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A +4 racial bonus to Survival skill for Animals?


Races & Classes


While this addresses something that have not been changed from the SRD, I suggest giving all animals and other creatures with a INT score of 1 or 2 that lives off the wild, a racial +4 bonus to their Survival checks. Here's my reasoning:

Animals (and other wild, hunting beasts) have a low survival skill bonus. As a matter of fact, they do not have any ranks in survival and only benefit from the +1 bonus granted by their Wisdom score of 12.

One could argue that animals do not need the Survival skill since for them, living in the wild is their natural way of life, unlike a human for example, who has to learn the skill to be at home in an “unnatural” setting such as wilderness…

Survival is thus a skill based on intellect, a logical analysis of nature and the best way to interact with it, which is beyond the ken of animals.

However, the Survival skill is an integral part of the game mechanics, and is used, among other things, for the tracking feat which some animal do not only have, but should be superior to any human. Since it is a fantastic setting, let’s assume that a dog’s ability to track by scent could still be outclassed by an experienced tracker, but it should still be superior to a novice yet enthusiastic tracker.

Unfortunately, the present situation proves that a novice tracker (doesn't necessarily have to be a ranger, only a 1st level character with the track feat and a half-decent wisdom score) can easily equal or even beat a dog’s ability to track a prey.

Dog: +1 WIS bonus, +4 bonus to track by scent.

Novice Tracker: 4 ranks in Survival skill, and possibly more than a +1 bonus from WIS score.

Also, a +1 bonus is not enough to allow animals to “take 10” and automatically succeed protecting themselves against severe weather or identifying natural hazards (which DC is set to 15) in a non-threatening situation.

While I understand that animals DO die of severe weather and by natural hazard, a +1 to their survival check means that they need a 14+ on a d20 to succeed or if you prefer, that animals fail to recognize such a hazard 70% of the time. As for Protecting Against Severe Weather, the Survival skill grants a bonus to the Fortitude saving throw, which make the save more likely to succeed but does not guaranty its success.

A +4 racial bonus to survival would not only guaranty the success of most Survival checks if the animal is in a situation that allows taking 10, it would make a dog’s tracking ability harder to equal, and harder still to beat at 1st level. Giving the same bonus to every animal should not affect the prey/predator balance issue.

Any comments?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

It's something to consider, though it should still probably be on a case-by-case basis instead of being part of the Animal type.


Or you could just say that animals automatically take 10 on rolls to get along in the wild. Simple, and keeps bonus-creep down.

Andoran

Lathiira wrote:

Or you could just say that animals automatically take 10 on rolls to get along in the wild. Simple, and keeps bonus-creep down.

I think the point is that if most animals take 10, they can't survive.

The DCs are high enough, that to succeed at, say, getting enough food to survive, you need to roll better than a 10. Without number crunching, I'd guess the OP is right.

Though there are possibly several solutions to the problem, the +4 might be the easist to implement.


Lathiira wrote:

Or you could just say that animals automatically take 10 on rolls to get along in the wild. Simple, and keeps bonus-creep down.

The Survival skill has a couple descriptions of tasks achievable with the skill. Considering that animals have no ranks in Survival and a +1 bonus from WIS they can only succeed the first task by taking 10, Get Along in the Wild (DC 10).

We could argue that "Getting Along in the Wild" covers all aspects of survival (feed yourself, find shelter, avoid getting eaten etc). However, the Survival skill also list other tasks that have a DC 15 (therefore animals cannot succeed by taking 10, and statistically fail 65% of the time) such as avoiding natural hazards and protecting yourself against severe weather (which I imagine involves finding shelters, restricting your movement to less affected environments etc). Whether animals can precisely predict weather 24 hour ahead of time is debatable, but I think most people that work around animals will agree that they have an intuitive hunch about oncoming weather, especially storms and bad weather. In other words, I would expect wild animals to succeed all of the described Survival task most of the times.

Making a wolf or a dog a better tracker than a 1st level character is mostly vanilla, but it somehow make sense to me...

a +4 racial bonus would allow animals to achieve a result of 15 by taking 10, which would allow them to succeed all those Survival fine prints most of the time. The fact that animals may not be allowed to take 10 all the time keeps the natural cycle of life and death balanced. An animal may fall in a quicksand when chased by a predator by example, or a -2 circumstantial penalty for a well camouflaged/hidden hazard raise the DC to 17, enough to make an animal to fail by simply taking 10.

