About Combat vs. Skills...


Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild

Grand Lodge *

I’ve hit a bit of a conundrum with PFS recently and I wanted to get a few serious opinions on the matter. A little while back, there was a thread called “Season 9, The Year of Research?”, and one of my friends (second post) basically said he hated all the skill check marathons that PFS was doing that season and got plenty of flak for it. I had joined in on the thread, but I think I just derailed it further, so I thought I’d make this one instead. Season 9 has been favoring skills over combat from what we’ve experienced head-on, and a couple of people in my group have gotten sick of it, myself included.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve made an investigator just to get through the skill marathons and dialogue. His gimmick is this: although he’s a decent investigator, he hates his class, is unsociable (7 CHA), and is just in it for the money (Chaotic Neutral). Even though I picked my skills well enough, it hasn’t made the first scenario I used him in any better aside from speeding it up a bit. We ended up skipping the first 2 out of 3 combats because of this, the last one involving acid-resistant swarms that we we’re woefully unprepared for, all the while making me wish we ran something else. Being a video gamer growing up and jumping onto the tabletop RPG train later in life might be the reason, but I don’t enjoy foregoing combat in favor of a bunch of skill checks and huge streams of dialogue, which can turn into watching the GM and the skill monkey player talk back and forth for 50+% of the session with little else to do for everyone else (fun fun).

Bear in mind, I don’t dislike role-playing characters as a whole, it would be boring just playing cardboard cutout classes, but the method that some of these scenarios do it just upsets me to the point that I’m wondering if I should even continue PFS at all. What baffles me is how almost nobody else feels this way from what I’ve seen online, either they’re a silent minority, or they get shouted down otherwise.

So out of curiosity, am I the dumb one for feeling this way, or is there anyone that gets this vibe as well?

Sczarni *****

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I would call it a small sample size bias.

The vast majority of the 250+ scenarios involve 3+ combats, several of which where combat is all you do, whereas I can count on one hand the number of scenarios where we never rolled Initiative once.

With all of the bloat Pathfinder has acquired, building a melee monster that trivializes combats requires virtually no skill or system mastery, and the combats they will partake in will last maybe two rounds.

On the other hand, from an author's point of view, telling a story becomes more involved and rewarding when a scenario requires investigation, well-balanced characters and maybe one challenging encounter to top it all off.

I look at it as a pendulum, with earlier PFS Seasons more combat focused, and later Seasons less so. If you're not impressed with these newer Seasons, try something older.

*** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Southcoast aka JDDyslexia

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Also, if you're looking for more combat, ask your local GMs to offer older modules or even Bonekeep.

Dark Archive *

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That being said, for all the arguments and concerns about recent seasons being 'skill-heavy', my play experience has been quite the opposite.

There have been some scenarios that still call out for 'only a skill', but for the most part 'any skill' could be substituted (perhaps at a higher difficulty, perhaps with different modifiers, etc) AND with an option if Team Death Vagrant wants to "hack 'n' slash" their way through.

About the only change I've seen on *both* sides of the screen is that there are actually now *consequences* for going 'full death vagrant', where they didn't have that as present in the past.

From a narrative and play perspective, I deeply appreciate these considerations growing into the campaign.

****

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I know I appreciate there being ways to complete scenario goals without having to kill everybody. I prefer scenarios where people can be neotiated with and the only things you really *have* to fight are the evil outsiders, soul-devouring undead, and those who have goals so diametrically opposed to the party that there isn't room to talk with them.

The Exchange *** Venture-Agent, Colorado—Denver aka Ahz

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And it doesn't have to be a GM - Skill Monkey dialog, anyone can join in on the discussion to add their point of view for an aid.

Liberty's Edge **

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Paul Lang wrote:
And it doesn't have to be a GM - Skill Monkey dialog, anyone can join in on the discussion to add their point of view for an aid.

To keep people engaged and thinking I require the player to tell me what they are doing in order to make an aid roll.

Dark Archive ***** Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

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Gary Bush wrote:
Paul Lang wrote:
And it doesn't have to be a GM - Skill Monkey dialog, anyone can join in on the discussion to add their point of view for an aid.
To keep people engaged and thinking I require the player to tell me what they are doing in order to make an aid roll.

As do I, and I make that clear to the table at the beginning of the game. But I try to be at least a bit lenient on what works for that.

Sovereign Court *****

”Yeah, what he said!”

Can I get an aid a other?

Dark Archive *****

Probably needs a little more than that, Thorval

****

It's always possible to think creatively if you don't have quite the right skill, too. I dispersed a crowd with a Profession : City Watchman roll once. "Move along here, folks. This isn't anything you want to be a part of."

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

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Thorval Thorvalson wrote:

”Yeah, what he said!”

Can I get an aid a other?

Speaking for myself, I ENCOURAGE players to do more than that but I'm not going to FORCE them. If they're having fun doing that who am I to say no?

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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Let's look at this from another angle. If you had to pick any single movie as the inspiration for Pathfinder Society, it would probably be an Indiana Jones movie. Now watch one of them and count the number of combat scenes vs. the number of acrobatics/chase scenes vs. the number of social skulduggery.

PFS is Indana Jones, not Rambo.

