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Is asking 'what a monsters weak save is' a valid use of a Knowledge check?


Rules Questions

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Assuming the character has the appropriate knowledge skill for the creature being identified, is asking what it's weak save/s is/are a valid use of the skill OR do you make the roll and take whatever information the GM gives you?

Or is it some combination of both?

In game knowledge skills are supposed to represent study of broad sections of information, including about monsters. Since thousands of years of magic training have established in game that magic attacks the mind/will, the body/fortitude or can be dodged/reflex, would it be reasonable to ask what spells types most often work on a creature your facing?

Are they known to be super nimble vs magic (good Reflex save), inherently resistant to magic of the body (good fort saves), or have strong minds (good will saves)?

Would finding out that be one piece of information or 3?


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Of course. Identifying monster weaknesses is the primary use of knowledge checks in game. It's even listed on the chart in the Core book.


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Expect table variance.

Some will let you ask.
Some will just hand out information. If they're not jerks, the information will actually be useful.
Some would assume you knew that as part of creature type and wouldn't count it as a piece of information at all.

Grand Lodge

The rules don't specify what is a "useful piece of information". I'd agree, as have many GMs I've seen, that Knowledge can reasonably provide the best or worst save for a kind of creature (not necessarily an individual with its gear) as one piece of information.


thejeff wrote:
Expect table variance.

And that is exactly why I posted this topic. I wanted to get a lot of feedback and see what the general consensus was on the rules.

Starglim wrote:
The rules don't specify what is a "useful piece of information". I'd agree, as have many GMs I've seen, that Knowledge can reasonably provide the best or worst save for a kind of creature (not necessarily an individual with its gear) as one piece of information.

Thanks for the response Starglim. I am inclined to agree with you.

But I also wonder if you get to ask a specific question on your roll or do you roll and get what the GM thinks you should know?

How does everyone handle this?

Grand Lodge

The rules don't say anything more than that a successful knowledge check gets you a number of useful pieces of information based on how much you beat the DC by.

So the GM just deciding what info to give you or letting you ask questions are both valid. In my groups we usually prefer the latter.


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Personally I prefer the GM to hand out info. I find asking questions only works when the player already knows the answers OOC. Otherwise you tend to get a bunch of "No, nothing relevant" answers, while missing some critical piece of info you don't think to ask about.

Letting the GM pick only works if your GM isn't a jerk about it, but then learning that your GM is a jerk is probably the most vital thing you could learn. :)


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I GM and hand out information based on what I feel is the most interesting facts first.

For instance kangaroos have a pouch. So in that idea I'd tell you trolls regenerate first before telling you saves.

But at the same time saves could in fact BE the most interesting part. If I was to say hill giants are strong but not smart and rather clumsy I've basically told you much of what you need to know there.

Could they ask specific questions? Yes. I'd still have to have them beat the base DC first so I could tell them the most basic facts before that, though. So they understand what it is before asking specifically how to defeat it. That seems common sense to me.


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I've been considering switching from questions to specific information in my home games for all the reasons Cavall said, but rather than just what's interesting, I think about what the character would find most useful and find most memorable. If the save-or-lose wizard is making the knowledge check, then of course they would make a point of knowing what the monster's weakest save is, while a bard might be more interested in their special attacks, and the front liner who's chosen to invest some of their precious skill ranks into a Knowledge would probably be more invested in special defenses. This would, of course, vary from monster to monster. That same save or lose wizard will obviously prioritize a monster's saves and spell resistance, but if it's something with an especially dangerous attack the party needs to be concerned about, obviously that's going to stick out more. After all, what's more memorable about a mummy lord, that it can't be permanently killed unless it's hit with several high level spells in rapid succession or that its weakest save is Reflex?


I figure that anyone that's interested in what saves monsters have would be most likely to study/recall that sort of thing more than minutiae that they wouldn't be interested. As such, I encourage asking questions as they tend to inform what info that character would seek out.


Doomed Hero wrote:
Of course. Identifying monster weaknesses is the primary use of knowledge checks in game. It's even listed on the chart in the Core book.

Seconded.

