Building Monsters

Monday, May 14, 2018

We've talked in depth about many of the systematic changes and PC options in the blogs so far, but what about monsters? From animated objects to zombies, from the lowliest kobold to the mighty jabberwock, the Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary includes over 250 different monsters and other adversaries built specifically for the playtest. But what makes these monsters tick? We've worked to bring you many of your favorite Pathfinder monsters with their familiar feel and niche in the world, but with updated mechanics to make your encounters even more memorable!

Signature Abilities

One of the monster innovations I—a computer science student at the time—appreciated most in Pathfinder First Edition was the idea of the Universal Monster Rule. It follows one of the most important principles of programming: modularity, which is to say, don't reinvent the wheel. One side effect of Universal Monster Rules having been a new concept in Pathfinder First Edition, however, is that many less fantastic creatures, especially animals, had a similar suite of Universal Monster Rules. For example, owlbears are iconic and memorable creatures, but as far as their statistics, if you look at the CR 4 owlbear and the CR 4 tiger side by side, the owlbear doesn't really have anything different to use during the encounter that the tiger doesn't.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

In the playtest version, those two monsters have some significantly different abilities. The tiger still has grab, allowing it to grapple a creature it hits with its jaws or claw attack, and the pounce action, allowing it to Stride and then Strike. Based on its real-world fighting style, it now also has wrestle, allowing it to claw a creature it's grabbed and knock it prone, and sneak attack, granting it extra damage against flat-footed creatures (typically ambushed via Stealth or those prone from its wrestle). Meanwhile, the owlbear also still has grab, but once it has you grabbed, it can gnaw on you, hoping to disembowel you so it can devour your guts and later regurgitate them to feed its young—and potentially making you sick from the disgusting sight. It can also unleash a blood-curdling screech as it advances into the fight to frighten you.

In general, giving interesting new abilities to real-world animals like the tiger allowed us to do some fun research into the animals' habits and design from there. Animals that hunt in packs sometimes have abilities to deal extra damage in groups, ambush predators use sneak attack and various sneaky tactics, and so on.

Dynamic Defenses

In Pathfinder First Edition, damage reduction (DR) and energy resistance both reduce damage by a set amount, the rarer vulnerability multiplies damage by 1.5, and immunity flat-out prevents certain abilities from functioning. Taken as a whole, monster defenses generally penalize you for using the wrong thing; you can deal your normal damage only by correctly bypassing DR, resistance, and immunities, and monsters rarely have a vulnerability. But in stories, we often imagine fey as being burned by cold iron or werewolves being poisoned by silver, and the reality of DR is that they just take the same damage from those as they do from cold, electricity, or fire. To fit those stories and to vary things up, we've combined DR and energy resistance into resistance, which reduces damage by a set amount, and we've changed vulnerability into a more common element called weakness, which increases damage by a set amount.

Two great examples of how this can dramatically change the feel of monsters are skeletons and zombies. A level 0 skeleton has 14 AC, 6 HP, and since it's made of bone, resistance 5 to slashing and piercing damage. A level 0 zombie, on the other hand, has 11 AC, 20 HP, and weakness 5 to slashing damage. The zombie takes 5 extra damage every time it's hit by a slashing weapon—that's an extremely high weakness! This means the fights feel very different, even though the creatures both take about the same number of swings to bring down. You can test this out for yourself in Pathfinder First Edition right now: consider giving zombies some extra HP and changing their DR into a weakness instead and see how the feel of the fight shifts!

Sweet Suites

Some monsters in Pathfinder First Edition have a large suite of abilities (typically from long lists of spell-like abilities), which vary between key iconic abilities, story abilities that influence what the monster can do in the narrative, and other abilities that are niche, redundant, or sometimes much weaker than their other attacks. For instance, it's pretty unlikely a nalfeshnee's call lightning is a good idea for a CR 14 monster to use in combat, and it doesn't have much of a noncombat application, either. In Pathfinder Second Edition, we tried to keep a monster's iconic abilities and story abilities while removing redundant or niche abilities, and then adding something new that fits the monster's ecology. For instance, barbed devils don't have the equivalent of order's wrath or unholy blight, but they have a special power called Warden of Erebus that lets them create extremely versatile glyphs of warding, cementing their role as, well, wardens of Erebus. For all such monsters, the goal is to make the monster's suite of abilities much easier to use and more memorable without oversimplifying the monsters, following our overall goal of adding as much depth to the game as possible while minimizing the cost in complexity.

I Have Multiattack

To close off, many people have been wondering how in the world we handle creatures with many heads, like the hydra, or arms, like the marilith or hekatonkheires, in the 3-action system. Such creatures have unique abilities to use their attacks in tandem in different ways. For instance, a marilith has three options for her six blades. She can make a focused assault on one enemy, which can deal a massive amount of damage on a hit, and deals damage for a single longsword even on a failure (but not a critical failure). Alternatively, she can spin about like a whirlwind of blades, attacking up to six different creatures with her swords. Finally, she can just attack twice and use the other blades to parry, giving her a killer AC for 1 round.

That's it for monsters for today; tune in on Friday as Logan goes through an example monster in detail and shows how we made the statblock easier to reference!

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am happy that devs become talkative again in these blog threads. I thought it was the nature of the beast that made devs commentaries a rarity in the Paladin-related threads. I am happy to have your thoughts back :-)


AnimatedPaper wrote:
Awahoon wrote:
What is this Paladin thing? This is about monsters, not Paladins and playable classes.

