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Knowledge Skills, Magic Item Creation and Metagame: How I handle it.


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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shallowsoul wrote:

Knowledge is to be used for "in game" and not used to metagame.

If "you", the player, comes across something in a book and you want to transfer that knowledge to your character and use the "well I want to make a Knowledge check to see if he knows that" is not acceptable if it doesn't come up in game.

What difference does it make if he makes the check in the exact moment that he needs it in-game or a week earlier? What, does it somehow give him a bonus on the check?

PCs know things all the time. Just because it isn't relevant at the moment in-game doesn't mean they don't know. If a PC runs into a vampire, makes a successful check to figure out it's stats, then that means he would also know it a week earlier (in-game).
And just because it's not really relevant at the moment in-game doesn't mean that it's irrelevant to the game. A knowledgeable PC can use the info for roleplaying.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
shallowsoul wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Again, you're free to do this at your table, but it weakens the feats. In any case, I hope you tell your players this before they decide what kind of character to make.

How does it weaken the feats? Where is this preconceived notion that you automatically have the knowledge of all specific items come from? Please point to me in the book where it says this.

Again, just like Wild Shape, the rules have been left open because not all items in the back of the book are present in people's campaigns.

Why should I have to let people know about it ahead of time? Nothing written in the rules leads people to believe that the moment they take certain item creation feats that they suddenly become aware of specific items and properties. I'm smelling a lot of assumptions that are mistaken for rules.

When a player is deciding whether to spend a feat on an ability, they have a right to know what that feat can do. When your player is considering taking an item creation feat, that is the time (if not before) to sit and explain your philosophy on item creation. That way, they can make an informed decision on whether they're taking something useful enough to warrant a feat. I hope that this doesn't seem unreasonable to you. I would hope that my GM would tell me if my, e.g., Craft Wondrous Item feat would be limited to feathered token.

Without any GM clarification, players, like it or not, form their own expectations about what item creation entails. You know this, or you wouldn't have mentioned item creation in the thread title and OP. Therefore, it is your responsibility as GM to clear up any misconceptions before they become an issue. To do otherwise is, well, to act like a jerk, just as it would be if your fighter took Spring Attack and you immediately, without warning, sent them to some weird variable gravity world where Spring Attack doesn't work. Once the players know your rules, then they can work with them, and if they can't make the wondrous item they wanted to, then they only have themselves to blame.

Silver Crusade

zylphryx wrote:

OK, so on the item creation front, say I am a cleric and I take the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat.

I then state that I want to create a cold iron sword with a +2 enchantment that becomes empowered in the hands of a paladin, granting a +5 modifier, spell resistance of 5 + the paladin's level and use a general area greater dispel magic once per round as a standard action. Would you allow me to craft the weapon?

While I have described the effects of a Holy Avenger, I have not named the specific weapon, only the effects I want to be able to imbue onto the weapon.

As far as Craft feats go, all the listed magic items are, for all intents and purposes, merely pregenerated templates of magic items. It gives folks a basis to use as comparison for crafting items that are not listed, using the rules as given.

As far as wanting a RAW source, how about:

Core Rules, pp. 548-549 wrote:

To create magic items, spellcasters use special feats which allow them to invest time and money in an item’s creation. At the end of this process, the spellcaster must make a single skill check (usually Spellcraft, but sometimes another skill) to finish the item. If an item type has multiple possible skills, you choose which skill to make the check with. The DC to create a magic item is 5 + the caster level for the item. Failing this check means that the item does not function and the materials and time are wasted. Failing this check by 5 or more results in a cursed item (see Cursed Items for more information).

Note that all items have prerequisites in their descriptions. These prerequisites must be met for the item to be created. Most of the time, they take the form of spells that must be known by the item’s creator (although access through another magic item or spellcaster is allowed). The DC to create a magic item increases by +5 for each prerequisite the caster does not meet. The only exception to this is the requisite item creation feat, which is mandatory. In addition, you

...

Once again. You have described the mechanical rules for actually creating the item. That is what Prereqs are for. What I am talking about is the pure knowledge of such an item.

There are rules for copying spells into spellbooks, now are there rules about where you place another wizard so the PC wizard can find him, no there is not, that is left up to the DM.

Let's use the Wizard class as an example. It says that you can cast arcane spells. Does it say that you automatically have the knowledge of all other arcane spells? No it doesn't because that is left up to the DM.

Silver Crusade

ImperatorK wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:

Knowledge is to be used for "in game" and not used to metagame.

If "you", the player, comes across something in a book and you want to transfer that knowledge to your character and use the "well I want to make a Knowledge check to see if he knows that" is not acceptable if it doesn't come up in game.

What difference does it make if he makes the check in the exact moment that he needs it in-game or a week earlier? What, does it somehow give him a bonus on the check?

PCs know things all the time. Just because it isn't relevant at the moment in-game doesn't mean they don't know. If a PC runs into a vampire, makes a successful check to figure out it's stats, then that means he would also know it a week earlier (in-game).
And just because it's not really relevant at the moment in-game doesn't mean that it's irrelevant to the game. A knowledgeable PC can use the info for roleplaying.

Hold on a moment. What you say isn't always true.

The way Knowledges go, you can go through 5 sessions where a vampire isn't even remotely close to being on the agenda, even your background could be worded in such a way that you wouldn't possibly even know anything about a vampire. Let's say you come across one and you roll your Knowledge Religion and you pass the check. Suddenly, you know something about vampires even though all prior sessions have had absolutely nothing to do with them or even the thought of them.


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shallowsoul wrote:

The way Knowledges go, you can go through 5 sessions where a vampire isn't even remotely close to being on the agenda, even your background could be worded in such a way that you wouldn't possibly even know anything about a vampire. Let's say you come across one and you roll your Knowledge Religion and you pass the check. Suddenly, you know something about vampires even though all prior sessions have had absolutely nothing to do with them or even the thought of them.

I've never encountered a vampire, but I know they don't like garlic. They avoid mirrors, and a cross held out with firm conviction can keep them at bay. Staking them through the heart means they are immobilized, but not necessarily killed. And that stake had better be made of ash.

Now, Workshop the X level chemist, being a character in the Science & Steampunk RPG, may have never run into a vampire, and by your rules wouldn't know any folklore about vampires. But as I've just shown, characters know things that players do not.