And I think it's a false dichotomy to say that you make a character to do skills or to do combat. I always aim to make characters that do both. Going through my characters I get:


  • Paladin - fights, but also negotiates
  • Alchemist - throws bombs but also analyzes weird magic stuff, knows things, deals with traps.
  • Investigator - absolutely tears evil outsiders to pieces, but also has strong social and investigation skills
  • Asmodean Advocate Cleric/Pathfinder Savant - pretty good at analyzing magic doodads, UMD monster, and about a +30 to Bluff/Diplomacy, but also casts extremely mean debuff spells.
  • Slayer/Shadowdancer - mobile tank with acrobatic and infiltration skills as well as sporting a +17 knowledge check on Int 10.
  • Wizard - arcane firepower and support but also knowledges, and a faerie dragon familiar that's more skilled than 2-3 PCs combined
  • Zen Archer/Inquisitor - like a gattling gun that also does social skills on Wisdom
  • Cleric/Evangelist of Milani - diverse social skills as well as more healing than monsters can chew through
  • Goliath Druid - fight like a troll with a chainsaw but also have social skills
  • Spiritualist - Save or Suck spellcasting, phantom tanking, but also strong investigation skills
  • Blaster wizard - strong knowledges, mushroom clouds
  • Tormented Soul Paladin - tough tank, also broadly skilled in tracking/investigation
  • Herald Caller cleric - summons monsters, also does historical/outsider knowledges
  • Psychic - blast people's brains out and knowledges through the roof
  • First Mother's Fang - athletics, mobility and social skills, but also melee battlefield control
  • Ulfen Guard - investigative skills to spot threats and social skills to become a senator
  • Halcyon Druid - aggressive druidic+++ spellcasting and diplomatic/knowledge skills
  • Archer skald - social skills, ranged support and buffing

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

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The players who complain about the skill/social sections of a scenario fall into two groups: those who don't enjoy the role-playing part of the game (Fair enough, everyone has different tastes, but maybe you should look into something like Descent instead. "Role-Playing" is right there in the title of Pathfinder RPG.) and those who are determined to build the best combat character.

Lau Bennenberg wrote:
And I think it's a false dichotomy to say that you make a character to do skills or to do combat.

I 100% agree with this. So often when a player complains about skill checks and I look over at their character sheet, I see a starting Int of 7 and a starting Str or Dex of 18. They cost themselves 2 skill points a level (and Int skill penalties) to eke out that extra +1 to attack and damage.

I like that the newer scenarios encourage players to build balanced characters.

Sovereign Court **

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I'll add to the chorus here. While I've noticed more frequent skill checks, I haven't seen a significant reduction in combat. I also typically make my characters in such a way that they are good at both. If I don't I come to terms with the fact (starting at character creation) that there will be times I'll be RPing for what amounts to no mechanical effect. Even my 7 int fighter has a smattering of skills for him to try to aid another.

Echoing what I believe Lau's point is: an important part of the PFS experience is managing expectations. Some of us have Rambo characters, but my perception of PFS scenarios are that they are typically written for Indiana Jones.

*****

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I would agree with that. I would also say that combat in lots of the higher tier season 9 scenario's have been significantly challenging.

The Exchange ****

please excuse the rant if I missed the mark on this statement...
"...I require the player to tell me what they are doing... "

I normally hear the above statement ONLY when someone is talking about social skills. Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidate. I cannot recall ever hearing it when someone requests to Aid Another on a Climb/Disable Device/Disguise/Handle Animal/Heal/etc. skill check. Why? Why do we treat social skills differently than other skills?

But social skills are different rant:

OK, you guys have hit a "hot button" for me on this one.

So we restrict/penalize someone for being shy, or tired, or young (and shy), or rushed, or ...o many other things... because they do not play the game the way we think they should.

Why do we require a description from someone when they are required to make (or aid another) a skill check in a Social Skill?

Do we do the same thing for someone who just rolls their climb skill checks? or their swim? If they are "Aiding Another" in a Heal check to provide First Aid? Do they have to say "I'm doing a 'dog paddle' over to the wall and try to climb out... ah... using both hands to boost myself out of the water and the wall as leverage."

How about in combat? should we penalize someone for just rolling the attack - without stating HOW they are attacking?

Diplomacy is just another skill check - yet I repeatedly hear judges say things like "If they role-play poorly, I give no modifier because at least they tried. If they choose not to role-play the conversation, they get the -2". To me this would be like saying: "If they (the PLAYER) dances poorly, I give no modifier because at least they tried. If they choose not to show me some dance steps they use, they get the -2..."

sorry about this... but this is one of my "hot button" topics

I understand that we are wanting to "foster Role Playing". That's a good thing. But you know what? a Player can "Role Play" a Disable Device check too.

"Wow! I haven't see one of these sense Locksmith School! An Armstrong and Thornberry Mark IV double pin keyed Lock! these are tough! Good thing I have my number four pick"-pulling a expanding backscratcher from my gaming kit-"it's just the thing..." expanding it to 18" long "...for this device!" change of voice "I take ten and get a 26".

or even an Aid Another on said Disable Device check..."Hay, Jo! The sign on the door says 'Pull' - so stop trying to push it open!" (Big Grin!)

Judge: "Spellcraft check to determine what the wand does..."
Player A: "I'll assist Player B's check..."
Judge: "How? I mean, tell me what you are doing... "
Player A: "Ah... I don't know. How does someone DO a Spellcraft check? Whatever he does, I'll assist him."

Now... does that count? Why or why not? How about if we do it like this:

Judge: "Diplomacy check to improve the NPCs attitude..."
Player A: "I'll assist Player B's check..."
Judge: "How? I mean, tell me what you are doing... "
Player A: "Ah... I don't know. How does someone go about improving this NPCs attitude? Whatever he does, I'll assist him."

