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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Also, I'm sure many GM's have felt the pain of having a player who immediately gets CC'd by a spell or effect or something near the very beginning of the encounter, and essentially has to sit out the whole fight and just watch what happens.

Or maybe you've been that player.

Paizo Employee Designer

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NielsenE wrote:
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_.

Indeed! There's also a spell one level higher than dominate that actually confuses for 1 round even on a success! However, in the best case for the dominator where you have someone like Jason's wizard who can devastate the rest of the party, dominate's failure effects could be more dangerous. Ultimately, though, a spell like dominate is going to be your highest level spell at one point, and it'll be only in the middle of the pack later on. Since spell DCs do not decrease for your lower level spells, you're not going to want the spell that someone can cast 20 times in a row to stunlock even on a success, for instance, or else you can win any encounter with N opponents by having N wizards (with DCs high enough to make critical success unlikely) stunlock the enemies while the remaining party members kill the foes who are unable to act.

Paizo Employee Designer

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BryonD wrote:

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.

This is one of a lengthy list of benefits from the initial design proposal for this system. Incidentally, it also means you can do some really nasty things against mooky enemies!


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Oh boy, yet another solution in search of a problem.

The more I see, the more I am not looking forward to PF2.


Mark, are there any comparable degrees for healing/buffing/etc. effects, e.g. can you critically succeed on curing an ally? Or are those the "safe and reliable" options that get more consistent output than offensive acts?


Mark Seifter wrote:
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.

Aye, that's about what I was thinking. It might be a bit of a hit to pets if they're eating into their master's actions, and it'll likely make slows a bit more popular.

Speaking of slows, pets, and crits, I once had a DM throw a converted dragonflesh golem at us after our monk and our paladin went down, so our summoner sent his eidolon at it. The thing was basically a TPK on a silver platter, save that it was slowed by fire spells, which my sorcerer happily provided. Now, this must have peeved the poor guy something fierce, because he somehow rolled and confirmed nine crits in a row against that eidolon before eventually sending it packing despite the summoner's best efforts to heal it. Then the golem was torn apart by summoned dire crocodiles.

What's the moral of this story?

Spoiler:
Be sure to drink your Ovaltine


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tivadar27 wrote:

So sneak attack are damage dice... am i right!?

Also, I like the addition "and meet/don't meet the target DC" for natural 1's and 20's. Don't want to be turning those failures into critical successes!

I'm pretty sure in one of the playtests, someone crit'd a Sneak Attack and doubled their dice.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

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jimthegray wrote:

the medusa thing visually makes me think of willow ,

when willow tried to turn the queen to stone ..and she made her save

Willow vs. Bavmorda

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
MidsouthGuy wrote:

Oh boy, yet another solution in search of a problem.

The more I see, the more I am not looking forward to PF2.

I had a problem with PF1E... Attacks being All or Nothing was on that list. And yes, "All" is the correct terms considering the majority of damage for most characters came from flat modifiers which could get really high and not from the dice roll.

Success/Failure gradation is a good thing. And I think this particular system has elegantly added a lot of potential to this game.

Paizo Employee Designer

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1of1 wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
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.

Aye, that's about what I was thinking. It might be a bit of a hit to pets if they're eating into their master's actions, and it'll likely make slows a bit more popular.

Speaking of slows, pets, and crits, I once had a DM throw a converted dragonflesh golem at us after our monk and our paladin went down, so our summoner sent his eidolon at it. The thing was basically a TPK on a silver platter, save that it was slowed by fire spells, which my sorcerer happily provided. Now, this must have peeved the poor guy something fierce, because he somehow rolled and confirmed nine crits in a row against that eidolon before eventually sending it packing despite the summoner's best efforts to heal it. Then the golem was torn apart by summoned dire crocodiles.

What's the moral of this story?
** spoiler omitted **

Heh! And yeah, you're right. The best part is that some of the best combos involve your other party members. So for instance, if the enemy wizard shakes off the dominate but is still missing an action fighting your control, then the fighter makes sure to put herself front and center with her Attack of Opportunity ready, the synergy between your two turns still puts the enemy in big trouble (even though he and his team would have been in even more trouble if he failed and started blasting his allies!)


The slow has a lot of fun potential to throw a monkey wrench into enemy and PC plans alike for that turn.

Liberty's Edge

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MidsouthGuy wrote:

Oh boy, yet another solution in search of a problem.