Someone brought up Alignment, and the predictable happened. I'm starting to agree with Graystone that alignment is more trouble than it's worth within Pathfinder. And I LOVE playing with it.

But enough about that. Some scattered observations (because I'm bored):

I too am hoping that Level 0-23 or whatever will be a consolidation of CR and HD that will be MUCH appreciated by me.

I'm also interpreting that CR 1/4, 1/3, and 1/2 are more or less going to go away as discreet entities, and all such monsters will be more or less equalized to become the new Level 0.

Despite my enthusiasm for simplified monster building, one thing it does NOT emulate well is the idea of "Ogre Mage that went off to college and got a couple levels of Wizard". That is, you can't really take an existing monster and advance it easily by tacking on a couple levels of a PC class. The easiest way to handle that is to simply rebuild the monster so that it is now a spell caster and, judging by its CR appropriate abilities, always was. But easy as it is (very easy), it doesn't quite hit the same note. The class templates in Monster Codex, excellent though they are, also missed this particular mark.

From the hints they've dropped, I'm hoping they're finding ways around this. Perhaps there's no truly good way to do it; simply letting monsters "multiclass" into PC classes tends to result in underpowered PC abilities relative to the monster's CR, so I really do get why simple class templates have their place.

In starfinder you would make a humanoid spellcaster with the giant subtype graft and the Technomancer class graft to create exactly that creature you described

Edit: and it turns out amazing and doesn't even increase its CR - it just gets a limited number of spells and class abilities based on its CR


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I know, and that's what I meant by "Rebuild the monster".


AnimatedPaper wrote:
I know, and that's what I meant by "Rebuild the monster".

I find that in starfinder it is often quicker to rebuild than advancing takes in pathfinder


1 person marked this as a favorite.
AnimatedPaper wrote:

Despite my enthusiasm for simplified monster building, one thing it does NOT emulate well is the idea of "Ogre Mage that went off to college and got a couple levels of Wizard". That is, you can't really take an existing monster and advance it easily by tacking on a couple levels of a PC class. The easiest way to handle that is to simply rebuild the monster so that it is now a spell caster and, judging by its CR appropriate abilities, always was. But easy as it is (very easy), it doesn't quite hit the same note. The class templates in Monster Codex, excellent though they are, also missed this particular mark.

From the hints they've dropped, I'm hoping they're finding ways around this. Perhaps there's no truly good way to do it; simply letting monsters "multiclass" into PC classes tends to result in underpowered PC abilities relative to the monster's CR, so I really do get why simple class templates have their place.

It sounds like you can just directly add class levels to a monster, so a level 5 monster plus 3 class levels is a level 8 opponent. However, while that works fine with martials, I'm not sure how it works out with casters. Because if that resultant creature only has access to 2nd tier spells and a caster level of 3, it won't actually be as dangerous as a "true" level 8 monster should be.

I guess we'll have to wait for more information and see how they handled this. It might also be something already handled by the multiclassing rules. For example, if every multiclass level as a caster advances you 2 levels on the casting table until you catch up to your actual level, that works out a lot better.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Fuzzypaws wrote:
I guess we'll have to wait for more information and see how they handled this. It might also be something already handled by the multiclassing rules. For example, if every multiclass level as a caster advances you 2 levels on the casting table until you catch up to your actual level, that works out a lot better.

Yeah I think this might be the case. They said in one of the blogs that you'd only consult one table for multi-classing, so I'm curious what that means.


Fuzzypaws wrote:


It sounds like you can just directly add class levels to a monster, so a level 5 monster plus 3 class levels is a level 8 opponent. However, while that works fine with martials, I'm not sure how it works out with casters. Because if that resultant creature only has access to 2nd tier spells and a caster level of 3, it won't actually be as dangerous as a "true" level 8 monster should be.

I think that depends. Adding a couple of caster levels to an Ogre might still make it about as scary so long as you choose the right spells. Given that caster levels give the same BAB, AC, Saves from level as any one else those are already covered, and a strong martial monster probably already has better proficiency in weapons and armour than the first few levels of any Martial is going to give. Depending on how spell/ability DCs work (I suspect it is just + level and proficiency not + class specific level and proficiency) some of those low level spells will still have applicable effects and any self buffs will probably be better than what a few levels of a martial class can give (given that the NPC is free to blow all their buffs on the one fight usually.) So long as they avoid damage spells it'll probably be more than alright.

But like all things I guess, bolting on bits rather than starting from scratch will require some intuition from the GM lest they inadvertently make something too weak or add combination of class features onto a particular monster that makes it way over powered.


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Malk_Content wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:


It sounds like you can just directly add class levels to a monster, so a level 5 monster plus 3 class levels is a level 8 opponent. However, while that works fine with martials, I'm not sure how it works out with casters. Because if that resultant creature only has access to 2nd tier spells and a caster level of 3, it won't actually be as dangerous as a "true" level 8 monster should be.

I think that depends. Adding a couple of caster levels to an Ogre might still make it about as scary so long as you choose the right spells. Given that caster levels give the same BAB, AC, Saves from level as any one else those are already covered, and a strong martial monster probably already has better proficiency in weapons and armour than the first few levels of any Martial is going to give. Depending on how spell/ability DCs work (I suspect it is just + level and proficiency not + class specific level and proficiency) some of those low level spells will still have applicable effects and any self buffs will probably be better than what a few levels of a martial class can give (given that the NPC is free to blow all their buffs on the one fight usually.) So long as they avoid damage spells it'll probably be more than alright.

