Learning Takes a Lifetime

Monday, June 04, 2018

While the kind of armor you wear, weapon you wield, and spells you know can be important measures of your character's power, your choice in skills is indicative of your character's depth. Is your character good at feats of acrobatics? Can they recall knowledge with scholastic effortlessness? Are they the sneakiest sneaker in the sneakerverse? Your skills may aid you in the thick of a fight, but they also enhance your effect on the world when the ringing of steel and the whizzing of spells subside.

The Pathfinder Playtest deals with skills a bit differently than the first edition did. First and foremost, we have cut down the skill list to 17 base skills (down from 35 base skills in Pathfinder First Edition). Now, I say "base skills" because the Lore skill can be split into numerous different lores, but for many purposes, like for this blog post, we can describe it as being a single skill.

Much of the reduction came from consolidation; for instance, we put the general functions of Use Magic Device into each of the various knowledge skills that focus on magical traditions, and we wrapped up a bunch of Strength-based skills into a general Athletics skill. In most cases, we coupled the consolidation with being a tad more generous in the number of skills you can be trained in (for instance, the fighter has 3 + Intelligence modifier trained skills in the playtest rather than 2 + Int in Pathfinder First Edition), making it easier to have a well-rounded character.

So what exactly are these 17 skills? They (and their key ability scores) are: Acrobatics (Dex), Arcana (Int), Athletics (Str), Crafting (Int), Deception (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidation (Cha), Lore (Int), Medicine (Wis), Nature (Wis), Occultism (Int), Performance (Cha), Religion (Wis), Society (Int), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Thievery (Dex).

Skill Proficiency

Like many things in the Pathfinder Playtest, skills interact with the proficiency system. While a detailed description of the system can be found here, here's the nitty-gritty. Your character can be untrained, trained, an expert, a master, or legendary in a skill. Being untrained grants you a modifier of your level - 2, while being trained grants you a bonus equal to your level, expert a bonus equal to your level + 1, master a bonus equal to your level + 2, and legendary a bonus equal to your level + 3. Then, of course, you add your ability modifier in the key ability for that skill, and apply any other bonuses or penalties. But the new skill system is more than just the bonus you gain. Each level of proficiency unlocks skill uses that are either intrinsic to the skill itself or that are uses you select as your character advances.

Skill Uses

To give you an idea of what this means, let's take a quick look at the Medicine skill. Whether you are trained in Medicine or not, you can Administer First Aid.

[[A]] Administer First Aid

Manipulate

Requirements You must have healer's tools.

You perform first aid on an adjacent creature that is at 0 Hit Points in an attempt to stabilize or revive it. You can also perform first aid on an adjacent creature taking persistent bleed damage. The DC for either is 15. If a creature is both dying and bleeding, choose which one you're trying to end before you roll. You can Administer First Aid again to attempt to remedy the other.

Success The creature at 0 Hit Points gains 1 Hit Point, or you end the persistent bleed damage.

Critical Failure A creature with 0 Hit Points has its dying condition increased by 1. A creature with persistent bleed damage takes damage equal to the amount of its persistent bleed damage.

Basically, this skill use allows anyone who has a healing kit to treat another creature who is dying or suffering from bleed damage, which is super useful. Of course, being untrained reduces your chances to save your friend and increases your chances to hurt them accidentally, but it's worth trying in a pinch. If you are trained in the skill, not only do your chances to help a friend by Administering First Aid increase, but you also gain the ability to use the skill to Treat Disease and Treat Poison, something that someone untrained in the skill cannot do.

Skill Feats

These default uses are just the beginning. As you increase in level, you periodically gain skill feats, usually at even-numbered levels (unless you're a rogue—they gain skill feats every level instead). Skill feats are a subsection of general feats, which means that any character can take them as long as they meet the prerequisites. Moving forward with the example of the Medicine skill, as long as you are at least trained in Medicine, you can take the Battle Medic skill feat. This feat allows you to apply straight-up healing to an ally through nonmagical means, which is nice when your cleric is knocked to the ground or has run out of uses of channel energy.

For a higher-level example, Robust Recovery is a Medicine skill feat you can take after becoming an expert in that skill, and increases the bonus to saving throws against poison and diseases when you treat creatures with those trained skill uses. When you become legendary in Medicine, you can gain this skill feat:

Legendary Medic Feat 15

General, Skill

Prerequisites legendary in Medicine

You've invented new medical procedures or discovered ancient techniques that can achieve nearly miraculous results. Once per day for each target, you can spend 1 hour treating the target and attempt a Medicine check to remove a disease or the blinded, deafened, drained, or enervated condition. Use the DC of the disease or of the spell or effect that created the condition. If the effect's source is an artifact, a creature above 20th level, or other similarly powerful source, increase the DC by 5.

The more powerful or useful the skill feat, the higher the proficiency required to take it. Legendary Medic grants you the ability to perform amazing feats of healing through skill and experience rather than magic, but you must gain that skill and experience first. Of course, the Medicine skill is just the tip of the iceberg. This structure is replicated with every skill, including nearly every rogue's favorite—Stealth.

Stealth is a bit of an outlier in that all of its initial uses can be attempted untrained, but training and later proficiency in the skill yields some very subversive results. The Quiet Allies skill feat allows you to use your expertise in Stealth to reduce those pesky armor check penalties on allies' skill checks, while Swift Sneak allows a master in Stealth to move at their full speed when they Sneak. Upon becoming legendary, you further enhance your skill by no longer needing to specifically declare the sneaking exploration tactic when you are in exploration mode, allowing you to sneak everywhere. You're just that good.

But this is all just the start. Mark will take up more aspects of what you can do with skill feats this Friday!

