Larian Studios
Larian,

I've played this game far more than is healthy for a pre-release, and I've really enjoyed it. There are a few design decisions you've made, though, that I think seriously detract from the game. Mostly, these center around ways you have "homebrewed" D&D 5e. However, rather than just making a "PLZ FOLLOW 5E GG NO RE" argument, I thought I'd give some reasoning as to why it's important in these cases:

I. Skill Rolls: Automatic Failures and Automatic Successes
These need to go. In any worthwhile progression-style game, there are challenges that are either too hard for a character to currently complete, or so trivial that an advanced-enough character should automatically succeed. D&D 5e recognizes this. In 5e, there are only two times that a roll can be a guaranteed success or failure:
  • Attack Rolls
  • Save vs Death to avoid dying

That's it. And that's ok.

Consider a character with dexterity 8 and no slight-of-hand proficiency who is trying to lockpick a DC 25 door. Why should they automatically succeed on a natural 20? This character should either try to bash the door down, or they should find another character with the skillset required. At the same time, consider a character with 20 dex, guidance, and slight-of-hand proficiency wearing the smuggler's ring. Then they should never, ever fail the DC 5 lock picking check. They are too good. The roll is beneath them. It is extremely frustrating to see a failure when it neither mirrors the 5e rules nor what people experience in real life. Would the Lockpicking Lawyer ever fail to open a consumer-grade masterlock padlock? No, he wouldn't. It's beneath his skill. As a player who raises a champion to be explicitly good at a specific task, it is extremely frustrating to see my <whatever>-skill-focused champion fail at a menial task. It is not fun. It makes me wish I had save scummed beforehand for the explicit purpose of bypassing this unavoidable failure. And make no mistake: A 1-in-20 chance, also known as 5%, is a huge auto-failure/success chance. Most importantly, it completely removes agency from player decisions.

II. Ground Effects
I know Larian loves their puddles of death. It's a tradition. However, these puddles hurt the game right now more than they help. For example, let's examine the level 1 spell Chromatic Orb. In 5e, it does a flat 3d8 damage + 1d8/spell slot level above 1st. The only difference between the orb types is the damage type. It's designed to get around resistances or trigger various effects if hitting an applicable target. However, Larian has changed it. Now, it only does 3d8 sonic damage. The other types are all 2d8 and leave a puddle. This does a few things:
  • Reduces the up-front damage of the spell
  • Makes it unusable (or less-wisely used) with allied party members in melee
  • Greatly increases the power of the spell in certain circumstances

For example, compare the power of doing 3d8 damage to doing 2d8 damage and knocking a target prone. There is no comparison. In almost all cases that aren't "killing blow," prone is much more valuable because you provide advantage on melee attacks, reduce the enemy's movement speed on the following round, and remove the enemy's action. In fact, 2d8 damage and prone is more powerful than most second-level spells. 3d8 + prone certainly is.
On the same ticket, if a player wants to fire chromatic orb into a melee between friendly and enemy characters, they are forced to use the thunder orb. Otherwise, they risk burning, poisoning, knocking prone, reducing armor, or shocking all members of melee, not just enemies.

Additionally, puddles don't currently go away. As a general rule, if it's not burning (and even sometimes if it is), we have De Beers puddles: They are forever. If allowed to exist at all, a puddle should only last a few rounds. Maybe 1 round + 1/spell level. So a first level spell would have a 2-round puddle -- just enough to get some use, not enough to turn an entire section of the battlefield in a death pond.

There's also the problem of inconsistent and unpredictable puddle creation. For example, Melf's Acid Arrow is a balanced spell in 5e. It has guaranteed damage to offset its attack roll. In this game, though, it also creates a huge acid puddle giving -2 armor to all characters in the puddle. And again, the puddle never goes away. In some cases, this makes Melf's unusable since it might get Lae'zel or other party members killed in melee. In other cases, it makes Melf's extremely more powerful than it otherwise should be since all of your ranged attackers will probably not miss targets in that area. And unlike chromatic orb, Melf's baseline damage has not been adjusted to compensate for this buff.

In my opinion, if Larian wants spells that create surfaces, they should make a new line of spells that do reduced damage but create the desired surfaces. "Create Acid", et al. On the flip side, they should stop trying to "fix" the 5e spells which are quite balanced in 5e, but extremely broken in BG3. I mean, a cantrip that knocks opponents prone because there's blood underneath them? How is that ever a good idea?

Conclusion
I really am enjoying this game. I made this post because I see things that could be, in my opinion, fixed to make it even better. I'm really excited to see what the full version has in store for us next year.

I just hope that fireball doesn't also create a giant burning flame puddle so that my evoker does damage to the party even though he has spell shaping.
Originally Posted by Nebuul
I. Skill Rolls: Automatic Failures and Automatic Successes
These need to go. In any worthwhile progression-style game, there are challenges that are either too hard for a character to currently complete, or so trivial that an advanced-enough character should automatically succeed. D&D 5e recognizes this. In 5e, there are only two times that a roll can be a guaranteed success or failure:
  • Attack Rolls
  • Save vs Death to avoid dying

That's it. And that's ok.

Plenty of worthwhile RPG systems have critical misses and critical successes. A lot of systems care about consistency of what rolling specific number means in all cases. 5e cares only for those two specific things you mentioned. But why? They never offered an explanation AFAIK, why that specific distinction was made. Why is lock-picking failing 5% of the times different from an attack failing at the same rate? How can a lvl 20 Fighter miss when trying to cut a piece of paper?

Seems arbitrary to me.

Originally Posted by Nebuul
Consider a character with dexterity 8 and no slight-of-hand proficiency who is trying to lockpick a DC 25 door. Why should they automatically succeed on a natural 20? This character should either try to bash the door down, or they should find another character with the skillset required. At the same time, consider a character with 20 dex, guidance, and slight-of-hand proficiency wearing the smuggler's ring. Then they should never, ever fail the DC 5 lock picking check. They are too good. The roll is beneath them. It is extremely frustrating to see a failure when it neither mirrors the 5e rules nor what people experience in real life.

A character that has just 5% chance to succeed at task shouldn't attempt it, especially if he can do it only once. And you are right he should try a different approach. If they suceeded, doesn't mean that they were right to try. And a character that has 95% chance to succeed at task given is the right guy for that job. But sometimes even the right choices might not result in success, both in DnD and in real life. I

Originally Posted by Nebuul
Would the Lockpicking Lawyer ever fail to open a consumer-grade masterlock padlock? No, he wouldn't. It's beneath his skill. As a player who raises a champion to be explicitly good at a specific task, it is extremely frustrating to see my <whatever>-skill-focused champion fail at a menial task. It is not fun. It makes me wish I had save scummed beforehand for the explicit purpose of bypassing this unavoidable failure. And make no mistake: A 1-in-20 chance, also known as 5%, is a huge auto-failure/success chance.


Athlete failing at running.

Humans are fallible, there are plenty of examples of skilled specialists failing when under pressure to do a thing they should never fail at. Sometimes people forget details or words that they should definitely remember. Sometimes a tool might break or a hand suddenly cramp. The 1 in 20 might be too high but because of the nature of d20 it is the only way to represent it. And for roleplaying reasons it's better to have this mechanic, either at the table or in video game.

Originally Posted by Nebuul
Most importantly, it completely removes agency from player decisions.

It does not. If a task, that you are trying to accomplish is important and crucial enough to warrant a worry about failing it 5% of the time, there are some ways to give yourself advantage reducing that risk to 0.25%. Or on a failed roll you may decide to use your inspiration pool. It does nothing to remove agency, it actually enhances it. And as a player you can even enable weighted dice, so that 1 in 400 failure does not happen.
In usually prefer flat checks in computer RPG - that said Disco Elysium used skill rolls extensively and it felt great. Josh Sawyer (Obsidian dev.) mentioned it in his reponse to BG3 checks. I think I too prefer bell curve, as extreme successes and failuer are rare instances indeed.
https://twitter.com/jesawyer/status/1326718682412720129?lang=en

Eh, when it comes to puddles, I am quite sure there are already mods to remove those from certain spells. I don't like how puddles are implemented - they adhere to D:OS2 ruleset, not D&D ruleset, feel out of place and don't play nice with other mechanics, like concentration.
Originally Posted by Wormerine
Eh, when it comes to puddles, I am quite sure there are already mods to remove those from certain spells. I don't like how puddles are implemented - they adhere to D:OS2 ruleset, not D&D ruleset, feel out of place and don't play nice with other mechanics, like concentration.