But as others have said, I hope your group enjoys your houserules.


Quote:
The way Knowledges go, you can go through 5 sessions where a vampire isn't even remotely close to being on the agenda, even your background could be worded in such a way that you wouldn't possibly even know anything about a vampire. Let's say you come across one and you roll your Knowledge Religion and you pass the check. Suddenly, you know something about vampires even though all prior sessions have had absolutely nothing to do with them or even the thought of them.

Let me get this straight: You're saying that a PC doesn't know anything about a monster or place unless he makes the check, and then he all of a sudden knows? Does his knowledge just magically appear in his mind?

When a PC makes a successful check to know about vampires, he knows about them the whole time, it is assumed that he read it or learned it from someone weeks, months or even years ago.

Silver Crusade

Doug's Workshop wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:

The way Knowledges go, you can go through 5 sessions where a vampire isn't even remotely close to being on the agenda, even your background could be worded in such a way that you wouldn't possibly even know anything about a vampire. Let's say you come across one and you roll your Knowledge Religion and you pass the check. Suddenly, you know something about vampires even though all prior sessions have had absolutely nothing to do with them or even the thought of them.

I've never encountered a vampire, but I know they don't like garlic. They avoid mirrors, and a cross held out with firm conviction can keep them at bay. Staking them through the heart means they are immobilized, but not necessarily killed. And that stake had better be made of ash.

Now, Workshop the X level chemist, being a character in the Science & Steampunk RPG, may have never run into a vampire, and by your rules wouldn't know any folklore about vampires. But as I've just shown, characters know things that players do not.

But as others have said, I hope your group enjoys your houserules.

Your example doesn't help your argument I'm afraid.

It has yet to be proven that my way is a houserule. Careful how you use that word.

Silver Crusade

ImperatorK wrote:
Quote:
The way Knowledges go, you can go through 5 sessions where a vampire isn't even remotely close to being on the agenda, even your background could be worded in such a way that you wouldn't possibly even know anything about a vampire. Let's say you come across one and you roll your Knowledge Religion and you pass the check. Suddenly, you know something about vampires even though all prior sessions have had absolutely nothing to do with them or even the thought of them.

Let me get this straight: You're saying that a PC doesn't know anything about a monster or place unless he makes the check, and then he all of a sudden knows? Does his knowledge just magically appear in his mind?

When a PC makes a successful check to know about vampires, he knows about them the whole time, it is assumed that he read it or learned it from someone weeks, months or even years ago.

Actually the way the skills work the knowledge does seem to magically appear in his mind. If he had failed that check then the knowledge wouldn't be there.

That first check actually determines if the knowledge is there or not, unless it was in your background.


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shallowsoul wrote:


Your example doesn't help your argument I'm afraid.

It has yet to be proven that my way is a houserule. Careful how you use that word.

You want to eliminate character knowledge about their world except what the players have experienced while playing your game.

Knowledge skills don't work like that.

House.
Rule.


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Characters have backgrounds. And I mean something more than what the player wrote about the PCs backstory. Ranks/positive modifiers in Knowledge skills indicate that the PC read or learned about the subject. It would be impossible to list everything the character knows, that's why there are Knowledge skills.
If a PC has +10 in History that means he read about history. Now, if there's a question about history and the PC makes a check, the success means that he learned it in his past and remembers. A failure means that he didn't learn it, or that he doesn't remember, or that he skipped that day.
Unless your PCs are born right there, at the start of your game, they have backgrounds. And in their backgrounds they trained and learned about stuff. Knowledge skills tell you what they learned and what they remember from the lessons.

You're just misunderstanding the rules.


"Acquiring Skills

Each level, your character gains a number of skill ranks dependent upon your class plus your Intelligence modifier. Investing a rank in a skill represents a measure of training in that skill."

When I read the above it means that I have trained in its use and information about the skill. When my character invests in knowledge religion he trains in Religion (gods and goddesses, mythic history, ecclesiastic tradition, holy symbols, undead). The information doesn't magically appear when I spy a vampire. It magically appeared when I went up a level.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
shallowsoul wrote:
ImperatorK wrote:
Quote:
The way Knowledges go, you can go through 5 sessions where a vampire isn't even remotely close to being on the agenda, even your background could be worded in such a way that you wouldn't possibly even know anything about a vampire. Let's say you come across one and you roll your Knowledge Religion and you pass the check. Suddenly, you know something about vampires even though all prior sessions have had absolutely nothing to do with them or even the thought of them.

Let me get this straight: You're saying that a PC doesn't know anything about a monster or place unless he makes the check, and then he all of a sudden knows? Does his knowledge just magically appear in his mind?

When a PC makes a successful check to know about vampires, he knows about them the whole time, it is assumed that he read it or learned it from someone weeks, months or even years ago.
Actually the way the skills work the knowledge does seem to magically appear in his mind.

Are you serious...?


Please, read the description of the Knowledge skill. I'll quote the relevant parts:

Quote:
You are educated in a field of study and can answer both simple and complex questions.
Quote:

Try Again

No. The check represents what you know, and thinking about a topic a second time doesn’t let you know something that you never learned in the first place.

Your character knows what he knows. If you, as the player, want to know what your character knows, you make a check to learn what your character knows.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
shallowsoul wrote:

Once again. You have described the mechanical rules for actually creating the item. That is what Prereqs are for. What I am talking about is the pure knowledge of such an item.

There are rules for copying spells into spellbooks, now are there rules about where you place another wizard so the PC wizard can find him, no there is not, that is left up to the DM.

Let's use the Wizard class as an example. It says that you can cast arcane spells. Does it say that you automatically have the knowledge of all other arcane spells? No it doesn't because that is left up to the DM.

OK, let's use the wizard as an example. Every level a wizard goes up, they automatically gain two new spells for their spell book, without making rolls or having to hunt down another wizard. In that sense, yes, they have the potential to have knowledge of any given spell as they could choose any two they want. That is not left up to the DM.

And you ignored the initial part of my post. If I describe to you the effects of an item (even if it matches a preexisting item), then why should my PC not be able to craft the item. As I said, the listed items are, in essence, just guidelines as far as Craft feats go. Otherwise, why even list the prereqs?

