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Curious question about using monster lore


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

Hi there,

Someday when I have a million years of free time (ie never) I'd like to jump in to PFS, but for now I only get to watch. If it's okay, I do have a question about monster lore.

You know, the special thing you can do with Knowledge: arcana, dungeoneering, local, nature, planes, or religion to identify monsters. Let's say you fight a crystal ooze, maybe when you win you dissect the thing, cast know the enemy, what have you, and now you have a nugget of monster lore: crystal oozes are vulnerable to sonic damage. Good to know.

My basic question: do you remember this monster lore nugget after the scenario is over?

There's a line in the PFS FAQ that says that to bring in additional non-core material (although the Bestiary is core, I guess?), you have to bring the real book or a PDF page or such-like. The monster lore rules do not say, 'You get to peek at the monster's stats', so that's out. There's also a thing about no 'homemade omnibus', so I couldn't bring a copy of 'Ohako's Monster Almanac' to the table either.

This is just me being an utter noob, but there's this thing called a chronicle sheet, and on it you get to write down all the things you bought or sold, all the diseases you caught or had cured, etc. Right?

Question #2: Can you write down your collected monster lore on your chronicle sheet?

Question #3: There's a strict rule about no players trading stuff, gold, PP, vanities, etc (although spells are an exception). If I would be allowed to chronicle monster lore I learned on the job, and since monster lore has no listed gold value, then could I just spill my guts to my other party members at the beginning of a new scenario, so that they would know all of my previously gained monster lore?

These last two are bonus questions, apologies for being long-winded.

Question #4: If the answers to questions 2 and 3 are yes, then here's a series of events

1. I play a scenario, the crystal ooze nibbles my giblets, but I survive somehow.
2. I play another scenario with a player who hasn't played scenario #1. I tell him all about crystal oozes (although not where and when to find them, obviously), which he dutifully writes on his chronicle sheet. Explore, report, cooperate, and all that.
3. Player #2 plays scenario #1 (without me), and thanks to his foreknowledge, the crystal ooze is handily defeated.

Is that okay?

Question #5 (last one, I promise): One of the basic things you do with monster lore is creature type identification. Let's say I run across someone named Pointyhorns McBadman, and thanks to monster lore, I ID him as a tiefling. That's my lore: this named guy is a tiefling. That sounds a lot like going from monster lore territory into spoilers territory.

Are some kinds of monster lore okay to chronicle, and other kinds aren't?

That's about it. Thanks for taking the time.

Andoran *

Sadly I have no answers. But I would be very interested in the answers. This is a question that came up with some of my friends recently.

*

My opinion to all of those questions would sadly be no. When I have played characters with monster knowledge's I basically roll on my turn to find out what I know about this particular monster. I think this is the only way to separate character from player knowledge.

Maybe I have come across that monster before, rolled high on a knowledge, and knew some stuff but this time I rolled really low so I am having trouble remembering what I had previously learned. The knowledge skill check in my opinion entails more than just what facts you have learned. It entails how well you can remember those facts at a later date.

Andoran *

Good point Lab Rat. And I agree. Is there an exception that a player could request a GM to note on his Chronicle sheet that he retained a particular bit of knowledge with a high skill check?

If there was, I could also see it being burdensome to the table unless it was limited to one such notations per session.

Like - "Oh man - That vampire was hard, glad I knew about this weakness it had. I think that is something my character will remember always- could I get that as a signed memory?"

Andoran *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

If someone wants to keep copious notes for their character (with chronicle # (so an audit can verify that the monster was indeed found in that scenario), and GM signature w/ Knowledge roll noted), about what they learned about said creature, then I have no problem with them bringing it into a future scenario and sharing said information.

My only criteria other than the administrative notations above, is that they have paper and ink as gear.

*

The idea of tracking learned tidbits isn't a bad one, but I see issue with it.

1) You should not be able to share this info with others (i.e. like wizards can share spells). This may sound neat but what you may end up with is players with lots of monster knowledge but no skill points invested in that knowledge.

2) Since there is no PFS stamp of approval to the idea it will be very GM specific. You may have a GM who sees knowledge's as I do. They may see all this great booking and still make you roll the die to see what you know / remember.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

So in short, there's no official stance on retaining monster knowledge, and it probably needs to stay that way.

But personally, if I'm GMing for someone and I was at the table when their PC had a memorable "learning experience" in a previous scenario, I'd let them act on that knowledge.