Silver Crusade

I usually ask "how tough does it look" since the wizard is rather useless.

This is because I'm usually looking for con (because foe throw)


Monster saves are determined by 3 things:
* what sort of creature is it (animal, monstrous humanoid, aberration)? That's fairly basic stuff and should certainly be revealed.
* what are its stats (wis, dex, con)? Harder, but you should be able to get some idea quite easily (an elephant and a cheetah are both animals, but one obviously has better dex)
* special abilities? This will vary.

So in general, yes, the PC can probably work it out from the above even if it's not a first-class public property of the creature.

Grand Lodge

I'm heavily in the camp of the GM giving out information as well. My method of deciding what information to give to the players is along the lines of imagining that they are talking to an old sage about the creature:

"The first thing you should know about ghouls is that their very touch will freeze you in place. Defend yourselves well and don't let them touch you."

"The second thing you should know about ghouls is that their bite can give you a particularly nasty disease: ghoul fever. If the disease kills you, you will rise from death as a ghoul."

That sort of thing...though not in artsy language like I used there.

Information that wouldn't have any in-world analogue, like a creature's number of HD, is generally not available at any price. Maybe a rough estimate of a creature's toughness/danger as a proxy for HD, but nothing closer than that. If a creature resists fire 5 or 10, I'll just say resistance with no number attached. If it resists 30, I'll probably say really strong resistance.

In regard to what saves a creature is good at, I usually wouldn't give out that sort of information. I do consider it completely within a "fair play" range for players to infer that sort of information from its type, however. I give out creature types without any check at all (at least, which creature type is apparent. A heucuva that looks like a human, hasn't acted like an undead and hasn't had its disguise/illusion broken would give human data even if the player makes their check - realistically they'd be rolling Local instead of Religion). This mostly facilitates allowing the players to know what kind of knowledge checks to make, but also gives them information like oozes being unflankable and uncrittable even if they have no knowledge ranks in Dungeoneering. I assume that trained adventurers know the basics of creature type data (don't use mind-affecting on vermin).

As Mudfoot says, a rough estimate of a creature's best & worst saves can be inferred from that, though not precisely.

When I see the question system used, I very frequently see players asking for information like damage reduction that is usually known or very likely from its type, like DR/cold iron on fey (although if a fey creature was randomly DR/adamantine, that would probably shoot up on the list of things my imaginary sage would mention). It is pretty useless and harms the players in comparison to my method far more often than not.


Nathan Goodrich wrote:


Information that wouldn't have any in-world analogue, like a creature's number of HD, is generally not available at any price. Maybe a rough estimate of a creature's toughness/danger as a proxy for HD, but nothing closer than that.

If I'm in any kind of a sandbox style game, where some encounters should just be avoided, I'll give out some indication of CR.

Does no good to learn that trolls are vulnerable to fire and acid if you don't learn that this group of them will rip your party to shreds even without regenerating.

Less important in a more standard game, where most encounters will be something appropriate for the party.

Grand Lodge

thejeff wrote:
Nathan Goodrich wrote:


Information that wouldn't have any in-world analogue, like a creature's number of HD, is generally not available at any price. Maybe a rough estimate of a creature's toughness/danger as a proxy for HD, but nothing closer than that.

If I'm in any kind of a sandbox style game, where some encounters should just be avoided, I'll give out some indication of CR.

Does no good to learn that trolls are vulnerable to fire and acid if you don't learn that this group of them will rip your party to shreds even without regenerating.

Sure. And that would fall under my toughness/danger as above. But not a number of HD.


Nathan Goodrich wrote:

I'm heavily in the camp of the GM giving out information as well. My method of deciding what information to give to the players is along the lines of imagining that they are talking to an old sage about the creature:

"The first thing you should know about ghouls is that their very touch will freeze you in place. Defend yourselves well and don't let them touch you."

"The second thing you should know about ghouls is that their bite can give you a particularly nasty disease: ghoul fever. If the disease kills you, you will rise from death as a ghoul."

That sort of thing...though not in artsy language like I used there.

