Critical Hits and Critical Failures

Friday, March 30, 2018

In the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, when you roll your d20, there's more than just success and failure on the line. You can also critically succeed or critically fail at a variety of checks, from attack rolls, to saving throws, to skill checks and beyond. Rules like these have always been a part of Pathfinder—for example, if you fail a Climb check by 5 or more you fall, and if you fail a Disable Device check by 5 or more you set off the trap—but they are uncommon and not universally applied. In the playtest, we have a unified mechanic.

The Four Degrees of Success

In Pathfinder Second Edition, every check is rolled against a particular DC. Your roll on the d20 + your proficiency modifier + your ability modifier + all your relevant modifiers, bonuses, and penalties make up your check result. If your check result meets or exceeds the target DC, congratulations! You succeeded, and you might have critically succeeded. Otherwise, you failed. If you exceeded the target DC by 10 or more, or if you rolled a natural 20 and met or exceeded the target DC, then you critically succeeded. If your result was 10 or more lower than the target DC, or if you rolled a natural 1 and didn't meet the target DC, then you critically failed. Collectively, success, critical success, failure, and critical failure are called the four degrees of success. You can gain special abilities that increase or decrease your degree of success, often due to having a high proficiency rank. For instance, if your class grants you evasion, you get master proficiency in Reflex saves and treat any success on a Reflex save as a critical success!

Examples

Let's start with a fireball spell. In Pathfinder First Edition, if you succeed the Reflex save, you take only half damage, and evasion allows you to take no damage on a successful save. In Pathfinder Second Edition, here are the degrees of success for fireball (and many of its old friends like lightning bolt and cone of cold) in the playtest.

    Success Half damage
  • Critical Success No damage
  • Failure Full damage
  • Critical Failure Double damage

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Any character who critically succeeds takes no damage, and characters with evasion count their successes as critical successes. What about someone legendary at Reflex saves with improved evasion? They count critical failures as failures and thus can never suffer the deadliest effects of a Reflex save, even on a natural 1!

Not all effects list all four degrees of success. If an effect doesn't list a critical success entry, that means there is normally no special effect for critically succeeding, so you just use the result for a success. Similarly, if an effect doesn't list a critical failure entry, there is normally no special effect for critically failing, so you just use the result for a failure. If a success entry is missing, that means nothing happens on a success, and if a failure entry is missing, that means nothing happens on a failure. Let's take a look at an example that combines two of these rules: the results of a basic attack called a strike.

Success You deal damage, which equals the weapon's or unarmed attack's damage dice plus your Strength modifier if it's a melee attack, plus any bonuses.

Critical Success You deal double damage—you roll twice as many damage dice and add double the ability modifier and double any other bonuses to damage.

Let's unpack what this means. You deal damage on a success and double damage on a critical success. Since there is no failure entry, that means normally nothing happens on a failure, and since there is no critical failure entry, that means a critical failure has the same effect as a failure, so nothing happens. But the fighter might have something to say about that! The fighter can use the special certain strike action, which lets him strike with the following failure effect.

Failure Your attack deals the minimum damage. (Treat this as though you had rolled a 1 on every die.)

So with certain strike, a failed attack roll isn't actually a miss—your fighter is so skilled that you still get a glancing blow on a failure and miss entirely only on a critical failure! Meanwhile, a fighter with the twin riposte reaction can use one weapon to parry and attack with the other weapon whenever an enemy critical fails an attack roll.

Save or Lose

One of the effects of the four degrees of success that adds the most fun to the game is what this means for save or lose effects—effects where if you fail your save, you're unable to continue the fight. These sorts of effects are tricky in almost every roleplaying game, and Pathfinder is no exception. In Pathfinder First Edition, even if your character has a 75% chance of succeeding at your Will save against a mummy's paralysis, chances are pretty high that four mummies are going to paralyze you. (Thanks a lot for that encounter in your Pathfinder Society Scenario, Jason!)

It's tempting to just decide the solution is not to have save or lose effects, but that really cuts off a wide variety of classic feats, monster abilities, and spells from the game. The flip side of those abilities is that if they don't just win, chances are that many of these effects are just wasting a turn. So you either cast the save or lose spell and win, or you cast it and waste the turn. Having those as the only two outcomes is not a great proposition, and of course, players and GMs often maximize their DCs and saving throw bonuses in order to tilt the outcome to their side as much as possible.

But with four degrees of success, suddenly the design space broadens significantly. You can still suffer an effect that takes you out of the action entirely on a critical failure, and you can completely ignore the effect on a critical success. But on a failure, you suffer a powerful effect but not one that takes you entirely out of the fight in one go, and even on a success, you suffer a milder effect that is still useful for the spell's caster. For example, if you critically fail your save against dominate, you are completely under the spellcaster's control, but if you only fail, you can try to break out of the effect each round. On a successful save, you aren't controlled, but you still lose an action on your next turn as you struggle to fight off the mental commands, which could be a serious problem—you might not be able to step away before casting a spell, or have time to raise a shield.

