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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Mark Seifter wrote:
Broad competence is also a hallmark of many fantasy stories (and actually many stories in a lot of genres).

Look at Conan. Or Aragorn. Two examples off the top of my head who have a lot of skills and competence in broad areas. Heck, Conan often gets conflated purely with the Arnold Schwarzenegger version, but in the books was quite intelligent, swift and nimble as a panther, and so on. As I recall, he was also generally more polite than civilized men, because most civilized men wouldn't get their heads taken off for being jerks.

Aragorn has the hands of a healer, the most skilled woodsman to be found in Middle-earth, a tracker without peer, a legendary warrior, and a great leader. He's also learned in lore from several ages of the world.

Mark Seifter wrote:
At some point, all the PCs are going to want to try to do something together involving untrained skill uses, like disguising as actors to infiltrate the Lord Mayor's mansion and its sharp-eyed guards who are certain to be on the lookout for charlatans. In PF1, you had a few choices: you could just never try to do that, you could try it straight out and pretty much fail automatically because Amiri has no ranks in Disguise, you could maybe find some spellcaster-only option that granted an enormous bonus that essentially erased the other characters' investments anyway so it's fine that Amiri didn't invest, or you could have the GM decide not to use the skill system because the idea was so cool and to handwave that Amiri doesn't have to make a Disguise check. In PF2, it's still going to be dicey and the group might want to come up with some ways to help Amiri (like thflame's idea of shifting the best gear onto her to help out) because she's still the most likely to land them all in hot water from a critical failure, but the plan also might succeed.

Sounds pretty awesome! Seriously, everything about this whole skill system sounds designed to open up doors and make things cooler for everyone, and also fix some issues like "I put 6 ranks into that skill early, but now at level 17 it's irrelevant."


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Incidentally, I'm hoping that Perform is still around as a skill. (Maybe even a generalized Perform rather than a bunch of sub-skills?) I've got a character who's going to love getting Legendary in that. I do wonder if Rogues will eventually be able to do something like count as at least Trained in everything- that'd be fun with all those different Profession options.

Legendary at level 15 is nice, too. That's only one level later than Phantom Thief picked up its level 20 skill unlocks.


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Sounds cool to me. This whole thing does ride on what winds up being gated by rank and where, but the core mechanic of it sounds pretty well thought out to me. Is it more realistic that an 8th level character has a decent shot of passing a skill check in a skill he isn't trained in, just by virtue of his (theoretically mostly unrelated) experience? Probably not, but it does sound a lot more fun to play with. And let's be honest here, if you're looking for realism in your fantasy RPG, Pathfinder 1 or 2 is probably not a good bet for you.

Incidentally, I think part of the reason bonus is directly linked to level is that a large number of combat options are now skill check based. This allows the game to keep skill check bonuses in the same range of variance as attack bonuses and defenses. If p1e had allowed Grapple to be based off of Athletics, it would be easy for a grappler to have a +50-100% higher bonus (or more, depending on level) with grapple than the pure fighter had to stabbing. In this system the DM can reasonably expect all combat options to be viable to a trained character, but not ridiculously overwhelming to a focused character, and still potentially usable, if a bit risky, to an untrained character.


The 'better' isn't in the math, its how the skill can be used from what it sounds like. Its a bit of a shift from seeing how good someone is with a skill from how big their number is next to it, to what they're actually capable of using the skill for.

Liberty's Edge

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Honestly? Not a fan, not at all.

One of my BIGGEST gripes with DnD is how much is tapes skill availability down to class. By limiting it based off class, you're limiting class concepts, and forcing more 'cookie cutter' character types. For a game that claims 'no two characters are alike', this seems counter to that.

All clerics only have access to X skills is a limiter. It's one that was handled, in part, by traits and archetypes in Pathfinder, and it kept characters in the same ballpark as their core counterparts, but gave a bit more flexibility. It sat in a middle ground.

I won't be happy with this change unless there's a way to push outside of the class structure and allow a measure of flexibility. As a cleric (or Paladin), I should NEVER need to choose between Knowledge: Religion and Diplomacy, simply because I have an average INT score. That makes little sense to me, given how churches tend to operate.

5e fixed this in part by making skills background based as well. It 'breaks the mold' of being forced into a skill structure that is severely limited off class. What I do for a job should not be who I am. This should be reflected in the game's modern design, otherwise, it misses the point.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Subparhiggins wrote:
The 'better' isn't in the math, its how the skill can be used from what it sounds like. Its a bit of a shift from seeing how good someone is with a skill from how big their number is next to it, to what they're actually capable of using the skill for.

