Are You Proficient?

Friday, March 16, 2018

The term "proficiency" has been a part of the Pathfinder rules since the very beginning, but in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, we've expanded the concept to cover more than just weapons and armor. In the new proficiency system, your proficiency matters for just about every check you attempt and DC you have. You don't just have proficiency in weapons, which helps when you swing a sword, or proficiency in armor, which protects you when you try to avoid a blow—instead, proficiency covers everything from axes to spells, from Acrobatics to Thievery, and from Perception to Will saves. Your proficiency in Fortitude saves can allow you to shake off virulent poisons in an instant, and your proficiency in Diplomacy might help you stop a fight before it begins. There are five different ranks of proficiency.

Untrained

An untrained character lacks even basic proficiency. He adjusts his checks and DCs by –2 and sometimes flat-out can't attempt certain things. For instance, someone who is untrained in Thievery might be able to try to steal from someone but isn't skilled enough to pick a lock, no matter how high level he is.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Trained

A trained character has put in enough work that she's able to perform effectively. She can even start taking skill feats to achieve new and special effects with her skills. Many skill feats grow more and more powerful as your proficiency rank increases.

Expert

An expert is particularly accomplished in a particular field, adjusting her checks and DCs by +1, and gains access to more powerful features requiring expertise.

Master

A master is extremely skilled in an area, and she can achieve incredible results. In addition to adjusting her checks and DCs by +2, she may unlock powerful perks like master-level skill feats for skills, or the ability to dodge fireballs completely for Reflex saves. Other than a few classes like fighters, with their incredible command of weapons, characters can't become masters until level 7 at the earliest, and sometimes much later.

Legendary

A legendary character is world-class, and in addition to adjusting checks and DCs by +3, can routinely produce results that defy real-world explanation, even if they're not a spellcaster. For instance, a character who is legendary in Survival could learn to survive without food, water, or air in a featureless void, a character legendary in Thievery might be able to steal the armor off a guard, and a character with a legendary Will save might have a mind so strong that no mental intrusion can fully affect him. Most characters can't hope to become legendary until level 15 at the earliest, and even the mightiest fighters reach these heights with their weapons only at level 13. Most characters become legendary in only a few skills and one or two other statistics.

Proficiency Modifier

Your proficiency modifier is based partly on your rank and partly on your level—you add your level to the modifier from your rank to determine your proficiency modifier. For instance, a level 20 rogue who is legendary at Stealth might have a +23 proficiency modifier, while a level 1 paladin who is untrained at Stealth might have a –1 proficiency modifier. But does that mean that your level 20 untrained and magic-hating barbarian knows more about arcane magic than your friend's level 1 bibliophile wizard does? Not really. Your barbarian, with her extensive experience in battle, might be able to identify a dragon's weaknesses much better than the wizard with his ivory-tower book learning, but when it comes to magical theory, identifying the gestures that compose a spell, or other such topics, your barbarian simply doesn't know anything at all.

Gaining Proficiency

For most of your statistics, your starting proficiencies are determined by your class, though for skills, you can assign your ranks as you choose among any of the skills in the game. When it comes to leveling up, all classes gain skill rank increases at every odd-numbered level (or more often for the rogue!). Your other proficiencies increase based on your class and feat choices.

Making the Nonmagical Extraordinary

The best part about proficiencies is the way they push the boundaries for nonmagical characters, particularly those with a legendary rank. If you're legendary in something, you're like a character out of real-world myth and legend, swimming across an entire sea while beating up sea monsters like Beowulf, performing unbelievable tasks like Heracles, or hunting and racing at astounding speeds like Atalanta. While we did perform a bit of research on things like real world Olympic records and average expectations when it came to the lower ranks, masters and especially legends break all those rules. Want your fighter to leap 20 feet straight up and smash a chimera down to the ground? You can do that (eventually)!

And that's the basics of how proficiency works! Thanks for reading, and let us know what you think in the comments.

Mark Seifter
Designer

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A Ninja Errant wrote:

So it sounds to me, like a lot of this argument could be voided if they were to just include an optional rule to allow players to take 1 or 2 "incompetencies" in return for an extra skill rank. Hmmm...

I would rather do what Starfinder does for those people who "wants to roleplay a low charisma character". Let them to lower their charisma as much as they want, but not give them something else they can't benefit from dumping charisma.

EDIT: surprisingly, in my last PF AP (ever?) 4 of my 5 players dumped charisma. The 5th one was a paladin. In Starfinder, however, nobody felt the itch of "wanting to roleplay someone with low charisma". I wonder if not getting points to spend in what you really want had something to do with it...


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Lady Firebird wrote:
The logic did not implode, and your example is an anecdote only.

Yes it is an anecdote, but PF1 allows for great climbing wizards and very poor climbing wizards. The PF2 system as presented excludes anecdotes which should be allowed to exist.

Quote:
For instance, I am far better at writing today than I was twenty years ago. I'm better at the games I play which require skill. I'm a much better play of Magic now than when I returned to the game almost a decade ago — and I'm also a lot better at bluffing, reading an opponent, and having a feel for what a questionable opening hand can lead to, what the deck I've played hundreds of times can do (which in itself is a bonus sometimes better than upgrading the deck). So experience counts, both at improving and at knowing the subject on a deeper, almost instinctive level.

You are missing the point.

I'm far better at all kinds of things which impact my job. I would expect that anyone doing things for 20 years gets better at them.

The claim being presented was that a wizard who had achieved L20 MUST get better at climbing. It is a non sequitur that all wizards will do things that improve them at climbing. They *will* get better at a lot of things. They will also not get better at some things. The idea that they would not get better at climbing was called "preposterous". Demonstrating it is more than reasonable to get better at many things (of course it is) does nothing to make the case that it is preposterous to not get better at some things.


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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Eh. I'll take "every high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing" over "no high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing". Wizard might have a choice between good and bad on any given skill, but that's only because they could afford tons of Int. Paladins, Clerics, Fighters, and Sorcerers just got to suck at almost everything.


