Opposed check for surprise? Just initiative?

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Opposed check for surprise? Just initiative?

Post by ThickSkullAdv »

How are people handling player's trying to sneak up on others? Your DM says to you:

In the distance you hear a rushing water. From within the water you hear occasional grunts and splashes.

The PCs, (let's say: 1 thief, 1 fighter and 1 halfling) determine they want to sneak through the brush towards the water. In the water are two critters: a wallowing scoundrel, and the big-eared scoundrel. For sake of this example, we want to say the "big-eared scoundrel" has big ears, and therefore, is typically better at hearing approaching PCs.

The Thief: thieves have Sneak Silently which is "never opposed" so Mr. DM just has to create an appropriate DC

But for the fighter & halfling, they are supposed to roll a Sneaking vs. Listening. The jist of my question is: how should an advantage for Listening be given to the big-eared scoundrel vs. his wallowing scoundrel (as Listening is typically a Luck ability.)

Should the stat say:
Big Eared Scoundrel (typical stat block which does not include Luck), +2 for Listening checks (?)

Something similar?
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Re: Opposed check for surprise? Just initiative?

Post by abk108 »

From my experience as a player and as a DM, rolling lots of checks usually plays against the PCs.

If you're trying to sneak past 2 guards you have to roll twice. If your sneaking bonus is high enough, you can do it. But if instead of 2 guards, we have 10, you'd have to roll 10 times separately, knowing that failing just one of these checks results in you being discovered and the guards raising the alarm.

For this reason, I'd set a DC depending on STATIC variables (depending on the surface you're walking on, if you're carrying a light, if there's fog or it's dark, or whatever), then impose a penalty to the PC's roll (equal to 1/2 the number of guards for average alerted guards, 1/4 for distracted guards, o 1/1 for guards on alert)
Halfling sneaking past 2 scoundrels, has to roll ONCE against average enemy Luck check (usually +0), plus 1 (1/2 of 2 scoundrels, which are not distracted but not yet in alert).

This reduces the time wasted at the table rolling dice "until the PC fails", requiring just 5 sec more prep from the DM
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Re: Opposed check for surprise? Just initiative?

Post by Galadrin »

I've never felt the need for any consistency in these things, and I am not a big fan of modifiers. The way I ran things with OD&D, I would describe the situation, listen to the player's solution, take a look at their character sheet (for stats and equipment) and ask them to roll a funny-shaped die. Sometimes I would tell them (i.e., "you have a 3 in 8 chance") and other times I would just say "roll high, and we will see if it works." The important thing is the tension and drama of the moment, not the "realism." For Braunstein and other games, realism was never captured by modifiers and charts anyway, but only by recreating real human psychology and tension.

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