Some Mysterious Critical Effects

I'm closing out with some cool critical effects that result from critical successes on your attack rolls or skill checks or from critical failures on your enemy's saving throws. See if you can figure out where they come from!

  • The creature is banished and can't return to your home plane by any means for 1 week.
  • The creature takes the full collapse damage and falls into a fissure.
  • The target believes the fact for an unlimited duration.
  • The target's intellect is permanently reduced below that of an animal, and it treats its Charisma, Intelligence, and Wisdom modifiers as –5. It loses all class abilities that require mental faculties, including all spellcasting. If the target is a PC, she becomes an NPC under the GM's control.
  • The creature is pushed 30 feet in the direction of the wind, is knocked prone, and takes 2d6 bludgeoning damage.
  • You grant a +4 circumstance bonus.
  • Per a failure, except the target believes that everyone it sees is a mortal enemy. It uses its reactions and free actions against these enemies regardless of whether they were previously its allies, as determined by the GM. It otherwise acts as rationally as normal and will likely prefer to attack enemies that are actively attacking or hindering it.
  • The target must succeed at a Fortitude save or die. Even on a successful save, the target is frightened 2 and must flee for 1 round.
  • Your target regains Hit Points equal to 2d10 + your Wisdom modifier.
  • Per a success, but even afterward, the target is too scared of you to retaliate against you.

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Leyren wrote:
Zuresh wrote:


So 4th edition it is. Too bad.
Please explain like I don't know 4e.

In 4e fighters got to pick from a number of options at first level (let’s call them “class feats”). The class feats were formatted in a little box with carefully worded rules text, such as:

REAPING STRIKE
FIGHTER 1 - AT-WILL
Standard Action: Attack vs AC
Success: You deal damage, which equals the weapon's or unarmed attack's damage dice plus your Strength modifier if it's a melee attack, plus any bonuses.
Critical Success: You deal max damage.
Failure: You deal damage equal to your Strength modifier.

Other “class feats” were available for the fighter as well, let’s say Cleave, Sure Strike, Power Attack, Double Slice, Intimidating Strike, etc. Importantly, these class feats all used the same action, so could not be combined or stacked, and in fact pretty much de facto replaced the basic strike in 90% of cases (often one of the criticisms of 4e). You got an increasing number of these actions as you leveled up, all using the same format.

Now for the case of “Certain Strike” for PF2, it’s possible that this class feat can’t be used at-will and thus won’t permanently replace the basic strike. However, in that case it runs into another of 4e criticisms (limited uses for martial maneuvers).


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"Do minimal damage on a miss" is absolutely not a mechanic specific to 4th edition D&D. Many games have something similar.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Great analysis! To use your example as a hypothetical for medusas, there's also a lot more tension, excitement, and fear you can evoke in someone who just failed the first time and knows they have only one more chance, whereas if you hit them one and done, it takes them right out of that spot right away and into going to get a sandwich until someone can stone to flesh.

So, since I went round and round on this when it was a "feature" of 4E, I'll stand on the exact same ground here.

If you look at Medusa then you turn to stone. I'm cool with saving throws to avoid looking. But I'm not at all cool with middle ground. It is *not* more fun to have "seen" Medusa and be "oh crap, once more and I'll be stone". You either saw her and you are stone or you are not affected at all because you did not see her.

To me this is written in stone ( intended )and is not open for debate.

Now, all that said, this is very much a corner case.
I really like the system as a whole and I'm very happy with the four degrees system. For a vast array of mechanics it works with no narrative dissonance.

For Medusa it is an easy house rule. Maybe I make her just that much more dangerous and a fail is a fail. Or maybe I just rebuild the mechanics for a fail such that you avoided seeing her and are 0.0% turned to stone, but it was all you could do to avoid it and you are at all kinds of penalties for a round or so because you basically threw yourself to the ground covering your eyes (or whatever). I'll need to see more context and just decide what sounds cool.

Again, love the system. Put me down as a huge fan.
But when it comes to Medusa, I'm right and you are wrong. :)
(Seriously, the smiling is truly joking. Like really really)
Thanks
(But I am right)


Insight wrote:
Leyren wrote:
Zuresh wrote:


So 4th edition it is. Too bad.
Please explain like I don't know 4e.

[...]

Now for the case of “Certain Strike” for PF2, it’s possible that this class feat can’t be used at-will and thus won’t permanently replace the basic strike. However, in that case it runs into another of 4e criticisms (limited uses for martial maneuvers).