Additionally, how would you handle it if a player wanted to design a custom item (one that is not described)?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

From a GM perspective, the answer has to do with something that is plausible to the storyline. The wizard gains a level and the two spells just "pop" into understanding? Yeah, you can play that way, but that's not automatically justified as the rule, nor a demand of justification by the GM considered a houserule. Of course it can be easily explained that the wizard is learning the new spells as part of their efforts to enhance their abilities when gaining that new level. From a suspense-of-disbelief perspective though, it should be at least marginally justified in some way.

Same premise for crafting magic items. Just because you took the feat and know how to dweomercraft "a" magic item doesn't mean you know the universe of "all" or even "most" magic items. Just because one is an aeronautical engineer doesn't mean they automatically know how to recreate the design for a particular airplane design. You need plans, designs, discussions with those that came before you, an existing example to deconstruct -- in effect research. Perhaps you don't have a GM that needs for you to justify how you dweomercraft your magic items, but that's not adherence to RAW, it's the interpretation of the GM on how they gate-keep the magic in the campaign.

Apart from the issue of what an item crafting feat allows one to get away with by just having the feat, the GM putting constraints on the players in terms of what they "know" to craft a magic item is an effective check-and-balance to keep magic from feeling like cheap adds, gives some more RP emphasis on the crafter going out to find the method to make something they really want to make, and gives the GM a tool to limit the truly ridiculous campaign-breaking stuff that has no business in that particular game. Not a bad thing really, unless you play in a game where the GM and players are adversarial, and if that's the case you got bigger problems than crafting magic items.


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*puts on his meta-sunglasses and basks in the confusion*

Shallow does have a point, but I think he may be expressing it in a way that is rankling a number of people here. I think he may be addressing a problem of how meta-knowledge (that is, of players knowing what's in the Pathfinder universe) and using it as a standard for what they EXPECT their character to know. This comes up in knowledge checks, and Item Creation.

I think Lex clarifies this. There is a certain amount of mystery within the world, (and this includes magic items and various and sundry creatures), that the GM would much rather use as part of the ongoing story, than as something listed on the "menu" for a player to throw gold pieces and a die roll-at.

Would I let a player sit down and roll through the Beastiary 3? Heck no. How is that even fun? I'd tell him "Your character has Knowledge, he can roll whenever he encounters something", and yes, it's part of his background training. I reserve the right to "withold" knowledge from the players if it's part of my story. Maybe I WANT the player-characters to be surprised/delighted/dismayed/afraid by something. It's part of the fun.

Magic Item Creation? Sure, there's a range of things they can create. Do they want to create a Holy Avenger? Let's make it a big deal, and have them do some RP Challenges to discover the history and LORE behind such a powerful weapon and really bring the importance of such an item into our narrative. THEN they can make the roll.

In other words, make 'em add something to the story, rather than order off the menu. I call it "The Rule of Adding to the Story", and it allows me to supercede player min-maxing/gold-spending.


There's a better name for it Owly - houserule.


ImperatorK wrote:
There's a better name for it Owly - houserule.

Sure, but don't dismiss houserules because they're not Rules as Written. There is a whole chapter (and a whole book) devoted to the art of Gamemastering, and creating a fun experience for the players is of paramount importance.

I salute you guys on the forums who explore every + and - in the game to master the system, but don't forget that creating a RICH experience is part of the game too.

*and thumbs-up to Vorduvai's last post*

Silver Crusade

ImperatorK wrote:
There's a better name for it Owly - houserule.

That word continues to be thrown around a little too easy.

Just claiming that something is a houserule doesn't decide the winner of the argument.

There are still people who think that if a magic shop doesn't carry scrolls then it's a houserule.

Silver Crusade

Hobbun wrote:
Jal Dorak wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:

Jal

I want to give you a real life example of something I had a player try and tell me what you think.

I had someone in my group just purchase the Bestiary 3. After the game the player asked me if we could sit down together while he rolls his Knowledge checks against each creature in the book to see if he can learn something ahead of time, say that his character read up on those creatures and write each thing down he finds out about each creature.

What would you do in this situation? Mind you he has never even been up against or even heard of these creatures until be bought and read the book.

I'd politely tell the player that it is extreme meta-gaming. If he wants his character to have an encyclopedic knowledge of monsters, he should start by writing his own about each monster he encounters. If he wants to add monsters from research, he can find out about 1 monster with 1 day of research (in an appropriate library or setting) and a Knowledge check (bonus for using materials, same DC) to see if he understands or even finds the information.

I've actually done this as a player, and it's very rewarding. Once I'm done, my character will attempt to publish his work or sell it to the PFS.

I think it’s pretty poor on how the player handled asking for the knowledge of monsters (in sitting down the DM and pour through the bestiaries), but I think it’s a legitimate request to know the strengths and weaknesses of a monster through the appropriate knowledge check.

In our campaigns, I have played characters with usually several knowledges and our DM has allowed me to make a knowledge check on the abilities of monsters we go up against. First, I would need to identify the monster, then I would get a check on what abilities it has. How high I roll depends on how many strengths/weaknesses I know it has.

Again, it has to be the appropriate knowledge. If we are fighting a large plant creature, I can’t use my Knowledge: Arcana (constructs, dragons,...

That is how I see Knowledges as being used.

Silver Crusade

Owly wrote:

*puts on his meta-sunglasses and basks in the confusion*

Shallow does have a point, but I think he may be expressing it in a way that is rankling a number of people here. I think he may be addressing a problem of how meta-knowledge (that is, of players knowing what's in the Pathfinder universe) and using it as a standard for what they EXPECT their character to know. This comes up in knowledge checks, and Item Creation.

I think Lex clarifies this. There is a certain amount of mystery within the world, (and this includes magic items and various and sundry creatures), that the GM would much rather use as part of the ongoing story, than as something listed on the "menu" for a player to throw gold pieces and a die roll-at.

Would I let a player sit down and roll through the Beastiary 3? Heck no. How is that even fun? I'd tell him "Your character has Knowledge, he can roll whenever he encounters something", and yes, it's part of his background training. I reserve the right to "withold" knowledge from the players if it's part of my story. Maybe I WANT the player-characters to be surprised/delighted/dismayed/afraid by something. It's part of the fun.

