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Use Magical Device and Natural 1 on the die.


Rules Questions

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Good morning,

I thought I'd post this here and ask for clarification, since it didn't go anywhere in the PFS thread I asked it in.

Relavent text:

Pathfinder RPG, pg 109 wrote:
Try Again: Yes, but if you ever roll a natural 1 while attempting to activate an item and you fail, then you can’t try to activate that item again for 24 hours.

[Italics mine]

It came up in conversation about wands of CLW that a GM would just roll until he got a nat 1 and then the item had that many charges if the player had a +19 bonus. But 1 + 19 = 20, so that's not a failure.

I'm reading it as both conditions have to be met a) a nat 1 has to come up on the die and b) that the total roll of that 1 + modifiers has to be less than the DC. Am I the only one reading it that way?


It seems to me that with +19 bonus on Use Magic Device you don't have to roll to activate spell-trigger items anymore (as long as there are no penalties).


I never noticed that. It seems that is the correct interpretation. Many posters will now be happy. I used to hate that rule.


A natural 1 is not an automatic failure on skill checks. That means that if a character has +19 or greater in UMD, they cannot fail to activate a wand. Once that threshold is reached, a natural 1 does not use a charge to no effect.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

That is right, there are no auto failures, or successes on skill checks. Nobody jumps to the moon.


Kind of makes a guy want to max out ranks in UMD.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
MendedWall12 wrote:
Kind of makes a guy want to max out ranks in UMD.

Depends. If all you want is firing those wands, you might as well stop once you reached +19.


Ouch from the other side. We've always played "you sit around waiting 10 minutes for the Rogue to activate the wand 20 times". Never realized that could fail.


blackbloodtroll wrote:
That is right, there are no auto failures, or successes on skill checks. Nobody jumps to the moon.

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of that. I think having there always be a chance to fail or succeed makes things interesting. I like house-ruling that.

The nimble rogue rolls a 1 and trips over her own two feet while trying to hop a mid size gap, but the paladin in full plate charges forward, prays, rolls a 20 and "jumps the moon".
Sure its maybe not as realistic or likely but it can add some humor which definitely counts for something.


Extraordi-Nerd wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:
That is right, there are no auto failures, or successes on skill checks. Nobody jumps to the moon.

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of that. I think having there always be a chance to fail or succeed makes things interesting. I like house-ruling that.

The nimble rogue rolls a 1 and trips over her own two feet while trying to hop a mid size gap, but the paladin in full plate charges forward, prays, rolls a 20 and "jumps the moon".
Sure its maybe not as realistic or likely but it can add some humor which definitely counts for something.

The problem with this approach is the "where do you draw the line?" issue.

Unless you are literally going to give the paladin in full plate a 1 in 20 chance to leap to the moon, then you have to draw that line, and when you do, it will be completely reasonable for the player in question to say "WTF!? You let Mr. Iron Pants over here jump FORTY FREAKING FEET!"


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Extraordi-Nerd wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:
That is right, there are no auto failures, or successes on skill checks. Nobody jumps to the moon.

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of that. I think having there always be a chance to fail or succeed makes things interesting. I like house-ruling that.

The nimble rogue rolls a 1 and trips over her own two feet while trying to hop a mid size gap, but the paladin in full plate charges forward, prays, rolls a 20 and "jumps the moon".
Sure its maybe not as realistic or likely but it can add some humor which definitely counts for something.

The problem with this approach is the "where do you draw the line?" issue.

Unless you are literally going to give the paladin in full plate a 1 in 20 chance to leap to the moon, then you have to draw that line, and when you do, it will be completely reasonable for the player in question to say "WTF!? You let Mr. Iron Pants over here jump FORTY FREAKING FEET!"

True, but i guess that's when it is up to the GM's discretion, consistency is important here. I agree it could lead to arguments, but that's if the players don't trust the GM or the GM is making unfair rulings. Your word is law... until the players unite and rebel.