This is true. I have no doubt that Cosmo's goblin bard in one of our 17th-level playtest games had almost as high of an Acrobatics bonus as my Strength-based monk in the 12th-level playtest did; maybe even equal or a point higher. But the bard was not able to use Acrobatics to balance in mid-air in order to navigate reverse gravity and deal with flying enemies with ease.


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Subparhiggins wrote:
The 'better' isn't in the math, its how the skill can be used from what it sounds like. Its a bit of a shift from seeing how good someone is with a skill from how big their number is next to it, to what they're actually capable of using the skill for.

Sorry, but no, "better" is about math. For two people who *can* perform the same task, it's entirely about how big their number is. Yes, maybe you need to be a master to Hide in Plain Sight, but a Master should still be significantly "better" than a novice at Stealthing, and that doesn't pan out given the bonuses as listed.

Granted, there could be other pieces to this that I don't know about, for example:
* You could get additional bonuses at tasks at previous levels as part of acquiring a new leve.
* There could be skill feats that grant you these bonuses to things under your level.
* The DC could be different for a task depending on your mastery.

These all work, but also all require a lot of additional numbers that could probably be solved simply by adjusting proficiency bonus.

EDIT: I guess what I'm saying here is I don't want this to be a "I can do this, so therefor I'm virtually as good as you" system.


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I'm super curious how Crafting is going to work in this new system.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Sean R wrote:


I won't be happy with this change unless there's a way to push outside of the class structure and allow a measure of flexibility. As a cleric (or Paladin), I should NEVER need to choose between Knowledge: Religion and Diplomacy, simply because I have an average INT score. That makes little sense to me, given how churches tend to operate.

As a cleric or paladin with low Int, you can still choose to start out trained in Thievery or even Arcana as a skill. Whichever skills you want, unrestrained by class skills.


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Lady Firebird wrote:


Look at Conan. Or Aragorn. Two examples off the top of my head who have a lot of skills and competence in broad areas.

Yes, but they're either solo heroes or buffy and friends, not part of a team where everyone has their own specialty.

They also seem to have rolled straight 18s at character creation...


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Subparhiggins wrote:
The 'better' isn't in the math, its how the skill can be used from what it sounds like. Its a bit of a shift from seeing how good someone is with a skill from how big their number is next to it, to what they're actually capable of using the skill for.
This is true. I have no doubt that Cosmo's goblin bard in one of our 17th-level playtest games had almost as high of an Acrobatics bonus as my Strength-based monk in the 12th-level playtest did; maybe even equal or a point higher. But the bard was not able to use Acrobatics to balance in mid-air in order to navigate reverse gravity and deal with flying enemies with ease.

I like this change, and I feel like it gives skills a chance to mean and do a lot more, while simultaneously not making characters with lower intelligence modifiers or who had low overall class given skill ranks feel like they only ever get to invest in 3 or 4 things.

An investment should stay an investment relative to your character. I understand wanting to put 1 rank in sleight of hand to represent your characters past as a thief, but no longer are interested in investing because your character has reformed their thieving ways. By divorcing how a skill advances from being soley the number to instead being the level of expertise you actually have in the field (Profieciency, and what you can do with it) effectively even though your Sleight of Hand is still relevant for use at level 15 as it was for level 1, you really aren't any better of a thief than you were at level one because you can only do the same things.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Then again, at that point the barbarian decided that being a lawyer is a significant enough part of her superhuman 15th level character that she spent resources to make it so.
Except they might have decided that at second level, and then never did lawyer things again but are still superhumanly good at it. And even if they don't pick to be trained in it, they're still superhumanly good at it.
The untrained barbarian is more likely to know that Justice Ironbriar is the harshest judge in Magnimar than the law school student, but she still can't actually practice law effectively at all, let alone superhumanly well.

Could you please try to explain this using the mechanics? Is there really going to be a list of things that the barbarian just can't attempt?

How do the mechanics stop the barbarian from practicing law effectively? If the mod is high enough why can't the barbarian practice law? How are GMs supposed to make this line where the skill proficiency lines are drawn and how are they being kept from being arbitrary?


Mark Seifter wrote:
Subparhiggins wrote:
The 'better' isn't in the math, its how the skill can be used from what it sounds like. Its a bit of a shift from seeing how good someone is with a skill from how big their number is next to it, to what they're actually capable of using the skill for.
This is true. I have no doubt that Cosmo's goblin bard in one of our 17th-level playtest games had almost as high of an Acrobatics bonus as my Strength-based monk in the 12th-level playtest did; maybe even equal or a point higher. But the bard was not able to use Acrobatics to balance in mid-air in order to navigate reverse gravity and deal with flying enemies with ease.