Magic Item Creation? Sure, there's a range of things they can create. Do they want to create a Holy Avenger? Let's make it a big deal, and have them do some RP Challenges to discover the history and LORE behind such a powerful weapon and really bring the importance of such an item into our narrative. THEN they can make the roll.

In other words, make 'em add something to the story, rather than order off the menu. I call it "The Rule of Adding to the Story", and it allows me to supercede player min-maxing/gold-spending.

Again, exactly how I see Knowledge skills working. This also sums up why I see that "Wild Shape" doesn't go off of someone just rolling their Knowledge Nature before actually encountering a specific creature just so they can add that creature to their list of forms.

Scarab Sages

shallowsoul wrote:

Once again. You have described the mechanical rules for actually creating the item. That is what Prereqs are for. What I am talking about is the pure knowledge of such an item.

There are rules for copying spells into spellbooks, now are there rules about where you place another wizard so the PC wizard can find him, no there is not, that is left up to the DM.

Let's use the Wizard class as an example. It says that you can cast arcane spells. Does it say that you automatically have the knowledge of all other arcane spells? No it doesn't because that is left up to the DM.

Well, the wizard class has very specific rules for how many spells they know and how to learn more. And the spell-completion/spell-trigger rules are very clear that the wizard is aware enough of other spells that they can at least complete the necessary components to cast the spell from such items. As to a druid's wild shape, the rules specifically call out the need to have some experience with creatures native to the characters region. Not even a hint of a similar rule for item creation.

I'm pretty much done on this subject, so I'll finish with this: the rules for feats are nearly identical to magic item creation (minimum level, listed prerequisites). Would you deny a fighter the ability to learn Power Attack as one of his bonus feats, because the rules don't specify how a character "knows" about the feat?

When in doubt about if you are using RAW, think "could I do this in a tournament and have every character that comes to the table be valid?"


Owly wrote:
ImperatorK wrote:
There's a better name for it Owly - houserule.

Sure, but don't dismiss houserules because they're not Rules as Written. There is a whole chapter (and a whole book) devoted to the art of Gamemastering, and creating a fun experience for the players is of paramount importance.

I salute you guys on the forums who explore every + and - in the game to master the system, but don't forget that creating a RICH experience is part of the game too.

*and thumbs-up to Vorduvai's last post*

I'm not dismissing anything. I'm just calling things by name. Nowhere did I say that houseruling is bad. All I did is point out that what Shallowsoul is doing are houserules. I don't want newbies to go on the board and get confused about the actual rules.

Quote:

That word continues to be thrown around a little too easy.

Just claiming that something is a houserule doesn't decide the winner of the argument.

No, but it sets facts straight.

Silver Crusade

ImperatorK wrote:


Just claiming that something is a houserule doesn't decide the winner of the argument.
No, but it sets facts straight.

Not always I'm afraid.

Silver Crusade

Jal Dorak wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:

Once again. You have described the mechanical rules for actually creating the item. That is what Prereqs are for. What I am talking about is the pure knowledge of such an item.

There are rules for copying spells into spellbooks, now are there rules about where you place another wizard so the PC wizard can find him, no there is not, that is left up to the DM.

Let's use the Wizard class as an example. It says that you can cast arcane spells. Does it say that you automatically have the knowledge of all other arcane spells? No it doesn't because that is left up to the DM.

Well, the wizard class has very specific rules for how many spells they know and how to learn more. And the spell-completion/spell-trigger rules are very clear that the wizard is aware enough of other spells that they can at least complete the necessary components to cast the spell from such items. As to a druid's wild shape, the rules specifically call out the need to have some experience with creatures native to the characters region. Not even a hint of a similar rule for item creation.

I'm pretty much done on this subject, so I'll finish with this: the rules for feats are nearly identical to magic item creation (minimum level, listed prerequisites). Would you deny a fighter the ability to learn Power Attack as one of his bonus feats, because the rules don't specify how a character "knows" about the feat?

When in doubt about if you are using RAW, think "could I do this in a tournament and have every character that comes to the table be valid?"

I'll give you a better feat example. The Leadership feat says you get a cohort. Does it say anything about you being the one to actually make the cohort? No it does not.

Some people would say I was houseruling if I did not allow the player to create the cohort.


shallowsoul wrote:
ImperatorK wrote:


Just claiming that something is a houserule doesn't decide the winner of the argument.
No, but it sets facts straight.

Not always I'm afraid.

When it does it does. Like now for instance.

Scarab Sages

shallowsoul wrote:


I'll give you a better feat example. The Leadership feat says you get a cohort. Does it say anything about you being the one to actually make the cohort? No it does not.

Some people would say I was houseruling if I did not allow the player to create the cohort.

Actually, it does. In both the 3.0 and 3.5 DMG, and the Pathfinder CRB, cohorts are referred to as NPCs. Non-player characters are under the purview of the DM. The 3.0 DMG calls out this fact directly by stating that cohort creation is the responsibility of the DM.

In any case, Leadership is an optional feat in 3.0/3.5, and specifically states that a DM should be involved in its use.

I only take this point of view because the rules are specific and we are talking about RAW. I really do think that 3rd Edition is responsible for the reliance on rules over DM ruling, having the effect of training DMs to be robots and players to be suspicious when they are not.


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Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

I don't see why some people have such a hard time accepting that these are house rules. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't think it's possible to actually play Pathfinder without house rules. There are too many intentional gaps for GMs and players to fill in to do so. Even PFS games are going to have situations where the players do something unexpected that the GM will have to go "huh, that's interesting, roll an Acrobatics check".

Wild shape is a good example. The rules merely state that a druid must be "familiar" with an animal to wild shape into it. What does that mean? Well, it's different for every table. Most would agree that encountered animals would work (though there's an argument even for that). What about animals in the character's background, or animals that the character has never seen but has read about, or heard about in stories, or seen via scrying, or seen via illusion? You may or may not have perfectly good answers for these questions right now--but recognize that they're your answers, not everybody's answers. They're house rules, and they're supposed to be.

Magic item availability is another example. The printed material gives some useful guidelines based on the concept of giving a city, village, or other settlement a stat block. Among other things, these stat blocks indicate availability metrics for magic items--provided that GMs actually use those guidelines. A GM is also free to simply write down all of the items for sale in every shop in town. Or they could simply say everything below 2000gp is available somewhere. Or they could say that the town doesn't have anybody with the Brew Potion feat, so potions are scarce. Heck, they don't have to justify it at all.