But like all things I guess, bolting on bits rather than starting from scratch will require some intuition from the GM lest they inadvertently make something too weak or add combination of class features onto a particular monster that makes it way over powered.

That's the case no matter the system or lack thereof - even though i could have given the cyber-trolls I created for my next starfinder session fire resistance to go with their regeneration as their two abilities and dermal plating for DR from the cybernetic template while still being within what the system allows for that CR, it would be a bit of a dick move and takes some judgement to realise that.


I'm late... I'm so late...
But I just want to say: I liked the article. Good stuff ^^

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Smite Makes Right wrote:

Let's add hypothetical mechanics to a temper and see how that sways the conversation.

Temper [flaw]
When insulted or attacked, you must make a [wisdom based check] or use all of your next actions to close with or attack your foe. You may attempt the check at the start of each round.

Short answer: I think adding such a thing is a deeply flawed and incorrect way to mechanically represent having a temper. Peoples tempers do not work that way. I have a temper, and have lost it (though I never severely hurt anyone and haven't lost it and done anything physical since I was 14), and that's my fault not some random thing that happened to me that couldn't be avoided. Having the self control to not hurt or abuse others is part of being a person in society, and certainly part of a Good Alignment.

Paizo Employee Designer

14 people marked this as a favorite.
Shinigami02 wrote:
Wandering Wastrel wrote:

Can't see if this has already been mentioned, but please do something about swarms.

Watching my 3rd/4th level PCs run from yet another Godsdamn botfly swarm because they're out of alchemist's fire and didn't prepare Burning Hands today is amusing, but ultimately unsatisfying.

From what I've heard Acid Splash is an AoE spell now, so casters should find Swarms at least mildly easier to deal with at least. Mainly in avoiding the "we ran out of AoE options 3 swarms ago" way rather than the "we didn't prep any anti-Swarm" way though.

There's acid splash's acid splash damage, but also there's the fact that swarms have resistance and not immunity to most physical damage and weakness not vulnerability to AoE. Vulnerability tends to be much more favorable for the swarm: imagine the classic anti-swarm weapon alchemist's fire in PF1 (ignoring the question of whether it's exactly AoE in PF1). You roll 1d6 damage and then multiply by 1.5. Well that gives you 0 extra damage if you roll a 1, 1 extra for 2 or 3, 2 extra for 4 or 5, and 3 extra for 6. So basically on average it gives you 1.5 extra damage, and it makes already bad luck of rolling a 1 worse, increasing the extremes. Meanwhile, even a mere weakness 2 (I think the lowest weakness around) is just better with 1d6 damage. Only a 6 would deal more damage with vulnerability, and on a roll of 1, you get 3 damage instead of 1.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
There's acid splash's acid splash damage, but also there's the fact that swarms have resistance and not immunity to most physical damage and weakness not vulnerability to AoE. Vulnerability tends to be much more favorable for the swarm: imagine the classic anti-swarm weapon alchemist's fire in PF1 (ignoring the question of whether it's exactly AoE in PF1). You roll 1d6 damage and then multiply by 1.5. Well that gives you 0 extra damage if you roll a 1, 1 extra for 2 or 3, 2 extra for 4 or 5, and 3 extra for 6. So basically on average it gives you 1.5 extra damage, and it makes already bad luck of rolling a 1 worse, increasing the extremes. Meanwhile, even a mere weakness 2 (I think the lowest weakness around) is just better with 1d6 damage. Only a 6 would deal more damage with vulnerability, and on a roll of 1, you get 3 damage instead of 1.

Oh, Acid Splash is AoE damage? I heard that it was, and then heard it wasn't.

Resistance and weakness sound good- groups can turn to their heavy hitter to squash them, and get as much per-hit benefit from their emergency alchemical items as the Wizard does from Fireball (or Acid Splash now!).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
Wandering Wastrel wrote:

Can't see if this has already been mentioned, but please do something about swarms.

Watching my 3rd/4th level PCs run from yet another Godsdamn botfly swarm because they're out of alchemist's fire and didn't prepare Burning Hands today is amusing, but ultimately unsatisfying.

From what I've heard Acid Splash is an AoE spell now, so casters should find Swarms at least mildly easier to deal with at least. Mainly in avoiding the "we ran out of AoE options 3 swarms ago" way rather than the "we didn't prep any anti-Swarm" way though.
There's acid splash's acid splash damage, but also there's the fact that swarms have resistance and not immunity to most physical damage and weakness not vulnerability to AoE. Vulnerability tends to be much more favorable for the swarm: imagine the classic anti-swarm weapon alchemist's fire in PF1 (ignoring the question of whether it's exactly AoE in PF1). You roll 1d6 damage and then multiply by 1.5. Well that gives you 0 extra damage if you roll a 1, 1 extra for 2 or 3, 2 extra for 4 or 5, and 3 extra for 6. So basically on average it gives you 1.5 extra damage, and it makes already bad luck of rolling a 1 worse, increasing the extremes. Meanwhile, even a mere weakness 2 (I think the lowest weakness around) is just better with 1d6 damage. Only a 6 would deal more damage with vulnerability, and on a roll of 1, you get 3 damage instead of 1.

Yay!

Paizo Employee Designer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
QuidEst wrote:


Oh, Acid Splash is AoE damage? I heard that it was, and then heard it wasn't.

It is an attack with splash, so in a way, both the person who said it is, and the person who said it isn't are correct!

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:
QuidEst wrote:


Oh, Acid Splash is AoE damage? I heard that it was, and then heard it wasn't.
It is an attack with splash, so in a way, both the person who said it is, and the person who said it isn't are correct!