Information that wouldn't have any in-world analogue, like a creature's number of HD, is generally not available at any price. Maybe a rough estimate of a creature's toughness/danger as a proxy for HD, but nothing closer than that. If a creature resists fire 5 or 10, I'll just say resistance with no number attached. If it resists 30, I'll probably say really strong resistance.

In regard to what saves a creature is good at, I usually wouldn't give out that sort of information. I do consider it completely within a "fair play" range for players to infer that sort of information from its type, however. I give out creature types without any check at all (at least, which creature type is apparent. A heucuva that looks like a human, hasn't acted like an undead and hasn't had its disguise/illusion broken would give human data even if the player makes their check - realistically they'd be rolling Local instead of Religion). This mostly facilitates allowing the players to know what kind of knowledge checks to make, but also gives them information like oozes being unflankable and uncrittable even if they have no knowledge ranks in Dungeoneering. I assume that trained adventurers know the basics of creature type data (don't use mind-affecting on vermin).

As Mudfoot says, a rough estimate of a creature's best & worst saves can be inferred from that, though not precisely.

When I see the...

I prefer to let them ask because the fighter and the wizard probably had different sages teaching them. The fighter generally wants to know about DR and how the thing is going to try to eat him. The wizard wants to know about resistances/immunities, SR, and what types of spells are more likely to work against it.

Why would hit dice not be available? Many spells are hit dice sependant; sleep, colorspray, daaze, etc, the caster who makes his knowledge check should know if the critter is going to be affected by his spells based on the hit die criteria.

Why your resistance to hard numbers? Why would you think that the characters would not know them? If you want to waste time on circumloquitions you could say "Resistance as tough to overcome as a Resist X spell at 4th level (or 7th level, or 11th level). Because those are numbers the characters certainly have access to. Denying hard numbers is nothing more than an attempt to devalue the knowledge check by making the information less usefull.

As for saves, no one should ever have to ask for that information, they got it with the creture type. Animals have good Fort and Ref saves, ragons have all good saves, Fey have good Ref and Will saves, etc.


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The game rules are vague on the topic of what information to give out, and do not exactly state anything.

My Go-To reference for this is the Monster Focus line of focus booklets from Minotaur Games (Jason Bulmahn's personal line of products). While I don't always agree with the exact results, it gives a good example of how at least one developer views the use of the skill (each has a table of Knowledge roll results for the monster in the booklet).

Based on that, I can summarize them as:


  • No game-term stats (no "it has low Hit Dice" or "It has Resistance 10 to acid"); you get in-character information like "It isn't very tough" or "acid doesn't work well against it".
  • You do not get to ask questions; you get the results moving from most obvious to less obvious the better your roll.

For my own use, I have structured the responses as such:


  • On the exact DC: Name, type, sub-type (if recognizable visibly), obvious simple templates, environment, organization.
  • DC+5: The primary attack form (claws, bite, etc.) such as "the claws can rip you apart"
  • DC+10: A weakness, such as "they burn easily"
  • DC+15: Another physical attack form, if any, or something a survivor would report, such as "The claws are poisonous!"
  • DC+20: Another weakness or special quality, such as "They have no minds so illusions and similar won't have any effect!" for the Mindless quality.
  • Between these "tiers", on +2 or +3 over the previous result (such as DC+7 or DC+13) I scatter any additional "lore" entries about the creation or in-world history of the creature.

Naturally, because the specifics are left to the GM, others may take a different approach.


if you roll high i've seen some gms just give the player the book and say you know all this about the creature


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Urath DM wrote:

The game rules are vague on the topic of what information to give out, and do not exactly state anything.

My Go-To reference for this is the Monster Focus line of focus booklets from Minotaur Games (Jason Bulmahn's personal line of products). While I don't always agree with the exact results, it gives a good example of how at least one developer views the use of the skill (each has a table of Knowledge roll results for the monster in the booklet).

Based on that, I can summarize them as:


  • No game-term stats (no "it has low Hit Dice" or "It has Resistance 10 to acid"); you get in-character information like "It isn't very tough" or "acid doesn't work well against it".
  • You do not get to ask questions; you get the results moving from most obvious to less obvious the better your roll.