They also really mess with evokers. Even though an evoker is supposed to be able to shape their invocation spells to avoid damaging allies, the giant burning puddle on the floor says otherwise.
Originally Posted by Wormerine
In usually prefer flat checks in computer RPG - that said Disco Elysium used skill rolls extensively and it felt great. Josh Sawyer (Obsidian dev.) mentioned it in his reponse to BG3 checks. I think I too prefer bell curve, as extreme successes and failuer are rare instances indeed.
https://twitter.com/jesawyer/status/1326718682412720129?lang=en

With all the respect to Mr. Sawyer that tweet is misleading. Better way to illustrate would be this - when a character with +7 to lockpicking tries to open an:
- easy lock he will succeed 19% more times compared to times he would succeed without those modifiers.
- medium lock he will succeed 64% more times.
- hard lock 116% more times.
- very hard lock 700% more times.
Originally Posted by Nebuul
There are a few design decisions you've made, though, that I think seriously detract from the game. Mostly, these center around ways you have "homebrewed" D&D 5e.

I think we are all still holding out some hope that Larian will listen to this in the time they have left before release.
I think auto success or fail should be based more on common sense. Like I'm playing a Rogue/Thief with a background as a criminal. How is it possible for her to fail at a level 5 lock? Sure it is rare, but its still there and feels really dumb. With that said I also really don't like rolling in combat. I know its a D&D thing, but I hate missing an attack when I am standing right next to someone. I'm always like, "How the f**k did you miss that!? Are you blind?"
Originally Posted by PixieStix2
With that said I also really don't like rolling in combat. I know its a D&D thing, but I hate missing an attack when I am standing right next to someone. I'm always like, "How the f**k did you miss that!? Are you blind?"
Somewhat off-topic, but this seems like a good opportunity to once again advocate for different animations (or at least different words than "missed!") when you miss an attack. If you don't meet the target's AC on an attack roll, in reality you don't damage them because of some combination of:
- they dodged
- you hit their armor
- they blocked it with a shield
- you just missed
Currently, BG3 implies that everything falls into the last category, which can be disheartening and boring. You're not incompetent; you're fighting an enemy that is actively trying to (and at least sometimes succeeds in) avoid or block your attacks.

An extremely basic fix would be to simply change the words depending on the armor:
- "missed" appears if you roll less than 10 (roll + modifier)
- "dodged" appears if you roll greater than 10 and the enemy is wearing light armor
- "blocked" or "absorbed" or "0 damage" appears if you roll greater than 10 and the enemy is wearing heavy armor
There is expression in Czech: "I mistr tesař se někdy utne."
Google translates it as: "Even a master carpenter sometimes cuts off." so i can only hope its not some bullshit. laugh
And i believe that is the case with nat 1 in skill checks ... so i kinda understand why Larian wanted to try it.

Dear Larian, we tryed ... and it sucks. laugh
There is not much else to say, those 1 are droping too often to be rare enough to be even remotely concidered entertaining. frown
It just sucks.

---

As for the other part of the topic ...
I have mixed feeling about it to be honest ... i basicaly agree with everything OP said ...

On the other hand, imagining Chromatic Orb being 3d8 ... as it should be ...
but dont cost any rare material to cast ... as it should not be ...
i cant honest imagine much people who would take, well basicaly any other offensive spell at low level. O_o

Some tuning would be in place, that much is certain.
Chromatic Orb at 3d8 needs to hit with 78% rate to be better than Magic Missile. It’s not good enough to be on Wizard’s prepared list. Sorcerers can twin it so it is more useful for them. However, unless you abuse the current targeting oversight and wet condition, I still think that there are better options.

And in PnP you just need to hold a diamond in your hand, but the spell doesn’t consume it.
Originally Posted by RagnarokCzD
On the other hand, imagining Chromatic Orb being 3d8 ... as it should be ...
but dont cost any rare material to cast ... as it should not be ...
i cant honest imagine much people who would take, well basicaly any other offensive spell at low level. O_o

Some tuning would be in place, that much is certain.

Not that hard to imagine imho since there are a lot of spells that require material components in DnD and getting rid of that tedious management part for the majority of spells in crpg's is one video game adaption/QoL that I'm actually all for. Besides, Chromatic Orb requires a small diamond worth 50 G to cast. It's not consumed, only required to be in your backpack(probably used as focus for the spell)

Edit: Damn it, Elebhra cut me to it :P
Edit2: Sorry Rag, I misunderstood you. (missed that important "t" on can't :P)
Magic Missiles are kinda special case ... especialy in BG-3 where with only two artefacts you can almost triple its potential damage outcome. laugh

I was thinking about spells like Witch Bolt, or Acid Arrow.
Originally Posted by RagnarokCzD
Magic Missiles are kinda special case ... especialy in BG-3 where with only two artefacts you can almost triple its potential damage outcome. laugh

I was thinking about spells like Witch Bolt, or Acid Arrow.

Well. Witch bolt is more powerful, or atleast more economic, over a long fight since it can make continuous damage over several turns without wasting spell slots but is a bit underwhelming, especially in BG3 where few opponents will last the full duration of 1 minute ie 10 turns and concentration is easily broken plus that spell slots can be easily recovered after every fight.

Melf's though....yeah, it sucks in comparison except that it's guaranteed damage even on a miss.
Chromatic orb isnt OP at all at 3D8 if you compare the average damages of all other offensive spells.
(Inflict wound is 3D10, guiding bolt is 4D6, burning hand is 3d6 on an aoe, arms of hadar is 2d6 on an aoe...)

It's just a very good spell against vulnerable or resistant creatures but not especially a must have against common creatures.

2d8 + eventually surface damage is weak imo. Especially if the AI wasnt so stupid to avoid surface damage.
I have to say, I'm with the OP and with DND 5e on this one. If there is a need for "puddles", Larian could always introduce homebrew versions of the Create or Destroy Water spell, which has the added advantage that players have better control over whether or not they want to use such an effect. Also those spells could be balanced individually, which would probably be necessary. In fact, the DND rulebooks specifically state, that such a thing can be done if a certain spell doesn't quite fit your needs and if your DM allows for that. The spells in BG3, which have been changed by Larian to include puddles are better the way they are in the books in my humble oppinion.

As for the skill check problem. Please consider this:

In DND 5e there are certain situations, which make an automatic fail or success (on a natural one or twenty respectively) result in pretty ridiculous situations. For example Vampires have a trait called "Spider Climb", which allows them to climb difficult surfaces (like smooth walls) *including* upside down on ceilings without the need to make an ability check. They have this in their stat block, because an ability check (and possibly suitable tools) is usually required, naturally. So what if the player says: "I want to climb after the Vampire."? Well the DM would have the player make an ability check and have the difficulty of the check reflect the difficulty of the task. If the player was lucky and rolled a twenty, they would now be crawling along a perfectly smooth ceiling, without magic, tools or help, just like spiderman. What about swimming? DMs will often make players take a Strength (Athletics) check for that. What if the player wants to swim up a waterfall? With the auto success rule you'd have to allow the player to actually swim up a waterfall if they did roll the lucky twenty.

The same is true for low difficulty challenges, like that DC 5 lock. That specific example would be such an incredibly cheap and simple lock, that it would serve as more of a message stating "Hands off!", than an actual attempt to prevent unauthorised acccess. A rogue - especially one who is proficient with thieving tools - can open it as easily as if they had the key. Sure, other characters, who have never learned how exactly a lock is built (represented by a skill bonus lower than +4), may have trouble and even fail, if they roll a one, but the rogue is a specialist and simply cannot botch this.

