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Two knowledge checks... did this example follow the rules?


Rules Questions


Last night the party in my campaign found themselves hunting down a strange monster in the woods. After a few days of travel, they heard a forlorn and terrifying howl!... and rolled knowledge (the planes). Two of the five party members were able to identify it as a Wendigo, without making the DC to get any further information other than the fluff of the creature.

After, the remaining party members insisted they should get to roll knowledge again. (This was a rare occurrence, the party is usually able to readily identify foes)

"Why?" I pondered. Knowledge checks don't allow rerolls. They presented me with an analogy that if a couple park rangers were in the woods and heard the "scream" of a mountain lion, they might not at first realize what it was. If someone told them what it is, they would then "roll" to see what they know about mountain lions from their education.

We debated it for a few minutes, and eventually I allowed second knowledge checks.

Did we do this correctly? Is this an example of a corner case where one would get a second knowledge check?

Thank you for any feedback!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Depends.
If you see the roll as a re-roll for knowledge, you're SOL, officially.
If, however, you allow for a Knowledge roll to determine what you know about a critter you are told about, as opposed to a Knowledge roll to identify it from sight, scream or footprint, the second roll would be ok.


My position is no.

You would be creating a situation wherein the players are magically allowed a much better chance of knowing things about creatures by first seeing some sign of their presence, and then seeing the creature itself.

If they only see a creature once they get one knowledge check. But if they can see a footprint or hear it make a noise, they get to roll twice and they'll gain the better knowledge of the two.

Knowledge checks are, as you said, made only once.

[Curiously, I'm looking for text that says something like "you cannot make a check on the same topic again until you gain another rank in knowledge" or "gain a level" or "until your bonus improves" but I am not seeing it in the Knowledge description.]

Here is what I suggest.
Allow the players to make their one Knowledge check on a creature when they see an identifiable sign of its presence: A footprint, hearing its scream, a pile of scat. You then assign a penalty depending on how vague the clue is -- a unique six-toed footprint may be a small penalty, whereas a pile of dung with the bones of small commonly-consumed creatures may be a member of several different creatures within an area.

If their check can identify a creature even with a penalty, then give all the information their check would normally allow (don't apply the penalty -- the penalty is only for identifying the creature. Seeing the poop of a creature first shouldn't make you know any less about it).

If not, record their total and give them the information their roll would normally grant once they see the creature in its full glory.


Sure why not? Look at it this way; e.g. the wizard has never heard the cry of a wendigo, being a bookish sort. Then the ranger, who has heard the cry before but has no detailed knowledge hears the cry and sez “That sounds like the legendary wendigo, about which I know little other than it’s howl and it’s reputation of being a otherworldly beast”. The wizard then goes: “Oh so that’s what the howl sounds like. Ok, well according to Janes all the Worlds Monsters, the wendigo has the following….”


Terronus wrote:
They presented me with an analogy that if a couple park rangers were in the woods and heard the "scream" of a mountain lion, they might not at first realize what it was. If someone told them what it is, they would then "roll" to see what they know about mountain lions from their education.

That's a good analogy. Now let us apply it to the situation:

Party = rangers.
Hearing scream, but not recognizing = failed knowledge check.
Knowing stuff about monster mentioned to you = second knowledge check.
Someone who tells 'the rangers' (=the party) what it is. = NPC/found book/outside source of information. Certainly not the party itself!

Did an NPC come to tell them that it was a Wendigo? Nope. => no reroll.

Sczarni

I would say no. If you want a strict RAW answer you already know it. Re-rolls are no allowed on knowledge checks. If they want the "why" reason, it's simple. Knowledge DCs are tier based. DC10 tells you a mountain lion has fur. DC15 tells you what kind of environment it lives in. DC20 tells you even more specific info about the creature, so on and so forth. If your knowledge roll wasn't enough to show that you can identify the creature by the sound of it's howl then how are they going to know anything specific about it's strengths and weaknesses?

Generally knowledge checks are only re-rolled when there has been some kind of outside influence on the character's knowledge, like studying a subject in a library or researching a particular monster's statistics and behaviors for a period of time. Then another check would be allowed to see what, if anything, new the character has learned.


JrK wrote:
Terronus wrote:
They presented me with an analogy that if a couple park rangers were in the woods and heard the "scream" of a mountain lion, they might not at first realize what it was. If someone told them what it is, they would then "roll" to see what they know about mountain lions from their education.

That's a good analogy. Now let us apply it to the situation:

Party = rangers.
Hearing scream, but not recognizing = failed knowledge check.
Knowing stuff about monster mentioned to you = second knowledge check.
Someone who tells 'the rangers' (=the party) what it is. = NPC/found book/outside source of information. Certainly not the party itself!

Did an NPC come to tell them that it was a Wendigo? Nope. => no reroll.

Except your version of the analogy breaks down by treating the party as a unified whole.

Consider these two situations:
Party member 1: hears scream, fails roll, doesn't recognize
Continues on, meets NPC who says "Did you hear the Wendigo?"
Party member 1: Rerolls knowledge check to see if he knows anything about Wendigos, even though he can't identify the scream.
or
Party member 1: hears scream, fails roll, doesn't recognize
Party member 2: hears scream, barely makes roll, Says "Wendigo"
Party member 1: Rerolls knowledge check to see if he knows anything about Wendigos, even though he can't identify the scream.

From PM1's point of view, what's the difference? Does it really matter who tells him what it was? Would it be a difference if PM2 was a henchman or guide, not a PC?

Still, I think I'd stick with the no rerolls in either case. I do like Troubleshooter's idea of putting a penalty on the id, based on the available clues, then giving all the info if/when they make it. This would let you go "You have no idea what made the scream." and then when they confront it: "Now you recognize the Wendigo. You know the following...."
Definitely a house rule though. RAW, it's not harder to id a creature from the slightest clue than when actually meeting one and you only get one shot at info.

Qadira

Aid another doesn't allow rerolls, that's what is going on when players help each other. They should aid each other especially since combat hasn't started.

Edit: as a player I would feel cheated though. Maybe if I was GMing I would give them one roll for the monster. If successful vs the normal do they could use one useful piece of info to know the cry of the creature. If not then I would give it to them when they saw it and let them get their info then. They wouldn't get any info until they saw the creature or used piece of knowledge gained from their roll(completely unknowing what it was at the time)


Terronus wrote:
Two of the five party members were able to identify it as a Wendigo, without making the DC to get any further information other than the fluff of the creature.

Knowledge: "A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster. For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information."

If the check equaled the DC to identify the monster, they should get a useful bit of information about the monster. If the check was less than the DC, they shouldn't have known what it was at all.

Terronus wrote:
They presented me with an analogy that if a couple park rangers were in the woods and heard the "scream" of a mountain lion, they might not at first realize what it was. If someone told them what it is, they would then "roll" to see what they know about mountain lions from their education.

Did you apply any penalties or increase the DC of the Knowledge check based on them only hearing it, instead of seeing it? If so, they might have a case.

But if not, then they don't. They didn't roll to see if they know what a Wendigo sounds like, they rolled to see if they know what a wendigo is. They failed that roll, so they don't know what a wendigo is. That means they don't know what it sounds like or what it eats or what color it is.


Thanks all for the responses! I took the time to read them all, and feel pretty confident our group (myself included) just got caught up in the moment, leading them to think of identifying the howl as an outside influence that would allow a second reroll, and me being indecisive about it.

I'll share this thread with them in the hopes we might avoid something similar in the future!

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