Constant Progress

Like many aspects of the Pathfinder Playtest, the goal of skills is not only to gain the greatest bonus, but also for you to expand outward and create a unique character who uses skills the way you want them to be used. Much like how ancestry feats allow you to choose the type of human, dwarf, elf, or whatever you want to play, the proficiency and skill feat system will enable you to determine what kind of knowledgeable, athletic, or sneaky character you want to play. Over time, this system gives us the opportunity to add more skill uses by way of skill feats, which will allow the game to become more dynamic as we add options. This also allows you to continue to grow your skills in new and surprising ways without us having to pull out the wires of the underlying skill, which is something we are always loath to do. In this way, as the game progresses, we can expand skill options in an open-ended way, without invalidating the gateway mechanics.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Senior Designer

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:

"Just cuz I can fly a plane, doesn't mean that I can fly a helicopter."

"Just because I am a biologist doesn't mean that I can perform first aide well"

The first lacks applicability to Pathfinder, making it not super useful as a discussion point. The second is actually separate skills in PF2 (Nature and Medicine), and in most other systems as well.

Excaliburproxy wrote:
For my part, I think broad competency in many related fields is a perfectly acceptable fantasy/superhero trope. Even if it does not fit every narrative that people want, I think the collapsed skills is a good game mechanic.

I tend to agree, but there's some room to fiddle around and make things a little better for people with these issues if people actually have an issue with them in play. It's that second part I'm skeptical of in regards to several of the theorycrafted examples given thus far.

Which is why I'm looking for real issues people have had in this regard in real games.

Well for PF2, I believe other people have mentioned wanting to make a character who can pick pockets but does not necessarily imagine themselves as an expert lock pick or an "engineer of trap breaking" or whatever. I could also conceptualize wanting to have a barbarian that could tell you about every kind of bear in the woods (Nature) but does not know about all of that mystic druidic nonsense.

A drawback system might be in order, but as I believe Mark alluded to at some point somewhere, perhaps such a drawback system should not be tied to a bonus lest people always try to trade out the less useful bits of each of their skills.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

I have a serious question here, which I'm going to bold for emphasis:

Has anyone here ever actually had a player complain because they couldn't be bad at X if they were good at Y outside of the social skills?

Because I've been playing RPGs for more than 15 years in almost every context possible with what must be hundreds of different people by now
if you include one shots (I ran LARPs for a while in there, and gamed at cons), and dozens of different systems (some of which had more consolidated skill systems than PF2, some more diversified than D&D 3.0 ever dreamed of being) and I have literally never seen this happen. IME this is a pure theorycraft problem rather than something actual players complain about or have issues with.

Now, maybe my experience is unusual. I'd be happy to hear from people who have had this experience, and interested in what context it came up in, that's why I'm asking the question, but I've never seen it.

Not *quite* the same situation, but I do have one character that absolutely makes perfect sense to rock Swimming but suck at climbing. Said character is a low-strength Mermaid Oracle with the Blackened curse and Medium armor. In PF1e at level 3 this character had an automatic 17 to Swim checks (handles all but the worst checks really), a 60 foot swim speed... -5 Climb, and would take a full action to move 5 feet climbing. That said, in PF2e, I probably still wouldn't 'complain' about this character being 'good' at climbing just because she's a hella swimmer. I very much played up how nearly useless and downright painful her arms were, not to mention how much of a liability her tail was on land (she did not have Strongtail), so if someone asked her to climb something and it wasn't immediately life threatening, she'd probably look at them like they were crazy (possibly with an accusatory thrust of her bandaged, blackened arms). And as for such cases of immediately life threatening, assuming a high enough level where she *could* actually climb, there's two things that could easily come together to explain climbing working in such a case. First is survival instinct, if the only way to survive is to climb that ladder/rope, the brain can probably figure it out, and second is this neat feature called Hysterical Strength. In times of need human(oid) bodies can perform astonishing feats of strength, because the brain kinda turns off the limiters. Done for prolonged periods this can cause severe damage, but for short bursts it could totally explain climbing the rope/ladder/cliff/whatever to escape whatever life-threatening thing was below.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

I have a serious question here, which I'm going to bold for emphasis:

Has anyone here ever actually had a player complain because they couldn't be bad at X if they were good at Y outside of the social skills?

I have actually seen this problem come up a lot in systems with skill-proficiency based combat systems. See: Shadow Run, Dark Heresy, Riddle of Steel, 7th Sea 1e, Legend of the Five Rings. World of Darkness, Eclipse Phase etc. etc.

"I have 5 ranks in machine guns, I should be able to use a pistol some too!"
"I am a master of unarmed combat, I should at least be able to stab a guy a bit better than some rando!"

In the case of World of Darkness:
"I am an expert in computer science! I should be able to solve math problems!" (I believe math problems fall under academics or some such thing in that system)

I am sure that I can think of a ton more examples if I thought about it.


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Weather Report wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:

[You may never have climbed as a waterborn humanoid, but if you needed to, you'd actually be pretty good at it, just from raw athleticism and body control.

Not really how it works, they are not always translatable, and require different applications. You don't have to be that strong to climb, it's more about balance, leverage, skill (mostly use your legs).

Nowhere in there did I mention anything about having to be really strong to climb, I said athletic and have good body control. I've done both swimming and climbing. Having good overall body strength and body control will help you in both endeavours. If your feet slip while climbing you'd better have enough finger, grip, underarm and back/shoulder strength to hang on while regaining your footing.

If you're generally athletic you can climb better than someone who isn't.


Excaliburproxy wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

I have a serious question here, which I'm going to bold for emphasis:

Has anyone here ever actually had a player complain because they couldn't be bad at X if they were good at Y outside of the social skills?

I have actually seen this problem come up a lot in systems with skill-proficiency based combat systems. See: Shadow Run, Dark Heresy, Riddle of Steel, 7th Sea 1e, Legend of the Five Rings. World of Darkness, Eclipse Phase etc. etc.