For my own use, I have structured the responses as such:


  • On the exact DC: Name, type, sub-type (if recognizable visibly), obvious simple templates, environment, organization.
  • DC+5: The primary attack form (claws, bite, etc.) such as "the claws can rip you apart"
  • DC+10: A weakness, such as "they burn easily"
  • DC+15: Another physical attack form, if any, or something a survivor would report, such as "The claws are poisonous!"
  • DC+20: Another weakness or special quality, such as "They have no minds so illusions and similar won't have any effect!" for the Mindless quality.
  • Between these "tiers", on +2 or +3 over the previous result (such as DC+7 or DC+13) I scatter any additional "lore" entries about the creation or in-world history of the creature.

Naturally, because the specifics are left to the GM, others may take a different approach.

So just to be clear, using this approach the classic examples would be:

Skeletons having DR/bludgeoning would need a Know check of 16 - assuming they're considered Common, which is usual.
Trolls needing acid or fire to stop their regeneration would need a 25.

Blech. To me, that's the whole problem with any kind of formal classification system - you want the most useful, distinctive stuff first, not things anyone could guess by looking at it. A system like this, you'll need to really push Knowledge skills to reliably get anything useful out of them. Or more likely just not bother.


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The thing that bugs me most about basing knowledge checks off of Hit Dice is that it breaks verisimilitude.

Hit Dice don't actually have anything to do with how rare or unknown a monster is. Trolls are not super-mysterious. They don't live in places that are hard to get to. Their territory butts up against civilization. They live in that forest right over there and sometimes they come out of it to drag people back for dinner.

In a setting like Golarion, where the Pathfinder Society and other organizations like it exist, a troll's weaknesses would be common knowledge in any area where trolls exist. There would be little pamphlets drawn up and distributed that told people all about what troll tracks look like, and who to tell if you see them. Everyone would know that trolls hate fire in the same way everyone in the real world knows what the dangerous local plants and animals are where they live.

It's basic survival stuff. When there's poison ivy in your back yard, you're going to learn how to spot it by the time you're about 5, and how to treat it by the time you are about 8.

Just imagine how much you'd learn about trolls if every few years someone in your town was killed by one.


thejeff wrote:

Personally I prefer the GM to hand out info. I find asking questions only works when the player already knows the answers OOC. Otherwise you tend to get a bunch of "No, nothing relevant" answers, while missing some critical piece of info you don't think to ask about.

Letting the GM pick only works if your GM isn't a jerk about it, but then learning that your GM is a jerk is probably the most vital thing you could learn. :)

During my last campaign, I was constantly reminding my players "Most monsters don't have a 'vulnerability', you should instead ask me what they're resistant against."


Doomed Hero wrote:
The thing that bugs me most about basing knowledge checks off of Hit Dice is that it breaks verisimilitude.

Why? Martial artists are ranked by belt, fighting guys by mastery level, priests by hierarchy, ect... relative basic strength/ability seems fine.

Doomed Hero wrote:
Hit Dice don't actually have anything to do with how rare or unknown a monster is.

it has to do with how tough/skilled it is. Feats, skills, bonus stats, abilities based on HD, hp, ect. Now the characters may call the rankings a different term, but it'll equate to HD.

Doomed Hero wrote:
In a setting like Golarion, where the Pathfinder Society and other organizations like it exist, a troll's weaknesses would be common knowledge in any area where trolls exist. There would be little pamphlets drawn up and distributed that told people all about what troll tracks look like, and who to tell if you see them. Everyone would know that trolls hate fire in the same way everyone in the real world knows what the dangerous local plants and animals are where they live.

I agree they should be available along with a ranking of how tough they are compared the average adventures [HD]. Of course this all relies on the characters memory and how good a student they where.


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Doomed Hero wrote:

The thing that bugs me most about basing knowledge checks off of Hit Dice is that it breaks verisimilitude.

Hit Dice don't actually have anything to do with how rare or unknown a monster is. Trolls are not super-mysterious. They don't live in places that are hard to get to. Their territory butts up against civilization. They live in that forest right over there and sometimes they come out of it to drag people back for dinner.