***

harpies appear far too often in scenarios. i have a level 9 sorcerer who has bought magic items specifically to fight them because his first time it almost killed his entire party, and the next scenario after that also featured a harpy fight.

if he bought magic items specifically for those monsters i don't see how you can say he doesn't know about them at the beginning of an adventure (boy i have a lot of earplugs and scrolls of silence in this bag i bought yesterday. i wonder why i did that?) regardless of what other people say, he knows about harpies.

how do you define ranger favored enemy bonuses unless he/she actually knows about those creatures?

***

Others have addressed the questions, but I just wanted to comment on one thing.

ohako wrote:

Hi there,

Someday when I have a million years of free time (ie never) I'd like to jump in to PFS, but for now I only get to watch.

All you need is 4-5 hours of free time to jump into a PFS game. Heck, at least once a month or so, MAKE time to do the fun things you would like to do. You will be much happier for it. Trust me...been there and I know. :-)


I suppose Chronicle sheets could be used as a stand in for this, to save time for useful nuggets, like "Thri-Kreen are allergic to salt"...

Grand Lodge

I would ABSOLUTELY allow a person to act on their previous memories, so long as it was that character who experienced the monster. I am quite against players acting on out-of-character knowledge or memories from other characters or campaigns... but if it was that character who passed the Knowledge check, then for sure, you can remember it! If it's that big of a deal to you, then write it on your chronicle sheet and have the GM sign it.

Really, I like to think my characters in PFS actually grow from little baby Level 1 creatures into well-knowledged and experienced adventurers by the end. In fact, is that not the point of a Pathfinder in the first place? To explore, chronicle, and adventure? Actually, that kinda sounds like a neat idea. At the end of each scenario, write down your memories, attach it to the chronicle sheet, and have the GM sign it. It makes your Pathfinder Chronicle a real... Pathfinder Chronicle. Ya know. Like the thing we're RPing it's supposed to be.

Sczarni ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Pullman aka Coraith

How we always play it at the shop where I play frequently. If your character has run into a succubus before you would know they are good charmers. If you have run into a dragon before you know they have a breath weapon and some other nasty abilities. It really is up to the player to separate their player knowledge from their character knowledge.

If you have gone through scenarios with undead creatures your character wouldn't forget what an undead creature looks like and have to roll a knowledge check to figure out it is undead. By level say 8-9 your character probably has run into ghouls several times and has likely run into some demon type creatures, so if you encounter those things your character probably can take precautions against doing stupid actions, like casting mind effecting spells on the undead or using fire damage against the demons.

Just be careful not to metagame and your Gm wont have to crack down on metagaming or be a pain.

Shadow Lodge **

The field guide, which is ostensibly in character info for pathfinders, hands out a lot of information that you'd normally need to use know ledges to access. I don't think anyone should be surprised when a 7th level character sees skeletons and reaches for a bludgeoning weapon

Qadira ****

I wrote on one of my chronicle sheets "Devil's don't like silver" I made a knowledge 25 against a bearded devil and discovered silver was the answer to it's infernal invulnerability.

I probably should have denoted the knowledge check, but it was close to 1 am at gencon after Race and I was exhausted. I mostly do it for myself to remember which characters know what :D.

There is a problem with knowledge checks, generically. They supposedly represent what you have learned in your studies not what you can remember, so every character is presumed to have perfect recall, which seems a little presumptuous imo :D

Andoran *

A lot of people find the knowledge checks for monsters to be a bit wonky. Basically, they look at how they, as real life people, learn about things. However, they tend to do things about things that they know fairly well. After all, if you don't know something, either you know you don't know and are motivated to find out, you know you don't know and don't care, or you don't know that you don't know. (Ya know what I mean?)

However, from a psychology standpoint, learning tends to work in a more complicated manner. In actual practice, people tend to go through a process of not making connections with what they know and overgeneralizing what they do know until they get to a model that makes the most sense for them. Many of us have experienced the situation such as the adorable toddler who sees a cow and cries out, "Doggy!" because it has four legs and fur, or the neophyte computer user who doesn't realize that the skills they learned for dealing with a window in one program also applies to other programs.

Knowledge skills are a character resource..you spend skill ranks on them and possibly invest in Intelligence for your character to have a greater chance of success. When a player brings in knowledge that the character doesn't have, or the thinly veiled version of the same...explaining a creative rationale for how the character walks down the exact thought process to select the right weapon type to overcome DR, for example, the game effect is to essentially treat the character as having made the appropriate knowledge check. For me, it's similar to spending gold you don't have, repeatedly making an "oops" on calculating attack rolls in the character's benefit, etc. It is using a skill resource that the character doesn't have. The player making notes doesn't change this.