Thank you :)

We'll see about that. If it doesn't combine, it's uses clearly are in fights where it is near impossible to hit the enemy, so you just du minimum damage and hide behind your shield.

I wouldn't like this one to have limited uses.


Insight wrote:
Leyren wrote:
Zuresh wrote:


So 4th edition it is. Too bad.
Please explain like I don't know 4e.

In 4e fighters got to pick from a number of options at first level (let’s call them “class feats”). The class feats were formatted in a little box with carefully worded rules text, such as:

REAPING STRIKE
FIGHTER 1 - AT-WILL
Standard Action: Attack vs AC
Success: You deal damage, which equals the weapon's or unarmed attack's damage dice plus your Strength modifier if it's a melee attack, plus any bonuses.
Critical Success: You deal max damage.
Failure: You deal damage equal to your Strength modifier.

Other “class feats” were available for the fighter as well, let’s say Cleave, Sure Strike, Power Attack, Double Slice, Intimidating Strike, etc. Importantly, these class feats all used the same action, so could not be combined or stacked, and in fact pretty much de facto replaced the basic strike in 90% of cases (often one of the criticisms of 4e). You got an increasing number of these actions as you leveled up, all using the same format.

Now for the case of “Certain Strike” for PF2, it’s possible that this class feat can’t be used at-will and thus won’t permanently replace the basic strike. However, in that case it runs into another of 4e criticisms (limited uses for martial maneuvers).

Thank you dude, you explained it far better than I ever could. That's exactly what I don't want for pathfinder 2ed.


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I never interpreted the save vs. a medusa to be a "look away" save, it's a save to resist the effects of her curse (it's a fort save not a reflex save). I want to be able to have, and win, a staring contest with a medusa if I'm badass enough.

Grand Lodge

I really love the concept of having varying degrees of success and failure.
It allows the GM more opportunity (and tools) to spice up the game for players. One of my favorite reveals about PF2ed so far.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
"Do minimal damage on a miss" is absolutely not a mechanic specific to 4th edition D&D. Many games have something similar.

Yeah, it is funny how they are dancing very close to a lot of things that we big 4E red flags. But, mostly, there is one critical difference.

Since you can still "miss" for example, it isn't DOMA. I'm a bit iffy on it still. But it avoids being DOMA.
You could retool it to be "You get +10 to hit, but unless you hit by more than 10 you do minimal damage" and this would work close to the same.


BryonD wrote:


So, since I went round and round on this when it was a "feature" of 4E, I'll stand on the exact same ground here.
If you look at Medusa then you turn to stone. I'm cool with saving throws to avoid looking. But I'm not at all cool with middle ground. It is *not* more fun to have "seen" Medusa and be "oh crap, once more and I'll be stone". You either saw her and you are stone or you are not affected at all because you did not see her.

To me this is written in stone ( intended )and is not open for debate.

It's a fortitude save (in 1st Ed. at least), so it doesn't really matter if you look into the medusa's eyes, it's to resist the petrifying effect. I think it is not wrong to allow creatures to slow the petrification down.

Paizo Employee Designer

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
"Do minimal damage on a miss" is absolutely not a mechanic specific to 4th edition D&D. Many games have something similar.

It's not a miss. It's a failure on the attack roll, but it's still a glancing blow, and you only miss on a critical failure for a Certain Strike.


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I'm glad to hear save-or-suck effects will be tiered, will not do their worst effect except on critical failure, and will still do something on a successful save. I think it's easy enough to come up with the failure / critical failure effects for most such attacks, but those effects-on-success are going to be the hardest to balance and make feel right. That would be a good focus for surveys once we have the playtest rules.

For example: Dominate. Failure and Critical Failure look pretty good. The effect on success is pathetic. If my 5th/6th level spell only makes the target lose one of their 3 (maybe even 4 by that point) actions per turn for only 1 turn, that may as well be the same thing as having wasted my turn. That is more of an appropriate success effect for a 1st level spell or cantrip like Charm or Daze.

You definitely don't want the success effect to be too powerful; you don't want the fact that they did in fact succeed to mean nothing. But it should be more comparable to a damage effect. A successful save should feel like a one-third to one-half effect compared to failure.


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BryonD wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Great analysis! To use your example as a hypothetical for medusas, there's also a lot more tension, excitement, and fear you can evoke in someone who just failed the first time and knows they have only one more chance, whereas if you hit them one and done, it takes them right out of that spot right away and into going to get a sandwich until someone can stone to flesh.

So, since I went round and round on this when it was a "feature" of 4E, I'll stand on the exact same ground here.