In a setting like Golarion, where the Pathfinder Society and other organizations like it exist, a troll's weaknesses would be common knowledge in any area where trolls exist. There would be little pamphlets drawn up and distributed that told people all about what troll tracks look like, and who to tell if you see them. Everyone would know that trolls hate fire in the same way everyone in the real world knows what the dangerous local plants and animals are where they live.

It's basic survival stuff. When there's poison ivy in your back yard, you're going to learn how to spot it by the time you're about 5, and how to treat it by the time you are about 8.

Just imagine how much you'd learn about trolls if every few years someone in your town was killed by one.

Actually, there's a believable reason for higher HD having a harder check: fewer people have experience with them, because a higher % of the population would die in that encounter.

Think about it like this, a common villager can potentially survive an encounter with a goblin. This means a lot of people learn things about goblins.

An encounter with a troll is super deadly to 1HD commoners though, very few survive, and if they do it's because they ran away while it ate their friends. Not even all adventurers survive their encounters with trolls.

So part of it is how fast does information accumulate, and how available that information is to the general public. A 15 HD monster, regardless of "rarity" will have less information available on it, because fewer people survive that encounter to report on them.


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Cavall wrote:

I GM and hand out information based on what I feel is the most interesting facts first.

For instance kangaroos have a pouch. So in that idea I'd tell you trolls regenerate first before telling you saves.

DM: Whats your knowledge local check? Okay, you made it. "Before you stands a cave troll. While troll mothers do actually produce milk for their young, this is considered by many scholars to be an exstraneous holdover from their giant kin. The vast majority of calories in a newborn cave troll's diet actually derives from cannibalizing the flesh of it's mother"

Players: ...??

DM: What? Oh, yeah, you beat the dc by 5, sorry. "These creatures regeneration is bypassed by both fire and acid attacks."


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As a GM I let people ask me for things like "special abilities", "weaknesses", "Immunities", "special attacks" and so on. I consider asking for specific numbers like Hps or saves to be out of line though.


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graystone wrote:
Doomed Hero wrote:
The thing that bugs me most about basing knowledge checks off of Hit Dice is that it breaks verisimilitude.

Why? Martial artists are ranked by belt, fighting guys by mastery level, priests by hierarchy, ect... relative basic strength/ability seems fine.

Doomed Hero wrote:
Hit Dice don't actually have anything to do with how rare or unknown a monster is.
it has to do with how tough/skill it is. Feats, skills, bonus stats, abilities based on HD, hp, ect. Now the characters call the rankings a different term, but it'll equate to HD.

Missing the point, I think. It's not Hit Dice vs CR, but that tougher things are harder to identify.

"Hey Joe, any idea what that huge red flying lizard like thing is?"
Know(Arcane): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
"Not a clue. Probably should warn the town - it's big if nothing else"

Dragon shouldn't be a word known only to arcane scholars.


thejeff wrote:
Missing the point, I think.

he said it "verisimilitude" to base it on HD. I tried to cover both verisimilitude[they wouldn't call it that] and verisimilitude [how tough/skilled it is], as I think both have verisimilitude.

thejeff wrote:

"Hey Joe, any idea what that huge red flying lizard like thing is?"

Know(Arcane): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
"Not a clue. Probably should warn the town - it's big if nothing else"

Well this is one of those cases where you should have a ranger: they seem to be able to ID favored enemies without know checks. :P

I do find it odd that plenty of abilities assume you automatically ID type but nothing actually gives you a mechanism to do it. IMO, telling basic type should be a DC 10, so a take ten lets you figure it out: so it'd be [Know(Arcane): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9 (no clue what it specific monster it is) then Know(Arcane): take 10 + 4 ⇒ 14 (it's some kind of dragon that's red... what do they do again? Petrify people?)]. that's how I'd run it.


In organized play, the usual questions I hear asked include special defenses, special attacks, special abilities, weakest save, and how much of it's AC is physical (touch AC vs armor.) If someone's first question is about resistances and I answer that it has fire resistance, I would also allow a second question of "How much fire resistance?" if that was one of the things a player wanted to know about and the knowledge check was high enough to get more questions.