TLDR: Yeah, I'd like the game to stick to the rules as written in these cases.
As for the "puddles" ...
I still believe that best suggestion that was introduced here was making toggable option for every spellcaster that would "sacrifice single damage die in order to create surface effect acording to spell element, for one round (or one round + one round per spell level)"


Originally Posted by Maximuuus
Chromatic orb isnt OP at all at 3D8 if you compare the average damages of all other offensive spells.
(Inflict wound is 3D10, guiding bolt is 4D6, burning hand is 3d6 on an aoe, arms of hadar is 2d6 on an aoe...)
I dunno ...
Is it even fair to compare spells from different classes?

I mean single person should not have acess to both, unles it multiclass or take specific feats ... you could aswell say that nothing is really strong compared to Berserker in Frenzy with Great Weapon Master ... since your damage potential with regular +1 2H Sword is 2d6+10+1+2 twice per round. O_o

Same with AoE spells ...
It seems quite logical that if you wish to compare spells that can strictly attack single target, you will compare it either with other single target spells, or for single target ... meaning both AoE you mentioned is weaker. :-/
Originally Posted by RagnarokCzD
I dunno ...
Is it even fair to compare spells from different classes?

Not doing it would be nitpicking and I would just have to find other exemples to show that chromatic orb is not particularly an OP spell (eventually with higher level spells).

I won't do it, especially with you smile
So ... in order to show how Chromatic Orb "is not strongest spell" (for example for Sorcerer, since we have that ugly option to learn everything on Wizards) ...
All your Sorcerer need to do is "become Cleric instead" ? laugh

Yeah that makes perfect sense.
Spells for different casting classes (except Warlock whose spellcasting system is different) are *roughly* equal in power. Otherwise, different casters would have different # of slots per day. So yes it is fair to compare spells from different classes.

Alternatively, here are other 1st level single-target damaging spells also on the sorcerer spell list:
-Catapult deals 3d8 bludgeoning but has a larger range (60+90 ft) and is a Dex ST instead of an attack roll
-Chaos Bolt does 2d8+1d6 of a random damage type but has a 1/8 chance of arcing to additional targets
-Ray of Sickness does 2d8 poison damage and can Poison a target
All of these seem comparable to Chromatic Orb's 3d8 damage of your choice in damage type.

Also, it makes absolutely no sense to compare a single-target spell's damage to the damage that an AoE spell would do to a single target; obviously you should assume that the AoE spell will hit multiple creatures (otherwise you wouldn't cast the AoE spell).
I agree with the OP that I’d rather have new spells to create surfaces than have them shoehorned into classic spells. I avoid surfaces in my games, other than “set flamable thing on fire” (which mostly happens by accident). Chromatic Orb may as well be Orb of Thunder as far as I’m concerned.

In theory, it’s cool how surfaces interact. Youtube has shown me tricks I didn’t suspect. Those effects, as illustrated by the OP, can be wildly out of balance. This makes me glad I haven’t engaged with that system so far.
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
So yes it is fair to compare spells from different classes.
If ypur goal is to compare classes power then sure ...
If your goal is compare spells of single class to determine if people will use any other or only zhe strongest one ... whike playing that class ... then im sory but its missleading.
Originally Posted by RagnarokCzD
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
So yes it is fair to compare spells from different classes.
If ypur goal is to compare classes power then sure ...
If your goal is compare spells of single class to determine if people will use any other or only zhe strongest one ... whike playing that class ... then im sory but its missleading.

I think that before you can say "X is OP", you're going to have to provide a frame of reference. If it's an overall class evaluation, then you have to provide the class(es) that are outshone by X. If it's a spell, then you need to have something to compare it to. It cannot be OP in a vacuum, it has to be OP compared to something else.
Well, when i said (quote)
"i cant honest imagine much people who would take, well basicaly any other offensive spell at low level ...[i]"
I presumed it should be clear that im talking about spells people can take instead Chromatic Orb ... since Chromatic Orb and other two Cleric spells that was mentioned here are not part of the same spell list, and therefore they cannot be taken "instead" each other ...

Same as when i said (quote)
"[i]It seems quite logical that if you wish to compare spells that can strictly attack single target, you will compare it either with other single target spells, or for single target ...
"
I once again presumed that my message was clear enough. O_o

Sure ...
I could have list all spells that seems weaker to me, but i once again presumed that we all know that power of various spell depends mainly on situation ...
Magic Missiles that were used are certainly a LOT stronger in situation where your chance to hit with Chromatic Orb is 40% ... not so much stronger when you have 95% and Advantage. :-/
We can also debate if Acid surface is worth the spell ... it most likely isnt for Goblin who have 12AC ... but reducing Githyanki general from 21 AC to at least 19, that seems worthy to me.

Thats why i keep saying that in best case scenario Larian should give us both options ... and let us use whatever we want, depending on situation.
Originally Posted by RagnarokCzD
Thats why i keep saying that in best case scenario Larian should give us both options ... and let us use whatever we want, depending on situation.

I fully agree with this.
Let us use every element as surface/effect + 2D8 OR only 3D8 damages.
I like the surface effects. Makes the game more interesting. The environment comes alive.

One of the reasons I like choosing chromatic orb as a spell is because of the versatility of damage types, more so than the amount of damage.

*

As a side note, someone mentioned that cleric spells could be directly compared to wizard spells because both casters have the same number of spell slots, thus creating the intention of balance. I don't think that's a sound argument. Clerics can wear armor. They have a different number of hit points. They have different weapon proficiencies. Surely this stuff should factor into the overall balance. Just a thought.
I'm not sure, why the comparison of classes and spells is so important in regard to the topic, but if you have to, you might want to be a bit more thorough.

First of all though, I stand by what I wrote earlier: I'd like to have spells like Chromatic Orb and Melf's Acid Arrow work as written in the official DND 5e rules. If hazardous surfaces are important for BG3 (for whatever reason), it would be much better to "outsource" them to their own custom spells. The spells on both the Wizard and Cleric spell lists are pretty good, both flavor and balance wise and homebrewing them feels like repairing something, that isn't broken. That usually doesn't end well. Sure, it's nice to have the option to put obstacles in your opponents' way, but:

1. The rule books offer spells for that purpose already (grease, darkness, etc.)
2. The enemy AI tends to overuse effects like that which can get annoying extremly quickly. If a party member dies, you have to reload, or pay for the ressurection in camp - not very fun. If an enemy AI character dies, so what? There are always more, meaning it's not such a huge problem for them.

The use of surfaces and area effects should be a strategic decission, but right now it feels like there is so much of it, that it works against the player most of the time. If anything it makes the proper use of these spells more difficult, because now you have to make sure, that your frontline fighter(s) don't get mixed up in it. And we have spells like Burning Hands and Fireball for that already. That is why I'd like to have the spells as written and (additional) surface effects, if needed at all, implemented as original homebrew spells. That way players have a better way to use or avoid them, as desired and the devs can simply adjust the AI opponents' spell lists, depending on whether or not they want a specific encounter to be AoE heavy or not.

As for the comparison (in this case) of Clerics and Wizards (or Sorcerers) and their respective spells:

First, please note, that these classes are designed with different roles in mind:

Clerics can use shields and medium (or - with some domains - heavy) armor for a reason. They are not some frail back line healing machine, which you see in some MMORPGs. They are capable combatants in their own right, who don't shy away from close combat. Yes, they have healing spells, but they also have offensive, protective and some utility spells, to help the whole party.

Mages (both Wizards and Sorcerers) on the other hand are much closer to traditional glass cannons. They cannot wear armor by default and have the lowest hit dice in the game. To compensate for that (in battle) they have very potent offensive spell options, but also quite potent, if short lived defensive spells. A first level Wizard will typically sit at 14 to 15 DEX and consequently have an AC of 12. Mage Armor changes that to 15, which is nothing to write home about, but reasonable for a mage. And Shield, finally (which isn't in BG3, yet) can be cast as a reaction and will increase the AC by another 5 points for the following round. That means our level 1 mage will sit at a very respectable AC of 20 until their next turn. Does that mean they should actively seek melee combat? No, it's a means for them survive in dire circumstances.

