How to deal with players that wants their characters to do automatic perception, stealth and searching for traps/secret doors?

Every time my players are exploring a dungeon, they want their characters to do perception checks for monsters, perception checks for traps and/or secret passages while being on stealth mode, all at the same time. If a monster comes or if they activate a trap, they get mad because “my character is always looking for traps”. If I say they need to declare their actions, the game goes like this:

[me describing a area, like a corridor they’re walking in]

player: I check for traps and secret doors in the wall, the floor and the ceiling. I also want to hear anything unusual and walk silently.

They want to be on “automatic mode”, expecting me to roll for their PCs every time they enter a new area. Otherwise they always have this phrase “I check for traps and secret doors in the wall, the floor…” that they say EVERYTIME I introduce a new area. I can’t put them in “automatic” for this kind of roll. We’re playing D&D 5e, but this happen in other campaigns, and it has always been a problem to me.

How do I deal with it?

Do objects (like doors) start with a base Defense of 10?

When Damaging Objects, considered to be Defenseless:

Inanimate objects are defenseless by definition and therefore subject to finishing attacks (see the Finishing Attack maneuver): essentially, you can choose between making your attack on the object as a routine check or, if you make the attack check normally, gaining an automatic critical hit if your attack hits, for a +5 bonus to effect.

This is all fine and good, except that the last time I had to adjudicate this, with someone trying to kick a door down, they objected to me starting with the Base 10 defense for the door, namely they chose to Power Attack, and where already damage shifted, and completely missed the door. I can kind of see their point that a door shouldn’t be that easy to miss hitting. I think I described it as more of a "glancing blow", that they were trying so hard to hit it hard that the blow just skidded off of it. But the question does remain, should a Defenseless object the size of a door start with a defense of 10 such that the average bystander has a little more than a 50/50 chance of actually hitting it if they’re trying to hit it hard? Am I reading the rules wrong? Did the player maybe just get a little too greedy in trying to do more damage?

Breaking down doors – AC or DC?

It is not uncommon for players to encounter a door that resists being opened – the door may be stuck, barred, locked, barricaded, etc. A locked door could be unlocked by finding a key or passing a Difficulty Check to pick the lock, or it could be broken down.

In the D&D 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide page 237, the examples for when a strength ability check might be used are: “Smash down a door, move a boulder, use a spike to wedge a door shut”. Which seems fine – set a DC and see if the player can beat it with Strength check. This seems to be confirmed by the Player’s Handbook page 176, again in reference to when a Strength check may be used: “Force open a stuck, locked, or barred door”.

However, page 246 of the DMG also details object Armour Class and Hit Points. One could argue that a door is considered to be an object (at least, as much as a wall is considered to be an object by the book). Lets say the door is made of wood, its a medium sized object and it is resilient, so it has an AC of 15 and 18 Hit Points. When the door reaches 0 HP, it opens.

When would it be appropriate to use the AC and hit points of a door to determine if it opens versus setting a DC Strength check?

For the purposes of this question, assume there is always a chance for success and a risk of failure, there are no automatic successes or failures. Also assume that the players are determined to break the door, they are not interested in looking for ways around it – the door will be broken and open eventually, it is more a case of what method should be used to determine when the door opens.

Note that although this question is specifically asking about breaking doors, it would apply to any situation where it might be appropriate to use either an AC or a DC to break something. I have simply used doors as my example as they are one of the most likely and most common things a player may try to break.

Perception or Investigation for secret doors or traps?

If you’re only referring to the SRD, it seams pretty cut and dry; all the examples for Wisdom(Perception) are creatures and all the examples for Intelligence(Investigation) are objects, but if you look at the Player’s Handbook, page 178, the green box example is using Perception for secret doors or traps.

Specifically, under Investigation:

deduce the location of a hidden object,

And the green box:

When your character searches for a hidden object such as a secret door or a trap, the DM typically asks you to make a Wisdom (Perception) check.

Which is correct?

Surprise, ready an action and bashing doors

I’m a bit confused about how “surprise” and “ready an action” interact in the following situation:

  • Behind a door two ogres are having breakfast.
  • One PC kicks the door, the others PCs says that they ready an action: if an enemy comes into their FoV they will shoot an arrow.
  • The PCs fail to kick the door on the first try. The ogres are therefore prepared and they ready an action to throw their javelins at whoever is kicking the door when the door breaks.
  • The PCs fail to hear the sound of the ogres readying their weapons.

The problem is:

Any character or monster that doesn’t notice a threat is surprised at the start of the encounter. [PHB p. 189]

I assumed that because the PCs didn’t perceive anything, they had not ‘noticed the threat’, therefore they were surprised.

  1. I judged that the ogres therefore surprised the PCs, so the PCs couldn’t use their reaction until the end of their first turn and the ogres could suse their reaction to throw their javelins, and they also have a whole turn on the surprise round (so they can move and bash some heads).

Alternative Possibilities:

  1. The PCs kick down the door on the first attempt. When they kick down the door, both the ogres and the players are surprised, but the PCs readied an action, and according to the rules of surprise, creatures can use reactions after their first turn ends, so they can use their reaction on the readied action. The PCs can shoot their arrows at the ogres.

  2. They fail to kick the door at the first try and pass their perception check, so neither of the groups are surprised and both groups shoot each other.

How many of these interpretations (1, 2, 3) are correct?