It's not about failing. It's about the check results being too random and too little influenced by character skill.

I don't feel like a swingy d20 does that.* For me it's about feel and my question is "does this feel like a tabletop session". I have tried a number of alternatives to DnD (and I would count PoE in that group) and those systems just to don't feel as fun despite their putative improvements on DnD. Now I could make a case for why 2nd ed does this better . . . but 2nd is dead and buried.

Now I do agree with *mrfuji completely -- make failing fun, let the 'help' action be used for certain checks like breaking down doors, etc. And @EMC_V is also spot on. Three checks in row is too much, that's 'jerk DM' territory. It's hard to avoid killing Nettie without metagaming.

Long live the d20! Gygax will come again. All hail the once and future DM!


A bit off topic but I do wonder if the people who are frustrated are not spending points on charisma and persuasion. Or not using guidance or friends? I tried Khaga with a medium charisma tiefling and had some ridiculously high score to beat but I think my high int / high cha / persuasion skill drow character had to roll above 10 or 11? Can't remember. The skill checks were put into 2nd edition to correct the 'charisma is my dump stat' and 'I'm a mage so I know everything' problems. The skill checks were always designed to make you use those precious points on scores that had no impact on combat.