How can you improve your Counteract check(s)?

Specifically for spells such as Dispel Magic, Restore Senses, Remove Disease, or Remove Curse, when you roll your Counteract check using your

relevant skill modifier or other appropriate modifier to your check against the target’s DC. […] the counteract check modifier is your spellcasting ability modifier plus your spellcasting proficiency bonus, plus any bonuses and penalties that specifically apply to counteract checks.

the results are based both on your success with the dice and the level of the ability/spell used when performing the Counteract

Critical Success Counteract the target if its counteract level is no more than 3 levels higher than your effect’s counteract level.
Success Counteract the target if its counteract level is no more than 1 level higher than your effect’s counteract level.
Failure Counteract the target if its counteract level is lower than your effect’s counteract level.
Critical Failure You fail to counteract the target.

This means that, against level-appropriate effects, you are spending one of your higher spell slots (or similarly powerful resources) for the attempt to overcome a negative effect, requiring you to roll in the range of 8-12 to get a Success. That means, without modification, you can expect to fail at least 1/3 to 1/2 the time. Against some effects that this would represent a quality of life increase, this is fine… but when attempting to overcome permanent Blindness or Mummy Rot (for instance) you may not have the luxury of accepting failure.

When out of combat, what methods are available to boost your Counteract checks, particularly for spells?

Players are “double dipping” on skill checks

The system we are using is Call of Cthulhu, which focuses heavily on investigation. My players will “line up” to re-do skill checks/rolls when they want to achieve something a certain way. In practice that means that when they’re facing a challenge like opening a certain door, they will try to break it one by one so they all can do a strength roll once. While in that situation it’s not that big of a problem (after all, that’s probably the way they’d do it in real life too), there are situations in which it is worse:

CoC makes heavy use of a skill called “Spot Hidden”, which is used when searching an area, person, etc. A passing check will reward the players with information, finding evidence or at least the absolute knowledge that there is nothing of interest to find there.

This leads to my players’ investigators lining up to search each room one by one, and on our last adventure I made the mistake of granting each of them the roll. This quickly proved to be detrimental to the challenge and atmosphere.

I am not sure how to best approach this, although I already have an idea or two:

  • Talking to my players about better differentiating between player knowledge and character knowledge. The character does not know a roll failed, he simply missed something – thus other characters shouldn’t automatically be inclined to check every spot twice.
  • Penalizing repeat searches. This could be either done implicitly by having the character be busy for some time, or explicitly by making use of the CoC rules for forced rerolls – the second try must be justified with a special effort and will have immediate negative results if failing.
  • Not allowing re-rolls (by other characters), unless it’s a forced reroll.
  • Doing these kind of rolls as the Game Master behind the screen, not letting the players know if the roll succeeded. This can keep the excitement up, and will probably more efficient if the GM sometimes rolls the dice without a skill check actually being made, just to keep the players guessing. But it also feels wrong to make player character skill rolls as the GM.

Answers to this question should adhere to Good Subjective, Bad Subjective – it needs to be something you’ve tried or seen tried. Don’t just toss out “ideas” for me to try, I already have ideas. Explain how the thing you’re proposing worked out for you/whatever you’ve observed in play.

Does a monk with Unarmored movement still have to make strength checks to “run”/”climb” a wall?

If a Level 9 (or higher) monk, with the Unarmored Movement feature, wanted to climb a 1000-ft sheer cliff, would they have to make strength checks every turn to see if they continue climbing, fall, or stay where they are? Or would they just keep going without making checks?

(Related question.)

Charisma (Persuasion, or other) checks with a translator

My hapless band of adventurers are about to encounter unfriendly Lizardfolk, who only speak Draconic.

The only character that speaks Draconic is the Wizard with bad breath (CHA 8, -1).

The Bard (CHA 19, +4) usually does the talking. However, he doesn’t speak Draconic.

In case they decide to parley with the Lizardfolk, with the Wizard translating for the Bard, I plan on letting the Bard roll a Charisma (Persuasion, or whatever) check with disadvantage, because of the loss of nuance in translation.

Does this make sense? Is there some official ruling on using "social" skills through a translator?

