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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Liberty's Edge

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Khudzlin wrote:
Add me to the chorus for "nat 1 or 20 should only move the result 1 degree".

Isn't the only difference between the current system and this one that "move the result one degree" matters the DC is either way more or way less than one's mods?

Like I don't think "Roll d20+19 versus DC 10" rolls should be very common, nor should "I expect you to fail" rolls like "Roll d20 +5 vs. DC 50." So the only difference I see is a heuristic one.

It's just more intuitive, in my opinion. Not by a huge degree, but enough that I think it's worth implementing. It might save a small but of confusion for some players, and it cost nothing to do that way.


graystone wrote:
I totally understand what's happening. I'm just NOT seeing the excitement/disappointment difference OR a substantial difference in time taken or flow altered. At best it's 'different' and/or 'interesting'... On it's own I'm not seeing 'better'.

I think you are right, particularly regarding time flow and effort. I think those issues are getting blown way out of any reasonable proportion. And, frankly, any game that doesn't require some basic arithmetic is going to be too simplistic anyway.

As to "better", I think if I had been shown these two system 20 years ago, I'd go for the threat/confirm system overwhelmingly. But this system still looks good. Having played the 3E style for 18 years, I'm game for giving the new one a run. There is something to be said for new. Will it get old in 18 months? Ask me in 24 month. I think 5E is very good, but after about a year and a half I was itching to go back to PF (and did). Which way will PF2 break? Time will tell.

But, they won't shake up the marketplace by making little tweaks. Evolve and grow. It takes some risk and some failure, but overall it is worth it.


I like having varied outcomes beyond simply success/fail. Can't wait to read what will be available.

In my current game, I implemented a house rule where for every 10 that your attack beats the target's AC, you can increase your damage by another weapon damage roll (we also called this 'degrees of success'). So I think my group and I will easily get use to this new degrees of success/failures system.


@BryonD Goblins have high AC for a low-CR creature, so Fighters won't be critting them often at low-level.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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PossibleCabbage wrote:


Like I don't think "Roll d20+19 versus DC 10" rolls should be very common, nor should "I expect you to fail" rolls like "Roll d20 +5 vs. DC 50." So the only difference I see is a heuristic one.

I use those types of rolls all the time in PF1e, effectively. Often an AP or circumstance will call for a DC10 check when the party is 15th level. Someone who's kept that skill maxed will not need to roll - but if a nat 1 fails, they do need to roll. Meanwhile, I've seen DC40-50 checks, often for Knowledge skills but even a lock from the CRB equipment list can hit DC40. What the point of buying a DC40 lock when it's no harder to pick than a DC25? (I'm assuming picking locks will require Trained, but after that it's just a matter of rerolling until you get a 20, whether your bonus is +5 or +25.)

PossibleCabbage wrote:

What reason do we have to believe that "skills not in the CRB are going to exist later?" It's entirely plausible that "this is the framework through which people on Golarion view everything" and switching frameworks is a big ask for people who have not yet discovered post-modernism.

Like take the PF1 technology guide for example- it didn't introduce new skills, it just divides technology related skill checks between Craft, Disable Device, Linguistics, and various knowledge skills possibly gating certain uses behind the "technologist" feat. I don't see any reason why, if our plucky heroes have to investigate a crashed spaceship, we can't do the exact same thing instead of positing a "computers" skill.

If a desert nomad who has never seen water bigger than a puddle has a +level-2 bonus to swim, and a jungle child raised by wolves has +level-2 bonus to academic knowledges, the implication that a skill check needs to be within the realm of experience of the character goes out the window. I know there won't be skills for computer use, aircraft piloting, or laser weapons in the book. But, much like the desert nomad, never having heard of something is no excuse not to have +level-2 in it. What anyone can do with all these Untrained "skills" is up to GM fiat, I'll bet.

Basically, the GM loses the ability to stop player knowledge from creeping in on the basis of "your character wouldn't know that." My character doesn't know any magic but he's got a +15 in Arcana, why shouldn't he know how to (insert modern idea/technology here)?

Now, the easy way to cover this problem is to state "if it's not explicitly listed in a skill, it's impossible," but I think that statement has clear problems to everyone.

In PF1e you could shut this nonsense down by just saying "your character doesn't know that." But in PF2e all characters have some basic knowledge of all things. Or you could set the DC stupendously high - "Ok, make a DC35 Int check to think of that." Except now they autosuccess the check on a 20 so you can't use skill DCs to represent the difficulty of tasks.

Obviously we haven't seen the whole skill system. Mark's replies to me make him sound pretty confident that these issues will be addressed. I'm hoping so.


