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    Question Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    When we first started playing D&D, my players were whiny little bitches that threatened to quit because their characters were losing. In an attempt to remedy this, I strongly urged them to start using knowledge checks, so they'd have a better idea of what they're up against so they won't get involved in situations they can't handle. Ever since they got used to using them, they've come to abuse them. Every time they encounter a boss, say, a construct... every single character makes a knowledge check against it, even the ones that aren't trained in arcana or even have a decent bonus to it, all so they can learn as much about the boss's powers and weaknesses as possible.

    I can't take knowledge checks away from them, so to avoid constant dice rolls, I have started using "passive knowledge", similar to perception and insight, where I just tell the character with the highest appropriate skill bonus what they already know. After all, it makes little sense to make a character roll just to think about something that should otherwise be common knowledge to them. The exception is when passive knowledge isn't enough, and they want to roll in the hopes of getting something higher than 10. If that fails, however, the others will start rolling, even though their chances of exceeding the other are very low. This will continue until everyone has rolled, or until someone rolled high enough to learn everything.

    This topic has two points. The first is the above issue of everyone rolling knowledge checks, and me asking how to fix it.

    The second is in regard to making knowledge checks themselves less meta. In vanilla 4e, the rules for knowledge checks state that when the moderate DC of the target's level is met, the player learns the creature's name, type, and keywords, and the hard DC teaches them its powers, resistances, and vulnerabilities. When a player character "learns" these things, it is presumably retconned that the character "overheard" these things while in the last town, or "read about them" at some point in their lives. But if it's a brand new creature that no one's ever seen before, being able to determine its powers just by looking at it seems extremely farfetched. Furthermore, the idea of learning someone's name without having heard or read it anywhere is ridiculous, and there's no way the player character would know what is meant when he learns that an uncivilized monster is a "soldier" or a "solo".

    The only solutions I can think of so far are to simply re-word everything. For level, I was thinking of borrowing Final Fantasy XI's method of monster checks, which is to simply describe how strong the monster looks compared to you (i.e., "decent challenge", "incredibly tough", "even match", "too weak to be worthwhile", etc.). For everything else, I've resolved to stop mentioning certain things, like the type of dice used in their attacks, and to use feet for distance instead of squares.

    Are there any better suggestions?
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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    When we first started playing D&D, my players were whiny little bitches that threatened to quit because their characters were losing.
    This is the root of all the problems you're having. If your players can't stand losing, then they're going to use everything you or the rules allow in order to prevent it. They would probably agree with you about how odd and lame the use of knowledge checks is, but if they don't do what they're allowed to do, they'll lose. Hopefully you're not calling them names when they lose, which would tend to make them even more averse to it.

    It's possible to have failure conditions that players aren't completely against encountering (as long as they aren't actually shamed out-of-game for them). If you work with your players to find out what failure conditions they're willing to risk incurring, then you can probably worry less about this kind of thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridai View Post
    In an attempt to remedy this, I strongly urged them to start using knowledge checks, so they'd have a better idea of what they're up against so they won't get involved in situations they can't handle. Ever since they got used to using them, they've come to abuse them. Every time they encounter a boss, say, a construct... every single character makes a knowledge check against it, even the ones that aren't trained in arcana or even have a decent bonus to it, all so they can learn as much about the boss's powers and weaknesses as possible.
    Yep, no reason why they shouldn't. That's not abuse.

    Another route you can take is to avoid making encounters that can be short circuited by a knowledge check. Don't use monsters that have easy counters like fire. Create encounters in which knowledge checks can make a little easier, but can't trivialize. At that point, you needn't even care if they roll knowledge checks. Me, I let the players know anything they want about the creatures, without needing to roll. Doesn't matter to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridai View Post
    I can't take knowledge checks away from them, so to avoid constant dice rolls, I have started using "passive knowledge", similar to perception and insight, where I just tell the character with the highest appropriate skill bonus what they already know. After all, it makes little sense to make a character roll just to think about something that should otherwise be common knowledge to them. The exception is when passive knowledge isn't enough, and they want to roll in the hopes of getting something higher than 10. If that fails, however, the others will start rolling, even though their chances of exceeding the other are very low. This will continue until everyone has rolled, or until someone rolled high enough to learn everything.
    Well, yeah.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridai View Post
    The second is in regard to making knowledge checks themselves less meta. In vanilla 4e, the rules for knowledge checks state that when the moderate DC of the target's level is met, the player learns the creature's name, type, and keywords, and the hard DC teaches them its powers, resistances, and vulnerabilities. When a player character "learns" these things, it is presumably retconned that the character "overheard" these things while in the last town, or "read about them" at some point in their lives.
    Or something else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridai View Post
    But if it's a brand new creature that no one's ever seen before, being able to determine its powers just by looking at it seems extremely farfetched.
    As far as I'm aware, there is no such creature in the game. Every one of them is a known entity, in some way, about which books have been written, rumors generated, songs written, etc. The game assumes that there's information to be learned about them, therefore the rules don't make any exceptions.