Will it be clear in the rules if these sorts of "splashes" will be considered AoE for the purposes of AoE weakness?


Mark Seifter wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
Wandering Wastrel wrote:

Can't see if this has already been mentioned, but please do something about swarms.

Watching my 3rd/4th level PCs run from yet another Godsdamn botfly swarm because they're out of alchemist's fire and didn't prepare Burning Hands today is amusing, but ultimately unsatisfying.

From what I've heard Acid Splash is an AoE spell now, so casters should find Swarms at least mildly easier to deal with at least. Mainly in avoiding the "we ran out of AoE options 3 swarms ago" way rather than the "we didn't prep any anti-Swarm" way though.
There's acid splash's acid splash damage, but also there's the fact that swarms have resistance and not immunity to most physical damage and weakness not vulnerability to AoE. Vulnerability tends to be much more favorable for the swarm: imagine the classic anti-swarm weapon alchemist's fire in PF1 (ignoring the question of whether it's exactly AoE in PF1). You roll 1d6 damage and then multiply by 1.5. Well that gives you 0 extra damage if you roll a 1, 1 extra for 2 or 3, 2 extra for 4 or 5, and 3 extra for 6. So basically on average it gives you 1.5 extra damage, and it makes already bad luck of rolling a 1 worse, increasing the extremes. Meanwhile, even a mere weakness 2 (I think the lowest weakness around) is just better with 1d6 damage. Only a 6 would deal more damage with vulnerability, and on a roll of 1, you get 3 damage instead of 1.

Wow, thanks for the speedy reply! I really appreciate the engagement y'all are showing with these posts.

I dunno, it's like you value your customer base or something :-)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Smite Makes Right wrote:

Let's add hypothetical mechanics to a temper and see how that sways the conversation.

Temper [flaw]
When insulted or attacked, you must make a [wisdom based check] or use all of your next actions to close with or attack your foe. You may attempt the check at the start of each round.

Short answer: I think adding such a thing is a deeply flawed and incorrect way to mechanically represent having a temper. Peoples tempers do not work that way. I have a temper, and have lost it (though I never severely hurt anyone and haven't lost it and done anything physical since I was 14), and that's my fault not some random thing that happened to me that couldn't be avoided. Having the self control to not hurt or abuse others is part of being a person in society, and certainly part of a Good Alignment.

It is a poor, heavy handed representation.

Having self control allows assertion of your intent. Not having it can cause your intent to be overridden.

Another example, I have a three year old. He has gotten frustrated and bitten or hit people. It's not an evil act. It is a lower brain function taking over. It is a response to feeling threatened even when no threat exists.

Part of what you describe as self control isn't control, it's awareness and proper assessment of the situation (that many of us take for granted).

If you slay an invading raider and it turns out that one of the opposing spellcasters used an illusion to disguise innocents as attackers, you may feel intense guilt, but you did not commit an evil act.

If you swing at a foe using power attack after they surrendered and only didn't kill them because you rolled low, you did not accept their surrender and you cannot claim to have been helping someone else knock them out to avoid violating an anathema.

Intent based on your awareness is pivotal to the good/evil nature of an action.

Culture can influence your intent, but not race.

Paizo Employee Designer

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Tallow wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
QuidEst wrote:


Oh, Acid Splash is AoE damage? I heard that it was, and then heard it wasn't.
It is an attack with splash, so in a way, both the person who said it is, and the person who said it isn't are correct!
Will it be clear in the rules if these sorts of "splashes" will be considered AoE for the purposes of AoE weakness?

The splash is AoE. The direct hit isn't. I believe someone directly hit also takes the splash now though.

Paizo Employee Designer

15 people marked this as a favorite.
Wandering Wastrel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
Wandering Wastrel wrote:

Can't see if this has already been mentioned, but please do something about swarms.

Watching my 3rd/4th level PCs run from yet another Godsdamn botfly swarm because they're out of alchemist's fire and didn't prepare Burning Hands today is amusing, but ultimately unsatisfying.

From what I've heard Acid Splash is an AoE spell now, so casters should find Swarms at least mildly easier to deal with at least. Mainly in avoiding the "we ran out of AoE options 3 swarms ago" way rather than the "we didn't prep any anti-Swarm" way though.
There's acid splash's acid splash damage, but also there's the fact that swarms have resistance and not immunity to most physical damage and weakness not vulnerability to AoE. Vulnerability tends to be much more favorable for the swarm: imagine the classic anti-swarm weapon alchemist's fire in PF1 (ignoring the question of whether it's exactly AoE in PF1). You roll 1d6 damage and then multiply by 1.5. Well that gives you 0 extra damage if you roll a 1, 1 extra for 2 or 3, 2 extra for 4 or 5, and 3 extra for 6. So basically on average it gives you 1.5 extra damage, and it makes already bad luck of rolling a 1 worse, increasing the extremes. Meanwhile, even a mere weakness 2 (I think the lowest weakness around) is just better with 1d6 damage. Only a 6 would deal more damage with vulnerability, and on a roll of 1, you get 3 damage instead of 1.

Wow, thanks for the speedy reply! I really appreciate the engagement y'all are showing with these posts.

I dunno, it's like you value your customer base or something :-)

We simply can't have an effective playtest, nor make PF2 the best that it can be, without working together with all of you, and so I think it's important to explain our thinking as we go along, rather than dump a bunch of info onto you guys with no context.


