Secret skill checks

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
lord_bosco
Shrew
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Secret skill checks

Postby lord_bosco » Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:02 am

One philosophical issue I wrestle with as a GM are die rolls for tasks where the player characters would not necessarily know if they failed. The classic example is perception checks. When players know that they've failed a perception check, it gives away too much information -- they now know that there is some important detail that they missed. The usual solution is for the GM to roll such checks in secret and only reveal as much info to the players as he thinks appropriate. This can even give the GM an appropriate opportunity to feed the players misinformation. The problem is I don't like taking die rolls out of the hands of the players. I try to compensate by making sure there are plenty of die rolls that the players do get to throw themselves.
Linwood
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
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Re: Secret skill checks

Postby Linwood » Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:28 am

I don’t usually do secret checks for the PCs and it seems to work fine. But YMMV....
AnotherDilbert
Cosmic Mongoose
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Re: Secret skill checks

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:30 am

Use a static Perception of 7+ DMs and let the DM (pre-)roll to see how difficult it was to notice?

It cuts down on the number of rolls, and still allows random spotting.


I have nothing against secret rolls in general, it's better than the overcomplicated "some truth" nonsense in MT. KISS.
Sigtrygg
Greater Spotted Mongoose
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Re: Secret skill checks

Postby Sigtrygg » Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:48 am

Don't tell them the target number. Get them to make perception checks even when there is little of note to find. They will then get used to the idea that there isn't always something to find with a perception check, even a successful one.

Better yet - do not hide important plot details behind a single task roll and the players will stop relying on perception tasks
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ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Secret skill checks

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:13 am

lord_bosco wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:02 am
One philosophical issue I wrestle with as a GM are die rolls for tasks where the player characters would not necessarily know if they failed. The classic example is perception checks. When players know that they've failed a perception check, it gives away too much information -- they now know that there is some important detail that they missed. The usual solution is for the GM to roll such checks in secret and only reveal as much info to the players as he thinks appropriate. This can even give the GM an appropriate opportunity to feed the players misinformation. The problem is I don't like taking die rolls out of the hands of the players. I try to compensate by making sure there are plenty of die rolls that the players do get to throw themselves.
I'll run a game for players where the Difficulty is unknown to them when they roll a task or skill check. But I have the players decide that is a thing first before starting a game. The same goes for Effects. I won't reveal an entire Effect to the players if they choose to be in such a game. "The safe opens, but..." I leave out the "but" part when narrating.
Condottiere
Warlord Mongoose
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Re: Secret skill checks

Postby Condottiere » Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:00 am

You hypnotized the guard to let you through the door and forget about it; you fail the roll [the target number was actually higher, though the dungeon master doesn't mention that], but he decides to play along, and then raise a silent alarm.
Saladman
Stoat
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Re: Secret skill checks

Postby Saladman » Sat Dec 14, 2019 6:40 am

lord_bosco wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:02 am
I try to compensate by making sure there are plenty of die rolls that the players do get to throw themselves.
I have no qualms about rolling Recon or Stealth for a player in secret. I take the opposite approach though and try to minimize the number of rolls behind or in front the screen. I don't ask for skill checks unless the players are being shot at, opposed in their efforts, or working under adverse circumstances (unskilled, not enough time, not the right tools, etc.). That's my own paraphrase of the language on page 48 of 1e, or page 58 of 2e though I see they've watered it down there to only mention "consequences for failure," which is a shorter and weaker list than in 1e.

Applying that to "perception", if there's something a character can see I just tell them what they see. If the fence is electrified I don't make everybody roll perception, I say "and the wires are mounted on those little rubber knobs, what do you do?" At that point the player can make a decision in game, not roll dice to have me tell them the correct answer.

Finally, and at risk of reading too much into a word choice, I note there are no generic rules for "perception" in the rulebook. Obviously there's Recon for spotting ambushes, and anything else out of place, and depending on circumstances I'd take Investigate, Streetwise or Survival. But there's no master list of Spot and Listen DCs as there is in a certain other game, and I take that omission as deliberate, or at least as functional.
Moppy

Re: Secret skill checks

Postby Moppy » Sat Dec 14, 2019 10:57 am

lord_bosco wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:02 am
One philosophical issue I wrestle with as a GM are die rolls for tasks where the player characters would not necessarily know if they failed.
It is not really a GM issue. It’s a play group issue. Just ask them what they feel about it, and I suspect the problem will revolve itself.
smiths121
Mongoose
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Re: Secret skill checks

Postby smiths121 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:43 pm

Could not see this in MGT 2. Traveller V1, had the uncertain task. This is where the GM rolls 1 dice, and the player rolls the other dice. For the typical task the player knows how to take the described result with a level of certainty/uncertainty.

I quite like these if I do not want the players to be totally aware of the outcome.

Simon

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