(Yes, of course the Bard could use some McGuffin of Comprehend Languages. No, they don’t have one of those.)

Does doubling up on Rope and Manacles increase DC or just take multiple checks to escape?

My D&D group is new and we are all still getting used to playing the game and are running through the Starter Set adventure.

During this adventure we end up capturing a Wizard and we bound and gag him. My character being paranoid made sure to attach manacles to him and also to use two different lengths of 50ft rope to ensure that he would not be able to break free. During the return back to town the DM had him keep rolling strength checks against the manacles and rope and one by one he kept breaking through them and I ended up having to borrow the entire party’s supply of rope to keep him secure because he kept breaking through them. By the time I was able to deliver him he was wrapped in 200 ft of rope and looked like more rope than man after breaking my manacles and two different lengths of rope.

I know that the rules say that the DC of Hempen rope is 17 but I still think that in any real world sense it is ridiculous to think that this Wizard can Samson his way through each individual rope while also being held by several other lengths of rope and a set of manacles. One would think that the weight of the ropes alone would keep him in check.

I guess my question is that is there any precedent for the DC being raised when you are attaching multiple different factors into keeping a prisoner secure or are you just supposed to roll each rope individually?

Edit: My DM has responded to my post and it looks like I didn’t have all of the information originally

“I rolled 2 rolls per day of travel. This was his daily attempt to free himself from his bindings with disadvantage. He got 2 Nat 20’s the day he broke the manacles and a 19 & 20 to break free of the rope. His Str modifier is -1, but 18 still clears the rope’s DC. He had disadvantage due to the leather armor and sheer volume of rope around him He also had to break the manacles before he could even start trying to work at the rope, since you did put those on him first”

How does completely decoupling Ability Checks from Abilities affect the game?

The PHB mentions how it is possible to make ability checks based on different abilities, a variant "Skills with Different Abilities" rule.

In some situations, though, your proficiency might reasonably apply to a different kind of check. In such cases, the GM might ask for a check using an unusual combination of ability and skill, or you might ask your GM if you can apply a proficiency to a different check. For example, if you have to swim from an offshore island to the mainland, your GM might call for a Constitution check to see if you have the stamina to make it that far. In this case, your GM might allow you to apply your proficiency in Athletics and ask for a Constitution (Athletics) check.

Some answers here in RPG provide a similar solution, and even provide a custom sheet which decoupled those.

I wonder how, in long-running games, implementing this variant rule for all skills (by using the aforemented sheet, for example) affects the game and its pace.

  • Does it slow down the game considerably as all players try and suggest which ability they use for something?
  • Do you end up with players trying to cheese EVERY check to use a specific ability "I climb the wall by leveraging my weight and the above counter-weight and choosing the simplest path, so I can use Athletics (Intelligence)"?
  • Does it encourage players to RP more, which despite the slower game pace, makes the game enjoyable (for tables that like RP)?

Does Natural Explorer’s double proficiency apply to perception checks while keeping watch?

The Natural Explorer class feature is sort of vague about what skill checks count

When you make an Intelligence or Wisdom check related to your favored terrain, your proficiency bonus is doubled if you are using a skill that you’re proficient in.

I emphasized related to, because it doesn’t say "while in," so I’m wondering whether keeping watch in your favored terrain counts as related to your favored terrain. This could represent something like being more familiar with what’s naturally around, and so you have an easier time spotting what shouldn’t be — i.e. the approaching enemy.

Does it apply?

The 5e Inquisitive Subclass allows perception checks as a bonus action. Would that matter in a heavily obscured area during combat?

Let’s say an Inquisitive is in a fog cloud. By my understanding, advantage and disadvantage cancels out if you are fighting someone else in that cloud. But if you were able to make a bonus perception check (and succeed) before attacking, could that negate your disadvantage?

As far as I can tell, there are no direct rule applications but I just wondered if someone had any thoughts on it. I guess in my head, using your action to search for someone when you can’t see due to environmental conditions them isn’t that useful for attacking purposes. But if you were to use a bonus action (in effect searching and attacking near simultaneously) would that change anything?

Same question for attacking from outside said hazard. I search, find, and shoot arrow – negate disadvantage?