I found this thread of reddit called DMs, don’t punish success.
My party was in a fight; I was low and I wanted to try to intimidate the enemy to buy some time. My DM flat out told me, “You need to roll a 25 or higher.” My Intimidation bonus was +6, so I had to roll a 19 or 20. I succeeded! Great right? Guess what happened next. The enemy magic missiled me out of ‘fear’. I went down. One thing lead to another and we TPK’d. Fuck. My DM later told me that if I failed the enemy would’ve ignored me and attacked another party member who had more HP.
The results to this action mostly revolve around:
- The enemy is intimidated and either
- decides to attack the character because they are now the main menace
- or decides to attack someone else because …fear!
- The enemy is not intimidated and decides to continue as if nothing happened
2 is clearly a failure. 1.1 is a success if you wanted to (a) draw the aggro, a failure if (b) you wanted anything else (like making the enemy lose a turn or retreat). 1.2 is a success if you wanted to (a) avoid getting hit, (b) a failure otherwise.
Intent matters. The player succeeded at their roll and didn’t want to draw aggro and the DM decided that since 1.1.a could be considered a success in certain situations, it could be the result of any successful roll.
That is true, it could. Gotcha moments can be fun. Adversarial relationship with the DM can be fun.
But in my opinion, surprising the players with a different kind of adjucation can cause problems. Since the players are not able to reasonably predict the results of their action they might be tempted to do only simple actions. And then we will have players only doing thing like attacking in combat, never jumping over a fence, never trying to use a spell in an original way, because they’ll know that the risks outweigh the potential reward.
Personally, I try to be open about the potential results of an action, a simple “you don’t really know what’s gonna happen if you do that” often suffice.
Of course those is just my opinion, so do what you want.