    If you're making creatures that, for story purposes, are really completely unknown, then feel free to tell the players that knowledge checks can't be performed for that creature. That's your prerogative as GM. However, I recommend that you get buy in from the players on this. If you jump them with a creature that has some tricky mystery about it to be figured out by the players, and it beats them, you're likely to make the players unhappy. You. Ask yourself if you want to be responsible for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridai View Post
    Furthermore, the idea of learning someone's name without having heard or read it anywhere is ridiculous,
    Again, I'm sure the designers would agree, but you'll notice that the monsters in the manual don't have specific names, implying the rules weren't written with that in mind. Nothing requires you to tell the players an individual's name, just the type of creature they are. Mention this to your players, and chances are they'll agree. Screw them over with that, though, and you're likely to get push back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridai View Post
    and there's no way the player character would know what is meant when he learns that an uncivilized monster is a "soldier" or a "solo".
    Of course not, but that's just picking nits. Just like the PCs don't know anything about "HP" but do see the results of them being lost or running low, monster types like that would obviously translate into something that made sense to the characters. I don't know what, exactly, but it's not really necessary to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridai View Post
    The only solutions I can think of so far are to simply re-word everything. For level, I was thinking of borrowing Final Fantasy XI's method of monster checks, which is to simply describe how strong the monster looks compared to you (i.e., "decent challenge", "incredibly tough", "even match", "too weak to be worthwhile", etc.). For everything else, I've resolved to stop mentioning certain things, like the type of dice used in their attacks, and to use feet for distance instead of squares.

    Are there any better suggestions?
    Well, I like I said, stop making it so that you have to care what the players or the characters know. It's possible to make challenging, fun encounters even if the players know everything about the opponents. Try doing that.

    That will take away a great deal of the in-combat use of knowledge checks, but there's a lot more to them anyway. Make them useful in skill challenges and other situations. In skill challenges, players can't just spam rolls, or they risk failure. That said, it's not really clear why just thinking about something makes the situation more complicated, so I recommend not calling for knowledge checks unless the PCs actually take some kind of action that can clearly fail. If they actually have to do some investigating or researching before making a knowledge check, or have to try something out to see if it works, then failure has consequences.

    I hope this helps.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beta Centauri View Post
    Hopefully you're not calling them names when they lose, which would tend to make them even more averse to it.
    My group of friends uses insults lightly and in a friendly, joking manner. I never insult them seriously (to their faces).

    Yep, no reason why they shouldn't. That's not abuse.
    But it can slow the game down, and time isn't something we tend to have a surplus of.

    Me, I let the players know anything they want about the creatures, without needing to roll. Doesn't matter to me.
    Such a concept is completely alien to me. How on earth do fights like that play out? I mean, if the heroes know that a monster uses a super-powered attack upon being bloodied, they'll move to cover before that happens. It's like playing a video game with the strategy guide in your hands. But, maybe it works better for a game that doesn't (always) have save points or continues.

    On the other hand, if the heroes knew everything about every enemy all the time, it'd make one of their hard-earned magic items, the Lens of Descernment, completely useless (it adds a +10 to one knowledge check). I don't think they'd appreciate that.

    As far as I'm aware, there is no such creature in the game. Every one of them is a known entity, in some way, about which books have been written, rumors generated, songs written, etc. The game assumes that there's information to be learned about them, therefore the rules don't make any exceptions.

