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The Rules FAQ, and How to Use It


Rules Questions

Paizo Employee Official Rules Response

10 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 37 people marked this as a favorite.

What is a "FAQ"?
“FAQ” stands for “Frequently Asked Question.” Paizo uses the FAQ system to answer common questions about game rules, subscriptions, and other topics related to game publishing.

What’s the purpose of using the FAQ?
The FAQ system was built to allow players and GMs to draw attention to unclear, confusing, or incorrect parts of the game rules and get official answers from the designers.
It is not intended to create official rulings for every possible corner case or combination of the rules. Paizo firmly believes it is the privilege and responsibility of the GM to make rulings for unusual circumstances or unusual characters.

How do I get to the FAQs that have been posted?
There are three main links on every page to the FAQ section of the website:
1) The Help/FAQ link in the upper right corner.
2) The Help/FAQ link in the gray header bar near the top.
3) The left sidebar (which has links to specific FAQ categories for individual product lines).
Once you’re in the FAQ section of the website, you can jump to other categories by using the “More FAQs” sidebar in the upper right part of the page.

I have a question. How do I get a question answered in the FAQ?
The FAQ system uses the message board interface.
First, check the existing FAQs to make sure your question hasn’t already been answered.
If it hasn't, then post your question in the appropriate forum on Paizo.com.
Then, view your post and look for the “FAQ” link in the top right area (in between “List” and “Edit”).
Click that “FAQ” link and you’ll be given a popup window to confirm that you want to mark that post as something for the staff to consider as a FAQ (this is called “FAQ-clicking” or “FAQ-flagging” a post).
Once you’ve confirmed that, you should be able to see “1 person marked this as a FAQ candidate” in the upper right corner of the post.
All posts with FAQ-clicks are added to a hidden list viewable by the Paizo staff.
You can FAQ-click someone else’s post in the same way that you would FAQ-click your own.

What does an unanswered FAQ look like to the Paizo staff?
The FAQ interface looks much the same as checking a person's profile and clicking their "Favorites" or "Favorited By Others" tab, except the list of posts (also called the “FAQ queue”) is sorted "most flags on top" instead of chronologically.

In a long discussion thread about a question, which post should I FAQ-click?
The FAQ system treats each post (not each thread) as its own unique entity, so make sure you click the FAQ for the post with the question you want answered. Clicking a different post in that thread doesn’t help get the question answered.

Is a question with more FAQ-clicks more likely to be answered?
No. The staff can see that some posts have a lot of FAQ flags, but the staff also evaluates the complexity of the question, how much impact the answer has on player characters, and other factors. Just because someone managed to rally a lot of support about a particular question doesn't mean it's the most important, urgent, or relevant question.
In other words, sometimes it’s better or more efficient for the staff to answer a question with fewer FAQ flags than one with many FAQ flags.

What happens when the design team answers a question in the FAQ queue?
Normal procedure is for the design team to research the question, discuss the possible options, and come to an agreement on the answer. Then a new FAQ is created, and a post is made to the thread with the discussion to alert everyone that a FAQ answer is available. The FAQ-flagged post is then cleared from the queue; when this happens, new text will appear in the upper right corner of the FAQ-flagged post (next to “## people marked this as a FAQ candidate”), saying “Answered in the FAQ.”
You can tell when a section of the FAQ has been updated with a new entry by checking the dates after each section in the “More FAQs” listing.
When viewing a FAQ category, you can configure your settings to highlight (in red) new FAQs that have been posted in the past day, week, or month by clicking those time increments in the ”Highlight items...” links under the header name for that category.

Are FAQ rulings binding for Pathfinder Society play?
Yes and PFS has its own specific FAQ as well: http://paizo.com/pathfinderSociety/faq
Note that some FAQ answers tell you to talk to your GM for permission to use a particular option. If you are playing in Pathfinder Society and the PFS staff haven’t addressed the question in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, an entry in the PFS FAQ, or a clarification by the campaign staff, the default answer to this question is “no,” as it’s probably odd enough to have unexpected effects on the PFS campaign.

What if another member of Paizo’s staff answers a question?
The design team is the final arbiter of how the core rules are supposed to work. Other staff may weigh in with opinions about rules (and in general the staff is very informed about the rules), but it's the design team’s job to understand all the ins and outs of the rules, and the design team’s responsibility to make official rulings about the core rules.

Some FAQ threads get marked as "Question unclear." What does that mean?
If a flagged post is poorly written, doesn’t provide enough information about the question, includes multiple questions, or doesn't include a question at all, the normal staff response is to mark the post as unclear so people can rephrase the question or include additional information. See “What’s the best way to get a FAQ answered?,” below.

Some FAQ threads get marked as "Answered in errata." What does that mean?
Sometimes a player finds a problem in an older printing of a book and flags a question about that text. If Paizo has fixed the problem by changing that text in a later printing, the staff clears that FAQ candidate from the queue and marks the question as “Answered in errata.” You can download free errata for Paizo books from the My Downloads section of the website

Some FAQ threads get marked as "No response needed." What does that mean?
In most cases, it means the staff has looked at the question and decided that no official response is needed for that question.
For example, someone might ask, “Do I need to take the Power Attack feat before I can take the Cleave feat?” Because the Cleave feat says “Prerequisite: Power Attack,” it’s obvious that you do need to take that feat, and no answer is needed. In other words, the design team isn’t going to answer questions that a reasonable person could figure out by rereading the book.
Sometimes someone flags a post by mistake, and posts a reply later asking the staff to remove the post from the queue, so the staff does so, which marks it as “No response required.”
Sometimes a player might flag a post in an attempt to win an argument against a GM (or vice versa). The staff usually doesn’t respond to these posts unless there is an actual error in the rules, or the rules in question are so unclear that a reasonable person can’t determine how they’re supposed to work.
A few older FAQ candidates were marked “No response needed” because an earlier version of the queue didn’t have an option for “question unclear,” and the post was marked “no response needed” to clear it from the queue so the question could be asked again. If an older post is marked “no response needed” and you can’t find an answer to that question in the FAQ, try to find another post or thread restating the question; if there is no such post or thread, you may start a new thread and FAQ-flag it.