The Exchange ****

I don't think you can aid in spellcraft
Have a home group that does and told them not at my table. It says you have to possess an item to ID it. and than there is the 2 detect magics. Messing with each other. just my thoughts on it.

The Exchange ****

Jeff Morse wrote:

I don't think you can aid in spellcraft

Have a home group that does and told them not at my table. It says you have to possess an item to ID it. and than there is the 2 detect magics. Messing with each other. just my thoughts on it.

Interesting views and well within your right as a GM. I don't agree - but mostly that's just my opinion... and here's part of my reasoning.

(*) "...than there is the 2 detect magics. Messing with each other."... what do you mean by this? Do you mean that an active spell (detect magic) would interfere/interact with the other casting of the same spell? Why? I can see that both would "detect" that the other is active (if they were in the AOE of the other spell, which is not necessary for them both to be detecting the Aura of a magic item). But why should they effect/interfere with each other? And are there any other spells that would have an effect on a detect spell?

(*) "I don't think you can aid in spellcraft" - why not? There is no rule that I know of that prohibits it. And...

The more important point to me on this. Allowing someone to Aid Another on this skill check lets more than One Player "Play" during the Skill Challenge part of the game. A very minor investment on the part of the player will let them "join in" during the "play"... rather than just sitting there while the "skill monkey" does this part of the scenario. Or worse yet - playing "Yahtzee" to see who can roll the highest dice on a check... (IMHO) If it's NOT allowed, it SHOULD be. We want everyone at the table to "play together" right? Anything that forces some (likely most) of the players to "sit this round out", or to "roll off" is "not good". At least IMHO.

Here is a quote from another older thread on this subject.

Jiggy wrote a long time ago:

Jiggy wrote:
Well, the rules say that "In many cases, a character's help won't be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once" and "The GM might impose further restrictions to aiding another on a case-by-case basis as well", so I'd just approach each situation with "Can I aid?" and go with whatever the GM says.

so, when I'm the GM/Judge, I would, in most cases, say "Can you try to aid him? Sure!" because I like to get all the players at the table involved... and I get an image of the two methods playing out...

(Individual checks): Each PC will spend 18 seconds scanning each magic item and rolling a dice (or Taking 10) to get a Number - each of which they have to independently inform the Judge of. At least until one of them "get's it".

(Group Check): Each PC casts detect magic and scans the item in the Wizards hand... Bob: "Looks like a Cloak of Resistance to me...", Jo: "It's a ring Bob". Bob: "Oh - well then, maybe a Ring of Resistance?"

*** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Southcoast aka JDDyslexia

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Kevin Willis wrote:
Lau Bennenberg wrote:
And I think it's a false dichotomy to say that you make a character to do skills or to do combat.
I 100% agree with this. So often when a player complains about skill checks and I look over at their character sheet, I see a starting Int of 7 and a starting Str or Dex of 18. They cost themselves 2 skill points a level (and Int skill penalties) to eke out that extra +1 to attack and damage.

I have very few characters that are so sharply slanted towards one or the other. I have 18 PFS characters, and I think one maybe two are devoid of most skills and geared towards combat. But, when I play those characters, I accept that. When I play my barbarian, I know he's going to be near useless during social interactions. Likewise, I have about the same number of characters who aren't as useful offensively as well (though one is a bard, so she at least is buffing the party).

All of my other characters have a balance where there are things in combat they do and have at least two or three skills they can contribute to. Why aren't they balanced? Well, simply put, variety. As many different types of balanced characters that I have, I thought to myself "you know what, I want to combat max a Barbarian just to see how well I can play it".

The Exchange ****

Joe Bouchard wrote:
Kevin Willis wrote:
Lau Bennenberg wrote:
And I think it's a false dichotomy to say that you make a character to do skills or to do combat.
I 100% agree with this. So often when a player complains about skill checks and I look over at their character sheet, I see a starting Int of 7 and a starting Str or Dex of 18. They cost themselves 2 skill points a level (and Int skill penalties) to eke out that extra +1 to attack and damage.

I have very few characters that are so sharply slanted towards one or the other. I have 18 PFS characters, and I think one maybe two are devoid of most skills and geared towards combat. But, when I play those characters, I accept that. When I play my barbarian, I know he's going to be near useless during social interactions. Likewise, I have about the same number of characters who aren't as useful offensively as well (though one is a bard, so she at least is buffing the party).

All of my other characters have a balance where there are things in combat they do and have at least two or three skills they can contribute to. Why aren't they balanced? Well, simply put, variety. As many different types of balanced characters that I have, I thought to myself "you know what, I want to combat max a Barbarian just to see how well I can play it".

well said. Thank you sir!

*

If someone wants to use an 'alternate means' of handling a situation, whethre it be skills/spell/ragepower/whatnot, I typically say "Okay, sell it to me in less than thirty words."

Not that I actually keep track, but if someone has a solid enough argument that's *brief*.

Not "Because Player Companion B has an abiguous wording that references Rulebook C that says that Region Book 1 allows this."

More: "A lot of those skills sound somewhat athletic in nature and I have Profession(Athlete/Bodybuilder), could I roll that instead to impress the Cult of Swole?"

The first one is meta.

The second one is in-game and in-continuity and makes for a far better story, especially if the player is really into it and starts flexing to show off how swole they truly are (or are not).

The Exchange ****

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old story time - a 9 year old intimidates:

I have found that I have much more success "pulling players into Role Playing", and getting them to "act out their spiel" by role playing WITH them...