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I think either way is okay, but the nat 20 nat 1 moving results up or down one step does sound more intuitive, or maybe more natural to me.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Castilliano wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
Lyoto Machida wrote:

Raises Hand* Does this mean critical failures will be a part of pathfinder society version 2? Because I can of more than a couple scenarios where one critical failure would be instant death. Imagine a critical failure vs. a round one horrid wilting. Double damage from 14 D6's = 16 PP.

One bad die roll meaning instant death for every caster sounds like the combats will be rocket tag sooner than later. There's a reason crit failures aren't in PFS and I hope that will continue to be the case.

Unless I am mistaken, you roll the dices twice, so an average result is the most common result.

It is 98 points of damage, against a level 14 caster.
Average HP of a class with d6 hp/level (and I think I have seen something in an earlier blog that said you get full hp) at level 14 (modified con 14) = 77
Of a d8 class 91
Of a d10 class with con 16, 119

So it is an instant death only if the one rolling a critical failure is a wizard or similar class and unprotected. An if we have Breath of life or an equivalent spell it is easy to save the person.

I don't see where it is worse than the current situation where a Save or suck/die will remove a character from the game on a failed save.

In PF1 spells dealing hit point of damage are the weaker and require specialized builds to have a meaningful impact. Let them get a bit of spotlight again.

I think hit dice have gone away, as in they are all at maximum.

So a 14th level Wizard has 84 h.p., or 112 h.p. w/ 14 Con (which would be low IMO). A d10 class with 16 Con would have 182 h.p. (assuming no favored class bonuses in PF2.) Plus, Ancestry gives h.p., humans giving 8 h.p. to start. So there's room to critically fail a save...once.

(And in PF1, one would expect Resist Energy-Fire to be ongoing at those levels.)

Horrid wilting (the spell used as an example by Lyoto don't deal heat damage. It would require a specific form of resistance.

But that is irrelevant. Failing critically 2 spell of appropriate level in a row without healing in between should be enough to kill most targets. Like landing 4 critical hits with weapons (4 actions for the spells/4 actions for the weapons) when the attacker is adequately proficient (we are speaking of a spell 8th level spell, so the maximum level available to a 14th level caster in PF1, so the level of weapon proficiency should be similar).

We don't know much about spellcasters currently, so the blog about them can change all.


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I mean, there's already situations in PF1e where the GM would go "no, you obviously can't use Fabricate to make uranium and cause a nuclear reaction, and there is no reason your character would ever think to do that."

You want to make a craft check to build a computer?

Problems:

1. That's not a craft skill. It cannot be done untrained, or at all.
2. How?
3. With WHAT, exactly?
4. Where does the idea come from?
5. Did you also invent man-controlled electricity in the process? Where did you get the materials and idea to do that?
6. How did you do any of this untrained? This is at least master-level complexity stuff we're talking about here.

Your level 17 character doesn't know any magic but he knows what a frigging dragon looks like at this point in his career and might have at least heard of something that might be of use for it. He does not, however, know anything about how to identify spells or deduce the purpose of arcane sigils because he isn't trained in the skill.

Similarly, a high level untrained character on a natural 20 with craft (devices) would likely amount to "yep, that sure is a device. Some sort of letter-arranging one, judging by all the buttons with letters on them."

Not being able to build one.

Liberty's Edge

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ryric wrote:
I use those types of rolls all the time in PF1e, effectively. Often an AP or circumstance will call for a DC10 check when the party is 15th level. Someone who's kept that skill maxed will not need to roll - but if a nat 1 fails, they do need to roll. Meanwhile, I've seen DC40-50 checks, often for Knowledge skills but even a lock from the CRB equipment list can hit DC40. What the point of buying a DC40 lock when it's no harder to pick than a DC25? (I'm assuming picking locks will require Trained, but after that it's just a matter of rerolling until you get a 20, whether your bonus is +5 or +25.)

This is all only true if you can always make checks, and always need to make checks.

Neither is necessarily true. For example, it might well be completely impossible to make checks whose DC is too much above your bonus. That'd actually be a really easy rule to implement.

ryric wrote:
If a desert nomad who has never seen water bigger than a puddle has a +level-2 bonus to swim, and a jungle child raised by wolves has +level-2 bonus to academic knowledges, the implication that a skill check needs to be within the realm of experience of the character goes out the window. I know there won't be skills for computer use, aircraft piloting, or laser weapons in the book. But, much like the desert nomad, never having heard of something is no excuse not to have +level-2 in it. What anyone can do with all these Untrained "skills" is up to GM fiat, I'll bet.