Sounds awesome! I suppose we shouldn't be greedy, but I must ask anyway: can we do some Legolas-esque feats with high levels of Perception?


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Try thinking of it like this: someone Trained in first-aid can probably bandage a simple wound about as well as a Master surgeon, but doesn't have the same specialized skills necessary to perform say a lithectomy.

The numbers are just part of the equation now.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Lady Firebird wrote:


Look at Conan. Or Aragorn. Two examples off the top of my head who have a lot of skills and competence in broad areas.

Yes, but they're either solo heroes or buffy and friends, not part of a team where everyone has their own specialty.

They also seem to have rolled straight 18s at character creation...

Um ... Gimli , Legolas, for example were hardly scrubs ....


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
FlySkyHigh wrote:
I'm super curious how Crafting is going to work in this new system.

Presumably your level of proficiency establishes the quality of gear you can make. As I recall from the glass cannon podcast, there were expert, master, and legendary quality items. Perhaps a skill unlock allows you to make master level armor if you have at least master proficiency in craft, while a different unlock would allow access to weapons instead. You probably have to be at least trained to make basic gear.

Paizo Employee Designer

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quirthanon wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Then again, at that point the barbarian decided that being a lawyer is a significant enough part of her superhuman 15th level character that she spent resources to make it so.
Except they might have decided that at second level, and then never did lawyer things again but are still superhumanly good at it. And even if they don't pick to be trained in it, they're still superhumanly good at it.
The untrained barbarian is more likely to know that Justice Ironbriar is the harshest judge in Magnimar than the law school student, but she still can't actually practice law effectively at all, let alone superhumanly well.

Could you please try to explain this using the mechanics? Is there really going to be a list of things that the barbarian just can't attempt?

How do the mechanics stop the barbarian from practicing law effectively? If the mod is high enough why can't the barbarian practice law? How are GMs supposed to make this line where the skill proficiency lines are drawn and how are they being kept from being arbitrary?

This is really hard overall because there is a separate skills blog, so I'm trying to keep this as tied to proficiency as possible. However, essentially, the skill you'd use to be a lawyer, working like Profession did in PF1, has a list of uses, and practicing law (Practice a Trade) would be listed in the trained only uses.


Lady Firebird wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Subparhiggins wrote:
The 'better' isn't in the math, its how the skill can be used from what it sounds like. Its a bit of a shift from seeing how good someone is with a skill from how big their number is next to it, to what they're actually capable of using the skill for.
This is true. I have no doubt that Cosmo's goblin bard in one of our 17th-level playtest games had almost as high of an Acrobatics bonus as my Strength-based monk in the 12th-level playtest did; maybe even equal or a point higher. But the bard was not able to use Acrobatics to balance in mid-air in order to navigate reverse gravity and deal with flying enemies with ease.
Sounds awesome! I suppose we shouldn't be greedy, but I must ask anyway: can we do some Legolas-esque feats with high levels of Perception?

Perception isn’t a skill, but it does have different proficiencies depending on class. I wonder if Monk and Ranger are the main specialists?


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Ooh, glad to hear there will be a more detailed skill blog later.


But for example if someone was on the college debate team and was thus trained then gained 20 levels - there is absolutely no way they wouldn’t be a massively better debater than they were then. Or completely unskilled. There are no other states between?


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tivadar27 wrote:
Subparhiggins wrote:
The 'better' isn't in the math, its how the skill can be used from what it sounds like. Its a bit of a shift from seeing how good someone is with a skill from how big their number is next to it, to what they're actually capable of using the skill for.

Sorry, but no, "better" is about math. For two people who *can* perform the same task, it's entirely about how big their number is. Yes, maybe you need to be a master to Hide in Plain Sight, but a Master should still be significantly "better" than a novice at Stealthing, and that doesn't pan out given the bonuses as listed.

Granted, there could be other pieces to this that I don't know about, for example:
* You could get additional bonuses at tasks at previous levels as part of acquiring a new leve.
* There could be skill feats that grant you these bonuses to things under your level.
* The DC could be different for a task depending on your mastery.

These all work, but also all require a lot of additional numbers that could probably be solved simply by adjusting proficiency bonus.

EDIT: I guess what I'm saying here is I don't want this to be a "I can do this, so therefor I'm virtually as good as you" system.

But they aren't as good as you? Who are you going to consider the better chef? The level 20 novice who can make the best cookies you've ever tasted? Or the level 10 master who can make pretty dang good cookies, but can also make from scratch a ton of other recipes? The level 20 chef may have been making cookies for decades, but the level 10 master went to culinary school and just knows how to do a lot of things way outside the level 20 characters limited experience.