For spells, Chromatic Orb has been compared to Guiding Bolt, so let's look at that comparison:

Guiding Bolt deals 4d6 radiant damage. That's appropriate for someone who channels divine power and helps against some classic creatures of evil. Zombies for example can be difficult to kill (depending on their CON saves) unless the killing blow is a critical hit or radiant damage. In addition the target of Guiding Bolt can be attacked with advantage once, before the end of the caster's next turn. That's great for the frontline fighters and enables a Rogue to use their sneak attack.

In short: The spell requires an attack roll, does a minium of 4/maximum of 24 radiant damage and grants advantage on the next attack roll against the target during the following round.

Chromatic Orb simply deals 3d8 damage of one of 6 types, which the caster can freely choose.

In short: An attack roll again and a minimum of 3/maximum of 24 acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, or thunder damage.

So while Guiding Bolt's minimum damage is one point higher, and it offers a bonus effect, which anyone in the party can make use of, Chromatic Orb is more versatile through the different damage types available, but doesn't offer any additional effects. The maximum damage possible is equal - 24 in both cases.

What if we cast the spells at level 2 instead? Guiding Bolt gets an additional d6 per spell level, while Chromatic Orb gets a d8. That means at level 2 Guiding Bolt has a maximum damage potential of 30, while Chromatic Orb is already looking at 32. Level 3 has 36 and 40 respectively - you get the idea.

Long story (read: wall of text) short: Seems extremely well balanced to me. The class which feels comfortable in melee range gets less damage and a bit of party utility, the class which is weak in melee combat gets more damage and versatility but without the gimmicks.

Two very different classes with different spell lists and playstyles, but again, I don't see how this comparison of class/spell balance relates to existing spells being modified to include hazardous surfaces, or d20 rolls other than attack rolls having critical fails and successes on a natural one and twenty respectively.

TLDR: Critical fails/successes - for anything but attack rolls - should go. We have advantage/disadvantage to account for special circumstances. "Puddles" should not be modded into (and consequently be removed from) existing spells and should instead be implemented as original homebrew spells.
Originally Posted by Nebuul
Larian,

I've played this game far more than is healthy for a pre-release, and I've really enjoyed it. There are a few design decisions you've made, though, that I think seriously detract from the game. Mostly, these center around ways you have "homebrewed" D&D 5e. However, rather than just making a "PLZ FOLLOW 5E GG NO RE" argument, I thought I'd give some reasoning as to why it's important in these cases:

I. Skill Rolls: Automatic Failures and Automatic Successes
These need to go. In any worthwhile progression-style game, there are challenges that are either too hard for a character to currently complete, or so trivial that an advanced-enough character should automatically succeed. D&D 5e recognizes this. In 5e, there are only two times that a roll can be a guaranteed success or failure:
  • Attack Rolls
  • Save vs Death to avoid dying

That's it. And that's ok.

Consider a character with dexterity 8 and no slight-of-hand proficiency who is trying to lockpick a DC 25 door. Why should they automatically succeed on a natural 20? This character should either try to bash the door down, or they should find another character with the skillset required. At the same time, consider a character with 20 dex, guidance, and slight-of-hand proficiency wearing the smuggler's ring. Then they should never, ever fail the DC 5 lock picking check. They are too good. The roll is beneath them. It is extremely frustrating to see a failure when it neither mirrors the 5e rules nor what people experience in real life. Would the Lockpicking Lawyer ever fail to open a consumer-grade masterlock padlock? No, he wouldn't. It's beneath his skill. As a player who raises a champion to be explicitly good at a specific task, it is extremely frustrating to see my <whatever>-skill-focused champion fail at a menial task. It is not fun. It makes me wish I had save scummed beforehand for the explicit purpose of bypassing this unavoidable failure. And make no mistake: A 1-in-20 chance, also known as 5%, is a huge auto-failure/success chance. Most importantly, it completely removes agency from player decisions.

In general, I agree with this statement!

Honestly, in this debate I am in the Pathfinder club. In pathfinder, the modifiers you specialize in gets so insane after a while that it will be *literally* impossible to fail or succeed certain skill checks (unless you have the guaranteed fail/success in, which I agree should go away).

Just one question - does critical success / failure actually exist for skill checks according to RAW? I was under the impression that critical success/failure and grades of success/failure in DnD was just two very, very common homebrews?
I believe they dont ...
At least it was common argument against it as far as i remember.
They don't. As per the PHB page 194 this is what is said about 1 and 20:

ROLLING I OR 20
Sometimes fate blesses ar curses a combatant, causing
the novice to hit and the veteran to miss.
If the d20 rol1for an attack is a 20, the attack hits
regardless of any modifiers ar the target's AC. In
addition, the attack is a criticai hit, as explained later
in this chapter.
If the d20 roll for an attack is a I, the attack misses
regardless of any modifiers ar the target's AC.


That's for attack rolls. no equivalent can be found in the pages covering ability checks or saving throws.
Originally Posted by PrivateRaccoon
They don't. As per the PHB page 194 this is what is said about 1 and 20:

ROLLING I OR 20
Sometimes fate blesses ar curses a combatant, causing
the novice to hit and the veteran to miss.
If the d20 rol1for an attack is a 20, the attack hits
regardless of any modifiers ar the target's AC. In
addition, the attack is a criticai hit, as explained later
in this chapter.
If the d20 roll for an attack is a I, the attack misses
regardless of any modifiers ar the target's AC.


That's for attack rolls. no equivalent can be found in the pages covering ability checks or saving throws.

This is correct. As I mentioned in the OP, attack rolls and the saves vs death are the only rolls in 5e that are guaranteed to fail on 1 or succeed on 20. Literally every other save or ability check just compare the result numbers. So that DC 5 lock? Once you have a +4 modifier, it will be a 100% success rate. On the same ticket, that dc 20 lock is impossible if a character has even a -1 penalty.

That is the way it should be, though. So frustrating to have +13 slight of hand and still fail a DC 5 lock, and so stupid to be able to save scrum a dc 20 check with a -3 mod until the 20 gets rolled. And before you think those chances are rare, remember that rolling a 1 or 20 is basically a 10% chance with disadvantage/advantage, respectively.
Originally Posted by Nebuul
That is the way it should be, though. So frustrating to have +13 slight of hand and still fail a DC 5 lock, and so stupid to be able to save scrum a dc 20 check with a -3 mod until the 20 gets rolled. And before you think those chances are rare, remember that rolling a 1 or 20 is basically a 10% chance with disadvantage/advantage, respectively.

The game offers you plenty of options to deal with a failed skill check. In a case of failed lockpicking:
- there are keys to a lot of chests lying around nearby,
- thieves tools are an easily accessible resource,
- inspirations allow you to take a reroll,
- a lot of the doors and chests can be destroyed (which may result in slightly reduced hoard),
- there are often alternative routes to reach places behind the locked door.

Having a 1/20 chance to fail any check might cause players to look for other ways to solve problems other than just always relaying on min/maxed party skills. In my eyes, that is a good thing.

On a flip side, if someone would rather spend a spell slot for enhance ability and 9 reloads on average to get a 20 on an otherwise impossible check, rather than exploring other options available in the game or, the heresy, just accepting the failed check, why not allow them. It's not fun nor optimal, but does it really make your decision to specialize in a skill meaningless?
Originally Posted by Elebhra
Having a 1/20 chance to fail any check might cause players to look for other ways to solve problems other than just always relaying on min/maxed party skills. In my eyes, that is a good thing.
But you can just rely on normal failure (DC 15 and the player rolling a total of 11) for these "other ways to solve problems." Why punish someone who's spent a lot of effort to be good at a skill with 5% auto failure?

Originally Posted by Elebhra
On a flip side, if someone would rather spend a spell slot for enhance ability and 9 reloads on average to get a 20 on an otherwise impossible check, rather than exploring other options available in the game or, the heresy, just accepting the failed check, why not allow them. It's not fun nor optimal, but does it really make your decision to specialize in a skill meaningless?
There's not a need for the rule "natural 20's auto-succeed skill checks," because 5e's bounded accuracy ensures that a lockpick (or any check, really) will almost always be possible rolling naturally. "Hard" checks are DC 20; "Very Hard" are DC 25; "Nearly Impossible" are DC 30.
A level 1 character with +3 Dex and proficiency in thieves' tools can successfully pick a Very Hard lock with a normal (not auto-success) 20; expertise means they'd only need an 18.
A level 5 character with +4 Dex and expertise in thieves' tools can successfully pick a Nearly Impossible lock with a normal (not auto-success) 20. With only proficiency, they'll need to be level 13.
Oh and then you can possibly add +1d4 from guidance, which means that the person with only proficiency can succeed at level ~5.