This is something that really needs to be discussed at the table. There just isn't a single way to adjudicate this.

Even within a single party, a "useful piece of information" differs from character to character.

The Kitsune Enchanting Sorceress wants to know if the creature is immune to mind affecting spells.

The debuff caster wants to know the weak save.

The Inquisitor with mega-Bane wants to know creature type.

The melee martial wants to know if it has damage resistance.

So, you need to come to an agreement with the players at your table how everyone wants to handle it. It is completely OK for a DM to not want to give away the farm on info for the creature, but it is also completely reasonable for a player to get information useful to that specific character.

I mean, if you're running a straight melee beatstick, why would the first bits of information that character get about a subject monster be it's weak save and if it has spell resistance? When that character is (during down time) talking to other adventurers or other knowledgeable people about creatures in the area, or otherwise expanding his/her knowledge about critters that justifies the increase in his/her knowledge skill, would he/she not be more interested in finding out whether or not that creature is resistant to his/her sword?


thejeff wrote:
graystone wrote:
Doomed Hero wrote:
The thing that bugs me most about basing knowledge checks off of Hit Dice is that it breaks verisimilitude.

Why? Martial artists are ranked by belt, fighting guys by mastery level, priests by hierarchy, ect... relative basic strength/ability seems fine.

Doomed Hero wrote:
Hit Dice don't actually have anything to do with how rare or unknown a monster is.
it has to do with how tough/skill it is. Feats, skills, bonus stats, abilities based on HD, hp, ect. Now the characters call the rankings a different term, but it'll equate to HD.

Missing the point, I think. It's not Hit Dice vs CR, but that tougher things are harder to identify.

"Hey Joe, any idea what that huge red flying lizard like thing is?"
[dice=Know(Arcane)]d20+4
"Not a clue. Probably should warn the town - it's big if nothing else"

Dragon shouldn't be a word known only to arcane scholars.

They aren't identifying dragon's as a type, they're identifying a specific dragon, it's variant, and relevant details about THAT dragon.

Just like if you, thejeff, went to Africa, you probably couldn't identify very many species of birds, but you'd know the different between a bird and a lion. Knowing it was a bird wouldn't help you in knowing much that was relevant to that species though.

Even without ranks in Knowledge(Arcana) most peasants would probably know basic morphology of famous creature types... ie, dragons. Less common variants might stump them, but they'd probably describe it "like a dragon, but different." The characteristics they could identify would as valuable as... "It had wings, and was flying."

Liberty's Edge

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

I will use something similar to Urath table, but the basic attacks will be included in the minimum result if easily perceptible, while special attacks will be considered further information.
So a troll routine of claws and bite will be a part of the basic information, while the rend ability of some troll sub-specie will be explained only on higher rolls.

Notorious information for common creatures, like "you need fire to kill trolls", will be part of the basic information given out with the creature type, but when the creature differ from the more common version it will require way higher results.
Example of modified creature: minimum success "It is some variant of troll, you normally need fire or acid to kill them", higher success "It is a variant of the trolls, a Ash Troll that live only in the sea of ash, they have a high fire resistance, but their body dissolve when doused by liquids. Fire will not stop its regeneration but acid or water will."

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

It's up to the GM if that is a valid piece of information. It is certainly useful.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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I use the "player who made the roll can ask the questions" method, with the caveat that questions that have "not relevant/no/none" as an answer don't use up one of your asks. So if the monster has no resistances/immunities, and the PC asks what they are, I'll tell them "it has none and that doesn't count as one of your questions." Maybe that's overly generous, but I like my PCs' skill point investments to matter.

Usually my players want:

What are its resistances/immunities?
Is it spell resistant?
What gets through its DR?
What special attacks does it have?

I tend to use in-game descriptive language. "It's a little bit fire resistant. It is immune to acid. It takes cold iron to fully pierce its hide. It has no spell resistance. It has abilities that let it manipulate nearby rock."
Sometimes if they roll really high against a simple monster (I got a 40 vs. a skeleton!) I'll just give them everything relevant to combat from the stat block. It speeds things up.