"I have 5 ranks in machine guns, I should be able to use a pistol some too!"
"I am a master of unarmed combat, I should at least be able to stab a guy a bit better than some rando!"

In the case of World of Darkness:
"I am an expert in computer science! I should be able to solve math problems!" (I believe math problems fall under academics or some such thing in that system)
I am sure that I can think of a ton more examples if I thought about it.

Those are the opposite of what was asked

(as a computer scientist, I'll also point out that I'm not great at math problems :) )


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Excaliburproxy wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

Could you possibly be more specific and give some actual examples?

See, I'm trying to come up with non-social examples of this that players would find unpleasant and detrimental to their game experience and failing. Which means I'd be really happy if you could provide an example so I know we're on the same page as discussion goes forward, and we can have a productive discussion of how to avoid that issue in PF2.

"Just cuz I can fly a plane, doesn't mean that I can fly a helicopter."

"Just because I am a biologist doesn't mean that I can perform first aide well"

etc. etc.

For my part, I think broad competency in many related fields is a perfectly acceptable fantasy/superhero trope. Even if it does not fit every narrative that people want, I think the collapsed skills is a good game mechanic.

Starfinder is horrible about this. The Life Science skill includes: BioEngineering, biology, botany, ecology, genetics, xenobiology, zoology, and other fields of biological science. Physical Science includes: Astronomy, chemistry, climatology, geography, geology, hyperspace, meteorology, oceanography, physics, and other fields of natural science. Those are hugely different and specific skill sets. Knowledge of astronomy doesn't have a lot of crossover with oceanography. Each one should be a different knowledge skill. The idea that putting a single skill rank makes you knowledgeable in all those things is more unbelievable than magic.


Andy Brown wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

I have a serious question here, which I'm going to bold for emphasis:

Has anyone here ever actually had a player complain because they couldn't be bad at X if they were good at Y outside of the social skills?

I have actually seen this problem come up a lot in systems with skill-proficiency based combat systems. See: Shadow Run, Dark Heresy, Riddle of Steel, 7th Sea 1e, Legend of the Five Rings. World of Darkness, Eclipse Phase etc. etc.

"I have 5 ranks in machine guns, I should be able to use a pistol some too!"
"I am a master of unarmed combat, I should at least be able to stab a guy a bit better than some rando!"

In the case of World of Darkness:
"I am an expert in computer science! I should be able to solve math problems!" (I believe math problems fall under academics or some such thing in that system)
I am sure that I can think of a ton more examples if I thought about it.

Those are the opposite of what was asked

(as a computer scientist, I'll also point out that I'm not great at math problems :) )

Ahhhh. I was reading as a player saying "It makes no sense to be bad at X when I can do Y."

Ha. I dig it now. But yeah: that has not exactly happened to me. I have met people who really want that kind of verisimilitude in their system in general, though.

Edit: also, you are a computer scientist who is bad at solving math problems? How can you program/critique latent variable models for your scoring algorithms then?

Maybe there needs to be more than one computer science skill!!! (this is coming from a person who essentially ONLY can do statistical programming)


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The skills rules are currently trying to do two contradictory things:
1) Keep the numbers within a small range so that everyone has a chance of success.
2) Automatic failure for not having the requisite level of training.

The first problem with this is that it does not fix the issue it is supposed to fix. In PF1 nobody but the specialist bothered with many skills because the DC would be too high for the untrained if it was set to challenge the specialist. Now there is no DC, you just fail if you are not Expert (or higher). So we are back at the same place we started.

The second problem is that now the actual numbers are pretty meaningless. Either you have the requisite level of training or you don't. If you do have the requisite level of training it is most likely a coin flip because all the numbers are in such a small range of variation.


Corrik wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

Could you possibly be more specific and give some actual examples?

See, I'm trying to come up with non-social examples of this that players would find unpleasant and detrimental to their game experience and failing. Which means I'd be really happy if you could provide an example so I know we're on the same page as discussion goes forward, and we can have a productive discussion of how to avoid that issue in PF2.

"Just cuz I can fly a plane, doesn't mean that I can fly a helicopter."

"Just because I am a biologist doesn't mean that I can perform first aide well"

etc. etc.

For my part, I think broad competency in many related fields is a perfectly acceptable fantasy/superhero trope. Even if it does not fit every narrative that people want, I think the collapsed skills is a good game mechanic.

Starfinder is horrible about this. The Life Science skill includes: BioEngineering, biology, botany, ecology, genetics, xenobiology, zoology, and other fields of biological science. Physical Science includes: Astronomy, chemistry, climatology, geography, geology, hyperspace, meteorology, oceanography, physics, and other fields of natural science. Those are hugely different and specific skill sets. Knowledge of astronomy doesn't have a lot of crossover with oceanography. Each one should be a different knowledge skill. The idea that putting a single skill rank makes you knowledgeable in all those things is more unbelievable than magic.

It is really dumb if you think about it too much but I try not to let that sort of thing bother me. If Mr. Fantastic can be a master chemist, theoretical physicist, and geologist then so can I!


thorin001 wrote:

The skills rules are currently trying to do two contradictory things:

1) Keep the numbers within a small range so that everyone has a chance of success.
2) Automatic failure for not having the requisite level of training.

The first problem with this is that it does not fix the issue it is supposed to fix. In PF1 nobody but the specialist bothered with many skills because the DC would be too high for the untrained if it was set to challenge the specialist. Now there is no DC, you just fail if you are not Expert (or higher). So we are back at the same place we started.

The second problem is that now the actual numbers are pretty meaningless. Either you have the requisite level of training or you don't. If you do have the requisite level of training it is most likely a coin flip because all the numbers are in such a small range of variation.

Well, not exactly. Now a person who is not trained in lying still has a chance of lying to a detective but zero chance of implanting memories through the sheer power of their subtle manipulation in the way the master of bluff can maybe do. Also, the master of bluff no longer autosucceeds basic against the detective the wizard also lied to.