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Blog wrote:
The tiger still has grab, allowing it to grapple a creature it hits with its jaws or claw attack, and the pounce action, allowing it to Stride and then Strike. Based on its real-world fighting style, it now also has wrestle, allowing it to claw a creature it's grabbed and knock it prone, and sneak attack, granting it extra damage against flat-footed creatures (typically ambushed via Stealth or those prone from its wrestle).

And just like that I am never playing a small character in PF2. I've had bad experiences with large cats whenever I play small characters....

PF 1 game: "That is a nice 100+ HP total you have there, it would be a shame if a dire tiger were in the grass nearby and you didn't notice...."

My poor halfling went from over full HP to almost dead before she could even realize what had happened.

*shudders*

The Halfling is at a disadvantage in regard to combat maneuvers in PF1 because CMB and CMD both have a size component. We do not yet know whether anything similar applies in PF2.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Smite Makes Right wrote:

Let's add hypothetical mechanics to a temper and see how that sways the conversation.

Temper [flaw]
When insulted or attacked, you must make a [wisdom based check] or use all of your next actions to close with or attack your foe. You may attempt the check at the start of each round.

Short answer: I think adding such a thing is a deeply flawed and incorrect way to mechanically represent having a temper. Peoples tempers do not work that way. I have a temper, and have lost it (though I never severely hurt anyone and haven't lost it and done anything physical since I was 14), and that's my fault not some random thing that happened to me that couldn't be avoided. Having the self control to not hurt or abuse others is part of being a person in society, and certainly part of a Good Alignment.

The results of the deterministic firing of neurons in your brain are not your "fault" even though you mistakenly thought you had a choice rather than being a deceived but powerless observer of your own actions.

You should still be punished, of course, because those hardwired (or bounded random) processes that determine your actions are still modified by external stimuli and perceived threats despite the fact there's no "you" to "blame."

At least, that's what my own deterministic processes are leading me to type, and I find that my observer function agrees with them after the fact.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
David knott 242 wrote:


The Halfling is at a disadvantage in regard to combat maneuvers in PF1 because CMB and CMD both have a size component. We do not yet know whether anything similar applies in PF2.

I hope so, tbh. The removal of size modifiers is a recent trend in oversimplification that bugs the hell out of me.

Scarab Sages

Mark Seifter wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
QuidEst wrote:


Oh, Acid Splash is AoE damage? I heard that it was, and then heard it wasn't.
It is an attack with splash, so in a way, both the person who said it is, and the person who said it isn't are correct!
Will it be clear in the rules if these sorts of "splashes" will be considered AoE for the purposes of AoE weakness?
The splash is AoE. The direct hit isn't. I believe someone directly hit also takes the splash now though.

That's cool!

I know in PF1, many folks would apply splash damage to a large creature for each square they take up that is affected by splash damage. I never did it that way, as I figured splash affected creatures individually.

Will this also be clear for larger and larger creatures?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Tallow wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
QuidEst wrote:


Oh, Acid Splash is AoE damage? I heard that it was, and then heard it wasn't.
It is an attack with splash, so in a way, both the person who said it is, and the person who said it isn't are correct!
Will it be clear in the rules if these sorts of "splashes" will be considered AoE for the purposes of AoE weakness?
The splash is AoE. The direct hit isn't. I believe someone directly hit also takes the splash now though.

That's cool!

I know in PF1, many folks would apply splash damage to a large creature for each square they take up that is affected by splash damage. I never did it that way, as I figured splash affected creatures individually.

Will this also be clear for larger and larger creatures?

That should never be the case, because otherwise Fireball and every other area spell would be absolute murder engines against larger creatures. Unless they're going to do something like give larger creatures an outright Hit Point multiplier equal to the number of squares they take up.

Paizo Employee Designer

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Tallow wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
QuidEst wrote:


Oh, Acid Splash is AoE damage? I heard that it was, and then heard it wasn't.
It is an attack with splash, so in a way, both the person who said it is, and the person who said it isn't are correct!
Will it be clear in the rules if these sorts of "splashes" will be considered AoE for the purposes of AoE weakness?
The splash is AoE. The direct hit isn't. I believe someone directly hit also takes the splash now though.

That's cool!

I know in PF1, many folks would apply splash damage to a large creature for each square they take up that is affected by splash damage. I never did it that way, as I figured splash affected creatures individually.

Will this also be clear for larger and larger creatures?

It says it damages creatures in the area.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Direct hit and splash against a fire-weak enemy: Does weakness apply twice?

Paizo Employee Designer

13 people marked this as a favorite.
Catharsis wrote:
Direct hit and splash against a fire-weak enemy: Does weakness apply twice?

I've been thinking about this ever since someone mentioned splash in the other thread with the frost giants. I think it's currently ambiguous in the rules, though since it's the same type of damage coming from the same attack, we should combine them to help an alchemist get through resistance (rather than be double-dinged for a fire resistant monster) and likewise weakness should only apply once.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
Direct hit and splash against a fire-weak enemy: Does weakness apply twice?
I've been thinking about this ever since someone mentioned splash in the other thread with the frost giants. I think it's currently ambiguous in the rules, though since it's the same type of damage coming from the same attack, we should combine them to help an alchemist get through resistance (rather than be double-dinged for a fire resistant monster) and likewise weakness should only apply once.

Something like this deals [value] damage to creatures in the splash area. Increase the damage against three directly hit creature by [dice]?

Liberty's Edge

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Xenocrat wrote:

The results of the deterministic firing of neurons in your brain are not your "fault" even though you mistakenly thought you had a choice rather than being a deceived but powerless observer of your own actions.