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QuidEst wrote:
Eh. I'll take "every high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing" over "no high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing". Wizard might have a choice between good and bad on any given skill, but that's only because they could afford tons of Int. Paladins, Clerics, Fighters, and Sorcerers just got to suck at almost everything.

Me too. Specially when "be good at climbing" just mean "being able to climb a tree without breaking his neck", which is the kind of stuff that untrained people will be able to do. The level 20 sorcerer still will not be Spiderman. Spending skill proficiendies still will matter. The guy who DOES spend stuff in climbing still will be really good at it.

I'd rather have that, and make skills relevant in the game, that everybody skipping all skills with spells, because spells can ignore the lack of skills of someone in the group while skills can't. Your paladin can't sneak? Silence/invisibility/polymorph into a rat, and done. Your Sorcerer can't climb? Fly, and done. Your fighter can't disguise? An illusion spell, and done.


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what people seem to be missing is that in pf1 it is a *choice* to be better at climbing. You spent a *limited* resource and decide to be better at climbing but not better at swimming. And that resource, it goes up per level, I don't see anyone in this thread complaining that high level characters should improve.

Now instead we have *no choice* you *must* be better at not just climbing, but swimming, and bluffing, and perform dance, and all sorts of things that probably never even came for the character during the campaign.

And for people who propose, just ignore the rules, just house rule, just refuse to roll and say you fail, sure people can do that, but why are we even playing pf2 then? And let me ask, if you're at a pathfinder 2 society game and everyone decides they are going to sneak past the guards and one person suddenly says, my fighter, lord Berneer was always a clumsy fellow, i don't roll, i fail my stealth check, what you think will happen at that table? The player likely to be tossed for being disruptive or get collective gasp from fellow players. People are proposing a non solution.

I want variety, I don't all my level 10 characters to essentially be within a -/+3 margin in every single untrained skill, that feels so incredibly boring to me. And worse, completely destroys my agency as a player playing a character.


They’re not within 3, since proficiency modifier is only part of the total.


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gustavo iglesias wrote:

It's built for wizards that can climb and fight and ride and storytells and does diplomacy and intimidates and endure weather with survival and researchs.

And he does all those things, because of his level.

Level really breaks Lord of the Rings, if Lord of the Rings is your goal, Pathfinder is not your system.

Boromir, greatest warrior of his generation, is killed when cut off and surrounded by a band of normal orcs. Pippin, who has a couple levels in an NPC class at best, hits and wounds the Witch King, described by the wise as the deadliest threat in the world behind only Sauron. Four Hobbits who have never held a weapon before hold off five Ringwraiths long enough for Aragorn to come back at Weathertop.

Lord of the Rings is a famously unsuitable for levels. Dragon magazine was publishing articles saying Gandalf couldn't be much more than 5th in 1977. Middle Earth is a land of bounded accuracy where the Boromirs and Witch Kings of the world just aren't that much better than the common orcs and hobbits.

Levels, as they exist in Pathfinder, really break most fantasy fiction. Aragorn can't be as high as 10th level, Eddard Stark definitely isn't, settings where a single legendary swordsman is the equal of 1,000 professional swordsman (which is what the CR system says for 2nd level warriors vs. a 20th level fighter) are outliers.


Lady Firebird wrote:
what is level? A

Realm of existence, state of being, the given creature's current stage of existence.

A character who gains a level advances in their own personal evolution.


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Trimalchio wrote:

what people seem to be missing is that in pf1 it is a *choice* to be better at climbing. You spent a *limited* resource and decide to be better at climbing but not better at swimming. And that resource, it goes up per level, I don't see anyone in this thread complaining that high level characters should improve.

Now instead we have *no choice* you *must* be better at not just climbing, but swimming, and bluffing, and perform dance, and all sorts of things that probably never even came for the character during the campaign.

And for people who propose, just ignore the rules, just house rule, just refuse to roll and say you fail, sure people can do that, but why are we even playing pf2 then? And let me ask, if you're at a pathfinder 2 society game and everyone decides they are going to sneak past the guards and one person suddenly says, my fighter, lord Berneer was always a clumsy fellow, i don't roll, i fail my stealth check, what you think will happen at that table? The player likely to be tossed for being disruptive or get collective gasp from fellow players. People are proposing a non solution.

I want variety, I don't all my level 10 characters to essentially be within a -/+3 margin in every single untrained skill, that feels so incredibly boring to me. And worse, completely destroys my agency as a player playing a character.

I don't know about the campaigns you've played in, but even at low levels, most if not all of my characters have had the opportunity to use all the skills on the character sheet. Some of which I could not perform because I was not trained in them even at the mid to high level games where one would think that I should have learned something by then.

I like to build flaws into my characters just like everyone else, but I expect my character to learn to grow around those flaws. I don't expect my character to adventure for months or years or whatnot and never be able to learn to at least grow in most areas of their adventurous life.

A socially inept Wizard is great idea at level 1. But to forever be socially inept after being in countless social situations seems more farfetched at level 20.

As for your final paragraph, Mark has mentioned numerous times in this thread about the gaps being much larger than just -/+3.

I am not without concerns of this new system, most of the blog post was vague and didn't necessarily say anything other than "The system is going to be totally different and great". Right now, I'm hoping that at least the last part is true. But before accusing Paizo (seeming to specialize in the field of character options) of removing options off the table, I think it would be most fair to wait until we have more information.

Please don't take this as an attempt of me silencing your or anyone else's concerns. Voices from all sides matter, I just wanted to point my view on this system and your post looked like a great building block for me to speak mine. Thank you.


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A scaling proficiency bonus coupled with proficiency ranks only means that characters are more competent at the most base and mundane tasks available to a person. Assuming that DCs are still going to scale and there is a more severe degree of failure set up in the rules, we probably aren't even looking at succeeding better at things so much as not failing as badly all the time.