Liberty's Edge

Excaliburproxy wrote:
Well for PF2, I believe other people have mentioned wanting to make a character who can pick pockets but does not necessarily imagine themselves as an expert lock pick or an "engineer of trap breaking" or whatever. I could also conceptualize wanting to have a barbarian that could tell you about every kind of bear in the woods (Nature) but does not know about all of that mystic druidic nonsense.

The first situation has come up, but only in a theorycraft sense. I'm looking for real problems that have occurred in the many games that already have something like that to see if it's a real problem that will occur in play or not.

The second situation seems easily solved by a Lore (Beasts) skill. I think the Animal Whisperer Background even gives something like that.

Excaliburproxy wrote:
A drawback system might be in order, but as I believe Mark alluded to at some point somewhere, perhaps such a drawback system should not be tied to a bonus lest people always try to trade out the less useful bits of each of their skills.

My current suggestion is for there to be a Skill Feat for Lore (or inherent part of the Lore Skill) that lets you add a specific usage of another skill to the Lore in question. That'd allow someone with Lore (Locksmith) who can't pick pockets and the like without being a drawback system at all.

Shinigami02 wrote:
Not *quite* the same situation, but I do have one character that absolutely makes perfect sense to rock Swimming but suck at climbing. Said character is a low-strength Mermaid Oracle with the Blackened curse and Medium armor.

We don't know enough about either Oracle Curses or having a Swim speed to say how this would work in PF2. It's very possible that the combination could result in an almost equally great divergence in ability (the numbers would be closer, but they'd also mean more).

Excaliburproxy wrote:
Ahhhh. I was reading as a player saying "It makes no sense to be bad at X when I can do Y."

No, I'm well aware of how often people complain about that. But PF2 decreases that problem rather than adding to it.

Excaliburproxy wrote:
Ha. I dig it now. But yeah: that has not exactly happened to me. I have met people who really want that kind of verisimilitude in their system in general, though.

Verisimilitude is great. I really don't think Pathfinder, where an 8th level character can casually out-wrestle a rhinoceros, is really the place for this degree of focus on it.

Excaliburproxy wrote:

Edit: also, you are a computer scientist who is bad at solving math problems? How can you program/critique latent variable models for your scoring algorithms then?

Maybe there needs to be more than one computer science skill!!! (this is coming from a person who essentially ONLY can do statistical programming)

Y'know, I think I've only ever played one system with more than one computer skill, and even there it was a few pretty overarching options (Computer Programming, Computer Hacking, and Computers, the last being a general computer use skill).

Liberty's Edge

thorin001 wrote:

The skills rules are currently trying to do two contradictory things:

1) Keep the numbers within a small range so that everyone has a chance of success.
2) Automatic failure for not having the requisite level of training.

The first problem with this is that it does not fix the issue it is supposed to fix. In PF1 nobody but the specialist bothered with many skills because the DC would be too high for the untrained if it was set to challenge the specialist. Now there is no DC, you just fail if you are not Expert (or higher). So we are back at the same place we started.

This is not true. Most things everyone in the group might reasonably attempt are available to everyone. All Stealth uses are available untrained, for example.

thorin001 wrote:
The second problem is that now the actual numbers are pretty meaningless. Either you have the requisite level of training or you don't. If you do have the requisite level of training it is most likely a coin flip because all the numbers are in such a small range of variation.

This is also not true. Versus level appropriate foes, bonus is clearly gonna matter quite a bit. So will Proficiency rank, of course, but it's by no means the sole determining factor.


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thorin001 wrote:

The skills rules are currently trying to do two contradictory things:

1) Keep the numbers within a small range so that everyone has a chance of success.
2) Automatic failure for not having the requisite level of training.

That's not true. They want everyone to have a chance of success for the sorts of tasks that a normal person can reasonably attempt without training (e.g. sneaking or trying to stop blood loss by putting pressure on a wound). They want automatic failure for not having the requisite level of training for the sorts of tasks that a person can't reasonably attempt without training (picking a lock, sewing up a wound, knowing magical theory, etc.).


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Y'know, I think I've only ever played one system with more than one computer skill, and even there it was a few pretty overarching options (Computer Programming, Computer Hacking, and Computers, the last being a general computer use skill).

Some of the editions of shadow run have like 3 or 4 different hacking skills and then additional skills for computer science and hardware. It gets silly.

Liberty's Edge

Excaliburproxy wrote:
Some of the editions of shadow run have like 3 or 4 different hacking skills and then additional skills for computer science and hardware. It gets silly.

Which edition is that?

I admit to having forgotten that 5E had two (one for Cybercombat), but 3E (the edition I played the most of) only had one for actually using a computer (you could admittedly take others to build or repair them), and neither have the three or four you mention. I don't recall 1E having more than one either.

I...appear to have skipped the even numbered editions of Shadowrun. Huh.

Sovereign Court

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thorin001 wrote:

The skills rules are currently trying to do two contradictory things:

1) Keep the numbers within a small range so that everyone has a chance of success.
2) Automatic failure for not having the requisite level of training.

Put differently:

1. Keep untrained skills relevant for all characters by limiting bonuses to within the range of a d20 (max approximately +17 vs party-member).
2. Have skill investment unlock new trained-only uses for skills.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
Some of the editions of shadow run have like 3 or 4 different hacking skills and then additional skills for computer science and hardware. It gets silly.

Which edition is that?

I admit to having forgotten that 5E had two (one for Cybercombat), but 3E (the edition I played the most of) only had one for actually using a computer (you could admittedly take others to build or repair them), and neither have the three or four you mention. I don't recall 1E having more than one either.

I...appear to have skipped the even numbered editions of Shadowrun. Huh.