If you look at Medusa then you turn to stone. I'm cool with saving throws to avoid looking. But I'm not at all cool with middle ground. It is *not* more fun to have "seen" Medusa and be "oh crap, once more and I'll be stone". You either saw her and you are stone or you are not affected at all because you did not see her.

To me this is written in stone ( intended )and is not open for debate.

Now, all that said, this is very much a corner case.
I really like the system as a whole and I'm very happy with the four degrees system. For a vast array of mechanics it works with no narrative dissonance.

For Medusa it is an easy house rule. Maybe I make her just that much more dangerous and a fail is a fail. Or maybe I just rebuild the mechanics for a fail such that you avoided seeing her and are 0.0% turned to stone, but it was all you could do to avoid it and you are at all kinds of penalties for a round or so because you basically threw yourself to the ground covering your eyes (or whatever). I'll need to see more context and just decide what sounds cool.

Again, love the system. Put me down as a huge fan.
But when it comes to Medusa, I'm right and you are wrong. :)
(Seriously, the smiling is truly joking. Like really really)
Thanks
(But I am right)

Sorry, disagree with you. It IS more fun to have that middle ground. To have a strong enough body mind and soul that you are able to resist, just for a while, giving you that chance to end the curse by killing the monster. Instant death on simple failure is one of the bugbears of old-D&D that is rightfully being shown the door in every modern system that succeeds it.

But on a critical failure, sure. You let your saves slide, you go to face horrible danger, you put yourself in harm's way and then roll badly... That is the price for your choices. Instant petrification.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Fuzzypaws wrote:

I'm glad to hear save-or-suck effects will be tiered, will not do their worst effect except on critical failure, and will still do something on a successful save. I think it's easy enough to come up with the failure / critical failure effects for most such attacks, but those effects-on-success are going to be the hardest to balance and make feel right. That would be a good focus for surveys once we have the playtest rules.

For example: Dominate. Failure and Critical Failure look pretty good. The effect on success is pathetic. If my 5th/6th level spell only makes the target lose one of their 3 (maybe even 4 by that point) actions per turn for only 1 turn, that may as well be the same thing as having wasted my turn. That is more of an appropriate success effect for a 1st level spell or cantrip like Charm or Daze.

You definitely don't want the success effect to be too powerful; you don't want the fact that they did in fact succeed to mean nothing. But it should be more comparable to a damage effect. A successful save should feel like a one-third to one-half effect compared to failure.

Losing one of your actions might not sound like much, but it's often a big problem for monsters and PCs alike. Admittedly, dominate is on the lower end of success effects in part because the fail and critical fail effects are so dire, but even then, slow 1 is preeetty good.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
BryonD wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Great analysis! To use your example as a hypothetical for medusas, there's also a lot more tension, excitement, and fear you can evoke in someone who just failed the first time and knows they have only one more chance, whereas if you hit them one and done, it takes them right out of that spot right away and into going to get a sandwich until someone can stone to flesh.

So, since I went round and round on this when it was a "feature" of 4E, I'll stand on the exact same ground here.

If you look at Medusa then you turn to stone. I'm cool with saving throws to avoid looking. But I'm not at all cool with middle ground. It is *not* more fun to have "seen" Medusa and be "oh crap, once more and I'll be stone". You either saw her and you are stone or you are not affected at all because you did not see her.

To me this is written in stone ( intended )and is not open for debate.

Now, all that said, this is very much a corner case.
I really like the system as a whole and I'm very happy with the four degrees system. For a vast array of mechanics it works with no narrative dissonance.

For Medusa it is an easy house rule. Maybe I make her just that much more dangerous and a fail is a fail. Or maybe I just rebuild the mechanics for a fail such that you avoided seeing her and are 0.0% turned to stone, but it was all you could do to avoid it and you are at all kinds of penalties for a round or so because you basically threw yourself to the ground covering your eyes (or whatever). I'll need to see more context and just decide what sounds cool.

Again, love the system. Put me down as a huge fan.
But when it comes to Medusa, I'm right and you are wrong. :)
(Seriously, the smiling is truly joking. Like really really)
Thanks
(But I am right)

In the fiction of the Medusa, if you looked directly at her you turned to stone No Saving Throw rolled, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Saving Throws in PF1E (and D&D 3.0/3.5) were already a bone thrown to the fact that this is a game and if a DM/GM puts a medusa behind a door you open it'd be an awful move to immediately lose your character.

The assumptions of 3.x and PF1E is that checks are binary, you succeed or you fail, and the Medusa was designed to fit under the base assumptions of the game.

PF2E assumes the game is not binary, that there are in fact 4 degrees of success/failure (crit fail, fail, success, crit success). Medusa changing to fit the baseline assumption of the game means she conforms to the "physics" of Pathfinder 2e.