The more I see, the more I am not looking forward to PF2.

Not every new feature has to exist to solve a problem. It's perfectly okay to try new things just because you think it might be cool.

Edit: Not to mention that this actually does solve the problem of save-or-suck spells, among other things.

Shadow Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Friendly Rogue wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Dαedαlus wrote:
So, does this mean that a medusa will only turn you into a statue if you fail the save by more than 10? That seems... incredibly counter-genre.
I feel like "instantly turn to stone on a critical failure, slowly start turning to stone on a failure" can be consistent with fictional representations of medusae.
I think it would be pretty cool if it was crit fail=instant stone, fail=slowly transform to stone (so you get maybe one or two more rounds in), succeed=your body partially calcifies but you don't turn to stone completely (IE dex/str penalties), crit succeed=unaffected

Petrification could be a condition, so petrified 1 on a success, nothing on a crit success. 2 on a fail, 4 on a crit fail. Once it reaches level or dex or similar you turn to stone.


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One of my most hated custom rules in PF1 was critical success/failure on skill checks. So often I have found players playing with such rules and not even knowing that it's a house rule. It creates non-sense problems in PF1, such as my expert horse rider who spends their life horse riding and has full ranks in ride and skill focus still falls off their horse every 2 mins(20 rounds) because of a 1 on a die roll.

Now with critical success/failure being codified in the core rules I'm rather concerned some similar situation could occur. Please please be careful with how you handle skills with regards to failure/success, especially with non-single instance skills like ride. I ride my horse for hours at a time, not seconds at a time. It's not compelling, interesting, or fun when an expert fails regularly. Comparing a game with wizards and magic to reality is often silly, but for skills at least I think it can be valuable. A real world expert horse rider would only fall off a horse when many many unusual situations are arising simultaneously (Circumstance penalties).


Allirog wrote:

One of my most hated custom rules in PF1 was critical success/failure on skill checks. So often I have found players playing with such rules and not even knowing that it's a house rule. It creates non-sense problems in PF1, such as my expert horse rider who spends their life horse riding and has full ranks in ride and skill focus still falls off their horse every 2 mins(20 rounds) because of a 1 on a die roll.

Now with critical success/failure being codified in the core rules I'm rather concerned some similar situation could occur. Please please be careful with how you handle skills with regards to failure/success, especially with non-single instance skills like ride. I ride my horse for hours at a time, not seconds at a time. It's not compelling, interesting, or fun when an expert fails regularly. Comparing a game with wizards and magic to reality is often silly, but for skills at least I think it can be valuable. A real world expert horse rider would only fall off a horse when many many unusual situations are arising simultaneously (Circumstance penalties).

Not to worry, there are skill feats you can take that'll make you succeed automatically on mundane tasks. So if you're e.g. a trained horse rider you won't fall off just riding around.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Allirog wrote:

One of my most hated custom rules in PF1 was critical success/failure on skill checks. So often I have found players playing with such rules and not even knowing that it's a house rule. It creates non-sense problems in PF1, such as my expert horse rider who spends their life horse riding and has full ranks in ride and skill focus still falls off their horse every 2 mins(20 rounds) because of a 1 on a die roll.

Now with critical success/failure being codified in the core rules I'm rather concerned some similar situation could occur. Please please be careful with how you handle skills with regards to failure/success, especially with non-single instance skills like ride. I ride my horse for hours at a time, not seconds at a time. It's not compelling, interesting, or fun when an expert fails regularly. Comparing a game with wizards and magic to reality is often silly, but for skills at least I think it can be valuable. A real world expert horse rider would only fall off a horse when many many unusual situations are arising simultaneously (Circumstance penalties).

It sounds like this is where skill feats are going to come in. A common example is that they'll allow particularly skilled individuals to just auto-succeed at more mundane uses of the skill.

Edit: Ninja'd!

Paizo Employee Designer

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All good things come in threes, so what GentleGiant and Brew Bird said, and also: Even not-so-trained characters don't really have to roll anything just to be riding normally on a horse.


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Just gonna put this out there, but the mythological Medusa was a unique monster, with powers directly granted (cursed) onto her by a greater deity. I think if you wanted to replicate that in an RPG, you should be looking at a mythic opponent at the very least, and probably a much higher CR than the 7 they're at in PF1. If anything, I would think the Bestiary version is like a lesser descendant species.