It's easy to hyperfocus in on the numbers alone as a sign of better or worse. But it matters a lot more how many situations you can use the skill in, and how many things you can do with it.


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Arssanguinus wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Lady Firebird wrote:


Look at Conan. Or Aragorn. Two examples off the top of my head who have a lot of skills and competence in broad areas.

Yes, but they're either solo heroes or buffy and friends, not part of a team where everyone has their own specialty.

They also seem to have rolled straight 18s at character creation...

Um ... Gimli , Legolas, for example were hardly scrubs ....

Yes, and everyone tended to have their own strengths, even the otherwise unassuming Hobbits.

It's true, a lot of team stories (superhero stuff especially) tends to really limit a character's niche and suite of abilities, but I don't think that's any more realistic than the stories that don't. And in this case, it looks like PF2 is gonna offer the best of both worlds.


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Sean R wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Lady Firebird wrote:


Look at Conan. Or Aragorn. Two examples off the top of my head who have a lot of skills and competence in broad areas.

Yes, but they're either solo heroes or buffy and friends, not part of a team where everyone has their own specialty.

They also seem to have rolled straight 18s at character creation...

Except that I then have to give up Knowledge: Religion and/or Diplomacy. No class who gets it's powers from the gods should be clueless as to how their religion works.

Likewise, no class about studying tomes to cast spells should be clueless as to how spells work (Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft).

You -can- do it in the current system, but it begs the question 'how?' How can this character exemplify these concepts without limiting them to JUST these concepts. If this is core to what the class is about, it should be granted, not limiting. It's part of who the class is.

I could see a Paladin without knowledge: religion, in the case of someone suddenly blessed by the gods who just so happen to exemplify their deities ideals, but someone whom needs to know how to worship? A cleric can't go without knowledge: religion without some extraordinary reach.

I have run in far more divine-themed characters with 0 investment in Knowledge Religion than I care to count. It's a running joke now in a few of my groups.


Mark Seifter wrote:
quirthanon wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Then again, at that point the barbarian decided that being a lawyer is a significant enough part of her superhuman 15th level character that she spent resources to make it so.
Except they might have decided that at second level, and then never did lawyer things again but are still superhumanly good at it. And even if they don't pick to be trained in it, they're still superhumanly good at it.
The untrained barbarian is more likely to know that Justice Ironbriar is the harshest judge in Magnimar than the law school student, but she still can't actually practice law effectively at all, let alone superhumanly well.

Could you please try to explain this using the mechanics? Is there really going to be a list of things that the barbarian just can't attempt?

How do the mechanics stop the barbarian from practicing law effectively? If the mod is high enough why can't the barbarian practice law? How are GMs supposed to make this line where the skill proficiency lines are drawn and how are they being kept from being arbitrary?

This is really hard overall because there is a separate skills blog, so I'm trying to keep this as tied to proficiency as possible. However, essentially, the skill you'd use to be a lawyer, working like Profession did in PF1, has a list of uses, and practicing law (Practice a Trade) would be listed in the trained only uses.

Ok, thanks. I'll have to wait the for the Skills blog to make more sense of this.


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I would say for that cleric basic knowledge about their religion would be considered an untrained check and should be easy dc for him.


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Arssanguinus wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Lady Firebird wrote:


Look at Conan. Or Aragorn. Two examples off the top of my head who have a lot of skills and competence in broad areas.

Yes, but they're either solo heroes or buffy and friends, not part of a team where everyone has their own specialty.

They also seem to have rolled straight 18s at character creation...

Um ... Gimli , Legolas, for example were hardly scrubs ....

Sure, Aragorn had a fairly wide range of skills, but he was also a Ranger. Note that when they needed to know about dwarven history, he'd defer to Gimli, and when they needed a lock picked or something stolen, he'd defer to Frodo. He didn't simply say "oh, I'm higher level than you, therefor better than you at this thing!"

Liberty's Edge

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Sean R wrote:


I won't be happy with this change unless there's a way to push outside of the class structure and allow a measure of flexibility. As a cleric (or Paladin), I should NEVER need to choose between Knowledge: Religion and Diplomacy, simply because I have an average INT score. That makes little sense to me, given how churches tend to operate.
As a cleric or paladin with low Int, you can still choose to start out trained in Thievery or even Arcana as a skill. Whichever skills you want, unrestrained by class skills.

Except that I then have to give up Knowledge: Religion and/or Diplomacy. No class who gets it's powers from the gods should be clueless as to how their religion works.