Given that they've already stated explicitly that many skill uses are Trained Only (with examples such as doing anything beyond monster knowledge checks and spell identification for Occultism, actually crafting anything for Craft, and practicing a trade for any trade-based skill), I have no idea why you'd assume this was a GM fiat thing. All evidence is that it's pretty codified.

I particularly have no idea why you'd assume that academic knowledge in particular is available untrained.

As for Swim...that was already a problem. Any Str 30 desert nomad was already an expert swimmer in PF1, with a better bonus than just about any 1st level character was capable of.

ryric wrote:
Basically, the GM loses the ability to stop player knowledge from creeping in on the basis of "your character wouldn't know that." My character doesn't know any magic but he's got a +15 in Arcana, why shouldn't he know how to (insert modern idea/technology here)?

Because stuff like that is explicitly gonna be Trained Only? This is not that hard and is not fundamentally all that different from the previous edition. The only real change is that previously each skill was either Trained Only or not, and now its each skill use.

ryric wrote:
Now, the easy way to cover this problem is to state "if it's not explicitly listed in a skill, it's impossible," but I think that statement has clear problems to everyone.

I agree that this idea would cause problems, but it seems completely unnecessary.

ryric wrote:
In PF1e you could shut this nonsense down by just saying "your character doesn't know that." But in PF2e all characters have some basic knowledge of all things. Or you could set the DC stupendously high - "Ok, make a DC35 Int check to think of that." Except now they autosuccess the check on a 20 so you can't use skill DCs to represent the difficulty of tasks.

Setting the DC high was always a bad idea anyway, and given that there's now a freeform Lore system which clearly is mostly Trained Only, you now have an even easier time saying "That's a Trained Only use of Lore (20th Century Earth). Do you have that skill? No? Then you can't even make a roll."

ryric wrote:
Obviously we haven't seen the whole skill system. Mark's replies to me make him sound pretty confident that these issues will be addressed. I'm hoping so.

They've actually addressed most of the issues you're bringing up in previous messageboard stuff...with the exception of the 1s/20s auto-failure/success thing, which we don't know how it works, but Mark Seifter has indeed implied its handled.


Khudzlin wrote:
@BryonD Goblins have high AC for a low-CR creature, so Fighters won't be critting them often at low-level.

Please release the version of the playtest document you have access to, since you can make this statement.

If you don't have it, we don't know if things will have the same stats, so you can't assume that they will have a high AC for their CR.


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ryric wrote:
glass wrote:

If "commoners can succeed to often on hypothetical skills that do not actually exist" is the worst thing we can say about PF2, then I'd consider that a pretty big win, wouldn't you?

I'd consider it a big step down from the PF1e skill system which did not have this flaw.

I'm all for improvement to things, but the PF1e skill system is the best way to do d20 skills I've yet seen and I have a tough time conceiving of ways to improve it. These changes(to skills; I really like the new system for saves and attack rolls) seem to be sacrificing the good system we had in the name of mechanical unity. Since I don't believe such mechanical unity is a worthwhile goal in and of itself, I'll just keep pointing out all the places using these mechanics for skills makes them silly.

I have to disagree. I regularly see very intelligent people, some with a lot of science and math under their belts, screw up assigning skill ranks. The Paizo people have had this experience too. The apparent break point that caused them to shift to this design philosophy for PF2 was when they saw Paizo's accountants kept having trouble assigning skill ranks.

Not to mention the only real way to be effective in skills in PF1 is to just throw all your skill ranks in the same skills every level anyway. The super-fiddly nature of 3.x/PF1 skill ranks is really not worth the granularity that comes with it.

Dark Archive

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RyanH wrote:
Ian Bell wrote:

The critical failure on spell saves is probably the first rule I'd remove from a game I GM. Those sorts of effects always disproportionately affect PCs, and I've never seen a fumble system that increases fun for the players. Leave that sort of thing for games like Blood Bowl.

EDIT: Honestly, in general, critical failures - especially when tied to chance of success - have the effect of discouraging players from trying heroic, low odds things under duress, which is another thing I don't want. Just really not a fan of this system in general.

But the critical failure on a spell save is what in first edition was just a normal failure for that spell. Did you just not allow domination, flesh to stone, etc in PF1E games?

It IS true that now trying something nearly impossible carries a greater risk as instead of just failing, you may crit fail (unless, like spells 2E Crit Fail = 1E Fail, and 2E Fail = some lesser effect.)

I always hated SoS and SoD, both as a DM/GM and a player. In my PF high-level campaign (that also utilizes mythic tiers) we have houseruled that you are allowed to re-roll any failed saving throws against SoS-type of effects. In general I usually try to avoid using SoD abilities altogether, because they're not fun. In that regard I think 4E got it "right", and it actually feels completely different (and even heroic) if you're desperately hacking at the medusa while its gaze is slowly turning you to stone, instead of being "insta-petrified" due to a single bad roll.