I would prefer the game be consistent in how monsters work, so that my players can have an idea of how to plan and react to encounters rather than throwing "gotcha" monsters at them.

Because of all the possible conditions a character can have, the ones where the Player is punished for a bad Dice Roll are the very worst.

"Sorry Jim, you're not allowed to play for the next half hour because you've turned to stone and the monster is going to live approximately 20% longer because the players are going to deal with partial concealment because they don't want to TPK on this fight."

In fiction it's easy to justify as well:

"Jim, you failed the check, so you're slowly starting to calcify, your skin taking a gray rough texture. You lose an action as you gain slow 1."


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Losing one of your actions might not sound like much, but it's often a big problem for monsters and PCs alike. Admittedly, dominate is on the lower end of success effects in part because the fail and critical fail effects are so dire, but even then, slow 1 is preeetty good.

I'm glad to hear that a regular fail vs. Dominate Person is still dire! I'll be playing a lot of enchanters, after all.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:

I'm glad to hear save-or-suck effects will be tiered, will not do their worst effect except on critical failure, and will still do something on a successful save. I think it's easy enough to come up with the failure / critical failure effects for most such attacks, but those effects-on-success are going to be the hardest to balance and make feel right. That would be a good focus for surveys once we have the playtest rules.

For example: Dominate. Failure and Critical Failure look pretty good. The effect on success is pathetic. If my 5th/6th level spell only makes the target lose one of their 3 (maybe even 4 by that point) actions per turn for only 1 turn, that may as well be the same thing as having wasted my turn. That is more of an appropriate success effect for a 1st level spell or cantrip like Charm or Daze.

You definitely don't want the success effect to be too powerful; you don't want the fact that they did in fact succeed to mean nothing. But it should be more comparable to a damage effect. A successful save should feel like a one-third to one-half effect compared to failure.

Losing one of your actions might not sound like much, but it's often a big problem for monsters and PCs alike. Admittedly, dominate is on the lower end of success effects in part because the fail and critical fail effects are so dire, but even then, slow 1 is preeetty good.

Slow 1 for a minute on your basic success against a high level effect is fine!

Slow 1 for only 1 round really does not feel fine and won't mollify the player who wasted their turn.


Certain Strike just remember me the fighter's Reaping Strike at D&D 4e...

That's not a bad thing, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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I have two questions about the critical success/failure system:

1) If a GM doesn't like the success/failure range of 10, how much does it mess things up to rule that critical successes only happen on nat 20s and critical failures only happen on nat 1s?

2) Does this edition have as many circumstance modifiers as 1st edition?

In Pathfinder 1.0, a 1st-level combat could have an attack roll like this:

+4 to hit - 1 (Power Attack) + 1 (high ground) + 2 (flanking) + 2 (hatred) + 2 (favored enemy) + 2 (bardic performance) + 1 (guidance) + 2 (aid another)

I can imagine a lot of combat slowing to a crawl as players try to squeeze every +1 out of a situation to guarantee a crit. On the other hand, that problem becomes a non-issue if the new system has fewer circumstantial modifiers or a cap on the number of bonuses/penalties that can be applied at once.


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Really not a fan, especially when you are rolling 1d20, maybe if we we're rolling 2d10 or 3d6 etc.

Combined with the tighter spread were going to have times when against a reasonably tough task the highly accomplished character will roll. 2 or 3 and critically fail, while his untrained buddy rolls a 17 or better and succeeds.

If we were rolling 2d10 this would be a rare event, but on 1d20 this is practically guaranteed to happen once per session, and some unlucky fellow gonna have a very bad evening with repeated critical failure at the tasks they are supposed to be highly accomplished in.

Itll turn the game into a 3 stooges sitcom, which isn't the game I want to play.

Dark Archive

BryonD wrote:

So, since I went round and round on this when it was a "feature" of 4E, I'll stand on the exact same ground here.

If you look at Medusa then you turn to stone. I'm cool with saving throws to avoid looking. But I'm not at all cool with middle ground. It is *not* more fun to have "seen" Medusa and be "oh crap, once more and I'll be stone". You either saw her and you are stone or you are not affected at all because you did not see her.

To me this is written in stone ( intended )and is not open for debate.

However, that interpretation is not the rules of Medusa either. Look up the creature stats and it is not: If you gaze upon medusa you are turned to stone. It is, in fact, the other way around. The medusa gazes at you, activates a supernatural ability, and attempts to turn you to stone. There is no mention of any requirement that you even see or be aware of the medusa in the first place.

That being said, you are absolutely welcome to make your own interpretation and use it in your home games. But, unless they change the abilities on the medusa (which is totally possible too) then the save has nothing to do with sight what-so-ever. And this has nothing to do with 4e at all.. that is from the PF1 system.