Mark Seifter wrote:
All good things come in threes, so what GentleGiant and Brew Bird said, and also: Even not-so-trained characters don't really have to roll anything just to be riding normally on a horse.

Hi Mark, the more previews I see, the more excited I am for PF2. Question about Sure Strike: it takes an action to use, but is there some other limitation on its use? Or does it essentially just replace the Strike action when you pick it up? Thanks!

Paizo Employee Designer

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Bardic Dave wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
All good things come in threes, so what GentleGiant and Brew Bird said, and also: Even not-so-trained characters don't really have to roll anything just to be riding normally on a horse.
Hi Mark, the more previews I see, the more excited I am for PF2. Question about Sure Strike: it takes an action to use, but is there some other limitation on its use? Or does it essentially just replace the Strike action when you pick it up? Thanks!

It's a cool mid (or high, depends on how much you're used to calling everything in double digits high even though it's around halfway through the levels) level perk for fighters, for sure. It's a little bit limited, even beyond the limitation that you can't just do it every time you ever attack (for instance, with your AoO you have to make a basic Strike with the other AoO benefits), but that involves a neat little mechanic the fighter has for using his mastery of weapons to build special combos of attacks that we didn't really get into in the fighter blog, so it won't be possible to explain it without that context. Suffice it to say, you can generally use it when you need it most! ;)


Taking my stab before the thread gets too terribly long...

The creature is banished and can't return to your home plane by any means for 1 week.
Banishment spell
The creature takes the full collapse damage and falls into a fissure.
Earthquake spell
The target believes the fact for an unlimited duration.
Opposed Bluff check
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.
Polymorph spell
The creature is pushed 30 feet in the direction of the wind, is knocked prone, and takes 2d6 bludgeoning damage.
Gust of Wind spell
You grant a +4 circumstance bonus.
Bardic performance?
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.
Confusion spell
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.
Phantasmal Killer spell
Your target regains Hit Points equal to 2d10 + your Wisdom modifier.
Aid spell
Per a success, but even afterward, the target is too scared of you to retaliate against you.
Opposed Intimidate check


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Bardic Dave wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
All good things come in threes, so what GentleGiant and Brew Bird said, and also: Even not-so-trained characters don't really have to roll anything just to be riding normally on a horse.
Hi Mark, the more previews I see, the more excited I am for PF2. Question about Sure Strike: it takes an action to use, but is there some other limitation on its use? Or does it essentially just replace the Strike action when you pick it up? Thanks!
It's a cool mid (or high, depends on how much you're used to calling everything in double digits high even though it's around halfway through the levels) level perk for fighters, for sure. It's a little bit limited, even beyond the limitation that you can't just do it every time you ever attack (for instance, with your AoO you have to make a basic Strike with the other AoO benefits), but that involves a neat little mechanic the fighter has for using his mastery of weapons to build special combos of attacks that we didn't really get into in the fighter blog, so it won't be possible to explain it without that context. Suffice it to say, you can generally use it when you need it most! ;)

Hearing that the Fighter can freeform combo their special moves in some way makes my icy heart thaw a little :3


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Fun! Including those critical effects was a nice addition too!


I cannot even begin to imagine all the work that was involved just in rewriting spells, PF2 is really looking like a new and better system.


I especially enjoyed this blog entry. I like the term "design space". Yeah. Looking forward to PF2.


On the one hand, I get what they're trying to go for. To make skills worth investing in. The classic, the more you know, the better you are at doing stuff. Sure you can still fail but on the whole investing in a skill should me you know the common things to avoid that failure.

On the other than as both a player and a GM, combat damage can swing too wild, too often. And on top of those wild swings you now are in a position of making the player, _the player_, be the one who fails to defend and determine that they're responsible for receiving double damage on their.

That isn't a good idea.

Having a unified conflict resolution mechanic is nice but this sort of thing is great for skill and pretty dumb to apply to combat.

Fix combat damage's wild swings and then we can talk about this.


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The thing I am loving the most about the success/failure system is how thematic it is, which just makes for more fun in play!! You can be the Fighter that never misses or the Barb who just can ignore anything by being that tough.

Fighter: And he almost dodged the last one. Too bad for him I don't miss.

Barb: Man, I love the snow!! It feels so good on my skin. Like a blanket of frozen water.