I completely understand the rule as written, and why it is written that way. It's not my opinion that it should be changed as a core rule because it works. These are just my thoughts on it.


Extraordi-Nerd wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Extraordi-Nerd wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:
That is right, there are no auto failures, or successes on skill checks. Nobody jumps to the moon.

I have to say I'm not a huge fan of that. I think having there always be a chance to fail or succeed makes things interesting. I like house-ruling that.

The nimble rogue rolls a 1 and trips over her own two feet while trying to hop a mid size gap, but the paladin in full plate charges forward, prays, rolls a 20 and "jumps the moon".
Sure its maybe not as realistic or likely but it can add some humor which definitely counts for something.

The problem with this approach is the "where do you draw the line?" issue.

Unless you are literally going to give the paladin in full plate a 1 in 20 chance to leap to the moon, then you have to draw that line, and when you do, it will be completely reasonable for the player in question to say "WTF!? You let Mr. Iron Pants over here jump FORTY FREAKING FEET!"

True, but i guess that's when it is up to the GM's discretion, consistency is important here. I agree it could lead to arguments, but that's if the players don't trust the GM or the GM is making unfair rulings. Your word is law... until the players unite and rebel.

I completely understand the rule as written, and why it is written that way. It's not my opinion that it should be changed as a core rule because it works. These are just my thoughts on it.

I have a question about casting defensively. Last night my sorcerer cast hydraulic push against a mummy standing in front of a spiked pit. I roll 1d20+19 on my rolls. The dc is 17. My GM made me roll and I rolled a one! On the mummies turn he dropped me and got his curse off on me.

I think I would auto succeed 1st and 2nd level spells. What do the rules say? I can't find if a natural one is an auto fail. Are concentration checks treated like attack and save rolls, or are they treated like skills?


Extraordi-Nerd wrote:


True, but i guess that's when it is up to the GM's discretion, consistency is important here. I agree it could lead to arguments, but that's if the players don't trust the GM or the GM is making unfair rulings. Your word is law... until the players unite and rebel.

I completely understand the rule as written, and why it is written that way. It's not my opinion that it should be changed as a core rule because it works. These are just my thoughts on it.

Every GM has to make judgment calls, that's why they exist. On occasion we have to know when it is "best" to violate the rules. Sometimes we do so and realize we made a mistake.

I am pretty much a stickler on the "no automatic success or failure on skill checks" rule. I do so primarily because giving everyone in the party a 1 in 20 chance to "do something amazing" is actually penalizing the characters who have invested in the skills that allow them to do things that other party members simply cannot do.

I have never found this to be a ruling that reduces awesomeness in the game. What I have found is that it encourages out-of-the-box thinking when players realize that their lack of a skill means they literally can't do something the "easy way." Some of my most memorable game experiences have come from situations where the party had to figure out how to overcome an obstacle because they lacked the skills to do the obvious thing.

In very rare circumstances I will bend the skill check rules. But those are so rare that I can't actually think of an example right now.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

one option we used in our 3.x days was that on a skill check, nat 1 = -10, nat 20 = 30.


leem wrote:


I have a question about casting defensively. Last night my sorcerer cast hydraulic push against a mummy standing in front of a spiked pit. I roll 1d20+19 on my rolls. The dc is 17. My GM made me roll and I rolled a one! On the mummies turn he dropped me and got his curse off on me.

I think I would auto succeed 1st and 2nd level spells. What do the rules say? I can't find if a natural one is an auto fail. Are concentration checks treated like attack and save rolls, or are they treated like skills?

Honestly, I'd be inclined to side with your GM. Reason being your concentration check is made as part of making an attack. And the rules state
d20pfsrd.com-Attack Rolls wrote:
A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit. A natural 20 is also a threat—a possible critical hit (see the attack action).