And honestly, the above situations are fairly extreme. If a DM is giving the party Very Hard skill checks at level 1-4 or Nearly Impossible skill checks at level 5-10...that probably means the DM doesn't want the party to succeed. In which case, the party probably shouldn't have the option to roll at all. "You see a very complex lock. Looking at it, you can clearly tell it is beyond your ability to pick and/or would take longer than you have free time." Or to use the common example: "Obviously the King won't give you his kingdom no matter what you roll."

*Unless you have a full party without anyone proficient in lockpicking, but then that's on you for creating an unbalanced party. And you've probably made up for this by being extremely good in other skills.
In a game based on 5e with a major relic story plot item being a glorified d20 (Shadowheart's Mysterious Box), it really makes sense to stay true to actual 5e rules. Nat 20 is ONLY automatic hit in combat. Nat 1 is ONLY auto miss in combat.

Outside of combat, it makes sense to have some rolls you simply can't fail and some you simply cannot succeed in. The game design makes it so DMs can set a difficulty that is simply impossible for a character to succeed in and ones that are simply impossible for a character to fail.

Example:. There is a lock that an Expert Lockpicker should not be able to fail in picking. DC is 8. Lockpicker had +4 Expert Prof+3 Dex. Roll is 1 or higher. Can't fail. Don't need to roll. The lock is so simple, even a non-proficient person can pretty easily succeed. Surely, a lock so easy would be utterly humiliating for such a Lockpicker to fail.

But, on the flip side, a truly expert lock should not in any way be able to be picked by someone who is NOT an expert. Joe shmoe cleric with 0 skill shouldn't even get a 1 in 20 chance to succeed in picking a lock on a highly secure bank vault. Like Fuji said, there should be a, "Sorry. This lock is beyond your skill." message. That's the whole point in Proficiency and Expertise. They not only increase a character's chances of succeeding, giving them a boost above other characters, but it allows DMs the ability to set DCs in ways so that if a character has no training in something, it is completely impossible for them to succeed.

This is why we keep pushing for Expertise so much. It's REALLY killing the Rogue class, and it'll kill the Bard too. Something as simple to implement as Expertise... I just can't understand why they haven't done it.
Originally Posted by PixieStix2
I think auto success or fail should be based more on common sense. Like I'm playing a Rogue/Thief with a background as a criminal. How is it possible for her to fail at a level 5 lock? Sure it is rare, but its still there and feels really dumb. With that said I also really don't like rolling in combat. I know its a D&D thing, but I hate missing an attack when I am standing right next to someone. I'm always like, "How the f**k did you miss that!? Are you blind?"


You are not missing when you are missing. Your blow just doesn't do damage.

And a turn is 6 seconds... All the things you do is in 6 seconds of course you can *miss*... You play shooter games? You also miss sometimes. Just imagine those shooter games be turn based and you have 10 minutes time to plot your 6 second turn...
Originally Posted by GM4Him
... that an Expert Lockpicker should not be ....


If someone is 0.00001% "better" than another one should he never fail Vs them?

What about 10% "better"? 100% 200000000000000% ... Never?

Statistically to say never is wrong. 1/20 might be too high sometimes , but it's a fantasy games and we have inspiration...

I think the game is rather far too easy! And I don't want to get everything in 1 playthrough. Let me fail pls. It's makes the game better in my eyes. A little Randomness makes it great! Sense of danger.

In my eyes it is NOT ok to always win or always lose. The opposite is true. It's boring to know before ..
Let me put it this way.

Game session of Star Wars RPG. Epic climactic fight. My brother's character is an athletic, heroic soldier. Really skilled. He is trying to reach the boss. Needs to run up stairs. Difficulty is 5 or higher. He gets +10.

Rolls a 1. Automatic failure, the rules said. He trips on the stairs. Everyone laughs. He's ticked, but he says, "Well. That's life sometimes I guess."

Next round, my unlucky brother rolls a 1 again. Trips and falls again like a blundering idiot. Now he's ticked that the rules say he has to keep rolling just to run up stairs. Also that it doesn't matter that he has +10 skill. When he needs to get to the boss who is butchering his team, because of some unlucky dice rolls, he is floundering like a moron on a staircase.

It sounds legit at first to allow for failure for mundane, simple skill checks, but in situations like this, players get annoyed and even ticked when they fail such overly simple checks. It's not worth the roll. After that event, I changed the rule myself, no longer forcing players to roll for difficulties beneath their skill.
Originally Posted by GM4Him
Let me put it this way.

Game session of Star Wars RPG. Epic climactic fight. My brother's character is an athletic, heroic soldier. Really skilled. He is trying to reach the boss. Needs to run up stairs. Difficulty is 5 or higher. He gets +10.

Rolls a 1. Automatic failure, the rules said. He trips on the stairs. Everyone laughs. He's ticked, but he says, "Well. That's life sometimes I guess."

Next round, my unlucky brother rolls a 1 again. Trips and falls again like a blundering idiot. Now he's ticked that the rules say he has to keep rolling just to run up stairs. Also that it doesn't matter that he has +10 skill. When he needs to get to the boss who is butchering his team, because of some unlucky dice rolls, he is floundering like a moron on a staircase.

It sounds legit at first to allow for failure for mundane, simple skill checks, but in situations like this, players get annoyed and even ticked when they fail such overly simple checks. It's not worth the roll. After that event, I changed the rule myself, no longer forcing players to roll for difficulties beneath their skill.

So you're advocating for more homebrew rules?
Originally Posted by robertthebard
Originally Posted by GM4Him
Let me put it this way.

Game session of Star Wars RPG. Epic climactic fight. My brother's character is an athletic, heroic soldier. Really skilled. He is trying to reach the boss. Needs to run up stairs. Difficulty is 5 or higher. He gets +10.

Rolls a 1. Automatic failure, the rules said. He trips on the stairs. Everyone laughs. He's ticked, but he says, "Well. That's life sometimes I guess."

Next round, my unlucky brother rolls a 1 again. Trips and falls again like a blundering idiot. Now he's ticked that the rules say he has to keep rolling just to run up stairs. Also that it doesn't matter that he has +10 skill. When he needs to get to the boss who is butchering his team, because of some unlucky dice rolls, he is floundering like a moron on a staircase.

It sounds legit at first to allow for failure for mundane, simple skill checks, but in situations like this, players get annoyed and even ticked when they fail such overly simple checks. It's not worth the roll. After that event, I changed the rule myself, no longer forcing players to roll for difficulties beneath their skill.

So you're advocating for more homebrew rules?

Is he? Since the critical 1/20 in ability checks is not per phb, feels more like he is advocating for going back to raw in this case.

Edit: Sorry, bad comprehension on my part there. His last part is about the typical "take 10"-rule. In that you're correct.
Originally Posted by PrivateRaccoon
Originally Posted by robertthebard
Originally Posted by GM4Him
Let me put it this way.

Game session of Star Wars RPG. Epic climactic fight. My brother's character is an athletic, heroic soldier. Really skilled. He is trying to reach the boss. Needs to run up stairs. Difficulty is 5 or higher. He gets +10.

Rolls a 1. Automatic failure, the rules said. He trips on the stairs. Everyone laughs. He's ticked, but he says, "Well. That's life sometimes I guess."

Next round, my unlucky brother rolls a 1 again. Trips and falls again like a blundering idiot. Now he's ticked that the rules say he has to keep rolling just to run up stairs. Also that it doesn't matter that he has +10 skill. When he needs to get to the boss who is butchering his team, because of some unlucky dice rolls, he is floundering like a moron on a staircase.