Heck, I can remember one game where a young lady (9 year old) who until then had never talked during our game, but she went first during an Ambush by mooks in an Ally. Her Sorcerer won Initiative and so when asked by the judge what she wanted to do, she said in a very soft voice "I'll scare them away".
The exchange went something like this...

Judge: "so that would be an Intimidate skill check. So what do you say to them...?"
Sorcerer: after a bit of 'deer in the headlights' time, everyone is watching her... in a very small voice "I wave my knife at them and say Go Away or I'll stick you!"
Judge: "Roll your Intimidate..."
Sorcerer: "19 plus my 5 gives me a ...ah..."
Me - next in initiative and running a Bard with a great Intimidate, do a bad thing and jump right in with an Aid Another...: "and I'll aid her play (I have an auto aid on Intimidate) by pointing at the Rangers Snake animal companion and saying (change to my PC voice) 'see what happened to the last guy who didn't do what she told him? If I were you, I'd fade away home now... '"
Some of the other players Ready in cast a fight starts...
And the mooks faded away into the night on their Initiatives....

That young lady didn't remember the +2 I gave her - but she stole the line "...you should fade away home now..." and used it in later games. In fact, I'm pretty sure she practiced that at home... In a 9 year old little girl voice. It was (IS!) creepy when she repeated it again later...

And I think her Sorcerer put ranks in Intimidate next time she leveled... and looked into the spell cause fear.

But you know what - I don't think she realized/remembered I gave her the +2 bonus...

Dark Archive *

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With regards to the spoilered rant, that's going to depend on group and GM tendencies. As a player, I lean toward describing what I am doing to see if the GM will grant some kind of bonus, regardless of the skill being checked. As a GM, I tend to take into account anything the players tell me to determine DCs/bonuses to rolls. I am sorry if most of your experience has been with GMs who treat social skills differently from other skills, but that is not a universal thing.

One reason for why this might be a tendency is that for social skills, you can generally actually do what your character is doing at the table, whereas showing off dance moves isn't something that a crowded venue could accommodate at all. Combined with quotability of particularly memorable results, this might also result in a bit of confirmation bias.

The Exchange ****

rant feel free to ignore it:

In the past, quite often this game of ours has been presented by some players/judges/writers as a "Combat Simulation" - a game of combats that are connected (sometimes poorly) by some sort of story. This view is often held by persons who enjoy the combat and ... not so much the other parts. So they will often just wait thru those "dull" parts to get to the "important" parts of the game - the "fun stuff".

I on the other hand DON'T enjoy the combat so much. And so I often run skill focused PCs (yeah, even Fighters, Clerics, or Paladins), and sit back during the combats to let the other players have their fun. The part they enjoy. Waiting to get to the parts of the game I where I find my fun gaming.

Guys, this game is not all about the combat (IMHO). It's not just a dungeon crawl - where you go from room to room fighting monsters. (though some Judges present it that way, and some writers seem to create scenarios that are just that.) (To me) It's also about the Rogue who insures we don't fall in that pit, about the fighter who just happens to also be a carpenter - because he likes to build things, not just brake them. It's about my matchmaker dwarf cleric (who "wasted" skill points on Profession Matchmaker) trying to fix up the barbarian PC with "this little lady down in the Puddles district, you should meet her!" It's about a bunch of people sitting around a table having fun (each trying to do it their own way).

IMHO One of the worst things I ever heard at a table (because it often seems to be true) is when an "old hand" explained to a "young kid" that he should put his skill points into combat skills like acrobatics - cause the Judge is going to give you the other information anyway. "If you need to find the bandit camp, just wonder around in the woods - the Judge wants to play too, and the only way we get a fight is when we find the bandits. So you really DON'T need to have ranks in those skills, the judge will work around it if you can't make the rolls". (Sarcasm alert: Kind of made me feel good about my Divination Wizard, with all my "wasted" ranks in investigation and RP skills). And to him this game was all about the fight.

I can recall another discussion I heard at the game table a long time ago. A Max Damage player was complaining that in his last scenario they had "wasted" almost 30 minutes "chatting up the bar-maid" and this had cut into his "fight time". At the time I resisted pointing out that he had just taken 30 minutes "dancing with the mooks" (and going thru only 3 combat rounds to do it) and had cut into my bar-maid time. The reason I resisted commenting to him? Well you see, it wouldn't have done any good. To him, this game is all about rolling dice and splatting monsters. The challenges he sees are all combat related. All the rest of the story that connects the combats is just filler, the un-important parts that he often doesn't even listen to.

Where as to me, if the other players can kill the beasties in 2 melee rounds, it'll give me more bar-maid time. So I'll try my darnedest to ensure we find those fights for them! I'll run the investigator that does the Gather Info rolls, that removes the Traps that warns the BBEG, that ensures we get the right guy and get paid in full for it. But then I would have as much fun if the Judge just said after Initiative is rolled "Everyone just mark off 20% of you HP and 10% of you consumables and we'll hand-wave the rest of this encounter". After all, some Judges do that to the RP encounters (even having the terms "RP encounter" vs. "Combat encounter" makes my mind hurt sometimes - like they are two different things. They are two parts of the same thing, the story...).

Sorry - I shouldn't have been ranting at you... but you sort of hit a nerve.

to make up for the Rant - here are some suggestions to improve non-skill PCs:

PC improvements:

here's a few items you might try to get you some more "play time" during the non-combat portions of the scenarios... please realize that most of these are VERY Judge Dependent, and if the person running the table doesn't want to let them work... there is very little you can do about it. so... YMMV.