You should still be punished, of course, because those hardwired (or bounded random) processes that determine your actions are still modified by external stimuli and perceived threats despite the fact there's no "you" to "blame."

At least, that's what my own deterministic processes are leading me to type, and I find that my observer function agrees with them after the fact.

This is all factually untrue in a universe with souls. Which Pathfinder is. We can argue all day about whether it's true in real life (personally, I'm religious and believe in a soul, but that's matter of faith rather than logic), but it's certainly not the case in Golarion, where souls can be empirically measured.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
Direct hit and splash against a fire-weak enemy: Does weakness apply twice?
I've been thinking about this ever since someone mentioned splash in the other thread with the frost giants. I think it's currently ambiguous in the rules, though since it's the same type of damage coming from the same attack, we should combine them to help an alchemist get through resistance (rather than be double-dinged for a fire resistant monster) and likewise weakness should only apply once.

And this is another good reason for the playtest, I'd bet. Definitely something I'd prefer to see cleared up for the final version of the game.

Liberty's Edge

Mark Seifter wrote:
QuidEst wrote:


Oh, Acid Splash is AoE damage? I heard that it was, and then heard it wasn't.
It is an attack with splash, so in a way, both the person who said it is, and the person who said it isn't are correct!

In the Glass Cannon Podcast it was a 5 foot area attack without splash. That having changed is interesting.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Smite Makes Right wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Catharsis wrote:
Direct hit and splash against a fire-weak enemy: Does weakness apply twice?
I've been thinking about this ever since someone mentioned splash in the other thread with the frost giants. I think it's currently ambiguous in the rules, though since it's the same type of damage coming from the same attack, we should combine them to help an alchemist get through resistance (rather than be double-dinged for a fire resistant monster) and likewise weakness should only apply once.
Something like this deals [value] damage to creatures in the splash area. Increase the damage against three directly hit creature by ?

Yeah, something like that or "Add the splash damage to the direct hit damage before applying resistance, weakness, or the like."


gustavo iglesias wrote:
Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Cuàn wrote:
What exactly do you mean then? The former means a monster takes 5 more damage from slashing attacks while the latter means it takes 5 less damage from slashing attacks.

Both mean the creature takes 5 more damage from slashing.

The first has double HP to compensate for the weakness, rendering all attacks except slashing less effective. This includes energy based attacks, force damage, and untyped damage, which would all bypass DR 5/slashing in PF1

Not exactly the same.

A character with a club and no Str bonus will had a much harder time with 1d6 VS DR5/slash than VS a creature with double hp and weakness 5 slash

To be fair, this is usually the wizard.

Given the reduced number of spells/day, it is likely to become more frequent unless cantrips become the equivalent of At-Will abilities from 4E.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:

The results of the deterministic firing of neurons in your brain are not your "fault" even though you mistakenly thought you had a choice rather than being a deceived but powerless observer of your own actions.

You should still be punished, of course, because those hardwired (or bounded random) processes that determine your actions are still modified by external stimuli and perceived threats despite the fact there's no "you" to "blame."

At least, that's what my own deterministic processes are leading me to type, and I find that my observer function agrees with them after the fact.

This is all factually untrue in a universe with souls. Which Pathfinder is. We can argue all day about whether it's true in real life (personally, I'm religious and believe in a soul, but that's matter of faith rather than logic), but it's certainly not the case in Golarion, where souls can be empirically measured.

That is not a given.

For one the deterministic nature could come from the soul rather than the synapses, often part and parcel with the concept of fate.

Second, you can still have deterministic behaviors determined by chemicals and neurons with a soul that is an influence on that physical system and/or carries the learnings from the physical onto the metaphysical (and possibly back again).


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
QuidEst wrote:


Oh, Acid Splash is AoE damage? I heard that it was, and then heard it wasn't.
It is an attack with splash, so in a way, both the person who said it is, and the person who said it isn't are correct!

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification! It'll be cool to have a cantrip capable of damaging multiple targets, even if the splash damage isn't much.

Liberty's Edge

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Smite Makes Right wrote:

That is not a given.

For one the deterministic nature could come from the soul rather than the synapses, often part and parcel with the concept of fate.

This is possibly true in a random fantasy universe with very different rules from Pathfinder and Golarion.

But in Golarion fate and prophecy explicitly broke and no longer really function since the death of Aroden, and souls can explicitly change their path based on behavior even post death (a Demon achieving redemption or an Angel falling, for example)...so this pretty clearly is not the case in Golarion specifically.

It's possible to argue determinism as a reason for a Demon rising or an Angel falling, I suppose, but there's no evidence for it and a lot against it in-universe.

Smite Makes Right wrote:
Second, you can still have deterministic behaviors determined by chemicals and neurons with a soul that is an influence on that physical system and/or carries the learnings from the physical onto the metaphysical (and possibly back again).

There's evidence via Reincarnate, Polymorph, and similar spells of almost complete personality continuity over multiple bodies. So the soul has a much greater influence than the body. Which is not to say the body provably has none, but it's sure not enough of an influence to be deterministic in sapient creatures.


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Malk_Content wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:

I agree that this would be an improvement, but I doubt Paizo wants to move away from the "some races are innately eviler than others" shtick, especially judging by this right here.

Well we have one example of a race moving away from that. Goblins. We have no examples on the other side. So I think that judgement is a bit premature.

Goblins are an outlier and should not be counted.

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Goblins are an outlier and should not be counted.

