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Player Guide: Taking 10 and Taking 20

PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:26 am
by Jiriki
We've seen many players (and even some DMs!) that aren't entirely up to speed on exactly what it means to Take 10 or Take 20, let alone when it can be done and with what checks. As such, we have cobbled together a quick primer on these two options to facilitate their use.

Have a look, and keep them in mind--a lot of times, you can use them not only to speed up play, but also to compensate for traditionally crappy Player Dice!

Taking 10
This ability, as its name implies, allows you to assume a result of a 10 rather than actually make a given check. For instance, if your Hide modifier is +4 and the DM calls for such a check, you could elect to Take 10 for a total result of 14.

Taking 10 takes no more in-game time than a standard check, as it merely assumes an average result on your roll. (It usually takes less real-world time than a standard check as well, as it cuts out math and a roll.)

When can you use it?
Taking 10 can only be done when you are not "distracted or threatened," according to the Player's Handbook. While this is somewhat vague, it primarily refers to combat--it is impossible to Take 10 during combat for any purpose. With regards to other possible situations that might prohibit a Take 10, a good rule of thumb is to look at the Concentration skill; if a Concentration check would be required to perform the action at all, you cannot Take 10 on it at that time.

As an example, you could Take 10 on your Climb checks to scale a high cliff. However, if there were enemies at the top firing arrows at you, or a hurricane is threatening to blow you off, you would be distracted, and thus could not Take 10.

Further, certain actions can never be used with Take 10. Caster level checks, saving throws, initiative checks, and attack rolls can never be made by Taking 10. In addition, a few specific skills prohibit Taking 10. See "Specific Skills" for details.

(Exception to all of the above: Some classes grant a special ability called "Skill Mastery." This allows the use of Take 10 with a small selection of skills under any circumstances whatsoever. Even when you get a choice on which skills to apply this ability to, however, you cannot take Skill Mastery with Concentration or Use Magic Device.)

At any other time, you can elect to Take 10 with the vast majority of skill checks and ability checks. Do note, however, that the DM will never tell you in advance if Taking 10 would be successful. As such, only use Take 10 if you know or suspect that the result will actually be sufficient to succeed on the check! (Rogues and other high-skill classes, for the record, should come to know and love Take 10 quickly.)

Taking 20
As with its companion ability, Taking 20 allows you to assume a result of a 20 rather than actually making a given check. For instance, if the DM calls for a Search check and your modifier is +4, you could elect to Take 20 for a total result of 24.

This is not considered a Natural 20, however; you do not automatically succeed by Taking 20 unless your total result is actually high enough to beat the DC of the check! As an example, if the DC of the Search check above was 25, Taking 20 would still result in a failure. (To succeed, you would actually need to roll and achieve a Natural 20.)

Further, unlike Taking 10, this ability does not simply assume a result of 20--it assumes that you are actually attempting the check twenty times with successively higher results. This means that any use of this ability takes twenty times longer than a standard check. (See "Specific Skills" for details.)

When can I use it?
Because Taking 20 assumes that you are attempting the check twenty different times, you cannot Take 20 on any check that explicitly prohibits retries. You also cannot Take 20 on any check that carries an actual penalty for failure, as you would suffer those penalties on each failing attempt (many of which may prohibit you from trying again). For most rolls that are usually made secretly by the DM, or on which success is otherwise not usually known when the roll is made (see Disable Device, Disguise), Taking 20 is also not possible except at DM discretion. Further, at DM discretion, you may simply not have enough time to Take 20 on a particular check, and the same prohibition on Taking 10 in combat or while distracted also applies to Taking 20.

In other words, while it is still viable and useful in many situations, you will have far fewer opportunities to Take 20 than you will to Take 10.

Specific Skills
Now that you know about Take 10 and Take 20, we can put that knowledge to practical use! The below is a list of every skill check in the game, along with notes on whether Take 10 or Take 20 can be used with it (assuming the character is in a position to do so, given limitations described above), and any situational notes that accompany those rulings.

Ability Checks (Unmodified):
If the check is a substitute for a skill check (i.e., an untrained skill check), use the rules for the specific skill. Otherwise, you may Take 10 or Take 20 with these checks at DM discretion.

Special Action - Aid Another:
Even if you can normally Take 10 with a given skill, you may not Take 10 or Take 20 when attempting to Aid Another on such a check. This is a specific prohibition that Skill Mastery does not overcome.

Appraise:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (retries prohibited).

Balance:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (penalty for failure: falling).

Bluff:
You may not Take 10 with this skill to feint in combat (distraction), but you may Take 10 with it for any other purpose.
You may not Take 20 with this skill (prohibits retries outside of combat, and distraction in combat).

Climb:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 with this skill (penalty for failure: falling).

Concentration:
You may not Take 10 or Take 20 with this skill (distraction, by definition).

Craft (all):
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 with this skill (penalty for failure: loss of raw materials).

Decipher Script:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (retries prohibited).