A low level wizard untrained in athletics might have a problem getting up into a tree without falling. The same wizard in ten levels still isn't climbing any faster, but he is falling less.

One of the upsides is that you can probably define why this is happening however you want to. For example, it might not be that your wizard can actually climb better as an athletic task, but knows how to apply the slightest Spider Climb only enough to keep from slipping. Or maybe he mutters Feather Fall under his breath and can hoist himself a touch easier. Tiny, tiny magics that don't even count as spells, but add a bit of flavor to the fact of the proficiency bonus.


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Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:

It's built for wizards that can climb and fight and ride and storytells and does diplomacy and intimidates and endure weather with survival and researchs.

And he does all those things, because of his level.

Level really breaks Lord of the Rings, if Lord of the Rings is your goal, Pathfinder is not your system.

Boromir, greatest warrior of his generation, is killed when cut off and surrounded by a band of normal orcs. Pippin, who has a couple levels in an NPC class at best, hits and wounds the Witch King, described by the wise as the deadliest threat in the world behind only Sauron. Four Hobbits who have never held a weapon before hold off five Ringwraiths long enough for Aragorn to come back at Weathertop.

Lord of the Rings is a famously unsuitable for levels. Dragon magazine was publishing articles saying Gandalf couldn't be much more than 5th in 1977. Middle Earth is a land of bounded accuracy where the Boromirs and Witch Kings of the world just aren't that much better than the common orcs and hobbits.

Levels, as they exist in Pathfinder, really break most fantasy fiction.

Only if you expect the peak of a given world to be high level.

Low level worlds are a thing.

To give an example of Western Fantasy with selectively few decently high level characters, see Wheel of Time. (The Dragon Reborn in particular is a caster [sorcerer probably, the magic system is pretty strange] that is likely level 13-16.)
Unfortunately the world caps martial power lower for story purposes.

Get into Chinese High Fantasy though and level is everywhere.

Wo Chi Xi Hong Shi, Er Gen, Tang Jia San Shao and Tian Can Tu Dou are some standout authors.

In particular I highly recommend Coiling Dragon and Douluo Dalu as entry points to the genre.

Paizo Employee Designer

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kyrt-ryder wrote:
Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:

It's built for wizards that can climb and fight and ride and storytells and does diplomacy and intimidates and endure weather with survival and researchs.

And he does all those things, because of his level.

Level really breaks Lord of the Rings, if Lord of the Rings is your goal, Pathfinder is not your system.

Boromir, greatest warrior of his generation, is killed when cut off and surrounded by a band of normal orcs. Pippin, who has a couple levels in an NPC class at best, hits and wounds the Witch King, described by the wise as the deadliest threat in the world behind only Sauron. Four Hobbits who have never held a weapon before hold off five Ringwraiths long enough for Aragorn to come back at Weathertop.

Lord of the Rings is a famously unsuitable for levels. Dragon magazine was publishing articles saying Gandalf couldn't be much more than 5th in 1977. Middle Earth is a land of bounded accuracy where the Boromirs and Witch Kings of the world just aren't that much better than the common orcs and hobbits.

Levels, as they exist in Pathfinder, really break most fantasy fiction.

Only if you expect the peak of a given world to be high level.

Low level worlds are a thing.

To give an example of Western Fantasy with selectively few decently high level characters, see Wheel of Time. (The Dragon Reborn in particular is a caster [sorcerer probably, the magic system is pretty strange] that is likely level 13-16.
Unfortunately the world caps martial power lower for story purposes.

Get into...

Wheel of Time was actually the series with the swordmaster vs brigands encounter, I think. If so, it was definitely Lan.


So one thing I'm not clear on is- what role does intelligence play in this?

Formerly a high IntMod gave you bonus skill ranks every level, but since the quanta of "investing in your skills" is different ranks of proficiency" it seems like intelligence would way too good if it constantly gave you extra proficiency ranks.

So I wonder if I can stop rolling high Int Paladins just so they can be extremely well-read.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Wheel of Time was actually the series with the swordmaster vs brigands encounter, I think. If so, it was definitely Lan.

Yeah WoT is one of those settings where only magic gets to be high level. Closest you get to a mid level pure martial there is Mat and he's got tobs of 'not magic ;) ' swirling around his character.


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gustavo iglesias wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Eh. I'll take "every high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing" over "no high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing". Wizard might have a choice between good and bad on any given skill, but that's only because they could afford tons of Int. Paladins, Clerics, Fighters, and Sorcerers just got to suck at almost everything.

Me too. Specially when "be good at climbing" just mean "being able to climb a tree without breaking his neck", which is the kind of stuff that untrained people will be able to do. The level 20 sorcerer still will not be Spiderman. Spending skill proficiendies still will matter. The guy who DOES spend stuff in climbing still will be really good at it.

I'd rather have that, and make skills relevant in the game, that everybody skipping all skills with spells, because spells can ignore the lack of skills of someone in the group while skills can't. Your paladin can't sneak? Silence/invisibility/polymorph into a rat, and done. Your Sorcerer can't climb? Fly, and done. Your fighter can't disguise? An illusion spell, and done.

Agreed wholeheartedly, because I like the idea of playing an athletic mage. I really like the idea of being able to learn extra side skills that help reinforce a particular character concept, or are fun. My Sorcerer may have spent much of her life exploring the wilds outside of town, or training her body as well as her mind, seeking power through self-perfection (akin to a Monk). My Fighter might be a learned scholar who is fascinated by the arcane but doesn't herself want to wield such power.

This way of doing things opens up so many more doors that I really can't wait to try it out. Of all the things I've heard so far, this one maybe eclipses the idea that monsters are being built by level and much more easily than before, as far as what excites me about PF2.