    If you're making creatures that, for story purposes, are really completely unknown, then feel free to tell the players that knowledge checks can't be performed for that creature.
    We play using a very house-ruled version of 4e, and since I'm an artist, I can make/draw up my own creatures on a whim, so I tend to do that very often. I also make unique NPC's with unique powers and classes all the time. I do this because I have some very curious players who'll look up things about an existing monster they've never heard of on the internet in order to "cheat" at knowledge checks, which wouldn't be a problem if they were better at avoiding out-of-character knowledge. There are just some situations where knowing an enemy's powers in advance just wouldn't be possible, especially when one of your characters was recently born from a rip in space-time and has no knowledge of the real world.

    Again, I'm sure the designers would agree, but you'll notice that the monsters in the manual don't have specific names, implying the rules weren't written with that in mind. Nothing requires you to tell the players an individual's name, just the type of creature they are.
    I'd already considered that much, and I can't think of any situations where not knowing a random bandit's name would screw them over, unless the bandit was important, in which case I'd give him a unique portrait, among other things.

    Of course not, but that's just picking nits. Just like the PCs don't know anything about "HP" but do see the results of them being lost or running low, monster types like that would obviously translate into something that made sense to the characters. I don't know what, exactly, but it's not really necessary to.
    I actually just discussed this with two of my players. My concern was that using words like "level" and "HP" was breaking the players' immersion. They, however, claim that it doesn't, and avoiding such a thing would just make the information confusing. I'm inclined to believe them on this topic.

    Well, I like I said, stop making it so that you have to care what the players or the characters know. It's possible to make challenging, fun encounters even if the players know everything about the opponents. Try doing that.

    That will take away a great deal of the in-combat use of knowledge checks, but there's a lot more to them anyway. Make them useful in skill challenges and other situations. In skill challenges, players can't just spam rolls, or they risk failure. That said, it's not really clear why just thinking about something makes the situation more complicated, so I recommend not calling for knowledge checks unless the PCs actually take some kind of action that can clearly fail. If they actually have to do some investigating or researching before making a knowledge check, or have to try something out to see if it works, then failure has consequences.

    I hope this helps.
    I, personally, can't think of any way to make an exciting encounter in which the enemy's mind is basically an open book. There'd be no surprises. As for making knowledge checks have a cost of failure? I can't fathom what that cost could be. A temporary headache? That causes daze for one round? I'm all for avoiding checks if there's nothing at stake, but knowledge checks were always a different ball game since the only penalty I can think of for failing is "you don't know".

    As for skill challenges, we've never actually done one. We've always thought they were stupid since day one. My characters shouldn't have to wait their turn just to talk. I might have a completely bastardized view of skill challenges since everything I know about them is from reading the Rules Compendium.

    So, anyway, thanks for taking the time to respond. Next time I see my players (tomorrow), I'll talk to them about the "monster omniscience" thing and see what they think.
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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    My group of friends uses insults lightly and in a friendly, joking manner. I never insult them seriously (to their faces).
    Still, even teasing can get to be too much, to the point that people seriously try to avoid it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    But it can slow the game down, and time isn't something we tend to have a surplus of.
    Okay, then focus on that, rather than supposed "abuse."

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    Such a concept is completely alien to me. How on earth do fights like that play out?
    Really well. Very intense and exciting. The players know what they're facing, and even then they aren't sure they can beat it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    I mean, if the heroes know that a monster uses a super-powered attack upon being bloodied, they'll move to cover before that happens.
    Good. That's what I want them to do, because I've designed the encounter so that moving to cover is costly, either because the cover is hard to reach, or painful to use, or because there are other monsters whose job it is to punish players who try to move to cover. The players can choose whatever they want, but there's not likely to be a complete counter to what's in the encounter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    It's like playing a video game with the strategy guide in your hands.
    Not at all, because the monster tactics aren't programmed in. You, the GM, get to decide how the monster behaves. Is it almost bloodied? Then violate the defender's mark: if he misses, great, free attack. If he hits, maybe he bloodies you and... great, free attack.

    A lot of the monster actions are "programmed" (this happens, then this happens), but there's a lot more to running them than that.

    And check with your players: maybe they do like to play games with the strategy guide in their hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    But, maybe it works better for a game that doesn't (always) have save points or continues.
    I recommend that you stop thinking of it like a video game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    On the other hand, if the heroes knew everything about every enemy all the time, it'd make one of their hard-earned magic items, the Lens of Descernment, completely useless (it adds a +10 to one knowledge check). I don't think they'd appreciate that.
    Then let them sell it for full price. They only got it because they thought they needed it.