It's always been kinda dumb how much of a factor luck is in some of the more iconic aspects of the mundane classes. A Fighter should be able to choose to not miss if he focuses on accuracy, but also be able to choose power or mobility if need be, the same way a monk caught off guard is still far better off that a lucky Bard.

This also feels like it encourages diversity in that each class is irreplacably good at its core role. That is to say, only a Fighter can literally never miss, or only a Rogue can never fail miserably at (Insert skills of choice here). Has me hyped for the monk. The martial 5th man!!


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Bardic Dave wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
All good things come in threes, so what GentleGiant and Brew Bird said, and also: Even not-so-trained characters don't really have to roll anything just to be riding normally on a horse.
Hi Mark, the more previews I see, the more excited I am for PF2. Question about Sure Strike: it takes an action to use, but is there some other limitation on its use? Or does it essentially just replace the Strike action when you pick it up? Thanks!
It's a cool mid (or high, depends on how much you're used to calling everything in double digits high even though it's around halfway through the levels) level perk for fighters, for sure. It's a little bit limited, even beyond the limitation that you can't just do it every time you ever attack (for instance, with your AoO you have to make a basic Strike with the other AoO benefits), but that involves a neat little mechanic the fighter has for using his mastery of weapons to build special combos of attacks that we didn't really get into in the fighter blog, so it won't be possible to explain it without that context. Suffice it to say, you can generally use it when you need it most! ;)
Hearing that the Fighter can freeform combo their special moves in some way makes my icy heart thaw a little :3

Oh boy. After regretting having whined and compared to d&d 4e I finally hear what I wanted. Now I'm really excited!


Considering how much we now need to increase the DCS to get the enemies to actually suffer from it, I'm hoping there are plenty of ways to boost it this edition.


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With regards to Dominate. Please don't make a spell that makes you immune to it, like level 1 Protection from Evil. Immunities in games are not fun.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

I am curious as to how opposed rolls work in this system.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
The Rot Grub wrote:

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?

Most conditions (if not all?) are now assigned a numerical value. Most times, you'll get "Frightened 1". If you already have frightened 2, it'll go up to frightened 3. The effect gets greater, proportionally to the number. Same for nauseated 3 that would reduce your rolls by 3 (fun fact, using an action to vomit can reduce your nauseated condition by one). Slow would reduce your actions by the number (so slow 3 would actually means you're paralyzed!), and I have a suspicion haste will work in reverse. :P

But then, I don't know if the success of dominate will work like that or be a special case.

James F.D. Graham wrote:
I am curious as to how opposed rolls work in this system.

I believe they said there were no opposed rolls anymore, you only roll vs a DC determined a bit like AC, 10 + Proficiency Mod + Stat mod + bonus (So you roll your sneak VS their perception DC, you bluff vs their sense motive DC, etc)

Liberty's Edge

James F.D. Graham wrote:

I am curious as to how opposed rolls work in this system.

From what we've seen so far, the person initiating the roll rolls their skill normally, then compares it against the target's "skill DC", which is 10 plus their skill bonus. So it looks like "opposed rolls" will now be a lot less swingy.


The Rot Grub wrote:

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?

It looked like frightened had a number representing how badly you were frightened, as opposed to shaken, frightened, panicked, cowering. So I would expect that they simply increase the degree. No clue on stunned though, it may not have any stacking or extending. Maybe they'll touch on conditions soon, such as near the Monk blog?

Edit: Elfteiroh beat me to it, and is better informed.


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This solution to the save or lose problem, plus the new action economy, on their own, are reason enough to consider switching to PF2.

The 4 degrees of success concept is excellent, and moreover, it allows for really interesting takes on protection spells, or on items to boost skills, just to take 2 examples. You could imagine a Resist Fire spell that protects against fire damage in the event of a failed but not critically failed save. Similarly, a Ring of Climbing could mean you only fail your climb on a critical miss.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

First blog to get my interest. I like that we're expanding the range of results, without locking in things like ridiculous fumbles. I think this setup will allow for easy houserules in either direction.


Leedwashere wrote:
Expanding the degrees of success like this is one of the first tidbits of information that made me cross the line from "cautiously optimistic" to "super excited."

Not me... I started at "cautiously pessimistic" and have bounced around between unexcited and apathetic. I'm not really thrilled to see that you need a feat to prevent failure 5% of the time on skills. Add to that critical failure/success isn't a system I've ever enjoyed in a d20 type system.