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What version of Pathfinder are people playing that being bad at a skill is a choice? Are they all just playing rogues and bards with tons of int? I'm looking at some of my old characters and they have a ton of 1 rank skills, not because i didn't want them, but because I just couldn't afford to put more points into them. Hell I probably would have put ranks into some of the skills i have 0 in now if I could have. Of course you can still be bad at skills in the new system anyways. There is tons of stuff you cant do with an untrained skill from the sounds of it, so comparing a untrained level 20 to a level 1 with a trained skill sounds disingenuous to me, for a variety of reasons.
There are things I like about the PF1 skill rank system, and when i first heard about the proficiency system here I was kinda worried, but now I feel like the arguments against it have almost done as much to make me like it, as the ones arguing for it.


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QuidEst wrote:
Eh. I'll take "every high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing" over "no high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing". Wizard might have a choice between good and bad on any given skill, but that's only because they could afford tons of Int. Paladins, Clerics, Fighters, and Sorcerers just got to suck at almost everything.

Any sorcerer that wants to be good at climbing in Pathfinder can be good at climbing in Pathfinder. Now I can't say I've ever seen a player who wanted climbing to be a crucial part of their sorcerer's story and instead preferred to rely on magic. But I'm glad Pathfinder gave them that choice and ability to define their character in that manner.

gustavo iglesias wrote:
EDIT: surprisingly, in my last PF AP (ever?) 4 of my 5 players dumped charisma. The 5th one was a paladin. In Starfinder, however, nobody felt the itch of "wanting to roleplay someone with low charisma". I wonder if not getting points to spend in what you really want had something to do with it...

I've played in rulesets that decie you get better at everything. I got bored of them and stopped playing them 5 years ago. I'd rather not stop playing Pathfinder in 5 years time, so I'm arguing against rule design choices that helped contribute (no, the skill system wasn't solely responsible for me abandoning the rules) to me not playing that game anymore.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Formerly a high IntMod gave you bonus skill ranks every level, but since the quanta of "investing in your skills" is different ranks of proficiency" it seems like intelligence would way too good if it constantly gave you extra proficiency ranks.

I'm expecting a high Int mod will give you a number of bonus skill ranks at level 1 and then no more at higher levels. It does help cut down on the "Wizard is god at everything". But then do does rejigging some of the skills (condense some of the less popular skills. I almost never see anyone train very much in climb and swim unless it's crucial to a character's design concept. So combining those means very little changes, whereas removing combat information from the current list of skills and putting it in a single skill by itself means that all characters can be equally well versed in combat knowledge with wizards getting to be experts in the flavour information when it comes to monsters. That would be a big equalisation between wizard skill ranks and fighter skill ranks).


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Eh. I'll take "every high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing" over "no high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing". Wizard might have a choice between good and bad on any given skill, but that's only because they could afford tons of Int. Paladins, Clerics, Fighters, and Sorcerers just got to suck at almost everything.
Any sorcerer that wants to be good at climbing in Pathfinder can be good at climbing in Pathfinder.

In PF1 that is a MASSIVE opportunity cost when most sorcerers have 2 skill ranks per level or less


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Trimalchio wrote:
what people seem to be missing is that in pf1 it is a *choice* to be better at climbing. You spent a *limited* resource and decide to be better at climbing but not better at swimming.

This is another thing I'm happy to see go by the wayside. A general Athletics skill is far better than having Climb, Swim, and Jump. The amount of people who are really good at one of those things but not the others is quite small. If you are athletic, you're generally good at all of them, and a Flaw or something ("Can't Swim") can cover the edge cases, rather than making the inferior baseline mandatory. The sort of nickel-and-dime granularity of having that, and Use Rope, and so on, is really punishing, especially to heroes who should be fantastic athletes (like Fighters) but have garbage skill allotments.

All in all, this skill system they have sounds pretty incredible, and I can't wait to try it out. It's exactly what my fantasy gaming needs.


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Trimalchio wrote:

what people seem to be missing is that in pf1 it is a *choice* to be better at climbing. You spent a *limited* resource and decide to be better at climbing but not better at swimming. And that resource, it goes up per level, I don't see anyone in this thread complaining that high level characters should improve.

Not really. It's not a choice to suck at a lot of things. You pretty much have too. Certainly, Gandalf could spend points in climbing so he can climb to the tree. But then, he'll fail the survival check in the snowy pass in the mountains.

If you are a sorcerer, you WILL suck at a lot of things. Some of those things will be basic adventuring suff. You have the option to choose which stuff you suck at, but you will suck, period.

Then the fighter will suck at things too. Probably *other* things. So does the cleric, and the druid.

And the side effect of that, is that the group, as a whole, can't even try the most basic stuff, like climbing a tree or sneak past a half-slept guard. The side-side effect of which is that, given any "group roll", someone in the group will suck at it, skills get replaced by magic (because Dimiensional door, overland flight, invisibilty sphere, passwall, etc, do not roll), and skills, as a whole, are worth less for the game.

I'd rather have everyone beeing competent enough to try the basic things everyone does in movies, leave the specialized stuff to specialists, and move on, than not allowing people to even try, and then solve everything with magic because skills suck.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Eh. I'll take "every high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing" over "no high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing". Wizard might have a choice between good and bad on any given skill, but that's only because they could afford tons of Int. Paladins, Clerics, Fighters, and Sorcerers just got to suck at almost everything.
Any sorcerer that wants to be good at climbing in Pathfinder can be good at climbing in Pathfinder.

However, investing significant resources in "being able to swim or climb" is a tremendously poor use of resources for a Sorcerer (or most people but especially a Sorcerer). Now you get to be competent at basic tasks without sacrificing your ability to do the things you are expected to be able to do.


Stone Dog wrote:
One of the upsides is that you can probably define why this is happening however you want to. For example, it might not be that your wizard can actually climb better as an athletic task, but knows how to apply the slightest Spider Climb only enough to keep from slipping. Or maybe he mutters Feather Fall under his breath and can hoist himself a touch easier. Tiny, tiny magics that don't even count as spells, but add a bit of flavor to the fact of the proficiency bonus.