I don't know if it was 4e or 5e but one had:

Electronic Warfare
Cybercombat
Hacking
Computers
Hardware
and Software


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I much prefer collapsed skills - especially knowledges ala starfinder - to trying to guess which one of 100 options will be useful in the coming adventures or essentially wasting skill ranks.

sometimes verisimilitude needs to take a back seat to playability.


Excaliburproxy wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
Some of the editions of shadow run have like 3 or 4 different hacking skills and then additional skills for computer science and hardware. It gets silly.

Which edition is that?

I admit to having forgotten that 5E had two (one for Cybercombat), but 3E (the edition I played the most of) only had one for actually using a computer (you could admittedly take others to build or repair them), and neither have the three or four you mention. I don't recall 1E having more than one either.

I...appear to have skipped the even numbered editions of Shadowrun. Huh.

I don't know if it was 4e or 5e but one had:

Electronic Warfare
Cybercombat
Hacking
Computers
Hardware
and Software

Both 4E and 5E have those skills, 4th Edition also adds Data Search. But Shadowrun has always been a game with extreme skill granularity so...who cares.

Besides, none of them reaches the height of stupid that 3/3.5E "Use Rope" skill was, so that's something.


Excaliburproxy wrote:

In the case of World of Darkness:

"I am an expert in computer science! I should be able to solve math problems!" (I believe math problems fall under academics or some such thing in that system)

I played a whole bunch of Math-experts in White Wolf games, and basically never got to use this at all.

I think that's the risk of skill granularity. If I invest heavily in "Math" because that's a thing I want my character to excel at, and never get to use that skill since it never comes up, then that's basically a trap option.

If instead I can just invest in an "Academics" skill which covers everything from Mathematics to Chemistry to Marine Biology to English Literature to Analytic Philosophy to Gender and Women's Studies to Art History, I can at least define boundaries like "actually, I never studied glaciology", but I can still play a character who got a triple major in Math, Physics, and Women's Studies who went on to do graduate research on information theory and pedagogy.

Liberty's Edge

TheFinish wrote:
Both 4E and 5E have those skills, 4th Edition also adds Data Search. But Shadowrun has always been a game with extreme skill granularity so...who cares.

Huh. You're both right. Just goes to show I never played a Decker in 5E, I suppose.

TheFinish wrote:
Besides, none of them reaches the height of stupid that 3/3.5E "Use Rope" skill was, so that's something.

Granularity isn't always bad. I'm actually a huge fan of Unisystem Classic, which has a Beautician skill to go with the likes of Bureaucracy, Instruction, and separate skills for First Aid as opposed to Medicine and Pick Pocket as opposed to Sleight of Hand, as well as separate skills for various types of weapon (like Knife, Axe, Handgun, and Rifle) and the like.

But that's for a vastly different style of game than any edition of D&D or Pathfinder has ever been suited for.


Excaliburproxy wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Y'know, I think I've only ever played one system with more than one computer skill, and even there it was a few pretty overarching options (Computer Programming, Computer Hacking, and Computers, the last being a general computer use skill).
Some of the editions of shadow run have like 3 or 4 different hacking skills and then additional skills for computer science and hardware. It gets silly.

Shadowrun (at least the latest edition) partially deals with that by having Skill Groups - groups of three (or in one case four) related skills that you raise together, at the cost of 2.5 times the cost of an individual skill.

My impression (I've only read the rules so I could be missing stuff you see in play) is also that they have a consistent detail level on their skills. For example, a decker would use Cybercombat, Electronic Warfare, Hacking, Computer, Hardware, and Software. A street samurai will get plenty of use out of Blades, Clubs, Unarmed, Automatics, Longarms, and Pistols. A mage has Banishing, Binding, Summoning, Counterspelling, Ritual spellcasting, and Spellcasting (and possibly some Enchanting stuff too). These are all distinct areas of expertise, and they require a similar amount of dedication.

However, the Shadowrun way isn't directly applicable to Pathfinder, because Pathfinder is class-based and Shadowrun is skill-based. The mage stuff up there? That would all be part of the class in Pathfinder, while the decker stuff would likely be skills.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Granularity isn't always bad. I'm actually a huge fan of Unisystem Classic, which has a Beautician skill to go with the likes of Bureaucracy, Instruction, and separate skills for First Aid as opposed to Medicine and Pick Pocket as opposed to Sleight of Hand, as well as separate skills for various types of weapon (like Knife, Axe, Handgun or Rifle) and the like.

The latest edition of the Swedish game Eon has a nice approach to skill granularity.

First, there's a list of maybe 60 or so "proper" skills (including about a dozen different weapon skills). That's a bit too large for my tastes, but I can deal with it, and you do get plenty of points to spend on them when building your character. But the clever thing is that this list is supplemented by open-ended Expertises, Characteristics, and Crafts. An expertise is a highly specialized skill (e.g. Absalom Taverns), and a characteristic is some sort of trait which you can occasionally use as a skill (e.g. Impressive Scar). You will likely get a bunch of these as part of the character generation process, and increasing them is easier than increasing proper skills.

This is combined with a system of skill challenges, where you make three rolls to determine the success of a medium- or long-term endeavor. These skill challenges penalize you for using the same skill more than once in the same challenge. So you want to sneak into the enemy camp? Sure, your Sneak skill will help getting in there, but it will likely not be enough by itself (unless you're good enough that you'll manage despite the penalty - and in that case, you probably shouldn't be rolling at all) - so what other methods do you want to use? You could add Deceive, so that if someone spots you you'll be able to talk your way out of the situation. Perhaps you'll also roll the expertise Soldiering and tell the GM that you know what routines the army guards generally use and where to avoid them. Or you could use another expertise Shortcuts, and find a path that's less guarded. You could use the expertise Mimicry to distract a guard to let you slip by. Or you could have the characteristics Honest Face or Common Appearance, so a guard that might see you assumes you're supposed to be there.