Sigh... It's hard to get too excited and/or upset with the few breadcrumbs we've gotten through. It's going to take 'looking under the hood' at the exact mechanical interactions to see if It's going to work for me or not.

Grand Lodge

Twin riposte is awesooooooooome!
Is there any possibility I can use a gun to riposte?Like the hunters in Bloodborne do.


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I like it. I'm sure that spells will be balanced with the fact they get critical damage on a critical failure. I'm glad to see spells are still saved against (instead of a roll against someone's Fort defense). I like how you've managed to sneak in "damage on a miss" for fighters, and yet use the critical failure mechanic to still allow for failure to (at least theoretically) occur. Damage on a miss for martial characters was one of the mechanics often riled against for the 3.5e crowd. It was extremely controversial in D&D 5th edition. I think the way you've included it here will address most of the concerns and arguments against it though. That said....

Mark Seifter wrote:
It's not a miss. It's a failure on the attack roll, but it's still a glancing blow

Seriously Mark? it's not a miss, it's a failure to hit their AC with your attack roll? It's great that you've managed to jump through some linguistic hoops to avoid saying "on a miss you deal minimal damage" but that is effectively what you have here. That's like saying "Reaping Strike (the 4th ed version of Careful Strike) isn't a miss. It's a failure on the attack. Still totally a hit. Just a glancing blow." The attack roll is a check by the player against the target number equal to the foe's AC to determine if they hit or not. Failure to hit the target AC but still be within a threshold of 10 (and not a nat 1) means you get to deal minimal damage. Trying to say that isn't damage on a miss simply doesn't pass my b!&#+%#% detector. However....

Mark Seifter wrote:
and you only miss on a critical failure for a Certain Strike.

And this is the one saving grace of the class "feat"/"power" that will make it more palatable to 3.5e players who were strongly against damage on a miss in 4th ed.

Overall I can see lots of room for design. The rules incentivise having the biggest bonus you can on everything. I hope this doesn't reduce any other effect to irrelevant due to nothing being as important as a higher bonus. It's also a significant departure from how D&D 5th ed works.

Dαedαlus wrote:
So, does this mean that a medusa will only turn you into a statue if you fail the save by more than 10? That seems... incredibly counter-genre.

You're right. That would suck. What about "failure turns you into stone for 1 minute/hour/day" (Paizo picks whatever timescale they feel is appropriate for the monster) and "critical failure permanently turns you into stone". A minute would take you out of the fight unless everyone gets turned into stone. An hour would take you out of the fight (no conditions). A day would cause the adventure to stop for the rest of the day but then continue the next day. Adventures that include medusa almost always include an antidote to petrification. Four degrees of success would make that unnecessary.

Mark Seifter wrote:
If your nat 20 isn't a critical success, it is still a success, and if your nat 1 isn't a critical failure, it is still a failure.

Does a 5% of auto-failing every single skill check in the game seem a bit high?

GentleGiant wrote:
It's a feat, allowing you to do that as an action. Power Attack is also an action, so you can't combine the two (unless there's another feat combining the two, but then you'd have to take that as well).

Ugh. Do we have any confirmation this is 100% definitely true? This just turns Certain Strike and Power Attack into at-will 4th ed-esque powers that Paizo has been clever enough to try to disguise as feats. And I was having such a nice blog preview up until now.

Insight wrote:
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.

Ironically power attack was a feat that could be applied to any fighter "class feat" in 4th ed.

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 was one of the big criticisms against 4th ed and caused a lot of controversy during the D&D 5th edition playtest when it was included.

Also: I haven't made any 4th ed comments on this forum for a few days now. It's not just me seeing 4th ed in Pathfinder 2nd edition. And it's not just me disliking it when I do spot such things in Pathfinder 2nd edition.

Mark Seifter wrote:
It's a little bit limited, even beyond the limitation that you can't just do it every time you ever attack (for instance, with your AoO you have to make a basic Strike with the other AoO benefits)

:(

RIP the melee basic attack. Long live 4th edition class powers.

JRutterbush wrote:
James F.D. Graham wrote:

I am curious as to how opposed rolls work in this system.

From what we've seen so far, the person initiating the roll rolls their skill normally, then compares it against the target's "skill DC", which is 10 plus their skill bonus. So it looks like "opposed rolls" will now be a lot less swingy.

So instead of passive perception and passive insight, we have passive every single skill in the game!!!