    And, like I said, monster knowledge checks are only one, rather minor, function of knowledge checks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    We play using a very house-ruled version of 4e,
    That maybe be contributing to this issue as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    and since I'm an artist, I can make/draw up my own creatures on a whim, so I tend to do that very often. I also make unique NPC's with unique powers and classes all the time. I do this because I have some very curious players who'll look up things about an existing monster they've never heard of on the internet in order to "cheat" at knowledge checks,
    Okay, look: there's a clear disconnect here. You want to surprise the players, but they don't want to be surprised. That leads to you having to jump through hoops to try to surprise them, and them boosting their knowledge skills and spamming rolls so they're not surprised.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    which wouldn't be a problem if they were better at avoiding out-of-character knowledge.
    It's also not a problem, if you stop caring if they don't avoid out-of-character knowledge. I don't care if my players use out-of-character knowledge. The challenges don't depend on them not using out-of-character knowledge. At the same time, the in- and out-of-game penalties for losing are not all that bad in my games, so there's also very little incentive for them to "cheat," and so they don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    There are just some situations where knowing an enemy's powers in advance just wouldn't be possible, especially when one of your characters was recently born from a rip in space-time and has no knowledge of the real world.
    Fine, but consistency are realism are not apparently the primary concerns of your players. And I don't think they're really your primary concern either, they're just an excuse for wanting to deny them knowledge checks.

    But like I said, you're free to state that they can't use knowledge checks, if doing so wouldn't make sense. However, that runs counter to what you told them they should do, and also makes some of their magic items "useless." You're creating this dilemma yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    I'd already considered that much, and I can't think of any situations where not knowing a random bandit's name would screw them over, unless the bandit was important, in which case I'd give him a unique portrait, among other things.
    Okay, good. Just watch out for scenarios that hinge on mistaken identity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    I actually just discussed this with two of my players. My concern was that using words like "level" and "HP" was breaking the players' immersion. They, however, claim that it doesn't, and avoiding such a thing would just make the information confusing. I'm inclined to believe them on this topic.
    Good. Yes, do. Sometimes references to rules can be worth a thousand words, and worth a little loss of "immersion." Again, I think you and your players might have a disconnect: you clearly think of immersion differently. What I find breaks my immersion is a game that just isn't fun. If the players are losing a lot and don't like it, you can bet that their immersion is breaking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    I, personally, can't think of any way to make an exciting encounter in which the enemy's mind is basically an open book.
    Their mind is not an open book, just their abilities. You ever play chess? You know what all the pieces on both sides can do, but that doesn't mean you can win, because you're dealing with someone who is deciding how to put those abilities in play. In D&D, you know the PCs' abilities, and those are pretty static, but you can field whatever monsters you want AND decide how to use them. So even if the players know everything about every monster, they don't know how you're going to use them. If you're worried about programmed powers being nullified, just don't use monsters with programmed powers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    There'd be no surprises.
    There already aren't any surprises. Your players don't want surprises. Surprises lead to failure. Your players don't want failure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    As for making knowledge checks have a cost of failure? I can't fathom what that cost could be. A temporary headache? That causes daze for one round? I'm all for avoiding checks if there's nothing at stake, but knowledge checks were always a different ball game since the only penalty I can think of for failing is "you don't know".
    In combat, yes. That's the primary problem with knowledge checks, and Perception and Insight. Why NOT spam them? The only reason not to, is if there's no need to. I make it clear to my players that there's no need to, and they don't. Problem solved.

    But I wasn't talking about penalties in combat. I was saying that if you take away the in-combat uses of no-risk checks, there are still uses for them out of combat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    As for skill challenges, we've never actually done one. We've always thought they were stupid since day one. My characters shouldn't have to wait their turn just to talk. I might have a completely bastardized view of skill challenges since everything I know about them is from reading the Rules Compendium.
    If you've never run one, or seen a good one run, I'm sure you have a very "bastardized" view of them. They're no different than skill-based challenges in any other game or edition, except that questions of experience, DC, and pacing are all answered.

    Your characters shouldn't have to wait their turn just to talk? Don't they wait their turn just to swing their sword? Don't people in real life take turns talking? But skill challenges are about a lot more than talking.