And of course, the skills you decide to use will influence the narrative. If you roll well enough on skills the GM agrees can be used, sure, you can end up in the Commander's tent, ready for some kind of nefarious deed. But the path there can very much depend on what skills you used along the way.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Corrik wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

Could you possibly be more specific and give some actual examples?

See, I'm trying to come up with non-social examples of this that players would find unpleasant and detrimental to their game experience and failing. Which means I'd be really happy if you could provide an example so I know we're on the same page as discussion goes forward, and we can have a productive discussion of how to avoid that issue in PF2.

"Just cuz I can fly a plane, doesn't mean that I can fly a helicopter."

"Just because I am a biologist doesn't mean that I can perform first aide well"

etc. etc.

For my part, I think broad competency in many related fields is a perfectly acceptable fantasy/superhero trope. Even if it does not fit every narrative that people want, I think the collapsed skills is a good game mechanic.

Starfinder is horrible about this. The Life Science skill includes: BioEngineering, biology, botany, ecology, genetics, xenobiology, zoology, and other fields of biological science. Physical Science includes: Astronomy, chemistry, climatology, geography, geology, hyperspace, meteorology, oceanography, physics, and other fields of natural science. Those are hugely different and specific skill sets. Knowledge of astronomy doesn't have a lot of crossover with oceanography. Each one should be a different knowledge skill. The idea that putting a single skill rank makes you knowledgeable in all those things is more unbelievable than magic.

I disagree.

Like Excaliburproxy said, it’s a trope, and one that seems perfectly appropriate for the kind of light, bouncy science fantasy story Starfinder is interested in telling.

If Starfinder were trying to be super realistic “hard” sci-fi game, then sure, it might make sense to split out the science skills.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The pairing down of Skills was one of the best things 4th edition did. Then they went with the Train or suck mechanic and shifting DC's for the skill events that made the whole skill set restructure a moot point. Star Wars Saga was not a good ruleset to pull from.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

One, many sailors were quite athletic and adept at climbing but deathly afraid of falling into water because they could not swim. I think a player might want to portray this RL model

Two, NPCs and PCs follow the same rules including skill proficiencies. While I understand the goal of PCs not sucking at anything within some broad category, why should the same hold true for NPCs ?

Three, it is difficult for people to bring examples of situations when the broad merging of skills was a problem because it did not exist in PF1, the game that brought us all here

I am all for broad merging of skills for the average PC because I think that this is the most common case. But I still wish that there will be a system for people who want their character to be inept at something. Mark's example of such a system was quite interesting IMO and a path to be explored


I doubt most sailors ever made it above level 3 too so keep that in mind. Maybe a flaw system later on however can help you with that.

(I never understood that whole sailors didn't know how to swim thing seriously its not that hard to learn guys and can save your life WTF are you doing?)


@Deadmanwalking
Just digging up the topic on the previous page around the notion of people being negative at not being "bad" at anything and i have bumped into discussions around it rather than at-table complaints.

Forexample one notion of this was with 5th edition where i discovered there is actually no negatives to picking a race ( as in the old +2 to X and -2 to Y deal ) and argued this felt like choices were not made with any drawback.

Which leads to the second part that many and maybe myself included that theres a false notion around the concept that power never comes with a choice that you just get handed "free power" with no caveat. In a weird way justifying that i can be "extra good" in one thing at the cost of being bad or "extra bad" in another.

However i never seen anyone at the table actually complain that they are "too-good" in a thing they wanted to be bad at, and this argument only finds place in theorycrafting where i see it as a lack of variance or choice. Even in this mindset i just play whatever the hell i like and pick whatever fitting for the concept be it numerical or fluffy reasons and if i wanted to be bad at something i just dont put ranks in it!


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
(I never understood that whole sailors didn't know how to swim thing seriously its not that hard to learn guys and can save your life WTF are you doing?)

Ha, I know, but we sometimes take rather common skills such as numeracy, literacy and swimming for granted in this day and age.


If you fall overboard, even if you know how to swim very well, you are likely to be left behind in an unsurvivable situation (this has probably gotten less bad in peacetime with the availability of motor launches and helicopters). So even if you actually did know how to swim, it made sense to be extremely afraid of falling overboard.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

For the Legendary being gated behind a Class' signature skills, I agree that it sounds bad. But maybe for actual characters signature skills are enough. After all Legendary is gated behind high level AND limited number of rank increase

What are the chances that one of the few skills you want to take all the way to Legendary is NOT one of your Class' signature skills ?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:

If you fall overboard, even if you know how to swim very well, you are likely to be left behind in an unsurvivable situation (this has probably gotten less bad in peacetime with the availability of motor launches and helicopters). So even if you actually did know how to swim, it made sense to be extremely afraid of falling overboard.

Quite true and it is actually an excellent reason to practice not falling overboard rather than waste time investing in a useless Swim ability

Not to mention that their profession required them to practice Climbing a lot, and Swimming never ;-)


The Raven Black wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

If you fall overboard, even if you know how to swim very well, you are likely to be left behind in an unsurvivable situation (this has probably gotten less bad in peacetime with the availability of motor launches and helicopters). So even if you actually did know how to swim, it made sense to be extremely afraid of falling overboard.

Quite true and it is actually an excellent reason to practice not falling overboard rather than waste time investing in a useless Swim ability

Not to mention that their profession required them to practice Climbing a lot, and Swimming never ;-)

Yeah, isn't there some PrC that grants a Climb speed abroad a vessel or something?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Vidmaster7 wrote:

I doubt most sailors ever made it above level 3 too so keep that in mind. Maybe a flaw system later on however can help you with that.

(I never understood that whole sailors didn't know how to swim thing seriously its not that hard to learn guys and can save your life WTF are you doing?)