That's pretty similar to something I was saying up-thread. You could easily justify it as the fact that you're becoming a mythic being, a demigod. In the case of a spellcaster, maybe you still eat and bleed and sleep (maybe), but enough of that power now infuses your form that you're simply greater than you were at low levels, in all ways. Where once you would fall, you now endure. You're luckier, too, since level is as much about luck and grit and everything (being a summation of all the various traits of a character) as it is about static bonuses. I have no problem justifying the flavor of all of this, even if I want to play Arc Cain McWimpyWizard who has never focused on a physical task a day in his life (yet somehow reached 20th level).


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Eh. I'll take "every high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing" over "no high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing". Wizard might have a choice between good and bad on any given skill, but that's only because they could afford tons of Int. Paladins, Clerics, Fighters, and Sorcerers just got to suck at almost everything.
Any sorcerer that wants to be good at climbing in Pathfinder can be good at climbing in Pathfinder.

That said, the opportunity cost for a sorcerer is four or five times higher than that of a class like a wizard on a given skill. The old ranks system regularly forced you to invest in intelligence whether that was part of your character concept or not, or a number of classes would lack basic competence in a lot of things. Skill starvation is a very real and persistent problem in Pathfinder, which is why I don't agree with the people feeling like the baseline should be sucking at extremely basic tasks even if you are a demigodly superhuman, which is what a high level character is no matter how you slice it.

I strongly prefer the notion that a seasoned adventurer attains basic competence in a wide variety of tasks from a long and interesting career, and that being good at a skill means you can move beyond basic competence. From how I'm reading it, this system conveys that much better than the skill ranks system does, and the "right to suck at things" seems easily addressed for the people who insist their social skills should remain abysmal forever rather than growing from abysmal to bad/meh with experience by including flaws like 3.5 did. Sac proficiency in some things to get a benefit elsewhere, while letting people who enjoy basic competence in a wide field have their system. It's a hell of a lot easier to convince the GM to let you take a handicap on the skill system than imposing that handicap as the baseline and taking away people's right to play broadly competent characters to protect other peoples' right to play characters that are particularly incompetent at things.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:
Lady Firebird wrote:
Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:

"A master is extremely skilled in an area, and she can achieve incredible results. In addition to adjusting her checks and DCs by +2, she may unlock powerful perks like master-level skill feats for skills, **or the ability to dodge fireballs completely for Reflex saves**."

Please tell me you didn't just make Evasion a feat instead of a Class Feature....

Why not? This would make it more readily available to everyone, but especially to those nimble characters whose expertise lies in that sort of thing.
We don't need a Dex-Based Barbarian that in addition to having a MASSIVE pool of HP, and probably DR of some sort, also just "Lol, Nope"-ing Fireballs.

We don’t?


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Shadrayl of the Mountain wrote:
That seems like a very entitled attitude from my perspective.

Ugh. I was hoping to get through this conversation without insults being thrown around. The attitude I have gained is one I have because Paizo have set certain expectations (Pathfinder is not the same as 4th ed and hews much closer to 3.5e than it does 4th ed). Paizo are now changing what they're delivering. My standard have remained the same.

But you can call me entitled if that helps you dismiss my opinion. I can also call say you belong in the the Participation Trophy Generation. Or we can stop sharing insults and attacking each other and instead go back to discussing Pathfinder 2nd ed. I leave it up to you.

I'm pretty sure calling someone else's suggestions asinine was an insult, man. Don't play high horse with me.

I'd say something that you can change with no effort should be preferable to things that take a greater degree of effort to work around. Seems like the easiest way to get around both issues. But perspectives will differ, obviously.


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kyrt-ryder wrote:
In PF1 that is a MASSIVE opportunity cost when most sorcerers have 2 skill ranks per level or less

If you want to reduce the opportunity cost, than hand out more skills ranks. DON'T remove it entirely.

Untrained: You add your ability modifier - 2
Trained: You add your ability modifier + level

Hand out sufficient skill ranks that players can be trained in as many skills or as few skills as they want. Problem solved. Those who want to specialise can specialise. Those who want sorcerers that are adept at climbing can be adept at climbing.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
However, investing significant resources in "being able to swim or climb" is a tremendously poor use of resources for a Sorcerer (or most people but especially a Sorcerer). Now you get to be competent at basic tasks without sacrificing your ability to do the things you are expected to be able to do.

1: Handing out more skill ranks achieves this.

2: Good thing I'm also in favour of condensing low impact skills into broader skills, which also helps solve the problem (and is something they're doing regardless).

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

While I do see the advantages of this system, and understand that there's most likely more to it than what got revealed here (and look forward to characters without spells not needing spells to do unbelievable things), I would miss putting an odd skill rank here ore there, so I can aid someone else or do something on my own without failing all the time, just in case. Also, it looks like the idea of scaling feats linked to skills will remove the need to have feats that don't get used except as prerequisites for other ones.


Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:

It's built for wizards that can climb and fight and ride and storytells and does diplomacy and intimidates and endure weather with survival and researchs.

And he does all those things, because of his level.

Level really breaks Lord of the Rings, if Lord of the Rings is your goal, Pathfinder is not your system.

Boromir, greatest warrior of his generation, is killed when cut off and surrounded by a band of normal orcs. Pippin, who has a couple levels in an NPC class at best, hits and wounds the Witch King, described by the wise as the deadliest threat in the world behind only Sauron. Four Hobbits who have never held a weapon before hold off five Ringwraiths long enough for Aragorn to come back at Weathertop.

Lord of the Rings is a famously unsuitable for levels. Dragon magazine was publishing articles saying Gandalf couldn't be much more than 5th in 1977. Middle Earth is a land of bounded accuracy where the Boromirs and Witch Kings of the world just aren't that much better than the common orcs and hobbits.

Levels, as they exist in Pathfinder, really break most fantasy fiction. Aragorn can't be as high as 10th level, Eddard Stark definitely isn't, settings where a single legendary swordsman is the equal of 1,000 professional swordsman (which is what the CR system says for 2nd level warriors vs. a 20th level fighter) are outliers.