Likewise, no class about studying tomes to cast spells should be clueless as to how spells work (Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft).

You -can- do it in the current system, but it begs the question 'how?' How can this character exemplify these concepts without limiting them to JUST these concepts. If this is core to what the class is about, it should be granted, not limiting. It's part of who the class is.

I could see a Paladin without knowledge: religion, in the case of someone suddenly blessed by the gods who just so happen to exemplify their deities ideals, but someone whom needs to know how to worship? A cleric can't go without knowledge: religion without some extraordinary reach.

To me, I'm okay with a bit of tit-for-tat when it comes to skills, but my biggest pain is looking at the skill list and realizing that I cannot create the roleplaying character in my head, simply because of some rules arbitration. Flexibility is one of the core aspects of Pathfinder I like.

And this can be a deal breaker. I LOVED the background system in 5e. I LOVE the trait system in Pathfinder. Don't pull back and say 'no, none of that' for 2e.

Liberty's Edge

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I need a way to auto-favorite Mark's posts. It would really save me a lot of clicking :-D

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Mark Seifter wrote:
While I, like most of you, also colloquially referred to them as "skill points," as I learned when arriving here, even in PF1, they weren't technically ever referred to as skill points, but rather always as ranks (ranks to assign, ranks per level, etc).

There were skill points in 3.5: each level, you received skill points that you then invested into skill ranks on a 1:1 basis. When we were working on Pathfinder First Edition, I pointed out to Jason that was a completely extraneous layer of abstraction, so we just skipped that whole pointless transaction and gave you ranks to invest directly into a skill. (I think very few people actually noticed.)

Paizo Employee Designer

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Subparhiggins wrote:

But they aren't as good as you? Who are you going to consider the better chef? The level 20 novice who can make the best cookies you've ever tasted? Or the level 10 master who can make pretty dang good cookies, but can also make from scratch a ton of other recipes? The level 20 chef may have been making cookies for decades, but the level 10 master went to culinary school and just knows how to do a lot of things way outside the level 20 characters limited experience.

This is a good analogy, but I'll refine it a little since a trained character can probably make more than just cookies:

The level 20 near-demigod character who is trained in baking can make all the kinds of baked goods you'd expect in a basic cookbook, with what is probably a higher bonus than the level 10 master after spending 100 years baking cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and more in her timeless demiplane. But the level 10 master might be able to invent a brand new food that nobody else has ever heard of before, something the level 20 character just doesn't have enough of a frame of reference to do, even if she's exceptional at following the basic recipes she knows.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Vic Wertz wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
While I, like most of you, also colloquially referred to them as "skill points," as I learned when arriving here, even in PF1, they weren't technically ever referred to as skill points, but rather always as ranks (ranks to assign, ranks per level, etc).
There were skill points in 3.5: each level, you received skill points that you then invested into skill ranks on a 1:1 basis. When we were working on Pathfinder First Edition, I pointed out to Jason that was a completely extraneous layer of abstraction, so we just skipped that whole pointless transaction and gave you ranks to invest directly into a skill. (I think very few people actually noticed.)

That explains why I always called them skill points until they were spent and called them ranks after they were spent. It was actually correct at one point! Thanks Vic. I remember having this discussion years ago with Logan and Stephen who weren't sure how I came up with calling it one thing before I spent it and another thing after I spent it.

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Cosmo played a goblin bard????

Obviously this game is an abomination! :)

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

Pathfinder Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I certainly didn't.

The Exchange

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tivadar27 wrote:
Arssanguinus wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Lady Firebird wrote:


Look at Conan. Or Aragorn. Two examples off the top of my head who have a lot of skills and competence in broad areas.

Yes, but they're either solo heroes or buffy and friends, not part of a team where everyone has their own specialty.

They also seem to have rolled straight 18s at character creation...

Um ... Gimli , Legolas, for example were hardly scrubs ....
Sure, Aragorn had a fairly wide range of skills, but he was also a Ranger. Note that when they needed to know about dwarven history, he'd defer to Gimli, and when they needed a lock picked or something stolen, he'd defer to Frodo. He didn't simply say "oh, I'm higher level than you, therefor better than you at this thing!"

Presumably he's untrained in Dwarven Lore and Lock Picking and thus his level bonus doesn't matter. He's untrained and thus can't do those things. He might have the higher number the proficiency (or lack thereof) says he can't and thus his number doesn't matter.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Sean R wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Sean R wrote:


I won't be happy with this change unless there's a way to push outside of the class structure and allow a measure of flexibility. As a cleric (or Paladin), I should NEVER need to choose between Knowledge: Religion and Diplomacy, simply because I have an average INT score. That makes little sense to me, given how churches tend to operate.
As a cleric or paladin with low Int, you can still choose to start out trained in Thievery or even Arcana as a skill. Whichever skills you want, unrestrained by class skills.