I'd disagree. The goal that apparently resulted in Goblins going in the Core Rules was to have a 'monstrous race' as a Core PC option and they started out thinking about doing Orcs, deciding on Goblins instead because they were more distinct to Golarion.

That argues for a desire to change the flat assumption of 'monstrous races' as always Evil as one main reason for Goblin inclusion. And if true, even if not as Core Ancestries, we're likely to see more about non-Evil Orcs and the like in the new edition.

The aesthetic choice in regards to Orcs above may not be the best plan (absent context, anyway), but it's the kind of thing that can pretty easily happen unintentionally, so I wouldn't count it as evidence they're not going in that direction.

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Smite Makes Right wrote:

That is not a given.

For one the deterministic nature could come from the soul rather than the synapses, often part and parcel with the concept of fate.

This is possibly true in a random fantasy universe with very different rules from Pathfinder and Golarion.

But in Golarion fate and prophecy explicitly broke and no longer really function since the death of Aroden, and souls can explicitly change their path based on behavior even post death (a Demon achieving redemption or an Angel falling, for example)...so this pretty clearly is not the case in Golarion specifically.

It's possible to argue determinism as a reason for a Demon rising or an Angel falling, I suppose, but there's no evidence for it and a lot against it in-universe.

Smite Makes Right wrote:
Second, you can still have deterministic behaviors determined by chemicals and neurons with a soul that is an influence on that physical system and/or carries the learnings from the physical onto the metaphysical (and possibly back again).
There's evidence via Reincarnate, Polymorph, and similar spells of almost complete personality continuity over multiple bodies. So the soul has a much greater influence than the body. Which is not to say the body provably has none, but it's sure not enough of an influence to be deterministic in sapient creatures.

So, a body (defined by race) should not determine alignment?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Smite Makes Right wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Smite Makes Right wrote:

Let's add hypothetical mechanics to a temper and see how that sways the conversation.

Temper [flaw]
When insulted or attacked, you must make a [wisdom based check] or use all of your next actions to close with or attack your foe. You may attempt the check at the start of each round.

Short answer: I think adding such a thing is a deeply flawed and incorrect way to mechanically represent having a temper. Peoples tempers do not work that way. I have a temper, and have lost it (though I never severely hurt anyone and haven't lost it and done anything physical since I was 14), and that's my fault not some random thing that happened to me that couldn't be avoided. Having the self control to not hurt or abuse others is part of being a person in society, and certainly part of a Good Alignment.

It is a poor, heavy handed representation.

Having self control allows assertion of your intent. Not having it can cause your intent to be overridden.

Another example, I have a three year old. He has gotten frustrated and bitten or hit people. It's not an evil act. It is a lower brain function taking over. It is a response to feeling threatened even when no threat exists.

Part of what you describe as self control isn't control, it's awareness and proper assessment of the situation (that many of us take for granted).

If you slay an invading raider and it turns out that one of the opposing spellcasters used an illusion to disguise innocents as attackers, you may feel intense guilt, but you did not commit an evil act.

If you swing at a foe using power attack after they surrendered and only didn't kill them because you rolled low, you did not accept their surrender and you cannot claim to have been helping someone else knock them out to avoid violating an anathema.

Intent based on your awareness is pivotal to the good/evil nature of an action.

Culture can influence your intent, but not race.

How can there be unwilling Evil acts then ?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Smite Makes Right wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:

The results of the deterministic firing of neurons in your brain are not your "fault" even though you mistakenly thought you had a choice rather than being a deceived but powerless observer of your own actions.

You should still be punished, of course, because those hardwired (or bounded random) processes that determine your actions are still modified by external stimuli and perceived threats despite the fact there's no "you" to "blame."

At least, that's what my own deterministic processes are leading me to type, and I find that my observer function agrees with them after the fact.

This is all factually untrue in a universe with souls. Which Pathfinder is. We can argue all day about whether it's true in real life (personally, I'm religious and believe in a soul, but that's matter of faith rather than logic), but it's certainly not the case in Golarion, where souls can be empirically measured.

That is not a given.

For one the deterministic nature could come from the soul rather than the synapses, often part and parcel with the concept of fate.

Second, you can still have deterministic behaviors determined by chemicals and neurons with a soul that is an influence on that physical system and/or carries the learnings from the physical onto the metaphysical (and possibly back again).

FWIW, the majority of those working on free will endorse compatibilist positions (positions which take determinism and free will to be compatible). Likewise, the majority of those working on moral responsibility take determinism and moral responsibility (or some nearby analog) to be compatible. So one might reasonably resist Xenocrat's statement on those grounds.

(That said, the existence of souls does seem orthogonal to these issues.)


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Elegos wrote:
Can we please be careful about implying that people who are mentally ill are evil? Cause I am very much not okay with that assertion.

Really, I didn't say that.

But in very specific cases, yes, I think so. Wasn't Jack the Ripper evil? He probably had something not right inside his head, but does that make him innocent? Is he Neutral, in game terms?
In PF if you do evil, you are Evil. Where I agree with you is that intent can be more important than the action itself sometimes.

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The Raven Black wrote:
How can there be unwilling Evil acts then ?

Edit: How can an act be unwilling by the person performing it and be good or evil in regards to judgment of that person?


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Goblins are an outlier and should not be counted.

I'd disagree. The goal that apparently resulted in Goblins going in the Core Rules was to have a 'monstrous race' as a Core PC option and they started out thinking about doing Orcs, deciding on Goblins instead because they were more distinct to Golarion.

That argues for a desire to change the flat assumption of 'monstrous races' as always Evil as one main reason for Goblin inclusion. And if true, even if not as Core Ancestries, we're likely to see more about non-Evil Orcs and the like in the new edition.