1) Favored Class bonus points can be put in skill points. Got a shortage of skill points? Put the Favored Class bonus in SKILLS instead of HP. For example, a Human Cleric with INT as a dump stat can still have 3 skill ranks per level... A human Paladin with an INT of 10 can still get 4 skill points each level... Most players put these points into HP, which always makes me wonder. If we get 6 HP (plus CON) per level and only 2 skill points (plus INT) - why do we put the favored class point in the LARGER one? "You don't die from loss of Skill Points..." well - maybe. Did my skill prevent me from taking damage?

2) When you level, spend a skill point or two into class skills that don't have any... For example, Paladins have 10 skills (not counting Crafts) - Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).
One rank in Kn (nobility) gives the PC a roll and lets them "Play" in that part of the game. One rank in Kn (religion) will let them ID undead, and at times (outside of combat) even allows them to aid the skill monkey at the table. Kind of like when the skills guy aids the Paladin on an attack in combat, because he can't hit the monster otherwise... Yeah, it's being more of a Team Player...

3) Having a little skill in something will let us assist/aid another player in making the primary skill check. Heck, it can even sometimes be done for skills that are in the negatives... This can even be done for most skills untrained... Using the example of a Paladin. Most of the Diplomacy checks at the table should be at least assisted by a Paladin - even if they have no ranks in it. "I stand behind the Diplomancer, providing 'status' to his words with my presence and force of personality. I don't say anything, I'm just there - the embodiment of Law and Good in the form of a Sword of the Dawnflower." This gets the player some play time, and often can be the difference between success and failure in skill challenges.

4) If the player feels the need to push up his skill numbers - they can buy MW tools for some of the skills. I've seen a Paladin who had enough ability in "Heal" to do the "check the body to see what killed them... Large Monster Bites? or Disease?". This cost them one rank, plus WIS, plus Class Skill, plus 2 for a MW tool (50 gp for a Textbook on Examining Bodies) and it gave info on the monsters ahead. "yeah, looks like the goblin died of spider bites...".

anyway - sorry for the rant, hope the suggestions help... or at least make up for the rant.

The Exchange ****

World of Dim Light wrote:

With regards to the spoilered rant, that's going to depend on group and GM tendencies. As a player, I lean toward describing what I am doing to see if the GM will grant some kind of bonus, regardless of the skill being checked. As a GM, I tend to take into account anything the players tell me to determine DCs/bonuses to rolls. I am sorry if most of your experience has been with GMs who treat social skills differently from other skills, but that is not a universal thing.

One reason for why this might be a tendency is that for social skills, you can generally actually do what your character is doing at the table, whereas showing off dance moves isn't something that a crowded venue could accommodate at all. Combined with quotability of particularly memorable results, this might also result in a bit of confirmation bias.

I lean toward describing what my PC is doing... because I think it's fun to "Act it out". Actually knowing that the judge/GM is going to modify my roll depending on my descriptions will often "kill the moment" for me and put me back to just rolling the dice.

In fact, I like to roll the check first (or Take 10 if I am allowed!) not announcing the result right away, then try to role play how well I think I did.

Here's a thread that talks about that...
Go to Role-Playing-the-Roll.

The Exchange ****

nosig wrote:
Jeff Morse wrote:

I don't think you can aid in spellcraft

Have a home group that does and told them not at my table. It says you have to possess an item to ID it. and than there is the 2 detect magics. Messing with each other. just my thoughts on it.

Interesting views and well within your right as a GM. I don't agree - but mostly that's just my opinion... and here's part of my reasoning.

(*) "...than there is the 2 detect magics. Messing with each other."... what do you mean by this? Do you mean that an active spell (detect magic) would interfere/interact with the other casting of the same spell? Why? I can see that both would "detect" that the other is active (if they were in the AOE of the other spell, which is not necessary for them both to be detecting the Aura of a magic item). But why should they effect/interfere with each other? And are there any other spells that would have an effect on a detect spell?

(*) "I don't think you can aid in spellcraft" - why not? There is no rule that I know of that prohibits it. And...

The more important point to me on this. Allowing someone to Aid Another on this skill check lets more than One Player "Play" during the Skill Challenge part of the game. A very minor investment on the part of the player will let them "join in" during the "play"... rather than just sitting there while the "skill monkey" does this part of the scenario. Or worse yet - playing "Yahtzee" to see who can roll the highest dice on a check... (IMHO) If it's NOT allowed, it SHOULD be. We want everyone at the table to "play together" right? Anything that forces some (likely most) of the players to "sit this round out", or to "roll off" is "not good". At least IMHO.

Here is a quote from another older thread on this subject.

Jiggy wrote a long time ago:

Jiggy wrote:
Well, the rules say that "In many cases, a character's help won't be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once" and "The GM might impose further
...

sorry, skip 2nd part. was in hurry and tired at work

Dark Archive *

nosig wrote:
World of Dim Light wrote:

With regards to the spoilered rant, that's going to depend on group and GM tendencies. As a player, I lean toward describing what I am doing to see if the GM will grant some kind of bonus, regardless of the skill being checked. As a GM, I tend to take into account anything the players tell me to determine DCs/bonuses to rolls. I am sorry if most of your experience has been with GMs who treat social skills differently from other skills, but that is not a universal thing.