LOTR is for sure a low level adventure, I agree with that. The most dangerous enemy is probably an Ogre Spider. Either that, or any of the CR4 Wraith.

Same goes with Game of Thrones, and many people who try to play this kind of stories in PF or DnD find themselves trapped (because it only works for levels 1-6, hence "Epic 6" mod for DnD)

On the other hand, Silmarillion is a very different stuff. So is the legends of Beowulf, Hercules, or Cu Chulain.

In any case, the stuff that Gandalf is doing in the examples I put, does not need him to be lvl 20. What it needs, is for him to have a broad scope of basic adventuring skills. Gandalf might be lvl 6, (except for the fight with the Balrog?), but he still has the ability to climb a tree, run through a stairs, survive in a snowy mountain, storytell, sense people's motives, bluff/convince people, intimidate, and craft fireworks, among others.


The Shifty Mongoose wrote:
I would miss putting an odd skill rank here ore there, so I can aid someone else or do something on my own without failing all the time, just in case.

We need more context but I wonder if "buying the basic trained proficiency in a skill" doesn't function pretty much exactly the same except for being trained in a skill gives you a chance at succeeding at level-appropriate challenges in a way that "1 rank" really does not.


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To those who are saying +level scaling is god's gift to gaming and is the most innovative feature (at least for 2008) ever: Have you considered that this might be an example of one of the more extreme rules implementations and Paizo do in fact have a backup plan that will satisfy those who are more comfortable with Pathfinder 1st ed's system while still addressing what they're trying to address with this implementation of the rules.

Praise it and love it as much as you want. But keep in mind there's a good chance it won't make it through the playtest without some form of change.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

While I generally support this system, I will say: I'd really like an option to be Bad At That One Thing. (Sense Motive is the one that comes to mind for me.) Ideally with some sort of payoff, like a bonus skill rank or something.


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Yep, it's pretty sure that Paizo has a backup plan if they find resistance among the customers that will preffer the game does not change too much. That's also true for Ressonance, non-scaling spells, and whatever "solution" they'll present to us for Paladins. That is, anything that changes the game.


John Lynch 106 wrote:

To those who are saying +level scaling is god's gift to gaming and is the most innovative feature (at least for 2008) ever: Have you considered that this might be an example of one of the more extreme rules implementations and Paizo do in fact have a backup plan that will satisfy those who are more comfortable with Pathfinder 1st ed's system while still addressing what they're trying to address with this implementation of the rules.

Praise it and love it as much as you want. But keep in mind there's a good chance it won't make it through the playtest without some form of change.

I mean yeah, I think we are all aware that this is playtest material. I mean I think we are all aware that this is not even playtest material, its an introductory blog post to playtest material, and if we are talking about how enthusiastic we are about this we can express that excitement and defend what we like about it, if we think Paizo is on the nose about it and maybe it won't change. But then again, I feel like the people who are defending it aren't afraid about change or seeing this changed. I'm not, I can see how it can be improved and believe that perhaps there are people who know how this can be improved in away that I can't even think of. I mean I would say it has just a good of chance as staying as is, as it changing slightly, and even more of a chance then it being completely changed.


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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Eh. I'll take "every high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing" over "no high-level Sorcerer is good at climbing". Wizard might have a choice between good and bad on any given skill, but that's only because they could afford tons of Int. Paladins, Clerics, Fighters, and Sorcerers just got to suck at almost everything.
Any sorcerer that wants to be good at climbing in Pathfinder can be good at climbing in Pathfinder.

Perception, spellcraft, diplomacy, bluff, a knowledge skill, in roughly that order. Anything I want to do outside of that requires getting a couple items, learning/using a spell, or giving up knowing anything. And I still can’t scare people, sneak, know anything off-topic, catch a lie, avoid drowning, jump, or use scrolls/wands for anything outside my class list. I have to pick way more things to be irrelevant at than things to be good at. Cleric, Paladin, and Fighter are even worse off, being more MAD and having fewer skill-replacement spell options. That’s a sucky choice, and I don’t value it very highly.

In PF2, I still get to pick those five or so skills to be great at. But now, that’s not forcing me to suck at everything else.


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Kalindlara wrote:
While I generally support this system, I will say: I'd really like an option to be Bad At That One Thing. (Sense Motive is the one that comes to mind for me.) Ideally with some sort of payoff, like a bonus skill rank or something.

This seems like it'd be pretty easy to implement with traits or flaws/drawbacks. Sacrifice untrained proficiency in a skill (but not capacity to train in it, I should think; lots of people like a character to be able to overcome their flaws as they adventure) to acquire a proficiency elsewhere. Possibly a 2:1 tradeoff to avoid minmaxing? The wizard has an uncommon-for-his-class skill for disguise, for example, but can't swim to save his life and has no head for climbing.

Things like-

Clumsy: +1 proficiency in a non-class skill, no untrained bonus to Stealth or Acrobatics
Guileless: +1 proficiency in a non-class skill, no untrained bonus to Bluff or Sense Motive
Overprivileged: +1 proficiency in a non-class skill, no untrained bonus to Profession or Survival


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Blackwaltzomega wrote:

Clumsy: +1 proficiency in a non-class skill, no untrained bonus to Stealth or Acrobatics

Guileless: +1 proficiency in a non-class skill, no untrained bonus to Bluff or Sense Motive
Overprivileged: +1 proficiency in a non-class skill, no untrained bonus to Profession or Survival

I like these, with the caveat that I would have to say something like the two skills have to be untrained at character creation and only one of the skills can be improved every even level.

I know you shouldn't have to say such a thing, but I've known too many players who would take a flaw like that and spend their starting proficiency on those skills to get a free rank.

Even GURPS has to spell out, "A disadvantage that does not hinder the character is worth zero points."