The same goes for item creation feats. The rules for what can and cannot be created are intentionally open to GM judgment; ergo, they're house rules by RAW. The GM is encouraged--heavily--to adjudicate what items can and cannot be created. That said, this is a group game, and everybody should know what rules are being used--even if one of the rules is "sometimes you don't know the rules", that much, at least, should be agreed upon upfront before the player starts planning feat progressions and character concepts around item creation. Give them a chance to work with your system; you'll all have a better time of it.

To summarize: house rules are a good thing. That's the underlying message I get every time I read through developer posts--stop sweating the small stuff; play the game and have fun. Just try to recognize which rules are house and which are not, and point them out to your group so that everybody is playing the same game. And don't assume that the house rule that works well for your table works well for other tables--or even makes sense to them--or vice versa.

Scarab Sages

blahpers wrote:

I don't see why some people have such a hard time accepting that these are house rules. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't think it's possible to actually play Pathfinder without house rules. There are too many intentional gaps for GMs and players to fill in to do so. Even PFS games are going to have situations where the players do something unexpected that the GM will have to go "huh, that's interesting, roll an Acrobatics check".

Wild shape is a good example. The rules merely state that a druid must be "familiar" with an animal to wild shape into it. What does that mean? Well, it's different for every table. Most would agree that encountered animals would work (though there's an argument even for that). What about animals in the character's background, or animals that the character has never seen but has read about, or heard about in stories, or seen via scrying, or seen via illusion? You may or may not have perfectly good answers for these questions right now--but recognize that they're your answers, not everybody's answers. They're house rules, and they're supposed to be.

Magic item availability is another example. The printed material gives some useful guidelines based on the concept of giving a city, village, or other settlement a stat block. Among other things, these stat blocks indicate availability metrics for magic items--provided that GMs actually use those guidelines. A GM is also free to simply write down all of the items for sale in every shop in town. Or they could simply say everything below 2000gp is available somewhere. Or they could say that the town doesn't have anybody with the Brew Potion feat, so potions are scarce. Heck, they don't have to justify it at all.

The same goes for item creation feats. The rules for what can and cannot be created are intentionally open to GM judgment; ergo, they're house rules by RAW. The GM is encouraged--heavily--to adjudicate what items can and cannot be created. That said, this is a group game, and everybody...

Here, here.


Jal Dorak wrote:
Here, here.

Where? Where?

:)

My extremely wise take on Knowledge and knowledge, both player and character can be found at this convenient link.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You know blahpers in reading your post here I think the issue is getting caught up in the term "house rules" and what the connotation is of that. Some folks are pulling the "house rules" card as if to say it's a homebrew variant or deviation of the "mainstream" rules that would otherwise describe normal and proper gameplay. In reading your last post, that's not how I interpret your statement about house rules and the role of GM judgment in the presentation of the game, so can't really disagree with you there. You are absolutely correct that the main point should be the GM and players being on the same page for whatever they're playing.

I'm only going to cite the item creation feat issue, but in reading the feats tonight they are vastly open to player and GM interpretation ... and depending on which one you read implies more latitude to the crafter than others do (hehe big surprise on the fact that the text is not consistent with respect to magic item creation).

I suppose what surprises me would be any situation where a GM has a player telling them they took a feat or have a particular skill and that entitles them to do whatever they please, regardless of story balance, simply because the book doesn't specifically delineate every limitation or exclusion to it ahead of time. As if the GM is not supposed to make judgment calls and reign in excesses that could ruin the spirit of the game. Ridiculous, yet there seem to be plenty of GM's that wind up with a campaign disaster because they allowed themselves to get backed into a corner with a rules-lawyer.


The problem reading all of Shallow's posts is that he is using a different definition of house rules than what most posters are used to.

To him the ambiguous rules that are left to GM interpretation are not house rules. However, they are house rules and it is intentionally designed that way.

Also he seems to have a negative view of house rules, so he argues vehemently that his interpretations are actually RAW.

To almost all other posters (including me) they are just house rules that don't conflict with RAW but house rules nonetheless. The fact is every table top RPG can only work with house rules some more than others.

So Shallow don't be afraid that what you are doing is house ruling. It isn't something bad and it is a prominent feature of table top RPG.


shallowsoul wrote:


Let's use the Wizard class as an example. It says that you can cast arcane spells. Does it say that you automatically have the knowledge of all other arcane spells? No it doesn't because that is left up to the DM.

No it doesn't. It never says the knowledge of other arcaner spells is up the DM. Prove that line from the book. Page number or you are houseruling.

There is nothing wrong innately with houseruling, but just admit it. Why pretend otherwise?


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Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Re: connotation: That's my point. There shouldn't be a negative connotation to the term "house rule", as they're a necessary component of the game. Even if they weren't--so what? What's so great about RAW anyway? I mean, sure, it's been playtested extensively, so that's one thing. Another is that RAW is something nearly all players of the game have at least some grasp of, and that grasp tends to go up over time; therefore, all these messageboard arguments notwithstanding, they represent an agreed-upon baseline for communications. But they aren't inherently "better" or "worse" than any set of house rules so long as people are enjoying them.

We're essentially little kids playing a game of "pretend", only with agreed-upon rules to prevent Timmy and Bobby from devolving into a "I killed you infinity + 1 times no take-backs" situation. The written rules are a baseline--and usually a good one, because the folks at Paizo and the zillions of other players have put them through considerable playtesting. But in the end, they're just rules for group pretending. If your table has more fun with different rules ("house rules"), it'd be silly not to adopt them.

So if you're playing a game of high fantasy nobles where everybody is expected to be a master fencer, give all the noble PCs Weapon Finesse for free. If you're in a low magic or lost precursors-type game, disallow item creation entirely, or restrict it to requiring scavenged technology or modifying existing relics. Modern-ish? Make firearms martial or simple weapons. "Ordinary" humans versus extraordinary? Try E6 (or less) for the PCs and see how they do when they have to organize forces against the Lich from Outer Space and his horde of alien magical beasts. These are all house rules, and I dare say some of them might even be more fun than most RAW games.