One reason for why this might be a tendency is that for social skills, you can generally actually do what your character is doing at the table, whereas showing off dance moves isn't something that a crowded venue could accommodate at all. Combined with quotability of particularly memorable results, this might also result in a bit of confirmation bias.

I lean toward describing what my PC is doing... because I think it's fun to "Act it out". Actually knowing that the judge/GM is going to modify my roll depending on my descriptions will often "kill the moment" for me and put me back to just rolling the dice.

In fact, I like to roll the check first (or Take 10 if I am allowed!) not announcing the result right away, then try to role play how well I think I did.

Here's a thread that talks about that...
Go to Role-Playing-the-Roll.

Different viewpoints here. Actually, I would say that the player should give at least some impression of what their character is trying to do, then roll. The GM is the one who will truly know what the difficulty of the task is, and therefore how successful the result is.

Just yesterday, at a Starfinder table, a player rolled a '3' to hit, and said 'I miss.' Total result was 9, so he assumed it was a failure. When the GM asked for the final result, and was given the total of 9, he announced that the attack was successful. If I were describing that, I would have said that despite being a bit off balance (whatever caused the EAC to be that low) resulted in the shot striking the target.

The player trying to roleplay the roll creates a number of difficulties, starting with the player's lack of knowledge as to what the actual difficulty is. That moving speech with a roll of a 1 from the linked thread? The speech may have been moving, but some external factor caused it to fail. I would tend to encourage roleplaying the skill level, not the die roll. You know how skilled the character is. The die roll doesn't reflect skill, it reflects the random factors that influence the ultimate success or failure, one of four elements that determine the result, and one that you have no way of predicting in advance.

The four elements I just mentioned are PC skill level (always known to the player), general difficulty of the task (frequently known to the player through experience), fixed situational modifiers (sometimes known to the player, but not always - you might know that the mayor's daughter has a crush on you, and is influencing her father in your favor, or you might not), and the random elements (never known in advance). A player's actions, I feel, should be stated in terms of the known elements, then the random elements and unknown elements factored in by the GM to give the final result.

*

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Jeff Morse wrote:

I don't think you can aid in spellcraft

Have a home group that does and told them not at my table. It says you have to possess an item to ID it. and than there is the 2 detect magics. Messing with each other. just my thoughts on it.

There is exactly 1 skill with a blanket prohibition against aid another, UMD. There may well be circumstances where aid another is impossible, like identifying a spell as it is being cast, but that is not the same as helping someone identify a magic item or existing spell.

Two people are identifying a glyph of warding spell. Character A is lead while character B is assisting. Character B says, "I will focus on the blue auras, you get the rest." Then they compare notes.

****

nosig wrote:
World of Dim Light wrote:

With regards to the spoilered rant, that's going to depend on group and GM tendencies. As a player, I lean toward describing what I am doing to see if the GM will grant some kind of bonus, regardless of the skill being checked. As a GM, I tend to take into account anything the players tell me to determine DCs/bonuses to rolls. I am sorry if most of your experience has been with GMs who treat social skills differently from other skills, but that is not a universal thing.

One reason for why this might be a tendency is that for social skills, you can generally actually do what your character is doing at the table, whereas showing off dance moves isn't something that a crowded venue could accommodate at all. Combined with quotability of particularly memorable results, this might also result in a bit of confirmation bias.

I lean toward describing what my PC is doing... because I think it's fun to "Act it out". Actually knowing that the judge/GM is going to modify my roll depending on my descriptions will often "kill the moment" for me and put me back to just rolling the dice.

In fact, I like to roll the check first (or Take 10 if I am allowed!) not announcing the result right away, then try to role play how well I think I did.

Here's a thread that talks about that...
Go to Role-Playing-the-Roll.

Certain scenarios also give a circumstance modifier for bringing up certain things which is a perfectly valid reason to ask the player, "OK, you rolled your diplomacy check. you're talking to the guy, what are you talking to him about?"

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

andreww wrote:
I would agree with that. I would also say that combat in lots of the higher tier season 9 scenario's have been significantly challenging.

I think that they may have gone a little overboard on difficulty, actually.

Simultaneously ratcheting up the combat challenge AND expecting characters to be more rounded just seems a little too much.

Don't get me wrong, I'm one of the people who loves skills and non combat stuff. But I DO pay a (small) price for that in that my characters are less combat effective than they might be. And a couple of scenarios have made me question that choice. Haven't actually seen a TPK yet but there have been so close calls.

The Exchange ****

RealAlchemy wrote:
nosig wrote:
World of Dim Light wrote:

With regards to the spoilered rant, that's going to depend on group and GM tendencies. As a player, I lean toward describing what I am doing to see if the GM will grant some kind of bonus, regardless of the skill being checked. As a GM, I tend to take into account anything the players tell me to determine DCs/bonuses to rolls. I am sorry if most of your experience has been with GMs who treat social skills differently from other skills, but that is not a universal thing.

One reason for why this might be a tendency is that for social skills, you can generally actually do what your character is doing at the table, whereas showing off dance moves isn't something that a crowded venue could accommodate at all. Combined with quotability of particularly memorable results, this might also result in a bit of confirmation bias.

I lean toward describing what my PC is doing... because I think it's fun to "Act it out". Actually knowing that the judge/GM is going to modify my roll depending on my descriptions will often "kill the moment" for me and put me back to just rolling the dice.

In fact, I like to roll the check first (or Take 10 if I am allowed!) not announcing the result right away, then try to role play how well I think I did.

Here's a thread that talks about that...
Go to Role-Playing-the-Roll.