It sounds legit at first to allow for failure for mundane, simple skill checks, but in situations like this, players get annoyed and even ticked when they fail such overly simple checks. It's not worth the roll. After that event, I changed the rule myself, no longer forcing players to roll for difficulties beneath their skill.

So you're advocating for more homebrew rules?

Is he? Since the critical 1/20 in ability checks is not per phb, feels more like he is advocating for going back to raw in this case.

Quote
After that event, I changed the rule myself, no longer forcing players to roll for difficulties beneath their skill

Literally copy/pasted from the last line of the post I quoted.
Tommy is a master swordsman. He rolls a one and misses the enemy. "Oh, well, you can't hit them all," he thinks.

Then he rolls another one and misses again. This time he gets mad.

So we make a rule that he no longer has to roll to hit because it's beneath him.
Originally Posted by JandK
Tommy is a master swordsman. He rolls a one and misses the enemy. "Oh, well, you can't hit them all," he thinks.

Then he rolls another one and misses again. This time he gets mad.

So we make a rule that he no longer has to roll to hit because it's beneath him.

But now you're talking about attack rolls not ability checks. Sure, on pure principles they are the same I guess but my understanding of OP's request is to remove the critical 1/20 in ability checks, not attack rolls.
On the other hand its true that rolls arent allways exactly needed ...
Even if we left out Skillchecks ... and presume that Larian will keep 20 and 1 to be autosucess/failure no matter what ...

Take Illithid powers ... why do we even roll for them, its difficiulty is -1 ... what kind of character we would have to even create and how unlucky we would need to be to fail? laugh
Wouldnt it be much better without need to watch tht completely irellevant dice? :-/
Originally Posted by RagnarokCzD
On the other hand its true that rolls arent allways exactly needed ...
Even if we left out Skillchecks ... and presume that Larian will keep 20 and 1 to be autosucess/failure no matter what ...

Take Illithid powers ... why do we even roll for them, its difficiulty is -1 ... what kind of character we would have to even create and how unlucky we would need to be to fail? laugh
Wouldnt it be much better without need to watch tht completely irellevant dice? :-/

Well we roll for them because we can fail them on nat 1. If Nat 1 wasn't a thing, then I agree, there's no need for rolling for it.
Originally Posted by PrivateRaccoon
Originally Posted by JandK
Tommy is a master swordsman. He rolls a one and misses the enemy. "Oh, well, you can't hit them all," he thinks.

Then he rolls another one and misses again. This time he gets mad.

So we make a rule that he no longer has to roll to hit because it's beneath him.

But now you're talking about attack rolls not ability checks. Sure, on pure principles they are the same I guess but my understanding of OP's request is to remove the critical 1/20 in ability checks, not attack rolls.

The last time this came up, I suggested that there should always be a "fail state". Nobody's perfect, after all. I was met with "but a level 15 rogue", in a game that is currently capped at level 4. Regardless, there should always be a chance to fail, because nobody's perfect. I've walked to my kitchen a thousand times, if I've done it once, to get coffee, or food. Yet, I can still trip over my own feet getting there randomly. It should be beneath me, since I've lived in this apartment for almost 17 years now, and yet, it can still happen. I have fallen up, and down, stairs, despite having walked stairs for 59 years. It can happen, and that should be represented.
Originally Posted by RagnarokCzD
On the other hand its true that rolls arent allways exactly needed ...
Even if we left out Skillchecks ... and presume that Larian will keep 20 and 1 to be autosucess/failure no matter what ...

Take Illithid powers ... why do we even roll for them, its difficiulty is -1 ... what kind of character we would have to even create and how unlucky we would need to be to fail? laugh
Wouldnt it be much better without need to watch tht completely irellevant dice? :-/

I agree with you Rag(whoah, that must be a first :P)

Especially with the Illithid powers, iirc they used to be 1 instead of -1, the lowest possible number on the dice meaning Larian don't want us to fail on them. But since a 1 in BG3 dialogue is a critical fail I guess they changed it to the current -1. I don't know if the dice roll in those dialogue options is just placeholder for now which is strange since class dialogue do not have them. Why not just code them like class dialogue instead?
Originally Posted by Elebhra
Well we roll for them because we can fail them on nat 1. If Nat 1 wasn't a thing, then I agree, there's no need for rolling for it.
Exactly ...
And that is the scenario GM4Him was advocating ... if nat 1 would not mean autofail ... wich by RAW rules should not (as far as i understand it) there would be no reason for rolling theese low dif dices, since you will sucess no matter what anyway.

//Edit:
Originally Posted by PrivateRaccoon
I agree with you Rag(whoah, that must be a first :P)
Nah, second at best ... i have seen this sentence before. laugh
Originally Posted by robertthebard
because nobody's perfect.

You might not be but my sorceress is the definition of perfection. Except that she has a nasty habit of rolling herself in mud every 50 meters apparently...thanks for that one Larian :P
In my example, I was not talking about taking 10. I was referring to a very skilled champion soldier who has killed many big enemies... he has +10 skill and trips on the stairs twice during a very epic battle simply because he got unlucky and rolled a 1 two times. Yes. I absolutely advocate changing such rules when they make players feel like their super tough champion warriors are morons who trip on their own shoelaces and can't even ascend a staircase during a very important battle.

On the flip side, imagine being in combat and you can't ever miss an enemy no matter what you roll. How boring would that combat be? 0 chance of missing.

Or, better yet, take it to the other end. 0 chance of hitting. The enemy has 27 AC because of buffs and such, and you can't hit them because you can't even roll a 20 and hit with your bonuses. GG. Thanks for playing. You're dead, no matter what.

The point of the Nat 20/Nat 1 for combat is so that you never get stuck in a critical combat situation that you can't win or that you can't lose. The point of not having this for skill checks and other rolls is so that you CAN have situations that are impossible for characters. That's my point.

Imagine fighting a boss enemy and all your allies are incapacitated. The boss only has 5 HP remaining, but she's buffed herself so her AC is 24. Your To Hit is +3. 0% chance of winning. It's all down to you, but you can't kill her because your To Hit is only +3.

And again, imagine someone with 0 skill at picking locks. In fact, they have a -1 because their ability score is 8. Rolls a Nat 20 and succeeds in picking a lock that has a DC of 25. Meanwhile, the expert lockpicker in your party with +2 Proficiency and +2 for Expertise and +3 for ability score bonus - so a +7 in total - fails to pick a lock with DC 5 because they rolled a 1. The lock is a baby lock you can twist with a screwdriver, but - well, you know, you rolled a 1, so you stand there like a moron staring at the screwdriver lock while scratching your head. Meanwhile, your buddy with the -1 rolls a 6 and succeeds. "Um. Having an off day, Expert? Did you have a brain fart? Can't pick a screwdriver lock you could actually use your fingernail to also twist?"
I think following the P&P papers is best, so natural 20/1 being auto miss/hit in combat is fine, while it shouldn't be used for skill checks - at least not, for skill checks that are not performed under acute pressure.

Generally, I wouldn't agree that a hit chance of 0% or 100% is a bad thing in general - XCOM has 100% hit chances and combat is fine - better than almost any RPG with turn-based combat in my opinion.

Of course, you can construe a scenario where a hit chance of 0% puts you in an impossible situation, but is that really different than being an almost dead melee fighter who isn't close enough to attack the wizard who is going to cast magic missile next? Or when you start the round with a damage-over-time effect (like a burn), are almost dead and can't possibly do enough damage in one turn to end the fight? Impossible situations already exist in combat. The same scenario you describe has slight variations which are actually interesting: imagine you only win the fight because you counterspelled the boss boss. Or you manage to survive for 2 rounds and dispel the buff in the first round only to kill the boss in the 2nd. Or buff yourself, or use an ability that increases your chance to hit for one attack.

But again, this is a D&D game, the rules are fine, they should use them here.
Originally Posted by PrivateRaccoon
Originally Posted by robertthebard
because nobody's perfect.

You might not be but my sorceress is the definition of perfection. Except that she has a nasty habit of rolling herself in mud every 50 meters apparently...thanks for that one Larian :P

Maybe she's tripping over her own feet??? crazy
Originally Posted by PrivateRaccoon
Originally Posted by robertthebard
because nobody's perfect.