Except that I then have to give up Knowledge: Religion and/or Diplomacy. No class who gets it's powers from the gods should be clueless as to how their religion works.

Likewise, no class about studying tomes to cast spells should be clueless as to how spells work (Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft).

You -can- do it in the current system, but it begs the question 'how?' How can this character exemplify these concepts without limiting them to JUST these concepts. If this is core to what the class is about, it should be granted, not limiting. It's part of who the class is.

I could see a Paladin without knowledge: religion, in the case of someone suddenly blessed by the gods who just so happen to exemplify their deities ideals, but someone whom needs to know how to worship? A cleric can't go without knowledge: religion without some extraordinary reach.

To me, I'm okay with a bit of tit-for-tat when it comes to skills, but my biggest pain is looking at the skill list and realizing that I cannot create the roleplaying character in my head, simply because of some rules arbitration. Flexibility is one of the core aspects of Pathfinder I like.

And this can be a deal breaker. I LOVED the background system in 5e. I LOVE the trait system in Pathfinder. Don't pull back and say 'no, none of that' for 2e.

I think your examples here are conflating running out of skill points with not having enough class skills, or if not, that's my bad and I'm having trouble following. If a cleric in PF1 chose to spend her 2 skill points on Disable Device and Knowledge (arcana), how did traits help her have enough skill points to also pick up Knowledge (religion)? They would make her better at the two skills she did pick by adding them as class skills.

In PF2, class skills don't block what you can choose as trained anyway, though they are good suggestions for which skills to choose.


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Mark Seifter wrote:


The level 20 near-demigod character who is trained in baking can make all the kinds of baked goods you'd expect in a basic cookbook, with what is probably a higher bonus than the level 10 master after spending 100 years baking cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and more in her timeless demiplane. But the level 10 master might be able to invent a brand new food that nobody else has ever heard of before, something the level 20 character just doesn't have enough of a frame of reference to do, even if she's exceptional at following the basic recipes she knows.

Thank you so much for expanding on my point in such a delightful way. This is basically the Pathfinder version of Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

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Pathfinder Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sean R wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Sean R wrote:


I won't be happy with this change unless there's a way to push outside of the class structure and allow a measure of flexibility. As a cleric (or Paladin), I should NEVER need to choose between Knowledge: Religion and Diplomacy, simply because I have an average INT score. That makes little sense to me, given how churches tend to operate.
As a cleric or paladin with low Int, you can still choose to start out trained in Thievery or even Arcana as a skill. Whichever skills you want, unrestrained by class skills.

Except that I then have to give up Knowledge: Religion and/or Diplomacy. No class who gets it's powers from the gods should be clueless as to how their religion works.

Likewise, no class about studying tomes to cast spells should be clueless as to how spells work (Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft).

You -can- do it in the current system, but it begs the question 'how?' How can this character exemplify these concepts without limiting them to JUST these concepts. If this is core to what the class is about, it should be granted, not limiting. It's part of who the class is.

I could see a Paladin without knowledge: religion, in the case of someone suddenly blessed by the gods who just so happen to exemplify their deities ideals, but someone whom needs to know how to worship? A cleric can't go without knowledge: religion without some extraordinary reach.

To me, I'm okay with a bit of tit-for-tat when it comes to skills, but my biggest pain is looking at the skill list and realizing that I cannot create the roleplaying character in my head, simply because of some rules arbitration. Flexibility is one of the core aspects of Pathfinder I like.

And this can be a deal breaker. I LOVED the background system in 5e. I LOVE the trait system in Pathfinder. Don't pull back and say 'no, none of that' for 2e.

And to boot, I don't really object to the backgrounds in Starfinder, but there are really far too few of them and they feel pretty limiting and themeless feels well....generic.

If you're going to go that route please do your best to bring more diversity even from the beginning.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Sean R wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Sean R wrote:


I won't be happy with this change unless there's a way to push outside of the class structure and allow a measure of flexibility. As a cleric (or Paladin), I should NEVER need to choose between Knowledge: Religion and Diplomacy, simply because I have an average INT score. That makes little sense to me, given how churches tend to operate.
As a cleric or paladin with low Int, you can still choose to start out trained in Thievery or even Arcana as a skill. Whichever skills you want, unrestrained by class skills.