And while I completely endorse the idea of implementing various degrees of success in the Pathfinder rules, I think it'll be tricky to balance it so that it's fair to everyone. And I'm not convinced the whole -10/+10 system is the ideal way, especially considering the Bell Curve for D20. We don't know yet how the math works in regard to DCs and saving throw bonuses, but I fear this will add a whole new layer of metagaming to Pathfinder as players are calculating each roll's chance at critical success and failure. I also think it might take min-maxing bonuses even further than ever, because every roll (at least saving throws) carries a risk of something exceptionally bad happening to your character. For example, if there is a 20% chance that my fighter PC will *permanently* become an NPC on a failed save, I'm gonna sit back and let the spellcasters duke it out. And the same goes for that SoD example; even if I succeed, I'm automatically going to flee?

On the other hand, I also played a high-level sorcerer in 3E, and it seemed half the NPCs and monsters we fought in that campaign had Evasion, resulting in frustratingly many wasted Fireballs and other area spells. I hated that. I hate it when you succeed in a spell or attack only to have your enemy/enemies cancel it with a special ability or a lucky roll. Eventually I started spamming Haste, Bull's strength and other buffs, because that way my every spell had at least some impact on the outcome of battles.

But yeah, it won't easy to accomplish this...

Silver Crusade

A Ninja Errant wrote:
I think either way is okay, but the nat 20 nat 1 moving results up or down one step does sound more intuitive, or maybe more natural to me.

The only difference between this and the current system is what happens with would've-been-crits, right?

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Overall, I like the concept, but not the auto success on 20s without some other form of balance.

I was also thinking that this will lead to a bit more stat-block creep for monster special abilities, if they often have to list outcomes on most of their special abilities.


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

The difference is on the "too hard to ever achieve side" or "too easy to ever fail side". With the dev's rule, there's always a 5% chance you pass (nat 20 when the check required a 21+ on the die) or fail (nat 1 when the check required a 0- on the die).

The shift one step rule, says you can get that 5% chance if you need 21-30 to succeed. If you needed 31+ on the die, it just changes your critical fail to a fail, rather than success. Symmetrical on the positive side.


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)

This is where thinking fictionally helps. In Harry Potter, looking into the basilisk's eyes kills you. However, seeing the basilisk's reflection puts you in a coma. In the case of this "stepwise effect," one could narrate that the player saw Medusa in a way that dilutes the effect, such as through glass or in a mirror. Or, you're right, the player can be hampered by looking away. The #1 rule of roleplay is that you can tweak things to make them more fun. That's especially true of fluff.


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Everything is a skill. Your chance of success with a skill ranges from some minimum level (the "skill base") to some maximum level (100+ your skill base). When you start out, you will have mastered a skill to some level at or above your skill base, depending on the skill. As you continue to use the skill, you may improve your understanding of it. The more you know about it, the harder it is to improve. Some skills can be learned on the fly (when you fall off the ship, you learn to swim, though probably not very well), some require training (piloting a ship, for example).

But that's not Pathfinder, it's a different game.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
I have to disagree. I regularly see very intelligent people, some with a lot of science and math under their belts, screw up assigning skill ranks.

I have to say this is something I don't encounter past the very new players. Once someone has a few games under their belt, it's not complicated at all: if skill points are throwing them, spell casters must be completely beyond them. with all those number of spells that change per level... :P

Now that's not to say there isn't the occasional math mistake but it's no more prevalent than those in any other aspect of the game.

Fuzzypaws wrote:
super-fiddly nature

I just can't see this. Add a level means add class/level number plus int modifies + miscellaneous. If skills are "super-fiddly" then so to is to hit, AC, spells, ki points, grit... well most EVERYTHING in the game.


I mean, the degrees of success is just skills and saves, yeah? Attacks will still have Nat 20 Crits and Nat 1 Fails.

Liberty's Edge

Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:
I mean, the degrees of success is just skills and saves, yeah? Attacks will still have Nat 20 Crits and Nat 1 Fails.

No, the new system also applies to attacks.

1s and 20s are still auto failures and successes respectively, though.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:
I mean, the degrees of success is just skills and saves, yeah? Attacks will still have Nat 20 Crits and Nat 1 Fails.

No, the new system also applies to attacks.

1s and 20s are still auto failures and successes respectively, though.

Guarantee you that'll be the first thing folks houserule in.

Liberty's Edge

Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:
Guarantee you that'll be the first thing folks houserule in.