Probably it refer to English born sailor primarily, as learning to swim in England during the Little Ice Age (XIV-XIX century) probably wasn't top priority. Or, even more probably, tho pirates, whose crew was formed in a significant proportion by people with little experience as sailor. Most pirate ships where galley, so you needed a lot of rowers, not experienced sailors. Using a galley was good because it can move against the wind without problems and (for a short period) can be faster than a sailing ship. And the extra crew was useful when boarding.


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The Raven Black wrote:

For the Legendary being gated behind a Class' signature skills, I agree that it sounds bad. But maybe for actual characters signature skills are enough. After all Legendary is gated behind high level AND limited number of rank increase

What are the chances that one of the few skills you want to take all the way to Legendary is NOT one of your Class' signature skills ?

One of the devs were saying there was a way to gain legendary skills with other means, but in general the legendary skills is normally limited to your signature skills.

So maybe it also ties to ancestry, general feats, or other means?


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John John wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:


Adding +level to everything does not make the game fun and playable. Gating swathes of skills behind proficiency levels and feats does not make the game easy and simple.

Initially I didn't like adding +level to everything, but I after thinking about it in the context of the other rules we learned about, I can see it working great. It can make level progression numerically much more predictable, which can have certain benefits. These benefits include easier monster design and the ability for add more diversity in the classes through focusing the design on their exclusive class features.

I also seriously doubt Paizo decided + level to everything for no reason at all. I assume they did playtest this among many other things and that's the best they came up with. Now its quite possible they made a mistake, but they propably perceived that the benefits outway the costs. Ofcourse they may also have had different priorities than you, hence my comment about gaining sth loosing sth.

Regarding gating uses of skills we will see how this works out in game. Its really difficult to predict if it will become unwieldy on the table without actually giving it a try. Something can read complicated but actually play simple.

John Lynch 106 wrote:


Now the above won't be true for everyone. But it's true for at least some people. It's why we had the automatic +half level to everything was removed from 5th edition.

I am actually part of the people that are very against to everyone getting half or whatever part of their level to all their skills. I really disliked this about 4th edition and the only reason I leave myself open to accepting it in PF 2 is the 4 level gating of the skills.

John Lynch 106 wrote:


Sometimes I do want to play the "good at everything" character (but only great at a smaller group of things). Paizo could still allow character builds that capture that without forcing it on everyone.
Yes but these builds propably...

I know for a fact the math has been playtested thoroughly. The math behind +universal bonus to all skikls with a +5 trained bonus has been used before and is not unique to PF2e so we know mathematically it works out. The only real twist PF2e puts on it is the +5 is gotten gradually over time and is a bit more modular than an immediate +5 bonus.

We will wait and see if the OF fanbase reacts to this rule more favorably then they did last time. You are at least one example of someone who is more positive to the idea this time around.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
The Raven Black wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

If you fall overboard, even if you know how to swim very well, you are likely to be left behind in an unsurvivable situation (this has probably gotten less bad in peacetime with the availability of motor launches and helicopters). So even if you actually did know how to swim, it made sense to be extremely afraid of falling overboard.

Quite true and it is actually an excellent reason to practice not falling overboard rather than waste time investing in a useless Swim ability

Not to mention that their profession required them to practice Climbing a lot, and Swimming never ;-)

To add to that: swimming in a pool or near the shore now is probably quite different from falling off a ship during a storm in the middle of the ocean, with waves higher than you are tall.

No matter how good you are at swimming, you probably won't reach land.


Weather Report wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:

Now the above won't be true for everyone. But it's true for at least some people. It's why we had the automatic +half level to everything was removed from 5th edition.

Really, I was involved in the playtest, and do not recall a playtest packet that included +1/2 level to anything; can you point at which packet/part of the 5th Ed playtest where +1/2 level was a thing?

I prefer +1/2 level for 3rd Ed/PF1, in place of BAB, saving throw bonuses, spell DCs, etc.

It was a thing from 4th ed that was removed in 5th ed.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
I know for a fact the math has been playtested thoroughly. The math behind +universal bonus to all skikls with a +5 trained bonus has been used before and is not unique to PF2e so we know mathematically it works out. The only real twist PF2e puts on it is the +5 is gotten gradually over time and is a bit more modular than an immediate +5 bonus.

Are you taking about SWSE, + Level + 5 for trained?


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Weather Report wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:

Now the above won't be true for everyone. But it's true for at least some people. It's why we had the automatic +half level to everything was removed from 5th edition.

Really, I was involved in the playtest, and do not recall a playtest packet that included +1/2 level to anything; can you point at which packet/part of the 5th Ed playtest where +1/2 level was a thing?

I prefer +1/2 level for 3rd Ed/PF1, in place of BAB, saving throw bonuses, spell DCs, etc.

It was a thing from 4th ed that was removed in 5th ed.

Yeah, and with going to 30th level, math fix feats, bonuses, it gets a bit much.

Liberty's Edge

Dracoknight wrote:

@Deadmanwalking

Just digging up the topic on the previous page around the notion of people being negative at not being "bad" at anything and i have bumped into discussions around it rather than at-table complaints.

Yeah, that's sort of my suspicion and why I asked.

Dracoknight wrote:

Forexample one notion of this was with 5th edition where i discovered there is actually no negatives to picking a race ( as in the old +2 to X and -2 to Y deal ) and argued this felt like choices were not made with any drawback.

Which leads to the second part that many and maybe myself included that theres a false notion around the concept that power never comes with a choice that you just get handed "free power" with no caveat. In a weird way justifying that i can be "extra good" in one thing at the cost of being bad or "extra bad" in another.

I'm all for a certain degree of penalties in one area gaining you bonuses elsewhere, the issue comes when it's a penalty to something that will likely never come up and gets you a bonus to something you use all the time. That can get dicey from a game balance perspective.