Animals receive a lot of racial bonus anyways, most of them by increments of +4. I do not believe a +4 to Survival checks would make animals that much broken, and I would solve a lot of common sense issues IMO.


For the Pathfinder RPG, I've been replacing the Track feat with Skill Focus (Survival), since Tracking is dead and many predatory animals had that as a bonus feat.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Mark J wrote:
For the Pathfinder RPG, I've been replacing the Track feat with Skill Focus (Survival), since Tracking is dead and many predatory animals had that as a bonus feat.

Nice! I'll have to keep this in mind for any Beta monster conversions I do.

Andoran

Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
DeadDMWalking wrote:
Lathiira wrote:

Or you could just say that animals automatically take 10 on rolls to get along in the wild. Simple, and keeps bonus-creep down.

I think the point is that if most animals take 10, they can't survive.

The DCs are high enough, that to succeed at, say, getting enough food to survive, you need to roll better than a 10. Without number crunching, I'd guess the OP is right.

Though there are possibly several solutions to the problem, the +4 might be the easist to implement.

I completely agree. In fact, many animals/creatures get as much as +8 bonus to Hide in natural surroundings.

As far as I'm concerned, the +4 works for ANIMALS in general, but many of them, I have no problem with +8 being normal. I dont see why a wolf, shark, bear, etc shouldn't have a natural inherent +8 bonus to survive in its habitat - compared to a human that needs to learn to survive as an esoteric skill - and not just a natural inherent instinct.

Good call on the thought, OP.

Robert


Mark J wrote:
... since Tracking is dead

!?!

Have I missed something?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Laurefindel wrote:
Mark J wrote:
... since Tracking is dead

!?!

Have I missed something?

The Track Feat no longer exists. Anyone with Survival can track. Rangers get a bonus on Survival checks made to track equal to half their ranger level.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

I like this idea a lot. I'd also suggest giving the same bonus to magical beasts, since they generally fill similar roles in the ecosystem as animals.


Up 'til now, I've been giving them Survival as a class skill; that way, 1 skill point gets them Survival +5 (1 rank +3 class skill +1 Wis) right off the bat. For a 3-HD animal, put another point in Perception (+5 for that, too, exclusive of racial bonuses) and another in Stealth or Climb or whatever, and you're good to go.

That said, I'd have no objection to a flat +4 to animals and magical beasts as part of the "type" description.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Up 'til now, I've been giving them Survival as a class skill; that way, 1 skill point gets them Survival +5 (1 rank +3 class skill +1 Wis) right off the bat.

That sounds good, and it takes into account the way PF handle skills. I like this.

However, should animals be trained in survival (i.e. have ranks)? Is Survival a skill only available to "civilized" creature attempting to replicate the ways of the wild or simply your ability to, well, survive? (this is purely a question, not a critic)


Laurefindel wrote:
However, should animals be trained in survival (i.e. have ranks)? Is Survival a skill only available to "civilized" creature attempting to replicate the ways of the wild or simply your ability to, well, survive? (this is purely a question, not a critic)

I see where you're coming from, but wild animals do have skill ranks; they just represent instinct instead of training, to some degree. A leopard isn't "trained" in stealth at some ninja school, but it has ranks in Hide (in 3.5) nonetheless.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
I see where you're coming from, but wild animals do have skill ranks; they just represent instinct instead of training, to some degree. A leopard isn't "trained" in stealth at some ninja school, but it has ranks in Hide (in 3.5) nonetheless.

I heard equally good arguments for and against animals having ranks in Survival (I could make a pro/con list if anyone is interested).

I think that in the end, the question is twofold:

Should a human with 1 rank in Survival (class skill or not) be just as apt to live in the wilderness as an animal in his own environment?

And

Are the racial bonuses the animal already receives justify its survival despite its poor Survival bonus.

If the answer is yes and no (respectively) then it would be nice to ask Jason and his team to mechanically represent that fact in their core system (how exactly is debatable).

For the moment, I am sure they have more urgent issues to solve...

Benoit

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