An example I once used for a player who was playing a character who had no Knowledge (planes), but who wanted to use the character's experience in fighting vrocks a couple of times period, was that not all vrocks necessarily look alike. Maybe the last ones looked like turkeys and these vrocks looked like chickens. Or, the skeletal looking undead might be an as-yet-to-be-described creature, that is, something that isn't yet in a bestiary, that has evolved to look like undead and is neither undead nor reduces damage from non-blunt weapons.

Most of us wouldn't merely add 5 to an Stealth check, so why add an infinite amount to knowledge checks, which is the game-rules effect of bringing in player knowledge about creatures when the character doesn't make the Knowledge check?

Good Gaming!

**** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Philadelphia

Howie23 wrote:
A lot of people find the knowledge checks for monsters to be a bit wonky. Basically, they look at how they, as real life people, learn about things. However, they tend to do things about things that they know fairly well. After all, if you don't know something, either you know you don't know and are motivated to find out, you know you don't know and don't care, or you don't know that you don't know. (Ya know what I mean?)

That reminds me of this quote.

Quote:

[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.

There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don't know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know.

Qadira ****

Honestly, I would record it on your chronicle sheet, and file it under "YMMV" if a GM allows it they allow it, if they don't, they don't. It doesn't hurt to chronicle what you have encountered and learned about. I would allow it some GMs might not.

Andoran ***

If you notate knowledge you have gained about a specific monster on a chronicle, you would know that without a knowledge check.

You can pass it on, but unless the recipient has some way to determine that he is looking at that specific monster type, how will he know it applies?

"Great information about Babau Demons! Now, how do I recognize a Babau from both other demons, and other critters that may look similar?" And, that, IMO, is where knowledge skills can come back in.

How do you tell if that flying female is a harpy, a succubus or a sphinx? Or another adventurer with Wings of Flying?


kinevon wrote:

If you notate knowledge you have gained about a specific monster on a chronicle, you would know that without a knowledge check.

You can pass it on, but unless the recipient has some way to determine that he is looking at that specific monster type, how will he know it applies?

"Great information about Babau Demons! Now, how do I recognize a Babau from both other demons, and other critters that may look similar?" And, that, IMO, is where knowledge skills can come back in.

How do you tell if that flying female is a harpy, a succubus or a sphinx? Or another adventurer with Wings of Flying?

A good question. The difference is feet. Harpies have birdy feet, sphinxes have kitty feet, and succubi have cute lady feet. The adventurer is probably wearing magic boots.

You do raise a good point, which is that you would need to personally ID a monster (with an appropriate Knowledge check) before you could use any accumulated monster lore against it. But then again, you might have a monster lore directly related to ID'ing monsters, such as, 'When fighting winged ladies, check their feet', or, 'Bearded devils have beards, other devils don't'.

It just seems a little weird where you can trade magic spells...but not fortune cookies of monster lore.

Andoran ***

That's because there are set rules for spellbooks, but the best you can do with things like monster lore is a masterwork tool, or access to a library (super-masterwork tool).

Now, as something to put in the Rules forum, is the durability and transferability of monster lore. Once the designers set something up for that, it will almost certainly come across, almost word-for-word, to PFS.

Shadow Lodge **

All devils should have a goatee at least.

Taldor *

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It seems to me, the best way to deal with this is to look chapter 4 of the pathifnder society field guide. That guide shows all of the sort of knnowldge and preperations pathfinders are suppose to have been told before going ou into rediculous adventures.

I guess if the level of knowledge is something that would come from that section, it could be assumed to be known by any pathfinder.
If it goes beyond that knowledge they should absolutely be making skill checks.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Part of me agrees about the PFS Field Guide, but on the other hand, part of me really wants to not take away the benefits of investing a little in INT and knowledge skills by handing out too much free info. I feel torn.

Taldor *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't feel this would significantly hinder the knowledge skills.

Having a bonus to these skills usually provides additional gems of knowledge that are far more useful then what is provided in the field guide. Most importantly information specific to the lore and tactics the particular scenario. The information in the field guide is general enough to keep players alive, while the information provided by a good knowledge bonus can give the winning edge in a scenario or encounter.

Qadira ****

You still need to make the knowledge check to identify the creature based on field guide stuff.

honestly, I don't think having people know basic stuff when they see something they have fought before "trumps knowledge skills" you could be like "I know devils are immune to fire, and I need silver to hurt them" "what can they do for spell casting?"

next knowledge check "what are common devil tactics"? it just allows those knowledge checks to build up over time, allowing you to get more and more information about them as you encounter them....IE how learning works.

if all the fighter wants to know is which greatsword to use, that isn't really that hard to remember :-p. "Last time I saw this thing, wizard said hit with silver, I have silver."