Certain scenarios also give a circumstance modifier for bringing up certain things which is a perfectly valid reason to ask the player, "OK, you rolled your diplomacy check. you're talking to the guy, what are you talking to him about?"

Some possible responses to this question would be:

"I do not personally have a +25 modifier in Diplomacy, so I have no idea how to drive a conversation of this nature to the subject that we want to find out about. My character is much better at this than I am - so how would she do it diplomatically?"

"The weather."

"I am actually letting them guide the conversation, using 'The Art of Silence' to draw them into revealing the information I need."

"Absalom Sports. I understand the Greycloaks are fielding a Trollball team this year, but I personally think they don't have a prayer..."

"Sex. Yeah, that or Religion and Politics. You know, neutral subjects..."

****

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nosig wrote:


Some possible responses to this question would be:
"I do not personally have a +25 modifier in Diplomacy, so I have no idea how to drive a conversation of this nature to the subject that we want to find out about. My character is much better at this than I am - so how would she do it diplomatically?"...

Not looking for that. My point was, if the scenario says "+2 circumstance modifier for talking about what happened earlier in the scenario, +2 for bringing up NPC's kid," it is kind of important for the GM to know if those things are brought up even if all the player says is "I tell the guy all about what we discovered earlier, and how it could potentially put his kid in danger if he doesn't help us."

***

Paul Jackson wrote:
andreww wrote:
I would agree with that. I would also say that combat in lots of the higher tier season 9 scenario's have been significantly challenging.

I think that they may have gone a little overboard on difficulty, actually.

Simultaneously ratcheting up the combat challenge AND expecting characters to be more rounded just seems a little too much.

Don't get me wrong, I'm one of the people who loves skills and non combat stuff. But I DO pay a (small) price for that in that my characters are less combat effective than they might be. And a couple of scenarios have made me question that choice. Haven't actually seen a TPK yet but there have been so close calls.

What are you playing as because there is an not insignificant chunk of classes where being well rounded has the side effect of making you more combat effective.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

I generally don't find it hard to be well-rounded and effective enough at combat.

Some of the "worst characters" I've seen are the result of someone not acknowledging that the ability point buy scale gives diminishing results. I once played with someone with a ranger who'd bought to 16/20/7/7/7/12. He was sooo convinced that the higher AC would make it all work. He spent much of the boss fight at -6HP and people having to scramble to keep him alive there. I tried to explain to him that having dex 18 instead of 20 would still be enough and make him much less fragile. But next time I played with him he had con 8 so I guess next time I'll just let natural selection take its course.

Likewise a lot of old build guides talk about fighters dumping int to 7. Which might make sense if the GM is throwing high-CR encounters all the time but is really really BAD advice in PFS which has a lot of skill encounters.

And yeah, PFS does have fairly high CR encounters, but they're proportional to a relatively short workday (3-ish fights), large parties, and highly tuned equipment. Most campaigns don't have the kind of access to "yeah all the items are in stock" magic mart that Absalom has.

Sovereign Court *

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I'm mostly just confused by the 12 Charisma...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Kalindlara wrote:
I'm mostly just confused by the 12 Charisma...

SLAs?

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Kalindlara wrote:
I'm mostly just confused by the 12 Charisma...

Yeah I dunno either. Maybe a sort of humblebrag "I'm just a regular guy but slightly nicer than the next one over" kind of thing :P

*****

There is one particular online player who regularly seems to run characters with 7 or 8 con. It always seems like a terrible idea and I have yet to see him survive in a game doing it.

Personally I try to create characters who can contribute in multiple different areas so they always have something useful they can do. Hasn't let me down yet. PFS rewards the use of skills which is why I can never quite bring myself to dump Int or use a race with an Int penalty. I have druids and clerics and sorcerers often with 14 int just because skills make a major difference.

*****

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Kalindlara wrote:
I'm mostly just confused by the 12 Charisma...

That and 7 wisdom on a ranger. Their spellcasting is a major benefit of the class and throwing that away is a terrible idea. Even if they have an archetype removing casting 7 wisdom on a class with a slow will progression is asking for trouble.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Nefreet wrote:
With all of the bloat Pathfinder has acquired, building a melee monster that trivializes combats requires virtually no skill or system mastery, and the combats they will partake in will last maybe two rounds.

But almost all of the best melee options came from the core rulebook...

And most PFS combats are 6 guys versus maybe one or two monsters

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

MadScientistWorking wrote:


What are you playing as because there is an not insignificant chunk of classes where being well rounded has the side effect of making you more combat effective.

I mostly disagree. Pure buffer classes may fall into that category (I love bards for a reason :-)). But pretty much any class that does damage as its primary contribution to combat is going to be at least slightly impacted in combat if they become more rounded.

Money, traits, feats, class abilities. The more you put towards combat capability the less you have for out of combat utility.

There are certainly classes and builds that are impacted far LESS than others and for some the impact is pretty nominal. But even for something like a bard that feat I spend on Skill Focus - Perform could be "better" spent on improving my fortitude save or something.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

Cyrad wrote:

But almost all of the best melee options came from the core rulebook...

My Kitsune who fights in Fox form and my warpriest would both fairly strenuously disagree with that assessment. As I'm sure would the various natural weapon melee sorts that I've seen.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Paul Jackson wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

But almost all of the best melee options came from the core rulebook...

My Kitsune who fights in Fox form and my warpriest would both fairly strenuously disagree with that assessment. As I'm sure would the various natural weapon melee sorts that I've seen.