I'd answer if someone wanted the weakest save, but I'd be a little vague about it. If one save varied from the others by 4 or more, I'd point it out. If they are all nearly the same I'd point that out too. Of course, in my online game over Maptools I roll openly, so the players can see that this monster has a +18 to its save (or whatever) when it rolls it.


I too find basing the knowledge DC on anything other than the obscurity of the creature to be silly. For instance, most of us know a ton of information about sharks, elephants and lions, but next to nothing about skinks.

And I'd actually find it more likely that you'd know info on a very high level individual than a very low level individual. Everyone would have heard some stuff about the great hero Hercules, but almost no one in the world knows about quiet Bob who works down at the foundry.


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A newly hatched baby red dragon is like a famous celebrity; everyone knows it breaths fire and is immune to fire. But if it lives long enough and becomes an ancient wyrm dragon everyone is all, "What type of creature is that?" "No idea."

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Matthew Downie wrote:
A newly hatched baby red dragon is like a famous celebrity; everyone knows it breaths fire and is immune to fire. But if it lives long enough and becomes an ancient wyrm dragon everyone is all, "What type of creature is that?" "No idea."

Given the amount of changes that can happen to a human adventurer over the span of a single year, in terms of capability, it's wise not to assume the 1200+ year old dragon is just a bigger version of a hatchling. Never mind how many other big winged lizards exist that are some manner of red.


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If most people can tell a swordfish from a shark, I think we could expect the average adventurer to know the difference between a red dragon and some other large red lizard.

And again, some 1200+ year old dragon should be much more well known than some whelp that just hatched.


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ryric wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
A newly hatched baby red dragon is like a famous celebrity; everyone knows it breaths fire and is immune to fire. But if it lives long enough and becomes an ancient wyrm dragon everyone is all, "What type of creature is that?" "No idea."
Given the amount of changes that can happen to a human adventurer over the span of a single year, in terms of capability, it's wise not to assume the 1200+ year old dragon is just a bigger version of a hatchling. Never mind how many other big winged lizards exist that are some manner of red.

But does it make sense for everyone to be familiar with the basic dragon type, for many people to be able to identify the young version and its abilities, but for only a tiny few to be able to recognize the adult ravager of towns?

I mean, I get that it works mechanically - you can identify weaknesses of things that are appropriate for you to fight and we probably shouldn't look at it much more closely than that.


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Melkiador wrote:

If most people can tell a swordfish from a shark, I think we could expect the average adventurer to know the difference between a red dragon and some other large red lizard.

And again, some 1200+ year old dragon should be much more well known than some whelp that just hatched.

Why?

How much did people in The Hobbit know about Smaug, even though they lived right next to him?

Just because he's been around a while doesn't mean he's had much meaningful interaction with people or been successfully studied by fantasy-zoologists.

The issue is that such really old dragons are much more rare than younger ones, so opportunity to know what they are capable of is far less common.

Sure, you might guess that it's a big red dragon and can most likely breathe fire, but would you know it's pretty much a 16th level Sorcerer as well? How would you know that if you've never seen one before, and nobody you've ever talked to has ever seen one before? Maybe you read it in a book? How long ago was the book written?


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But Golarion is a world that actually has fantasy zoologists. They are called Pathfinders, and they write tons of books. That's actually the whole point of the Pathfinder Society.


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ryric wrote:
it's wise not to assume the 1200+ year old dragon is just a bigger version of a hatchling.

Assuming you don't know everything about Smaug's capabilities is reasonable.

Being unable to know that Smaug is a fireproof fire-breathing dragon of some kind, even when you know all about young dragons, is a bit silly.

(Though that would explain the failure of dwarves' plan from the second Hobbit movie where they try to pour molten metal all over Smaug.)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The best one I've run into and I've used myself a couple of times after I've heard the base description of the opponent are variations on:

"What is their life story?"

"What is their motivation?"

Y'know, if someone asks that, it's a reasonable question that'd come up in lore and study.

I've actually gotten better information about creatures that way than asking raw mechanics.