For the wizard "Last time I encountered this creature I learned that it was immune to fire, and silver was harmful to it, I also noticed (knowledge check) that damage from it's glaive creates a terrible wound that requires immediate magical healing, and that it's beard inflicts a horrible disease known as devil's chills.

3rd time. In my last battle (knowledge) I noticed the devil teleported to higher ground and summoned an additional devil, attempting to disrupt either of those actions would make fighting them far easier.

sure at this point, if you fight a bearded devil a 4th time, you don't need a knowledge check... but that assumes you rolled well on all your checks up to this point and you have already killed 3 of them.

Osirion

This character has the knowledge domain power to find weaknesses on touch, bought a journal, and specifically writes down whatever she discovered at the end of combat. Her character sheet has a list of what monsters she did that for so far, and it is part of her drive to adventure. She often peruses her collection. If a GM told me that didn't work, I might be tempted to RP her as forgetting things constantly in the adventure, just to be consistent.

Cheliax *** Venture-Captain, Washington—Seattle aka Big Kyle

ohako wrote:

Hi there,

Someday when I have a million years of free time (ie never) I'd like to jump in to PFS, but for now I only get to watch. If it's okay, I do have a question about monster lore.

You know, the special thing you can do with Knowledge: arcana, dungeoneering, local, nature, planes, or religion to identify monsters. Let's say you fight a crystal ooze, maybe when you win you dissect the thing, cast know the enemy, what have you, and now you have a nugget of monster lore: crystal oozes are vulnerable to sonic damage. Good to know.

My basic question: do you remember this monster lore nugget after the scenario is over?

There's a line in the PFS FAQ that says that to bring in additional non-core material (although the Bestiary is core, I guess?), you have to bring the real book or a PDF page or such-like. The monster lore rules do not say, 'You get to peek at the monster's stats', so that's out. There's also a thing about no 'homemade omnibus', so I couldn't bring a copy of 'Ohako's Monster Almanac' to the table either.

This is just me being an utter noob, but there's this thing called a chronicle sheet, and on it you get to write down all the things you bought or sold, all the diseases you caught or had cured, etc. Right?

Question #2: Can you write down your collected monster lore on your chronicle sheet?

Question #3: There's a strict rule about no players trading stuff, gold, PP, vanities, etc (although spells are an exception). If I would be allowed to chronicle monster lore I learned on the job, and since monster lore has no listed gold value, then could I just spill my guts to my other party members at the beginning of a new scenario, so that they would know all of my previously gained monster lore?

These last two are bonus questions, apologies for being long-winded.

Question #4: If the answers to questions 2 and 3 are yes, then here's a series of events

1. I play a scenario, the crystal ooze nibbles my giblets, but I survive somehow.
2. I play another scenario with a...

Hey Ohako

Glad to see you have the yearning to get into PFS, hopefully that wish comes true soon!

As for your questions, I think your big question at the end is the one to focus on.

Allow me to restate it as I see it pertains to a living campaign.

"Is it acceptable to transfer character knowledge of one scenario to another character who has yet to experience that scenario...?"

The answer, of course, is both yes and no.

I know...not the simple straight forward answer you were looking for. They never are with good questions like this.

The truth is the way you are presenting the dilemma is with an awesome character RP idea, which I encourage fully. For that end...the answer is yes.

However...when we transfer this over into a more detailed approach to the shared information...such as... "I found THIS rat infected with a rare disease of plague that only exists below the lower quarter sewers of Absalom! It's easily recognizable signs are those of white frothing mouth, enraged nests of invasive intruders, and their perchant to hang out at sewer intersections as I was observing them on a recent mission!"

The above example is general, as I didn't want to use a spoiler tag, and just shows how you can "overshare" information to the point of scenario spoilers.

I think you already answered your own question about how to share this information and RP out this concept without ruining it for everyone. Walk a nice line between the two.

We have a player in our region who collects an item from each of the BBEG's he encounters at the end of every scenario...or at least each big bad monster he fights in the scenario that is worth remembering.

He has stories about a manticore pelt he uses as a cloak, a medusa's hair snake which holds his amulet up, a belt made of the finest giant dire crocodile leather, and boots hand carved from a sea leviathan's hide.

Oh the stories he will tell about the manticore flying in for the attack, the medusa's glare of stone that almost wiped them all out, the crocodile's swift explosion in the water, and the sea leviathan almost swallowing whole a full grown man!

They are vague enough IMHO that they don't ruin a scenario ahead, but still give the story of how you interacted with the creature.

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