    Say you have a unique creature coming up, and the players know they can't roll knowledge checks to find out its powers, but they've heard that there's an obelisk that has legends of the creature written on it. They just have to go to the bowels of a volcano to read it. There, they find enemies who engage and fight them, and the obelisk gets knocked into a pool of lava. The players have 3 turns to make 5 standard action knowledge checks in order to learn about one power the creature has by reading the obelisk. Every turn they spend close enough to read the obelisk, they take 10 fire damage from the lava, whether they pass the knowledge check or not. Incidentally, they're still being attacked by the locals, who they know everything about, but who aren't complex enough creatures to be trivialized by that.

    THAT is how to run a skill challenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    So, anyway, thanks for taking the time to respond. Next time I see my players (tomorrow), I'll talk to them about the "monster omniscience" thing and see what they think.
    You know, don't bother. At least not until you take a little more time to understand what I'm saying. Calling it "monster omniscience" and putting it in quotes makes it clear that you don't like it and don't get it. Why not try it for a few encounters? Even if it just saves your time on all the knowledge checks and info dumping, you'll have benefitted.
    Last edited by Beta Centauri; 2015-01-04 at 04:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beta Centauri View Post
    You know, don't bother. At least not until you take a little more time to understand what I'm saying. Calling it "monster omniscience" and putting it in quotes makes it clear that you don't like it and don't get it.
    Me not liking it and not getting it right away doesn't mean I'm trying to be rude by putting it in quotation marks. Because I really wasn't. I genuinely appreciate all the time you've dedicated to responding to my inexperience. If I didn't understand before what my players wanted, mainly because they themselves didn't know what they wanted since they'd always tell me so when I asked them, your advice greatly contributed to resolving those issues, and I'm grateful for that.

    The internet has a weird way of implying "tones" of speech that can make people seem like they're experiencing an unfavorable mood, which for me, generally is not the case. When I read the words "don't bother", it feels like I offended you, even though those might just be words you use on a regular basis and don't really mean anything by. Either way, I apologize.
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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    Me not liking it and not getting it right away doesn't mean I'm trying to be rude by putting it in quotation marks. Because I really wasn't. I genuinely appreciate all the time you've dedicated to responding to my inexperience. If I didn't understand before what my players wanted, mainly because they themselves didn't know what they wanted since they'd always tell me so when I asked them, your advice greatly contributed to resolving those issues, and I'm grateful for that.

    The internet has a weird way of implying "tones" of speech that can make people seem like they're experiencing an unfavorable mood, which for me, generally is not the case. When I read the words "don't bother", it feels like I offended you, even though those might just be words you use on a regular basis and don't really mean anything by. Either way, I apologize.
    Hey no problem. I'm sorry too. I'm used to getting slapped back down when I try to offer ideas on how to make certain aspects of the game work, and I just read that into what you wrote.

    If you have more questions as to what I'm talking about let me know.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    Every time they encounter a boss, say, a construct... every single character makes a knowledge check against it, even the ones that aren't trained in arcana or even have a decent bonus to it, all so they can learn as much about the boss's powers and weaknesses as possible.
    This was a problem I was having. Especially because my games routinely had 8-10 players. Yeah...

    So, I instituted a rule that the first dice to hit the table was the primary, and the second and third were Aid Another. That represented the total of your party's knowledge. I also included a rule that a character could only be the primary for a knowledge check once per round, but that was to make sure nine player's skill choices weren't completely negated by one min-maxer. It worked fairly well for my large group, even if it took a few sessions for some players to realize that reflexively rolling their dice on their untrained, int-dumped character was not the greatest idea.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Aid another is a good idea. Throwing out penalties for bad rolls reduces pointless rolling.

    Stealing an idea from a stealth discussion a few weeks back, have you players in a damp cave. They can see some kobolds or fungal monster or whatever guarding your McGuffin. They do their scouting, make their checks, come in all ready to fight the baddies. The barge in, surprise round at hand, and proceed to wipe the floor with the baddies the first round.

    They miss the vampires finding in a shall pool, who wake up in the second round and attack. For which they are not prepared. You can't research those you don't know about.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    I actually really like the idea of Group Knowledge checks, and its makes sense logically, too. If a character fails their roll, they'll pass on false information to their allies, lowering the group's overall conclusion.
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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tegu8788 View Post
    Aid another is a good idea. Throwing out penalties for bad rolls reduces pointless rolling.

    Stealing an idea from a stealth discussion a few weeks back, have you players in a damp cave. They can see some kobolds or fungal monster or whatever guarding your McGuffin. They do their scouting, make their checks, come in all ready to fight the baddies. The barge in, surprise round at hand, and proceed to wipe the floor with the baddies the first round.