Re: player feelings of entitlement: There shouldn't be any. The players agreed to play with the selected GM. In the end, the GM is the GM, and the GM can wave all sorts of magic wands to make rules change or go away. Occasionally, the player may not even get to know the reason for the rules change; sometimes it could be to resolve a strange situation, and sometimes it may be a mechanic the PC would have no knowledge of. Just remember to balance the use of GM adjudication to deviate from the agreed-upon rules so that the result is a more believable, enjoyable, or "in-spirit" game rather than simply a group of peeved players. The GM is not the players' enemy--the GM doesn't "win" by defeating the players. Unless it's Tomb of Horrors.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
Gignere wrote:

The problem reading all of Shallow's posts is that he is using a different definition of house rules than what most posters are used to.

To him the ambiguous rules that are left to GM interpretation are not house rules. However, they are house rules and it is intentionally designed that way.

Also he seems to have a negative view of house rules, so he argues vehemently that his interpretations are actually RAW.

To almost all other posters (including me) they are just house rules that don't conflict with RAW but house rules nonetheless. The fact is every table top RPG can only work with house rules some more than others.

So Shallow don't be afraid that what you are doing is house ruling. It isn't something bad and it is a prominent feature of table top RPG.

This was a very concise way of putting it. Thank you for this post.


Starbuck_II wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:


Let's use the Wizard class as an example. It says that you can cast arcane spells. Does it say that you automatically have the knowledge of all other arcane spells? No it doesn't because that is left up to the DM.

No it doesn't. It never says the knowledge of other arcaner spells is up the DM. Prove that line from the book. Page number or you are houseruling.

There is nothing wrong innately with houseruling, but just admit it. Why pretend otherwise?

Well, you can recognize spells you do not know being cast with a spellcraft roll, even without seeing the effects. That suggests you know a lot about, not just what other spells exists, but even the details of casting them. Just not enough to cast them yourself.


shallowsoul wrote:
Owly wrote:

Would I let a player sit down and roll through the Beastiary 3? Heck no. How is that even fun? I'd tell him "Your character has Knowledge, he can roll whenever he encounters something", and yes, it's part of his background training. I reserve the right to "withold" knowledge from the players if it's part of my story. Maybe I WANT the player-characters to be surprised/delighted/dismayed/afraid by something. It's part of the fun.

Magic Item Creation? Sure, there's a range of things they can create. Do they want to create a Holy Avenger? Let's make it a big deal, and have them do some RP Challenges to discover the history and LORE behind such a powerful weapon and really bring the importance of such an item into our narrative. THEN they can make the roll.

In other words, make 'em add something to the story, rather than order off the menu. I call it "The Rule of Adding to the Story", and it allows me to supercede player min-maxing/gold-spending.

Again, exactly how I see Knowledge skills working. This also sums up why I see that "Wild Shape" doesn't go off of someone just rolling their Knowledge Nature before actually encountering a specific creature just so they can add that creature to their list of forms.

Do you actually have to encounter a creature before rolling? If someone hires me to kill trolls, can I roll to find out about trolls before going into their lair? Or does the knowledge that fire works against them only pop into my head when I actually see one?

Similarly, can I make Knowledge rolls to find out what monsters are common in a particular area and then prepare for the monsters I expect?

As for Wild Shape, it's a perfectly good house rule that a druid must have physically encountered a creature to take it's shape. It's a perfectly valid interpretation of the rules to require a roll to see if the Druid knows enough of some rare creature to take its form. OTOH, saying a Druid from a standard temperate forest can't take the form of a deer because you haven't run an encounter with one is silly.

Silver Crusade

thejeff wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
Owly wrote:

Would I let a player sit down and roll through the Beastiary 3? Heck no. How is that even fun? I'd tell him "Your character has Knowledge, he can roll whenever he encounters something", and yes, it's part of his background training. I reserve the right to "withold" knowledge from the players if it's part of my story. Maybe I WANT the player-characters to be surprised/delighted/dismayed/afraid by something. It's part of the fun.

Magic Item Creation? Sure, there's a range of things they can create. Do they want to create a Holy Avenger? Let's make it a big deal, and have them do some RP Challenges to discover the history and LORE behind such a powerful weapon and really bring the importance of such an item into our narrative. THEN they can make the roll.

In other words, make 'em add something to the story, rather than order off the menu. I call it "The Rule of Adding to the Story", and it allows me to supercede player min-maxing/gold-spending.

Again, exactly how I see Knowledge skills working. This also sums up why I see that "Wild Shape" doesn't go off of someone just rolling their Knowledge Nature before actually encountering a specific creature just so they can add that creature to their list of forms.

Do you actually have to encounter a creature before rolling? If someone hires me to kill trolls, can I roll to find out about trolls before going into their lair? Or does the knowledge that fire works against them only pop into my head when I actually see one?

Similarly, can I make Knowledge rolls to find out what monsters are common in a particular area and then prepare for the monsters I expect?

As for Wild Shape, it's a perfectly good house rule that a druid must have physically encountered a creature to take it's shape. It's a perfectly valid interpretation of the rules to require a roll to see if the Druid knows enough of some rare creature to take its form. OTOH, saying a Druid from a standard temperate forest can't take the...

No on the troll issue because someone has interacted with you "in game". They hired you to kill trolls so the ball has started rolling as to where you go from there.

I'm talking about when things pop into the "player's" mind and then he wants to transfer that knowledge to his character because of meta-gaming.

As to the "Wild Shape" issue. I had a thread shut down about it but that is another ability that was left open to DM interpretation.

Wild Shape (Su): At 4th level, a druid gains the ability to
turn herself into any Small or Medium animal and back
again once per day. Her options for new forms include
all creatures with the animal type. This ability functions
like the beast shape I spell, except as noted here. The effect
lasts for 1 hour per druid level, or until she changes back.
Changing form (to animal or back) is a standard action
and doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity. The form
chosen must be that of an animal with which the druid
is familiar.

This can be interpreted in many ways so you can judge for yourself. This is another one of those times where I have had Bestiary flipping take place.

Silver Crusade

blahpers wrote:
I don't see why some people have such a hard time accepting that these are house rules.

I don't see why some people have a hard time accepting that what they think are houserules are in fact rules that were left open on purpose for DM interpretation.

