A hand holding dice, open palmed, in front of darkness
5e: Taking 10

Written by Phil

Phil was a world-traveler, writing, playing games, and exploring. Now he lives in Toronto and plays D&D, Root, and Terraforming Mars online. Most recently, he has been exploring the asymmetric games by Leder Games. Links to Other Writing: Persuasive Writing; Coffee Website.

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Do you feel like your D&D games have been held back by pointless dice rolls? As a Dungeon Master (DM), have you ever wondered if there is a way your players can perform consistently? If you thought of these things at least once, let us introduce you to the concept of Taking 10

Taking 10 is an optional ruling that turns your skills into passive skill scores, where it is equal to 10 + your skill + proficiency score (if proficient). It takes exactly as long as if you were to roll.

For instance, if your acrobatics proficiency gives a +6 modifier, that means Taking 10 for an Acrobatics check will always result in a 16! Wondering how to apply this to your game? Read on! 

Why Take 10

For a lot of people, much of the fun within Dungeons and Dragons is getting to roll dice. However, rolling dice can be awkward, clunky, and make you feel incompetent when failing at things your hero should never fail at. 

Rolling dice for everything can also slow games down and sometimes are inconsequential to the outcomes of the game. Furthermore, the randomness of dice rolls can derail the campaign—though some see this as a feature, not a bug. 

As a rule borrowed from Pathfinder, Taking 10 allows your players to perform consistently

No more accidental insults due to low persuasion rolls or failing on a lockpick roll. It makes your PC’s skills rolls matter. Let’s be honest – the dice are never in our favor. 

When should I allow my players to Take 10

You can allow your player’s to Take 10 when the results of failure are inconsequential

For instance, if the player is trying to unlock a locked chest in the container in the safety of their home base? Why make them roll for it when they can simply Take 10

Alternatively, you can allow your player’s Take 10 when they do a task repeatedly, or failure will simply waste time. 

  • Trying to climb a muddy hill with no risk of injury? Take 10
  • Climbing a rope safe rope at their leisure? Take 10.
  • Throwing a grappling hook on an average ledge? Take 10.
  • Shooting an arrow (with proficiency) at an inanimate, stationary target? Take 10.

By using Take 10, you give your players more control over the game. Furthermore, reducing the number of dice rolls in-game makes them more impactful.


Looking to challenge your players?

Puzzles and Riddles can be tricky! Too easy and they’re pointless; Too hard and it’s pure frustration. What is a DM to do?

Well, our friends over at Dungeon Vault have an assortment of puzzles, riddles, and tokens to enhance your gaming experience. They even have a murder mystery and a political intrigue system!

For easy-to-use resources for any D&D game, check out the selections at Dungeon Vault!


How do I implement Take 10’s in my game? 

Before implementing Take 10s, discuss with your players. 

Explain Taking 10 to your players clearly, and its potential effect on the game. Some players will be happy to accept the rule, whilst others might be hesitant. 

Story-focused and more serious campaigns will enjoy Taking 10 as it gives player agency. For more light-hearted casual campaigns, Taking 10 isn’t as warranted because botched dice rolls are part of the fun. Sometimes a well-placed Nat 1 roll can lead to some humorous plot twists.

Why go through the struggle of rolling stealth each hour when you can have the party Take 10? As well, you can also Take 10 when there is no time pressure on the party.

Summary

Implement Taking 10 in situations when: 

  • Players are going to make dice rolls repeatedly
  • Failure would be inconsequential or a nuisance (sliding down a muddy slope)
  • The game is progressing too slowly because players are needlessly cautious
  • The game is more serious, and you would rather avoid a botched roll (DM call)
  • It’s something that the player should theoretically never fail

Taking 10 is one of the best ways to increase consistency in games and focus on the plot. Just be sure not to replace all your dice rolls with Take 10 – otherwise the game might become stale!

Happy Rolling! (Or Taking 10!)

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