Scarab Sages

Love the graded successes! :)

I'm just a bit worried that the fumble effects might be designed for characters who «deserve» to suffer (because their saves are so low as to allow for DC-10 rolls) but end up even striking down the Legendary heroes who invested lots of resources. I suppose it's no different from PF1's natural ones, but still...

An action point/hero point mechanic built into the core system would go a great length to help with that. Mark, any luck on that...?

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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I like the "Save or Lose" section of this.

There's an adventure path where, IIRC, the big bad at the end leads off battle with a wail of the banshee spell. It would absolutely suck to go through so many adventures only to get taken out in the first round of battle against the villain thanks to a blown save. Reducing that to something that happens only on a critical failure helps that - even moreso if hero points can do something to turn a critical failure into regular failure.

It can also make for dramatic moments that highlight how tough high-level characters are. A banshee in a small town, for example, might kill dozens with a single wail (because regular townsfolk don't have the save bonus needed to achieve even a regular failure), while a high-level fighter grits his teeth and marches into battle despite the pain.


Charlie Brooks wrote:

+4 to hit - 1 (Power Attack) + 1 (high ground) + 2 (flanking) + 2 (hatred) + 2 (favored enemy) + 2 (bardic performance) + 1 (guidance) + 2 (aid another)

I can imagine a lot of combat slowing to a crawl as players try to squeeze every +1 out of a situation to guarantee a crit. On the other hand, that problem becomes a non-issue if the new system has fewer circumstantial modifiers or a cap on the number of bonuses/penalties that can be applied at once.

I guess that the number of actions needed to achieve/gain all this bonuses should worth it, since it require actions from more than one PC, and maybe in more than one round.

Also, I just think that if all the supporters were striking once instead of supporting, the result would be definitely better than one critical from a single PC. It'd probably end the combat before all that bonuses become active/in play.

Paizo Employee Designer

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QuidEst wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Losing one of your actions might not sound like much, but it's often a big problem for monsters and PCs alike. Admittedly, dominate is on the lower end of success effects in part because the fail and critical fail effects are so dire, but even then, slow 1 is preeetty good.
I'm glad to hear that a regular fail vs. Dominate Person is still dire! I'll be playing a lot of enchanters, after all.

The most devastating thing that happened to my monk in our 12th level playtest was when Jason's wizard failed (not fumbled) his save against dominate and unleashed chain lightning and cone of cold on the party.


Mark Seifter wrote:


Losing one of your actions might not sound like much, but it's often a big problem for monsters and PCs alike.

That is very, very true.


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Leyren wrote:


It's a fortitude save (in 1st Ed. at least), so it doesn't really matter if you look into the medusa's eyes, it's to resist the petrifying effect. I think it is not wrong to allow creatures to slow the petrification down.

I prefer it to be a Will save. I've always thought Fort was a wonky legacy thing. At the end of the day, it a saving throw for a yes/no result.

Bottom line: the narrative context of Medusa is clear and I've long been comfortable with working around mechanics so long as they don't contradict the narrative foundation.

Using a tough guy is good at it and it is based on CON save is mechanically wonky, but it is invisible to the story. It still works on a yes/no basis and therefore does not contradict the narrative nature of the encounter. A mechanic which says: "you partly turned to stone" or some variation contradicts the narrative foundation.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:


Sorry, disagree with you. It IS more fun to have that middle ground. To have a strong enough body mind and soul that you are able to resist, just for a while, giving you that chance to end...

no need to apologize. I fully grok the tactical merit.

My presumption in this corner case is that the "fun" is tied to playing out an encounter modeled directly off a mythological character. I think it is fair to say that anyone who sees that fine point as key would agree that getting it "wrong" is less fun.

Now, if you want to fight a woman with snake hair who can slowly turn you to stone and calls herself "Medusa" because she more or less resembles but absolutely *is not* the mythical creature, then the tactical combat value could easily be seen as "more fun". No debate from me on that.


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BryonD wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:


Sorry, disagree with you. It IS more fun to have that middle ground. To have a strong enough body mind and soul that you are able to resist, just for a while, giving you that chance to end...

no need to apologize. I fully grok the tactical merit.

My presumption in this corner case is that the "fun" is tied to playing out an encounter modeled directly off a mythological character. I think it is fair to say that anyone who sees that fine point as key would agree that getting it "wrong" is less fun.

Now, if you want to fight a woman with snake hair who can slowly turn you to stone and calls herself "Medusa" because she more or less resembles but absolutely *is not* the mythical creature, then the tactical combat value could easily be seen as "more fun". No debate from me on that.