So basically the same can be asked of you. No RAW proof has been given that makes one side more right than the other. The only think that has been quoted are the rules for actually creating the item. Even if you knew how to build a certain item, you still need the prereqs and that's all that's been shown.

It all goes along with Knowledge skills. You can't assume that you already have certain knowledge because it's down to the dice. If you make that first check you have certain knowledge, if you fail it you don't.

I think what some of you are doing is using the knowledge that you could possibly know to back up your argument. Like I said before, it is possible that you have had knowledge about vampires, for example, but that first die roll is actually going to determine whether you actually posses it or not.

Silver Crusade

thejeff wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:


Let's use the Wizard class as an example. It says that you can cast arcane spells. Does it say that you automatically have the knowledge of all other arcane spells? No it doesn't because that is left up to the DM.

No it doesn't. It never says the knowledge of other arcaner spells is up the DM. Prove that line from the book. Page number or you are houseruling.

There is nothing wrong innately with houseruling, but just admit it. Why pretend otherwise?

Well, you can recognize spells you do not know being cast with a spellcraft roll, even without seeing the effects. That suggests you know a lot about, not just what other spells exists, but even the details of casting them. Just not enough to cast them yourself.

That's right and at the same time, if you were to fail that spellcraft roll you wouldn't know that spell or anything about it.

See how you have to actually interact with the spell at the time of it's casting to be able to make the spellcraft roll which then determines whether or not you know of that spell and how it works.


I'm not sure why knowledge checks are such a problem?

don't you people write some kind of background about your character?
just a few lines like:
- fighter from that city recieved basic training as a city guard
- druid hails from that forest and spent time studying plants and animals with it's mentor there
- inquisitor/paladin from that god has been trained to hunt down enemies of it's faith
- mage from that university has read all the book he could find about that subject in the university's library
- ...

for every one of these locations, the gm and player of that character should be able to figure out what the character could know and what not

a fighter who walked the streets of a city during his watch will most probably know:
- the good vs rowdy vs shady taverns
- the major "gangs" that rule each district
- informants of the city watch
- ...

a druid who spend years training in some forest should know about all creatures and plants that exist there
this also means if that druid encounters similar creatures he'll expect similar behavior/strengths/weaknesses/...

inquis and paladins belong to a faith and are trained to hunt down the faith's enemies, so of course they'll know about these and how to bring them down

I would never allow that city guard fighter to roll on knowledge(planes) checks. But that mage who devoured every book in the library where he learned his art and is striving to get an elemental/outsider as familiar... why shouldn't he be allowed to roll? Now if that mage focussed on a bonded objet instead and intends to craft magic items, he would not be allowed to roll on knowledge(planes) checks. But he'd sure know quite a bunch of recipes.

Of course a dm would have to step in if a city guard fighter expects his city to be the center of all cultures and he insists on knowing about all the cultures, creatures and planes. ;-) that would be background munchkinism ;-p

And then characters who happen to be adventuring in or near a city could always do a little trip to the library and read up about some subject...?

Just to give a little example:
my little magehunter inquisitor encountered a weird dire rat with her group... without even rolling (maybe my dm rolled secretly before the game?) my dm told me that my magehunter notices the rat casting spells and that it has the typical behavior of a familiar...
my magehunter didn't have any knowledge about normal animals from the swamp we were in, but anything closely related to mages and their habits, I usually only need to roll for obscure knowledge
makes perfect sense to me :-)
she trained to be a magehunter: nothing more, nothing less ;-)

Silver Crusade

Kyoni wrote:

I'm not sure why knowledge checks are such a problem?

don't you people write some kind of background about your character?
just a few lines like:
- fighter from that city recieved basic training as a city guard
- druid hails from that forest and spend time studying plants and animals with it's mentor there
- inquisitor/paladin from that god has been trained to hunt down enemies of it's fait
- mage from that university has read all the book he could find about that subject in the university's library
- ...

for every one of these locations, the gm and player of that character should be able to figure out what the character could know and what not

a fighter who walked the streets of a city during his watch will most probably know:
- the good vs rowdy vs shady taverns
- the major "gangs" that rule each district
- informants of the city watch
- ...

a druid who spend years training in some forest should know about all creatures and plants that exist there
this also means if that druid encounters similar creatures he'll expect similar behavior/strengths/weaknesses/...

inquis and paladins belong to a faith and are trained to hunt down the faith's enemies, so of course the'll know about these and how to bring them down

I would never allow that city guard fighter to roll on knowledge(planes) checks. But that mage who devoured every book in the library where he learned his art and is striving to get an elemental/outsider as familiar... why shouldn't he be allowed to roll? Now if that mage focussed on a bonded objet instead and intends to craft magic items, he would not be allowed to roll on knowledge(planes) checks. But he'd sure know quite a bunch of recipes.

Of course a dm would have to step in if a city guard fighter expects his city to be the center of a cultures and he insists on knowing about all cultures, creatures and planes. ;-) that would be background munchkinism ;-p

And then characters who happen to be in or near a city could...

Backgrounds are great but when new books come out after the campaign has started can lead to what you call "Background Munchkinism".


shallowsoul wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:


Let's use the Wizard class as an example. It says that you can cast arcane spells. Does it say that you automatically have the knowledge of all other arcane spells? No it doesn't because that is left up to the DM.

No it doesn't. It never says the knowledge of other arcaner spells is up the DM. Prove that line from the book. Page number or you are houseruling.

There is nothing wrong innately with houseruling, but just admit it. Why pretend otherwise?

Well, you can recognize spells you do not know being cast with a spellcraft roll, even without seeing the effects. That suggests you know a lot about, not just what other spells exists, but even the details of casting them. Just not enough to cast them yourself.

That's right and at the same time, if you were to fail that spellcraft roll you wouldn't know that spell or anything about it.

See how you have to actually interact with the spell at the time of it's casting to be able to make the spellcraft roll which then determines whether or not you know of that spell and how it works.

So if I watch someone cast "Magic Vestments" and make my spellcraft roll I know of that spell and how it works. If in another fight later on, I see another caster cast the same spell but fail my roll, I no longer know anything about the spell?

Or does it just mean I couldn't see the gestures/hear the words clearly enough to tell what it was?

You can make another roll the next time you see someone cast it, even if it had no visible effects. Nor do you automatically recognize it if you've made the roll on that spell before or can cast it yourself.