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm interesting. Personally I liked the granularity of skill points but im intrigued by this system, especially what other abilities it unlocks and interacts with as you gain expertise. looking forward to seeing the full picture. I dont think we can really form a true opinion of this until we see it in actin with the rest of the rules that underpin this.


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Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

While I like the idea for skills, and am in the 1/2 level+ skill mod+ ability score mod camp. It sounds like you want to use this as the basis for everything else as well. I can't say I'm in favor of that idea.

In many ways it sounds like the same idea that, frankly, turned me off of 5th ed. A universal bonus that is applied to base attack, skill, and saves is one of the contributing factors that has made the classes bland in 5th ed.

Mind you I can see the rational behind these changes, but I can't say agree with them. I feel that characters should have weaknesses, things they can't handle, or do very well. Other wise, why team up with others? How can a martial character stand out in combat, if the only real difference between himself, and the guy who spends his time reading books, is only a +3 to +5(baring equipment, and stats OC)? if everyone is equally good at everything, then why bother have classes?

To me, a class represents something a character has chosen to focuses on. Focusing on something often means you have to give up something else in return.

Another danger is one that I think that this will share with Saga rules. The build a class rules they used were great, But only if you knew what you were doing. Quite often new players could get lost in the sea of options.

These are my concerns with the new edition as presented. Honestly, I'd love it if you prove me wrong. And I know the play-test may not be representative of the final product. I will reserve my final verdict when I see the new edition.


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Chaotic_Blues wrote:

How can a martial character stand out in combat, if the only real difference between himself, and the guy who spends his time reading books, is only a +3 to +5(baring equipment, and stats OC)? if everyone is equally good at everything, then why bother have classes?

As Mark showed us the other day, just a 3 point difference between a fighter and a wizard, with everything else being equal (Strength, magic items, etc), meant the fighter did 50% more damage. Because +3 to hit means 3 more hits over 20 attacks, but also 3 more crits over 20 attacks.

The beauty of the +-10 crit/failure rule is that, even if you compress the range of rolls, you can get a lot of real difference, thanks to expanded crits and fumbles.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Chaotic_Blues wrote:
Other wise, why team up with others?

Because you don't like playing just by yourself?


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All this talk about how unreasonable it is that under PF1 rules, level 20 Wizards may have trouble climbing trees and such seems way off the mark, for several reasons.

One, it's not true in all (perhaps even many) cases. There is plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of opportunity to buy just a couple ranks of climb (athletics) on your wizard's journey to 20, and he'll manage those trees as well as anybody. If the current trade-off between maxing ranks versus acquiring a broad skillset of basic competency seems unbalanced, then why not simply make it cheaper to buy ranks in skills you have few points in than those where you have many points invested? There is also talk of further skill consolidation, which would help as well.

Second, in real life, climbing a tree is a very basic task under ordinary conditions, at least for many types of tree. It's literally something children can do. The DC 15 difficulty listed in the core rules implies that an ordinary person without special training (10 STR, no ranks) has a 50% chance of falling (fail by 5) each time he attempts to climb less than a dozen feet of tree (one round at 1/4 speed). This may be reasonable for difficult-to-climb trees (smooth bark, far-apart branches, and so on), but then the idea that no high level Wizard could ever have trouble manually climbing such a difficult tree, just by virtue of "skill osmosis" (or whatever), even if he has had zero actual practice, seems pretty far fetched. So maybe the DCs for some basic tasks need to be retuned, but that's not something that requires this radical of a solution.

Third, and most importantly, the suggested degree of auto-scaling by level is just SO. VERY. EXTREME. To make clear just how extreme, this is what the new rules imply:

At level 1, an untrained character with 10 in some ability score will perform just like any other ordinary person, which is just what we would expect in a game that takes us from ordinary to legendary. No problem here.

At level 6, he will, by virtue of having leveled up 5 times, perform all untrained skill checks as if his associated abilty score was 20 (+5 from level, equivalent to, for example, the +5 from strength 20 to athletics checks). This seems a bit fast paced for what amounts to passively transcending the untrained performance of even the most talented ordinary people.

At level 11, he will perform this and all other untrained skill checks as if his ability scores were 20 points higher. For our strength 10 wizard, this means he climbs/swims/jumps like as if he was a PF1 untrained humanoid with a strength score of 30. Wow.

It only gets more ridiculous the higher you go. And it bears stressing, this off-the-charts improvement is not limited to some special corner cases (climbing trees or whatever), but extends to literally any untrained skill use you can think of. Anything any normal person could even attempt to do, every single high level character, regardless of his specialized skillset, will succeed at without any difficulty whatsoever. That 19 DC check the untrained Ordinary Joe (+0 from his ability scores, -1 from being untrained) will only succeed at 5% of the time, and critically fail 45% of the time? A 10 ability score level 20 character succeeds every time, with zero chance of failure, much less critical failure.

Now maybe it is a conscious decision on the part of the developers to take the game in this direction, but then I wonder, why not go all the way and halve the +1/per level proficiency bonus while giving a flat +1 to all ability scores every level? The numbers work out the same (STR/AGI to damage might need some tuning), but high level characters will actually have the godlike ability scores to back up their astronomical skill check results, and you avoid nonsense like a level 20 wizard with strength 10 performing (untrained) feats of athletics as if he had a strength of 48, but not being able to carry around as much weight as somebody with strength of even just 12.

All that said, we might of course be missing key parts of the picture. For example, maybe there is meaningful differentiation between cases where somebody with godlike ability scores attempts some untrained skill check as opposed to a high level character with ordinary ability scores. Perhaps check results modify base values provided by ability scores. But if what we see is pretty much what we get, then this means a monumental change to the feel of the game, in a direction we've seen taken once before. And I very much doubt that ridiculing the idea that God forbid, some high level wizards might not be very good at climbing trees, will convice many not to reject this kind of game once again.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:

To those who are saying +level scaling is god's gift to gaming and is the most innovative feature (at least for 2008) ever: Have you considered that this might be an example of one of the more extreme rules implementations and Paizo do in fact have a backup plan that will satisfy those who are more comfortable with Pathfinder 1st ed's system while still addressing what they're trying to address with this implementation of the rules.