If you are making an attack, whether that roll comes as part of a concentration check or not. I'd say a 1 is a failure. Used to be, can't remember which version, but used to be, a 1 was not only a failure, but something bad happened because of it, i.e. you hurt yourself or someone else because you'd failed so badly. Pathfinder got rid of that, and a lot of my players are happy for it.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

A concentration check does not automatically fail on a 1. A concentration check is not an attack roll.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Jiggy wrote:
A concentration check does not automatically fail on a 1. A concentration check is not an attack roll.

No disagreement here. :-)


I was under the impression that skills no longer critically failed.


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

Concentration checks are not made as part of an attack. Those rules are for weapons. Spells are not always weapons.

If a roll is not explicitly stated as being a failure on a natural 1 and a success on a 20, those rules do not affect the roll.

You succeeded at casting defensively.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
I was under the impression that skills no longer critically failed.

UMD is the exception. If you roll a nat 1 and it fails, the item won't work for you for 24 hours.

OTOH, that could be an amusing house rule similar to the old 'wild die' from D6 starwars.

optional rule: If you roll a nat 1 and succeed, there's some side effect. Just not sure how you'd impliment the 'success, but unexpected' aspect.

edit: Something like you're crafting an item, you roll the 1 but make your craft check, the item works as intended but has a funny pattern on the blade, making it easily recognizable. You make the leap with acrobatics, but some of the ground crumbles under your landing, increasing the DC of anyone following you by 1, etc.


Cheapy wrote:

Concentration checks are not made as part of an attack. Those rules are for weapons. Spells are not always weapons.

If a roll is not explicitly stated as being a failure on a natural 1 and a success on a 20, those rules do not affect the roll.

You succeeded at casting defensively.

I stand (well actually I'm sitting at the current moment) corrected. RAW and RAI for concentration checks provides no such auto failure. I apologize most profusely for my earlier egregious error in judgment, and wish to ask the community as a whole to forgive my ridiculously faulty conjecture.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

That... seems a bit more apologetic than is necessary, but... consider yourself forgiven?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jiggy wrote:
That... seems a bit more apologetic than is necessary, but... consider yourself forgiven?

Consider myself forgiven, question mark? I'm not sure if you are actually forgiving me or not now. Great, now I have more guilt. :(

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

The question mark is more me not being sure if there's anything to be forgiven in the first place.


Matthew Morris wrote:
I'm reading it as both conditions have to be met a) a nat 1 has to come up on the die and b) that the total roll of that 1 + modifiers has to be less than the DC. Am I the only one reading it that way?

No, you are not the only one reading it that way. You're completely correct.


MendedWall12 wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
That... seems a bit more apologetic than is necessary, but... consider yourself forgiven?
Consider myself forgiven, question mark? I'm not sure if you are actually forgiving me or not now. Great, now I have more guilt. :(

Once you get enough, you can convert it to free-form angst!


I really like the "roll-of-one/success=odd side-effect" idea. >sound of rasping metal file< Ah, yep, no serial number left... this idea was ALWAYS mine!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Alitan wrote:
I really like the "roll-of-one/success=odd side-effect" idea. >sound of rasping metal file< Ah, yep, no serial number left... this idea was ALWAYS mine!

Agreed, that sounds really fun.

Story Time:
I once sat in on a Deadlands game, and my friend was a spellcaster. Magic in that game apparently involved a test of wills against a demon, and at one point he succeeded, but just barely, such that the demon cast the spell for him, but also got to mess with him.

Shortly thereafter, the party snuck into a building through the sewers, and saw the rotting corpse of a giant squid floating in the sewage. Except the spellcaster (due to getting messed with by the demon) thought it was alive and threatening.

After concluding that it must be immune to magic (after it failed to react to being shot in the face with lightning), he turned to the party, said "I'll hold it off", then drew a knife and leapt across the septic tank onto the dead squid's face.