You might not be but my sorceress is the definition of perfection. Except that she has a nasty habit of rolling herself in mud every 50 meters apparently...thanks for that one Larian :P
laugh up
As I view it, Natural 1s miss on attacks because you're trying to attack something that is actively avoiding trying to be hit, yet has a static AC. Whereas skill checks are against static things that can't fight back (lock, recalling lore, tightrope) or are contested checks. For the later, the "contested" part allows for the enemy to roll high and succeed at, e.g., dodging a grapple against an expert grappler. Similarly, a Nat 1 on an attack roll represents the (possibly unlikely) chance your opponent successfully dodges/blocks your blow.

For the same reason, I think Nat 1s and 20s should be autofails/successes for Saving Throws. You're rolling against a static DC, but you're actively trying to avoid an effect created by someone else, so it's actually a contest.
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
As I view it, Natural 1s miss on attacks because you're trying to attack something that is actively avoiding trying to be hit, yet has a static AC. Whereas skill checks are against static things that can't fight back (lock, recalling lore, tightrope) or are contested checks. For the later, the "contested" part allows for the enemy to roll high and succeed at, e.g., dodging a grapple against an expert grappler. Similarly, a Nat 1 on an attack roll represents the (possibly unlikely) chance your opponent successfully dodges/blocks your blow.

For the same reason, I think Nat 1s and 20s should be autofails/successes for Saving Throws. You're rolling against a static DC, but you're actively trying to avoid an effect created by someone else, so it's actually a contest.

So, I was riding my '77 Gold Wing down the highway, and got passed by a semi going the other way, and was nearly blown off the road. I wonder, what would happen if I was walking a tightrope, and a gust of wind came up? Is it your position that a character can be so good at balance that a sudden cross wind couldn't dislodge them from a rope? I've seen people get blown off walls, walking a 3 1/2 in. wide "tightrope". I wonder how they would have faired on a 3/8 in. rope?
Originally Posted by robertthebard
So, I was riding my '77 Gold Wing down the highway, and got passed by a semi going the other way, and was nearly blown off the road. I wonder, what would happen if I was walking a tightrope, and a gust of wind came up? Is it your position that a character can be so good at balance that a sudden cross wind couldn't dislodge them from a rope? I've seen people get blown off walls, walking a 3 1/2 in. wide "tightrope". I wonder how they would have faired on a 3/8 in. rope?
If they fell off, then 1d20+their acrobatics bonus must have been less than the DC of staying on, considering the wind and the rope width and any other factors.

If they had an acrobatics bonus of +15 (+5 Dex, expertise with a PB of +5 for an additional+10), then it would be impossible for them to have fallen off any rope with a DC of less than 16 because they are simply too skilled to fail at such a (for them) simple task. A "1" on the d20 might mean they wobble a lot, but they'd stay on.

You also can't directly translate D&D to real-world. High level D&D characters are god-like heroes. I doubt you've met anyone IRL with an acrobatics bonus of +15.
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
Originally Posted by robertthebard
So, I was riding my '77 Gold Wing down the highway, and got passed by a semi going the other way, and was nearly blown off the road. I wonder, what would happen if I was walking a tightrope, and a gust of wind came up? Is it your position that a character can be so good at balance that a sudden cross wind couldn't dislodge them from a rope? I've seen people get blown off walls, walking a 3 1/2 in. wide "tightrope". I wonder how they would have faired on a 3/8 in. rope?
If they fell off, then 1d20+their acrobatics bonus must have been less than the DC of staying on, considering the wind and the rope width and any other factors.

If they had an acrobatics bonus of +15 (+5 Dex, expertise with a PB of +5 for an additional+10), then it would be impossible for them to have fallen off any rope with a DC of less than 16 because they are simply too skilled to fail at such a (for them) simple task. A "1" on the d20 might mean they wobble a lot, but they'd stay on.

You also can't directly translate D&D to real-world. High level D&D characters are god-like heroes. I doubt you've met anyone IRL with an acrobatics bonus of +15.

This is exactly why there should always be a "fail state". So they're "godlike heroes" that can resist a 20 mph crosswind while standing on a 3/8 in diameter rope? My suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Even in DnD based novels, they didn't have this godlike ability, including one in the Dragonlance series that actually was a God.

I don't know if my acrobatics bonus was +15 or not, but I survived being blown out of the back of a pickup at 45 miles per hour, with only some road rash to show for it, thanks to my martial arts training. It's amazing the things people can do in real life, when they've trained for it. But I don't see them walking that tightrope in a 20 mph crosswind.
Originally Posted by robertthebard
This is exactly why there should always be a "fail state". So they're "godlike heroes" that can resist a 20 mph crosswind while standing on a 3/8 in diameter rope? My suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Even in DnD based novels, they didn't have this godlike ability, including one in the Dragonlance series that actually was a God.

I don't know if my acrobatics bonus was +15 or not, but I survived being blown out of the back of a pickup at 45 miles per hour, with only some road rash to show for it, thanks to my martial arts training. It's amazing the things people can do in real life, when they've trained for it. But I don't see them walking that tightrope in a 20 mph crosswind.
If you think a check should be extremely difficult, then just set the DC to higher. Your "walking across a tightrope in a 20 mph crosswind" would much more appropriately be a DC ~25 Acrobatics Check ("Very Hard"). Given that the maximum skill bonus in D&D 5e is ~20 (+6 Stat, +12 expertise, +2 magic items), even this PC would still fail such a check 20% of the time, including on a 1. Almost all PCs would fail a higher percent of the time. No need for 1 to be an auto-failure.

Edit: Similarly, then your DC to remain mostly unhurt in that situation was less than [21 plus your bonuses], allowing success on without a 20 being an auto-pass. A spread of 1-20 on the d20 is HUGE considering that most checks range from 10 (easy) to 25 (very hard). This d20 randomness helps to represent the few amazingly unlikely achievements, whether that's lucky or unlucky.
Originally Posted by PrivateRaccoon
Originally Posted by JandK
Tommy is a master swordsman. He rolls a one and misses the enemy. "Oh, well, you can't hit them all," he thinks.

Then he rolls another one and misses again. This time he gets mad.

So we make a rule that he no longer has to roll to hit because it's beneath him.

But now you're talking about attack rolls not ability checks. Sure, on pure principles they are the same I guess but my understanding of OP's request is to remove the critical 1/20 in ability checks, not attack rolls.

I know that the post is talking about ability checks. But it is the same logic, which points out the weakness of the argument being presented.

What it comes down to, in my opinion, is that some folks don't want to fail at trivial tasks. Maybe they feel better always winning at those things, or maybe they don't want to waste the time rolling. All that's fine, but that should be the argument. Not some dressed up bit of illogic.

Obviously, experts can fail at their own craft sometimes. It happens every day. This is common sense.
It's not about "whaa! I don't like to fail.".

Several things go into the logic behind the rule. Yes. Of course even experts fail at mundane things, and in TT you are free to play however you want. You could homebrew a rule that makes an auto failure even harder. Roll a 1 and roll again. Only if you fail a second time do you legit fail. Whatever.

The point is, some things just make the game more fun and less mean. It's no fun for many players to roll a 1 and fail even if you have +10 skill. Shoot. Many players don't even like it in combat.

But again, if you don't allow for SOME form of auto-hit in combat, you can strip all ability to ever beat certain enemies, etc. Frustrating players is not being a good DM. Better to err on the side of being player friendly
Originally Posted by GM4Him
It's not about "whaa! I don't like to fail.".

Several things go into the logic behind the rule. Yes. Of course even experts fail at mundane things, and in TT you are free to play however you want. You could homebrew a rule that makes an auto failure even harder. Roll a 1 and roll again. Only if you fail a second time do you legit fail. Whatever.

The point is, some things just make the game more fun and less mean. It's no fun for many players to roll a 1 and fail even if you have +10 skill. Shoot. Many players don't even like it in combat.