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graystone wrote:
Leedwashere wrote:
Expanding the degrees of success like this is one of the first tidbits of information that made me cross the line from "cautiously optimistic" to "super excited."

Not me... I started at "cautiously pessimistic" and have bounced around between unexcited and apathetic. I'm not really thrilled to see that you need a feat to prevent failure 5% of the time on skills. Add to that critical failure/success isn't a system I've ever enjoyed in a d20 type system.

Sigh... It's hard to get too excited and/or upset with the few breadcrumbs we've gotten through. It's going to take 'looking under the hood' at the exact mechanical interactions to see if It's going to work for me or not.

HA! you used that term I described you as! I'm glad you take something from me any ways.

I'm personally gradually moving the other way towards full glass. I don't think their is going to be as many huge changes from individual class features except they will be selectable. I think spell casting and skills are going to be the biggest change which is one of the few things I have actually pushed for So i'm not even cautiously optimistic. Plus you know a lot of time to play test and give feed back so ideally if their is something we don't like we can maybe fix it. The only thing that is hanging me up is what some people consider to be a problem that they want fixed when I actually love the idea. I know I'm going to get tired and annoyed trying to push back against what I would consider nonsense.


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Really don't get the "5% min rate of failure" hype. Paizo specifically said you don't need to make check for many situations. Don't see what is so horrible about them clarifying where such no-check situations occur, vs not doing so but having skill system which allows auto-pass-even-on-1 instead. But OK, maybe it would get boring if there wasn't some controversy.


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BryonD wrote:

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.

I don't know about you, but in my games, my stories, both as player and GM, I decide the narrative. Any narrative integrity arises organically from the game at hand, and is not enforced by some slavish devotion to a mythological creature who inspired the similar but still very different creature in this game.

I love what they're doing with the tiered approach and I would never go back to the old way.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Jack Yang 737 wrote:

Twin riposte is awesooooooooome!

Is there any possibility I can use a gun to riposte?Like the hunters in Bloodborne do.

I would have to check the exact wording, but I don't have it at home.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
The only thing that is hanging me up is what some people consider to be a problem that they want fixed when I actually love the idea. I know I'm going to get tired and annoyed trying to push back against what I would consider nonsense.

LOL For me I'm thinking that there are quite a few things I want fixed and "I'm going to get tired and annoyed trying to push back against what I would consider nonsense" but they want it to stay as is. ;)

Quandary wrote:
Paizo specifically said you don't need to make check for many situations.

So my DM can follow the rules and ask for one... Saying a DM can ignore the rules is NOT the same as not having a chance of failing in the first place.


graystone wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
The only thing that is hanging me up is what some people consider to be a problem that they want fixed when I actually love the idea. I know I'm going to get tired and annoyed trying to push back against what I would consider nonsense.

LOL For me I'm thinking that there are quite a few things I want fixed and "I'm going to get tired and annoyed trying to push back against what I would consider nonsense" but they want it to stay as is. ;)

Quandary wrote:
Paizo specifically said you don't need to make check for many situations.
So my DM can follow the rules and ask for one... Saying a DM can ignore the rules is NOT the same as not having a chance of failing in the first place.

I look forward to our eventual arch-rivalry. Lets try and keep it civil. No blows below the belt and what have you.


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graystone wrote:


Quandary wrote:
Paizo specifically said you don't need to make check for many situations.
So my DM can follow the rules and ask for one... Saying a DM can ignore the rules is NOT the same as not having a chance of failing in the first place.

I think you misunderstand. I believe the devs have said that there are specific skill feats/proficiencies that specifically let you automatically succeed at certain skill checks under certain situations. (Likewise, without certain proficiencies/skill feats, you can't even attempt certain things.) If your DM makes you roll under those circumstances, then they aren't following the rules.


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If there is always a 5% chance of failing, I think it is important to change how one looks at failure. Failure may not always be a function of a mistake on the part of the character. For example, say a character is scaling a cliff and roles a natural 1. They are good at athletics so it is not a critical failure. In that case, maybe a handhold gave away unexpectedly. If the character were a worse climber (thus a critical failure), they would have fallen. This element was completely out of the characters hands, but there skill still makes a difference.

Remember, It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.


Yeah That is my understanding too. I think easy skill checks are not going to be rolled for and thats going to be in the rules. <my guess part starts here> I'm kind of thinking like skill check 4 levels below yours will be auto successes but that is just a guess.

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