The GM later commented "Wow, I've never had so much fun with a dead squid before..."


although the rules don't allow a critical failure/success on a skill check, I usually house rule it to the contrary, regardless of how good you are at something you're bound to fail every once in a while, this also makes it a little more fun since there's always a chance for the awesome rogue to have a trap blow up in his face or trip over himself while trying to jump a pit. just as it's fun for even the clumsy paladin to be able to pull some ridiculous acrobatic stunt with a nat 20.


aech wrote:
although the rules don't allow a critical failure/success on a skill check, I usually house rule it to the contrary, regardless of how good you are at something you're bound to fail every once in a while, this also makes it a little more fun since there's always a chance for the awesome rogue to have a trap blow up in his face or trip over himself while trying to jump a pit. just as it's fun for even the clumsy paladin to be able to pull some ridiculous acrobatic stunt with a nat 20.

The failure thing is so true. Just as an example, think about how many ranks in Walk the average human adult must have. Yet I still trip occasionally, sometimes to hilarious effect. (Hilarious if your are my kids watching me go arse over tea-kettle.) I mean, in the Pathfinder system you don't have to make a check to walk from one place to another; you just do it, but I sometimes have to say "I failed my walk check." Which sometimes comes out, "I rolled a 1." Which must just be my holdover from older versions of the game.


MendedWall12 wrote:
The failure thing is so true. Just as an example, think about how many ranks in Walk the average human adult must have. Yet I still trip occasionally, sometimes to hilarious effect. (Hilarious if your are my kids watching me go arse over tea-kettle.)

So people should be falling down 5% of the time? Just how accident prone are people supposed to be.

At that rate, it's expected that you'll fall down at least once every 60 feet. I walk more than that getting a sandwich ready during a commercial break.

I can't see how someone spending character resources on doing skills well would find this kind of thing "funny".
Skills are already a second-fiddle problem resolver to magic and "alternative methods" (like killing things, or blowing things up from a safe distance).
Do they really need to be neutered even further?

From any angle I look at this (fun, realistic odds, gameplay) it all seems like a bad idea.


aech wrote:
although the rules don't allow a critical failure/success on a skill check, I usually house rule it to the contrary, regardless of how good you are at something you're bound to fail every once in a while, this also makes it a little more fun since there's always a chance for the awesome rogue to have a trap blow up in his face or trip over himself while trying to jump a pit. just as it's fun for even the clumsy paladin to be able to pull some ridiculous acrobatic stunt with a nat 20.

This is why DCs for situations scale with character advancement. So that you have the chance to fail at level appropriate activities. Not at trivial tasks that you mastered eons ago in game terms.


So 1 in 20 steps you take you trip? After 100 ft I think that joke would wear pretty thin, even for kids.

Most skills don't have auto failure because you actually CAN be good enough at most of the skills listed to not screw up a simple task 99.9% of the time. When looking at the example of walking, which obviously isn't a skill persay, but you can still trip occasionally... that rare failure is not a result of a "1" on a d20, but often because of a hazard that is outside the realm of a normal roll, and something more like a failed reflex save :)

Cheliax

MendedWall12 wrote:
aech wrote:
although the rules don't allow a critical failure/success on a skill check, I usually house rule it to the contrary, regardless of how good you are at something you're bound to fail every once in a while, this also makes it a little more fun since there's always a chance for the awesome rogue to have a trap blow up in his face or trip over himself while trying to jump a pit. just as it's fun for even the clumsy paladin to be able to pull some ridiculous acrobatic stunt with a nat 20.
The failure thing is so true. Just as an example, think about how many ranks in Walk the average human adult must have. Yet I still trip occasionally, sometimes to hilarious effect. (Hilarious if your are my kids watching me go arse over tea-kettle.) I mean, in the Pathfinder system you don't have to make a check to walk from one place to another; you just do it, but I sometimes have to say "I failed my walk check." Which sometimes comes out, "I rolled a 1." Which must just be my holdover from older versions of the game.

I wonder what your circumstance penalties are for those failed walk checks? Or maybe they where acrobatics checks you failed (running up stairs, trying to not trip over the cat, trying to not step on a toy, stepping on a lego.. etc).