But again, if you don't allow for SOME form of auto-hit in combat, you can strip all ability to ever beat certain enemies, etc. Frustrating players is not being a good DM. Better to err on the side of being player friendly

So, which is it? Because in this very post you have just contradicted yourself. If it's not about "I don't like to fail", why say preventing a fail state is "less mean"? Where does that even come from? Failing, or a chance to, is part of the game. If it wasn't, there wouldn't be a need for dice rolls at all. That's not "player friendly", that's "a certain kind of player friendly". The rest of us understand that a fail state isn't "being mean", but reflects that there is a chance that you fail to do something, whether that's in combat, or a skill check. Note here that's it is called a "skill check" for a reason.
The past few posts have been focused on how even experts can occasionally fail, which has been argued to mean that Nat 1s should auto-fail. However, the opposite scenario is also important - should a Nat 20 auto succeed on all skill checks? And the answer to that is an even stronger NO, of course not.

- To take the tightrope scenario, let's walk across a 1 millimeter-width and 1 mile-long tightrope in rapidly changing 5,000 mph winds. The DM sets that DC to 300. Obviously a character shouldn't succeed on that 5% of the time.
- You can jump your strength score in 5e, but if you want to jump farther it's a DM-determined Athletics check. A player wants to jump 2 miles up and 10 miles far. Again, they obviously shouldn't succeed on that 5% of the time.
- Hoard of the Dragon Queen (an officially published 5e Adventure Module) sets a Strength Check DC to 70. Why would WotC use 70 (instead of, maybe, 30) if they wanted level-7 characters to be able to succeed without using magic?

A natural 20 on an attack roll represents the best hit a character can do, which is a lucky or skilled hard hit. They've bypassed the defenses of a fallible creature. Because HP is abstracted in 5e, you could even say that such a lucky hit is actually only doing stamina or armor damage.
A natural 20 on a skill check also represents the best a character can possibly do, but this does not allow them to do impossible things (oft-repeated example is jump to the moon). Physics, unlike creatures, aren't fallible and can't make mistakes you can exploit. If a DC 30 check is defined as "Nearly Impossible," then a DC 35 (or 40, or 70) check should be "Impossible." Not "happens 5% of the time, regardless of whether the DC is 40 or 70 or 1000"
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
- To take the tightrope scenario, let's walk across a 1 millimeter-width and 1 mile-long tightrope in rapidly changing 5,000 mph winds. The DM sets that DC to 300. Obviously a character shouldn't succeed on that 5% of the time.
- You can jump your strength score in 5e, but if you want to jump farther it's a DM-determined Athletics check. A player wants to jump 2 miles up and 10 miles far. Again, they obviously shouldn't succeed on that 5% of the time.
- Hoard of the Dragon Queen (an officially published 5e Adventure Module) sets a Strength Check DC to 70. Why would WotC use 70 (instead of, maybe, 30) if they wanted level-7 characters to be able to succeed without using magic?

All of this is misdirection. A reasonable person doesn't bother setting a DC for jumping to the moon or surfing on clouds.

What's being done has to still be in the realm of possibility.

Sometimes people do surprising and amazing things. It's the sort of thing where, afterwards, a person says, "Wow, I couldn't have done that if I was trying."

Is one in twenty too often for real life? Sure. But we're approximating in a fantasy world using a D20. The statistical long run is hardly noticeable in the here and now. Additionally, the character doesn't roll for *everything* the character does, only the highlights that are featured in the story.

In other words, I think we're somewhat overthinking this issue.

Originally Posted by mrfuji3
A natural 20 on an attack roll represents the best hit a character can do, which is a lucky or skilled hard hit. They've bypassed the defenses of a fallible creature. Because HP is abstracted in 5e, you could even say that such a lucky hit is actually only doing stamina or armor damage.

So make the AC 70. Or 1,000. It's the same argument.

*

For what it's worth, I don't care. I have no skin the auto success or failure of the rolls. Whatever. I just don't think the issue is being argued fairly. That's all.
Originally Posted by JandK
All of this is misdirection. A reasonable person doesn't bother setting a DC for jumping to the moon or surfing on clouds.

What's being done has to still be in the realm of possibility.
Yes, exactly! Some things are impossible, and therefore by definition shouldn't be possible 5% of the time.

I agree that players shouldn't even have to roll for impossible tasks (except maybe to determine the degree of failure), but Larian doesn't know what every character's bonus will be. So if they have a DC 35 (or 25, or 30) check, they need to let you roll even if your bonus is +0. But such a character shouldn't succeed on a 20; that just cheapens the effort another player spent getting their bonus to +16

Originally Posted by JandK
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
A natural 20 on an attack roll represents the best hit a character can do, which is a lucky or skilled hard hit. They've bypassed the defenses of a fallible creature. Because HP is abstracted in 5e, you could even say that such a lucky hit is actually only doing stamina or armor damage.

So make the AC 70. Or 1,000. It's the same argument.
It's not the same argument because AC is actually representing a contested check, but is simplified so that the players & the DM don't have to "roll for defense." The enemy is actively trying to not be hit, whereas a tightrope isn't actively trying to shake someone off.
AC is effectively taking 10 on a check: 10 + armor + dex. Instead (and as some other rpgs do), the attacker could roll 1d20+attack bonus, and the defender could roll 1d20+AC bonus. The "natural 20=auto hit" rule simulates the defender rolling low on their d20.

E.g., An enemy has AC 30 and you have a to-hit bonus of 9. Without the auto-success-on-natural-20 rule, that player couldn't hit the enemy.
But in reality the enemy is trying to not be hit, and could mess up. We swap over to the 'contested attack' system, and the enemy rolls a 2 (so AC check of 2+20=22) and the player rolls a 19 (to-hit- of 19+9=28), which means they've hit!

And because of Bounded Accuracy, pretty much all ACs will be between 7 and 30, so we don't worry about edge cases like someone having an AC of 50. Practically by definition, it's impossible for someone to have that large of an AC in 5e. But it's *not* impossible for an ability check to be that high, because, as you say, some things aren't in the realm of possibility.
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
Originally Posted by JandK
All of this is misdirection. A reasonable person doesn't bother setting a DC for jumping to the moon or surfing on clouds.

What's being done has to still be in the realm of possibility.
Yes, exactly! Some things are impossible, and therefore by definition shouldn't be possible 5% of the time.

I agree that players shouldn't even have to roll for impossible tasks (except maybe to determine the degree of failure), but Larian doesn't know what every character's bonus will be. So if they have a DC 35 (or 25, or 30) check, they need to let you roll even if your bonus is +0. But such a character shouldn't succeed on a 20; that just cheapens the effort another player spent getting their bonus to +16

Originally Posted by JandK
Originally Posted by mrfuji3
A natural 20 on an attack roll represents the best hit a character can do, which is a lucky or skilled hard hit. They've bypassed the defenses of a fallible creature. Because HP is abstracted in 5e, you could even say that such a lucky hit is actually only doing stamina or armor damage.

So make the AC 70. Or 1,000. It's the same argument.
It's not the same argument because AC is actually representing a contested check, but is simplified so that the players & the DM don't have to "roll for defense." The enemy is actively trying to not be hit, whereas a tightrope isn't actively trying to shake someone off.
AC is effectively taking 10 on a check: 10 + armor + dex. Instead (and as some other rpgs do), the attacker could roll 1d20+attack bonus, and the defender could roll 1d20+AC bonus. The "natural 20=auto hit" rule simulates the defender rolling low on their d20.

E.g., An enemy has AC 30 and you have a to-hit bonus of 9. Without the auto-success-on-natural-20 rule, that player couldn't hit the enemy.
But in reality the enemy is trying to not be hit, and could mess up. We swap over to the 'contested attack' system, and the enemy rolls a 2 (so AC check of 2+20=22) and the player rolls a 19 (to-hit- of 19+9=28), which means they've hit!

And because of Bounded Accuracy, pretty much all ACs will be between 7 and 30, so we don't worry about edge cases like someone having an AC of 50. Practically by definition, it's impossible for someone to have that large of an AC in 5e. But it's *not* impossible for an ability check to be that high, because, as you say, some things aren't in the realm of possibility.

...and you've answered your "what about" right here, in your first line. If it's impossible, that's what the DM is going to tell the players, at least, the good ones will. Others will say "Well, it's not in the PHB, so go ahead".
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