Yes, but a core two-handed barbarian or a wild shaped druid with the right animal companion are still among the most optimal builds in the game. Those come directly from the core rulebook. Fox form kitsunes and warpriests don't raise the bar.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

Cyrad wrote:
Paul Jackson wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

But almost all of the best melee options came from the core rulebook...

My Kitsune who fights in Fox form and my warpriest would both fairly strenuously disagree with that assessment. As I'm sure would the various natural weapon melee sorts that I've seen.
Yes, but a core two-handed barbarian or a wild shaped druid with the right animal companion are still among the most optimal builds in the game. Those come directly from the core rulebook. Fox form kitsunes and warpriests don't raise the bar.

I disagree. I deliberately nerfed my Kitsune when I realized that it was doing about as much damage as a barbarian AND it was doing a LOT more than just damage whereas the barbarian does little more than deal damage.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Paul Jackson wrote:
MadScientistWorking wrote:


What are you playing as because there is an not insignificant chunk of classes where being well rounded has the side effect of making you more combat effective.

I mostly disagree. Pure buffer classes may fall into that category (I love bards for a reason :-)). But pretty much any class that does damage as its primary contribution to combat is going to be at least slightly impacted in combat if they become more rounded.

Money, traits, feats, class abilities. The more you put towards combat capability the less you have for out of combat utility.

There are certainly classes and builds that are impacted far LESS than others and for some the impact is pretty nominal. But even for something like a bard that feat I spend on Skill Focus - Perform could be "better" spent on improving my fortitude save or something.

The thing I tried to say earlier (but got sidetracked on) is that often you get to a point where getting a little bit more combat-strong is much more expensive than being better at skills instead.

Lifting Strength to 20 instead of 18 (post-racial) costs 7 ability points. For those points you can raise Cha to 12 and Int to 14 instead, and be decent at skills.

I don't think the combat difficulty in PFS is at a level where anyone needs to put all they've got into combat stats only.

**** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

What Lau said. I think going for a 20 at level 1 is just sacrificing too much. I've tried going with a Strength of 16 for a frontliner and it just doesn't cut it, but 20 is overkill as well. 18 is the sweet spot. A 20 in a stat also leads to way lopsided builds that just sacrifice too much, I think.

An example: a guy in my lodge made a Kineticist with a 20 in both Dex and Con, and the rest is pretty much 7, except for Wis, which is an 8. He has no real skillpoints and can barely contribute outside of combat, but he's a passive player, so he's okay with it. But it also effectively removes one person from doing the challenges. Everything that's not Dexterity based, he sucks at. Investigative scenarios, survival scenarios, social scenarios, he's pretty much dead weight. In a balanced party, that can be overcome, but there will be a time where the party's wishing they had at least a somewhat capable person on hands.

Second example, from myself: I made a Cleric that's incredibly MAD. I had to dump Dex and INT, because I pretty much needed all other stats. As I dumped INT, I realised that it didn't matter whether I had 9 INT or 7, as I got 1 skill point per level either way. So I dumped it to 7, and chose Nagaji as its race, dumping it even lower to 5. My first PFS character was also a Cleric with dumped INT, and I spread his skill points around, thinking that I'd be good at everything, but around level 6 I realised I'm actually crap at everything, so I experimented further with my Nagaji Cleric. I put every single skill point I had in Diplomacy (he has a Cha of 16). My reasoning being, I can spread it around, doing maybe 50/50 in Diplo and say, Sense Motive, but that means I'm watering down what I'm good at. So my derpy little Nagaji is the dumbest, nicest guy you'll ever meet. I've missed several faction-specific boons because they called for skills I didn't have, but I'm okay with that, because that's the risk I'm taking. But every time I play him, I feel a little bit guilty when we're doing skillchecks, as I suck at 95% of all skills. I'm effectively dead weight at anything that isn't Diplomacy-related. Again, so far, that hasn't been an issue, but I fear the day I'm involved in a chase scene and I need to cross a bridge with my Dex of 8 and an armor check penalty of 5...

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:


Lifting Strength to 20 instead of 18 (post-racial) costs 7 ability points. For those points you can raise Cha to 12 and Int to 14 instead, and be decent at skills.

I don't think the combat difficulty in PFS is at a level where anyone needs to put all they've got into combat stats only.

Just to be clear, I vehemently 100% agree with this. Many PFS characters are far more optimized than they need to be.

Even Core fighters can afford to be somewhat rounded :-).

***

Paul Jackson wrote:
MadScientistWorking wrote:


What are you playing as because there is an not insignificant chunk of classes where being well rounded has the side effect of making you more combat effective.

I mostly disagree. Pure buffer classes may fall into that category (I love bards for a reason :-)). But pretty much any class that does damage as its primary contribution to combat is going to be at least slightly impacted in combat if they become more rounded.

Money, traits, feats, class abilities. The more you put towards combat capability the less you have for out of combat utility.

There are certainly classes and builds that are impacted far LESS than others and for some the impact is pretty nominal. But even for something like a bard that feat I spend on Skill Focus - Perform could be "better" spent on improving my fortitude save or something.

You do realize that there is overlap between the two right? I have fiveish Pathfinder characters which by how they are designed have to invest in skills to get better at combat. And some of those characters are arguably better than a two handed barbarian.

Shadow Lodge *****

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If you want to be good at skills, even charisma based ones, you don't raise your charisma. You raise your INT. You can suck up the penalty for a few levels but max ranks will beat out raw talent in no time.

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