Truth in text though, have also done the 'weakest save' or 'ranked saves in order' route for particularly rough looking creatures, too.


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:

The best one I've run into and I've used myself a couple of times after I've heard the base description of the opponent are variations on:

"What is their life story?"

"What is their motivation?"

Y'know, if someone asks that, it's a reasonable question that'd come up in lore and study.

I've actually gotten better information about creatures that way than asking raw mechanics.

Truth in text though, have also done the 'weakest save' or 'ranked saves in order' route for particularly rough looking creatures, too.

"what's their sign"

"What's their favorite color?"
"Favorite food?"
"Fashion sense?"
:)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'd be lying if I said I hadn't seen/heard those questions at a table.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I tend to run a minor modification to the the base 10+CR rule. It says in the text "For common monsters, such as goblins, the DC of this check equals 5 + the monster’s CR. For particularly rare monsters, such as the tarrasque, the DC of this check equals 15 + the monster’s CR or more." I use the CR rating to determine the commonality of the base check.

CR 0-5 is common with a base DC of 5+CR
CR 6-10 is uncommon with a base DC 10+CR
CR 11-15 is rare with a base DC of 15+CR
CR 16-20 is epic with a base DC of 20+CR
CR 21+ is legendary with a base DC of 25+CR

This may seem odd, but it really rewards knowledge based characters and bards who tend to have crazy checks towards the later levels. An 18th level bard with 1 skill rank in every skill can take 10 and make a 32 before adding stat bonuses to most knowledge checks and that doesn't even take into account the Legend Lore auto 20 checks. Sorcerer/Wizards with arcane focus, rangers/druids with nature and clerics/oracles with religion and planes with even 10 ranks can take 10s and get 23+Stat on checks without issue. On a d20 you are looking at 28-33+Stat about 25% of the time. Success on the check gives a player the Senses, Defense and Offense blocks with an in-world flavor description. Every 5 over adds another info block flavor description.

I also tend to use the Trained Skill total of the player as a guide to general "hey that looks like x." If the player's skill total equals the CR of the creature or more they gain automatic access to the Name and general alignment of the race/species and the strength of the creature relative to the party (CR). Of course creature class levels are not counted in that check. Untrained skills never provide general info and must always roll for any info and cap at the standard 10.

So a Drow wizard with 6 class levels, would be CR 5, but the race is only CR 1/3. A character with 2 ranks, int 16 with a trained skill total of +8 would know the NPC is drow and that they are generally evil and given the physical description could surmise his class as arcane caster of some type. The knowledge check would net out at a DC 10 (5+CR). So a 2+ on the die would get the player the basic physical capabilities in general terms, he's a caster with a spell component pouch and a dagger, no armor, he looks slightly clumsy and frail but a determined look in his eyes shows a strong will. You know that drow have the normal elven resistances to mind affects and that they tend to resist magic. They have darkvision and some minor illusion magics at will.

Taking or rolling 10 would then net a check of 18 adding either the stat block or the ecology block depending on the player's info needs plus more OoC detailed descriptions of the offense and defense blocks. Rolling a nat 20 gets a 28, success with 3 extra info sets, which would get them full details about the NPC outside of prepped spells or gear's magical enhancements as there is no way to know that kind of specific info from the check. Somethings like feats are harder to describing in character, but I tend to let the players know OoC details with high checks, not the actual numbers but at least full special ability descriptions and the like.


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


I'd be lying if I said I hadn't seen/heard those questions at a table.

LOL Sounds like I'd have fun playing there. ;)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
graystone wrote:
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


I'd be lying if I said I hadn't seen/heard those questions at a table.
LOL Sounds like I'd have fun playing there. ;)

Knowledge Local for the win..

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Class Deck, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
graystone wrote:
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


I'd be lying if I said I hadn't seen/heard those questions at a table.
LOL Sounds like I'd have fun playing there. ;)

You'd probably like my Kitsune bard.

He tends to get fairly high knowledge rolls, so he often has an extra question left over. He defaults to "What does it taste like?"

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In one scenario, my bard asked the motivation question, and the GM said we'd already figured that one out in-play. The next question was 'typical' alignment...

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