The aesthetic choice in regards to Orcs above may not be the best plan (absent context, anyway), but it's the kind of thing that can pretty easily happen unintentionally, so I wouldn't count it as evidence they're not going in that direction.

Goblins are also a massively popular and iconic race, and Paizo is still making use of a "some are good and clever and some are dumb and unevolved" dichotomy for them, so I think it's too early to assume that they disprove anything. Goblins are very much their own thing.

And Megistone, when somebody calls you out for accidentally implying dangerous, ableist ideas that get real people with mental illness killed, the response is, "Sorry, I didn't mean it that way." Not doubling down on the implication. And bringing up Jack the Ripper—who very well might have been a fully mentally sound but very sadistic individual, which would be much more commonplace than the "mentally ill monster" movies like to push—is kinda a bizarre defense for it.

Really, guys. This alignment sidetrek is silly enough without dragging in mental illness and creating a whole other controversy for Paizo's mods to clean up.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:

The results of the deterministic firing of neurons in your brain are not your "fault" even though you mistakenly thought you had a choice rather than being a deceived but powerless observer of your own actions.

You should still be punished, of course, because those hardwired (or bounded random) processes that determine your actions are still modified by external stimuli and perceived threats despite the fact there's no "you" to "blame."

At least, that's what my own deterministic processes are leading me to type, and I find that my observer function agrees with them after the fact.

This is all factually untrue in a universe with souls. Which Pathfinder is. We can argue all day about whether it's true in real life (personally, I'm religious and believe in a soul, but that's matter of faith rather than logic), but it's certainly not the case in Golarion, where souls can be empirically measured.

The existence of souls just means the output of your cumulative deterministic actions carries on with consequences to another form of existence. It doesn't prove free will even in-universe. Golarionverse is just a machine for calculating the results of certain impersonal processes, a complex roulette wheel where each ball is a life/soul and each number is a plane where it ends up. The ball doesn't decide which slot it lands in, though.


The Raven Black wrote:
Smite Makes Right wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Smite Makes Right wrote:

Let's add hypothetical mechanics to a temper and see how that sways the conversation.

Temper [flaw]
When insulted or attacked, you must make a [wisdom based check] or use all of your next actions to close with or attack your foe. You may attempt the check at the start of each round.

Short answer: I think adding such a thing is a deeply flawed and incorrect way to mechanically represent having a temper. Peoples tempers do not work that way. I have a temper, and have lost it (though I never severely hurt anyone and haven't lost it and done anything physical since I was 14), and that's my fault not some random thing that happened to me that couldn't be avoided. Having the self control to not hurt or abuse others is part of being a person in society, and certainly part of a Good Alignment.

It is a poor, heavy handed representation.

Having self control allows assertion of your intent. Not having it can cause your intent to be overridden.

Another example, I have a three year old. He has gotten frustrated and bitten or hit people. It's not an evil act. It is a lower brain function taking over. It is a response to feeling threatened even when no threat exists.

Part of what you describe as self control isn't control, it's awareness and proper assessment of the situation (that many of us take for granted).

If you slay an invading raider and it turns out that one of the opposing spellcasters used an illusion to disguise innocents as attackers, you may feel intense guilt, but you did not commit an evil act.

If you swing at a foe using power attack after they surrendered and only didn't kill them because you rolled low, you did not accept their surrender and you cannot claim to have been helping someone else knock them out to avoid violating an anathema.

Intent based on your awareness is pivotal to the good/evil nature of an action.

Culture can influence your intent,

...

If the primary external forces on the body are good or neutral, then sure. Evil does evil things (which I know is a shock to about half of the posters on the forums) so if the primary power affecting your race is an evil god, horseman, archdevil, demon lord, etc., they will cut down the amount of "free will" that a member of the race to the minimal possible (via genetic, social, and spiritual engineering) so that corrupting them counts as a victory and gets them a soul (sure a soul that freely choses an alignment is better than one that is pushed into it, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush).

For example, if there is a one in a Drizzt chance a drow can go good, the rest of them who stay evil deserve the postmortem trip to the Abyss, and whatever fiend is running the destiny of the drow is working hard to make sure that there is only one drow who goes good (of course to paraphrase a wise man, there are more powers than just the fiends in the world....).

In short, everyone should have the chance to be good, but some races have the deck stacked against them so a member has the same chance as winning the big Powerball prize two months in a row.


Deadmanwalking wrote:


There's evidence via Reincarnate, Polymorph, and similar spells of almost complete personality continuity over multiple bodies. So the soul has a much greater influence than the body. Which is not to say the body provably has none, but it's sure not enough of an influence to be deterministic in sapient creatures.

All of those necessarily copy over an identical physical brain state (Reincarnate) that would then only be modified by any glandular changes below the neck in the new body, or introduce some sort of magical filter/pattern buffer (Polymorph) that maintains the original brain state and translates its inputs/outputs between the new body's motor controls and senses.

The soul in Pathfinder is just (prejudgment/petitioner phase) just a magical substrate for recording and transferring some elements of your consciousness and recordkeeping for your actions while alive. It's not necessary for it to have any interaction with your deterministic flesh and blood actions that work just fine in the absence of a soul.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Smite Makes Right wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
How can there be unwilling Evil acts then ?
Edit: How can an act be unwilling by the person performing it and be good or evil in regards to judgment of that person?

The Paladin code mentions willing evil acts. If there could not be unwilling evil acts there would be no need to specify willing

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