What's the best way to get a FAQ answered?
A short, concise question is much more likely to get a FAQ than a post that is a page of supposition, links to other discussions, with no actual question presented or with a question buried in the middle of a paragraph.
A post with one question on one topic is much more likely to get a FAQ than a post with multiple questions, especially if they are about different topics. This is because the staff can't clear a FAQ-flag for just part of a post, which means they have to answer all questions in that post to clear it, and some of those questions may be harder to answer (meaning “takes more research and time”) than others. In other words, the most difficult or complex question in a multi-question post tends to slow down getting any questions in that post answered.
Book names and page references help the staff find what you’re asking about. There are a lot of feats, traits, spells, magic items, and rules subsystems in the game now, and even something like “Ultimate Combat page 226” makes it a lot easier for the staff to look up what you’re asking about.

Who is “Pathfinder Design Team”?
The “Pathfinder Design Team” account is shared by all members of the Pathfinder RPG design team. Any member of the team may use it to post an answer to the FAQ. Remember that the PDT’s rulings come from a consensus of the design team—nothing is posted to the FAQ unless the design team has first discussed the issue and reached an agreement on a ruling.

I want a rule changed. Should I start a thread and ask people to FAQ-click it?
No. The FAQ is not to be used to get rules changed. Posts attempting to use the FAQ for this purpose will be cleared from the FAQ queue.

Should I put "FAQ request" or “Designer response needed” in my post or thread?
No.
Doing so suggests that your post or thread is more “worthy” of staff attention than someone else’s thread which doesn’t include this text.
Also, because having more FAQ clicks doesn’t make a thread more likely to be answered, doing this to encourage more FAQ clicks doesn’t help you.
Finally, most people insisting they need a designer or developer to weigh in with an official answer are in a situation where they’re disagreeing with the GM or another player and one side refuses to budge unless they get an official response from Paizo, and Paizo doesn’t want to encourage that sort of heavy-handedness.

Can I get a FAQ reply saying “That would be a good house rule”?
No. In a few cases, the design team has done so because a strict interpretation of the rules doesn’t allow something, and logistics of publishing mean it would be impractical to change the actual rule to allow it, but the design team thinks it’s reasonable to allow something as a house rule.
For example, only wizards can take the Spell Mastery feat from the Core Rulebook. However, characters of the alchemist, magus, and witch classes are arcane spellcasters who prepare spells from a book (or a familiar, in the case of a witch), and it is reasonable to allow those classes to select the Spell Mastery feat. However, Paizo can’t change the text of the Core Rulebook to mention those other classes because those classes are in other books, and the changes would also have to include text explaining that there are other Pathfinder RPG books with other character classes, and there isn’t enough room on the page to add all that text. Instead, the design team posted a FAQ saying that as written, the feat is wizard-only, but allowing those other classes is a reasonable house rule.
This sort of answer also allows the Pathfinder Society coordinators to decide whether or not to use that ruling for the PFS campaign (for example, they did so for the Spell Mastery feat).
You don’t need the design team to approve a house rule for your home campaign, so there is no point in asking for a specific FAQ giving you permission to create a house rule.

My question hasn't been answered yet. Is my question being ignored?
Regardless of how long it takes to get a FAQ posted, the design team is never ignoring FAQ issues. The team spends time each week looking at the queue and prioritizing which questions should be addressed sooner rather than later.
Sometimes other work duties interfere with answering FAQ questions, such as conventions or deadlines. Sometimes one member of the design team is out sick or on vacation (remember that FAQ posts require a consensus).
Sometimes answering a question takes longer because the post is formatted poorly, or it’s about a weird corner case of the rules that the design team needs to read up on before answering, or because there are more important questions--despite having fewer clicks--that the team wants to answer first.

I really need an answer on this question and there’s no FAQ for it yet. What should I do?
Have the GM make a ruling and move on. Even if you’re playing in a Pathfinder Society campaign: sometimes the GM has to make a ruling so the game can proceed.

I don't like the answer in the FAQ. What can I do?
If you have found rules that appear to override a FAQ, post about it as a reply to the thread and open up the idea for more discussion. What you found might be an exception to the rule, or it might be the evidence to overturn the ruling.
If you disagree with a ruling but don’t have any additional evidence to show that the ruling is incorrect, accept the ruling and move on (restating your points from earlier in the discussion is not “additional evidence”). Remember that you can house rule it for your home campaign.

What is the Golarion FAQ?
The design team’s area of interest is the Pathfinder RPG product line (Core Rulebook, Bestiary, Advanced Player’s Guide, and so on), but Paizo publishes content (both rules and flavor) specifically for its Golarion setting. The Golarion FAQ is for questions about Paizo-published content from source other than the Pathfinder RPG line: the Pathfinder Companions, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, and so on.
Creative Director James Jacobs posts answers to the Golarion FAQ.

Why Doesn't the Pathfinder Design Team Use the 3.5 FAQ?
The 3.5 FAQ is not Open content, which means it is the property of Wizards of the Coast, and therefore not allowed for official rulings for the Pathfinder RPG. Instead, the design team relies on its extensive experience, the input from other Paizo teams, and rules discussions from the Pathfinder players.
Keep in mind that while the Pathfinder RPG is based on 3.5, it has many significant differences, and those differences (plus evolution of the game over time) may result in rulings that contradict rulings in the 3.5 FAQ.

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