I made a pretty major change to the rules in my D&D campaign that I wanted to share. I’m not sure this is right for every group but it really worked for my guys. I decided to make most checks a minor rather than a standard action.
Normally if a player wants to examine a strange fountain or try and pull a statue he needs to make a check. The DM might call for an arcana or a strength check and that is a standard action. This means that if you want to try and see if there is anything magical about the strange alter,you can do that but you can’t do much else. I found that my players would wait until after a fight to go around and make all their checks. This would be fine except that I would often spend a lot of time creating things in the environment that could affect the fight if the players used them. They simply didn’t want to waste a standard action on interacting with the world when they could spend it hitting the bad guy.
In our last game I decided to make checks a minor action and the results were incredible. My players were making checks all the time. Trying to determine if the crazy warlock was lying to them, checking to see if the magic runes are still active, can we reason with the demon? They all agreed that it really improved the game for them. As the DM I still reserve the right to tell them that a particular check is a standard action and I might do that depending on what they are trying to do. But for the most part I want them out there making checks and exploring the world.
Like I said this probably isn’t something for every game but if you have players like mine, it might be worth a try.