Except that I then have to give up Knowledge: Religion and/or Diplomacy. No class who gets it's powers from the gods should be clueless as to how their religion works.

Likewise, no class about studying tomes to cast spells should be clueless as to how spells work (Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft).

You -can- do it in the current system, but it begs the question 'how?' How can this character exemplify these concepts without limiting them to JUST these concepts. If this is core to what the class is about, it should be granted, not limiting. It's part of who the class is.

I could see a Paladin without knowledge: religion, in the case of someone suddenly blessed by the gods who just so happen to exemplify their deities ideals, but someone whom needs to know how to worship? A cleric can't go without knowledge: religion without some extraordinary reach.

To me, I'm okay with a bit of tit-for-tat when it comes to skills, but my biggest pain is looking at the skill list and realizing that I cannot create the roleplaying character in my head, simply because of some rules arbitration. Flexibility is one of the core aspects of Pathfinder I like.

And this can be a deal breaker. I LOVED the background system in 5e. I LOVE the trait system in Pathfinder. Don't pull back and say 'no, none of that' for 2e.

Maybe you are automatically trained in class skills in PF2. With a tighter list of class skills, it would make wonderful sense. And archetypes changing your class skills would have a great impact which would be awesome IMO. Skills would become something far more significant than in 3.5/PF1 :-D


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Most of the complaints here about high-level chars having the potential automatically be better at everything than low level ones are ignoring the fact that PF1 had this issue too.

Remember that your number of ranks on a skill was limited by your level. So on any level that you decided to spend a god chunk of your skill points on ONE skill (Say a rogue brings diplomacy from 0 to 10 ranks in one level up) they will automatically be better overnight than the lv5 Aristocrat that has been putting ranks into it since the beginning of his career.

Yeah, it's not realistic on EITHER of the editions at all, but at least it's more fun in this one.

If you wanted realistic, you'd have to make it so you can't put more than 1 rank at a time on any skill at any level-up while using the PF system.


tivadar27 wrote:
Arssanguinus wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Lady Firebird wrote:


Look at Conan. Or Aragorn. Two examples off the top of my head who have a lot of skills and competence in broad areas.

Yes, but they're either solo heroes or buffy and friends, not part of a team where everyone has their own specialty.

They also seem to have rolled straight 18s at character creation...

Um ... Gimli , Legolas, for example were hardly scrubs ....
Sure, Aragorn had a fairly wide range of skills, but he was also a Ranger. Note that when they needed to know about dwarven history, he'd defer to Gimli, and when they needed a lock picked or something stolen, he'd defer to Frodo. He didn't simply say "oh, I'm higher level than you, therefor better than you at this thing!"

Frodo wasn't the burglar, that was Bilbo, but I get what you mean. Fortunately, it doesn't look like PF2 is going to say that, either, so we're golden!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Sean R wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Sean R wrote:


I won't be happy with this change unless there's a way to push outside of the class structure and allow a measure of flexibility. As a cleric (or Paladin), I should NEVER need to choose between Knowledge: Religion and Diplomacy, simply because I have an average INT score. That makes little sense to me, given how churches tend to operate.
As a cleric or paladin with low Int, you can still choose to start out trained in Thievery or even Arcana as a skill. Whichever skills you want, unrestrained by class skills.

Except that I then have to give up Knowledge: Religion and/or Diplomacy. No class who gets it's powers from the gods should be clueless as to how their religion works.

Likewise, no class about studying tomes to cast spells should be clueless as to how spells work (Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft).

You -can- do it in the current system, but it begs the question 'how?' How can this character exemplify these concepts without limiting them to JUST these concepts. If this is core to what the class is about, it should be granted, not limiting. It's part of who the class is.

I could see a Paladin without knowledge: religion, in the case of someone suddenly blessed by the gods who just so happen to exemplify their deities ideals, but someone whom needs to know how to worship? A cleric can't go without knowledge: religion without some extraordinary reach.

To me, I'm okay with a bit of tit-for-tat when it comes to skills, but my biggest pain is looking at the skill list and realizing that I cannot create the roleplaying character in my head, simply because of some rules arbitration. Flexibility is one of the core aspects of Pathfinder I like.

And this can be a deal breaker. I LOVED the background system in 5e. I LOVE the trait system in Pathfinder. Don't pull back and say 'no, none of that' for 2e.

To repeat;

I would say for that cleric basic knowledge about their religion would be considered an untrained check and should be easy dc for him. A “profession, cleric” check as it were.