Why?

Expanded crit range for everyone is interesting and fun.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:
Guarantee you that'll be the first thing folks houserule in.

Why?

Expanded crit range for everyone is interesting and fun.

I don't mean that. I like that bit. I mean Nat 20s not being automatic crits on attacks, merely successes.

Liberty's Edge

Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:
I don't mean that. I like that bit. I mean Nat 20s not being automatic crits on attacks, merely successes.

Ah! They're still crits if they would've hit even without being a natural 20, regardless of how much they hit by, so they're still special and usually crits. And the reverse for 1s and critical failures.

It'll probably stick.


A natural 20 on an attack is a crit unless a roll of 20 would not be enough to hit.

So a level 1 fighter against the Tarrasque who rolls a 20 scores a regular hit, not a critical one. Assuming people fight things that are not wholly level inappropriate, I doubt that this will come up a lot.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

A natural 20 on an attack is a crit unless a roll of 20 would not be enough to hit.

So a level 1 fighter against the Tarrasque who rolls a 20 scores a regular hit, not a critical one. Assuming people fight things that are not wholly level inappropriate, I doubt that this will come up a lot.

I guess I see the logic in that. At the same time though, if I finally find the one spot on the monster that my puny little weapon actually manages to wound, I want that wound to hurt a LOT.


Ed Reppert wrote:

Everything is a skill. Your chance of success with a skill ranges from some minimum level (the "skill base") to some maximum level (100+ your skill base). When you start out, you will have mastered a skill to some level at or above your skill base, depending on the skill. As you continue to use the skill, you may improve your understanding of it. The more you know about it, the harder it is to improve. Some skills can be learned on the fly (when you fall off the ship, you learn to swim, though probably not very well), some require training (piloting a ship, for example).

But that's not Pathfinder, it's a different game.

I mean...yes?

A new edition is a different game. Dungeons And Dragons editions 2-5 have all been very different games.

Not much point to having a new edition if it's the same as the old one, right?


Joe M. wrote:
A Ninja Errant wrote:
I think either way is okay, but the nat 20 nat 1 moving results up or down one step does sound more intuitive, or maybe more natural to me.
The only difference between this and the current system is what happens with would've-been-crits, right?

Yep. It's a pretty minor difference that's only likely to come up much in corner cases. The main difference would be that it means 1 and 20 aren't auto fail/auto succeed. Using the one-step rule, a nat 1 that still beats the DC by 10+ is still a success, just not a critical success. A nat 20 that doesn't beat the DC is only a normal success. A nat 20 that fails to meet the DC by 10+ is still a fail, just not a critical failure.

So for the rule to come up, the DC would have to be either so far above, or below your bonus as to where you wouldn't normally even bother rolling anyway. It would however, get people to stop worrying about theoretical nat 20 fishing allowing characters to somehow get access to something they shouldn't be able to.


Deranged Stabby-Man wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

A natural 20 on an attack is a crit unless a roll of 20 would not be enough to hit.

So a level 1 fighter against the Tarrasque who rolls a 20 scores a regular hit, not a critical one. Assuming people fight things that are not wholly level inappropriate, I doubt that this will come up a lot.

I guess I see the logic in that. At the same time though, if I finally find the one spot on the monster that my puny little weapon actually manages to wound, I want that wound to hurt a LOT.

You couldn't really do that in PF1 though.


Dαedαlus wrote:
Furdinand wrote:

"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."

This mindset hobbles every new edition. If it makes for a better game, why not cut off classic feats, abilities, and spells? Not everything has to be carried forward.

I have trouble imagining that a game would be better without the enchantress able to put enemies to sleep with the wave of her hand or crush the mind of a giant and use it as an attack dog, where a medusa, basilisk or gorgon can't turn anyone to stone, where the evil cleric can't banish their foe to Hell, where the wizard can't turn someone into a newt because they annoyed them, or where the good oracle can't banish a fiend back to their home plane.

All of those are save-or-lose effects, and there's a reason they've been kept. It plays into the fundamental fantasy of the game, and removing them would hardly be an improvement.

I know, imagine a game where massive raging Barbarians have to strike their enemy multiple times with their war hammer in order in knock them out! Imagine a game where the skilled rogue can't simply cut the throat of someone they sneak up on! Where a swing of the Fighter's Sword doesn't decapitate a dozen goblins at once.

Can you imagine a game where knocking out or defeating an enemy required using multiple actions to attack them with each 'hit' depleting some sort of pool of 'points'? To me that would just go against the fundamental fantasy of the game.


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Ninja in the Rye wrote:
Dαedαlus wrote:
Furdinand wrote:

"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."

