As a matter of adventure design (or when improvising as a DM), you shouldn’t lock mission-critical information behind a skill check. Because if the characters fail the check, the plot line is dead.
But, the solution isn’t to get rid of skill checks.
The solution is DC 0 checks.
“Isn’t that basically just telling them the information?”
Yes, but we don’t stop there.
Progressive Skill Checks
The idea is to move away from binary skill checks to a progressive resolution system. So, you still have a check to discover mission critical information. But, the DC to learn the stuff you need to know is set at zero.
As you roll progressively higher, you learn additional information that isn’t necessary, but helpful. You probably could have found out that extra information eventually with your DC 0 clue, but rolling better lets you take shortcuts by applying more intuition or conducting a…
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