    They miss the vampires finding in a shall pool, who wake up in the second round and attack. For which they are not prepared. You can't research those you don't know about.
    Seems like that's just going to encourage spammed Perception checks.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dachimotsu View Post
    I actually really like the idea of Group Knowledge checks, and its makes sense logically, too. If a character fails their roll, they'll pass on false information to their allies, lowering the group's overall conclusion.
    Aid Another is an example of reasonably well-implemented type of check, because there's a risk to it. Then again, some people will pass the check automatically.

    By how much to the players usually beat the DC for monster knowledge? Even if everyone failed to Aid Another, would the check be likely to fail? If not, this isn't likely to change anything.

    And in any case, you'll need the players' buy-in with this. If this causes them to fail more often, they'll probably ask to make their own checks.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Heavy houseruled game? Then steal advantage/disadvantage, and introduce presumed competence. Then make knowledge fun.

    Presumed competence:
    1) Houserule any power that doesn't use the primary attack stat anywhere to give a benefit from it (I'm looking at you, twin strike).

    2) Your base accuracy is (level+3) for all powers.

    3) You gain +1 for a magic tool (of your tier or higher), superior implement, class feature, and expertise (capped at +1 each). Weapons gain proficiency as well (+2 or +3 as usual).

    Attack bonuses are now in a narrow range, which is nice, and makes the later changes work better:

    Steal 5e Advantage/disadvantage:
    Combat Advantage now grants 5e style advantage (roll twice, take better result). Avengers gain advantage when they fullfill their oath. Ban features that add extra to-hit on Combat Advantage, or have them apply to damage instead (on a hit).

    Mark violation grants disadvantage (roll twice, take worst result). Ban things that "boost the mark penalty".

    Being blind, or attacking an invisible foe, both impose disadvantage.

    Advantage is now bigger, and is a generic concept.

    Partial cover and concealment isn't handled well here. If you have a warlock or other "constant concealment" this causes issues. You could change shadow walk (and similar class features) to a power bonus to defences plus partial concealment (which has no effects, other than stealth) or something like that.

    Make knowledge fun:
    Make a knowledge check against one creature at the start of your turn. If successful, you gain 1 useful fact about the creature, and advantage on the first attack roll. If unsuccessful, you gain disadvantage on all attacks until the start of your next turn. DCs go up by 5 for each successful check you make against a given creature (for you only).

    ...

    Now your knowledge checks are a bit of a gamble. If you get them right, you get a free advantage on an attack, as you remember something useful about the creature. If you fail them, it costs you (because you think you know something about the creature that isn't right, or spend time thinking when you should be swinging your sword).

    "Passing knowledge on" is just aiding another (and can use the advantage from your own knowledge check). Expensive, but it is hard to give great information in 6 seconds.
    Last edited by Yakk; 2015-01-05 at 02:35 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Make knowledge fun:
    Make a knowledge check against one creature at the start of your turn. If successful, you gain 1 useful fact about the creature, and advantage on the first attack roll. If unsuccessful, you gain disadvantage on all attacks until the start of your next turn. DCs go up by 5 for each successful check you make against a given creature (for you only).

    ...

    Now your knowledge checks are a bit of a gamble. If you get them right, you get a free advantage on an attack, as you remember something useful about the creature. If you fail them, it costs you (because you think you know something about the creature that isn't right, or spend time thinking when you should be swinging your sword).
    If you're houseruling, yes, that's the sort of thing I'm talking about. Rolling is interesting on both success and failure. This doesn't require any other houserules, though. Just make it so success means it grants combat advantage, and failure means YOU grant combat advantage. Or let the player choose from a list: Remove combat advantage from you, get or grant a saving throw on one of the monster's abilities, get temporary damage resistance. Failure: Monster gets a free attack, gets temporary HP, can shed a mark, etc.

    But I don't see this as solving the problem anyway, because what the GM wants is surprises stemming from monster abilities and what the players want is the opposite of that. The player isn't going to care if they have advantage on their attack if the attack bloodies the creature and triggers some retributive attack they didn't know about.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    I give players as much accurate information as I think is relevant, and if they ask for more I give them more. If they want to do something extra for some tactical advantage, I have them roll Knowledge to see if the action would give them the advantage or not.