Arssanguinus wrote:
Sean R wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Sean R wrote:


I won't be happy with this change unless there's a way to push outside of the class structure and allow a measure of flexibility. As a cleric (or Paladin), I should NEVER need to choose between Knowledge: Religion and Diplomacy, simply because I have an average INT score. That makes little sense to me, given how churches tend to operate.
As a cleric or paladin with low Int, you can still choose to start out trained in Thievery or even Arcana as a skill. Whichever skills you want, unrestrained by class skills.

Except that I then have to give up Knowledge: Religion and/or Diplomacy. No class who gets it's powers from the gods should be clueless as to how their religion works.

Likewise, no class about studying tomes to cast spells should be clueless as to how spells work (Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft).

You -can- do it in the current system, but it begs the question 'how?' How can this character exemplify these concepts without limiting them to JUST these concepts. If this is core to what the class is about, it should be granted, not limiting. It's part of who the class is.

I could see a Paladin without knowledge: religion, in the case of someone suddenly blessed by the gods who just so happen to exemplify their deities ideals, but someone whom needs to know how to worship? A cleric can't go without knowledge: religion without some extraordinary reach.

To me, I'm okay with a bit of tit-for-tat when it comes to skills, but my biggest pain is looking at the skill list and realizing that I cannot create the roleplaying character in my head, simply because of some rules arbitration. Flexibility is one of the core aspects of Pathfinder I like.

And this can be a deal breaker. I LOVED the background system in 5e. I LOVE the trait system in Pathfinder. Don't pull back and say 'no, none of that' for 2e.

To repeat;

I would say for that cleric basic knowledge about their religion would be considered an...

I think it's more likely that Clerics will be automatically considered trained in Knowledge (religion) (or its replacement).


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I'm going to be houseruling the hell out of this system. I really dislike that it's impossible to have a high level character who isn't a master of lying, climbing, or sneaking.

If I want a high level paladin character who sucks at deception, it doesn't matter, your forced to be immensely better than the level 3 con-artist NPC. Skill feats don't even help fix this because the con-artist would probably only have two or three skill feats, which are not going to be able to catch up to the immense difference between +4 proficiency bonus and a +13 proficiency bonus.

First houserule I'll make will probably be changing Untrained from level-2 to level/2. That way it keeps Paizo's desire for characters to "keep up" while at least reducing the "Your character is forced to be amazing at everything" factor.

Liberty's Edge

Mark Seifter wrote:
Sean R wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Sean R wrote:


I won't be happy with this change unless there's a way to push outside of the class structure and allow a measure of flexibility. As a cleric (or Paladin), I should NEVER need to choose between Knowledge: Religion and Diplomacy, simply because I have an average INT score. That makes little sense to me, given how churches tend to operate.
As a cleric or paladin with low Int, you can still choose to start out trained in Thievery or even Arcana as a skill. Whichever skills you want, unrestrained by class skills.

Except that I then have to give up Knowledge: Religion and/or Diplomacy. No class who gets it's powers from the gods should be clueless as to how their religion works.

Likewise, no class about studying tomes to cast spells should be clueless as to how spells work (Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft).

You -can- do it in the current system, but it begs the question 'how?' How can this character exemplify these concepts without limiting them to JUST these concepts. If this is core to what the class is about, it should be granted, not limiting. It's part of who the class is.

I could see a Paladin without knowledge: religion, in the case of someone suddenly blessed by the gods who just so happen to exemplify their deities ideals, but someone whom needs to know how to worship? A cleric can't go without knowledge: religion without some extraordinary reach.

To me, I'm okay with a bit of tit-for-tat when it comes to skills, but my biggest pain is looking at the skill list and realizing that I cannot create the roleplaying character in my head, simply because of some rules arbitration. Flexibility is one of the core aspects of Pathfinder I like.

And this can be a deal breaker. I LOVED the background system in 5e. I LOVE the trait system in Pathfinder. Don't pull back and say 'no, none of that' for 2e.

I think your examples here are conflating running out of skill points with not having enough class skills,...

Sorry. It's a two prong issue: Not enough skill points for some classes, on top of some class skills feeling intrinsic to the character class. I also have an issue that class skills can be limiting, though I'm fine with some classes being -better- at some skills than others. I understand that distinction may be a personal opinion.

However, it feels that 5e tackled this aspect of the skill selections well, as did 4e, in that some classes get skills as part of that class package, and it made sense. It clicked. You got some skills from your background. You got some skills from your class and that became your skill selection, with some skills being automatic.

Sorry if I seem argumentative on this point. It's a problem I've felt since the skill proficiency system in another games 2nd edition and I've seen systems struggle with where to stand on that line between class skills and being all willy-nilly.

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