Praise it and love it as much as you want. But keep in mind there's a good chance it won't make it through the playtest without some form of change.

As long as it remains possible for skills like Stealth or the movement skills (Climb, Swim, basically stuff that's in Athletics now I think) to be relevant without either the entire party having to invest in it (particularly bad with Stealth) or suicidally splitting the party and going alone, I would be okay. As is, PF1e makes Stealth virtually useless as a skill most of the time.


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I like this, but then I think a 14 int human rogue has too few skill ranks, so I may be biased!


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QuidEst wrote:
Perception, spellcraft, diplomacy, bluff, a knowledge skill, in roughly that order. Anything I want to do outside of that requires getting a couple items, learning/using a spell, or giving up knowing anything.

It's almost like Pathfinder 1st ed is built on the idea that you must make choices when you build a character and level them up as opposed to just being "not suck" at everything.

If you want to argue that sorcerers (or all classes) don't get enough skill ranks then go for it. I'd be inclined to agree with you as well. What I don't agree with is getting a blanket bonus all skills.


Rysky wrote:
Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:
Lady Firebird wrote:
Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:

"A master is extremely skilled in an area, and she can achieve incredible results. In addition to adjusting her checks and DCs by +2, she may unlock powerful perks like master-level skill feats for skills, **or the ability to dodge fireballs completely for Reflex saves**."

Please tell me you didn't just make Evasion a feat instead of a Class Feature....

Why not? This would make it more readily available to everyone, but especially to those nimble characters whose expertise lies in that sort of thing.
We don't need a Dex-Based Barbarian that in addition to having a MASSIVE pool of HP, and probably DR of some sort, also just "Lol, Nope"-ing Fireballs.
We don’t?

MEh, I can see where the concern might be, but I think it can be quickly mitigated. It would depend entirely on just HOW MUCH a barbarian needs to invest in acrobatics (or whatever the eventual choice is)before unlocking the ability to take the evasion feat. I mean, if he invests in acrobatics to the detriment of all other skills, then - why not? If it is just a basic skill anyone can take though, then there are some serious issues.


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Shinigami02 wrote:
As long as it remains possible for skills like Stealth or the movement skills (Climb, Swim, basically stuff that's in Athletics now I think) to be relevant without either the entire party having to invest in it (particularly bad with Stealth) or suicidally splitting the party and going alone, I would be okay. As is, PF1e makes Stealth virtually useless as a skill most of the time.

Master Trainer (Skill Feat)

Prerequisite: Master Rank
Benefit: Select one skill you have master rank in. By first spending 10 minutes you can give everyone your bonus in that skill so long as they perform the activity with you. This bonus ceases after either 1 hour or when they stop performing the activity with you (whichever happens later).

There we go. My agency of being able to be bad at a skill (except when working with a master) is kept in tact. And you get to be so awesome that even untrained people can be passable just by being in your presence. How is that not cool and help show just how good you are at a particular skill?


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Make that integrated into Mastery rather than a feat and you're onto something.


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Turmoil wrote:
At level 11, he will perform this and all other untrained skill checks as if his ability scores were 20 points higher. For our strength 10 wizard, this means he climbs/swims/jumps like as if he was a PF1 untrained humanoid with a strength score of 30. Wow.

By lvl 11, a character has left the realm of "mortal humans" like 5 levels ago.

Think about this: currently, in pathfinder, with old rules, a lvl 11 fighter with strength 10 has +11 in CMB. That means he can take down, in grapple, without any kind of luck (need to roll 9+ at best):
a boar (CMD 14)
A horse (CMD 17)
a black bear (CMD 19)
a Cocodrile (CMD 18)
an hyppopotamus (CMD 20)
a Rhinoceros (CMD 20).

That's a character with Strength 10. Like, your mother or something. Except that she is level 11. So she can wrestle with rhinoceros just fine.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
As long as it remains possible for skills like Stealth or the movement skills (Climb, Swim, basically stuff that's in Athletics now I think) to be relevant without either the entire party having to invest in it (particularly bad with Stealth) or suicidally splitting the party and going alone, I would be okay. As is, PF1e makes Stealth virtually useless as a skill most of the time.

Master Trainer (Skill Feat)

Prerequisite: Master Rank
Benefit: Select one skill you have master rank in. By first spending 10 minutes you can give everyone your bonus in that skill so long as they perform the activity with you. This bonus ceases after either 1 hour or when they stop performing the activity with you (whichever happens later).

There we go. My agency of being able to be bad at a skill (except when working with a master) is kept in tact. And you get to be so awesome that even untrained people can be passable just by being in your presence. How is that not cool and help show just how good you are at a particular skill?

Or you could just add Flaws to your game and leave the rest of us with a baseline of heroic skill abilities.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
As long as it remains possible for skills like Stealth or the movement skills (Climb, Swim, basically stuff that's in Athletics now I think) to be relevant without either the entire party having to invest in it (particularly bad with Stealth) or suicidally splitting the party and going alone, I would be okay. As is, PF1e makes Stealth virtually useless as a skill most of the time.

Master Trainer (Skill Feat)

Prerequisite: Master Rank
Benefit: Select one skill you have master rank in. By first spending 10 minutes you can give everyone your bonus in that skill so long as they perform the activity with you. This bonus ceases after either 1 hour or when they stop performing the activity with you (whichever happens later).

There we go. My agency of being able to be bad at a skill (except when working with a master) is kept in tact. And you get to be so awesome that even untrained people can be passable just by being in your presence. How is that not cool and help show just how good you are at a particular skill?

Better yet, since this would be a core math assumption rather than a unique character trick, bake this in (with scaling, &c.) into the aid another action.

(Yes, I'm aware of the irony of preserving choices not to be capable of things by forcing them to be capable of another thing. I also support laws requiring all citizens to show up to the polls. :P)

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