Spellcraft rules imply that you do know about spells you haven't encountered directly, since the mechanics don't change when you do encounter them.
It's just not usually important to know unless there's some specific reason.


shallowsoul wrote:
Backgrounds are great but when new books come out after the campaign has started can lead to what you call "Background Munchkinism".

Could you give me an example?

I mean if that new book details stuff about a place where the character trained and grew up, he of course would have known that info... unless his birthplace changed after he left it?

It's not related to books, it's related to the places people come from, and only a background story can decide that.

Otherwise you as a dm have to come up with really weird explanations as to why the character did not know about something that belongs to his area of expertise

Silver Crusade

thejeff wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Starbuck_II wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:


Let's use the Wizard class as an example. It says that you can cast arcane spells. Does it say that you automatically have the knowledge of all other arcane spells? No it doesn't because that is left up to the DM.

No it doesn't. It never says the knowledge of other arcaner spells is up the DM. Prove that line from the book. Page number or you are houseruling.

There is nothing wrong innately with houseruling, but just admit it. Why pretend otherwise?

Well, you can recognize spells you do not know being cast with a spellcraft roll, even without seeing the effects. That suggests you know a lot about, not just what other spells exists, but even the details of casting them. Just not enough to cast them yourself.

That's right and at the same time, if you were to fail that spellcraft roll you wouldn't know that spell or anything about it.

See how you have to actually interact with the spell at the time of it's casting to be able to make the spellcraft roll which then determines whether or not you know of that spell and how it works.

So if I watch someone cast "Magic Vestments" and make my spellcraft roll I know of that spell and how it works. If in another fight later on, I see another caster cast the same spell but fail my roll, I no longer know anything about the spell?

Or does it just mean I couldn't see the gestures/hear the words clearly enough to tell what it was?

You can make another roll the next time you see someone cast it, even if it had no visible effects. Nor do you automatically recognize it if you've made the roll on that spell before or can cast it yourself.

Spellcraft rules imply that you do know about spells you haven't encountered directly, since the mechanics don't change when you do encounter them.
It's just not usually important to know unless there's some specific reason.

That's actually a good question. The Spellcraft skill doesn't say anything about once you pass your check you auto know it next time someone else casts the spell.

I would look at it as different people cast the same spells but may cast them a little differently. Like an elven mage may have a different style to the way he casts Magic Missile than a human mage. Now I would say that if the same caster was going to cast the same spell again you would instantly know it without a roll. More DM interpretation I guess.


thejeff wrote:

So if I watch someone cast "Magic Vestments" and make my spellcraft roll I know of that spell and how it works. If in another fight later on, I see another caster cast the same spell but fail my roll, I no longer know anything about the spell?

Or does it just mean I couldn't see the gestures/hear the words clearly enough to tell what it was?

There could be plenty of explanations...

different class: a bard and a wizard will not have the same approach, same goes from clerics vs druids vs oracles ...

same class different teachings: a wizard who learned from a conjurer could have different gestures for casting his school's spells as his mentor developped and refined those spells

research: one arcane caster might have researched some spell on his own without learning it from scrolls or spellbooks from other mages

...

Silver Crusade

Kyoni wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
Backgrounds are great but when new books come out after the campaign has started can lead to what you call "Background Munchkinism".

Could you give me an example?

I mean if that new book details stuff about a place where the character trained and grew up, he of course would have known that info... unless his birthplace changed after he left it?

It's not related to books, it's related to the places people come from, and only a background story can decide that.

Otherwise you as a dm have to come up with really weird explanations as to why the character did not know about something that belongs to his area of expertise

Well you have already put it into good terms. You can't say I am a mage hunter and expect to know "everything" about magic users. Finding out more information as you go along "in game" is where all that comes into play.

I've seen many people try and cram as much into their background as they can to the point where it becomes a little ridiculous. They want their character's to posses vast amounts of information without the "in game" work.


shallowsoul wrote:

Well you have already put it into good terms. You can't say I am a mage hunter and expect to know "everything" about magic users. Finding out more information as you go along "in game" is where all that comes into play.

I've seen many people try and cram as much into their background as they can to the point where it becomes a little ridiculous. They want their character's to posses vast amounts of information without the "in game" work.

A specialist (magehunter or whatever) would know a fair bit right from the start though...

If someone spent time training to learn about undead, the person has a fair chance to know something about ghouls or ghosts or skeletons or zombies. He might not know about dracolichs though unless one is known to plague the area.

If you want your characters to starts without any knowledge whatsoever you need to make them start as 1st level commoners without any ranks in knowledge skills.

Always ask yourself what the character's mentor would have know and taught his pupil. ;-)


Quote:
No RAW proof has been given that makes one side more right than the other.

We gave all that's needed. Just because you choose to disagree or ignore the proof doesn't make it not true or disappear.

Silver Crusade

Kyoni wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:

Well you have already put it into good terms. You can't say I am a mage hunter and expect to know "everything" about magic users. Finding out more information as you go along "in game" is where all that comes into play.

I've seen many people try and cram as much into their background as they can to the point where it becomes a little ridiculous. They want their character's to posses vast amounts of information without the "in game" work.

A specialist (magehunter or whatever) would know a fair bit right from the start though...

If someone spent time training to learn about undead, the person has a fair chance to know something about ghouls or ghosts or skeletons or zombies. He might not know about dracolichs though unless one is known to plague the area.

If you want your characters to starts without any knowledge whatsoever you need to make them start as 1st level commoners without any ranks in knowledge skills.

Always ask yourself what the character's mentor would have know and taught his pupil. ;-)

Well I think sometimes people tend to think that because they are PC's they already know a lot about the world, even at level 1. When compared to a local farmer the answer to that would be yes but when compared to the whole wild world it would be no.

There has to be a limit because it can easily be broken. Like I said earlier, saying you are a mage hunter doesn't automatically give you an advantage over someone who is not being granting access to all information that has to do with mages. How you mechanically build your character is supposed to determine that. If you take the feat Skill Focus (Spellcraft) or (Knowledge Arcana) then that is one example of mechanically being able to justify being a mage hunter.

The game itself has to be limited because lets face it, you can't always trust the players to do the right thing and play fair, that is why we have rules, guidelines and mechanics.

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