This mindset hobbles every new edition. If it makes for a better game, why not cut off classic feats, abilities, and spells? Not everything has to be carried forward.

I have trouble imagining that a game would be better without the enchantress able to put enemies to sleep with the wave of her hand or crush the mind of a giant and use it as an attack dog, where a medusa, basilisk or gorgon can't turn anyone to stone, where the evil cleric can't banish their foe to Hell, where the wizard can't turn someone into a newt because they annoyed them, or where the good oracle can't banish a fiend back to their home plane.

All of those are save-or-lose effects, and there's a reason they've been kept. It plays into the fundamental fantasy of the game, and removing them would hardly be an improvement.

I know, imagine a game where massive raging Barbarians have to strike their enemy multiple times with their war hammer in order in knock them out! Imagine a game where the skilled rogue can't simply cut the throat of someone they sneak up on! Where a swing of the Fighter's Sword doesn't decapitate a dozen goblins at once.

Can you imagine a game where knocking out or defeating an enemy required using multiple actions to attack them with each 'hit' depleting some sort of pool of 'points'? To me that would just go against the fundamental fantasy of the game.

Any character of high enough level (roughly level 10 for 'epic' storytelling of the nature I was referring) that has actually made any amount of effort into making their build in that regard should be able to pull off those tricks no problem. A power attacking Barbarian (especially one built around one big stroke) is pretty darn likely to take down a foe in a single round. It's why RAGELANCEPOUNCE is a thing. The rogue actually stands a decent chance of backstabbing someone (though that is admittedly a trope that is sadly lacking, admittedly), and the fighter could have easily invested in Cleave and cut through hordes of goblins with ease.

And the hit point thing is a non sequitur. I can think of plenty of fantasies where fights are won through attrition, small wounds leading up to the final blow.

In any case, are you arguing that because we are missing some fantasy tropes, we should remove more of them? That's... honestly kind of confusing to me.


I'm arguing that it's a game and save-or-die/suck is bad design.

I'm suggesting that if you want to have sleep and dominate spells in the game, then there needs to be some sort of mental equivalent of hit points that the caster has to deplete to make it happen in the same way that if you want to knock out/kill something with a hammer you have to first hit its AC then roll enough damage, and that you may well have to do it by attrition and team work over multiple rounds.


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And that’s how we get 4e.
The one-save-or-lose is a uniquely Caster thing, and making it so that all spells do basically the same thing, with only really cosmetic variation, is how to alienate a lot of people who like that Casters operate on a different plane than martials- they might not be able to do as much damage, or certain things as well (at least in theory) but they can do things that martial can’t even begin to emulate.

If PF2 dropped SoS completely, or made it key off of ‘alternate hitpointd’ it would lose a ton of its players.


Mental hit points is something that I actually do see as a good option for alternate rules in a presumed PF2 book that combines Unchained / Gamemastery Guide / Unearthed Arcana into a book of variant options. Because that is something I can see a lot of people liking. But I can also see many more people being put off by it than liking it, hence kicking it back to a splatbook.


Ninja in the Rye wrote:

I'm arguing that it's a game and save-or-die/suck is bad design.

I'm suggesting that if you want to have sleep and dominate spells in the game, then there needs to be some sort of mental equivalent of hit points that the caster has to deplete to make it happen in the same way that if you want to knock out/kill something with a hammer you have to first hit its AC then roll enough damage, and that you may well have to do it by attrition and team work over multiple rounds.

What games do you point to as evidence of the popularity of this approach?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
BryonD wrote:
Ninja in the Rye wrote:

I'm arguing that it's a game and save-or-die/suck is bad design.

I'm suggesting that if you want to have sleep and dominate spells in the game, then there needs to be some sort of mental equivalent of hit points that the caster has to deplete to make it happen in the same way that if you want to knock out/kill something with a hammer you have to first hit its AC then roll enough damage, and that you may well have to do it by attrition and team work over multiple rounds.

What games do you point to as evidence of the popularity of this approach?

Old World of Darkness (don't know about new) fairly commonly had the spending of willpower to resist mental effects, with the difficulty of those effects for the user being based on your total cap.


Malk_Content wrote:
BryonD wrote:
Ninja in the Rye wrote:

I'm arguing that it's a game and save-or-die/suck is bad design.

I'm suggesting that if you want to have sleep and dominate spells in the game, then there needs to be some sort of mental equivalent of hit points that the caster has to deplete to make it happen in the same way that if you want to knock out/kill something with a hammer you have to first hit its AC then roll enough damage, and that you may well have to do it by attrition and team work over multiple rounds.