Diplomacy:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (retries prohibited).

Disable Device:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (penalty for failure: triggering trap or failing to recognize failure).

Disguise:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (penalty for failure: disguise insufficient to fool an observer).
Note on Taking 10: Unless you Take 10, this roll is usually made secretly by a DM. Taking 10 is thus the only way to know for sure how good your disguise is!

Escape Artist:
You may not Take 10 or Take 20 on this skill during actively opposed checks, such as a grapple (distraction; note that a check to escape bonds, opposed by the binder's Use Rope, is not considered "actively" opposed). You may Take 10 or Take 20 with this check for any other purpose.
Note on Taking 20: Escaping from rope bindings, manacles, or other restraints takes 1 minute, while squeezing through a tight space takes at least that long; Take 20 times are adjusted accordingly.

Forgery:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (retries prohibited).

Gather Information:
You may Take 10 or Take 20 with this skill.
Note on Taking 20: This skill requires 1d4+1 hours of work, and one can only do so much gathering of information in a single day. Thus, Taking 20 requires 2d4+2 days of work. If you are using Bribe Money for a +2 circumstance bonus, Taking 20 requires the expenditure of at least 100 gp for this purpose.

Handle Animal:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 with this skill to rear an animal (retries prohibited), but you may Take 20 with it for any other purpose.
Note on Taking 20: Because the time required for this check is halved on a failed attempt to train an animal for either a trick or specific purpose, Taking 20 for this purpose only multiplies the time required by 10.

Heal:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (for all uses of this skill, the timeframe renders Taking 20 impractical).

Hide:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (penalty for failure: being spotted).

Intimidate:
You may Take 10 with this skill to coerce someone to change their behavior. You may not Take 10 to demoralize someone in combat (distraction).
You may not Take 20 (retries prohibited).

Jump:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 with this skill if there is a penalty associated with failure (such as attempting to clear a chasm). You may Take 20 with it for any other purpose (such as attempting to hop up and grab a ledge). Because Jumping is either a move action or taken as part of a move action, Take 20 will usually only take 10 rounds, not 20.

Knowlegde (all):
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (retries prohibited).
Note on Taking 10: While this skill can be used untrained, untrained checks are limited to a maximum result of 10. Thus, if you are making an untrained check, there is no reason to do anything but Take 10.

Listen:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may Take 20 with this skill only at DM discretion. (You may often not have enough time to do so.)
Note on Taking 20: A Listen check to detect something that you failed to hear previously is only a move action, so Taking 20 requires only 1 minute if you take no other actions.

Move Silently:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (penalty for failure: being heard).

Open Lock:
You may Take 10 or Take 20 with this skill.

Perform (all):
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (penalty for failure: cumulative DC increase).

Profession (all):
You may Take 10 with this skill.
Given the esoteric nature of this skill, you may only Take 20 at DM discretion.

Ride:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (retries generally prohibited).

Search:
You may Take 10 or Take 20 with this skill.
Note on Taking 20: If you do not have the Trapfinding class feature, you cannot find traps with a Search DC higher than 20 using this skill, even if you Take 20 and otherwise meet the DC.

Sense Motive:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (retries prohibited).

Sleight of Hand:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may Take 20 with this skill to hide a small object on your person only while you are not being observed. You may not Take 20 when making this check for any other purpose (penalty for failure: cumulative DC increase).

Spellcraft:
You may Take 10 with this check.
You may Take 20 with this skill to identify a written spell without the use of read magic. You may not Take 20 with this skill for any other purpose (retries prohibited).
Note on Taking 20: Identifying a written scroll allows only one attempt per day, so Taking 20 to do this requires making the attempt for twenty consecutive days. So yes, you technically can do it, but it's often hugely impractical.

Spot:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 with this skill to read lips (penalty for failure: misunderstand the conversation). You may Take 20 with this skill for all other purposes only at DM discretion. (You may often not have enough time to do so.)
Note on Taking 20: A Spot check to detect something that you failed to see previously is only a move action, so Taking 20 requires only 1 minute if you take no other actions.

Survivial:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may Take 20 with this skill when tracking. You may not Take 20 with this skill for any other purpose (retries prohibited).
Note on Taking 20: You may typically only make a new Survival check while tracking every hour (when outside) or every 10 minutes (while inside); Take 20 times are adjusted accordingly, and if time is of the essence, Taking 20 is usually not practical.

Swim:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (penalty for failure: sinking or nonlethal damage, depending on purpose of check).

Tumble:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 (retries prohibited).

Use Magic Device:
You may not Take 10 or Take 20 with this skill (specific prohibition).

Use Rope:
You may Take 10 with this skill.
You may not Take 20 with this skill to secure a grappling hook (penalty for failure: hook comes loose during the subsequent climb) or for securing someone with a rope (penalty for failure: target breaks free). You may Take 20 with it for any other purpose.
Note on Taking 20: Some applications of this skill require more than 1 round; Take 20 times are adjusted accordingly.