Dracoknight wrote:
However i never seen anyone at the table actually complain that they are "too-good" in a thing they wanted to be bad at, and this argument only finds place in theorycrafting where i see it as a lack of variance or choice. Even in this mindset i just play whatever the hell i like and pick whatever fitting for the concept be it numerical or fluffy reasons and if i wanted to be bad at something i just dont put ranks in it!

I think that PF2 is gonna have quite a lot of choices and variance, making the issue of 'overly broad skills' not actually something people are super concerned about. We'll see if I'm right.


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From what I've heard, the reason why sailors were bad at swimming is because if you fall off a ship, you're simply very unlikely not going to survive regardless of your swimming skills. So you can either be capable of swimming and die a slow painful death as you use your skill to survive, or not be capable of swimming and die a less slow, less painful death as you just simply drown.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
We don't know enough about either Oracle Curses or having a Swim speed to say how this would work in PF2. It's very possible that the combination could result in an almost equally great divergence in ability (the numbers would be closer, but they'd also mean more).

Well, they'd have to change the curse pretty dramatically for it to mechanically apply, assuming Blackened even makes the transition. The only thing it actually applied to in PF1e was weapon attacks, the 'suck at climbing' thing was me playing up the uselessness of her arms (which in her backstory were legitimately badly burned.) The mechanics carried it out in other ways, with the curse being part of the RP for why she'd suck at climbing.

And that said, as I said in previous post, RP is RP. My character may be mechanically 'good' at climbing after a while, and I may even find excuses for her to use that at times, but for the most part the character would not even try to climb so that will be expressed in the RP.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

rather than cramming more and more stuff in a single label, I‘d have preferred to see a return of skill synergy from 3.5

x ranks here give a bonus of y there

and generally more of the kind „three ranks in acrobatics = +1AC while fighting defensively“

and please give people a professionally crafted electronic character sheet from day one, this is the 21st century after all.


Would it be relevant to the swimming discussion (and particularly the ship discussion) that making a swim check is something that needs done every round, quite possible for a large number of rounds (esp if the ship leaves without you), vs climbing, which, while also made per round, might often be accomplished in significantly fewer rounds?
So being bad a swimming might be more a function of being unable to consistently make a passing check, rather than simply being unable to pass a single check.


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Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Corrik wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

Could you possibly be more specific and give some actual examples?

See, I'm trying to come up with non-social examples of this that players would find unpleasant and detrimental to their game experience and failing. Which means I'd be really happy if you could provide an example so I know we're on the same page as discussion goes forward, and we can have a productive discussion of how to avoid that issue in PF2.

"Just cuz I can fly a plane, doesn't mean that I can fly a helicopter."

"Just because I am a biologist doesn't mean that I can perform first aide well"

etc. etc.

For my part, I think broad competency in many related fields is a perfectly acceptable fantasy/superhero trope. Even if it does not fit every narrative that people want, I think the collapsed skills is a good game mechanic.

Starfinder is horrible about this. The Life Science skill includes: BioEngineering, biology, botany, ecology, genetics, xenobiology, zoology, and other fields of biological science. Physical Science includes: Astronomy, chemistry, climatology, geography, geology, hyperspace, meteorology, oceanography, physics, and other fields of natural science. Those are hugely different and specific skill sets. Knowledge of astronomy doesn't have a lot of crossover with oceanography. Each one should be a different knowledge skill. The idea that putting a single skill rank makes you knowledgeable in all those things is more unbelievable than magic.

I disagree.

Like Excaliburproxy said, it’s a trope, and one that seems perfectly appropriate for the kind of light, bouncy science fantasy story Starfinder is interested in telling.

If Starfinder were trying to be super realistic “hard” sci-fi game, then sure, it might make sense to split out the science skills.

It being a trope doesn't really make it better. Especially when your entire party of smuggler archaeologists are all experts in all known sciences on top of being expert hackers and engineers.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
If instead I can just invest in an "Academics" skill which covers everything from Mathematics to Chemistry to Marine Biology to English Literature to Analytic Philosophy to Gender and Women's Studies to Art History, I can at least define boundaries like "actually, I never studied glaciology", but I can still play a character who got a triple major in Math, Physics, and Women's Studies who went on to do graduate research on information theory and pedagogy.

Academics, Craft or Swim to represent a Degree in Underwater Basket-Weaving?


dysartes wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If instead I can just invest in an "Academics" skill which covers everything from Mathematics to Chemistry to Marine Biology to English Literature to Analytic Philosophy to Gender and Women's Studies to Art History, I can at least define boundaries like "actually, I never studied glaciology", but I can still play a character who got a triple major in Math, Physics, and Women's Studies who went on to do graduate research on information theory and pedagogy.
Academics, Craft or Swim to represent a Degree in Underwater Basket-Weaving?

Basket Weaving, now that takes me back....


It occurs to me that getting so few skill increases and skill feats having so many tempting options that party members will really want to avoid redundancy. In PF1, it was often nice to have two characters who could attempt spellcraft checks or Knowledge checks if the other failed. Now, that's very costly. The +level thing will probably help your untrained party members try a thing, but man, most characters will have a lot of untrained skills.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

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Maka Nashota wrote:
It being a trope doesn't really make it better. Especially when your entire party of smuggler archaeologists are all experts in all known sciences on top of being expert hackers and engineers.

I'm not saying it's good simply because it's a trope--tropes aren't inherently good or bad.

I'm saying it fits the genre.

Characters with overly broad scientific/technical expertise are a part of sci-fi stories, in the same way that spells and magic are a part of fantasy stories, or people flying around in capes and tights is a part of superhero stories. Are all those things unrealistic? Absolutely. Nonetheless, they're established and evocative elements of their respective genres, and thus fair to include.

Now, if you want to argue that there isn't enough granularity compared to the number of skill points characters receive, that's a completely different complaint. I personally haven't found that to be the case--I'm running a group through Dead Suns, and they managed to build a crew with only a little overlap in skill expertise between characters--but YMMV.

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