What games do you point to as evidence of the popularity of this approach?
Old World of Darkness (don't know about new) fairly commonly had the spending of willpower to resist mental effects, with the difficulty of those effects for the user being based on your total cap.

Still true for the new one too I believe.


Oh and the easiest way to do that psychic damage would be to make it INT damage I would think. Once you hit 0 int (maybe charisma or wisdom) or some such you are controlled. But I have no problem with the proposed way of it working.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
BryonD wrote:
Ninja in the Rye wrote:

I'm arguing that it's a game and save-or-die/suck is bad design.

I'm suggesting that if you want to have sleep and dominate spells in the game, then there needs to be some sort of mental equivalent of hit points that the caster has to deplete to make it happen in the same way that if you want to knock out/kill something with a hammer you have to first hit its AC then roll enough damage, and that you may well have to do it by attrition and team work over multiple rounds.

What games do you point to as evidence of the popularity of this approach?
Old World of Darkness (don't know about new) fairly commonly had the spending of willpower to resist mental effects, with the difficulty of those effects for the user being based on your total cap.
Still true for the new one too I believe.

Wasn't sure, never really looked into the mechanics of them because they went (fluff and mechanics wise) of Magic being both amazingly open ended but also constrained by your innately ego-centric world view, to coming from Atlantis.


Malk_Content wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
BryonD wrote:
Ninja in the Rye wrote:

I'm arguing that it's a game and save-or-die/suck is bad design.

I'm suggesting that if you want to have sleep and dominate spells in the game, then there needs to be some sort of mental equivalent of hit points that the caster has to deplete to make it happen in the same way that if you want to knock out/kill something with a hammer you have to first hit its AC then roll enough damage, and that you may well have to do it by attrition and team work over multiple rounds.

What games do you point to as evidence of the popularity of this approach?
Old World of Darkness (don't know about new) fairly commonly had the spending of willpower to resist mental effects, with the difficulty of those effects for the user being based on your total cap.
Still true for the new one too I believe.
Wasn't sure, never really looked into the mechanics of them because they went (fluff and mechanics wise) of Magic being both amazingly open ended but also constrained by your innately ego-centric world view, to coming from Atlantis.

Kind of lost me on the Atlantis part but Yes on the magic being limited by innate ego-centric world view at least for MAGE anyways.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
BryonD wrote:
Ninja in the Rye wrote:

I'm arguing that it's a game and save-or-die/suck is bad design.

I'm suggesting that if you want to have sleep and dominate spells in the game, then there needs to be some sort of mental equivalent of hit points that the caster has to deplete to make it happen in the same way that if you want to knock out/kill something with a hammer you have to first hit its AC then roll enough damage, and that you may well have to do it by attrition and team work over multiple rounds.

What games do you point to as evidence of the popularity of this approach?
Old World of Darkness (don't know about new) fairly commonly had the spending of willpower to resist mental effects, with the difficulty of those effects for the user being based on your total cap.
Still true for the new one too I believe.
Wasn't sure, never really looked into the mechanics of them because they went (fluff and mechanics wise) of Magic being both amazingly open ended but also constrained by your innately ego-centric world view, to coming from Atlantis.
Kind of lost me on the Atlantis part but Yes on the magic being limited by innate ego-centric world view at least for MAGE anyways.

in new Mage, the Mage's power was inherited from fallen Atlantis


Enlight_Bystand wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
BryonD wrote:
Ninja in the Rye wrote:

I'm arguing that it's a game and save-or-die/suck is bad design.

I'm suggesting that if you want to have sleep and dominate spells in the game, then there needs to be some sort of mental equivalent of hit points that the caster has to deplete to make it happen in the same way that if you want to knock out/kill something with a hammer you have to first hit its AC then roll enough damage, and that you may well have to do it by attrition and team work over multiple rounds.

What games do you point to as evidence of the popularity of this approach?
Old World of Darkness (don't know about new) fairly commonly had the spending of willpower to resist mental effects, with the difficulty of those effects for the user being based on your total cap.
Still true for the new one too I believe.
Wasn't sure, never really looked into the mechanics of them because they went (fluff and mechanics wise) of Magic being both amazingly open ended but also constrained by your innately ego-centric world view, to coming from Atlantis.
Kind of lost me on the Atlantis part but Yes on the magic being limited by innate ego-centric world view at least for MAGE anyways.
in new Mage, the Mage's power was inherited from fallen Atlantis

Ah so awakening not ascension. In the new onyx path ascension its still the same then I'm not sure about new awakening.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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A question I came up with last night - do raw ability checks also Autosucceed/fail on nat 20/1? Are there even raw ability checks any more, or are they now Untrained checks for some theoretical unlisted skill?