Happler wrote:


I wonder what your circumstance penalties are for those failed walk checks? Or maybe they where acrobatics checks you failed (running up stairs, trying to not trip over the cat, trying to not step on a toy, stepping on a lego.. etc).

That's what I'd like to know when it happens. I mean, sometimes honestly it's just a walk up the driveway from getting the mail and I trip for no apparent reason at all.

Also:@Kaisoku, and Stubbs McKenzie

It was supposed to be funny!

I wasn't saying I'm actually going to include an auto-fail into skills on a roll of 1. I was saying in real life (which obviously Pathfinder is not) "normal" people still fail at relatively menial tasks every once in a while. I mean, I've watched enough cooking shows to see a chef (who probably has what 10-15 ranks in Profession (Chef)) cut themselves with a knife. I was just relating that failure does happen. By no means do I think a mathematical percentage should be attached to it, and if I did it certainly wouldn't be related to a d20 roll.

When I said that I exclaim "I rolled a 1;" I didn't do it because I think every time somebody fails God just rolled a d20 for them and it actually came up showing a 1.


A chef cutting himself isn't a cooking failure, that's a botched attack roll on an onion...the food still comes out great!

Mendedwall12 wrote:
It was supposed to be funny!

I have been snickering heartily while reading and replying, so job well done!


MendedWall12 wrote:

Also:@Kaisoku, and Stubbs McKenzie

It was supposed to be funny!

I was more using your quote to springboard my own hyperbole on the suggestion, rather than directly call you out on it. Sorry about that.

In most situations where someone trips up, it usually feels like there's some circumstantial modifiers at play. Put enough negatives (from fatigue/exhaustion, panic from time constraints, fear of failure, etc), and your "easy to beat DC of 1" suddenly looks like a looming, terrifying thing.

Taking the chef example, it's likely that the cut came about from lack of sleep due to working hours, being rushed due to restaurant demands, distraction from multi-tasking or others demanding attention, a dull or unfamiliar blade, etc.
Often critical failure is because the situation was harder than you expected: slipping because you didn't know it was slippery, so you didn't react with the skill you would have had you known it was, etc.

In gaming terms, it's "The DC was higher than normal" or "Your skill didn't apply as much as you would have".


Stubs McKenzie wrote:

A chef cutting himself isn't a cooking failure, that's a botched attack roll on an onion...the food still comes out great!

Mendedwall12 wrote:
It was supposed to be funny!
I have been snickering heartily while reading and replying, so job well done!

What's the armor class of an onion do you think? Also what's the damage of a chef's knife? Also, doesn't missing the onion but hitting yourself mean that you're using the old critical failure rules, where a 1 actually means you hurt yourself or others around you? I thought we said we can't use those rules anymore?

Edit:@Kaisoku... Yeah but what if it's an otherwise totally normal activity and I just botched it for no reason at all? I mean, I have quite literally tripped and looked back to see why and the only reason is I didn't lift up my foot high enough to actually not scrape it along the pavement. For whatever reason, even with menial and everyday tasks, people sometimes fail. Also, I'm not trying to argue with you, I'm just saying, with anything, anything there is a chance of failure. I don't want that represented in my game. Heck if I had to roll a percent chance just for walking from the table of the common room up to the bar to get a drink I don't think I'd be playing RPGs much longer. =D


We (my group) still uses crit fumbles :D The crit and fumble decks are pretty great, and the optional rules for called shots in the back of UC make me pine slightly less for AD&D, though only slightly :P


MendedWall12 wrote:
For whatever reason, even with menial and everyday tasks, people sometimes fail. Also, I'm not trying to argue with you, I'm just saying, with anything, anything there is a chance of failure. I don't want that represented in my game.

Totally agree. I had an addendum to my post that was going on about how to accurately represent the odd chance of something like that happening, which would end up making a bunch of pointless extra rolls and interfere with gaming.

My internet died for a while though (damn router), and the edit was lost.

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