Well to be fair, Medusae the critters are very clearly not the actual mythological Medusa on the merit that myth Medusa was a unique creature and not a whole species of snake haired women with petrifying gazes.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:


In the fiction of the Medusa, if you looked directly at her you turned to stone No Saving Throw rolled, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Agree 100%

Quote:
Saving Throws in PF1E (and D&D 3.0/3.5) were already a bone thrown to the fact that this is a game and if a DM/GM puts a medusa behind a door you open it'd be an awful move to immediately lose your character.

This goes back to OD&D.

Quote:

The assumptions of 3.x and PF1E is that checks are binary, you succeed or you fail, and the Medusa was designed to fit under the base assumptions of the game.

PF2E assumes the game is not binary, that there are in fact 4 degrees of success/failure (crit fail, fail, success, crit success). Medusa changing to fit the baseline assumption of the game means she conforms to the "physics" of Pathfinder 2e.

I would prefer the game be consistent in how monsters work, so that my players can have an idea of how to plan and react to encounters rather than throwing "gotcha" monsters at them.

Because of all the possible conditions a character can have, the ones where the Player is punished for a bad Dice Roll are the very worst.

"Sorry Jim, you're not allowed to play for the next half hour because you've turned to stone and the monster is going to live approximately 20% longer because the players are going to deal with partial concealment because they don't want to TPK on this fight."

In fiction it's easy to justify as well:

"Jim, you failed the check, so you're slowly starting to calcify, your skin taking a gray rough texture. You lose an action as you gain slow 1."

I get all that.

None of it changes the narrative nature of Medusa. As you point out, PF1 throws the PCs a bone in that it provides a way to avoid "seeing" Medusa. But it doesn't contradict the narrative.

Your scenario contradicts the narrative. You may like the play value more than you care about the narrative integrity of the character. (Note that is not meant to be a snarky slam against the RP engagement of your game experience, I'm only talking about the very specific point of holding true to the Medusa as described in your first sentence). I won't challenge anyone on their preference there.

I am saying: this contradicts the narrative and I'll be absolutely certain to not let that happen at my own personal table.

I'm also saying that I really like this approach a lot and Medusa is a corner case.


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Trimalchio wrote:

Really not a fan, especially when you are rolling 1d20, maybe if we we're rolling 2d10 or 3d6 etc.

Combined with the tighter spread were going to have times when against a reasonably tough task the highly accomplished character will roll. 2 or 3 and critically fail, while his untrained buddy rolls a 17 or better and succeeds.

If we were rolling 2d10 this would be a rare event, but on 1d20 this is practically guaranteed to happen once per session, and some unlucky fellow gonna have a very bad evening with repeated critical failure at the tasks they are supposed to be highly accomplished in.

Itll turn the game into a 3 stooges sitcom, which isn't the game I want to play.

You know what that sounds like? Level 1-3 Pathfinder, where the skilled/trained guy can fail at a check where the untrained guy passed at. That sounds great!

It seems you are excited about high level PF1 play, where there are two options. Make a check so high to challenge the specialist that they can fail, but thus guaranteeing everyone else fails. Or put the check low enough the untrained can contribute and make it an auto success for the specialist. Both of those options are far inferior to low level Pathfinder play where the specialist has a marked advantage but there is no guarantee they hog the limelight. I’m glad the designers are emulating low level PF play and not the snooze fest that high level play is.


Anyway I like the four degrees of rules. It would be nice to have some general things. Like for example all damage spells do double damage on crit fail saves. It would slim down the spell descriptions a bit and it gives a nice bone to players who want to make a damage caster, something that has long been an issue with PF1. But I can understand if you made it specific.

I suppose this ties into a small concern I have with different proficiency ranks. I love both ideas but I’m a bit concerned about lots of memorization needed to keep track of different crit outcomes and what different ranks of skills can do. How you guys relay that information will be important, I don’t really want to do a ton of book looking up at the table.

Paizo Employee Designer

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1of1 wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:


Losing one of your actions might not sound like much, but it's often a big problem for monsters and PCs alike.
That is very, very true.

I didn't fully grasp it until I played enough games of it, but in addition to the situations mentioned in the blog (and that spellcaster situation is really quite terrifying; it's even worse if you needed to cast a three action spell), it really screws over monsters who have an action routine that either uses all three actions or uses two actions but needs to move first. Grappling monsters that do <bad thing> after grappling you come to mind.


Tarik Blackhands wrote:

Well to be fair, Medusae the critters are very clearly not the actual mythological Medusa on the merit that myth Medusa was a unique creature and not a whole species of snake haired women with petrifying gazes.

Yeah, and Pegasus as well.

And it is clearly easy to make a distinction on that alone.

