that one can move the sword arm of the warrior statue".

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by ctaylor » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:29 pm

Ravenheart87 wrote:
beermotor wrote:Is it gay if I want to kiss you on the mouth for that? Because that was awesome.
It's okay to have a man crush. Most men have one. It's usually Nathan Fillion.
So true.

If the players describe what they are searching, they get a bonus to the roll based on their description. If they just say "Search" or want to make a roll with no description, they get the base DC or a penalty.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Rostranor » Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:54 pm

I wish I had read game ogres post two weeks ago. I'm putting that Judge counter measure in my kit bag.

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Disemvowel » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:21 am

Sir Robilar wrote:When one or more character search a room, how do you play this out? The DCC Core Rules have the following to say:

"Skill checks are designed for use when a system of abstract rules is necessary to adjudicate a situation. Only make a skill check when practical descriptions by the players will not suffice."


Ok, but what is when the players don't want to make practical descriptions of each of their search actions? I've experienced that some players don't enjoy to play it this way. Either because they're too impatient or too comfortable. They believe it slows down the pace and everyone get bored, especially in big dungeons with lots of rooms. Maybe it's because they're used to years of playing 3.5 and Pathfinder, where usually all it comes down to is "I search the room" - "Make a Search check".

I enjoy the immersion of playing it out the DCC way, but have to agree that it is sometimes too time-costly. That's why we usually handle it like this: The Players tell me "We thoroughly search the room for x turns". For each turn they search, I make one search check for any one hidden thing. They all add their Int modifiers to the roll and every participant gives a further +1 to the roll. So if there are 6 characters with an added total of +2 Int modifier searching a room with two hidden objects (DC 14 and DC 18) for one turn, I'll roll twice with a +8 bonus against the DCs.
Exception: If a player does describe his search actions and looks in the right place, he can still find the hidden thing at any time, even after a failed group search, as per DCC skill rules. So the normal rules aren't absent, we've just added an abstract system for quicker play. I'm not completely happy but it works alright for us.
Nice and easy method, but for each turn, I'd make a wandering monster check...

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by Blackrazor » Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:04 am

http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/1 ... ing-games/

This article discusses the very beginnings of role playing games and Dave Arneson's role as the proto roleplayer. It makes mention of a CIA/Banana Republic role playing/wargame session that was made memorable by Dave Arneson.

Enjoy!

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Re: Searching the Room

Post by finarvyn » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:53 am

Skyscraper wrote:As a player, when I enter a kitchen or a dining room, unless I'm looking for food, I will not search the room since who the heck hides anything in a kitchen?
Clearly, you've never played the early Judges Guild products. :wink:

JG had several quirks, such as having basic townsfolk be 6th level retired knights working next to a 0th level farmhand, or a 10,000 GP gem hidden at the bottom of a chest of CP. WIth a lot of the old JG products, you searched everything!
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Re: Searching the Room

Post by oncelor » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:35 pm

Gameogre wrote:Haha Played a 2 hour DCC game this morning and decided to mess around with my players when one of them just started full on meta-gaming.
That's fun.

When my players tell me something like "I search the chest" I just supply the details of the search for them in the most reckless manner of searching I can imagine ("you stick your head in the demon-statue's mouth" or "you press your eye up to the small hole and begin turning the dials to see what happens"). That gets them in the spirit of things rather quickly.

I haven't found that large rooms are too cumbersome. Players can provide general search descriptions ("i tap every 6" with a dagger listening for hollow sounds while I look for cracks in the walls" or "i pick up everything on the table and try to poke and twist every part of every item there") that make these sorts of things go pretty quickly.

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