    Example: the rulebook says that Skeletons are immune to poison and disease, resistant to necrotic damage, vulnerable to radiant damage, and make extra-powerful opportunity attacks.

    In a traditional game, the DM decides how much of this information applies to their games and how much doesn't, and then uses a Knowledge check to decide whether to tell the truth to the players or to lie to them (in which case they get the correct information eventually, but only after getting hurt).

    In my games, I give my players this information outright, and if one player comes up with a plan based on a strength/weakness that I hadn't already decided on, then I have him/her roll Knowledge to decide whether the creature has that strength/weakness or not:

    Player: "I've heard that skeletons are drawn to electrum, so I wave my pendant in the air and make a lot of noise to attract the skeleton warrior away from [PC] and attack me instead."

    Me: "That'll take a Knowledge (Religion) check. If you succeed, the skeleton will move away from [PC] on it's next turn to attack you. If you fail, the skeleton will continue attacking [PC] and possibly kill her. If you critically fail, the skeleton will be whipped into a frenzy by the electrum and gain a small number of HP. Sound good?"

    Player: "I'll do it" [rolls, determining how skeletons react to electrum in the campaign]

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    That's an interesting and creative way to do it.

    I will say though that in the traditional game, there is no lying about capabilities: you either know something or you do not. No false information is imparted for not meeting the DC. The only thing the PHB says for a failed knowledge check is "you don't recall any pertinent information."

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Agreed, it's certainly not RAW, but it's certainly interesting. Feels FATE inspired, of which I approve. I give a d4 out when a player is creative or extra entertaining, which turns out to be a modified Fate Point mod.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    That's an interesting and creative way to do it.

    I will say though that in the traditional game, there is no lying about capabilities: you either know something or you do not. No false information is imparted for not meeting the DC. The only thing the PHB says for a failed knowledge check is "you don't recall any pertinent information."
    That's one of the main problems with such checks: there's no risk. That's why everyone will just spam them, even if they're likely to miss: the worst thing that will happen is nothing.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Yep. And actions with no downside are boring to evaluate.

    The downside of "you cannot try it again" is not an interesting downside. It effectively forces an evaluation to play optimally, without making that evaluation **interesting**.

    All checks should have an interesting downside and upside. If they don't, make them a gimmie or a passive. I tried to sketch it out above (where I implemented 5e style advantage/disadvantage, then tied it to a knowledge check).

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    Yep. And actions with no downside are boring to evaluate.

    The downside of "you cannot try it again" is not an interesting downside. It effectively forces an evaluation to play optimally, without making that evaluation **interesting**.

    All checks should have an interesting downside and upside. If they don't, make them a gimmie or a passive. I tried to sketch it out above (where I implemented 5e style advantage/disadvantage, then tied it to a knowledge check).
    Ah, yes. We agree, I just don't happen to like the 5th Edition approach.

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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Well, disadvantage (from 5e) is not that used in 4e.

    Knowledge Check: Make a check against 10+monster level/2 +obscurity

    A very obscure creature has an obscurity bonus of +5 per tier. A creature that is unique and has never been seen by anyone else can still be knowledge checked, as you can determine things about creatures from direct observation, but they are more obscure than the alternative.

    Success: You learn one property of the creature (keywords & relative level, all resists and all vulnerabilities, or an interesting power and effect), and have combat advantage the first time you make attack against that creature type until the end of your turn. The next knowledge check against the creature is 5 points harder.

    Failure: Until the end of your next turn, when you make an attack roll, or an ally you have granted an attack makes an attack roll, you roll twice and take the lower result. You cannot make further knowledge checks against the creature until you find a new source of information about that creature (a library, for example).

    This makes knowledge checks really dangerous in combat. If you get them wrong, you suck for up to 2 turns. If you get them right, you gain information and a very mild advantage.

  21. - Top - End - #21
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    Default Re: Fixing Knowledge Checks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    This makes knowledge checks really dangerous in combat. If you get them wrong, you suck for up to 2 turns. If you get them right, you gain information and a very mild advantage.
    Sure. Lots of ways to do that, if one's changing rules anyway.

    I'd be really interested to see what effect that or other changes would have on the players mentioned in the original post. Are they rolling now because, hey, why not, or because they really need to know? It could be that even a tiny risk would be enough for them to say "eh, why bother?" unless they're facing something that seems to be highly resistant or have some other tricks.

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