Does a 5 Str Halfling wizard get to Kool-Aid Man through a stone wall because he rolled a 20? Can a fighter fail to pick up his sword because he rolled a 1?

Not much in PF1e requires a raw ability check, so maybe those have been eliminated? Breaking objects/walls/doors is the most common use I can recall. The ability check still a useful tool to have when a player tries something outside the box.

Wait, if initiative is now a skill check, how does autosuccess even work? What does that even mean in the context of initiative? Does a natural 20 mean you go first unless someone else also rolled a 20, even if yours isn't the highest total?

I'm much more in favor of the "nat1/20 shifts your success by one step" version of the rule. Add my support to that for now. It seems much more intuitive, preserves the intent of the rule in most situations, and eliminates the silliness of "I failed the roll by dozens but still succeeded."


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
ryric wrote:
...

All of your hypotheticals are solved by the very simple rule, if you can't succeed on a 20 you don't roll.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Malk_Content wrote:
ryric wrote:
...
All of your hypotheticals are solved by the very simple rule, if you can't succeed on a 20 you don't roll.

I agree, but that rule makes autosuccess on a 20 meaningless(which I'm fine with).

Liberty's Edge

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Malk_Content wrote:
Old World of Darkness (don't know about new) fairly commonly had the spending of willpower to resist mental effects, with the difficulty of those effects for the user being based on your total cap.

As a serious player of WoD games in general...this is not really how most powers work.

There are certainly a few that work like this, but they're vastly outnumbered by things that more closely resemble Save or Lose effects. Vampires using Dominate, just to pick a common example make a roll at a difficulty of your Willpower, which is more like an attack vs. a number where you're mind controlled if they succeed. You often (as in this example) don't even get a resistance roll.

You can take the Iron Will Merit and sorta make most mind control work that way (since it lets you spend Willpower to throw off mind control), but Merits are technically an optional system and everyone isn't gonna have any one Merit in particular given the resources it takes to have.

In short, no, WoD games (either New or Old) very rarely do this, and it's certainly not the baseline of those systems. Nor of any other popular games I've seen that I can recall.

Grand Lodge

So... is it safe to assume that the "Take 10"/"Take 20" rules are gone now? or did I miss something?

Liberty's Edge

Thewms wrote:
So... is it safe to assume that the "Take 10"/"Take 20" rules are gone now? or did I miss something?

We have no idea.

Taking 10 is easily compatible with this system, and Taking 20 would be easy enough just by noting that it isn't a 'natural' 20 and doesn't trigger auto-success/crits.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Thewms wrote:
So... is it safe to assume that the "Take 10"/"Take 20" rules are gone now? or did I miss something?

We have no idea.

Taking 10 is easily compatible with this system, and Taking 20 would be easy enough just by noting that it isn't a 'natural' 20 and doesn't trigger auto-success/crits.

That would eliminate the entire point of taking 20, which is to cut down on players simply rolling the die over and over fishing for a nat 20. If you make taking 20 any different from actually rolling the 20, then you might as well eliminate the rule entirely and prepare yourself for a player wasting game time physically rerolling until the desired number comes up.

I mean, the rule for when a player can take 20 basically boils down to, "if you would let the player keep trying over and over until they roll a 20, just say it happened and move on with the game."


Pathfinder Card Game, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ryric wrote:

A question I came up with last night - do raw ability checks also Autosucceed/fail on nat 20/1? Are there even raw ability checks any more, or are they now Untrained checks for some theoretical unlisted skill?

Does a 5 Str Halfling wizard get to Kool-Aid Man through a stone wall because he rolled a 20? Can a fighter fail to pick up his sword because he rolled a 1?

Not much in PF1e requires a raw ability check, so maybe those have been eliminated? Breaking objects/walls/doors is the most common use I can recall. The ability check still a useful tool to have when a player tries something outside the box.

Wait, if initiative is now a skill check, how does autosuccess even work? What does that even mean in the context of initiative? Does a natural 20 mean you go first unless someone else also rolled a 20, even if yours isn't the highest total?

I'm much more in favor of the "nat1/20 shifts your success by one step" version of the rule. Add my support to that for now. It seems much more intuitive, preserves the intent of the rule in most situations, and eliminates the silliness of "I failed the roll by dozens but still succeeded."

Initiative doesn't have a success/failure spectrum. It's simply an ordering. In a sense it's a different kind of contested roll.

There's a certain degree to where success, even behind a nat 20, has to fall to the wayside of common sense and overriding rules.

But yes, nat 20 being auto-succeed cannot apply to things that the character simply can't do. I agree that there's potential for confusion.

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