But I, just me, really want a medusa encounter to feel like a Medusa encounter. Just like I don't want all pegasus to glide because only Pegasus was the flying horse. (or at least the single one that survived the herd getting killed)


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

For those complaining about the success (save) branch of dominate, isn't that actually a buff to the spell compared to the current system? in P1E if they saved nothing happens, now they still lose an action. You always used the spell hoping/trying to get them to fail; so if they passed it was wasted... Now at least its saying that since its such a powerful spell, even on a successful save it still does _something_.


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Another big perk of this system is that in many cases it improves the narrative. It is a longstanding tradition in fantasy stories that commonfolk and sidekicks take the full brunt of [bad thing X] and only the heroes (usually) avoid the worst of it.
Having mooks and villagers fail by 10 with some reliability will push things in that direction.


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Well, the PF1 Medusa has a gaze attack that petrifies you (it takes an action on the medusa's part) In mythology, one could be petrified by Medusa merely by looking at it, requiring no action on the part of Medusa herself.

So I disagree with the PF1 medusa being functionally the same as the mythological one. Of course "a monster you can't look at" just works better in a story than in a game.


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On mixing Certain Strike with Power Attack: it seems to me that they're not compatible flavor-wise. I would be fine with it not being possible to combine the two.

I support natural 20s always being a success and natural 1s always being a failure, but not for skills. For attack rolls and saving throws, they provide some of the most exciting moments in games. (Dice are fun!)


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So now a "failure" and a "miss" is technically different. Hmm, a very interesting decision (not that it wasn't like this before).


Something that is unclear to me which has been hinted at above:
What if multiple creatures stacked the same "regular success" special condition on someone, such as stun or frightened? How would PF2 adjudicate that?


Darius Alazario wrote:


However, that interpretation is not the rules of Medusa either. Look up the creature stats and it is not: If you gaze upon medusa you are turned to stone. It is, in fact, the other way around. The medusa gazes at you, activates a supernatural ability, and attempts to turn you to stone. There is no mention of any requirement that you even see or be aware of the medusa in the first place.

That being said, you are absolutely welcome to make your own interpretation and use it in your home games. But, unless they change the abilities on the medusa (which is totally possible too) then the save has nothing to do with sight what-so-ever. And this has nothing to do with 4e at all.. that is from the PF1 system.

Actually, you are wrong. Gaze clearly states:

"Each opponent within range of a gaze attack must attempt a saving throw each round at the beginning of his or her turn in the initiative order. Only looking directly at a creature with a gaze attack leaves an opponent vulnerable. Opponents can avoid the need to make the saving throw by not looking at the creature, in one of two ways."

Now, it also does have the active gaze attack ability. And yeah, this is again wonky. But just a Fort vs. Will doesn't impact the narrative, whenever a medusa was on the table I would only use the ability if it made sense that she could attempt to coax or force a character to look at her. And this matches some of the cool action in Clash of the Titans, for example.

But the whole "everyone potentially looking at her must save / averting your eyes " things is most absolutely in the rules.


On double damage when a PC rolls a critical failure on his or her save: I like the element of randomness and excitement in this. And also remember that in PF2 reaching negative Constitution score does not kill you immediately.

Now, this goes to the Death and Dying rules: if I am knocked unconscious by a fireball and go to Dying 1, what if I am later in the area of another fireball? Do I automatically fail my Reflex save? Or do I automatically critically fail my Reflex save?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I never interpreted the save vs. a medusa to be a "look away" save, it's a save to resist the effects of her curse (it's a fort save not a reflex save). I want to be able to have, and win, a staring contest with a medusa if I'm badass enough.

thing with 4th edition ..fighters were actually fun :P


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Well, the PF1 Medusa has a gaze attack that petrifies you (it takes an action on the medusa's part) In mythology, one could be petrified by Medusa merely by looking at it, requiring no action on the part of Medusa herself.

So I disagree with the PF1 medusa being functionally the same as the mythological one. Of course "a monster you can't look at" just works better in a story than in a game.

No it does not, read the rules for Gaze.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

the medusa thing visually makes me think of willow ,
when willow tried to turn the queen to stone ..and she made her save


I'm liking what I see. Gives a chance for spells especially to come with more flavor baked in for what is actually happening to the character rather than just, "you succeed" or "you fail." Levels of success and failure giving GMs a nice prompt for descriptive effects, while taking an additional step to make spell casting players feel like their spell helped in combat.

Slow being baked in the success on dominate is cool, and when used by enemies of the PCs will make those bad guys seem like even more of a threat, and when used by a PC might shift the tide of the battle.


Well that answers me how evasion/improved evasion works.


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I think there is a more appropriate forum for arguing how P1E Gaze / Medusa works... Not P2E Blog.

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